Saturday, February 20, 2010
War Profiteering in Colonial North Carolina
The early settlers to the Albemarle looked upon Indian dispossession not as an illegality so much as a necessity for the success of their merchant enterprise. In the beginnings of their relationship, Europeans wanted something from natives. Thomas Parramore stated that there was a significant lack of European women, a ratio of one out of every eight men. Europeans in the Albemarle (as elsewhere) needed wives and supplemented this need from the start by relying on the native inhabitants. Then, the wives’ families became slaves, shipped to the Chesapeake tobacco plantations and south to Charles Town and Barbados. Charleston elites became known as extraordinary slave traders in Indian flesh and coastal tribes, especially of eastern North Carolina, slated for removal and enslavement. Still, sex and slaves was not enough. The English wanted something else, more than anything else.
Native Americans understood next to nothing about the ownership of land. Algonquian tribes, like most tribes, had no word for land ownership. They were given this land by the Creator for their use. They shared everything, including this land; including their women. The European soon wanted land, along with the women. Alcohol seriously affected the Indians, turning many into addicts and provided a means by which the European could easily deprive the Indian of his land, or more to the point – the Creator’s land. Sex came in the bargain, as well. John Brickell wrote an almost 100-page ethnographic treatise on the Indians of North Carolina in 1737 (borrowed greatly on John Lawson) and he spells out much of their weakness in these respects. Dr. Brickell declares many of the Europeans’ as well.
Disease had taken its toll. Now, the European “thirst for land” epidemic landed upon their shores, providing a one-two punch to their culture. They simply did not have a chance, nor did they view land as significantly as Europeans. In their thinking, they could simply find more to the west or may have felt so disconnected in a growing European America that they did not know what to do, beyond maintaining their existence as best they could. If there is an answer as to why the Indian disappeared, this would be it. This is the substance of their deprivation both of an identity and of the land given to them by their Creator. The once powerful Tuscarora are a prime example of what took place. Their “massacre” in 1711-1715 was really a revolution, and King Hancock, their George Washington. As many would agree, the difference between a revolution and a rebellion is the winner.
The Tuscaroras lost and they were dispossessed, often in very deceitful and violent ways. This paper details in part, some efforts to understand the methods by which the Native American lost their identity, dignity, and land. It is a multi-disciplinary study with conventional land records and colonial/state records, anthropological/archaeological sources, oral histories, and any other pertinent data that might be needed. The problem exists in the fact that dispossession of anyone, whether Indian, Negro, or white would not have been recorded directly. Especially in regards to the Indian, dispossession was kept well below the normally open channels of communication because the Europeans still wanted to make use of this commodity. Of particular note, what they wanted would not have agreed with the Anglican Church officials who, even though they rarely came to North Carolina, still read the reports. Moreover, this commodity could be bought cheaply with no more investment than a bottle or two of rum. Indian land came just as easily, possibly as a peripheral result, but later as a prime motivation as settlers became more numerous. This wave of demand created a search for supply. Some of the “Queen’s subjects” plotted against the Indians and even their own people to take Indian lands away for their personal enrichment to satisfy the economic equation. Certain of the “Queen’s subjects” proved more adept at the deceptive talents necessary in war profiteering.
Edward Moseley came to Charles Town in 1697 on the merchant vessel, Joseph, which had been lost that very year. Edward Moseley probably did not mind, for he never returned to the sea, an occupation probably chosen by the administrators of the orphanage that raised him in London. He may have been stranded in Charles Town, but he made the best of a bad situation. In a few years’ time, he served southern Carolina as an Ordinary Court clerk (1701-1702) under Governor James Moore and a librarian for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in 1703. Edward Moseley’s South Carolina political leanings expressed themselves over the years of his activities in the northern half of Carolina. Impressionable as he was at fifteen, he still held to his Charles Town-inspired ideology. The supposed “rescue” of the Albemarle residents in the Tuscarora War, first by South Carolinian, John Barnwell, then by Moore’s two sons, James and Maurice looks suspiciously like part of a plan to obtain Indian slave captives.
William Byrd recalled the address of many of his neighbor Carolinians in 1711 to the Lords Proprietors (including the next governer, Edward Hyde and former governor, William Glover) complaining of “Mr. Moseley and other malcontents.” They charged that:
"complaints are so numerous and grevious, and all the accounts we have yet had from either Mr Moseley or the secretarys Office so short and unsatisfactory; that no certain account can be had till a careful review be made; thus much only is certain that many surveys have been returned for Tracts of land, whereon the Surveyor has never sett his foot…"
Queen Anne was easily persuaded to remove Moseley and his boss, John Lawson from the first commission to survey the Virginia line. Moseley was honored with the position of deputy-surveyor under John Lawson, “killed after a barbarous manner” by the Tuscarora Indians in 1713. He grossly betrayed that trust. Remarkably, Moseley achieved that public trust again in 1723, upon the first arrival of George Burrington as governor. Byrd probably had as much suspicion of Edward Moseley as John Lawson, accused in 1711 by Chief Hancock of stealing Tuscarora land.
It appears from Governor Spotswood's address to the Board of Trade in July 1711 that Moseley aligned himself with Thomas Cary during the attempted coup and against the seating of Edward Hyde as governor of northern Carolina. All of Moseley’s accomplishments (and those of his partners) seem overshadowed by mistrust. Edward Moseley and John Lawson were dismissed from the boundary commission by Queen Anne for their first attempt at the Virginia line in 1710-11. Virginia’s governor Spotswood complained to Her Majesty that personal gain “seems to have been their [Moseley and Lawson] cheif aim in all their affected delays.” Moseley and William Maule, both working with John Lawson, were accused by the Weyanoake Indians of trying to sell their land without permission. Phillip Ludwell’s Indian interrogation revealed, “That man (meaning Mr Maul) was not good for he had been (persuading) him to deny that the Weyanoakes had lived on Wicocon Creek, & promised him two bottles of powder and a thousand shott to do it.” Similar accusations were further confirmed by the Nottoway Indians as well as the Meherrin.
These illicit practices soon resulted in the “barbarous” death of John Lawson. William Byrd, who served under Governor Spotswood as a Receiver-General in 1711 often commented on “Plausible’s,” or Edward Moseley’s sometimes illicit use of his talents in his Dividing Line. Byrd certainly had heard of Moseley’s practices and he well knew his history and relationship to the Moores in Charles Town.
It was Christopher von Graffenried's opinion that a few "malcontents," opponents of Governor Hyde, had tried to start trouble between the colonists and the Tuscarora. If the ruse had worked and Graffenried had been murdered by the Indians, then the general fear of the colonists would have been realized and war would have been the result. Historian Francis L. Hawks declared that Edward Moseley was "friend of Carey in his rebellion, the opponent of Governor Hyde while he lived, and of Colonel Pollock during the [Tuscarora] Indian war." Von Graffenried commented in his journal:
"What kindled that Indian or Savages' war [Tuscarora War] were, above all, the slanders and insinuations of a few rioters against Govr Hyde and against me. They made the savages believe that I had come to expel them from their lands…"
Von Graffenried was set up by Moseley and Lawson. Only, it backfired on Lawson. Furthermore, the Colonial Records indicate very well that Moseley was Hyde and Pollock's political enemy. Their earlier representation to the Board and continued debasement of Moseley through the act wherein he was required to repay the fees must have been burning within him. Any opportunity for revenge and personal enrichment would have attracted his political thirst.
John Lawson influenced the youthful Edward Moseley greatly. Lawson’s 1709 map of North Carolina looks remarkably similar to Moseley’s later 1733 version. They worked together as surveyors for the colony and even swindled Indians together before 1710. For the Weranoakes, Nottaways, and Meherrin, they were a match made in Hades. The Tuscarora, though were much more powerful and already strongly resentful of white men. Still, to the powerful and land-hungry whites, the eastern lands of the Tuscarora made a tasty morsel.
With the Tuscarora removed from the traditional Indian lands which bordered closest on the territory of the white colonists, Edward Moseley and John Lawson would have greater opportunities for selling those lands and surveying the properties. They would have gained quite a fortune for themselves in sales and fees, not to mention land for them, which certainly would have been their plan. Indeed, this was a pattern they had laid down only a few years prior in the border territories with Virginia, against the Weranoakes, Nottaways, and Meherrin. Obviously, after Queen Anne put an end to those plans (for which Edward Moseley had to repay all of his income from the fees), he and Lawson looked elsewhere for more land. When they did, they plotted against the Tuscarora and devised a plan to rid themselves of the Indian problem first.
Geographer William W. Edwards stated that Cary’s Rebellion “created a factious climate that led to inaction and undermining of policy within the colonial government of North Carolina.” Von Graffenried did not mention them by name, but he definitely believed that Governor Hyde’s enemies, the supporters of the now imprisoned Col. Cary, were directly responsible for starting the Indian trouble against the government of Edward Hyde. Hyde’s letters-patent were then on their way to him from London. Hyde’s confirmation as governor was imminent and his enemies had little recourse but collusion against the Tuscarora, which suited Moseley and Lawson’s land needs. They stood to profit from the trouble that forced the Tuscarora into western exile, leaving their eastern lands open to white settlement.
Moseley’s connections to Charles Town may have contributed to their “aid” in the war, which was against Hyde’s wishes. Once Col. John Barnwell returned to Charles Town with its first load of Tuscarora slaves, Governor Hyde responded to Barnwell’s expedition as an intrusion. Hyde did not expect Barnwell’s aid from southern Carolina. The letter of Rev. Francis Le Jau to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel stated, “Governor of Renoque [Roanoke] Collonel Hyde complains it [peace] was done without his advise…." Hyde’s and his council still hoped for a response from Virginia’s Governor Spotswood. Historian Francis Hawks and Edward McCrady believed that the dispute between Barnwell and the Albemarle government arose due to the “friendship between Barnwell and Moseley, who belonged to the opposing faction in North Carolina.” Edward Moseley wanted his Charles Town friends (and future in-laws) to profit by taking Tuscarora slaves and encouraged Barnwell’s aid while preventing possible aid from Alexander Spotswood. Moseley was entrusted with a dispatch to the Virginia governor, but lost it soon thereafter. An enraged Governor’s Council demanded the Provost Marshall arrest Edward Moseley, charging that he “either Carelesly lost [the dispatch] or [it was] otherwise Imbezled by ye said Moseley.” In their eyes, his actions threatened their lives. After Barnwell arrived, he spent most of his time capturing Indians of smaller, less threatening tribes than engaging the more numerous and powerful Tuscarora. Thomas Pollock complained to the Lords Proprietors that,
"And albeit Col Barnwells Indians killed 40 or 50 Cores, Bare River, River Neuse and Matamusket Indian men, and took near upon 200 of their women and Children, yet in all the time he was here, not above 30 Tuskarora Indians were killed, that we can hear of: the others being small nations not able of themselves to hurt us."
He again wrote to Lord Proprietor, Charles Craven to complain about Moseley’s collusion with Col. Barnwell. He said, “as for what private transactions have been carried on betwixt him and Mr Moseley, they have been kept so in the dark that it is next to an impossibility to prove them.” Governor Spotswood told the Board that,
"I found the Commander of their forces [Barnwell] had of his own head, clapt up a peace with the Indians upon very odd and unaccountable conditions, which nobody expected to last long, and it seems he did not intend it should; for he soon after surprized some towns, and carryed off a great many captives of those who looked upon themselves as secure under the Treaty he had made with them, and by that means he has entailed a new war on the people of North Carolina, in which he was resolved to have no share, having imediatly after set sail with his prisoners to South Carolina, and the two massacres I have above mentioned have been the imediate consequences of this Mr. Barnwell's treachery."
Barnwell’s tour in northern Carolina was simply a slaving expedition. Edward Moseley assisted his efforts while stalling possible assistance from Virginia. As recorded by von Graffenried, John Lawson paid for his misdeeds by having “his throat cut, with the razor which was found in his pocket.” Hundreds of white settlers were attacked and killed while more than 1,000 Indians died or were enslaved and Moseley’s “Charles Town” faction may have offered a prayer. Settlement of northern Carolina almost came to a halt for a decade. Moseley’s relations in Charles Town gathered the needed slaves, but his days as a surveyor disappeared until Maurice Moore traveled through the Cape Fear country on his way to help southern Carolina with the Yamassees. The Cape Fear land embezzlement scheme by Moseley and this son of James Moore is another story entirely. Northern Carolina often functioned simply as a resource for the royally-favored Charles Town gang. Unfortunately, the Tuscarora War, while serving Hyde’s enemies’ immediate needs, destroyed the reputation and future of the Tuscarora Indians. Moreover, it politically split them into two polities, causing a civil animosity that still exists today.
William W. Edwards offered that the war did not quite have the results anticipated by Hyde’s enemies. Edward Moseley, John Porter, Richard Roach, and other remaining parties that stood to benefit from the war (and who had not escaped into Virginia) undoubtedly heard rumors of Mohawks planning to join the Tuscaroras against the Carolinians. The French government in Canada sought to hinder the progress of the English colonies by fomenting discontent among the natives of the northern colonies. The Carolina war with their kin, the Tuscarora made a good excuse. Various pockets of those natives arrived in northern Carolina, from tribes of Iroquois, Mohawks, and Senecas, but merely attacked some Virginia Indian traders on the border and then left.
Colonists in the Albemarle and Pamlico settlements suffered tremendously. Settlement did not proceed as quickly as perhaps Edward Moseley and his fellow “investors” hoped. Aside from getting Lawson killed, the Tuscarora War also lessened colonial trade with the Indians, reducing the influx of deerskins significantly. Few settlers had the money for new lands. Moseley and Lawson’s real estate swindle went horribly wrong. Still, Moseley made the best out of a bad situation and his friends in Charles Town stood to profit greatly.
Moseley’s nemesis, Thomas Pollock, having no ties to the Goose Creek slavers like Moseley, may have felt genuinely sorry for the Tuscaroras. Chief Tom Blount, leader of the Tuscarora faction that opposed Chief Hancock, became the undisputed “King” of a politically powerless and displaced Tuscarora tribe. Many of the warring faction left for New York and remote southern areas while Blount’s people remained on their new Carolina lands, assured of white recognition of their efforts in the war. They occupied these lands just west of Edenton itself, offering a buffer zone against possible future attack. Pollock’s plan of a “peaceful coexistence” with Blount’s tribe in 1717 did not last, for as William Byrd stated,
"These Indians were heretofore very numerous and powerful, making, within time of memory, at least a thousand fighting men. Their habitation, before the war with Carolina, was on the north branch of Neuse river, commonly called Connecta creek, in a pleasant and fruitful country. But now the few that are left of that nation live on the north side of Moratuck, which is all that part of Roanoke below the great falls, towards Albemarle sound. Formerly there were seven towns of these savages, lying not far from each other, but now their number is greatly reduced. The trade they have had the misfortune to drive with the English has furnished them constantly with rum, which they have used so immoderately, that, what with the distempers, and what with the quarrels it begat amongst them, it has proved a double destruction."
Byrd continues with an apocryphal reference to a young warrior who took it upon himself to reproach Hancock’s former “Conechta clan.” The young malcontents, displeased at the prophet,
"… tied him to a tree, and shot him with arrows through the heart. But their God took instant vengeance on all who had a hand in that monstrous act, by lightning from heaven, and has ever since visited their nation with a continued train of calamities, nor will he ever leave off punishing, and wasting their people, till he shall have blotted every living soul of them out of the world."
Eerily close to the truth, Byrd’s prediction almost came true. Another letter of Reverend Le Jau stated that “800 of the enemy killed or captured,” some delivered to Charles Town. Col. Moore himself gave an account of the “Nohoroco Fort” incident and said there were “Prissoners 392, Scolps 192, out of ye sd: fort—& att Least 200 Kill'd & Burnt In ye fort—& 166 Kill'd & taken out of ye fort.” Assuming that scalps could not be obtained from charred corpses, that equals 758 plus the 26 scalps not accounted for from the fort captives, or 784, a comparable value to the report of Rev. Le Jau. A full 80% of the fighting men mentioned by Byrd had been killed or enslaved by the Goose Creek men under Col. James Moore on only the second expeditionary hunt. Another version of their number comes from Spotswood’s comments to the Board of Trade in July 1712. He stated the Tuscaroras amounted to 2,000 fighting men, reducing this estimate to 40%. Either way, unprecedented decimation occurred on the Tuscaroras, hardly befitting a conquered sovereign nation.
Is it so hard to believe in today’s world of alleged war profiteering in Iraq, and possible involvement of huge companies like Blackwater or Haliburton, that a group of Indian slave traders from Goose Creek, South Carolina might have used the Tuscarora War for similar purposes? Historians can only analyze and offer possibilities. Most historians infer that the Indians were the ones taking Indian captives, as this was their way. Still, Goose Creek men like the Moores operated an Indian slave-trading business and an opportunity like the Tuscarora War would have been hard to refuse. Judging motive remains problematic in the lack of sufficient evidence. Traditional historiographies have found it difficult to offer alternatives. Today’s internet offers possibilities for research never seen before. The eighteenth century may yet come to life for readers of history as the news on television is today.
Thomas Pollock’s colonial treaty of 1717 delegated over 41,000 acres to the Tuscarora’s use in modern Bertie County, but acreage fell to only 8,000 by 1766 because they were “easily imposed [upon] by designing persons, and unwarily deprived of their said lands….” The rum, happily provided by white settlers, proved to be the worldly manifestation of the Tuscarora god’s mandate. Tuscaroras suffered the most, as the Iraqi people suffer from theories of alleged “weapons of mass destruction.” The political domination, defeat in battle, and continual debasement by whites proved too debilitating for them. By the early nineteenth century, the Tuscarora tribe became a scattered memory.