1803 letter reveals contemporary understanding

Excerpts from a personal letter written April 2, 1803, between Samuel Peters, friend, United Empire Loyalist and grandfather of Samuel Peters Jarvis, who would eventually become superintendent of the Six Nations.

He was eventually removed from that office by his own government for fraud, and gross incompetence. This letter reveals Peters’ own dissatisfaction with how Brant and the Mohawks were being cheated by the Crown.

It begins with heartfelt salutations to Brant and his family including reference to Brant’s grandfather, “Great Hendrick”.

“You will graciously receive this letter which is to inform you that I esteem and reverence the virtues of Great Hendrick, yourself, and those of the Mohawk nation and their allies in aiding and assisting their enemies to rob them of their territory and country, an compelling them to seek shelter and lands amongst the Ottawas and Mississaugas, formerly their enemies, by the arts and intrigues of the French.”

Peters’ understanding of the times and his shared faith in Jesus Christ with Brant, is evident throughout the letter.

“The Christian rulers are good and excellent; yet few Christians of the Roman and Protestant kind love or practice those rules — What is remarkable to me is that popes, bishops, nobles and kings who ought to be wise in doctrine and example, are the greatest strangers and enemies of Christianity.

“The reason of such conduct, no doubt, is pride. Yet Solomon, in wisdom great, says, ‘Pride was not made for man.’ I conclude, therefore, that great men in state and church, having robbed Lucifer of his pride, they stole all his cruelty and became legislations; made laws to deprive the multitude of rational freedom, and plunder without sin, because they are honest and good; and not Christians.

The letter contains history as it was understood it at the time, which Peters logically challenges.

“The Pope in 1492, gave, by his Bull to the King of Spain, all America, only because the Pope was, by his claim, the successor of Christ to whom God had given the heathen for his inheritance, and the western parts of the earth for his possession.

“Had the apostles and Christian bishops, for the first six hundred years understood Christ’s words, that he has “other sheep that are not of this fold,” which he will gather, the Pope would not have been content with the triple crown, which represents Asia, Africa, and Europe, but would have put on a quadruple crown to include America.

“It is evident that Christ commissioned his 12 apostles to teach and baptize the people in Asia, Africa and Europe, but not in America, for Christ said to them, “I have other sheep which are not of this fold, them will I gather in,” and not depend on the twelve apostles to do that benevolent work.

“What right then, would the Pope in 1493 have over America when his … and the other 11 apostles hold no commission in America or over America. Hence, as the King of Spain had no valid title to America from the Pope, what right has the King of England in and over America, who is an excommunicated heretic from the Church of Rome.

“I conclude that the people of America, belonging to the fold of Christ, not to the fold of the 12 apostles, because God gave America to Christ Ps.2 vs 8 (ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession).

“The Pope, Kings and (Bishops) in the old world, have not, and never had any divine authority in America over Christ’s sheep, the Gentiles; of course they are usurpers, robbers and deceivers.

“I consider you sir, as the Chief of the Mohawks, and the other five nations of Indians, the legal and just owners of the country lying between the waters St. Laurence, Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, and Hudson’s River to the forks of Susquehannah, which you have lust for fighting your gentile brethren in behalf of English Christians and the good and honourable Mississauga have, in part, lost their country for fighting you, their gentile brethren, in behalf of French Christians.

“Thus I see you and the Mississaugas have been crucified like Christ between two thieves (re) Jews and Romans.

“I have seen so much of Christian knavery and policy that I am sick of Europe, which loves war and hates peace; Therefor, I want and want and long to have a wigwam near Great Pontiac, King by divine right of the Mississauga Nation and Tribes near Detroit and Lake Michigan. Great Pontiac has adopted my grandson Nikik, Samuel Peters Jarvis. Should you ….. it proper to explain my obligations to Great Britain and thereby induce the Great chief Pontiac to fraternize me also, I will go with Nikik to Michigan and teach Nikik the rules and laws, how he shall defend in all charges his brethren and sisters of the Mississauga Nation.

(side hand written note) Writer was not aware of Pontiac’s death.

“I beg you to accept a portrait of Nikik , a Captain and Prince of the Mississauga, by creation of Great Pontiac; as I suppose he is successor of the wise and Great Pontiac, king and lord of that country A.D. 1760.

“I know you and your generosity and benevolence, and therefor ask you to accept my gratitude, and to give me (via) Mr. Jarvis, such an answer as your goodness shall dictate to be due to, Sir.”


Your friend and servant,

Samuel Peters

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