Witenagemot Oak Peace Tree

Witenagemot is an old English word that means “Council of the Wise.” In England, a Witenagemot was called to help settle a dispute peacefully by discussion.

In April 1676, a Witenagemot was convened on the property of what is now the Knickerbocker Mansion in Schaghticoke, New York—the only one ever convened in North America. New York Governor Edmund Andros realized that there were three conflicts brewing in the area about twenty-five miles north of Albany near the juncture of the Hudson and Hoosick Rivers. First, both the Mohawk and Mohican Indians claimed the area. Second, the refugee Indian tribes from King Phillip’s War were moving into the contested area. Third, the French in New France (now Canada) were determined to take New York, and they continually sent armed troops and Indian allies south in attempts to capture Albany. For Albany, the “stopping point” for this French advance was the area around Schaghticoke.

In 1676, the Board of Indian commissioners headed by Governor Andros and his counselors, judges, and clergy, along with the militia of the King of England, traveled to the Indian village on the Hoosick River and invited the Indians from the area to participate in the Council. More than 1,000 Indians joined the group. The treaty established a link of friendship with the Mohawk, Mohican, and Hoosac tribes; it strengthened the alliance of Fort Albany militia with the Hudson and Hoosick River Indian scouts to help defend Albany from the French invaders; and, it provided for New England Indians to live in the area peacefully until they could make plans to move on to other areas.

To commemorate this treaty, an oak tree was planted. The oak tree was known as the Witenagemot Oak Peace Tree. It stood until 1949 when a flood toppled it.


Magnifying Glass
Branch of the Witenagemot Oak Peace Tree
Planted 1676
Magnifying Glass
The Witenagemot Oak Peace Tree
Late nineteenth or early twentieth century
Gelatine silver photographic print