SIX NATIONS — It is easy to find accusations against and frauds committed by most British officials of the Crown of Britain towards Six Nations in particular, in the late 1700’s and well into the 1900’s.
Among names like Cause, Gage, and almost every Indian agent assigned to Six Nations, there is one name that stands ever associated with the history of Six Nations: Sir Frederick Haldimand.
October 24th will mark the 234th anniversary of the Haldimand Deed which granted to Six Nations, through the Mohawks, nearly 960,000 acres, six miles from each side of the Grand River.
Anyone familiar with this part of our joint history will know that countless frauds, thefts and threats have occurred since the death of Haldimand in Switzerland in June of 1791. The last time Brant and Haldimand were together was to put the final touches on the Haldimand Deed. Both knew exactly what was intended by the gift of recompense for the Haudenosaunee losses while fighting for Britain against the rebel United States.
The problem is, that original understanding began to change after Haldimand was no longer available to explain his full intentions. After Governor J.G. Simcoe got into power, he seems to have canonized some points expressed in the Haldimand Proclamation, but began dismantling it at the same time.
Frederich Haldimand was not your typical corrupt British government agent and land speculator. In fact he wasn’t British at all. Haldimand was Swiss commissioned under the British Crown. Born August 11, 1718 in Yverdon Switzerland — Frantz (Frederick) Ludwig Haldimand eventually became a successful and respected Swiss mercenary.
As such he was not as accustomed to the strict British aristocracy and its expectations of blind obedience to the Crown. That is not to say he was not loyal to the Crown. He most certainly was. Haldimand spent service time in the French and Indian, or Six Years War where he impressed the military brass with his courage and tactical mind. Not enough, however, to offer him a colonial government commission since he was not British.
When Britain and its American colonies were in the throes of revolution, and through a series of misadventures sidelining British born military leaders, Haldimand was recruited and sent to America to serve as Lieutenant-Colonels in the new Royal Americans 62nd.
By Feb 28, 1762 Haldimand was promoted to Full-Colonel and given temporary military governorship of Trois-Rivieres, the second permanent settlement in New France at the confluence of the Saint-Maurice and Saint Lawrence rivers. There, Haldimand had constant quarrels with his superior, General Gage, usually over the Genral’s typical British stiffness and attitude towards the Indian allies — in particular the Five Nations, whom Haldimand saw first-hand in War and had great respect for.
But after so many years of mistrust and broken promises, the name of Frederick Haldimand has been both glorified and vilified. So what is it? Was he a friend or foe to the Onkwehonwe warriors under his command?
We researched through hundreds of historical documents to put together the story of Frederik Haldimand to try and answer that question. Check back for the second part of this feature next week when we look at how and why Haldimand stuck his neck out for the Haudenosaunee during the American Revolution.