"A CONFEDERACY IS FORMED BY PART OF THE INHABITANTS OF CONIHECHEGUE TO STOP OR DESTROY THE CARGO YOU ARE FORWARDING TO FORT PITT": WONDERFUL LETTER SIGNED BY COLONIAL GOVERNOR THOMAS GAGE REVEALING CONFLICT WITH NATIVE AMERICANS IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR
GAGE, Thomas. Letter signed. New York, March 10, 1766. Single sheet of unlined cream paper, measuring 7 by 8-1/2 inches; pp. 2. $3800.
Fascinating letter, written in a secretarial hand and signed by General Gage, commander-in-chief of the British Army in North America, concerning difficulties with shipping sabotage by the Native Americans in the aftermath of the French and Indian War.
The letter, dated "New York March 10th:1766" and addressed to "Mssrs. Bayton, Sharton, & Morgan," reads: "Gentlemen, I am to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th:Inst: with a copy of a letter from Mr Callendan informing you, that he has reasons to apprehend, that a Confederacy is formed by part of the Inhabitants of Conihechegue [Conococheague], to stop or destroy the Cargo, you are forwarding to Ford Pitt [a key military installation in the French and Indian War], and by that means to prevent you from prosecuting the plan you had formed of supplying the Ilinois [Illini] with goods. I am sorry to understand that further trouble is to be expected from that Quarter, and that you should be likely to meet a second interruption and loss, from the lawless proceedings of the Bandits who infest that Communication. I have received a letter from Governor Penn, upon this subject, and forward to him by this occasion agreable to his Requisition to the Orders for the Military to be aiding and assisting in the support of the Civil Power, and maintaining Good Order, whenever they shall be properly called upon for that purpose. I am, Gentlemen, Your most obedient humble Servant. [signed] Thos. Gage." This letter concerns events following the French and Indian War, particularly efforts to supply goods to the Illinois Confederation [Illini]. While they gave their name only to the state of Illinois, the Illinois Confederation actually resided in a far larger territorial area mainly comprising large parts of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio. Originally stalwart allies of the French, the Illini were virtually wiped out by the alliance. Their decision to back the French resulted in numerous wars with neighboring tribes and extensive loss of land. Indeed, a 10,000-person tribe was, by the end of the 19th century, reduced to around 300. Moreover, the loss of the French to the British in the French and Indian War left a power vacuum in Illini territory. The French withdrew and left the British to take over the region. The lack of French goods available to the Illini led the tribe to begin trading extensively with the British—as mentioned here. The situation in the area, though, remained fraught, with continual Indian attacks on the British. Their attempts to sabotage British shipping and trade are the main concern of this letter. The author, Thomas Gage, was a British Army officer and colonial governor. During the period in which this letter was written, Gage was the commander-in-chief of the British Army in North America, best known for putting down the Pontiac Rebellion involving a confederation of previously French-allied tribes in the Midwest who objected to British administration. Policies toward the Indians mellowed in the wake of the Rebellion, but new measures implemented enraged the British and became a precipitating cause of the American Revolution. This item was bound into an extra-illustrated copy of the "History of the City of New York" circa 1872, in the possession of Emery E. Childs, and while the book—expanded to 21 volumes—has passed through several hands, this particular autograph letter has not been on the market since it was bound in, a happy circumstance that has also maintained this fragile letter in its current condition. Evidence of mounting around rear edges.
Expert reinforcement at fold, minor split at horizontal fold, mild toning to verso. Near-fine condition.