Joseph Brant

From Academic Kids

Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant (sometimes spelled Brandt or Brand) ( c. 174224 November 1807 ) was a Mohawk leader and British military officer during the American Revolutionary War. He was perhaps the most well-known Native American of his generation, mixing easily with the British elite when called for, though he was greatly (and often unjustly) reviled in the American revolutionary press.

Missing image
Joseph Brant, painted in London by George Romney in 1776

Brant's father was the Mohawk chief Tehowaghwengaraghkwin ("he buries his face in the fur"), and his mother, Owandah, is said to have been the granddaughter of King Hendrick.[1] Brant was born in Ohio on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, near present-day Akron, Ohio, and was named Thayendanegea, or "he places two bets." His father died while Brant was an infant, and his mother took Joseph and his older sister Mary to Canajoharie, on the Mohawk River in eastern New York, where she had lived before her family moved to the Ohio River. There his mother remarried a man named Carrihogo, or News Carrier. The English called the man Barnet or Bernard, shortening it to Brant. Thus Thayendanegea became known as Brant’s Joseph and later as Joseph Brant.

Starting at about age 15, Brant took part in a number of French and Indian War expeditions, including James Abercrombie’s 1758 invasion of Canada via Lake George, General Sir William Johnson's 1759 expedition against Fort Niagara, and Jeffery Amherst's 1760 siege of Montreal via the St. Lawrence River.

As a teenager he became an interpreter for an Anglican missionary named John Stuart, with whom he translated the Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language. His sister Molly married General Sir William Johnson, the British superintendent for Indian Affairs, and with whom Joseph fought in the French and Indian War.

Missing image
Joseph Brant, painted in London by Gilbert Stuart in 1786

During the American Revolution Brant led warriors of the four Iroquois nations that had sided with Britain (the Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca), becoming a captain in the British army. He was defeated by General John Sullivan on August 29, 1779 in the Battle of Newtown. After the war, he was unable to secure land transfers for the natives from the newly created American government; instead, the British gave him land for a Mohawk reservation on the Grand River in Ontario (see Six Nations of the Grand River). He acted as a missionary to the other natives, building the first Anglican church in Ontario and attempting to translate the Bible into Mohawk. He died in the reservation on August 24, 1807. His remains were moved to a tomb at the Mohawk Chapel in Brantford in 1850.

The city of Brantford, Ontario, located on part of his land grant, is named for him, and the city of Burlington, Ontario is deeded to him.

Alternate spellings

Brant signed his name in various ways, including:

  • Thayeadanegea,
  • Thayendanegea,
  • Thayendanegen,
  • Joseph Thayendanegea, and
  • Joseph Brant.
Missing image
Joseph Brant

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