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near Trenton, New Jersey
|Died||April 19, 1763|
Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania
|Cause of death||murder by arson|
|Resting place||Wyoming, Pennsylvania|
|Children||Chief Bull, Sally Allan|
|Known for||Treaty of Easton, French and Indian War in Pennsylvania|
Teedyuscung (c. 1700–1763) was known as King of the Delawares. He worked to establish a permanent Lenape (Delaware) home in eastern Pennsylvania in the Lehigh, Susquehanna and Delaware River valleys. Teedyuscung participated in the Treaty of Easton which resulted in the surrender of Lenape claims to all lands in Pennsylvania. Following the treaty, the Lenape were forced to live under the control of the Iroquois in the Wyoming Valley near modern-day Wilkes-Barre. Teedyuscung was murdered by arsonists on April 19, 1763 as he reportedly lay asleep as his cabin burned around him. This marked the beginning of the end of the Lenape presence in Pennsylvania. Teedyuscung's son Chief Bull conducted a raid on the Wyoming Valley that was part of a greater Indian uprising that resulted in the Lenape being forced to move west of the Appalachian Mountains by the Royal Proclamation of 1763.
Teedyuscung, whose name means "as far as the wood's edge", was born circa 1700 near Trenton, New Jersey. He was raised among a group of Lenape who were acculturated to the ways of the colonists by the time he reached adulthood. Teedyuscung and his family wore European-style clothing and used other European goods in their daily lives. Many of them had converted to Christianity and spoke English. Liquor introduced by traders deeply affected the rest of Teedyuscung's life. The Lenape were driven out of the Trenton area by 1730 and Teedyuscung migrated with his wife and son to a piece of land located near the confluence of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers in what is now Northampton County, Pennsylvania.
Leadership of the Lenape
After Teedyuscung moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, he came in contact with fellow Lenape who had not become accustomed to the ways of the colonial settlers. These Lenape still practiced many of the ceremonies and rituals of their ancestors. Teedyuscung became a spokesman for the Lenape who were forced to negotiate with the government of Colonial Pennsylvania.
The Lenape lost most of the Lehigh Valley following the Walking Purchase of 1737. Teedyuscung remained with his fellow Lenape until 1749 or 1750 when joined the Moravian Church at Lehighton. He did not remain with the Moravians for long. His biographer, Anthony Wallace, wrote,
Teedyuscung was of two minds, as far as white people were concerned, and what satisfied one offended the other. 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.
Teedyuscung left the Moravian settlement in 1754 and settled farther north in the Wyoming Valley. It was while living among other displaced Indians that Teedyuscung would declare himself "King of the Delawares" and assume a vital role in the negotiations between the Natives of Pennsylvania and the colonial government in Philadelphia.
Conflict with neighbors
Colonists continued to move onto Indian lands throughout eastern Pennsylvania and the Indians of the Wyoming Valley began to fight back. The Lenape in the Wyoming Valley felt pressure from three fronts. From the east came settlers from Connecticut which claimed the Wyoming Valley and all of Northern Pennsylvania. From the west were the French and their Indian allies who sought to prevent British expansion into the mountains of Pennsylvania. And from the south came colonists with land grants from the colonial government in Philadelphia. The Lenape were also under pressure from a severe drought that affected their crops. Teedyuscung had turned to the Pennsylvania colonial government for aid. Pennsylvania referred him to the Iroquois Six Nations government. Despite the fact that Teedyuscung's people were being attacked by French allied Indians, the Iroquois ordered Teedyuscung to not fight back. The Iroquois were of no help and Governor Robert Morris was of little help. He and the colonial assembly could not agree on terms by which to aid the Lenape. Ultimately Teedyuscung chose to align his warriors with the western Delaware and French.
Teedyuscung and other leaders commenced periodic raids on colonial settlements in Eastern Pennsylvania. The Natives sought retribution for the series of "purchases" that resulted in massive loss of land to the colonists. Finally Teedyuscung and other leaders met in conferences in Philadelphia and Easton.
At the 1758 negotiations for the Treaty of Easton, Teedyuscung claimed to be the only person who could convince the French allied Delaware Indians on the western borders of the colonies to stop their raids against the British colonists. He also claimed to be the "King of the Delawares" and that he represented the Six Nations of the Iroquois, the Shawnee, the Mahican, and the Christian Munsee. In exchange for his work he sought a promise from the Pennsylvania government that the lands of the Wyoming Valley would be reserved for the displaced Indians of the area. The talks at Easton lasted 14 days. Teedyuscung agreed to peace with Pennsylvania in exchange for a promise that his people would be permitted to live in the Wyoming Valley. An official inquiry into the legality of the Walking Purchase was also promised.
Teedyuscung encountered opposition in the talks at Easton and in the period following the talks with the family of William Penn and the Iroquois Confederacy that he claimed to "represent" in the negotiations. The powerful Iroquois Confederacy claimed the Wyoming Valley and that the Lenape simply lived there with its permission. A combination of competing interests lead to the eventual demise of Teedyuscung and his settlement at Wyolutimunk.
Demise and death
The Iroquois were not pleased that Teedyuscung claimed to negotiate on their behalf and they refused to recognize the Lenape claim to any lands in the Wyoming Valley. The Quaker founders of Pennsylvania were losing control of their colony. As pacifists they did not fight against those who were willing to fight for the colony and settle on lands that the Quakers had promised to the Indians. The Colonies of Virginia and Connecticut settled lands in Pennsylvania that were part of their charters. The competing interests of the Iroquois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Virginia did not allow Teedyuscung and his people to live in the peace that was promised.
Teedyuscung was a casualty of the peace that brought about the end of the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania. The colonists agreed to pull back from settlements in the Ohio country in exchange for peace east of the Appalachians. The Iroquois refused to grant a permanent home for Teedyuscung and his people in the Wyoming Valley. The promised investigation into the Walking Purchase was passed from the colonial government in Philadelphia to the British government in London, where it was eventually dropped. Teedyuscung was left unsupported and unprotected. On April 19, 1763 his cabin and the village of Wyolutimunk was burned to the ground by arsonists. Teedyuscung was asleep (probably drunk) in his cabin at the time and perished in the blaze. The residents of Wyolutimunk fled and settlers from the Susquehanna Company of Connecticut soon took their place. Teedyuscung's dream of a Lenape home in the Wyoming Valley ended with his death.
- Linda Matys O'Connell and David Venditta (2006-11-27). "How peace was made". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- "Wyolutimunk". Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- "The Indians of Pennsylvania". Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- Mark Turdo (2006-11-27). "How Indians, colonists found common ground". Morning Call. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- Brands, H. W. The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin. Doubleday, 2000, p. 313.