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Indian Nullification of the Unconstitutional Laws of Massachusetts by William Apes

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and thirty-five, by WILLIAM APES, in the Clerk's Office of the
District Court of Massachusetts.


* * * * *

The red children of the soil of America address themselves to the
descendants of the pale men who came across the big waters to seek
among them a refuge from tyranny and persecution.

We say to each and every one of you that the Great Spirit who is the
friend of the Indian as well as of the white man, has raised up among
you a brother of our own and has sent him to us that he might show us
all the secret contrivances of the pale faces to deceive and defraud
us. For this, many of our white brethren hate him, and revile him, and
say all manner of evil of him; falsely calling him an impostor. Know,
all men, that our brother APES is not such a man as they say. White
men are the only persons who have imposed on us, and we say that we
love our red brother, the Rev. WILLIAM APES, who preaches to us, and
have all the confidence in him that we can put in any man, knowing him
to be a devout Christian, of sound mind, of firm purpose, and worthy
to be trusted by reason of his truth. We have never seen any reason to
think otherwise.

We send this forth to the world in love and friendship with all
men, and especially with our brother APES, for whose benefit it is

Signed by the three Selectmen of the Marshpee Tribe, at the Council
House, in Marshpee.


_March_, 19, 1835.


_To whom it may concern_.

The undersigned was a native of the County of Barnstable, and was
brought up near the Marshpee Indiana. He always regarded them as a
people grievously oppressed by the whites, and borne down by laws
which made them poor and enriched other men upon their property. In
fact the Marshpee Indians, to whom our laws have denied all rights of
property, have a higher title to their lands than the whites have, for
our forefathers claimed the soil of this State by the _consent of the
Indians_, whose title they thus admitted was better than their own.

For a long time the Indians had been disaffected, but no one was
energetic enough among them to combine them in taking measures for
their rights. Every time they had petitioned the Legislature, the
laws, by the management of the interested whites, had been made more
severe against them. DANIEL AMOS, I believe, was the first one among
them, who conceived the plan of freeing his tribe from slavery.
WILLIAM APES, an Indian preacher, of the Pequod tribe, regularly
ordained as a minister, came among these Indians, to preach. They
invited him to assist them in getting their liberty. He had the talent
they most stood in need of. He accordingly went forward, and the
Indians declared that no man should take their wood off their
plantation. APES and a number of other Indians quietly unloaded a load
of wood, which a Mr. SAMPSON was carting off. For this, he and some
others were indicted for a riot, upon grounds extremely doubtful in
law, to say the least. Every person on the jury, who said he thought
the Indians ought to have their liberty, was set aside. The three
Indians were convicted, and APES was imprisoned thirty days.

It was in this stage of the business, after the conviction, that I
became the counsel of the Indians, and carried their claims to the
Legislature, where they finally prevailed.

The persons concerned in the riot, as it was called, and imprisoned
for it, I think were as justifiable in what they did, as our fathers
were, who threw the tea overboard; and to the energetic movements of
WILLIAM APES, DANIEL AMOS and others, it was owing that an impression
was made on the Legislature, which induced them to do partial justice
toward this long oppressed race. The imprisonment of those men, in
such a cause, I consider an honour to them, and no disgrace; no more
than the confinement of our fathers, in the Jersey prison-ship.


_Counsel for the Marshpee Indian_.


* * * * *

The writer hopes that the public will give him credit for an intention
to adhere rigidly to the truth, in presenting his views of the late
difficulties of the Marshpee Tribe, as it is as much his wish as his
intention to do justice to all his brethren, without distinction of
colour. Yet he is sensible that he cannot write truly on this subject
without attracting the worst wishes of those who are enemies to
liberty, or would reserve it exclusively to themselves. Could he speak
without incurring such enmity, he would be most happy to do so; but he
is fully aware that he cannot even touch this matter without exposing
himself to certain calumny. This has been his portion whenever he has
attempted to plead the cause of his ignorant and ever-oppressed red
brethren. Nevertheless, he will endeavour to speak independently, as
if all men were his friends, and ready to greet him with thundering
applause; and he would do so if their voices were to pronounce on him
a sentence of everlasting disgrace. He writes not in the expectation
of gathering wealth, or augmenting the number of his friends. But
he has not the least doubt that all men who have regard to truth
and integrity, will do justice to the uprightness of his intentions.
(Heaven be praised! there are some such men in the world.) He is
equally sure that the evidence contained in this little work will be
satisfactory, as to all the points he wishes to establish, to all who
are open to conviction.

It is true that the author of this book is a member of the Marshpee
Tribe, not by birth, but by adoption. How he has become one of that
unfortunate people, and why he concerns himself about their affairs,
will now be explained to the satisfaction of the reader. He wishes
to say in the first place, that the causes of the prevalent prejudice
against his race have been his study from his childhood upwards. That
their colour should be a reason to treat one portion of the human race
with insult and abuse has always seemed to him strange; believing
that God has given to all men an equal right to possess and occupy the
earth, and to enjoy the fruits thereof, without any such distinction.
He has seen the beasts of the field drive each other out of their
pastures, because they had the power to do so; and he knew that the
white man had that power over the Indian which knowledge and superior
strength give; but it has also occurred to him that Indians are men,
not brutes, as the treatment they usually receive would lead us to
think. Nevertheless, being bred to look upon Indians with dislike and
detestation, it is not to be wondered that the whites regard them as
on a footing with the brutes that perish. Doubtless there are many who
think it granting us poor natives a great privilege to treat us with
equal humanity. The author has often been told seriously, by sober
persons, that his fellows were a link between the whites and the brute
creation, an inferior race of men to whom the Almighty had less
regard than to their neighbours, and whom he had driven from their
possessions to make room for a race more favoured. Some have gone so
far as to bid him remove and give place to that pure and excellent
people who have ever despised his brethren and evil entreated them,
both by precept and example.

Assumption of this kind never convinced WILLIAM APES of its own
justice. He is still the same unbelieving Indian that he ever was.
Nay, more, he is not satisfied that the learned and professedly
religious men who have thus addressed him, were more exclusively the
favourites of his Creator than himself, though two of them at least
have been hailed as among the first orators of the day, and spoke
with an eloquence that might have moved stocks and stones. One of
them dwells in New York and the other in Boston. As it would avail him
little to bespeak the favour of the world in behalf of their opinions
by mentioning their names, he will proceed with the matter in hand,
viz. the troubles of the Marshpee people, and his own trial.


It being my desire, as well as my duty as a preacher of the gospel, to
do as much good as in me lay to my red brethren, I occasionally paid
them a visit, announcing and explaining to them the word of life,
when opportunity offered. I knew that no people on earth were more
neglected; yet whenever I attempted to supply their spiritual wants,
I was opposed and obstructed by the whites around them, as was the
practice of those who dwelt about my native tribe, (the Pequods,) in
Groton, Conn. of which more will be said in another place.

Being on a tour among my brethren in May, 1833, I was often asked why
I did not visit my brethren of Marshpee, of whom I had often heard.
Some said that they were well provided, and had a missionary, named
FISH, who took care of their lands and protected them against the
fraud of such of their neighbours as were devoid of principle. Others
asserted that they were much abused. These things I heard in and about
Scituate and Kingston, where I had preached. Some of those who spoke
thus, were connected with the missionary. The light thus obtained
upon the subject being uncertain, I resolved to visit the people of
Marshpee, and judge for myself. Accordingly I repaired to Plymouth,
where I held forth on the civil and religious rights of the Indians,
in Dr. KENDALL'S church, and was treated with Christian kindness by
the worthy pastor and his people. Dr. KENDALL gave me a letter of
introduction to Mr. FISH, at Marshpee. Being unacquainted with
the way, I strayed a little from it, and found a number of good
Congregationalists of the old school, who invited me to tarry and
preach to them in the evening, which I did, to their acceptance; for
they and their pastor desired me to remain and preach on the Sabbath,
which, however, I could not consistently do. I proceeded thence to
Sandwich, where I made my mission known to Mr. COBB, the Orthodox
preacher, who appeared to be pleased.

Mr. COBB said that he had agreed to exchange with Mr. FISH, on the
Sabbath following, but as it was inconvenient for him to do so, he
would give me a line to him. With this furtherance I set forward, and
arrived at Mr. FISH's house before sunset, informing those I met on
the way that I intended to preach on the next day, and desiring them
to advise others accordingly. When I made my business known to Mr.
FISH, he treated me with proper kindness, and invited me to preach for
him. When I awoke in the morning, I did not forget to return thanks to
God for his fatherly protection during the night, and for preserving
me in health and strength, to go through the duties of the day. I
expected to meet some hundreds of the tribe, and to hear from their
lips the sweet song of salvation which should prepare their minds for
the words of life, to be delivered by one of the humblest servants of
God. I hoped that grace might be given to me to say something to my
poor brethren that might be for their advantage in time and eternity;
after which I thought I should see their faces no more. I looked to
see them thronging around their missionary in crowds, and waited for
this agreeable sight with great anxiety.

The time appointed for the service was half past ten. When it arrived,
we got into our carriages and proceeded to the Meeting-house, which
was about two miles and a half distant. The sacred edifice stood in
the midst of a noble forest, and seemed to be about a hundred
years old; circumstances which did not render its appearance less
interesting. Hard by was an Indian burial ground, overgrown with
pines, in which the graves were all ranged North and South.
A delightful brook, fed by some of the sweetest springs in
Massachusetts, murmured beside it. After pleasing my eyes with this
charming landscape, I turned to meet my Indian brethren and give
them the hand of friendship; but I was greatly disappointed in the
appearance of those who advanced. All the Indians I had ever seen were
of a reddish color, sometimes approaching a yellow; but now, look to
what quarter I would, most of those who were coming were pale faces,
and, in my disappointment, it seemed to me that the hue of death sat
upon their countenances. It seemed very strange to me that my brethren
should have changed their natural color, and become in every respect
like white men. Recovering a little from my astonishment, I entered
the house with the missionary. It had the appearance of some ancient
monument set upon a hill-top, for a landmark to generations yet
unborn. Could Solomon's temple have been set beside it, I think no one
would have drawn an architectural comparison. Beautiful as this place
was, we had little time to admire it; something more solemn demanded
our attention. We were to prepare ourselves for a temple more splendid
than ever was built by hands. When the congregation were seated, I
arose and gave out the psalm. I now cast my eyes at the gallery, that
I might see how the songsters who were tuning their harps appeared;
but, with one exception, paleness was upon all their faces. I must
do these _Indians_ the justice to say that they performed their parts
very well. Looking below, something new caught my attention. Upon
two seats, reserved along the sides of the temple for some of the
privileged, were seated a few of those to whom the words of the
Saviour, as well as his scourge of small cords, might be properly
applied, "It is written that my house shall be called the house of
prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves;" for these pale men were
certainly stealing from the Indians their portion in the gospel, by
leaving their own houses of worship and crowding them out of theirs.
The law, perhaps, allowed them to do so. After singing and prayer, I
preached one of my humble sermons, after which I attended a Sabbath
School, in which a solitary red child might be seen here and there.
By what I saw, I judged that the whites were much favored, while the
little red children were virtually bidden to stand aside. I understood
that the books that were sent to them had been given to the white

After a slight refreshment, the duty of worship was resumed; and I
discovered that plain dealing was disagreeable to my white auditory.
I inquired where _the Indians_ were; to which Mr. Fish replied, that
they were at a place called Marshpee, and that there was a person
called _Blind Joe_, who tried to preach to them, which was the cause
of their absence. Though the said Joe was one of them, he had done
them more harm than good. I asked why he did not invite Blind Joe, and
get him to preach for him a part of the time. He answered, that that
could not be; that Joe was not qualified to preach and instruct. I
replied that he could not, perhaps, be sure of that, and that if he
had followed the course I had mentioned, it would at least have been
the means of uniting the people, which would of itself have been great
good. It was then concluded to have a meeting at Marshpee; and, in the
afternoon of the next day, I paid the people of that place a visit in
their Meeting-house. I addressed them upon temperance and education,
subjects which I thought very needful to be discussed, and plainly
told them what I had heard from their missionary, viz: That it was
their general disposition to be idle, not to hoe the corn-fields they
had planted, to take no care of their hay after mowing it, and to lie
drunken under their fences. I admonished them of the evil of these
their ways, and advised them to consider any white man who sold them
rum their enemy, and to place no confidence in him. I told them that
such a person deserved to have his own rum thrown into his face.
I endeavored to show them how much more useful they might be to
themselves and the world if they would but try to educate themselves,
and of the respect they would gain by it. Then, addressing the throne
of grace, I besought the Lord to have mercy on them and relieve
them from the oppressions under which they laboured. Here Mr. Fish
cautioned me not to say any thing about oppression, that being,
he said, the very thing that made them discontented. They thought
themselves oppressed, he observed, but such was not the case. They
had already quite liberty enough. I suggested to him the propriety of
granting them the privileges enjoyed by the whites about them; but he
said that that would never do, as they would immediately part with
all their lands. I told him that, if their improvement was his aim,
he ought to go among them and inquire into their affairs; to which he
replied that he did go at times, but did not say much to them about
their worldly concerns. He asked me if I thought it proper to preach
about such things. I answered that I thought it proper to do good in
any way; that a variety was not amiss, and that such a course would
convince his flock that he had their welfare at heart.

I had now appointed to meet my brethren on Wednesday evening
following, when I expected to bid them farewell forever; and in the
mean while I had obtained a letter of introduction to Mr. Pratt, of
Great Marshes. There I gave the audience a word in season, upon the
subject of Indian degradation, which did not appear to please them
much. I then visited Barnstable, and finding no resting place there
for the sole of my foot, I journeyed as far as Hyannis, where I was
entertained with hospitality and kindness. On the evening of the
fourteenth day, I again preached on the soul-harrowing theme of Indian
degradation; and my discourse was generally well received; though it
gave much offence to some illiberal minds, as truth always will, when
it speaks in condemnation. I now turned my face toward Marshpee, to
preach the word there.

I had made up my mind to depart early on the morrow, and therefore,
that I might hear of their concerns, and how they fared from their own
mouths, I intended to commence my labours early in the day. I had not
the least intention of staying with my brethren, because I saw that
they had been taught to be sectarians, rather than Christians, to
love their own sect and to hate others, which was contrary to the
convictions of my own experience as well as to the doctrine of Jesus
Christ. What ensued led me to look farther into their case. The
lecture I had delivered in the Meeting-house, had wrought well, and a
small pamphlet that contained a sketch of the history of the Indians
of New England had had a good effect. As I was reading from it, an
individual among the assembly took occasion to clap his hands, and
with a loud shout, to cry, "Truth, truth!" This gave rise to a general
conversation, and it was truly heart-rending to me to hear what my
kindred people had suffered at the hands of the whites.

Having partook of some refreshment, we again met to worship God in the
School-house; where I believe that the Spirit of the Lord was revealed
to us. Then, wishing to know more of their grievances, real or
supposed, and upon their invitation, I appointed several meetings;
for I was requested to hear their whole story, and to help them. I
therefore appointed the twenty-first of May, 1833, to attend a council
to be called by my brethren. In the mean while I went to Falmouth,
nine miles distant, where I held forth upon the civil and religious
rights of the Indians. Some, who apparently thought that charity
was due to themselves, but not to the red men, did not relish the
discourse; but such as knew that all men have rights and feelings,
and wished those of others to be respected as well as their own, spoke
favourably of it. Of this number was Mr. Woodbury, the minister, who
thought it would do good. I then returned to Marshpee, to attend the

The meeting was held in the school-room. Business commenced at about
nine in the morning, and continued through the day. The first that
arose to speak was an Indian, Ebenezer Attaquin by name. Tears flowed
freely down his time-furrowed cheeks, while he addressed us in a
manner alike candid and affectionate. The house was well filled.

After listening patiently to the tale of their distresses, I
counselled them to apply for redress to the Governor and Council. They
answered, that they had done so; but _had never been able to obtain a
hearing_. The white agents had always thrown every obstacle in their
way. I then addressed them in a speech which they all listened to with
profound attention.

I began by saying that, though I was a stranger among them, I did
not doubt but that I might do them some good, and be instrumental in
procuring the discharge of the overseers, and an alteration of the
existing laws. As, however, I was not a son of their particular tribe,
if they wished me to assist them, it would be necessary for them to
give me a right to act in their behalf, by adopting me; as then our
rights and interests would become identical. They must be aware that
all the evil reports calumny could invent, would be put in circulation
against me by the whites interested, and that no means to set them
against me would be neglected. (Had the inspiration of Isaiah spoken
these words, they could not have been more fully accomplished, as is
known to the whites of Barnstable County, as well as the Indians.)

Mr. Ebenezer Attaquin, being one of the prayer leaders, replied first,
and said, "If we get this man to stand by us, we must stand by him,
and if we forsake him after he undertakes for us, God will forsake us

Mr. Ezra Attaquin wished to know if I could not come and dwell with
them, as so I could do them more good than if abiding at a distance.
Mr. Ebenezer Attaquin said in reply, that if such a chance should be
offered to a white man, he would be very glad to accept it.

I now inquired what provision could be made for me, if I should
consent to their wishes. They answered that their means were small,
but that they would provide a house for me to live in, and do what
they could for my support. I said that, knowing their poverty, I did
not expect much, and gave them to understand that I could dig, and
fish, and chop wood, and was willing to do what I could for myself.
The subject of religious instruction was then discussed, and the
inquiry was made, what should be done with their poor, blind brother,
(who was then absent among another sect.) I answered that I was very
willing, to unite my labours with his, as there was plenty of work for
both of us; and that had I but half a loaf of bread, I would gladly
divide it with him. It was then agreed that we should unite, and
journey together on the road toward heaven.

The case Of Mr. Fish was next laid before the council, and Complaints
were made, that he had neglected his duty; that he did not appear to
care for the welfare of the tribe, temporal or spiritual; that he had
never visited some of the brethren at all, and others only once in
five or seven years; that but eight or ten attended his preaching;
that his congregation was composed of white people, to whom his visits
were mostly confined, and that it seemed that all he appeared to
care for was to get a living, and make as much as he could out of the
Indians, who could not see any reason to think him their friend.
It was, therefore, agreed to discharge him, and three papers were
draughted accordingly. One was a petition to the Governor and Council,
a second to the Corporation of Harvard College; the first complaining
against the Overseers, and the laws relating to the tribe; and the
second against the missionary set over them by Harvard College and the
Overseers. The third document was a statement of my adoption into the
tribe, and was signed by all present, and subsequently by others, who
were not present, but were equally desirious of securing their rights.
It was as follows,

_To all whom it may concern, from the beginning of the world
up to this time, and forever more_.

Be it known, that we, the Marshpees, now assembled in the
presence of God, do hereby agree to adopt the Rev. William
Apes, of the Pequod tribe, as one of ours. He, and his wife,
and his two children, and those of his descendants, forever,
are to be considered as belonging to the Marshpee tribe of
Indians. And we solemly avow this, in the presence of God, and
of one another, and do hereby attach our names to the same,
that he may take his seat with us and aid us in our affairs.
Done at the Council House in Marshpee, and by the authority of
the same, May 21st, 1833.


ISRAEL AMOS, _Secretary_.

To this instrument there are about a hundred signatures, which were
affixed to the other papers above mentioned also. The resolutions
which were sent to the two bodies were these:

_Resolved_, That we, as a tribe, will rule ourselves, and have
the Constitutionso; for all men are born free and equal, says
the Constitutien of the country.

_Resolved_, That we will not permit any white man to come upon
our plantation, to cut or carry off wood or hay, or any other
article, without our permission, after the 1st of July next.

_Resolved_, That we will put said resolutions in force after
that date, (July next,) with the penalty of binding and
throwing them from the plantation, if they will not stay away

These resolutions were adopted by the tribe, and put in force, as will
be seen hereafter. It was hoped that, though the whites had done all
they could to extinguish all sense of right among the Indians, they
would now see that they had feelings as well as other men.

The petition to the corporation of Harvard set forth the general
dissatisfaction of the tribe with the missionary sent them by that
honorable body, according to the intended application of the Williams
Fund. The money was no more intended for Mr. Fish than for any other
clergyman; neither had the Indians given him a call. They thought it
right to let his employers know that he had not done his duty, because
he not only received between five and six hundred dollars from the
college, but had possession of five or six hundred acres of the
tribe's best woodland, without their consent or approbation, and
converted them to his own exclusive use, pretending that his claim and
right to the same was better than that of the owners themselves. Not
liking this, the Indians solicited his discharge. The document runs

To our white brethren at Harvard College and trustees of the
Williams fund, that is under the care of that body, for the
important use of converting the poor heathen in New England,
and who, we understand, by means of that fund, have placed
among us the Rev. Phineas Fish.

We thought it very likely that you would like to know if we,
as a people, respected his person and labors, and whether the
money was benefiting the Indians or not. We think it our duty
to let you know all about it, and we do say, as the voice of
one, with but few exceptions, that we as a tribe, for a long
time, have had no desire to hear Mr. Fish preach, (which is
about ten years) and do say sincerely that we, as a body, wish
to have him discharged, not because we have anything against
his moral character, but we believe his labors would be more
useful somewhere else, and for these reasons,

1st. We, as a people, have not been benefited by his
preaching; for our moral character has not been built up, and
there has been no improvement in our intellectual powers, and
we know of no Indian that has been converted by his preaching.

2d. We seldom see him upon our plantation to visit us, as a
people. His visits are as follows--To one house, one visit in
one year--to another, two visits in five years--to another one
in seven--and to many, none at all. (We would here remark that
Mr. Fish has not improved, but rather lost ground; for history
informs us that such was the anxiety of the whites, that it
was thought best to visit the Indians twice in one year, and
preach to them, so as to save them.)

3d. We think that twenty years are long enough for one trial.
Another reason is that you and the people think that we are
benefited by that fund, or money paid to him for preaching to
the Indians--and we are not. White people are his visitors
and hearers. We would remark here that we have no objection to
worship with our white neighbors, provided they come as they
ought to come, and not as thieves and robbers, and we would
ask all the world if the Marshpee Indians have not been robbed
of their rights. We wonder how the good citizens of Boston, or
any town would like to have the Indians send them a preacher
and force him into the pulpit and then send other Indians to
crowd the whites out of their own meeting house and not pay
one cent for it. Do you think the white men would like it? We
trow, not; and we hope others will consider, while they read
our distressing tale. It will be perceived that we have no
objection if hundreds of other nations visit our meeting
house. We only want fair play; for we have had foul play

4th. We do not believe but that we have as good a right to
the table of the Lord as others. We are kept back to the last,
merely because our skins are not so white as the whites', and
we know of no scriptures that justify him in so doing. (The
writer would here observe, that he wonders any person
guilty of a dark skin will submit to such unchristian usage,
especially as the minister is as willing to shear his black
sheep as his white ones. This being the case, ought he not to
pay as much regard to them? Should he turn them loose to shift
for themselves, at the risk of losing them?)

5th. We never were consulted as to his settlement over us, as
a people. We never gave our vote or voice, as a tribe, and we
fully believe that we are capable of choosing for ourselves
and have the right to do so, and we would now say to you, that
we have made choice of the Rev. Wm. Apes, of the Pequod
tribe, and have adopted him as one of ours, and shall hear him
preach, in preference to the missionary, and we should like
to have him aided, if you can do it. If not, we cannot help
it--he is ours--he is ours.

Perhaps you have heard of the oppression of the Cherokees and
lamented over them much, and thought the Georgians were
hard and cruel creatures; but did you ever hear of the poor,
oppressed and degraded Marshpee Indians in Massachusetts,
and lament over them? If not, you hear now, and we have made
choice of the Rev. Wm. Apes to relieve us, and we hope that
you will assist him. And if the above complaints and reasons,
and the following resolutions, will be satisfactory, we shall
be glad, and rejoice that you comply with our request.

_Resolved_, That we will rule our own tribe and make choice of
whom we please for our preacher.

_Resolved_, That we will have our own meeting house, and place
in the pulpit whom we please to preach to us.

_Resolved_, That we will publish this to the world; if the
above reasons and resolutions are not adhered to, and the Rev.
Mr. Fish discharged.

The foregoing addresses and resolutions were adopted by a vote
of the tribe, almost unanimous. Done at the Council House at
Marshpee, May the 21st, 1833.


ISRAEL AMOS, _Secretary_.

The Hon. Josiah Quincy, President of the College, promised to attend
to this matter, said that he had long been satisfied that the money
from the Williams fund had not been applied to the object for which it
was intended, and hinted at an intention to send no more to Mr.
Fish till he should be better informed concerning the matter. (We
understood that he actually did retain the money, though he never
found leisure to make the inquiry alluded to.) He said that, had it
been in the summer, he would have gone himself to the place. Summer
has passed away, and we have seen no Mr. Quincy yet. We have heard
that he was requested by several gentlemen to come and investigate our
affairs, but we suppose he thinks that the poor Marshpees cannot have
been wronged. However, as nothing has been done, we think it is time
that the public should be made aware of our views and intentions.

Leaving Marshpee for New Bedford, I preached at several places on my
way, and delivered lectures on Indian affairs. Many of the advocates
of oppression became clamorous, on hearing the truth from a simple
Indian's lips, and a strong excitement took place in that quarter.

Some feared that an insurrection might break out among the colored
people, in which blood might be shed. Some called me an imposter, and
others approved of my proceedings, especially the Quakers, whom I ever
found benevolent and ready to help us. Their generous good will toward
colored people of all races is well known. I feel bound to say, too,
that there were others of the highest respectability in those parts
who were anxious that their red brethren should obtain their rights
and redress of their grievances.

When the time I had fixed for my return to my friends at Marshpee
arrived, I turned thitherward, and reached the place on the sixth of
June. Here I met the blind preacher, whom I had never before seen. He
bade me welcome, and cordially agreed to join me in my labors, saying
that God had listened to his prayers. He had for several years prayed
for an assistant, and now consented to labor in conjunction with me
for the spiritual and temporal advantage of our brethren. We went
through the plantation together. On the Sabbath there was a large
meeting, and the assistance of God enabled me to preach to them, after
which we set forth, as a delegation to the Governor and Council in
Boston. We stopped at several towns by the way, to discharge our
duties, as Christian ministers, and were kindly and hospitably
received by the teachers.

When we arrived in Boston, we communicated our business to a certain
doctor, who lived in Roxbury. He did not think so favorably of it as
we had expected; but, nevertheless, agreed to lay it before the board
of trustees, which we presume he did, as he is a man of truth. We told
him that we asked for justice, not money, and said that we wished the
Marshpee Indians to avoid the meeting-house, if it did not belong to
them. With this we left him, and have never heard from him from that
day to this. He is gone where his deeds done in the flesh will receive
their just reward; which I hope is a crown of blessedness and glory.

We did not find the Governor in Boston; but were advised to wait on
Mr. Armstrong, the Lieut. Governor. We showed him our petition and
resolutions, which he said, would avail us nothing, unless enforced.
We answered that they would be enforced, at the appointed time. He
then suggested that we might have been instigated to the measures
in question by some of our enemies; probably meaning some of our
unprincipled white neighbors. We replied that ill usage had been our
only instigation, and that no one had interfered in the matter. He
advised us to deliver our petition to the Secretary of State, to be
submitted to the Council at their next session; which we did.

This done, we called on one of the tribe who was engaged in the
coasting business, and had done much to teach the Indians, and to
bring them to a right knowledge of their degraded condition. He said
that he would willingly relinquish his business, and join in the
efforts of his brethren to shake off the yoke which galled them; and
thereupon it was resolved to hold a convention on the twenty-fifth of
June, for the purpose of organizing a new government. He desired to be
there, and his name is Daniel Amos.

I now set out for Essex, where my family was living, accompanied by
the blind preacher. I put my wife and little ones on board a small
vessel, bound for Boston, while I and my blind brother returned
thither by land. We all arrived safely, and soon after embarked for
Barnstable, where we arrived on the eighteenth of June, and landed at
a spot about twelve miles distant from the hospitable Indians. Here
we found ourselves breathing a new atmosphere. The people were very
little prepossessed in our favor, and we certainly owe them small
thanks on the score of hospitality. We succeeded in obtaining the
shelter of an old stable for two nights, by paying two dollars. We
applied to one individual for accommodations during that time, for one
of our party who was sick, but were refused. He said he had no room.
If any white man should come to Marshpee and ask hospitality for a
night or two, I do not believe that one of the whole tribe would turn
him from his door, savages though they be. Does not he better deserve
the name who took from us two dollars for sleeping in his stable? This
usage made me think that in this part of New England prejudice was
strong against the poor children of the woods, and that any aid we
might receive must come from the more hospitable Indians, among whom
we arrived on the twenty-first, and rested till the twenty-fifth. We
regarded ourselves, in some sort, as a tribe of Israelites suffering
under the rod of despotic Pharaohs; for thus far, our cries and
remonstrances had been of no avail. We were compelled to make our
bricks without straw.

We now, in our synagogue, for the first time, concerted the form of a
government, suited to the spirit and capacity of free born sons of the
forest; after the pattern set us by our white brethren. There was but
one exception, viz. that _all_ who dwelt in our precincts were to
be held free and equal, _in truth_, as well as in letter. Several
officers, twelve in all, were elected to give effect to this novelty
of a government; the chief of whom were Daniel Amos, President, and
Israel Amos, Secretary. Having thus organized ourselves, we gave
notice to the former board of overseers, and the public at large, of
our intentions. This was the form of our proclamation:


_Marshpee Plantation, June 25th, 1833_.

Having heretofore been distressed, and degraded, and
robbed daily, we have taken measures to put a stop to these
things.--And having made choice of our own town officers to
act instead of the whites, and having acquainted the Governor
of our affairs and resolutions, he has nothing against our
putting them in force.[1] And now we would say to our white
friends, we are wanting nothing but our rights betwixt man
and man. And now, rest assured that said resolutions will
be enforced after the first day of July, 1833. Done at the
National Assembly of the Marshpee Tribe, and by the authority
of the same.

DANIEL AMOS, _President_.

ISRAEL AMOS, _Secretary_.

Hereupon the Missionary and agents and all who put faith in them,
combined together to work our destruction, as is well known to all

We then proceeded to discharge all the officers appointed by the
Governor and Council, firmly believing that each and every one of the
existing laws concerning the poor Israelites of Marshpee was founded
on wrong and misconception. We also forwarded a letter and resolution
to Gideon Hawley, to the effect that we were dissatisfied with his
proceedings with regard to our affairs and with those of the other
officers, that we desired their stay among us no longer, that we were
seeking our rights and meant to have them, and we therefore demanded
of them all a final settlement, and warned them not to violate our
regulations. The resolution was as follows:

_Resolved_, That we will no longer accede to your terms after
the first day of July next, 1833.

Done by the authority of the Marshpee Tribe.

DANIEL AMOS, _President_.

ISRAEL AMOS, _Secretary_.

We also proceeded to discharge the missionary, telling him that he and
the white people had occupied our meeting house long enough, and that
we now wanted it for our own use. We likewise gave him notice that we
had complained against him to the authorities at Harvard.

Those who had, as we think unlawfully, ruled us hitherto, now awoke
in astonishment, and bestirred themselves in defence of their temporal
interests. Mr. Hawley was despatched to the Governor at Worcester,
to whom he represented the state of affairs in colors which we cannot
acknowledge to have been faithful. He stated that the Indians were in
open rebellion, and that blood was likely to be shed. It was reported
and believed among us that he said we had armed ourselves, and were
prepared to carry all before us with tomahawk and scalping knife;
that death and destruction, and all the horrors of a savage war, were
impending; that of the white inhabitants some were already dead, and
the rest dreadfully alarmed! An awful picture indeed.

However, several weeks previous to this the Governor and Council had
been apprised of what was going forward, and had authorised one of the
Council to visit the tribe, in order to hold counsel, and if possible,
restore peace among them. But the first of July arrived before he
came, and we did even as we had pledged ourselves to do, having in
view no other end than the assertion and resumption of our rights. Two
of the whites, indeed, proved themselves enemies to the Indians, by
holding themselves in readiness to break up the new government, and
daring them to carry it into effect. They were brothers, and one of
them has since gone to his reward. Their name was Sampson. They came,
in defiance of our resolutions, to take away our wood, in carts. As I
was walking in the woods, I discovered them in the act of removing
our property, and called to him who was the owner of the teams to come
near me. He complied, and appeared much agitated as he approached.
I mildly stated to him the views and intentions of the tribe, saying
that it was not their design to wrong or harm any man in the least,
and that we wished them to desist till we should have had a settlement
with the Overseers, after which every thing should be placed upon a
proper footing. I begged them to desist, for the sake of peace; but it
was to no purpose. They said that they knew what they were about, and
were resolved to load their teams. I answered, that the men who owned
the wood were resolved to carry their resolutions into force; and
asked if they had not seen the notification we had posted up. One of
them replied that he had seen, but had not taken much notice of it. I
again told them that the owners of the wood were at hand, and by the
time one of the teams was laden, the Indians came up. I then asked
William Sampson, who was a member of the missionary's church, if
he would, even then, unload his team and wait till things were
more quiet; to which he replied that he would not. I then, having
previously cautioned the Indians to do no bodily injury to any man,
unless in their own defence, but to stand for their rights, and
nothing else, desired them to unload the teams, which they did very
promptly. One of the Sampsons, who was a justice of the peace, forbade
them, and threatened to prosecute them for thus protecting their own
property, which had no other effect than to incite them to work more
diligently. When they had done, I told the justice, that he had,
perhaps, better encourage others to carry away what did not belong
to them, and desired the teamsters to depart. They said they would,
seeing that it was useless to attempt to load the carts. Throughout
this transaction the Indians uttered neither a threat nor an unkind
word, but the white men used very bitter language at being thus, for
the first time, hindered from taking, away what had always been as a
lawful spoil to them hitherto.

The defeated Sampsons hurried off to get the aid of legal might
to overcome right, and were wise enough to trouble the Indians no
further. The tribe were thus left in peaceable possession of all their
property. Mr. Fiske stated in his report of the case, that we wanted
possession of the mission house; but in this he was mistaken. No such
thing was intended or even mentioned among us, though it is true
that the meeting-house and the two school houses, and all the land,
excepting that on which Mr. Fiske's house stood, were in our hands.

The Indians now made it part of their business to watch their
property; being determined to disappoint the rapacity of the whites.
They soon learned that the Governor had sent an envoy to deal with
them, and the news cheered their hearts not a little; for they
earnestly wished for peace and quietness. A verbal message was
brought, desiring us to meet him. We replied by asking why the agent
did not come to us, if the Governor had sent him for that purpose,
instead of going to a tavern and calling on us to come to him there. I
now suppose that this proceeding on his part was not so much his fault
as that of one Ezra Crocker, who received twenty dollars _per annum_
for entertaining the Indians in his house, and who not unfrequently
thrust them out of doors. Nevertheless, we sent the agent an answer in
writing, to the following effect.

_To the Honorable Agent sent by the Governor to inquire into our

Dear Sir,

We are much gratified to see that the Governor has noticed us
so much as to inquire into our affairs. Your request could not
be attended to yesterday; our people being very busy in the
affairs of the day; but we will meet you with pleasure this
morning at nine o'clock, at our meeting-house, there being no
other place where we should like to see you for an interview.

DANIEL AMOS, _President. July 4th_, 1833.

At the time appointed, we met the Counsellor, and he appeared to enjoy
himself very well among us. When the meeting had been called to
order, it was observed that the Overseers were not present, and it was
proposed to send for them, that they might have fair play and hear
of what faults they were accused. They came, accompanied by the
High Sheriff of Barnstable County, the Hon. J. Reed of Yarmouth, and
several other whites, who were invited to take seats among us. The
excitement which pervaded Cape Cod had brought these people to our
council, and they now heard such preaching in our meeting-house as
they had never heard there before; the bitter complainings of the
Indians of the wrongs they had suffered. Every charge was separately
investigated by our people, who gave the entire day to the work. The
white persons present seemed very uneasy; often getting up, going out
and returning, as if apprehensive of some danger. The ground work of
their fears, if they had any, was this: Three of our people, who had
been out in the morning, hunting deer, had brought their guns into the
meeting house, and this circumstance was thought, or pretended to be
thought by a few of our neighbors to portend violence and murder. Also
the Counsellor had brought a letter from the Governor, indicating that
he had been led, by wrong reports, to believe that something of the
kind was likely to take place.[2]

This letter was read to the people, and was to them as a provocation
and a stimulus. They thought it grievous that the Governor should
think they had put him in mind of his oath of office, to secure the
Commonwealth from danger, and given him cause to call out perhaps
fifty or sixty thousand militia; especially when the great strength
and power of the Marshpee tribe was considered. To this supposed great
demonstration of military power they might, possibly, have opposed
a hundred fighting men and fifteen or twenty rusty guns. But it is
written, "One shall chase a thousand, and two shall put ten thousand
to flight;" so there might have been some reason for persons who
believe the Bible to fear us. Who can say that little Marshpee might
not have discomfitted great Massachusetts. Nevertheless, the birth
place of American freedom was spared so great a disgrace; for the
governor, very wisely, remained at home.

Toward the close of the day Mr. Fiske desired the Hon. Mr. Reed
to explain to the Indians the laws, as they then stood, and the
consequences of violating them. He told us that merely declaring a law
to be oppressive could not abrogate it; and that it would become us,
as good citizens whom the government was disposed to treat well, to
wait for the session of the Legislature, and then apply for relief.[3]
"He went fully," says one reporter, whose name it may be well to
omit, "into the situation of the tribe, in a very forcible and feeling
manner, warning them against the rash measures they had already taken
or adopted."

Mr. Fiske then pathetically stated his opinions concerning the awful
consequences which would result from a violation of the laws, and
spoke much at large of the parental feeling of government for the
remnant of a once mighty and distinguished race. Wm. Apes replied
that the laws ought to be altered without delay; that it was perfectly
manifest that they were unconstitutional, and that, even if they were
not so, there was nothing in them to authorize the white inhabitants
to act as they had done. Being very anxious to learn what amount of
good his brethren might expect, he spoke with an energy that alarmed
some of the whites present considerably. The Hon. Mr. Reed questioned
him as to his right to interfere. He replied that he had obtained it
by the adoption of the tribe.

Mr. Reed, if I correctly understood him, answered that the Indians
had no right to do such an act; no power to confer such a privilege. I
replied, that if the plantation belonged to them, they undoubtedly had
a right to give me leave to dwell upon it. Many other things he
said of which I could not see the reasonableness and propriety, and
therefore we could not come to an agreement.

While these things were being done and said, as I have reason to
believe, a warrant for my apprehension was put into the hands of the
High Sheriff, who, it appeared to me, was not very desirous to execute
it. He approached me, and with some agitation, told me I must go with
him to Catuiot; and added, that if I did not accompany him peaceably,
he would have out the whole county of Barnstable. I was not conscious
of giving any cause for this perturbation of mind, but I suppose
others saw my conduct in a different light. It is admitted by all that
nothing was done contrary to good order, though I admit, that if I had
refused to obey the warrant, the Sheriff would not have been able to
enforce it. The fact is I was in no wise unwilling to go with him, or
to have my conduct brought to the test of investigation, or to give
all the satisfaction that might be required, had it appeared that I
had done wrong. I was also very desirous to have the truth appear,
viz. that it was not the intention or wish of the Marshpees to do
violence or shed blood.

The Sheriff told me that I should not suffer any injury or injustice,
and that I should have a hearing in the presence of my friend, Mr.
Fiske. I went with him very quietly. The excitement ran very high, and
almost all Cotuet was present at my examination. If wishes could have
availed, I doubt not that I should have been ruined forever. I was
arraigned on three charges: for riot, assault, and trespass; and
pleaded NOT GUILTY.

The Messrs. Sampsons, four in number, were called, and testified as
follows, That on the first day of July, between eight and nine, A.M.
they were carting wood from the Marshpee plantation, that they were
hailed by Wm. Apes, and forbidden by him to take any wood away until a
settlement with the overseers should have been had; that the said
Apes threatened them that he would call his men if they persisted,
who would "_cut up a shine with them_,"[4] (the Sampsons.) They all
agreed, however, that no unchristian temper was manifested, and no
indecorous language used. They admitted that they had no fear for
their personal safety, and that no harm was done to any of the persons
concerned, save unloading their teams, and ordering them to depart.

Now if I had taken any neighbors' wood without his leave, and he had
thrown it out of my cart, and told me to go away, and had given me no
farther molestation, I should think I had gotten off very easily. If
a poor Indian wishes to get into a jail or penitentiary, that is just
the course I would advise him to pursue. I leave it to the reader to
say who were the persons aggrieved and injured, and that had the right
to complain of trespass.

It was thought proper, by those who had the power so to do, to bind me
over to appear and take my trial before the Court of Common Pleas, at
the next session, in the sum of two hundred dollars, and sureties for
the like amount were also required. Compliance was not difficult. I
had only to send for Lemuel Ewer, Esq. of South Sandwich, who had, in
former times, been the treasurer of the tribe, knew their wrongs, and
was their friend. It was well for me that there was one man who knew
on which side the right lay, and had the courage to support it, for
I verily believe that no other person would have dared to become my
bondsman. I owe Mr. Ewer the justice further to say that he has
done much to advance the interests of the Marshpee tribe, by giving
information respecting them to the Legislative body, for which we
cannot easily show our gratitude.

The Cotueters now waxed exceedingly wroth at what Mr. Ewer had done.
Truth had been shot into their hearts, and if I should say that they
bellowed like mad bulls, and spouted like whales, gored mortally by
the harpoon, I do not think the figure of speech would be too strong.
Mr. Crocker, the contractor or agent, for our wood, felt himself
especially aggrieved that I had gotten bail, and was let loose upon
the plantation, to hinder him in his business. His life, he thought,
would be in danger. There was a great deal of loose talk and a pretty
considerable uproar.

While I was waiting for Mr. Ewer, to bail me, I had some conversation
with the Hon. J.J. Fiske, who expressed himself concerned about the
Indians, and thought that something ought to be done. I said to him
that my object was to get them righted, and allowed that I might
possibly have gone too fast and far. In this I am now satisfied that
I was mistaken. I believe that neither I nor any of my brethren went
fast enough. I think there is no white man, Christian or Infidel,
who would have shown half so much forbearance as we did in the like
circumstances. Mr. Fiske said he would do all he could for me, and I
have no doubt that he did so. It was very proper in him to endeavor
to quiet the whites. The Indians were already quiet, and had no
disposition to be otherwise.

Nevertheless, it seemed to be the common opinion that the imprisonment
of Apes would frighten the rest of the tribe, and cause them to forego
their efforts to recover their rights. Had this been the case, they
might have carted a few more good suppers and dinners out of our
woods, and have eaten them on their town meeting days, for two or
three days together, twice in the year, and have thrown the bones and
crusts to the poor, old and ignorant, among the natives, as they had
done, year after year. The missionary, as usual, might have helped
them to devour the spoil, and have seen his flock degraded and abused,
before his eyes. Much was also said about the pains that had been
taken to educate the Marshpees, and it was averred, that, instead of
going to the schools opened for them, they preferred going about the
country picking berries, and basket making. Mr. Crocker said he had
been at great pains to induce the Indians to go to school. Let him who
has been prejudiced against the Marshpees, by such argument, look
at the legislative act of 1789, section 5, for the regulation of the
plantation, prohibiting the instruction of the Marshpees, in reading
and writing, under pain of death. Who, then, dared to teach them?

Mr. Hawley, the former missionary, spent fifty or sixty years in
Marshpee. He is mentioned in the history of Berkshire County, as a
schoolmaster, for the Mohawks, Onedias and Tuscaroras, in 1748, and
nothing more is known of him, up to his arrival in Marshpee. Thither
he came to teach, in A.D. 1757, and there he staid till his death.
What his care to educate the tribe was, may be judged from the facts
that he _did not teach one_ Indian to read during his residence among
them, as I am informed by those who knew him. He had probably imbibed
the opinion that the natives were incapable of being taught, and
therefore spared himself trouble that he thought would be of no use.
Nevertheless, he was willing to preach to them, and had a good portion
of their land set off for his support. Truth obliges me to say that
not one Indian was converted during the fifty years of his ministry.
The neighbouring whites were the sole recipients of the good resulting
from his labors, if there was any. Speaking on this subject, the Rev.
Cotton Mather Smith says that the arrangements for managing Indian
schools were never thoroughly made; admirable as was the general plan,
and much as it promised. I think I may safely vouch for the truth and
honesty of the reverend gentleman's admission.

Mr. Fish succeeded Mr. Hawley, in 1809, and was confirmed in his
office by the authorities at Harvard, and the white overseers at
Marshpee. The arrangement was sanctioned by the General Court, in
1811; contrary to law, as we think. Surely it takes two sides to make
a bargain, and the consent of the Indians was never asked or obtained.
Both of the divines mentioned above were willing to have the use of
the property of the Marshpees; I fear, under a mere pretext of doing
them good; and, therefore, that they and the overseers might have a
support from the plantation, the owners were constantly proclaimed
to be savages. I wonder what the whites would say, should the Indians
take possession of any part of their property. Many and many a red man
has been butchered for a less wrong than the Marshpees complain of.

Neither of the reverend gentlemen set up schools, and when the
Marshpee children were put out to service, it was with the express
understanding, as their parents all agree, that they should not be
schooled. Many of those who held them in servitude, used them more
like dogs than human beings, feeding them scantily, lodging them hard,
and clothing them with rags. Such I believe has always been the case
about Indian reservations. I had a sister who was slavishly used and
half starved; and I have not forgotten, nor can I ever forget, the
abuse I received myself. To keep Indian children from hearing the
gospel preached in a land of gospel privileges, in order that they
might do work unbefitting the Sabbath at home, has been the practice,
almost without an exception, wherever I have had opportunity to
observe. I think that the Indians ought to keep the twenty-fifth
of December[5], and the fourth of July, as days of fasting and
lamentation, and dress themselves, and their houses, and their cattle,
in mourning weeds, and pray to Heaven for deliverance from their
oppressions; for surely there is no joy in those days for the man of

Let the reader judge from what has been stated, what good the Marshpee
Indians have derived from their two missionaries. I say boldly, none
at all. On the contrary, they have been in the way of the good that
would have been done by others. I say also that all the religious
advantages the Indians have enjoyed, have come from other ministers,
and members of other churches. I am equally sure that the money paid
for our use, from the Williams Fund, has been a curse, and not a
blessing to us. Had some good Christian minister come to the tribe
with half the sum, there is no doubt that God would have made him an
instrument to raise up a respectable Christian Society; whereas the
fund has only served to build up the missionaries and the whites about
the plantation. I am glad that it has done even this good; though it
be to our enemies; for I am not of a spirit to envy the prosperity
of others; I rejoice in it. But I sincerely think it is wrong in the
whites to take the gospel from the Indians, as they do in Marshpee,
by occupying their meeting-house, and receiving the benefit of the
missionary fund. I mean that the people about Cotuet and Marshpee go
to our house, and fill it, to our exclusion, without any charge; while
the Indians are enforced by the laws which deprive them of the use
of their own lands, to pay a heavy tax, from which they derive no
benefit. Is not depriving them of all means of mental culture the
worst of all robberies? Can it be wondered, that the Indians become
more and more degraded? I presume all honest people will regret that
such has been the case. It will be seen that both the missionaries and
their white followers, imbibed all the prejudices of the day, and by
disseminating them, hindered others from doing us good. This is no
excuse, however, for the government of this Commonwealth, whose duty
it was to see that its red children were not abused in this way. We
greatly fear that our white fathers did not much care about their
colored children in Marshpee. At any rate, it may be some satisfaction
to the philanthropists in the country to know how liberal they have
been to their poor dependants.

To begin--the Indians owe nothing to the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, or to the inhabitants of New England generally, for
religious instruction, excepting a single appropriation of
four hundred dollars, made in 1816 or 1818, for repairing their
Meeting-house. Four hundred dollars more were appropriated in 1831,
for the purposes of erecting two school houses; but not one cent for a

The way the Marshpees have supported a school hitherto, has been this.
Some of them have lived abroad among the whites, and have learned to
read and write, with perhaps some small smattering of arithmetic.
On returning to the tribe, they have taught others what they knew
themselves; receiving pay from those who had the means, and teaching
the rest gratuitously. At the same time they have been compelled to
support a preacher whom they did not wish to hear, and to pay, in one
way or other, to the amount of four hundred dollars _per annum_ to
white officers, for doing them injury and not good. Thus then, in one
hundred and forty years they have paid fifty-six thousand dollars to
the whites, out of their own funds, in obedience to the laws of the
Commonwealth. In return, the whites have given them one thousand in
labor and money. Truly the Commonwealth must make haste, or it will
hardly be able to pay us the interest of our money. The principal we
never expect to get.

Thus, though it is manifest that we have cost the government
absolutely much less than nothing, we have been called State
paupers, and as such treated. Those are strange paupers who maintain
themselves, and pay large sums to others into the bargain. Heigho! it
is a fine thing to be an Indian. One might almost as well be a slave.

To return to the proceedings of the court at Cotuet: When supper time
was past, the Cotueter's were anxious to draw something out of me,
by questioning. They said they knew more about the matter than I did;
that I had gotten myself into difficulty, and that Mr. Fish was a good
man, and had gained twenty members over to his church in twenty-five
years. They might have added that these were infants, who became
members merely by undergoing the rite of baptism. Perhaps they were
very good members, when they grew up--perhaps not.

Mr. Fish, alluding to the charge that but eight or ten of the Indians
heard him preach, stated, in his memorial to the Legislature, that
more than twice ten were upon his Sabbath School list. That might be
true; but it was no answer to the charge. There may well have been
on his list the names of so many persons, who attended neither his
meeting nor his school. Nor had he denied the statements of the
Indians in the least. I said to the gentlemen who were rejoicing over
my supposed downfall, that I was glad they had taken me into custody,
as it would lead to an investigation of the whole ground in dispute.
Mr. Ewer presently arrived; his bail was accepted, and I and my
friends returned home.

On the seventh of July, I was again visited by the Hon. J.J. Fiske,
who conversed freely with me on our religious affairs. He said it
would be better for us to turn Congregationalists, as then we should
probably be able to get assistance from the fund, I replied, that I
cared little by what name I was called; for I was no sectarian, but
could unite in the worship of God with all good Christians. It seemed
to be the opinion of the Hon. J.J. Fiske, that it was wrong for the
Rev. Mr. Fish to receive the salary he did, without attending to the
concerns of the Indians.

On the sixth, the head men of the tribe held a meeting, and agreed to
rescind the former meetings until the session of the Legislature, as
the commissioner had fairly stated that whatever could be done for us,
would be done by that honourable body. We could do no less than accept
a promise coming from so high an authority, and await the leisure of
our father, the Legislature, though he had neglected us and suffered
us to be abused. Who could say but that he would uplift his voice
and weep aloud, on hearing the story of our wrongs, as Joseph and his
brethren did when they recognized each other. And indeed, though our
tender parent proved a little hard-hearted at first, by and by there
was a little relenting toward his poor suffering babes of the woods,
as will be seen in the proper place. The following notice was drawn up

Whereas, certain resolutions have been made by us, the
Marshpee Indians, in reference to our plantation, we do
hereby solemnly declare, upon the security of the Governor's
Counsel,[7] that we shall be righted; and that there shall be
a change of government, if necessary, and that the governor
has pledged himself to do right, and that the property sold
for money or otherwise disposed of, shall be refunded to us
again, and that justice shall be done. Now, in consideration
thereof, we do hereby guaranty to our white neighbours that
they shall not be molested in their lawful concerns upon our
plantation, provided that no white man meddles or interferes
in any way whatever in our lawful affairs; and that you may
understand that it is so, we say the resolutions are revoked,
and we will wait with pleasure the sitting of the Legislature.

Done by order of the Marshpee Tribe, July 6, 1833.

DANIEL AMOS, _President_.

ISRAEL AMOS, _Secretary_.

Soon after this, the Commissioner departed, and I saw him no more till
the sitting of the General Court. About this time our affairs got into
the public prints, and it was reported through the whole land that
there were hostile movements among the Indians at Cape Cod, or
Buzzard's Bay. All the editors were very willing to speak on the
favorite topic of Indian wrongs; but very few of them said any thing
about redress. On this head they were either silent or against us.
Here and there was found one liberal and independent enough to speak
in our behalf. Some of these articles shall be given, that it may be
seen who were for or against our rights and privileges. It will be
proper to state in the first place, however, that from July 4, to the
sitting of the Court of Common Pleas, in September, there was little
disturbance upon the plantation. We thought, from what we heard among
the whites that they were inclined to spare no pains to frighten
us; but we listened patiently and remained quiet, according to our

In August, we had a four-day meeting, which was the means of much
good. Twelve Indians were redeemed from sin, and during the eighteen
months that I have known them, the power of God has been manifested
in the conversion of some thirty. God forbid that I should glorify
myself; I only mention the circumstance to show that the Marshpees are
not incapable of improvement, as their enemies would have the world
suppose. But, under these circumstances, is it not natural for the
Indians to think that their missionaries have cared less for saving
their souls than for filling their own pockets, and that their
thousands have been expended on them to very small purpose? I do think
that the result of this meeting was in no wise pleasing to our white

At harvest time the reapers cut their grain and carried it to their
granaries. But they were under the control of their task masters. A
dispute arose. A woman whose husband was absent, doing business upon
the great waters, claimed a portion of the grain, while the overseers
maintained that it belonged to them. She applied for assistance to one
of the true proprietors, who, in the presence of five or six men who
were with the overseer's team, unloaded it, and placed the grain where
it ought to have been. I was present and happened to smile at this
novel proceeding, which, I suppose was the cause of a prosecution that
presently took place for trespass. My horse had bitten off five or six
rye heads in a rye field, for which enormity his owner was obliged to
pay ten dollars, though the actual damage was not to the value of six
cents. I will not retort the petty malice which prompted this mean act
of revenge, by mentioning names. I now proceed to mark out the state
of public feeling, by some extracts from the newspapers. The following
is from the New Bedford Press, of June 1, 1833:


The remnants of that race of men who once owned and inhabited
the forests and prairies of the Old Colony that have new
given place to large and populous villages and the busy hum
of _civilized_ man, are, it would seem, somewhat dissatisfied
with the manner in which they are governed by the State
authority. Communications illustrative of the condition of
the _Marshpee Indians_ in the County of Barnstable, have been
forwarded to us by the agent of the tribe, by which it appears
that they have been abused. Intelligence from other quarters
comes fraught with bitter complaint, and there can be
no manner of doubt that too ample room remains for the
improvement of their condition. The communications at hand
advise the Indians to stand out for their right to appoint
their own overseers, and do all business now especially done
by the State. That they ought to be allowed this privilege,
(if _privilege_ it may be called,) there is no question; but
there is a question, whether this is the first important step
to be taken. By a list of names which accompanies our advices,
it appears that very few are able to write their own names,
their mark being affixed instead; and in addition to this, we
are informed that there are many who cannot even read. With
this view of their condition the correct and efficient course
to be pursued would seem to be that of sending _Education
Missionaries_ among them, that in contending for their rights,
of which they say they are deprived, they may be enabled to
act understandingly.

This may serve to show that the Marshpees had long been dissatisfied
with their government, and that very many complaints had been made;
which will be illustrated by extracts from divers petitions, in
another page. The next refers to the Marshpee trials, and is signed
in a manner signifying that the writer speaks advisedly, and from

_From the Barnstable Journal of July 18, 1833_.

Mr. Apes was arrested at the Marshpee Plantation on the 4th,
by order of the Executive, and required to give bond for his
good behaviour.

Mr. Apes now says, that this statement is not correct; that
the Governor has ordered no such thing, and that he never was
requested in all his life to give bond for his behavior.

Much has been said in and out of the papers about the Indians
in Marshpee. All that the Indians want in Marshpee is to enjoy
their rights without molestation. They have hurt or harmed no
one. They have only been searching out their rights, and in so
doing, exposed and uncovered, have thrown aside the mantle of
deception, that honest men might behold and see for themselves
their wrongs. The Indians could spread columns before the
world which would cause the hearts of good men to be sad, and
recoil at the conduct of their white brothers. All that Mr. A.
wishes is, that people would tell the truth.


With regard to this article, I have to say that it speaks the truth.
If an honest white man could look into our private affairs and know
what wrongs we have suffered, it would change his complexion to a hue
redder than the Indian's. But the crimes committed against our race
cannot be enumerated here below. They will each and all, however, be
judged at the bar of God, and it must be the comfort of the poor and
oppressed, who cry for justice and find it not, that there is one who
sees and knows, and will do right. The next is from the Boston Daily
Advocate, of July 12.

Rev. Mr. Apes, who has been conspicuous in the Marshpee
nullification, has, we learn, been taken and committed to jail
in Barnstable county; upon what process, we are not informed,
but we trust, for the honor of the State, that while our
mouths are yet full of bitterness against Georgian violence,
upon the Indians, we shall not imitate their example.

How true it is that men see the faults of others, rather than their
own. If the good people of Massachusetts were as ready to do right as
to have the Georgians do right, the Marshpee Indians might, perhaps,
send a Representative to the Legislature. I hope the remark will give
no offence. The next is from the same print, of July 15, 1833.

The Marshpee affairs, we are gratified to learn, are
more quiet than they have been. The Indians took forcible
possession of the Meeting-house the other day, and have
retained it ever since, but no farther act has been committed
on their part. They notified Mr. Fish that they had dismissed
him from their Parish, and also formally gave notice to the
overseers that their offices were at an end. Hon. J.J. Fiske,
of the Executive Council, has visited the Indians, by request
of the Governor, and has, we learn, discharged the duty in a
highly conciliatory and discreet manner. The Indians would
not at first consent to see him, but being satisfied of the
disposition of the Executive to listen to their grievances,
they met Mr. Fiske alone in the Meeting-house, where, by their
special request, the overseers also appeared. The Sheriff of
the county, Hon. John Reed, and others, were also present.
About one hundred of the Indians appeared, many of them armed
with guns. They were perfectly under the command of Apes, but
all of them conducted with propriety, and seemed peaceably
disposed. Mr. Fiske heard their complaints for one day. Their
demands were to have the overseers removed, and the books and
funds, now in the hands of the Treasurer, transferred to
them; and in fact to be left to the entire management of their
affairs. It was explained to them that the Governor had no
power to do this, if he were so disposed. That he could only
change their overseers, and lay their complaints before the
Legislature, who alone could alter the laws now governing the
plantation. To this, Apes would not agree, insisting that they
should be relieved of the guardianship of the State, and that
the Governor could do it at once.

He was questioned as to his own right to be on the plantation,
to which he does not belong, and finding all argument useless
with him, Apes was arrested in the assembly, (where he was
acting as moderator,) upon a warrant for assault and trespass,
in unloading the teams of Mr. Sampson. The Indians were
perfectly quiet, and Apes having been bound over for his
appearance to take his trial, in the sum of $200, he was
immediately bailed by Mr. Ewer, a Justice of the Peace, and
was not committed to jail, as has been represented. After his
arrest, he expressed some contrition, and admitted he had gone
too far. The ultimate understanding appears to be with the
Indians, that they will offer no further resistance, but wait
patiently for a redress of grievances, until the meeting of
the Legislature, when they confidently expect to have their
guardianship removed. As an evidence of their peaceable
disposition, "President" Amos, at the request of Mr. Fiske,
gave up the key of the Meeting-house, for Rev Mr. Fish to
occupy the pulpit, and asked as a favor, that the Indians
might occupy it half the time. The result of the mission
of Mr. Fiske, is therefore very favorable, and if a similar
course is pursued hereafter, there will be no further
difficulty with the tribe. They should be treated with
all possible lenity and kindness, for the honor of the

The Indians would not consent to see Mr. Fiske at first, because they
did not like to meet their enemies off their own ground, and I
presume they would not have consented to do so to this day. As to the
Counsellor's meeting us alone, it was the especial direction of
the Governor that he should hear the parties separately, because,
supposing the government to be oppressive, it seemed to him that the
Indians would be afraid to speak plainly in presence of their masters,
or proffer their complaints. The Indians wished to do nothing in a
corner; but rather to proceed with an open and manly spirit, that
should show that they were unjustly accounted abject and willing
slaves. As to my opinion of the powers of the Governor, I have already
admitted that I was in error; for I am not a man skilled in legal
subtleties. My reason for pressing our claims so strongly was, to make
the way easy for my brethren, till something could be done for them.
The Indians were requested to give up their own Meeting-house to
a gentleman who did not come at their request, and to gather other
people into it to suit his convenience. The Indians asked for their
own house for only half the time, and even this was denied them.
The law not bearing out their petition, they could only obtain it by
force, and, finding this to be the case, they forbore.

The question is, how can a man do good among a people who do not
respect him or desire his presence, and who refuse to hear him preach?
Yet Harvard College has forced such an one on the Marshpees against
their will, right or wrong.

I heard a white lady observe, that Mr. Fish was not a preacher for
every one; as though he was not fit to preach to any but us poor
ignorant Indians. Nevertheless, if any people need a talented,
enterprising preacher, we are the very ones. Some may suppose Mr. Fish
to be a Unitarian. He was, when he was first settled at Marshpee;
but his opinions underwent a change soon after, and he became what is
commonly called an orthordox Congregationalist. In order to be a good
one, he ought to make one more change--a change of inclination, to
force himself on poor Indians. One who has such an inclination cannot
be a good member of any sect, or an honor to it. Such a person can be
no ornament to any ecclesiastical body. I would not have it inferred
from this that a breath of reproach is in my mind, or in those of my
brethren against any denomination of Christians. We love all who love
the Lord Jesus in sincerity.

I expressed no contrition because I thought I had acted morally wrong,
or had asked any thing more than was right; but because I had mistaken
the _law_, which in this case was a very different thing from justice.

The next article is from the Barnstable Journal, of July 25. It will
serve to show that though the matter had been perfectly explained to
the inhabitants of Barnstable County; yet it contained some of our
worst enemies as well as best friends. Our enemies were those in
office, and those under their influence. The majority believed the
Indians to be wronged, and ought to have had redress; and these were
unable to act in our behalf. Those who did act were either our enemies
or persons who had no minds of their own, and were led by them in all
they did. Many of them did, nevertheless, sympathise with the Indians,
and pitied them when cast into prison, for all men can appreciate the
blessing of liberty.



We observed in one of your late papers, some editorial remarks
which breathed a spirit of candor and good will towards us,
and not of ridicule and sarcasm, like that of your neighbor,
the Patriot. Now Messrs. Editors, as our situation is but
little understood, and the minds of the people much agitated,
we feel a desire to lay before them some of the causes of the
late excitement. We have long been under guardians, placed
in authority over us, without our having any voice in the
selection, and, as we believe, not constitutional. Will the
good people of Massachusetts revert back to the days of their
fathers, when they were under the galling yoke of the mother
country? when they petitioned the government for a redress of
grievances, but in vain? At length they were determined to try
some other method; and when some English ships came to Boston,
laden with tea, they mustered their forces, unloaded and threw
it into the dock, and thereby laid the foundation of their
future independence, although it was in a terrible war, that
your fathers sealed with their blood a covenant made with
liberty. And now we ask the good people of Massachusetts, the
boasted cradle of independence, whom we have petitioned for a
redress of wrongs, more grievous than what your fathers had
to bear, and our petitioning was as fruitless as theirs, and
there was no other alternative but like theirs, to take our
stand, and as we have on our plantation but one harbor, and no
English ships of tea, for a substitute, we unloaded two wagons
loaded with our wood, without a wish to injure the owners of
the wagons. And now, good people of Massachusetts, when your
fathers dared to unfurl the banners of freedom amidst the
hostile fleets and armies of Great Britain, it was then that
Marshpee furnished them with some of her bravest men to fight
your battles. Yes, by the side of your fathers they fought
and bled, and now their blood cries to you from the ground to
restore that liberty so unjustly taken from us by their sons.


The next article is from the Boston Daily Advocate. In the editorial
remarks will be discerned the noble spirit of independence and love of
right which are prominent characteristics of Mr. Hallett's character,
and which induced him, throughout the controversy, to lend the aid of
his columns to the poor and oppressed descendants of the people who
welcomed his forefathers to their shores. He is not ungrateful for the
kindness showed them in a time so remote. I think it my duty to say
of him, that he has been fruitful of good works in behalf of all the
oppressed. We Indians have tried his integrity and have found it sound
metal. He gave us the aid of his extensive learning and undeniable
talent, and carried our cause before the Legislature with no other end
in view than the good of the Commonwealth and of the Marshpee tribe,
and a strong desire to wipe from the character of his native State the
foul blot of our continued wrongs. He never asked where his pay was to
come from; but exposed the iniquities which had been transacted in the
affairs of the Marshpee people, without hesitation, fear or favor, a
course he has steadily pursued to this day. We acknowledge his doings
as acts of pure benevolence toward us, and we say that the sons of the
pilgrim fathers may well be proud of such a brother. Had others been
only a little like him, we should have had no reason to complain; and
we recommend him as an example, to all who may hereafter have dealings
with Indians. Let them do as he has done, and they will be honored as
he is. To be sure, it is no great matter to be loved and honored by
poor Indians; but the good will of even a dog is better than his ill
will. The rich man fared sumptuously every day, while the poor one was
lying at his gate, feeding on the crumbs that fell from his table, and
the dogs only had compassion on him. They both died; and we read that
God sent a convoy of angels to bring the poor man safe home. The rich
man doubtless had a splendid funeral; but we do not hear that he had
any favor from his Maker. O, ye who despise Indians, merely because
they are poor, ignorant, and copper-colored; do you not think that God
will have respect unto them?


We have received a genuine communication from one of the
Marshpee Indians, and as we verily believe that tribe is in
many respects wronged by the whites, and neglected by their
legal guardians, the Legislature, we are desirous of giving
them a hearing, that justice may be done them, if it be a
possible matter to get such a thing as justice and good faith
from white men toward Indians. Undoubtedly some of their
supposed grievances are imaginary and much exaggerated, but
others are real, and tend greatly to depress them. We have
had an overflow of sensibility in this quarter toward the
Cherokees, and there is now an opportunity of showing to the
world whether the people of Massachusetts can exercise more
justice and less cupidity toward their own Indians than the
Georgians have toward the Cherokees. We earnestly exhort the
Marshpeeians to abstain from all acts of violence, and to rely
with full confidence upon the next Legislature for redress.
That body has heretofore treated their claims too lightly,
but there is a growing disposition to hear and relieve their
grievances. A memorial from the tribe, setting forth the
wrongs of which they complain, would unquestionably receive
prompt attention. The laws by which they are exposed to the
cupidity of their white neighbors, are extremely defective,
and require a thorough reform. Our correspondent, who we
believe speaks the sentiments of the tribe, shall be heard for
himself, and we hold our columns free to publish any facts,
on either side of this question, which may be offered to the

"MARSHPEE, AUG. 5, 1833.


_Dear Sir_--With regret I say that your white brethren still
think it a privilege to impose upon us here. The men upon
our plantation were gathering their rye harvest, and the poor
women whose husbands were at sea, who had let out their land,
confidently expected to have their share, but it was taken
from them by unjust men, and not so much as a spear of it left
to sustain them, or even the promise of help or aid in any
way; it was not taken for debt and no one knows for what. The
overseers have now become displeased, and choose at this time
to use their great power. I hope we shall not have to call
upon the State to protect us, but if we are imposed upon in
this manner, we believe we shall. And while we are willing
to be still and peaceable, we think that those of our white
friends, with the light they possess, ought to show as much
of the spirit of kindness as poor ignorant Indians. The
Legislature has bound the poor Indians as they have. The
Indians would propose one thing. We have some white men here
who will smuggle rum, and sell it to the Indians, and as they
have no license, they ought to be stopped. We are happy to say
that many of our Indians are temperate, but we wish them
all to be, and we want some way to have a stop put to these
things, for these white men are ten times worse than any
of the Indians. I might name a Fuller, a Chadwick, and a
Richardson; we really wish that the honorable Legislature
would place guardians over them, to keep them from wasting our
property in this way. While I was absent, there was a man
that sued me for trespass, and tried the case without my
information. What kind of law is this? I had the liberty of
baiting my horse in a field. A man had rye in a field he did
not hire, but took it upon shares. My horse got in his rye,
but six cents would pay all the damage. But the action is not
damage, but trespass, and that done unknown to me.

It is impossible to give you the details of wrongs imposed
upon the Indians. We are to be accused by our enemies, tried
by them, and condemned by them. We can get redress no where,
unless we trouble the government all the while, and that we
are delicate to do.

Now we believe that some of these things published abroad
would do good, and we should have more peace.

Yours, most obediently."

We have received another communication from Marshpee, upon the
same subject.

"Having seen several articles in your paper, relating to
the Marshpee tribe, we perceive that your paper is free, not
muzzled. Marshpee Indians speak for themselves. It is not to
be doubted but that the public would like to hear the Indians
speak for themselves. It has been represented that the Indians
were troublesome, and war-like movements were among us. If to
make an inquiry into our rights by us, is war-like, so it is.
Otherwise than this we know nothing about it, and we know of
none that has a disposition to shed blood. It is true that
the day the Hon. J.J. Fiske, of the Governor's Council,
was present with us, in a council at the meeting-house, the
Indians, three in number, were out in the morning, hunting
deer, and when they came to the meeting-house, they had their
business to attend to, and could not conveniently go four or
five miles to put up their muskets, neither did we see the
propriety of their so doing. We believe that a just man would
not have trembled at an old rusty musket.

We are hard to believe, that any people, served as we have
been here, would more kindly submit to it, than we have. We
think now we have submitted long enough, and we thought it no
crime to look, or ask after our rights. But we found our
white neighbors had thrown their chains of interest around our
principal stock, so much so that we began to think they soon
would drag both interest and principal all away. And no wonder
they began to cry out, when they saw that the Indians were
likely to unhook their chains, and break their hold. We
believe white men had more war in their hearts than any of the

We are willing to hint a few things. We thought white men
would do well, that they were trusty. We doubt not but what
they be among themselves; but we scarcely believe that they
care much for the poor Indians, any further than what they can
get out of them. It is true we have land in Marshpee. We can
stay upon it; but we have had to pay one dollar per cord, to
the overseers, for our own wood, and take it or carry it
just where these men said. Our meadows were taken from us and
rented out to white people, our pastures also. About twelve
hundred cords of our wood has been cut the last year, and we
judge the minister has cut one hundred and fifty cords for his
share. And in a word, they did as they pleased. The poor could
get a pound of meat, or a half peck of corn, and one quart of
molasses for two weeks. Much might be said, but we forbear.
It is true that we have had a preacher, but we do not believe
that he cares any thing about us. Neither had we any hand in
his settlement over us. To be sure, he likes to stay with us,
but we think it is because he gets so much good pay. But five
or six adult persons attend his preaching, there being _not
one Indian male_ belonging to his church. This gentleman has
cut much wood, to the dissatisfaction of the Indians; and it
is true they have passed resolutions that they will not hear
him preach. Yet he wants to stay with us.

Interest men tremble and threaten, but we fear not, and
sincerely hope they will soon tremble before God, and prepare
to meet their Judge, who will do right, and who will have no
regard for skins or color.


We turn from this judicious and liberal article, to one that is less
favorable. It is from the Barnstable Journal, of August 22, 1833.


We learn from South Sandwich that the Indians, constituting
the Marshpee tribe, intend to petition at the sitting of the
next Legislature, for a redress of grievances, and a revision
of the code of laws by which they are governed. The recent
revolt among them, and the measures adopted to make known
their situation and treatment, by themselves, and by those who
have avowed their friendship toward them, (its validity time
will determine,) gave rise to considerable excitement. An
inquiry into the state of affairs was instituted, which
terminated, as far as we have been able to learn, to the
satisfaction of those employed in the investigation, that
some of the evils under which they are labouring are real,
and rendered so by the laws of the Commonwealth, but many
imaginary. We do not doubt that the state of society among
them is low and degraded, comparatively speaking, but what
contributes to keep them in this situation we are unable to
say, unless it be, that the plantation has been a resort of
the vagrant, the indolent, and those whom refined society
would not allow among them. If this is the case, and we
believe it has been, something should be done, either among
the Indians, or by the Legislature, to remedy the evil.
We have understood also, that certain individuals, located
contiguous to the plantation, retail ardent spirits to them
in quantities as large as they are able to pay for. If this be
the fact, such men should be ferreted out, and in justice to
the Indians, to the community about them, and to the laws of
the land, they should be made to suffer, by being exhibited to
public derision, and by the penalty of the act prohibiting
the retail of spirits. If they have not the power, and no one
feels willing to go forward in shutting up these poisonous
springs, give them the power, and if they do not exercise it,
let them suffer.

Mr. Apes is among them, and attended the "Four Days Meeting,"
held during the present month, which we are told was managed
with good order and regularity.

The writer here says that the Indians are vile and degraded; and
admits that they can be improved. He gives no explanation of the
causes of their degradation. If the reader will take the trouble to
examine the laws regarding the Marshpees, he will see those causes of
the inevitable and melancholy effect, and, I am sure, will come to
the conclusion that any people living under them must necessarily be
degraded. The Journal, however, does us the small justice to admit,
that we are not so degraded but that we can hold a meeting of four
days duration, with propriety and moderation. What, then, might we not
do, were proper pains taken to educate us.

The next two extracts are from the Boston Advocate of September 10 and
11, 1833.


We are mortified for the honor of the State, to learn from
Barnstable County, that the Court of Common Pleas and Sessions
there, (Judge Cummins,) have tried and convicted William Apes
and six Indiana of the Marshpee tribe, upon charges connected
with the efforts of the Indiana to obtain justice from their
white masters. Apes is very popular with the Indians, and
this persecution of him, which at least was unnecessary, will
inflame them the more.

The papers say the conviction was for _riot_. This cannot
be, for there was no riot, and no riot act read. Apes and
his associates prevented a man from carrying wood off the
plantation. They were, perhaps, wrong in doing so, but the
law which takes this wood from the Indian proprietors, is as
unjust and unconstitutional as the Georgia laws, that take the
gold mines from the Cherokees. Could the question of property
have been tried, the act of stopping their own wood, by the
Indians, could not have been made even trespass, much less
riot. It is said that Apes and the rest were indicted under
some obsolete law, making it a misdemeanor to conspire against
the laws. We have looked for such an act, but cannot find it
in the Statute Book.

At any rate, law or no law, the Indians were indicted and
convicted. They were tried by their opponents, and it would be
impossible to get justice done them in Barnstable County. An
impartial jury could not be found there. It is the interest of
too many to keep the Indians degraded. We think the conviction
of these Indians is an act of cruelty and oppression,
disgraceful to the Commonwealth. The Marshpee Indians are
wronged and oppressed by our laws, nearly as much as ever the
Cherokees were by the Georgians. But it is useless to call for
the exercise of philanthropy at _home_. It is all expended

An attempt was made to indict some of the white harpies, who
are selling rum to the Indians, without license. Those men got
clear, and are still suffered to prey on the poor Indians;
but to stop a load of wood, which in reality belonged to the
Indians themselves, was an outrage which the Court were ready
enough to punish! Is it creditable to let the _white_ spiders
break through the laws, while we catch and crush the poor
Indian flies?


William Apes and the Marshpee Indians, who were tried before
the Court of Common Pleas, in Barnstable County, were ably
defended by Mr. Sumner, of this city. Apes was sentenced by
Judge Cummings, to thirty days imprisonment in the common
jail. One other was sentenced to ten days imprisonment, and
the rest were not tried. When the sentence was pronounced,
several Indians who were present, gave indications of
strong excitement at what they conceive to be a tyrannical
persecution. It is much to be feared, that this unnecessary
and apparently vindictive course, pursued by the overseers
and their friends, after the Indians had become quiet, and
resolved to wait patiently for redress from the Legislature,
will inflame them to acts of violence, and give the whites,
who wish to oppress them, further advantages over them.

We have visited the greater part of the tribe recently, in
their own dwellings, and we know how strongly and unanimously
they feel upon the subject of what they really believe to be,
their slavery to the overseers. If, therefore, the course we
have pursued, and mean to pursue, in laying their claims to
justice before the public, entitles us to be listened to as
a friend, we beg them to abstain from all acts which violate
even the unjust and hard laws by which they are now held
in bondage. Resistance will furnish their enemies with the
strongest weapons against them, and discourage their friends.
Let them endure patiently, till the next Legislature meets,
and if there is any virtue or honesty in our public men, the
rights of the Marshpee Indians will be secured.

In our last article we said that it was impossible for the
Indians to have an impartial jury in Barnstable. We did not
mean that this arose from all the whites being opposed to
the Indians. They have many friends in Barnstable County, who
think them deeply injured, and who have no interest in keeping
them degraded, in order to enjoy the privileges which too many
whites now have, at the expense of the tribe. We alluded to
the influences that would be used upon the jury, as in
the case of Apes, where we learn, that three individuals,
favorable to the Indians, but having formed no opinion in that
case, were excluded from the regular jury. One of them was set
aside, for saying he thought the Indians ought to be free. We
are still at a loss to know under what law these Indians were
found guilty of riot, in preventing their own wood from
being carried off their own land. Where are all our Cherokee
philanthropists, at this time?

The injustice of the proceedings of the Barnstable Court of Common
Pleas and Sessions, is here fitly exposed. In empanelling the jury, it
is certain that no name of one favorably inclined toward the Indians
was selected, and there are many who do not scruple to say, that it
was the determination of the Court to condemn them, right or wrong.
Nevertheless, it appeared from the evidence brought, that no fear or
alarm whatever had been occasioned to the complainants; and that all
they had to complain of was having been hindered from taking away the
Marshpees' wood.

It may not be amiss to say here, that when the honorable Judge said he
thought it would be well to postpone the case till the next session,
the District Attorney, Mr. Warren, replied that he did not think it
would be proper, because such a course would involve the Commonwealth
in extra expense. I should like to ask what thanks are due to
the learned gentleman from the Commonwealth, for subjecting it to
continued reproach and disgrace for the sake of a few dollars. Or, can
it be that there is no disgrace in persisting in wrong toward Indians?
Let those who think so, think so still; but there are many who think
otherwise, and there is one above who knows that they think rightly.

When the witnesses and the pleadings had been heard, the jury retired,
for the sake of decency, and presently returned with a verdict of
_guilty_. I thought that his Honor appeared to be pleased with it. The
judgment was suspended about two hours, when the Court again sat, and
the matter was called up. There was not a little said concerning
the case. Messrs. Reed, Sumner, Holmes and Nye, of Yarmouth, Boston,
Rochester, and Sandwich, all professional men, were opposed to the
course pursued by the Court, and thought that an exposition of the
law to us and reprimand would be productive of a better effect, than
imprisonment, or other severe punishment, which they justly believed
would do no good whatever. Their judgment has since been confirmed by
public opinion, and by the acts of the Legislature.

Since this affair took place, I have been kindly informed by a
gentleman of Barnstable, that my punishment was not half severe
enough. I replied that, in my mind, it was no punishment at all; and I
am yet to learn what punishment can dismay a man conscious of his own
innocence. Lightning, tempest and battle, wreck, pain, buffeting and
torture have small terror to a pure conscience. The body they may
afflict, but the mind is beyond their power.

The gentleman above mentioned, and one other, have frequently said to
the Marshpees, "If you will only get rid of Apes, and drive him off
the plantation, we will be your friends." This has been their continued
cry since I began to use my poor endeavors to get the Indians righted;
and if it is not now universally believed that it is impossible to
benefit and befriend the Indians while I am among them, it is not
because they have spared any pains to propagate the doctrine. One
would think, to hear these gentlemen talk, that they have a strong
desire to benefit the Marshpees; and the question naturally arises,
what steps they would take to this end, if they had the power. If
we are to judge of the future by experience of the past, we may
reasonably suppose that they would profit the tribe, by getting
possession of their property, and making their own advantage of it.

The Taunton Gazette found fault with the government of the
Commonwealth, for having placed the Marshpees under its laws contrary
to their wish and consent, and denies its right so to do. This may
be considered as in some degree indicative of the feeling of the good
people of Taunton; and there are many other towns in Massachusetts
where a kindly feeling is entertained for our persecuted race. We
believe the wish to relieve us from bondage is general throughout the
State, and we earnestly hope that a few designing men will not be able
to accomplish their selfish ends, contrary to the will of a majority
of the people.

The next article is from the Boston Advocate, of December 4, 1833.


The Indians met upon the 11th of October to take into
consideration the cause of temperance, and to investigate the
evils that King Alcohol has practised upon us, by infusing
into our heads fancied riches, fame, honor, and grandeur,
making us the sovereigns of the whole earth. But having been
so often deceived, beat, abused and tyrannized over, and
withal cheated, and robbed, and defrauded by this tyrant, and
to cap the climax, almost deprived of our senses, burnt and
nearly frozen to death, and all our expectations cut off as
to the comforts of life, it was agreed upon, (after an
appropriate address from the Rev. William Apes, setting forth
the evils of intemperance and its awful effects in wasting
away our race, like the early dew, before the morning sun,)
by our most influential people to attack this mighty champion,
and if possible, overcome him, and shut him up in prison, and
set a seal upon him, that he shall deceive our nation no more.
Accordingly a Temperance Society was formed, and the following
officers were elected: Rev. William Apes, President; Rev.
Joseph Amos, Vice President; Dea. I. Coombs, and Thomas
Hush, Recording Secretaries; Dea. C. Hinson, Corresponding
Secretary; Executive Committee, Oakes Coombs, Joseph Tobey,
Frank Hicks. Forty-two of the tribe united in the pledge of

Nov. 14. We met again, and the President again addressed the
meeting, much to the satisfaction of the people. After which
many others gave spirited addresses, setting forth the evils
of intemperance, in a most pathetic manner. It has caused a
wonderful effect, and our brethren are enlisting to take hold
and shut up our great enemy in prison, and choke him to death
by total abstinence. Friends of Temperance help.

The Society passed the following resolutions:

_Resolved_, That we will not countenance the use of ardent
spirits among us, in any way whatever; and that we will do
all in our power to suppress it. That we will not buy it
ourselves, nor suffer it to be in our houses, unless ordered
by a physician.

_Resolved_, That this Society shall meet monthly, to regulate
itself, and if any one is found to break their pledge, the
same shall be excluded, without speedy repentance.

_Voted_, That the above be printed. Sixty-one is found upon
our list.


_Marshpee, Nov. 15_.

It appears from this that Indians can be temperate, and have a
disposition and desire to benefit themselves. It shows, too, that
they are capable of organizing societies, and taking care of their own
concerns, as well, to say the least, as any equal number of persons in
the Commonwealth; for they certainly feel more strongly interested for
themselves than others can be for them.

It will be seen that little was done concerning our tribe, from
the session of the Court at Barnstable up to the meeting of the
Legislature, though the opposition to us had wealth, talent and power
in its ranks. Clergymen, lawyers, physicians, counsellors, Governor,
senators, and representatives were arrayed against us; and we
Marshpees account all who opposed our freedom, as tories, hostile
to the constitution, and the liberties of the country. This is our
sincere opinion of them, and it is to us a thing inexplicable that his
Excellency, the then Governor, should have seen fit to place himself
at their head.[8] We desire to thank our Maker that they found
themselves in the minority of the people, and fell in the esteem of
Christian and benevolent persons who heard of their conduct. We thank
the majority of the controllers of public affairs, that they had
more sense than to think of holding the rightful lords of the soil in
bondage any longer, for the gratification of selfish and unjust
men. Honorable is it to Massachusetts that there are enough good and
upright men in authority, to counteract the measures of those of a
different character, and remedy the evils they may occasion.

I shall now proceed to present to my brethren, an Indian's appeal to
them, and the laws framed by the Legislature for the oppression and
moral and political destruction of the Marshpees in by-gone days.
My comments thereupon will be omitted, because, should I say all
the subject suggests, it would swell my book to a bulk that would be
wearisome to the reader.


As our brethren, the white men of Massachusetts, have recently
manifested much sympathy for the red men of the Cherokee
nation, who have suffered much from their white brethren;
as it is contended in this State, that our red brethren,
the Cherokees, should be an independent people, having the
privileges of the white men; we, the red men of the Marshpee
tribe, consider it a favorable time to speak. We are not free.
We wish to be so, as much as the red men of Georgia. How will
the white man of Massachusetts ask favor for the red men
of the South, while the poor Marshpee red men, his near
neighbors, sigh in bondage? Will not your white brothers of
Georgia tell you to look at home, and clear your own borders
of oppression, before you trouble them? Will you think of
this? What would be benevolence in Georgia, the red man thinks
would be so in Massachusetts. You plead for the Cherokees,
will you not raise your voice for the red man of Marshpee?
Our overseers are not kind; they speak, you hear them. When we
speak for ourselves, our voice is so feeble it is not heard.

You think the men you give us do us good, and that all is
right. Brothers, you are deceived; they do us no good. We
do them good. They like the place where you have put them.
Brothers, our fathers of this State meet soon to make laws;
will you help us to enable them to hear the voice of the red

_Marshpee, Dec. 19, 1833_.

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