Through the early part of the American Revolution, Molly Brant sheltered and fed loyalists, and sent arms and ammunition to those who were fighting for the King. She is also said to have conveyed intelligence to the British military which resulted in the successful route of American forces at Oriskany in 1777.1 Such actions, along with the advancing patriots, ultimately left her no choice but to flee, as many others had done before her. She left the Mohawk Valley with her family, two male slaves and two female servants in 1777, and went to Fort Niagara. Her younger children were then sent to school in Montreal.2
Now, more than ever, Molly was expected to use her influence over the Mohawk warriors. She was an intelligent woman, and she used the colonial administration to increase her own political power and to promote the interests of her people. The government similarly used her as an instrument of political control.3 In describing a large Iroquois force that had gathered at Carleton Island, the commander of the fort indicated that "their uncommon good behaviour [was] in great measure to be ascribed to Miss Molly Brant's influence over them, which [was] far superior to that of all their Chiefs put together".4 Throughout the war, Molly continued to use her influence to steady the warriors, bolster their morale, and strengthen their loyalty to the King.5

After the war, no provision was made for the Iroquois in the Treaty of Paris of 1783: they were left to conduct their own negotiations.6 It is known that Joseph Brant petitioned Governor Haldimand on behalf of the Iroquois; it has also been suggested that Molly used her influence on behalf of her people at this time.7 Eventually, land on the Bay of Quinte was granted to the Iroquois; not all were satisfied, however, and additional lands on the Grand River were requested.8 The Mohawk who had travelled to Montreal during the war settled on the Bay of Quinte, where they were led by John Deserontyou, while those who had been refugees at Fort Niagara went with Joseph Brant to the Grand River.9
  1. Graymont, 1981: 26; Green, 1989: 239-40.
  2. Johnson Hall State Historic Site.
  3. Green, 1989: 240.
  4. Wilson, 1976: 56; Johnson Hall State Historic Site.
  5. Graymont, 1981: 31.
  6. Tooker, 1981: 12; Petrie, 1978: 39; Quinn, 1980: 77.
  7. Green, 1989: 241.
  8. Wilson, 1976: 57; Petrie, 1978: 39-43.
  9. Tooker, 1976: 12.

Cataraqui Archaeological Research Foundation
Susan Bazely, Hannah Roth

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