Molly Brant, Heroine of the PeopleOctober 31, 2014 • By Bruce Ricketts
Molly Brant was born in 1736. The Aboriginal people called her Degonwadonti. She was a member of a prominent Mohawk family. She lived in the Ohio Valley. In 1759 Molly Brant became the life partner of Sir William Johnson. Johnson was the Superintendent of Aboriginal Affairs in the province of New York. He was a powerful figure in that colony. Molly Brant was well-educated and a persuasive speaker. She wielded great influence among the Iroquois and was responsible for much of Johnson’s success in dealing with them.
Molly and her brother, Joseph, played a leading role in persuading the Iroquois Confederacy to support Britain during the American Revolution. In 1777 she fled to Canada, fearing capture by the American colonists. They were angry with her for warning the British of their plan to attack Fort Stanwix.
In recognition of her services, after the war, she was granted a pension by the government. Molly Brant settled in Cataraqui, which is now called Kingston. Her new home became the meeting place for Aboriginal leaders. She became their advisor. She held an honored place among the English. She died in 1796.
Molly Brant was a remarkable woman. In her lifetime she commanded respect from both Aboriginal people and white people. She served her people with dignity, honor, and distinction as a wonderful mother and a superior leader.
Molly Brant was listed as a person of National Historic Significance in Canada in 1994. She has been ignored by historians in the United States, but academic interest has increased about her recently. She has been accused of being a British supporter at the loss of the Iroquois. She was commemorated on April 16 in the Anglican Church of Canada calendar and the Episcopal Church (United States). There are no known portraits of her, but there is a statue in Kingston and on she was put on a Canadian stamp in 1986.