Petition of Ben Uncas

To the Worshipful James Wadsworth, Samuel Lynde, and John Richards, Esqs., pursuant to the humble request of your Worship’s petitioner appointed by the General Assembly of his Majesty’s English Colony of Connecticut, guardians to your petitioner, as he is chief sachem of the Mohegans, and to the interests of said tribe, Ben Uncas, sachem, as aforesaid, begs leave humbly to represent to Your Worships that after many designs, formed forcible and fraudulent attempts that have been made against your petitioner’s just title and claim to be chieftain or chief sachem of the Mohegans by many and solemn instances hath been abundantly acknowledged by said tribe as also by the Honorable General Assembly of this colony, your petitioner, yet holds the honorable seat of his predecessor sachems of said tribe in all which our petitioner thankfully acknowledges the divine providence, which he believes presides over human affairs but would more especially remark the late favorable turn of issue and event with respect to the more recent attempts, subtly contrived and vigorously prosecuted against him and his loyal people’s lawful interest, esteeming himself, at present, delivered from the force and fears of such attempt, begs leave to lay before Your Worships the present state of the domestic affairs of said tribe and the grievances attending them, praying your Worships to make a further representation thereof to the General Assembly aforesaid, if in your better judgments, it may be thought expedient. 

First, the tract of land sequestered for the use of the Mohegans to be to them from generation to generation by certain Englishmen, who, having entered on said lands under color and in capacity as tenants, viz., Captain Daniel Fitch, deceased, his heirs for many years have refused all rents and service to render, therefore now claim to hold the tenement in fee and to oust the Indians thereof, the value of which land, is nothing less than four thousand pounds, which the petitioner prays may be enquired after and some effectual remedy applied, as also to enquire after any other encroachments upon said lands, lest our little inheritance by covetous and unjust persons be wholly swallowed up.

Second, Captain John Mason, lately deceased, under pretention of erecting and keeping a school at Mohegan, thereby to introduce learning and to cultivate the manners of said tribe thereby to lay a foundation for their being taught the good knowledge of God and the Gospel of his son Jesus Christ.  After having therein served for some three years (in which time the lands belonging to the Indians were by him, said Mason,  enclosed and improved with the favor of the General Assembly and the allowance of Your Worships’ petitioner as as chief sachem, to the surprise of all, who have thereof been informed and to the great grief of such who have at heart the interest of the souls of the poor Indians hath lately opposed himself to the authority of the said sachem, encouraged and abetted a seditious malcontent to contend with your petitioner for the title of said sachemship, the event whereof  both with respect to said Mason and said pretender, Your Worships well know they are now removed by death and so said Mason no more able to do good or evil in respect of the premises, his heirs, etc. unfit to carry on the great and good offices that were justly expected of their predecessor.  The lands by said Mason enclosed as aforesaid ought to revert to the use and behoove of said sachem and tribe to be leased anew to some fit and proper person who will undertake to answer the pious ends of the aforesaid tribe and sachem but in nothing, desiring to take advantage of the widow and heirs of said Mason, your petitioner, therefore, prays that the claims and demands of the successors or legal representatives of said Mason unto or upon said lands may be enquired into, and they accordingly thereof notified, and that the same be effected with all convenient speed.

Thirdly, Your Worships’ petitioner would recommend to your consideration the very melancholy and declined state of religion among the Indians, occasioned by the aforesaid contentions and overture, whereby jealousies and factions have arisen among said Indians, and they divided into parties, and the same unhappily upheld and continued by some evil-minded persons entirely actuated from views of their own private profit and advantage, which they would establish upon the ruins of both the religious and civil interests of said Indians, who become all easy prey to such designing persons, which sad effects thus feared will soon be felt, if not prevented, by some effectual remedy speedily applied.

All which matters and things, thus circumstanced, your petitioner very humbly submits to Your Worships’ prudent and pious consideration, whose tender care and zeal for your petitioner and said interest, he, at this day, in nothing doubts from the many and great instances thereof, and if Your Worships in any thing doubt of your authority to redress said grievances or that you judge it not expedient so to do without special instruction therein from the General Assembly, your petitioner humbly prays that Your Worships would be pleased to remonstrate the premises unto said Assembly in their sessions at Hartford, May instant, unto whose resolves your petitioner will most cheerfully conform himself.

Ben Uncas, his mark

New London, SS, May 9th Annoque Domini 1737

Legislative Action:        Sachem Uncas his application to guardians / Mohegan Indians / May

                                                            1737 / Read / Entered / May 1737/

Cataloguing:                157a, 157b, 157, 157d, 184, 185