On November 24, 1807, Joseph Brant, Chief of Six Nations Indians, died.
Among the great Indian Chiefs who fought for the British was Joseph Brant. Born Thayendanegea (pronounced “tai-nen-da-nay-Geh) in 1742 among the Mohawk, he became Joseph Brant after his mother re-married to a man whose Christian name was Barent or Bernard, shortened to “Brant.” His name is commemorated in a number of places in Canada, most notably in Brantford, Ontario.
His dedication to the British cause came about through a spectacular development.
Early in the American Revolutionary War, General Washington sent a column under Benedict Arnold to capture Quebec, while another under General Montgomery moved against Montreal. One of the Montgomery’s officers was Ethan Allen, who led the Green Mountain Boys from New Hampshire.
Allen was impetuous and would not wait for Montgomery’s campaign to develop. Instead he made a sweep against Montreal with his own Green Mountain Boys. They arrived at a point across the river from Montreal and sent a message to the city demanding that it surrender at once. A loyal force led by Major Cardin, who had been one of Wolfe’s officers, crossed the river and engaged Allen at Long Point. There was sharp fighting on September 25, 1775, in which Cardin was killed, but Allen and eighty of his mountain boys had to surrender. They were taken to Montreal and Allen was shipped to Britain where he spent two years in prison.
Aboard the same ship was Joseph Brant, a young Mohawk chief, who was invited to visit England by the British garrison in Montreal. In Britain, Brant was treated as though he were royalty. He was the honoured guest in every drawing room of society. His portrait was painted by Romney, one of the great artists of the day. The famous biographer, Boswell, became one of his friends. He was given a remarkable gun for the age; it could fire fifteen shots from a single loading!
When Brant returned to his own country in 1776 , he was convinced that no nation would defeat the British, even though the Americans had captured Montreal while he was away. The Mohawks, members of the Iroquois nations, fought loyally with the British, although it was a losing cause.
Joseph Brant died at his home at the head of Lake Ontario (now Burlington, Ontario) at age 64. In 1850, his remains were moved 34 miles (55 km) in relays on the shoulders of young men of Grand River to a tomb at Her Majesty’s Temple of the Mohawks in Brantford, Ontario.
This is but a short piece on Joseph Brant. There are many books and web pages covering this great man’s life. A few I recommend is a book “Joseph Brant 1743-1807: A Man of Two Worlds“. Another page to visit is The City of Brantford, Ontario. And finally, The Crooked Review.