Brant, Joseph

Brant, Joseph,

1742–1807, chief of the Mohawk. His Mohawk name is usually rendered as Thayendanegea. He served under Sir William JohnsonJohnson, Sir William,
1715–74, British colonial leader in America, b. Co. Meath, Ireland. He settled (1738) in the Mohawk valley, became a merchant, and gained great power among the Mohawk and other Iroquois. He acquired large landed properties, founded (1762) Johnstown, N.
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 in the French and Indian War, and Johnson sent him (1761) to Eleazar Wheelock's school for Native Americans in Lebanon, Conn. Brant served (1763) under Johnson again in Pontiac's RebellionPontiac's Rebellion,
 Pontiac's Conspiracy,
or Pontiac's War,
1763–66, Native American uprising against the British just after the close of the French and Indian Wars, so called after one of its leaders, Pontiac.
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. In the American Revolution he did much to bind the indigenous people to the British and Loyalist side. He fought (1777) at Oriskany in the Saratoga campaign. In 1778, leading the Native American forces, he joined Walter ButlerButler, Walter,
1752?–1781, Loyalist officer in the American Revolution, b. New York State; son of John Butler. He was an officer in his father's Loyalist troop, Butler's Rangers. He was captured (1777) by the patriots and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted.
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, and together they raided Cherry Valley, where they massacred the defenseless inhabitants. He was an able leader in other raids. After the Revolution, failing to get a settlement of the Native American land question in the United States, he got lands and subsidies for his people in Canada around the present Brantford, Ont. A zealous Christian, he preached Christianity, translating the Book of Common Prayer and the Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language.


See biographies by J. W. Jakes (1969), H. C. Robinson (1971), and I. T. Kelsay (1984).

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Brant, Joseph (b. Thayendanegea)

(1742–1807) Mohawk chief; born along the Ohio River in present-day Ohio. As a young man, he sided with the British in their war against the French and was befriended by Sir William Johnson, who sent him to a school in Connecticut. Brant converted to Christianity, and returned to his people as a missionary; he translated the Episcopal Prayer Book and part of the New Testament into Mohawk. During the American Revolution, now fighting with the British against the colonists, he participated in various raids in New York State's Mohawk Valley—including the infamous Cherry Valley Massacre (1778). He ended the war with the British rank of colonel and had to move with his people into Canada. In 1785 he went to England to obtain compensation for the Indians' losses in the war. He built one of the first Episcopalian churches in Canada and although he became an advocate for peace in the 1790s he was not afraid to stand up against those who tried to take away the Mohawks' land.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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