Why Brant sold Land

BRANTFORD – Joseph Brant has been accused of selling off land for his own enrichment, usually by people who have no historical anchor to attach the accusation to.

By meticulously going through the Canadian Archives, it becomes clear that between 1784 and the death of Joseph Brant in 1807, deeds of sale do exist for portions of the original Haldimand Tract.

The following letter was sent to Brant by the President of Canada at the time, Peter Russell. Rather than interpret the intent of this transaction through the eyes of 21st century understanding, we take you back to 1797, a time when the Crown’s original intent was more clearly seen. The following document is housed in the Canadian Archives, in Ottawa.


Government House July 3, 1797


Agreeable to the promise I made you in my letter of the 26___ I lost no time in laying before a full council the request you made to me in your letter of that Date.  And I have now the pleasure to inform you that it was their unanimous opinion that the request of the Five Nations (as signified to me by you) respecting their having permission to dispose of the Lands on the Grand River agreeable to their own pleasure shall be immediately complied with, without my waiting for answers from the secretary of state to the letters I had written to him on this subject.

You will therefore be pleased to inform the Five Nations in my name, that they may consider themselves at liberty in consequence to dispose of such parts of the Land which they now possess on the Grand River as they may judge proper, for the purpose of securing an annuity to be a future provision to themselves and their posterity for ever, And that I shall be ready from time to time agreeable to their desire as signified by you to confirm by the Kings Grants under the Great Seal of this Province the free possession of any parts there of to such persons as they may dispose of them to, upon the Five Nations surrendering the same to His Majesty by such a legal instrument as the Kings Attorney General shall approve and the persons who may be Authorised by the Five Nations or their Constituted Agent to receive the Deeds therefore, paying the Fees of Office thereon, and ___ the Declaration and taking the oaths of allegiance as proscribed by law.

Having ___ the Provincial Parliament this afternoon the Chief Justice and the Members of the two Houses leave this tomorrow. But the quantity of Business I have to attend to p___ting my accompanying them, it may be some days before I can have an opportunity to return to Newark. Upon my arrival there, I shall have the pleasure of writing to you again  And I have the honour to be in the mean time with regards.

To Captain Joseph Brant

Grand River

Signed PR (President Peter Russell)

President, administering the government of Upper Canada


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