Biographical / Historical
The Indian Committees of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Genesee Yearly Meetings (Hicksite) united in 1838 to protect the Seneca Indians from the Ogden Land Company, which was trying to buy their land. The Joint Committee was convinced that the Indians had been bribed to sign the treaty agreeing to cede their New York lands. They gathered evidence and sent it to President Van Buren. However the Senate ratified the treaty by which the Senecas had agreed to sell their land, and the only recourse of the Friends was public opinion. They issued a great many pamphlets setting forth the facts of the case, including a book, The Case of the Seneca Indians, published in 1840.
In 1842 a conference was held between the Secretary of War, agents of the Ogden Land Company, and a delegation of Friends. As a result, the Ogden Co. agreed to a supplemental treaty giving the Senecas title to reservations at Cattaraugus and Allegheny. In 1846 a small party of Senecas emigrated west. They soon found themselves in need and appealed to their tribe in New York, who in turn appealed to the Friends. In 1848 Joseph Walton and his family went to Cattaraugus to continue the work of the Female Manual Labor School and to get the farm ready to turn over to the Indians. By 1849 the active work of the Friends with the Senecas ended, and the Joint Committee dissolved in 1850.
The Secretary of the committee was Benjamin Ferris of Philadelphia and the members in 1840 included Philip E. Thomas, William E. Bartlett, Jacob Lafetra and Phineas Janney of Baltimore, Griffith M. Cooper of Genesee, Abraham Bell, Thomas Carpenter, Samuel Smith and Dobel Baker of New York, and William Wharton, Joseph Warner, John H. Bunting and George M. Justice of Philadelphia.