תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

convinced, that its inhabitants were not to be trusted with power, and that they were incapable in any degree of governing themselves. This being properly represented to the government, an act was passed June 13th, 1788, repealing the former act, by which Mashpee was incorporated into a district. By a subsequent act, passed January 30th, 1789, it was provided, that a board of Overseers, consisting of five members, should be appointed by the Governour and Council, which board had authority to appoint under them two Guardians of the Indians. By another act, passed March 4th, 1790, the Guardians were authorized to appoint Constables and other officers.

This is the present constitution of Mashpee. It did not satisfy the Indians, who were louder than ever in their complaints; which reaching the ears of the legislature, a Committee was appointed in the year 1795 to go to Mashpee. This Committee, which consisted of the Honourable Nathan Dane, William Eustis, and Jonathan Mason, Esquires, were instructed to inquire into the circumstances of the inhabitants of Mashpee, to ascertain the causes of their uneasiness, and to consider whether any alterations ought to be made in the laws regulating the plantation. After a long and patient hearing of the natives, the Committee reported, that it was not best to make any alteration in the present laws for regulating the plantation ; but as they learned, that the wood of Mashpee was stolen by persons living near the plantation, they recommended that provision should be made by the legislature to prevent such trespasses in future. Accordingly in February, 1796, an act to this purpose was passed ; and it appears in a great measur

in a great nieasure to have produced the intended effect. • The Overseers of the plantation are at present Hon. Walter Spooner Esquire of New Bedford, Hon. Joshua Thomas Esquire and Ephraim Spooner Esquire of Plymouth, Holmes Allen Esquire of Barnstable, and the Rev. Gideon Hawley. They meet annually at Mashpee, the second Tuesday of October, to hear complaints and transact business for the regulation of the people. They then appoint a President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I had

[ocr errors]

er

[ocr errors]

athan

[ocr errors]

isted Guardians for many years have been David Parker Es-
egreequire of Barnstable, and Mr. George Allen of Sandwich,

who meet occasionally as business requires.
It

appears from the account which has been given of
this plantation, that it has been an expensive establish-
ment from the beginning, but that probably little good
has been produced. The Indians have become neither
a religious nor a virtuous people, nor have they been
made happy. No one can doubt the pious and benevo-
lent intentions of Richard Bourne, who procured this ex-
tensive patent for the Indians ; nor of the gentlemen,
who in succession, for a century and a half, have watch-

ed over them, like parents over their children. The ex. did

ertions, which have been made for their benefit, are honin

ourable to the government of Massachusetts, and to the gisla societies who have so liberally contributed their time and

go wealth ; but the melancholy reflection, that they have laf the boured in vain, perpetually intrudes itself on the mind.

With a hundredth part of the pains which have been be-
stowed on these 'savages, a town might have been raised
up on the ground occupied by them, which would con-
tain four times as many white inhabitants, enjoying all

the comforts of civilized life, and contributing by their f the industry to the welfare of the state, and by the taxes,

which they pay, to the support of government. This
plantation may be compared to a pasture, which is capa-

ble of feeding fifteen or sixteen hundred sheep ; but inthes to which several good-natured and visionary gentlemen legs have put three or four hundred wolves, foxes, and skunks

, by way of experiment, with the hope that they might in time be tamed... A shepherd has been placed over them at high wages ; and as the animals have been found to decrease, other wolves, foxes, and skunks have been allured to the pasture, to keep up their number. But the attempt has been in vain : the wild animals have worried the shepherd; have howled, and yelped, and cast other indignities upon the gentlemen, who from

time to time have visited them, for the sake of observing and how the experiment went on; and have almost died "hey with hunger, though they have been fed at an enormous TLC expense. What then, it may be said, do you mean that

[ocr errors]

ether Tating

[ocr errors]

the

Cash

cord

258 uced

Jon.

e of

the pet,

this plantation ought to be broken up, and its inhabitants dispersed ? Shall the speculators, who are hovering on its borders, be let in to prey on these natives, and to seize their lands? We answer, no : the plantation was entailed on these Indians in the days of our forefathers; nor can they be dispossessed of it without an act of injustice. Let them remain ; and let the pious and benevolent still persevere in their endeavours, however hopeless, to make them good men and christians. Perhaps when they cease to be Indians, when their blood is more plentifully mixed with the blood of Africa, they may acquire the habits of temperance and industry; and may become useful to the state, in which they have so long been a nuisance : or if not, they are our fellow men, and they are poor men; they are incapable of supporting themselves, and consequently are entitled to the alms of the charitable.

The above has been collected from observa, tions made in two visits to Mashpee, and from a great number of letters and other manuscripts, which have been communicated to the compiler by the Rev. Mr. Hawley, Dr, Thacher, and Dr. Eliot.

REPORT OF A COMMITTEE ON THE STATE OF THE

INDIANS IN MASHPEE AND PARTS ADJACENT.

(The following paper was put into the hands of the editor by Dr.

Eliot. It is not signed, and is without date ; but from several potes of time in it, it appears to have been written in the year 1767.* A corner of one of the leaves being toru off, the editor has supplied the words which are wauting, by conjecture.]

The Commissioners of the Company for propagating the Gospel in New England, &c. having appointed us a Committee to repair to Mashpee, to inquire into the

* It will be sufficient to mention the following notes of time. That the paper was written after 1765, appears by the last paragraph but five ; that it was written before Noy. 5th, 1768, may be shown by the last paragraph but two, because the Rev. Mr Green of Yarmouth, spoken of in it as alive, died on that day : (see Hist Coll. v. 60.] and that it was written in 1767, may be proved by the first par. agraph, because Lord's day in tbat year fell on the 13th of September.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

state of the Indians in that place and the parts adjacent, we took the opportunity of repairing to Mashpee, at a tíme of the year when the Indians of Martha's Vineyard, and the neighbouring Indians on the Continent, usually convene, and celebrate the holy communion together ; at which we were present with them, on the second Lord's day in September instant. We had then the satisfaction of seeing the house of publick worship filled with the Indians, who appeared there with a becoming gravity. The morning service was on this occasion car. ried on by Indian ministers in their own language : Sol. omon Bryant, the pastor of the church there, prayed, and Zachary Osooit

, pastor of the Indian church at Gay Head, preached ; and both of them performed their respective parts of the service with apparent solemnity and devotion. After this the sacrament was administered jointly by them and the Rev. Mr. Hawley, the English missionary, who prayed alternately in English and Indian, to a great number of Indian communicants, Mr. Hawley and our own company being the only English persons that joined with them in this solemnity. The afternoon service was carried on in English by Mr. Pem. berton. When this was over, notice was given, that we should be at the meeting house at ten o'clock the next morning, and should be then ready to hear any of them that had any thing to offer.

Monday, September 14th. A number of Indians met us; among whom were Solomon Bryant and Zachary Osooit

, the Indian pastors before mentioned, John Ralph, the minister at Potenumacut, and Isaac Jephry, minister at the Ponds in Plymouth. We took this opportunity to mention a subject that had been lately under the consideration of the Commissioners, the expediency of Mr. Mayhew's being ordained to the pastoral office at Martha's Vineyard. Zachary Osooit readily signified his approbation of the thing ; and the other Indian ministers present expressed their concurrence with him in opinion, that it would be best.

We likewise inquired of Isaac Jephry, what number of Indians he had to attend publick worship with him ;

Mr.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

who informed us, that there were now only two men at home, and seven or eight women. His allowance is small, as well as his congregation. He bears a good character, and would merit a larger allowance, if his usefulness could be rendered more extensive. Mr. Tupper has hitherto received his allowance for him, accounting those Indians a part of his charge, although, as said Isaac informed us, he had never seen him there, since he ministered to those people, which is more than twenty years.

Mr. Hawley informed us, and presented us with a list, that there were twenty-one shingled houses and fifty-two wigwams at Mashpee, belonging to and inhabited by Indians and mulattoes; that there were a hundred and twelve married, thirty-six widows, a hundred and twenty-three minors and unmarried, in all two hundred and ninety-one souls :* That besides these there are belonging to his meeting, but who live off the Mashpee lands, a number at Scanton, where and in its neighbourhood there are nine wigwams : That there are at Saccanesset, or Falmouth, about twenty persons belonging to said meeting. We were also informed, that there are six wigwams at Yarmouth, the inhabitants of which belong to the church and congregation at Potenumacut, or Eastham, where there are a larger number of Indians, than at any other place in that neighbourhood besides Mashpee.

As Mr. Tupper has proposed to move to Pocasset, we made particular inquiry concerning the Indians there, and were informed, that there are eight Indian families or houses in that place, 'consisting of about thirty persons in all. Some of them were present, and expressed their desire of Mr. Tupper's settling there, as they are seven or eight miles distant from meeting.

Tuesday, September 15. Having, as we went down, ap-pointed to meet Mr. Tupper. this day at Sandwich on our return, he came over accordingly. We conferred with him on his proposal of removing to Pocasset, which is a part of Sandwich, but seven or eight miles distant

• The total amount is only two hundred and seventy-one.Editor:

« הקודםהמשך »