Petition of Zadock Simpson and Other Chappaquiddick Indians to George Briggs, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

To His Excellency, George N. Briggs, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts                                                                                                   

Feeling that we are laboring under difficulties and grievances not intended or anticipated by law, and believing that the power to remedy those evils, in part if not wholly, is possessed by Your Excellency, we have taken the liberty to address you on the subject, being fully persuaded that the interest you have always manifested in promoting the right and suppressing the wrong will not be wanting in the present instance.                

In the first place, we, the Indians and People of Colour on the Island of Chappaquiddick and at Christiantown, beg leave to state that our present Guardian,1 in our opinion, is the cause of the evils existing among us.  Instead of benefiting us by his supervision, the course pursued by him has decidedly the opposite effect.  He does things which he ought not to do and leaves undone that which should be done.  It would be impracticable to specify particular instances in this communication, yet we are thoroughly convinced that he takes no interest in our welfare, and his holding the Office of Guardian is very detrimental to us.  We would, therefore, respectfully request that Your Excellency would remove him and appoint some better man in his stead.                 

Another thing to which we solicit the attention of Your Excellency is the state of the division line fence between us and the White inhabitants.  This fence, which was erected and maintained in good order under our former Guardian, is now so dilapidated and destroyed that a great part of it is entirely useless.  Furthermore, the Coloured people who live adjoining this line wish to run their division fences to said line, thereby, saving considerable expense and trouble in fencing.

But to this our Guardian objects, although we believe not one of the Coloured people and but one of the White inhabitants is opposed to the measure.  Why our Guardian should object to a measure which would so evidently be for our advantage, we cannot tell, and we wish Your Excellency would inform us whether we are authorized to extend our fences to this division line, as above stated.                                            

It being impossible to state with clearness in a letter, the difficulties under which we labour, we should like to have Your Excellency and the Honorable Council send a person among us, to whom we could more particularly state the condition of things existing at present to our great disadvantage and annoyance.  And we do entreat that this last proposition may if practicable be complied with: for we are satisfied that the present state of things would not be suffered to continue, were it fully known to Your Excellency.  In case someone should be sent, we beseech that he may have no communication with our present Guardian but come directly to us, so that we can make our own complaints in our own manner.                                 

Very respectfully Your Excellency's obedient servants,

Indians and People of Colour, inhabitants of the Island of Chappaquiddick

Zadock Simpson, for and in behalf of myself, and Isaiah Belain, Nelly Joseph, Fereba Harris,
Peggy Peters, and others
Edgartown, (Chappaquiddick), October 27, 1845

Post Script:

P. S.  Should it please Your Excellency to send an answer to this, please direct to Zadock Simpson,2 Edgartown


To His Excellency George N. Briggs, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston.


Zadock Simpson and others, Chappaquiddick Indians.  Referred to John Reid and Mr. Marston

  • 1. The community's guardian at this time was Leavitt Thaxter.
  • 2. Deleted Text: Edgartown to the care of Samuel Osborn, Jr.