Petition of Hannah Fagins and Others of the Pequot Tribe of Indians for the Restoration of their Lands

To the Honorable General Assembly of the State of Connecticut to be in Session at Hartford in said State May 1857

The humble petition of the Pequot Tribe of Indians now residing on the reservation of said tribe in the Town of Ledyard and County of New London and State of Connecticut whose names are undersigned in behalf of themselves and others belonging to said tribe humbly sheweth

That we, the Pequots as aforesaid, again approach the legislature with a statement of the grievances under which we labor and of which we do most respectfully, but at the same time, most firmly solicit the effectual redress.  Our wrongs are so notorious and so numerous that their minute detail is quite unnecessary and would indeed be impossible, were it deemed expedient, to place them within this little space.  Ages of persecution on one hand and of patience on the other sufficiently attest our suffering to an enlightened world.  Privations have been answered only by petition, indignities by remonstrance, and injuries by forgiveness.  But it has been, at least, a great misfortune to us to have suffered by the act of the legislature in 1855, an act which we knew nothing about, an act which we never gave one word towards framing, neither was we ever asked to sign a petition for the sale of our lands.  Neither were we ever notified to appear at the legislature or speak for ourselves and tell our own grievances and wants and defend our own rights which has always been our privilege in such a case as aforementioned, an act that was supposed to be intended for our benefit and for the preservation of our land and property as it is titled,  an act which was supposed to be passed for the extrication of our deplorable state of immorality and privation.  But that act, instead of performing that benevolent office which it was intended to fill, has proved to be through the misrepresentation of some persons the [ illegible ] for to our name under the pretense of giving it assistance, while in fact it has double riveted our chains of bondage anew and sunk us lower in degradation and corrupted our minds more with immorality and buried us deeper in privations than ever.  Those very persons which misrepresented our people to the legislature in 1855 are the very persons who claims that act to support them in gorging their ravenous and brutal rapine.  And the memorial of our last infirmity we have suffered.  We have been bereaved of our native land.  We have been torn from the breast of our Mother Country which has nursed our generations for many a century.  Yet not withstanding all this, our bosoms treasure has been torn from our arms without our consent and our bread has been torn from our mouth without any justification whatever.  And we ourselves, differing to great number then was presented to the legislature in the year 1855, a number amounting to 30 or 40, the greater part of which are to be driven off from our native land and penned up in one corner of their reservation like a horde of vermin upon a little piece of land not exceeding two hundred acres.   These to perish without bread or water in a den of red snakes.  Is this consistent? Is it just to make our present state more deplorable and our condition more helpless by barring up every avenue to laudable ambition, by denouncing industry and battering every energy for personal interest or public improvement which might perhaps bring about better days of civilization which seems to the slight pretense upon which our antagonists rested to do all they have done.   And now what have we done in those years that has passed but never to be forgotten, when your eastern shores was invaded by a ruthless foe, when the highest energies of your bravest men were called forth to shield your country's virtues from that impending storm of destruction, then in that dark day your noblest patriots found us sustaining the power which now spurns us.  Then it was the time that we nerved the arm which has now smote us.  What more have we done?   We have lavished our strength, our talent, our treasure and the noblest blood of heroism in those dark days of yours, that has passed but always to be remembered.  We have done more which is to be prized above everything else in this world.   We have sacrificed hundreds of acres of land to your government to secure ourselves a little permanent reservation to live upon.  What more have we done?  We have help buoy up on the prodigal effusions of your blood, the triumphant ark of the United States' liberty and independence.   We then with confidence approach an enlightened legislature and in the name of nature; we ask our right as men.  In the name of the Constitution of the United States and the supreme laws of nations, we ask the possession of our land and privilege to enjoy it has we have done before 1855 and now on the authority of that power which overrules all things we ask the sacred protection of the state as she has before secured to us our reservation by permanent bounds.  Then in behalf of ourselves and others belonging to the Pequot Tribe we call upon this legislature to annihilate the odious bondage which bows down the mental, physical, and moral energies of our tribe and people and in the name of humanity which breathes charity to all, we ask the free use of our whole reservation as before.  May it therefore please this Honorable House to take into consideration our humble request and abolish or repeal that disabling law of the year of 1855 which infringes upon our natural right and human liberty and freedom.  We ask it in name of your authority.

And your petitioners will ever pray1.

Hannah Fagins mark

Nancy Fagins mark

Mary Ann Sears mark

Priscilla Lawrence mark

Rhody Cottrell mark

Clarissa Lawrence mark

Caroline Wheeler mark

Capt. Peter George mark   

Betsy Wheeler mark

Esther Lawrence mark

Charles H. Babcock mark

Sally Babcock mark

Sarah Congdon mark

Ellen Congdon mark

Samuel Congdon mark

Lewis Congdon mark

Harriet George mark

Benjamin H. Babcock mark

Mark D. Babcock

Lucy Ann George

Edward Sears mark

Susan Hall mark

Dated at Groton2, Indian Town, April 22, 1857   

Legislative Action:

Petition of Hannah Fagins and others of Pequot tribe of Indians For Restoration of Lands / Number 70 / Entered May Session 1857, Joseph J. Dimock, Clerk for Orville H. Platt, Secretary of State / Senate, May 11, 1857, Referred to Joint Standing Committee on the Sale of Lands,  Edwin B. Trumbull, Clerk / House of Representatives, May 12, 1857, Concur, Isaac H. Bromley, Clerk / Senate, May 22, 1857, Leave to withdraw, Edwin B. Trumbull, Clerk / House of Representatives, June 2, 1857, Concur, Isaac H. Bromley, Clerk / 28, 38 [ illegible ]  

Cataloguing:

29A-C

  • 1. The author of this petition borrowed quite heavily from a May 1814 Charles Phillips petition to the British Parliament on behalf of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. See Thomas Curson Hansard's The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time, Volume 27
  • 2. The north part of Groton had been incorporated into the Town of Ledyard for at least twenty years at the time of the drafting of this petition.