|KING HENDRICK, THE GREAT SACHEM OF THE MOHAWKS|
A Brief Sketch of his Career
by L. D. MacWethy
Indian Castle Church was built on land once owned by King Hendrick.
King Hendrick was an outstanding figure in the relations between the Indians and the white men in the early Colonial days of the valley. The exact time of his birth is not known but is believed to have been between 1680 and 1690. He was a Mohegan by birth but a Mohawk by adoption. His residence during his later year was near present Indian Castle. He was a great leader among the Mohawks and he threw his influence for peace and morality. His long association with Sir William Johnson, the great administrator of Indian affairs for Great Britain served to knit their lives closely and to preserve to the colonies the treaty of peace between the Six Nations and the crown. King Hendrick was the Indian orator who served his people under two great white leaders, Peter Schuyler and Sir William Johnson. Under the former he made a voyage to England and there received honors at court. Hendrick was a noted orator and some of his speeches were admired at home and abroad both for eloquence and the sound judgment displayed. He early saw the evil influence of liquor on the Indians and was in the forefront of leaders for legislation barring traders from selling liquor to his people. He was a man of heroic stature, with a lofty brow and imposing features. He died in battle at Lake George September 8, 1755.
In the deed his signature appears at the top with the totem sign of the bear which he undoubtedly drew while opposite the clerk who drew the deed thus making the bear upside down. The other signs are for the wolf and turtle, these comprising the three clans of the Mohawk tribe. (Note: the link is to the Indian Castle site. To return to this page, just use the back button on your browser.)
King Hendrick was a Christian and his name appears on the Fort Hunter register of communicants.
A detailed life of King Hendrick remains to be written. A great many of his speeches are available as he was a prominent figure in Indian treaty conferences both at Albany in behalf of the Six Nations and in Philadelphia before the Pennsylvania authorities. He on at least one occasion made a speech before the council at New York. He was an aggressive advocate of Indian rights and fought hard when he learned at one time that the Albany speculators had attempted to secure his lands about Indian Castle. This later came in possession of George G. Klock and Jacob G. Klock by lease but not during the time of King Hendrick. King Hendrick was universally friendly with the white settlers who he evidently allowed to come into the country and reside long before any land grants were given. His association with the Klocks, Zimmermans and other early traders always seems to have been friendly, the only friction arising was over the sale of liquor to the Indians, a practice he ever opposed with all the strength of his convictions.
The stately figure of King Hendrick stands forth boldly in the pages of Mohawk Valley history. That he was a great man among his red brethren is understood. But he was also a great man among his white contemporaries. His early associations with Peter Schuyler and later with Sir William Johnson seems to add to his prestige. He was an untutored savage, educated only in the way of nature and the red man. His heritage was paganism, superstition and savagery. And yet he rose to meet the changed conditions of Indian life brought about by white contact. He stood side by side with the great white men of his time and lost nothing by comparison. His reasoning and philosophy compare favorably with the best reasoning of modern civilized thought. He saw the power of the whites and realized that nothing could be gained by wars. He sought peace and justice for his red brothers and by utilizing the diplomacy of the white man coupled with his power of oratory and advocacy, he managed to preserve his possessions and to stand his ground with dignity and respect. Compare the pacific measures and friendly dealings between the races of the valley and the bloodshed and slaughter in other parts of the country where the white influence gained ground only behind the rifle. No settler in the valley was insecure during the King Hendrick reign and indeed for long years afterwards. As an example of nobility of character, loyalty to his trust and devotion to the pledged word, King Hendrick is a shining light in the pages of history.
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