NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


Previous section

Next section

Letter to James Buchanan.

TO JAMES BUCHANAN, ESQ., PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR:
The first part of this work having been addressed to the President of the United States, and by him communicated to the Senate, it is deemed proper that the generalizations of the volumes should take the same direction.

The Indian tribes constitute an anomalous feature in our history. Recognised as a strongly-marked variety of mankind, they appear to be branches of oriental stocks, who relapsed into the nomadic state at primeval periods, and of whom no records, either oral or written, can now be found, to guide the labors of the historian. We are, in truth, better acquainted with the history of the antediluvians than with that of these tribes. Their geographical position, and their prior occupation of the continent, constitute the basis of an appeal to our benevolence; and they have a just claim on our nationality, which it were wrong to deny, and cruel to reject.

In 1847, Congress recognising this relation, and being desirous of giving certitude to the scanty information then possessed respecting them, directed the statistics of the tribes to be collected and published, together with such other facts as might serve to illustrate their history, condition, character and prospects; thus presenting them to the public in their true light — neither overrated by exaggeration, nor underrated by prejudice.

Whatever relates to their actual history, as distinguished from their traditions, oral imageries, and cosmologies, must necessarily be of modern origin. The detailed narrative of aboriginal modern history has been traced, in chronological order, from the

-- viii --

earliest debarkations of white men in Florida, Louisiana, and New Mexico, to the marked epoch of 1776; thence, through the twelve years, comprised within the revolutionary epoch and confederation, to 1789; and from the adoption of the present Constitution, through the consecutive thirteen presidential terms, of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams, Jackson, and Van Buren.

As a slight introduction to the details of their statistics, a sketch of their ancient status has been attempted. With the Indian the past has ever been a conjectural era: he regards it as a golden age; it is the dream-land of his fertile imagination; and his ideas of it are generally found, upon analyzation, to be derived from oral traditions, reminiscences, or fabulous inventions. Success in the pursuit of inquiries in this ancient historical field can only be attained through the medium of the languages and antiquities, and the study of the mental constitution and general ethnological phenomena of the race — all demanding the most mature labor and research.

Trusting that the desiderata here offered may have the tendency to direct public attention to the tribes, and merit and receive your consideration,

I am, with high respect,
Your obt. servant,

HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT.

-- ix --

Previous section

Next section


Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
Powered by PhiloLogic