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In Their Own Words

July 03, 1734

Yamacraw Meeting Recorded in Diary

In his diary, the Earl of Egmont recorded his impression of the delegation of Yamacraw Indians who had accompanied James Oglethorpe to England on their meeting with the Trustees:

“Went with my wife to town, and attended the Georgia Board. I saluted the nine Indians who came over with Mr. Oglethorp [sic] and who are lodged in the garrets of our Office. They are:

“1. Toma-Chiky [sic], the Chief of the Yamamcraws [sic], a small nation seated near Savannah town, but who intend to remove three or four miles further upon lands reserved to themselves whey they resigned the country to us where we now are settled. This they did by a fair and formal Treaty last year, some account of which appeared in the newspapers, but will be more fully published in the book we are preparing. He is a very old man but of good natural sense, and well behaved.

“2. His wife, an old ugly creature, who dresses their meat.

“3. His grant nephew who will succeed him when he dies, as chief of the nation, a handsome brisk boy of fifteen years old. The uncle designs he shall learn the English tongue, to write and read and be a Christian.

“4. The Man of War, who is the next person in power, and carries the youth out to fight, while the Chief or Beloved Man as they call him, Toma Chiky, stays at home to preserve the people in order. The other five are attendants. They are all brisk and well trimmed people, and would make a good appearance in our habits, but they dress themselves fantastically, will not put on breeches, and wear the shirts we gave them over their covering, which is only a skin that leaves their breast and thighs and arms open, but they wear shoes of their own making that seem neat and easy.

“I took the chair of Trustees, it being my turn, and the Board consisted of Egmont, Carpenter, George Heathcot, Vernon, Alderman Kendal, La Pautre, Hales, Hucks, Ayres, Smith [and Oglethorpe].

“When we were set Tomachiki advanced to the lower end of the table, the rest of the Indians present, and made us a formal speech, which at proper periods the Interpreter [John Musgrove] explained. He began by excusing himself if he did not speak well and to right purpose, seeing when he was young he neglected the advice of the wise men (so they call their old men), and therefore was ignorant. That he was now old and could not live long, and therefore was desirous to see his nation settled before he died. That the English were good men and he desired to live with them as good neighbours, wherefore he resolved to come over and talk with us, but he would not have done it, but for the sake of Mr. Oglethorp, whom he could trust and had used them kindly. That he thanked God (at which he pointed and looked up) that he brought him safe thither and he hoped would carry him safe back.

“I answered him paragraph by paragraph, and concluded we all had the same God and fear him. That we lived under a good and gracious King, who does justice to all his subjects and will do so by his friends and allies, as we would on our parts; that we will look upon their children to be ours, and our [sic] their’s, and shall be read to hear propositions they will make when they think proper. After this we all rose and took each of them by the hand, which I saw delighted them, and the we called for wine and tobacco to entertain them.

“The nation is not above fifty fighting men, but they are a branch of the Crick [sic] Indians, who make above 600. They have lately been much educed by the small pox. they are in alliance with eight other nations something like the Swiss Cantons, each governing themselves after their own manner. They are in their nature revengeful, but not apt to be the aggressor, and the reason why they take their own revenge is that they have no laws to punish by the magistrates’ hand. Were we without such laws we should be as revengeful. Adultery they punish in the wife by cutting off her ears and hear, and in the man by cutting his throat. They live by hunting when the season is proper, and sow corn for other parts of the season. They are so charitable a temper that they cannot bear to see a man want and not give him what he asks for.”

Source: Historical Manuscripts Commission [U.K.], Manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont. Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (Viscount Percival) (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1923), Vol. II, p. 113.