History: Emperor Brim established policy of neutrality for Creeks

History: Emperor Brim established  policy of neutrality for Creeks

Editor’s Note: Russell County has a long history that is important to the State of Alabama and its evolvement from an area described in the book “Russell County in Retrospect” by Anne Kendrick Walker as a “barbaric land” to what it is today. Many of the people who set their roots in the county in its early days including the state’s first Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress, important Native Americans who paid with their lives to cede land that created the county, a family that started a place of higher learning in south Russell County that later led to the establishment of one of the state’s most known institutions of education today and a former slave who placed a monument to honor his former owner, are very much important to the formation of Alabama. The story that follows is another of a series to inform you – our readers – about the history of Russell County. 

The date of his birth is unknown, but he died in 1733. Emperor Brim, also know as Hoboyetly and in some reference books as Emperor Brims and Emperor Bream, was a Muscogee mico of Coweta who rose to power through a series of shifting alliances with France, England, and Spain. 

His two sons, Hollata Brim and Seepeycoffee Brim, both later served as leading Cowetas.

There are few sources for research of Emperor Brim, but the most information on this historical figure may be found in Walter A. Harris’ book Stories of old Ocmulgee Fields: Emperor Brim, the greatest American Indian and in the Encyclopedia of Alabama. The following information comes from the Encyclopedia of Alabama:

“Emperor Brim was a noted chief of the Lower Creek town of Coweta which was located along the border of present-day Alabama and Georgia, near Columbus, Ga. His personal prestige garnered him great respect among the Creeks and attracted the interest of European colonial leaders seeking an influential supporter in their pursuit of Indian alliances. He was instrumental in negotiating the Coweta Resolution in 1718, by which the Creeks established a policy of neutrality among the European powers of Great Britain, France, and Spain. Neutrality became a hallmark of Creek political strategy until 1763, when Great Britain became the sole European power in the region after the Seven Years’ War, and after 1783, when Spain regained control of Florida in the wake of the American War for Independence. 

Brim’s date of birth is unknown. He was the brother of Chigelli and the father of twin sons Essabo and Malatchi, all of whom were Lower Creek leaders. Mary Musgrove, a Creek-English woman who played an important role in the early colony of Georgia, claimed him as a maternal relation. He rose to power as head war chief of Coweta in the early eighteenth century and was designated “emperor” by the British and “great cacique” by the Spaniards. During this volatile period, the British, French, and Spaniards, driven by their historical rivalries and quests for empire in North America, vied for the allegiance of the southeastern Indian groups. These groups in turn contended with their own rivalries as well as with the pressures of European intrusion into their territories. Tensions were high especially along the Carolina-Indian frontier, where a history of oppressive trading practices on the part of the British fomented resentment among the local Yamasee Indians. In April of 1712, the Yamasees launched a devastating attack on traders and border settlements in South Carolina, beginning the long struggle that came to be known as the Yamasee War.

The French and British accused Emperor Brim of directing the Yamasee attack on South Carolina, while Brim, for his part, took the opportunity in the chaos of the beginning of the war to organize raids against the Carolinians and Cherokees. The war took its toll on both Indians and British, and as it progressed, Yamasee refugees fled to Spanish Florida. In 1716, encouraged by rumors that Brim would be amenable to an alliance with Spain, Spanish lieutenant Diego Peña travelled to Coweta to secure Brim’s allegiance. Brim pledged loyalty to Spain but not to the exclusion of his relationships with Great Britain and France. Meanwhile, in 1717, the Creeks made peace with the British and permitted the French to build Fort Toulouse at the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers, near present-day Wetumpka. 

In March 1718, representatives of the three imperial powers convened at Coweta, and Emperor Brim, in council with many Lower and Upper Creek leaders, crafted the Coweta Resolution and settled into the policy of neutrality that the Creeks perfected in subsequent decades. That year, the Spaniards built the presidio of San Marcos near present-day Tallahassee, Florida, and by 1721, the British had built Fort King George at the mouth of the Altamaha River in present-day south Georgia. As the three European imperial powers entrenched themselves on the Creek frontiers, the Creek strategy of neutrality allowed them to exploit their rivalries, holding the balance of power among them while securing lucrative trading relationships and maintaining control of Creek territory. It was a successful strategy that served the Creeks well throughout the eighteenth century.”

There is much confusion over the Brims lineage or “dynasty.” Europeans assumed the younger men whom Brims sent as spokesmen for him were his sons, and historians have repeatedly concluded that Brims’ successors were his natural sons. 

However, given the workings of the Creek matrilineal clan system, it is more likely they were his sisters’ sons. The Brims line, one of the better documented families among the Creek, can be loosely traced through the end of the Colonial period. Among Brims’ more important relatives are Mary Musgrove Bosomworth (Coosaponokeesa), the daughter of Brims’ sister, and Malatchi, who served as the spokesman for Coweta until 1756,

More information on Brims’ participation in the attack on South Carolina in support of the Yamasee may be found in the book Colonial Wars of North America 1512 – 1763: An Encyclopedia.