Third of a three-day series
The visual tranquility of a little-traveled hallway in the Northampton County Courthouse in Easton is interrupted by the vivid colors of a mural stretching 18 feet along one wall. It appears to depict colonial times.
A construction worker passing by glances at two figures lounging against a tree sharing a jug of rum. ''Looks like some drunken Indians,'' he says.
Elaine Graeff, who works in the sheriff's office around the corner, comes to the mural during her breaks to sit quietly on the bench beneath it and crochet. ''It looks like some kind of gathering,'' she offers.
Colonists in white powdered wigs, breeches and stockings gather around an imposing Indian figure.
He wears an animal-tooth necklace, a loincloth over bright yellow fringed buckskin breeches, tan moccasins, a black tri-corner hat and a reddish-brown waistcoat, open against his smooth, muscular chest. His right hand is pressed flat against his breast, his left arm, extended palm up is that in emphasis or supplication?
Behind him stands another Indian in sharp profile, with a bearskin over his arm and what might be war feathers in his scalp lock.
Despite the intriguing questions it raises for a careful observer, the mural, for most passers-by, is a mild curiosity a scene from an unknown event in a forgotten time.
The regal Indian figure addressing the colonists is Teedyuscung, ''king of the Delawares'' during the French and Indian War.
''His life story does epitomize everything that's going on in that part of the world during this period,'' says University of Pennsylvania history professor Daniel K. Richter, director of the Center for Early American Studies.
Teedyuscung's story is key to understanding what the courthouse mural depicts the beginning of the end of the French and Indian War, peace talks begun in Easton 250 years ago.
''What blows my mind is the Indian councils in Easton get no celebration,'' says historian Lance Metz of the National Canal Museum in Easton, a devotee of Lehigh Valley history. ''They were the most important thing that ever happened in the Lehigh Valley. Any historian worth his salt is going to say that.''
Journey to the Forks
Teedyuscung his name means ''as far as the wood's edge'' was a man caught between a fading world and an emerging one.
He was born about 1700 near Trenton, N.J., into a family of Delawares living on traditional Indian land on which white settlers were building farms and homesteads.
Historians know little about Teedyuscung's youth. His family was poor. He learned to make baskets and brooms, as did many Delaware families who sold handmade goods to the whites for food and clothing.
He learned to speak English but couldn't read or write. He was largely ignorant of traditional customs of the Lenape, or Delawares, contemporary colonial observers reported.
By 1710, whites claimed most of the Delaware land in the Trenton area.
''The atmosphere which when the whites first landed had been one of mutual tolerance and respect was now electric with suspicion,'' Anthony F.C. Wallace wrote in his 1949 biography, ''King of the Delawares: Teedyuscung 1700-1763.''
By 1730, the Lenape had been forced out of the Trenton area.
Teedyuscung, his wife and young son emigrated to the colony of Pennsylvania, settling in the Lehigh Valley, according to Wallace. There, they joined Delawares native to what was called the Forks of the Delaware, the wedge of land between the Delaware and Lehigh rivers.
This put Teedyuscung in close contact with Delawares who still practiced many of their ancestors' ancient rituals and ceremonies. When encroaching whites claimed the Forks, Teedyuscung became one of the Delaware spokesmen who brought the Indians' complaints to the Pennsylvania government.
After the Walking Purchase of 1737, in which the Delawares lost much of the Lehigh Valley, Teedyuscung and his family hung on in Meniolagomeka, a village northwest of present-day Easton. In 1749 or 1750, he abandoned the Indian world and moved to the Moravian mission at Gnadenhuetten, now Lehighton, where he was baptized as Gideon.
He grew restless under Moravian discipline.
''Teedyuscung was of two minds, as far as the white people were concerned, and what satisfied the one offended the other,'' his biographer wrote. ''He was driven to identify himself with the Europeans by an acute sense of his insecurity and inferiority as a member of the broken Delaware society. But this same anxious sense of shame produced a belligerent, stubborn denial of the authority of the very people he admired.''
In 1754, Teedyuscung broke with the Moravians and led a band of Delawares from Gnadenhuetten to the Wyoming Valley, today's Wilkes-Barre area, to keep whites from settling there. He took on this mission at the behest of the Indian confederation called the Six Nations of the Iroquois, the Delawares' overlords, who exerted their control from upstate New York.
But there was no peace for Teedyuscung and his eastern Pennsylvania Delawares. From the east, Connecticut settlers pressed their claims on the Wyoming Valley.
To the west the hostile French, who controlled the area around what is now Pittsburgh after the ignominious defeat of the British in 1755, incited western Delawares, Shawnees and other Indians to attack Pennsylvania settlers. The French-allied Indians also menaced Teedyuscung and his settlers from the surrounding woods.
Teedyuscung's situation became untenable. As a drought devastated the crops of his band, he turned to the English colonists and offered to join them in their fight against the French in return for food and supplies. But Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Hunter Morris referred Teedyuscung to the Iroquois confederation. The leaders of the Six Nations ordered the Delawares not to attack the French.
Time for war
In Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Assembly wrangled over how to pay for aid to the hungry and threatened Delawares. Ultimately, it did nothing.
Meanwhile, many colonists suspected Teedyuscung's eastern Delawares were in league with the marauding Delawares and other Indians from the Ohio country to the west.
The French pressed Teedyuscung's people to take up the hatchet, promising a better life and reminding them how the British had cheated them out of the Forks of the Delaware. The French also threatened to punish the Delawares if they didn't join the fight.
And the yoke of the Iroquois overlords, who had conferred on the Delawares the political status of ''women,'' was becoming heavy.
In early November 1755, the eastern Delawares again appealed to the Assembly for help. It was in vain.
Wallace, in his book, maintains Teedyuscung refrained from raising his hatchet for the French until the sting of British neglect became too sharp.
The eastern Delawares joined the hostilities and began killing Pennsylvania settlers on the land out of which they felt cheated. In the first days of 1756, Teedyuscung led what was to be his only raid of the war, killing seven farmers and capturing five in southern Smithfield Township.
As the Indian raids intensified, the alarmed Quakers in Philadelphia pressed Gov. Morris to negotiate. Apparently unaware of the eastern Delawares' fury over the Walking Purchase land transfer of 1737, the Quakers advanced the idea that if they could find out why the Indians were so angry, a peaceful solution could be struck.
By spring 1756, Teedyuscung stood ready to bargain. He had gone on the warpath, but the French and their Indian allies hadn't been able to provide the aid he wanted. His people were still starving. The British seemed likely to prevail in Pennsylvania.
Also, the colonists had rallied to their own protection, forming a state militia and building forts to help turn back the Indian tide. He feared retribution.
The governor, convinced that Teedyuscung wanted to end hostilities, invited him to talk. The conferences in Easton would mark the beginning of the end of the French and Indian War and of Teedyuscung and the Delawares.
'Believe him to be sincere'
After 14 days of intricate diplomacy, in return for pledges of land in the Wyoming Valley and an official inquiry into the Walking Purchase, Teedyuscung agreed to peace with Pennsylvania on behalf of the eastern Delawares.
This agreement opened yet another door Pennsylvania peace talks with the western Delawares, who also had been killing Pennsylvania settlers and were still fighting alongside the French.
The next year, 1758, British Brig. Gen. John Forbes set out finally to oust the French from Fort Duquesne, at what is now Pittsburgh. Robbing the French of their Delaware allies would increase his chances of success. Forbes encouraged diplomatic contact with the Indians.
Teedyuscung brought two western Delaware leaders to Philadelphia to meet with Gov. Denny as part of this initiative. One of the chiefs was Pisquetomen, older brother of both the chief Tamaqua and the war captain Shingas the Terrible. Pisquetomen had led the first raid on a Pennsylvania settlement, Penns Creek.
To invite the western Indians to peace talks that fall, Denny sent Moravian missionary Christian Frederick Post with Pisquetomen to the Ohio country. Post reportedly assured the Indians that the British had no plans for settlements west of the Alleghenies. They wanted only to drive out the French, he said.
As a result of diplomacy set in motion by Teedyuscung, the western Delawares agreed to peace, and Post came east with Pisquetomen to tell the provincial authorities.
In Easton, talks on the terms of the peace convened on Oct. 7, 1758, with Gov. Denny, New Jersey Gov. Francis Bernard and more than 500 Indians from 13 nations, including many Iroquois. Pisquetomen headed a small delegation of western Delawares. Teedyuscung continued to speak for the eastern Delawares.
Early American historian Richter emphasizes the competing agendas that swirled around these talks. The colonial governments had their own territorial interest at the time, Connecticut and Virginia were still claiming parts of what is now Pennsylvania. Their interests were not necessarily the same as those of the British crown.
''What's locally being fought for is the real prize farther west, the Ohio country, all of which is up for grabs as far as these people are concerned,'' Richter says.
Others were angling for their own particular access. Some wanted to create new colonies. Others were ''private interests, primarily real estate speculators not attached to a particular government,'' Richter says.
And there were the pacifist Quakers, ''who are losing control of their own colony,'' he notes. The Assembly had funded the raising of a paid militia and the building of forts, which the Quakers had opposed.
At the Easton conference, the Quakers worked to aid the negotiating Delawares through an association, which some historians refer to as the first non-governmental organization, or NGO in today's Washington lingo. Such nonprofit advocacy groups are not aligned with any government.
And then there were the Indians, the fractious eastern and western Delawares, who were united by their determination to hang on to the land, which they hadn't been able to do.
And the Six Nations of the Iroquois, whom Pennsylvania and New York ''had been treating as the legal claimants to the disputed western territory, out of convenience,'' Richter observes. ''It was not a glorious period in Iroquois history, selling land out from under the Delawares.''
Avocational historian Linda Heindel of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society says, ''We need to look at these people as human beings. We need to take off the rose-colored glasses and see them for what they are, the Penns and all the others.''
During the talks, the Iroquois asserted that Pennsylvania's and New Jersey's land purchases were valid because the Iroquois had supervised them. They dismissed Teedyuscung, saying they had not made him a king. Provincial officials rejected his claims, conveniently, colonial reports say, because he was loud, drunk and abusive.
The promise of a favorable resolution to his claims had led Teedyuscung to make his last strategic move. He already had made peace for the eastern Delawares and helped bring the western Delawares to the peace council. With no other cards to play, he bowed to Iroquois authority.
Contemporary minutes of the peace talks record that Teedyuscung stood in a shed on the northeast corner of what is now Easton's Centre Square and begged the Six Nations to grant his tribe sanctuary in the Wyoming Valley:
''I sit there as a Bird on a Bough; I look about, and do not know where to go; let me therefore come down upon the Ground, and make that my own by a good Deed, and I shall then have a Home for ever.''
The Iroquois said the eastern Delawares could stay at Wyoming for the time being, but their ultimate fate would depend on approval from the Six Nations leadership.
In a maneuver that historian Fred Anderson calls a masterstroke, Pennsylvania officials then agreed to return to the Iroquois all the land west of the Alleghenies that the province bought in 1754, giving the Iroquois control of the western Delawares' Ohio country.
To appease the western Delawares, who did not want to live under the Iroquois thumb, Gov. Denny said Pennsylvania officials from then on would negotiate directly with those Delawares, not with the Iroquois.
In a sweeping gesture, the British promised that whites would not settle in the Ohio country after the war.
With these conditions in place, Pisquetomen agreed to peace. He and his Moravian companion, Post, left Easton and hurried west to spread the news among the Indians to stop them from fighting alongside the French.
So ended ''the most important Indian congress in Pennsylvania's history,'' according to Anderson, author of the 2000 book ''Crucible of War.''
Without their wilderness allies to support them, French troops abandoned and destroyed Fort Duquesne as Forbes' British army approached.
The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania was over.
Teedyuscung was a casualty. He and his eastern Delawares were subjugated once again by the Iroquois, who ultimately refused to grant them a permanent home in the Wyoming Valley. The investigation of the Walking Purchase was passed to London and back, then dropped.
Teedyuscung was murdered on April 19, 1763, as he slept in his cabin at Wyoming. His home and 20 other houses in the village were torched, and he perished in the inferno.
Wallace, author of the Teedyuscung biography, speculates that the Susquehanna Co., which wanted Connecticut settlers to occupy the Wyoming Valley, was behind the fire.
''The way he died is almost too perfect,'' Penn professor Richter says. ''It epitomized the racial hatreds that develop out of the period of the war.''
That October, Teedyuscung's son Captain Bull led a band of warriors to Wyoming to avenge his father's murder. They tortured and killed 10 New England settlers.
How it all ended
In 1759, the Iroquois dropped their neutrality to stand with the British. That summer, the French fell at Fort Niagara, Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point in New York.
In September, troops led by British Maj. Gen. James Wolfe defeated Maj. Gen. Louis-Joseph de Montcalm's force on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec, the seat of the French colonial government.
Britain's navy destroyed the French fleet. France's other stronghold, Montreal, fell in 1760.
The war in North America between the British and the French was over.
In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years' War, which had drawn in Spain and expanded to the Caribbean, central Europe, Africa, India and the Philippines. Defeated France was stripped of its North American territory, and Britain emerged as the titan of Europe.
The British achieved their North American victory with the help of the Indians, but the Indians had not secured their future.
''The great promise they leave the [Easton] treaty talks with is that the British will not keep any territories west of the Alleghenies,'' Richter says. In violation of the treaties, settlers crossed the mountains.
Ottawa chief Pontiac sparked an Indian uprising in 1763, and raids again bloodied the Lehigh Valley and elsewhere along the Pennsylvania frontier. Britain sought peace with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which promised to reserve for the Indians all the land between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi River.
Pontiac's War ended in 1765, but British military leaders largely ignored the promise. Settlers continued to stream west. The burgeoning colonies would not be contained along the East Coast.
In 1772, the last of the Delawares abandoned eastern Pennsylvania. By 1774, there were 50,000 white settlers west of the Appalachians.
''This influx, coupled with the loss of the Wyoming territory to the Connecticut settlers, forced the final removal of the Delawares and Munsees from Pennsylvania,'' according to the late Herbert C. Kraft, pre-eminent Delaware historian.
A year later, on April 19, 1775, Massachusetts militiamen, arming themselves against King George III's troops, would confront British regulars at Lexington and Concord, Mass. The dispute between the British crown and the colonists over colonial self-determination had reached a flash point.
Twenty-one years earlier, young Lt. Col. George Washington confronted French troops in Pennsylvania's western woods, and a shot by an unknown musket man colonist or French? had sparked the French and Indian War.
At Lexington, another unknown man colonist or redcoat? squeezed his trigger, and a second shot heard 'round the world ignited the American Revolution.
''That points up the peril of trying to predict how events will unfold. Britain had been trying to defeat the French in North America for 70 years,'' says Dartmouth College historian Colin Calloway, author of ''The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America.''
''They succeeded and look what happens. Twenty years later, there's another Treaty of Paris and the world order is changed again.''
Statesmen and philosophers have long looked to the past for guidance on the present cautionary tales and pertinent precedent.
''I tell my history students, if you can't see parallels between what's going on in the world today and what happened then, then you haven't been giving it much thought,'' Calloway says.
What can be gleaned from the stories of the French and Indian War and its consequences for the participants is ours to ponder.
Historian Mark Turdo, former curator of the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth, contributed to this story.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times