A Journey to the Northwest Frontier in 1783

29 Apr

Julie Miller at the Library of Congress has a fascinating post about a journal by George McCully.

McCully accompanied Ephraim Douglass on a 1783 diplomatic mission of the new U.S. to the Indians of the then-Northwest frontier of Detroit, Niagara, and Oswego. The journal, on exhibit now, came to the Library as evidence of McCully’s widow’s application for a Revolutionary War pension.

McCully recorded observations about the landscape, the settlers, and, the Indians. Miller has this to say about McCully’s “take” on encountering captives:

At a Delaware settlement on the Sandusky River in Ohio, McCully and Douglass met several captive settlers. One woman captive they met there “as soon as she saw us burst into tears and began to make a complaint of ill treatment as though we would have relieved her.” Another “behaved with more prudence and bore her misfortune well.” McCully’s surprising lack of sympathy for these women may be the result of what he knew and what historians have documented about the mixed experiences of white settlers taken captive by Indians. Some, especially women and children, were adopted by their captors, adapted to Indian life and chose to stay, even when they had the chance to return home. Eunice Williams, captured as a 7-year-old from Deerfield, Mass., in 1704, and Mary Jemison, captured in Pennsylvania as a 15-year-old in 1758, are two examples of this phenomenon. McCully may have seen such acculturated captives and reasoned that misery was not a given.

For Miller’s entire post, see here: A Journey to the Northwest Frontier in 1783: The Journal of George McCully | Library of Congress Blog.


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