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Beyond Penn's Treaty

Committee on Indian Concerns Scrapbook

Page out of 220
New York 4th June 1818 Respected friend
Thomas Eddy
(from Thos. L. Ogden

In the accidental conversation which lately
took place between us in Pine Street you requested that I would
reduce to writing the ideas which I then expressed on the subject
of the Indian Reservations. I proceed now to comply with your

I will begin by remarking that the title to all the
Lands in this State is founded on the right of discovery or con-
quest and is derived from the Dutch Government

, the Crown of
Great Britain
, or (since the revolution) from the State of New York.
Titles not deduced from one of these sources are deemed of no
validity in our Courts of Justice: those derived from the Indians
are not in any manner recognized. In fact, a grant of the
fee simple from the Government carries with it the exclusive
right of treating with the Indians for the Lands which are the
subject of it; and without such grant, no person can acquire
from them any legal right or title whatever. This Doctrine has
prevailed in our Courts from the first settlement of the Country
under the British Government and has been recently confirmed
by the concurring opinions of our most able Lawyers. All our
Northern & Western Lands held under Grants from the Govern-
have accordingly been the subject of continual bargain
and sale from the revolution to the present time without refe-
rence to the Indian possessions. It is true that it was the policy
of Great Britain before, as it has been of this country since, the
Revolution, not to dispossess the native occupants by force, but
to treat with them for the Land they occupy. It is evident however
that these negotiations refer to the possession and not to the title;
for whether we look to the transactions of the present or of former
days it must be obvious that the prices paid to the Indians
are but nominal equivalents for the lands they relinquish; the
real consideration being that paid for the fee simple.