By James Lewis, Ph.D.
In May of 1832 Sac and Fox Indians under the leadership of Black
Hawk left the Iowa territory and returned to their homes across
the Mississippi River in northern Illinois. These Native
Americans had lost their Illinois lands in a disputed treaty
signed in St. Louis in 1804. Their return to northern Illinois
sparked widespread panic among white settlers, and Illinois
Governor Reynolds quickly called up the militia, which included
a young Abraham Lincoln.
Both the militia and regular army
troops proved unable to locate the elusive Indians at first, but
by July they had begun to pursue Black Hawk's band across northern
Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin, engaging them in a major
conflict at Wisconsin Heights before finally routing the Indians
at Bad Axe on the Mississippi River.
This project presents searchable
primary source materials describing the Black Hawk War of 1832. It
includes the Autobiography of Black Hawk, American
soldiers' first-hand accounts and reminiscences, maps and other
images, and treaties and other government documents. It is a part
of the larger Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project and
its attempts to use the events of Lincoln's life as a lens through
which to interpret and understand broader themes of antebellum