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In Their Own Words

April 21, 1744

Colonial Officials Concerned About Indians

This day’s entry from William Stephens’ journal in 1744 shows the matter of Indians was never far from the minds of colonial officials:

“Mr. Joseph Watsons behaviour since his arrival has been a riddle to the whole Town, having no certain abode, but sometimes met walking in the woods in an odd habit, with a sort of short Gown or Cassock made of the Coarsest black Cloth and gather’d at the Wrists, seeming to betoken some order, and the rather, because of his giving it out that he meant to convert the Indians, and by his frequent conversations with them, indeed it might be imagined they met to some purpose or other. But tis to be feared twas to trade with them, instead of preaching the Gospel, and he has given very suspicious Tokens of it, which I am not without hope of shortly discovering, tho by reason of his having no License (which he has not been urgent for, probably thinking ‘twould not be readily granted) all that he does is concealed. But this is evident, that our Neighboring Indians since his coming among them, have been very troublesome, getting drunk with Rum, which none of our people (to give them their due) have for a long time past been persuaded [sic] to Supply them with, knowing their Mischievous dispositions when intoxicated; wherefore tis much to be suspected, he had been trafficking with them in that Commodity … . “

Source: E. Merton Coulter (ed.), The Journal of William Stephens, 1743-1745 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1959), p. 95.