Joseph Brant After Stuart
Digital Art - Digital Painting/photographic Art
Digitally hand painted from a photo of a Gilbert Stuart painting now in the public domain. New background repainted from a texture by lenabaum.
Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant (March 1743 - 24 November 1807) was a Mohawk military and political leader, based in present-day New York, who was closely associated with Great Britain during and after the American Revolution. Perhaps the American Indian of his generation best known to the Americans and British, he met many of the most significant Anglo-American people of the age, including both George Washington and King George III.
Brant was born in 1743, probably in March, in the Ohio Country somewhere along the Cuyahoga River. This was during the hunting season when the Mohawk traveled to the area. He was named Thayendanegea, which in the Mohawk language can mean "two wagers (sticks) bound together for strength", or possibly "he who places two bets." As the Mohawk were a matrilineal culture, he was born into his mother's Wolf Clan. Anglican Church records at Fort Hunter, New York, noted that his parents were Christians and their names were Peter and Margaret Tehonwaghkwangearahkwa. His father died before 1753.
After his father's death, his mother Margaret (Owandah), the niece of Tiaogeara, a Caughnawaga sachem, returned to the province of New York from Ohio with Joseph and his older sister Mary (also known as Molly). They settled in Canajoharie, a Mohawk village on the Mohawk River, where they had lived before.
Joseph Brant or Thayendanegea was a Mohawk war chief, interpreter, statesmen, and British military leader. He studied at Eleazer Wheelock's Indian Charity School in Connecticut and became an ally of Sir William Johnson, superintendent for Indian Affairs; Johnson married Joseph's sister, Molly. With the onset of the Revolutionary crisis, Native Americans, like other residents of North America, had to choose the loyalist or patriot cause - or try to maintain a neutral stance. The Iroquois Confederacy divided but Brant and his sister led the Mohawks and most Iroquois nations into an alliance with the British. When Brant joined the new Indian Superintendent Guy Johnson in London in 1776; he became a celebrity, had his portrait painted, and met the King and Queen. But Brant had serious business too. He made clear his allegiance to the Crown but also indicated that Native Americans had distinctive issues all their own in trying to hold on to their homelands as Brant indicates in this letter to Secretary of State Lord George Germain. A decade later he would return to seek British support against encroachments on Iroquois lands by the victorious Americans.
Around 1782, Brant married his third wife, Catherine Croghan, daughter of an Irishman and a Mohawk. With the war over, and the British having surrendered lands to the colonists and not to the Indians, Brant was faced with finding a new home for himself and his people. He discouraged further Indian warfare and helped the U.S. commissioners to secure peace treaties with the Miamis and other tribes. He retained his commission in the British Army and was awarded a grant of land on the Grand River in Ontario by Govenor Sir Frederick Haldimand of Canada in 1784. The tract of 675,000 acres encompassed the Grand River from its mouth to its source, six miles deep on either side. Brant led 1843 Iroquois Loyalists from New York State to this site where they settled and established the Grand River Reservation for the Mohawk. The party included members of all six tribes, but primarily Mohawk and Cayugas, as well as a few Delaware, Nanticoke, Tutelo, Creek, and Cherokee, who had lived with the Iroquois before the war. They settled in small tribal villages along the river. Sir Haldimand had hurriedly pushed through the land agreement before his term of office expired and was unable to provide the Indians with legal title to the property. For this reason, Brant again traveled to England in 1785. He succeeded in obtaining compensation for Mohawk losses in the U.S. War for Independence and received funds for the first Episcopal Church in Upper Canada, but failed to obtain firm title to the Grand River reservation. The legality of the transfer remains under question today.
Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks was built in 1785 at the order of King George III. The simple wooden structure survives today as the oldest Protestant church in Ontario and is the only church outside the United Kingdom with the status of Chapel Royal. The church contains some lavish appointments including a silver service and bible dating from 1712 when Queen Anne had a church erected for the Mohawk on the Mohawk River in New York. Also erected for the Indians in 1785 was a saw and grist mill and a school.
Brant continued with his missionary work. He felt that his followers could learn much from observing the ways of the white man and made a number of land sales of reservation property to white settlers to this end, despite the unsettled ownership.
Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea), Mohawk
"Our wise men are called Fathers, and they truly sustain that character. Do you call yourselves Christians? Does the religion of Him who you call your Savior inspire your spirit, and guide your practices? Surely not.
It is recorded of him that a bruised reed he never broke. Cease then to call yourselves Christians, lest you declare to the world your hypocrisy. Cease too to call other nations savage, when you are tenfold more the children of cruelty than they.
No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthwhile action, but the consciousness of having served his nation.
I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people. But I will gladly shake your hand."
Joseph Brant to King George III
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October 29th, 2013
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