The administration of British policy to the Indians in the northern district of North America 1760 - 1783
Pulfer, Ruth Elizabeth
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For good or for ill, the white man and the red man in eighteenth century North America were locked in a relationship to one another which had fateful results for both. In the years from the conquest of Canada to the end of the American Revolution, the British government in North America and in England struggled to establish a policy of dealing with the Indians which would serve the ends of both sides in the best possible manner; the failure to put such a policy into effect damaged the interests of both, though it seems fair to say that the Indians suffered the greater tragedy. This thesis is an attempt to explore the struggle by the British in North America to establish a scheme of relations with the tribes which was at once just, harmonious and economically sound. The Indian nations with which we shall be concerned are those included in what was called for purposes of Indian affairs the Northern District. The tribes of the great triangle of the Ohio Valley, that area ceded by the French in 1763, were included; the Shawanese and the Delawares were the most significant. Tribes living on lands which had not yet been purchased by white men within the frontiers of the colonies were also included; thus, Indian nations within the borders of Quebec, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia were encompassed in the Northern District. By far the most important of these were the mighty Six Nations, who lived within the boundaries of the colony of New York. The officials in this area who were in charge of interpreting and carrying out British policy to the Indians were referred to throughout this period as the 'Indian Department.' There were actually two Indian Departments in North America in this period, one over the Northern District and one in the Southern District, each presided over by a Superintendent of Indian Affairs; the Southern District included the frontiers of the Carolinas, Georgia and the Floridas. Unless otherwise specified, we shall use the term 'Indian Department' to refer to that in the Northern District, although many of the problems and policies of the two districts were similar. Through the years from 1756 to 1774 the Indian Department functioned under the direction of the Commander in Chief of the British forces in North America; from 1774 till the end of the Revolutionary War it operated under the Governor and Commander in Chief of Quebec. The first chapter of the thesis will deal with the conditions which led to the creation of an Indian Department and will provide a chronological outline of the changes in the structure and policies of the Department during the whole period. The second chapter will be concerned largely with the character and personal attitudes of the officials in the Indian Department, and with the effects these had on the course of Indian relations. The third chapter will examine the role played by the Commander in Chief during the period when the Indian Department was under his direction. The fourth will deal with the conduct of Indian affairs under the Governor of Quebec, especially during the Revolutionary War; the use and implications of the use of the Indians as allies will be discussed. This form rather than a strictly chronological one has been adopted because the problems encountered and the solutions attempted in the course of Indian relations are more clearly seen in terms of the bodies and officials responsible for Indian affairs on various levels than in terms of chronological events.