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Letter from the Board of Trade of Great Britain to William Petty, Marquis of Lansdowne
Great Britain. Board of Trade
December 23, 1767
Volume 07, Pages 536-538

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[B. P. R. O. Am: & W. Ind. Vol. 271.]
Letter from Board of Trade to Secretary Lord Shelburne

Whitehall December 23d 1767.

Your Lordships having thought proper to communicate to us Copies and Extracts of several Letters lately received by your Lordships from General Gage and Sir William Johnson and also by other persons from their private correspondents in America relative to the present temper & dispositions of the Northern Indians, We have taken the same into our consideration, and though the subject matter of these letters has immediate connexion with the questions and considerations referred to us by your Lordships Letter of the 5th of October last yet as they do from the nature of the advices therein contained appear to us to be of great urgency and to require a more speedy attention in his Majesty's Councils than is consistent with the delay which must necessarily attend the preparing a Report upon such a variety of important matters as your Lordship's general letter of reference points out, we think it our duty to lose no time in submitting to your Lordship's consideration what has occurred to us upon this subject.

The Substance of the advices contained in these papers is that secret councils have been held by the Indians in the woods that a general Congress is proposed to which all the several Nations have been invited that a Batteau loaded with goods for the Indian Trade has been stopped and plundered on the Ohio and that it appears from authentick intelligence coming through different channels that something of moment is in agitation, which combined with the discontent prevailing amongst the Indians upon account of encroachments upon their Lands does indicate a design of an hostile and dangerous tendency.

The complaints of the Indians on account of encroachments upon their lands and the expediency of establishing a boundary line between their Country and the Settlements of his Majesty's Subjects have long been urged by the Superintendants of Indian Affairs as a consideration of very great importance.

It was this consideration which occasioned the provisional arrangement in the proclamation of 1763, and induced this Board to propose in the plan for the Management of Indian Affairs prepared in

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1764. a boundary Line being established by solemn compact with the Indians.

This plan having been communicated to the Superintendants of Indian Affairs they have (though not strictly authorized so to do) made it a subject of discussion and negotiation with the Indians in their respective Districts and in the Southern district such line has not only been stipulated by treaty but has also been in part actually surveyed and run out.

In the Northern district the proposition of a boundary line appears to have been received by the Indians with marks of the greatest satisfaction and approbation and the particular course and extent of it to have been very precisely pointed out by them and acquiesced in by Sir William Johnson in a congress held with those Indians in 1765.

This line as described by the Indians begins at Owezy upon the eastern branch of the Susquehannah from whence pursuing the course of that branch to Shamoken it runs up the western branch to the head thereof and from thence to Kittaning on the Ohio and so down that River to its confluence with the Cherokee River.

In tracing the course of this line upon the Map your Lordship will observe that tho' it does preclude from Settlement a considerable and valuable part of the province of Pennsylvania in the forks of the Susquehannah yet it does on the contrary leave room to the Inhabitants of that province situate to the south of that River and also to the Inhabitants of Virginia to extend their Settlements further to the Westward than they have hitherto been able to do with any degree of safety and therefore when we reflect that the establishment of this line will in all probability have the effect to prevent the fatal consequences of an Indian War that seems at present to threaten the middle Colonies by giving satisfaction to the Indians in a point the most essential to their Interests without confining the Settlements of his Majesty's subjects to too narrow Limits we submit to your Lordship whether it may not be advisable that orders should be immediately sent to Sir William Johnson for the final settlement of of this boundary line in a Congress to be held with the Indians for that purpose and that he should be enabled to make such gratification to the said Indians as the nature and extent of the concessions on their part shall appear to require.

It would have been going beyond the bounds of the subject which occasions our troubling your Lordship with this letter to have entered

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into a minute detail of what has been agreed upon with the Southern Indians concerning a boundary line but as the Line settled with the Cherokees falls in with a part of the Conahway River communicating with the Ohio it does seems to us that it would be unadvisable that the line now proposed to be settled with the six Nations and their Allies should be extended lower down the Ohio than the mouth of the said Conahway River as the carrying it further might afford a pretence of Settlements in a Country which however claimed by the six nations as part of their ancient dominion is in fact actually occupied by the Cherokees as their hunting ground and who would consequently consider such Settlements as a direct violation of what has been agreed upon by them.

We are, my Lord &c