Biographical / Historical
The Convention of Delegates was an association of seven Hicksite Yearly Meetings who managed Indian affairs in the Northern Superintendency during the period of President U.S. Grant's “Peace Policy.” In 1867, a conference was held in Baltimore of the Indian Committees of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Genesee, Ohio, and Indiana Yearly Meetings, which sent a memorial to the Government expressing willingness to serve with the Indians in the West.
In 1869, President U.S. Grant announced his “Peace Policy.” Hicksite Friends were given control of the Northern Superintendency. This area covered most of the present State of Nebraska, including seven tribes on six reservations with an Indian population of about 6,000.
General conferences were attended by delegates of six Hicksite Yearly Meetings (seven when Illinois was organized in 1875) to consider the various problems throughout the period of active participation with the Government. In 1871, the Convention decided to appoint a Central Executive Committee to represent the Yearly Meetings in the intervals between the general conferences. B. Rush Roberts was Secretary of this body, and Dillwyn Parrish succeeded him. Samuel M. Janney was placed in charge as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Northern Superintendency.
When he retired in the fall of 1871, he was replaced by Barclay White of New Jersey. In 1876, White received orders from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to close his office, ostensibly for financial reasons. Friends who continued as Indian Agents reported directly to the Commissioner in Washington. With government approval, the Conference named Barclay White as Friends Special Indian Agent to periodically visit and inspect the reservations from 1877 to 1878.
The decline of participation in the Convention was relative to the decreasing role of Hicksite Friends in the management of the Northern Superintendency. The official relationship of the Society of Friends with the Federal Government deteriorated after the election of Hayes in 1877. Between 1877 and 1882, the reform efforts of the Department of the Interior, which intended to reassert government, produced numerous investigations, and all but one of the Quaker Agents resigned. By 1885, Quaker assistance and oversight was limited to the Santee Sioux Agency.