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Excerpts from the Treaty of Lancaster (1744)


With the threat of war with France looming on the horizon, the English colonies treated with the Iroquois Confederacy to determine a clearer boundary line between Indian lands and the western edges of the English colonies in pursuit of peace. The Treaty of Lancaster (1744) established the line at the eastern foot of the Shenandoah Mountains. In exchange, the Iroquois at the treaty thought they sold off a few parcels of land in eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland. However, the wording in the Treaty paired with the original charter for Virginia (1609) legally allowed English colonists to flow westwards into the Ohio Country. Within the year, Virginia had granted 300,000 acres of western lands to various colonists with the intention of sending settlers into the Ohio country. This wave of westward colonization not only infringed on Indian land rights, but brought more English into contact with the French and served as one of the many catalysts that brought on the Seven Years’ War. This source is a part of the Treaties between the Iroquois Confederacy and English Colonies in the 18th Century teaching module.


In the Court House at Lancaster, June 26th; 1744.
Canassatego Spoke as follows :
"Brother, the Governor of Maryland—…
" When you mentioned the affair of the Land Yesterday, you went back to old Times, and told us you had been in posession of the Province of Maryland above One hundred Years ; but what is one hundred years in comparison to the length of Time since our Claim began ?— Since we came out of this Ground? For we must tell you that long before One hundred years Our ancestors came out of this very Ground, and their Children have remained here ever since. You came out of the Ground in a Country that lyes beyond Seas, there you may have a just Claim, but here you must allow Us to be your elder Brethren, and the Lands to belong to us long before you know anything of them…
" After this the English came into the Country, and, as we were told, became one People with the Dutch; about two years after the Arrival of the English, an English Governor came to Albany, and finding what great friendship subsisted between us and the Dutch, he approved it mightly, and desired to make as Strong a league and to be upon as good Terms with us as the Dutch were, with whom he was united, and to become one People with Us, and by his further care in looking what had passed between us he found that the Rope which tyed the Ship to the Great mountain was only fastened with Wampum, which was liable to break and rot, and to perish in a course of years, he therefore told us that he would give us a silver Chain, which would be much stronger and last for Ever. This we accepted, and fastened the Ship with it, and it has lasted ever since. Indeed, we have had some small Differences with the English, and during these misunderstandings some of their young men would, by way of Reproach, be every now and then telling us that we should have perished if they had not come into the Country and furnished us with Strowds and Hatchets and Guns and other things necessary for the Support of Life. But we always gave them to understand that they were mistaken, that we lived before they came amongst us, and as well or better, if we may believe what our Forefathers have told Us. We had then room enough and Plenty of Deer, which was easily caught, and tho' we had not Knives, Hatchets, or G-uns, such as we have now, yet we had Knives of Stone and Hatchets of Stone, and Bows and Arrows, and these Served Our Uses as well then as the English ones do now. We are now Straitned and sometimes in want of Deer, and lyable to many other Inconveniences since the English came among Us, and particularly from that Pen and Ink work that is going on at the Table [pointing to the Secretarys]…

In the Court House at Lancaster, June 27th, 1744.
The Commissioners of Virginia order'd the Interpreter to let the Indians know the Governor of Virginia was going to Speak to them, and then they Spoke as follows :
" Sachims and Warriors of the Six United Nations, Our Friends and Brethren :
" At our Desire the Governor of Pennsylvania invited you to this council Fire ; we have waited a long time for you, but now you are come, you are heartily welcome. We are very glad to see you. We give you this String of Wampum."
Which was received with their Usual Approbation.
" Brethren :…
" We are, so well pleased with this Good Faith of You our Brethern of the Six Nations, and your Regard of the Treaties made with Virginia, that we are ready to hear you on the Subject of your Message Eight Years since.
" Tell us what Nations of Indians you Conquered any Lands from in Virginia, how long it is Since, and what Possession you have had; and if it does appear that there is any Land on the Borders of Virginia that the Six Nations have a Right to, we are willing to make you satisfaction."
Then laid down a String of Wampum, which was accepted with the usual Ceremony, and then added :
“ We have a Chest of New goods, and the key is in Our Pockets. You are our Brethren ; the Great King is our Common Father, and we will live with you as Children ought to do in Peace and Love.
" We will brighten the Chain and Strengthen the Union between Us, so that we shall never be divided, but remain Friends and Brethren as long as the Sun gives us light. In Confirmation whereof we give you this Belt of Wampum."
Which was received with the Usual Ceremony. Tachanontia Reply'd :
" Brother Assaraquoa—
" You have made a Good Speech to Us, which is very agreeable, and for which we return you our Thanks. We shall be able to give you an Answer to every part of it sometime this afternoon, and we shall let you know when we are ready."

In the Court House at Lancaster, 27th June, 1744, P. M.
Tachanoontia Spoke as follows :
" Brother Assaraquoa—
"Since you have Joined with the Governor of Maryland and Brother Onas in Kindling this Fire, we gladly acknowledge the pleasure we have in seeing you here and observing your good Dispositions, as well to Confirm the Treaties of Friendship as to Enter into further Contracts about Land with Us, and in token of Our Satisfaction We Present you with this String of Wampum.
Which was received with the usual Ceremonies…
"Now we Answer, We have the Right of Conquest—a Right too dearly Purchas'd, and which cost us too much Blood to give up without any Reason at all, as you say We have done at Albany; but we should be obliged to you if you would let us see that Letter, and Inform Us who was the Interpreter and whose names are put to the Letter; for as the whole Transaction can't be above a year's standing, it must be fresh in ' every Body's Memory, and some of Our Council would easily remember it; but we assure you, and we are well able to prove that neither we nor any Part of Us have ever relinquished our Right, or ever gave such an Answer as you say is mentioned in your Letter. Could we so few years ago make a Formal Demand by James Logan and not be sensible of Our Right? and hath any thing happen'd since that time to make us less sensible ? No. And as this matter can be easily cleared up we are anxious it should be done, for we are Positive no such thing was ever mentioned to us at Onandago nor any where else. All the World Knows we conquered the Several Nations living on Sasquehanna, Cohongoronta, and on the Back of the Great Mountains in Virginia. [They] feel the effects of Our Conquests, being now a Part of Our Nations, and their Lands at our Disposal.
" We know very well it hath often been say'd by the Virginians that the Great King of England and the People of that Colony conquered the Indians that lived there, but it is not true. We will allow they have conquered the Sachdagughroonan and Drove back the Tuscarroraws, and that they have on that Account a Right to some Part of Virginia, but as to what lyes beyond the Mountains we conquered the Nations residing there, and that Land, if ever the Virginians get a good Right to it, it must be by Us. And in Testimony of the Truth of Our Answer to this Part of Your Speech We give you this String of Wampum."
Which was received with the usual Ceremony…
" We must now tell you what Mountains we mean that we say are the Boundaries between you and us. You may remember that about Twenty years ago you had a Treaty with us at Albany, when you took a Belt of Wampum and made a Fence with it on the Middle of the Hill, and told us that if any of the Warriors of the Six Nations came on your side of the Middle of the Hill you would hang them, and you gave us liberty to do the Same with any of your People who should be found on our side the middle of the Hill. This is the Hill we mean, and we desire that Treaty may now be confirmed. After we left Albany we brought Our Road a great deal more to the West that we might comply with Your Proposal, but tho' it was of your own making your People never observed it, but came and lived on Our side of the Hill, which we don't blame you for, as you live at a great distance near the Seas, and cant't be thought to know what your People do in the Back parts; and on their Settling contrary to your own Proposals on our new Road, it fell out that Our Warriors did some hurt to your People's Cattle, of which a complaint was made and transmitted to us by our Brother Onas. And we at his Request altered the Road again, and brought it to the Foot of the Great Mountain where it now is, and it is impossible for us to remove it any further to the West, those Parts of the Country being absolutely impassable by either Man or Beast.
" We had not been long in the Use of this new Road before your People came like Flocks of Birds and sat down in both sides of it, and yet we never made a Complaint to you, tho' you must be Sensible those things must have been done by your People in manifest Breach of your own Proposal made at Albany; and therefore as we are now opening our Hearts to you, we cannot avoid Complaining, and desire all these Affairs may be settled ; and that you may be Stronger induced to do us Justice for what is Past, and to come to a thorough Settlement for the future, we, in the Presence of the Governor of Maryland and Brother Onas, present you with this Belt of Wampum."
Which was received with the Usual Ceremony.
Then Tachanoontia added :
" We forgot to say That the Affair of the Road must be looked upon as a Preliminary to be Settled before the Grant of Lands, and that either the Virginia People must be obliged to Remove more Easterly, or if they are Permitted, to say that our Warriors Marching that way to the Southward shall go sharers with them in what they Plant."…

In the COURT-HOUSE at Lancaster, June 28, 1744, P. M.
The Commissioners of Virginia desired the Interpreter to let the Indians know that their Brother Assaraquoa was now going to give his Reply to their Answer to his first Speech, delivered them the Day before in the forenoon :
“ Sachims and Warriors of the united Six Nations: We are now come to answer what you said to us Yesterday, since what we said to you before on the Part of the Great King, our Father, has not been satisfactory. You have gone into old Times, and so must we. It is true that the Great King holds Virginia by Right of Conquest, and the Bounds of that Conquest to the Westward is the Great Sea.
"If the Six Nations have made any Conquest over Indians that may at any time have lived on the West side of the Great Mountains of Virginia, yet they never possessed any Lands there that we have ever heard. That part was altogether deserted, and free for any People to enter upon, as the People of Virginia have done by order of the Great King, very justly as well by an Antient Right as by its being freed from the Possession of any other, and from any Claim, even of you the Six Nations, our Brethren, untill within these Eight Years. The first Treaty between the Great King, in behalf of his Subjects of Virginia and you, that we. can find, was made at Albany by Colonel Henry Coursey Seventy years Since. This was a Treaty of Friendship when the first Covenant Chain was made, when we and you became Brethren…
"The last Treaty we shall Speak to you about is that made at Albany by Governor Spotswood, which you have not recited as it is; for the White People, Your Brethren of Virginia, are in no Article of that Treaty Prohibited to pass and Settle to the Westward of the Great Mountains. It is the Indians' Tributary to Virginia that are restrained, as you and your Tributary Indians are from Passing to the Eastward of the same Mountains or to the Southward of Cohongoroonton, And you agree to this Article in these Words : 'That the Great River of Patowmack and the High Ridge of Mountains which extend all along the Frontiers of Virginia to the Westwards of the Present Settlements of that Colony, Shall be for ever the established Boundaries between the Indians subject to the Dominions of Virginia and the Indians belonging and depending on the ffive Nations, so that neither our Indians shall not, on any Pretence whatsoever, pass to the Northward or Westward of the said Boundaries without having to Produce a Pass port under the Hand and Seal of the Governor or Commander-in-Chief of Virginia, nor your Indians to pass to the Southward or Eastward of the said Boundaries without a Passport in like manner from the Governor or Commander-in-Chief of New York.
" And what Right can you have to Lands that you have no Right to Walk upon but upon certain conditions? It is true you have not observed this part of the Treaty, and Your Brethren of Virginia have not insisted on it with a due Strictness, which has Occasioned some mischief…
"Brethren, this Dispute is not between Virginia and you. It is setting up your Right against the Great King, under whose Grants the People you complain of are settled. Nothing but a Command from the Great King can remove them; They are too powerful to be removed by any force of You our Brethren; And the Great King, as our Common Father, will do equal Justice to all his children; Wherefore, we do believe they will be confirmed in their Possessions…
" However, if you desire a Road, we will agree to one on the Terms of the Treaty you made with Colonel Spotswood ; and your People's behaving themselves orderly like Friends and Brethren shall be used in their Passage through Virginia with the same kindness as they are when they pass through the Lands of your Brother Onas. This we hope will be agreed to by you Our Brethren, and we will abide by the Promise made to you Yesterday…

In the Court House Chamber at Lancaster, June 30th, 1744, A. M.
Gachadow, Speaker for the Indians, in answer to the Commissioner's Speech at the last meeting, with a Strong Voice and Proper Actions, Spoke as follows :
" Brother Assaraquoa :
" The World at the first was made on the other side of the Great water different from what it is on this side, as may be known from the different Colour of Our Skin and of Our Flesh, and that which you call Justice may not be so amongst us. You have your Laws and Customs and so have we. The Great King might send you over to Conquer the Indians, but looks to us that God did not approve of it, if he had, he would not have Placed the Sea where it is, as the Limits between us and you."
" Brother Assaraquoa :
“ Tho' great things are well remembered among Us, Yet we don't remember that we were ever Conquered by the Great King, or that we have been employ'd by that Great King to conquer others; if it was so it is beyond our Memory. We do remember we were employed by Maryland to Conquer the Conestogo's, and that the Second time we were at War with them we carry'd them all off."…
" Brother Assaraquoa :
" We will now Speak to the Point between us. You say you will agree with us to the Road. We desire that may be the Road which was last made (the Waggon Road). It is always a custom among Brethren or Strangers to use each other kindly. You have some very ill-natured People living up there, so that we desire the Persons in Power may know that we are to have reasonable Victuals when we are in want.
" You know very well when the White People came first here they were poor ; but now they have got our Lands and are by them become Rich, and we are Now poor. What little we had for the Land goes soon away, but the Land lasts forever. You told us you had brought with you a Chest of Goods, and that you have the Key in your Pockets ; But we have never seen the Chest nor the Goods that are said to be in it. It may be smal and the Goods few. We want to see them, and are desirous to come to some Conclusion. We have been sleeping here these Ten Days past, and have not done any thing to the Purpose."

In the Court House Chamber at Lancaster, July 2d, 1744, P. M.
The Indians being told by the Interpreter that their Brother Assaraquoa was going to Speak to them, he spoke as follows :
" Sachims and Warriors, our Friends and Brethren :..
“ These Goods, and Two hundred Pounds in Gold which now lye now on the Table, we will give you, Our Brethren of the Six Nations, upon Condition That you immediately make a Deed, recognizing the King's Right to all the Lands that are or shall be by his Majesty's Appointment in the Colony of Virginia.
" As to the Road, we agree you shall have one, and the Regulation is in paper which the Interpreter now has in his custody to Shew you. The People of Virginia shall perform their Part if you and your Indians perform their' s. We are your Brethren, and will do no hardships to you, but, on the Contrary, all the kindness we can."…
After this Conference the Deed was Produced, and the Interpreter Explained it to them, and they according to their Rank and Quality put their Marks and Seals to it in the presence of several Gentlemen of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; and when they delivered the Deed, Canassatego delivered it for the use of their Father the Great King, and hoped he would consider them, upon which the Gentleman and Indians present gave three shouts.

In the Court House at Lancaster, Tuesday, July 3d, 1744, A. M.
The Governor Spoke as follows :
“ Friends and Brethren of the Six Nations—…
" The Great King of England and the French King have Declared War against each other. Two Battles have been fought, one by Land and the other by Sea. The Great King of England Commanded the Land Army in Person, and gained a Compleat Victory. Numbers of the French were killed and taken Prisoners, and the rest were forced to pass a River with Precipitation to save their Lives. The Great God covered the King's head in that Battle, so that he did not receive the least hurt, for which you as well as we have reason to be very thankfull…
" As your Nations have engaged themselves by Treaty to Assist Us, your Brethren of Pennsylvania, in case of a War with the French, we do not Doubt but you will punctually perform an Engagement so solemnly entered into. A War is now declared, and We expect that you will not suffer the French or any of the Indians in Alliance with them to March through your Country to disturb any of our Settlements, And that you will give us the Earliest and best Intelligence of any Designs that may be formed by them to our Disadvantage, as we promise to do of any that may be to your's. To enforce what I have now say'd to you in the strongest manner, I present you with this Belt of Wampum."
Which was received with the Jo-hah…

In the Court House at Lancaster, July the 4th, 1744, A. M.
Canassatego, Speaker…
" Brother Onas :
" You was pleased Yesterday to remind us of Our Mutual Obligation to assist each other in case of a War with the French, and to repeat the Substance of what we ought to do by Our Treaties with you ; and that as a War had been already entered into with the French, you called upon us to assist you, and not to suffer the French to March through our Country to disturb any of your Settlements.
" In answer, We assure you We have all these particulars in our Hearts ; they are fresh in our Memory. We shall never forget that You and we have but one Heart, one Head, one Eye, one Ear, and one Hand ; We shall have all your Country under our Eye, and take all the care we can to prevent any Enemy from coming into it ; and in proof of our Care, we must inform you that before we came here we told Onantio, our Father, as he is called, that neither he nor any of His people should come through our Country to hurt our Brethren the English, or any of the Settlements belonging to them ; there was room enough at Sea to fight ; there he might do what he pleased, but he should come upon our Land to do any Damage to Our Bretheren, And you may depend upon our using our utmost care to see this effectually done ; and in token of our Sincerity we present you with this Belt of Wampum."
Which was received with the usual Ceremony.
After some little time the Interpreter said, Canassotego had forgot something Material, and desired to mend his Speech, and to do so as often as he should omitt any thing of Moment, and thereupon he added:
"The Six Nations have a great Authority and Influence over sundry Tribes of Indians in Alliance with the French, and particularly over the Praying Indians, formerly a part with ourselves, who stand in the very gates of the French, and to shew our Further care, we have engaged these very Indians, and other Indian Allies of the French, for you. They will not join the French against you. They have agreed with us before we set out. We have put the Spirit of Antipathy against the French in those People. Our Interest is very Considerable with them and many other Nations, and as far as ever it extends we shall use it for your Service."


Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, Vol. 4 (Harrisburg: Theo, Fenn, & Co., 1851), 698-737,, accessed August 25, 2021.

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"Excerpts from the Treaty of Lancaster (1744)," in World History Commons, [accessed February 22, 2024]