Samuel Kirkland - Preacher on the Frontier

Samuel Kirkland - Preacher on the Frontier


Samuel Kirkland was a Presbyterian minister who moved to the Mohawk Valley in Upstate New York just as tensions were heating up with the British.

His intention was to work as a missionary and establish a church.  In doing so, he wanted to convert the Native Americans to Christianity.

Kirkland gained the trust of many Amerindians and helped them negotiate disputes with the colonists.


With the onset of revolution, Upstate New York became a major battleground.  The Iroquois Confederacy, made up of the Six Nations, was split on who to side with.

Most Native Americans sided with the British because they were treated so well after the French and Indian War.

Kirkland was able to convince the Tuscarora and Oneida to join the Patriots.  This was significant as both armies were lacking troops in the Iroquois Territory.

After the War

After the war, Samuel Kirkland found himself playing peacemaker.

At this time, many people from New England began moving to the area.  These Yankees had a lot of anger for the Native Americans.  Many of the newcomers knew the Natives in the area had sided with the British.

Kirkland felt it was his duty to help the Tuscarora and Oneida.  He explained which tribes Patriots and which were not.

Kirkland also founded a school for boys.  The Hamilton-Oneida School was named for trustee Alexander Hamilton as well as the local Oneida people.  It educated young men of both Native and white heritage.  This institution is today known simply as Hamilton College.

The Iroquois played an important, yet often overlooked, role in the American Revolution.  Be sure to sign up to our email list or follow us on Facebook as we will surely be featuring more Founders involved in this part of the war.

Until then, try one of these books on the topic:

Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution
By Joseph T. Glatthaar, James Kirby Martin
The Evacuation of Boston

The Evacuation of Boston

Esek Hopkins - Commander of the Continental Navy

Esek Hopkins - Commander of the Continental Navy