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Joseph Brant

Joseph Brant

Joseph Brant (1742-1807) was a Mohawk chief and ally of the British during the American Revolution. He was instrumental in moving the Mohawks to Canada following the winning of American independence.

Joseph Brant was born in the Ohio Valley and was called Thayendanegea ("he who places two bets"). His father was a sachem of the Iroquois Confederacy, to which the Mohawks belonged; however, Brant's mother was not a Mohawk, and as descent in the tribe was matrilineal, he never rose to the rank of sachem, although he did become a war chief.

As a boy, Brant attracted the protection of Sir William Johnson, British Indian superintendent, whom he accompanied on an expedition in 1755. Six years later, at 19, Brant was sent to Moor's Charity School in Lebanon, Conn., for an education. There he was converted to the Anglican Church and in 1763 left the school to work as an interpreter for a missionary. Thereafter he was constantly caught between a desire to convert his tribe to white ways and to lead them in war against the whites.

In 1764 Brant left the missionary, whom he had helped to translate religious tracts into the Mohawk language, to join the Iroquois contingent fighting under Chief Pontiac. Ten years later, when Guy Johnson, son-in-law of Sir William Johnson, became Indian superintendent, Brant became his secretary. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Brant used his influence to persuade the Iroquois to join the British side and to discredit the Reverend Samuel Kirkland, a missionary who had succeeded in persuading the Oneida and Tuscarora (tribes in the Iroquois Confederacy) to join with the Americans.

Brant was war chief of the Mohawks when he met Sir Guy Carleton at a conference in Montreal. Brant was commissioned a captain and sent to England to be presented at court as a Native American ally of the Crown. Returning to the New World, he fought as commander of a Native American contingent at the Battle of Long Island in 1776 and was with St. Leger's expedition at the Battle of Oriskany in 1777.

Between 1778 and 1780 Brant led his Indian troops on raids in the Mohawk Valley, southern New York, and northern Pennsylvania, warning his followers that an American victory would mean destruction for all Native Americans. He and his followers were accused of perpetrating massacres such as those at Cherry Valley in 1778 and at Wyoming in 1779; though Brant always claimed that he did not join in these bloody aspects of the fighting, his troops were responsible for some reprehensible killings.

At the close of the American Revolution, Brant frustrated the attempt of Red Jacket, a rival Mohawk chief, to negotiate a peace treaty with the United States. Later he unsuccessfully attempted such a negotiation himself, whereupon he persuaded Governor Haldimaud of Canada to assign the Mohawks a reservation on the Grand River in Upper Canada. His journey to England in 1785 was successful in attaining an indemnification for the Mohawks for their losses during the war. He also made a trip to Philadelphia during which he was unsuccessful in negotiating peace with the United States.

Brant's later years were spent translating the New Testament and other religious documents into Mohawk and promoting Native American acceptance of the white man's ways. He was able to prevent speculators from getting the Mohawk lands on the Grand River, but his last years were saddened by the actions of his dissolute eldest son and by his quarrels with his rival, Red Jacket. He died on Nov. 24, 1807, at the Grand River Reservation.

Further Reading

The best recent work on Brant is Harvey Chalmers, in collaboration with Ethel Brant Monture, Joseph Brant: Mohawk (1955). Another useful work is Louis Aubrey Wood, The War Chief of the Six Nations: A Chronicle of Joseph Brant (1914). See also Alexander C. Flick, ed., History of the State of New York, vol. 4: The New State (1933); Ethel Brant Monture, Canadian Portraits: Brant, Crowfoot, Oronhyatekha—Famous Indians (1960); and Dale Van Every, A Company of Heroes: The American Frontier, 1775-1783 (1962). □

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Brant, Joseph (Thayendanegea) (1743?-1807)

Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) (1743?-1807)

Mohawk tribal leader

Sources

Family Connections. Named Thayendanegea (He Places Together Two Bets) by his people, Joseph Brant was born into a prominent Mohawk family on the New York frontier. His father was Tehonwaghkwangeraghkwa, or Nickus Brant, while his grandfather was Sagayeeanquarashtow, one of the four native kings who visited London in the early eighteenth century. Molly, his older sister, was the influential consort of the wealthy landowner and merchant Sir William Johnson, superintendent of the Northern District for Indian Affairs. Brant married Margaret, the daughter of the Oneida leader Skenandon. When she died he wed her sister, Susana; when he was widowed a second time he married Catherine Croghan, the half-Mohawk daughter of Col. George Croghan, an interpreter in the Indian Department.

Accomplishments. Joseph Brant is remembered as a military leader, a diplomat, and a linguist. Missionaries taught him how to write Mohawk, and in 1761 he was recruited by the Mohegan teacher Samson Occom to attend Eleazar Wheelocks charity school in Lebanon, Connecticut. Brant attended the school for several terms and instructed white youths in the Mohawk language, emerging as a skilled interpreter. His formal education ended in 1763 when his sister Molly persuaded him to return home. Until 1775 he served Johnson as an aide and translator and informed him of American overtures for Iroquoian neutrality in the war between England and her colonies.

Ties with England. Brant visited London during the winter of 17751776. He apparently concluded from his visit that the British were the best protection for native peoples, who feared the rebellious Americans. During the Revolutionary War he helped keep the majority of Iroquois warriors in the royal camp, and he led several raids against the frontier settlements. Afterward Brant led some of the Mohawks into Canada along the Grand River, north of Lake Erie. While there he fused the roles of traditional Iroquois sachem and colonial lord of the manor. He and his family lived in a grand style, speaking English, wearing European clothes, and hosting elegant dinners served by well-dressed slaves. He encouraged missionary efforts and wrote Mohawk translations of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and the Gospel of Mark. During conflicts with the new American government in the 1790s he lost his influence among the western tribes and died on 24 November 1807.

Sources

Isabel Thompson Kelsay, Joseph Brant, 17431807: Man of Two Worlds (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1984);

James ODonnell, Joseph Brant, in American Indian Leaders: Studies in Diversity, edited by R. David Edmunds (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980), pp. 2140.

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Brant, Joseph

Brant, Joseph (1742–1807), British army officer and Mohawk leader.Brant was the son of a Mohawk chief and a woman of mixed English and Indian descent. After his father's death, Brant lived with his sister's husband, William Johnson, superintendent of Indian affairs north of the Ohio River from 1755 to 1774. This experience, combined with attendance at a Christian school in Connecticut, prepared him for work as a bicultural mediator between the English and Iroquois in the years leading up to the American Revolution.

When the Revolutionary War broke out, Brant traveled to England, and was commissioned captain, and expressed his allegiance to the British crown. He returned to the Hudson River Valley and rallied the Iroquois to the loyalist cause, leading highly effective expeditions against Americans living in the region. These brought harsh retaliation from American forces under Gen. John Sullivan in 1779. Brant continued to resist even after British troops ceased hostilities. The English rewarded him and a number of Mohawks for their services with a tract of land in Ontario, where Brant eventually died. Brant's leadership and skills as a mediator enabled him and his followers to carve out a degree of autonomy while facing Anglo‐American expansionist pressures.

Bibliography

Barbara Graymont , The Iroquois in the American Revolution, 1972.
Isabel Thompson Kelsay , Joseph Brant, 1743–1807: Man of Two Worlds, 1984.

James D. Drake

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"Brant, Joseph." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Brant, Joseph

Joseph Brant, 1742–1807, chief of the Mohawk. His Mohawk name is usually rendered as Thayendanegea. He served under Sir William Johnson in the French and Indian War, and Johnson sent him (1761) to Eleazar Wheelock's school for Native Americans in Lebanon, Conn. Brant served (1763) under Johnson again in Pontiac's Rebellion. In the American Revolution he did much to bind the indigenous people to the British and Loyalist side. He fought (1777) at Oriskany in the Saratoga campaign. In 1778, leading the Native American forces, he joined Walter Butler, and together they raided Cherry Valley, where they massacred the defenseless inhabitants. He was an able leader in other raids. After the Revolution, failing to get a settlement of the Native American land question in the United States, he got lands and subsidies for his people in Canada around the present Brantford, Ont. A zealous Christian, he preached Christianity, translating the Book of Common Prayer and the Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language.

See biographies by J. W. Jakes (1969), H. C. Robinson (1971), and I. T. Kelsay (1984).

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Brant, Joseph

Brant, Joseph (1742–1807) Mohawk chief. He served in the French and Indian Wars (1754–63) and in Pontiac's Rebellion (1763–66). He attended an Anglican school and became an interpreter for missionaries. In return for securing an alliance between the Iroquois and the British, Brant gained a commission in the British Army in 1775. He fought with great courage for the British during the American Revolution.

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