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

Section Nineteenth. — Hostile Attitude of the Southern Tribes, Previous to Their Final Removal. Chapter I. — Movements of Algonquin Tribes in the Region of the Upper Lakes.

FROM early times the Chippewas had, under their generic appellation, and the various local names of their several subdivisions, constituted one of the most powerful bodies of Indians in the North-West. In a region half covered with lakes, to be good canoemen, expert warriors, keen hunters, active foresters, and eloquent speakers, are most important qualifications in the members of the tribes. The name Chippewa appears to have imperceptibly taken the place of that of Algonquin, the language they speak. Having been friends of the French, from the period of their landing in Canada, they adhered to the fortunes of that nation until the final surrender of the country to the English, when they transferred their attachment to the latter power. They fought for the French on the bloody field which was the scene of Braddock's defeat, at Michilimackinac, and at Detroit; and aided their new allies, the British, at St. Clair's defeat, and in almost every battle fought during the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary wars. At length, having been defeated on the Thames, under Tecumseh, by General Harrison, they returned to their several haunts, vexed and dissatisfied. In 1820, they opposed the entrance of an official American exploratory expedition into Lake Superior, and hoisted the British flag in defiance. Two years subsequently, an American garrison was stationed, and an Indian agency located, at the foot of that lake, and intercourse opened

-- 463 --

with them. Some few years later, the British withdrew the post from Drummond Island, at the entrance of the straits of St. Mary, and, retiring to the foot of Lake Huron, at Penetanguishing, planted an Indian colony on the large limestone chain of the Manatouline, where the tribes were invited to settle by Sir Francis Head, without respect to the political boundaries of their home location. This policy was ill judged. The Indians, as a body, did not wish to engage in agriculture, and such as did, found the soil was poor, and that there existed no compensating advantages. Many of the tribes lived in the United States, and received annuities, which they must relinquish by permanently migrating to the Manatouline. Hence the failure of the plan. Having been warriors and hunters during all that period of their history known to us, that is, from 1608 to 1836, these tribes still continued to pursue the same vocations, with the difference, that the wars in which they had been allies of Europeans having terminated, they were destitute of employment, while, at the same time, their hunting-grounds were exhausted. War had reduced their numbers, and the declining fur trade had left them in debt. But one general mode of recruiting their affairs remained to them; they were possessed of immense tracts of lands, some of which were of a rich agricultural character; others contained valuable mines, and were covered with forests of timber; while the lake shores were valuable fisheries. Many millions of square miles intervened between their extreme borders. To cede a portion of their lands, in consideration of annuities, and to pledge a part for the establishment of schools, arts, and agriculture in their midst, was, clearly, the proper course to be pursued; and, for this purpose, a large delegation of the chiefs visited Washington, during the autumn and winter of 1835-36, where they were joined by a similar delegation of the Ottawas. With respect to the Manatouline scheme, it required means, which the British Government withheld, and industry, which the Indians did not possess. Besides, if they were inclined to form industrious habits, the most advantageous position for their exercise would be that pointed out by the American Government, in the fertile fields of the West.

A few of their oldest and most sagacious men having been made to comprehend this fact, and urged to turn their attention to a permanent state of future prosperity, other members of the tribes became favorably inclined towards the plan. The Canada colony caused some local disturbance among the tribes, but never made much progress. So long as ample presents were distributed, the Indians went to Canada for them; they spent the summer months on the Manatouline, but returned to winter on their lands in the United States.

The Chippewa tribe had always exercised an important influence. These natives were, personally, a tall, active, and brave race of men, renowned, in Indian story, for prowess in war, skill in the chase and diplomacy, and for their exellent oratorical powers. It was observed by the French, at a very early period, that they possessed a body of oral legendary lore which made their lodge circles attractive, and an ingenious mode of distinguishing family ties and clans, by totemic devices, or pictographic symbols.

-- 464 --

A similar system of ideographic signs was used to supply the place of the art of notation, for
their songs, and for brief memorials, displayed on their cedar grave-posts. 623

The policy of the United States Government being, to remove all the tribes from the States to the lands west of the Mississippi, it became desirable to ascertain the wishes and feelings of a tribe which had figured so prominently in Indian history. The Chippewas and Ottowas speak dialects of the same language, 624 very much resemble each other in manners and customs, and either live in juxtaposition, or intermingle.

When the delegates of the co-tribes arrived at Washington, the Secretary of War, to whom the government of Indian affairs at that time pertained, and who, having formerly resided in the West, was aware that the two tribes were intercalated, and held their lands very much in common, directed the Chippewa chiefs to be present at the conferences, and entrusted the negotiation to their local agent,
Mr. Schoolcraft. The conferences occupied the entire season, delegates having been invited from remote points, and the deliberations were protracted; but, on the 28th of March, they united in a general cession. 625 The Ottawas and Chippewas of Grand Traverse Bay ceded all their territories, extending from Grand River, on the lower peninsula, to the Straits of Michilimackinac, thence north of the basin of Lake Huron, along the Straits of St. Mary's, to Lake Superior, and up its southern shores to the influx of Gitche Seebi, or the Great River; thence to the river Menomonee of Green Bay, and, along a water line, to the place of beginning at Grand River Lake, Michigan.

The cession of 1836 was far the largest ever made by this tribe; including hunting-grounds, homesteads, burial-grounds, and ossuaries, which they had possessed and cherished for centuries. Seas were, in fact, comprised within the limits of the territory ceded; for the character and amplitude of the lakes entitles them to be so called. About 16,000,000 acres of these lands were located in the upper peninsula, or Algoma region, along the shores of Lake Superior, without estimating any portion of those situate in lower Michigan. Ample reservations of the best tracts were secured to them in different locations; upwards of $3,000,000 were stipulated to be paid them in annuities, within twenty years; $300,000 to be expended in liquidation of their debts; $150,000 to be distributed in gratuities to their half-breed descendants; and presents of goods and clothing, to the amount of $150,000, to be made them on the ratification of the treaty. Ample provision was made for their education, and for their tuition in agriculture and the arts. Their surplus lands, which had lost their value as hunting-grounds, thus furnished the means, not only for their present subsistence, but also for their instruction

-- 465 --

in arts and letters, and for their advancement in every element of civilized life. The number of persons who participated in these benefits was about 4500. In a report of the superintendent, made to the Government on the 30th of September, 1840, they are returned from the pay rolls, as organized in their separate bands and villages, at 5020 souls. 626 The results of four years' experience and observation of their habits and prospects, had, at that period, given data to decide whether a mixed occupation of the territory would be permanently beneficial. It is remarked that insuperable causes of dislike and dissension exist between the European and Indian stocks, and that the latter cannot long reside in prosperity on their reservations. The question of their removal and final location in the West, began to assume importance, and became the subject of animated discussion among themselves. "It is not probable" adds the agent, "that any provision can be made for the aboriginal race, which promises to be so effectual as their transference to, and colonization in, a separate territory, where they cannot be reached by the evils now pressing upon them, or thwarted in their peculiar government and laws. If the Indian is ever successfully to assert his claims to distinction among the races of men, it must be under circumstances which will give latitude to the peculiar bent and tastes of aboriginal intellect." 627

-- 466 --

Chapter II. — Indian Hostilities in the South.

WHILE this favorable adjustment of the national policy took place in the North, difficulties arose with the southern tribes, which assumed a most threatening aspect. The causes of these troubles may be briefly referred to.

Two obstacles to the successful execution of the plan of removal had existed for several years; one of which was, the difficulties between Georgia and the Creeks. The treaty concluded with the Creeks at Indian Springs, February 12, 1825, had been the source of much discord, having been negotiated without the full consent of all the chiefs, who should have participated in it, and ratified only a few days prior to the close of the presidential term, before the objections to it were made known, or fully understood. Mr. Adams, in his first message, expresses his intention to communicate to Congress a special message on the subject; 628 and also respecting the general feeling of the Cherokees. Causes of dissension had been created with two of the principal tribes, such as had not before occurred in our Indian history. After the lapse of seven years, the Creek question was virtually adjusted by the treaty signed at Washington, March 24, 1832; but the difficulties were not terminated. By this treaty, they ceded all their lands east of the Mississippi, making personal reservations for a limited number of years.

Among the Cherokees, the treaty of New Echota, concluded December 29, 1835, together with the policy of emigration, had created two distinct and violently antagonistic parties, one of which favored, and the other opposed, the removal. The leader of the former was John Ross, the ruling chief, who was supported by many other chiefs, and by the majority of the tribe. Being attached to their residence by historical associations, dating back to the era of the discovery of the country, possessing a fertile soil, and enjoying a mild climate, amid a district of hill and dale whose scenic beauty is hardly surpassed, this party, having in their own hands the means of civilization,

-- 467 --

were averse to exchanging it for territories beyond the Mississippi, with whose character they were imperfectly acquainted, and regarding the climate of which they were in doubt. Congress had, by a resolution passed in March, 1835, offered $5,000,000 to the Cherokees for their lands. December 29, 1835, a treaty assenting to the Government policy, was formed at New Echota, 629 with the party favoring exchange and migration, at the head of which was Major Ridge. This treaty threw the nation into a tumultuous excitement, and a numerous delegation visited Washington to oppose its ratification by the Senate. While the terms of the treaty were under discussion at Washington, Congress granted $600,000 for the purpose of covering the incidental expenses of their removal, and to meet sundry contingent claims which it was apprehended might arise therefrom. The western Cherokees also appended their approval of the measure, without claiming any interest in the fiscal provisions of the compact. In this form, the treaty was ratified by the Senate, May 23, 1836.

The malcontent party of the Cherokees denied the validity of the treaty, averring that the majority of the nation should not be bound by the terms of a treaty to which they had not given their consent, and which they alleged had been surreptitiously negotiated. The minds of the people were intensely excited; one party contending that the removal policy would be their destruction, and the other that it would prove their salvation. The public press of the United States took part in the discussion, being governed in the expression of their opinions by their adhesion to existing parties, and by the different views they entertained of the true policy to be pursued with respect to the future disposition of the Indian tribes.

There was another element of disturbance. The Creeks, who, by the treaty of April 4, 1832, had compromised the disagreements, and settled the raging discord created by the M'Intosh treaty, negotiated at Indian Springs, February 12, 1825, were not disposed to comply with the terms of this treaty of general pacification. Whether, owing to the fact that the Indian mind has many concealments and mental reservations, or does not readily comprehend the true scope and bearing of legal constructions, many and long continued delays were interposed, and much difficulty was experienced in obtaining a prompt and general compliance with the strict terms of this treaty, and in adjusting questions of reservations and assumed rights, which had not been conceded by that instrument.

-- 468 --

Chapter III. — Outbreak of the Florida War.

WHILE this state of things existed in the South, the diurnal press teemed with rumors, which were not only frequently contradictory, but always appeared to originate from the apprehensions of exposed settlers. Early in the month of January, the astounding intelligence reached Washington, that Major Dade and his entire command, both officers and men, had been waylaid and massacred by the Seminoles in Florida.

The Seminoles 630 are connected with the Creeks, both by ties of blood and language. Their sympathies had, doubtless, been with the Creeks in their long controversy with Georgia, but their action on this occasion appears to have arisen from internal dissatisfaction. In an elaborate report, 631 made February 9, 1836, and communicated by the President to Congress, it is asserted that the Seminoles were not satisfied with the terms of the treaty concluded at Payne's Landing, May 9, 1832. The extent of this disaffection was not known. The difficulty does not appear in this light, in any of the reports made by the agents; and the Government, at least, was ignorant of it. On their failure to comply with their treaty agreement to remove to the West, and the expiration of the time and times granted for that purpose, troops were concentrated in the vicinity of the Seminoles, and the local commander, General Clinch, directed to organize companies of regulars. As early as February, 1835, he was authorized to draw from the North six additional companies, four of which were artillery. A spirit of dissatisfaction was evinced by the Indians during the summer and autumn. Several outrages occurred while keeping up the communications between fort and fort, and it was apprehended that the Creeks secretly participated in this feeling of animosity. In

-- 469 --

November, General Clinch having reported that it would be necessary to call out volunteers for the protection of the frontiers, he was authorized to deliver arms from the public stores for their equipment. The maintenance of the lines of communication between distant posts, separated by a wilderness country, interspersed with deep creeks, and frequently with dense thickets and hammocks, was a difficult and harassing service. The lines were attacked at various points, and the defiles and quagmires offered singular facilities for the prosecution of the Indian mode of warfare. Fort King, the headquarters of the army, was situated about 100 miles from Fort Brooke on Tampa Bay, the Wythlacooche river intervening between them. The Indians burned down a bridge over a deep stream, within six miles of Fort Brooke, but it was rebuilt. At this time there were upwards of 600 regular troops in the field. 632

A mail-carrier had been murdered in August, within six miles of Tampa Bay; 633 Charles Emathla, a chief friendly to emigration, had been scalped; the Mickasukies were hostile, and held a strong position on the Wythlacooche river; the Tallassees were accused of holding secret councils; and the Pea creek band were engaged in continual depredations. The aspect of affairs was extremely threatening.

While matters were in this position, on the 23d of December, Major Dade marched from Fort Brooke, on Tampa Bay, for Fort Clinch, with a detachment of two companies, one six-pounder, and the usual complement of military stores and supplies. The entire force numbered 100 muskets. The first day he halted at a stream, distant seven miles from Fort Brooke, called the Little Hillsboro river, the bridge over which had been burned by the hostile Indians, and subsequently rebuilt. The following day he progressed six miles, reached the Big Wythlacooche on the 27th, and on the 28th arrived at the defile, where he was waylaid by the Indians, distant only sixty-five miles from Fort Brooke. He was attacked about ten o'clock on the morning of the 28th. It appeared that the Indians had narrowly watched his march, disturbing his barricades at night, but keeping out of sight, on his flanks, during the day, until he had proceeded a few miles beyond the Wythlacooche, where 100 Pea creek warriors, under the negro Harry, and, as has been estimated, more than double that number 634 of the Mickasukies, and of the bands of Eufollahs and Alafiers, under the chiefs Little Cloud and Alligator, formed an ambuscade on both sides of the road. The column, marching in ordinary open order, was suddenly attacked on all sides with showers of arrows and balls; Major Dade was shot dead from his horse at the first onset. The command immediately closed their ranks and unlimbered the field-piece, from which forty-nine rounds were fired. 635 But the shots were fired at random, no body of the

-- 470 --

enemy being visible at one spot, while their arrows and balls were discharged from their places of concealment with deadly aim. Seven commissioned officers were killed in quick succession; the ranks were riddled, and every effort to re-form the men failed. The Indians picked up and used the muskets of the dead soldiers against their surviving comrades. 636 Lieutenant Basinger, after being fatally wounded, had his throat cut by a negro. The most horrid butchery occurred. Several of the wounded, who knew the leaders of the enemy, appealed for their lives in vain; the cry for quarter was answered by the knife or tomahawk. Not an officer nor any of the command escaped, except two soldiers who crept off. 637 After being badly wounded, but yet remaining perfectly conscious, they laid motionless among the dead until an opportunity offered for escape. Some accounts estimate the American loss at 112 men. How many men the Indians lost has never been ascertained.

Such was the massacre (for battle it was not) of the Wythlacooche, the news of which operated like an electric shock, and made as deep an impression on the Americans, as the massacre at Cabul did, in after times, on the British in India. An officer, writing from Fort Brooke, on the 1st of January, four days after the sanguinary event, says: "Such are the Indian combinations, that it is not considered practicable to force or keep open a communication with Fort King, with less than a well-appointed and instructed force of 1000 men. Three out of four bridges are destroyed, and two fords are very difficult; and the country may generally be described as a series of ambuscades and defiles." 638

On the 31st of December, General Clinch, with 200 regulars and a large force of militia volunteers, marched to the Wythlacooche, and fought a sharp action on the banks of that stream, near the scene of Dade's defeat, with the same Indians, who manifested as much determined intrepidity as they had previously evinced. In this engagement, Osceola was noticed to have been actively engaged in marshalling the Indians. The action was severe; General Clinch had nine of his force killed, and ninety-eight wounded. 639 In a letter from St. Augustine, of the 6th of January, 1836, it is said, "General Clinch has fought, and got the worst of it; driven back to his pickets." 640

It is difficult to depict the political and social commotion created in Florida by these events. The Indians attacked every defenceless house and plantation; murders and conflagrations devastated the country; and the accounts of the atrocities of the savages, were they collated, would fill a book. "The newspapers," says a writer from St. Mary's, in Georgia, under date of January 16th, "have, perhaps, abundantly informed you to what a deplorable situation we are now reduced. The temporising policy of General Thompson, the Indian Superintendent, and the forbearance of our Government, have set the merciless savages upon our plantations, our crops, and our dwellings; and,

-- 471 --

really, I do not see what is to become of us and this country, if military succors do not IMMEDIATELY arrive. The Indians seem to be fully bent on the most determined resistance, and, in the action on the Wythlacooche, displayed a firmness and desperation never exceeded in the history of Indian warfare." 641

A simultaneous outbreak took place throughout Florida. On the 28th of December, the day of Dade's massacre, a party of ten men were dining with Rodgers, the sutler at Port King, in a dwelling distant not 250 yards from the block-house, when they were suddenly beset, and fired on by a party of Indians. A hundred shots, it is estimated, were discharged through the open window, by which the host, who was sitting at the head of his table, and four of his guests, were killed. Among the latter were General Thompson, the Indian agent, Lieutenant Constantine Smith, U. S. A., and two others. Five persons, who fled to the fort, escaped. The officials and attendants sought refuge in a hammock, but were shot down before they reached it. The cook, a negro woman, who hid herself behind a barrel, and succeeded in effecting her escape, was a spectator of all the barbarities committed. Osceola, who was the leader of the party, entered first, overthrew a table, gazed sternly round for a moment, and then went out. 642 The body of Thompson, the agent, was found to have been pierced with fifteen bullets, and sixteen entered that of Rodgers, the post-sutler. The Indians scalped all the dead to the very ears, and then beat in their skulls.

Between the day of the massacre and the middle of the ensuing January, a wide extent of country was made a scene of desolation. Houses were burned, the occupants killed, cattle and stock driven off, the mail routes interrupted, and a general panic and confusion created.

The causes which originated this war become apparent, when attention is directed to the peculiar prejudices and mental reservations of the Indians. By the treaty negotiated at Payne's Landing, on the Ochlawaha, May 9th, 1832, the Seminoles ceded their lands, and all claims to lands, which they held in Florida, in consideration of the payment to them of a yearly annuity of $15,400. They also agreed to send a delegation of their most respected chiefs to view the territory offered them west of the Mississippi, and to ascertain whether the western Creeks would allow the Seminoles to rejoin them. It was stipulated in the treaty, that the improvements left in Florida should be paid for by the United States; their cattle be estimated and paid for; and the blacksmiths' services, sanctioned by a prior treaty, be continued to them in the west. Provision was made that each person, on reaching the new location, should receive a blanket and a home-spun frock; and an additional annuity of $3000 per year, for fifteen years, was to be divided among them. Claims having been made on them for runaway slaves from the southern plantations, $7000 were allowed for the satisfaction of such demands. Under the seventh article of this treaty, they agree to remove within three years, at

-- 472 --

the expense of the United States, by whom they are to be supplied with one year's subsistence in the new territory. A treaty concluded with the Creeks, at Fort Gibson, March 28th, 1833, provided for the rebel tribe an ample country. The Seminoles living north of the boundary line, designated by the treaty of Camp Moultrie, began to remove to the West; but these removals proceeded slowly, being delayed by embarrassments. At the close of the time stipulated by the treaty of May 9th, 1832. it having been decided that the emigrants should proceed by water, across the Gulf of Mexico, to their western home, vessels for their transportation arrived at Tampa Bay, and their speedy embarkation was urged. Throughout the year 1835 there appeared to be strong objections to emigration, on the part of all the principal Seminole bands, and they finally refused to go.

In a full report, made by the War Department, February 9, 1836, and communicated to Congress, 643 this general dissatisfaction with the treaty of Payne's Landing is the cause assigned for the war. In the prosecution of this war, geographical phenomena singularly favored the cause of the Seminoles, and it may be figuratively said that the country itself fought for them; every swamp and hammock was a fortress.

Nature has rendered the peninsula of Florida peculiarly attractive to the Indians. Its tangled morasses, its dense and impenetrable hammocks, and its serpentine streams, form so many natural defences against European enemies; and spontaneous means of subsistence are also abundant. The rivers are covered with the greatest abundance of water-fowl; the adjoining seas abound in turtle; and the soil, where arable, yields a profusion of vegetable nourishment in the contee-plant, which is the arrow-root of commerce. 644 The Florida war was, in truth, a contest waged against geographical and climatic laws. To elude the pursuit of an enemy in these labyrinths was such an easy matter, that an Indian hid in a hammock could not be discovered at the distance of ten feet. Cattle, originally introduced by the Indians, were found to reproduce on the prairie meadows with the greatest rapidity.

-- 473 --

Chapter IV. — Origin of the Seminole Hostilities.

IN a debate which took place in the Senate on the 25th and 27th of January, on a resolution and a bill offered by Mr. Linn, to make appropriations to suppress hostilities with the Seminoles, Colonel Benton made the following graphic remarks concerning the origin of the Seminole war:

"Some years ago I was a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs. At that time, these Indians in Florida were in a state of starvation; they would not work, and it was necessary that they should be fed by the United States, or they must subsist on the plunder of our citizens. I am under the impression that for these Indians there was appropriated by Congress a very large sum, perhaps 30,000 or $40,000, to place them where they would be enabled to live without plundering. These Indians are a very bad tribe, as their name signifies; the word SEMINOLE, in Indian, being ‘wild, runaway Indians.’ They were therefore considered a bad race. It was obviously the best policy to remove these Indians to a place where they would be able to obtain plenty. Treaties were consequently made with them on the subject of their removal, and the process has been going on for some years; but when the time arrived when they should be removed, they declared that they had no wish to go; and so again last summer, when there was another attempt to remove them. The disturbances began by their shooting their chiefs, and from this increased to the extent described in the report of Captain Belton, from which, and from private letters, it is understood that, in the massacres which have taken place, the runaway negroes of the South were the most conspicuous. They traversed the field of the dead, and cut open the throats of those who were expiring. Two weeks ago, I stated here, that what had already resulted from the movements of abolitionists was sufficient to cast upon them a sin for which they never could atone. Great as that mass of sin is, they may yet have a greater mass to answer for, in comparison with which the past is but as a drop in a bucket." 645

-- 474 --

Chapter V. — Controversy With the Cherokees.

THE dissensions which convulsed this tribe, originated by the removal policy, reached their acme in 1835. On the 29th of December, 1835, the day after the Dade massacre, the treaty of New Echota was concluded with the Cherokees. As this treaty became a fruitful source of discord, a detail of some of the circumstances which preceded its negotiation, is important to the right understanding of events, which subsequently transpired in the West; events which finally led to painful and tragic scenes. The Cherokee nation had been divided in opinion on the subject of emigration from the year 1817, at which period the Western Cherokees removed to the West. The chiefs and leaders of each party did not differ very widely on leading questions, though as the discussion of the project progressed, the spirit of rivalry, aroused by their antagonistic position, engendered considerable feeling. The secret springs of this rivalry, and the bitterness of the controversy were, doubtless, the result of the counsels of white men.

On the 18th of January, 1836, Judge Hugh L. White of Tennessee, then an aspirant for the Presidency in 1837, and, consequently, very sensitive to political movements in the South, submitted to the Senate a resolution, respecting a Mr. Curry, who had been employed as an agent in the Cherokee country. This resolution was apparently introduced only for the purpose of preferring ill natured charges, or of introducing to public notice some transactions, which were calculated to cast odium upon the administration. From the detailed statement made by him, which he corroborated by reference to letters, it appears, that Mr. Curry was an agent for enrolling the Cherokees, and valuing their improvements, in anticipation of their emigration, in which business he had been employed some time; taking, meanwhile, an active interest in the political movements of that period, and opposing the ambitious aspirations of Mr. White. The adjoining States of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Mississippi, were then deeply interested in the Indian emigration question, and whatever had any bearing upon the negotiations with the tribes, or their removal from the limits of those States, became a topic of general interest. Any

-- 475 --

opposition to the removal policy was, therefore, in these States a cause of unpopularity. In his speech, Mr. White averred that his position had been misrepresented by Mr. Curry, who, in a letter written on the 1st of December, 1835, asserts, that a Mr. M'Connell, "has for some years, under the procurement of Judge White, of Tennessee, been receiving pay from the United States Government, as a secret and confidential agent, while all his visible efforts have been to defeat the measures of the ostensible agents in bringing about a treaty." 646 It is also asserted by Mr. Curry, that a private interview took place between Mr. White and Mr. John Ross, the prominent chief of the Cherokees, who opposed the execution of the New Echota treaty. Both these assertions of individual treachery, and tampering with the malcontent chief, Ross, were false. 647 The accusation and subsequent refutation have been long since forgotten, and would not now be referred to, were it not for some facts which they incidentally revealed.

It appears that Mr. Ross and his coadjutors had made an agreement with a functionary of the Government, long prior to the treaty of 1824, to accept for the Cherokee lands and claims, situate east of the Mississippi, whatever sum the Senate might award, on the submission of the question to that body. The Senate, to whom the question was eventually submitted, awarded $5,000,000, and, on this basis, the treaty of New Echota was negotiated, but not with him and his colleagues. During the pendency of the negotiations, certain influences were brought to bear upon Mr. Ross, and he became apprized of the fact, that there was a large body of the people of the United States, who not only concurred with the malcontent party of the Cherokees, in their ideas of aboriginal sovereignty within the limits of the United States, but approved of their reluctance and refusal to exchange their lands, and deemed the compensation awarded by the Senate inadequate. Individuals of high moral and legal standing in the North promulgated these views, in which they were supported by a part of the diurnal and periodical press of the Northern and Middle States. It was affirmed that an agent, of the party in the North opposed to the policy of the administration, visited the Cherokees, held interviews with the malcontent chiefs, and encouraged them in their resistance to the Government. 648 The opposition to the execution of the treaty of New Echota thus assumed the character of resistance to the legal officers of the Government, who were charged with the duty of removing the tribe. When, therefore, Commissioners Carrol and Schermerhorn visited the Cherokee country, and offered to conclude a treaty on the five million basis, the Ross party declined to negotiate. The authority of these commissioners was, at one time, questioned and denied, and at another, their character was unjustly assailed. Finally, the Ridge party, who regarded the compensation offered as amply sufficient, and the removal policy as one suited to advance their permanent prosperity, concluded the

-- 476 --

treaty; and thus the Cherokees became distinctly divided into Rossites and Ridgeites; a division which produced a state of discord, eventually terminating in the shedding of blood.

It has been previously stated that a delegation proceeded to Washington to oppose the ratification of the treaty; that the treaty laid before the Senate from December until May; that an increase of $600,000 was granted, to cover expenses; and that the full assent of the Western Cherokees was obtained, who were anxious to facilitate the measure, and to welcome their brethren to the West. During the attendance of this delegation of the Rossites at Washington, they evinced the morbidly suspicious character of the aborigine, who doubts when he should decide, and hesitates when he should act. It is stated that, when it was intimated to the Rossites, by a senator in the confidence of the administration, that a new treaty might be entered into with Mr. Ross and his party, if he should propose it, true to their native instincts, the Cherokees assumed the position that such a measure, if contemplated, should be, officially and pro forma, communicated. The influence of the delegation at Washington may be deemed to have procured the appropriation of the sum to defray the expenses of their emigration; but Congress deemed the $5,000,000 an adequate allowance for the territory relinquished. When it is considered that, in addition to this sum, the nation was gratuitously furnished with an ample domain in the West, of a fertile character, and abounding in all the requisites for an agricultural colony, the compensation awarded by this body cannot but be considered as, not only liberal, but munificent.

The ordinary method of negotiation, through agents, commissioners, and governors, having been resorted to without any beneficial result, troops were ordered into the field under commanders of acknowledged repute. There was no occasion for a war of extermination. Generals Gaines, Jessup, Scott, Taylor, and others, to whom the conducting of the war was entrusted, kept the Indians in check, and evinced their abilities by their conciliatory, yet firm, mode of operation.

With the Choctaws and Chickasaws no difficulty had been experienced. They had joined the Creeks in their hostilities during the Revolutionary war, the incidents of which have been particularly mentioned. They had in early times valiantly opposed the Spaniards; but, from the first colonization of Louisiana, they had evinced a disposition to live in peace and engage in commerce. This policy they persevered in during the great excitement engendered among the Indians by their migration to the West. Neither the difficulties with the Creeks nor with the Cherokees induced them to take part in the contest. But, while these tribes were pursuing the even tenor of their way, the war with the Seminoles assumed a more desperate character; ambuscades, murders, and predatory incursions, superseded open engagements and general movements; and it required a large force to guard a small district. A few Indians, concealed in a hammock, could assault a train of wagons, or a detached party of soldiers, with perfect impunity. It was generally impracticable to pursue them at once, and, by the time a

-- 477 --

sufficient force could be detached for this purpose, the Indians had fled to other recesses. The soldier could seldom or never meet his antagonist in the open field, and he risked his life daily in the service of his country, with scarcely the hope of obtaining the ordinary rewards of bravery and heroism.

The summer of 1836 was characterized by fatiguing marches, skirmishes, and appalling murders. There seemed to be but little prospect of striking an effective blow, and thus bringing the war to a close. In his last annual message to Congress, 649 General Jackson takes the following view of the subject:

"The war with the Seminoles during the summer was, on our part, chiefly confined to the protection of our frontier settlements from the incursions of the enemy; and, as a necessary and important means for the accomplishment of that end, to the maintenance of the posts previously established. In the course of this duty, several actions took place, in which the bravery and discipline of both officers and men were conspicuously displayed, and which I have deemed it proper to notice, in respect to the former, by the granting of brevet rank for gallant services in the field. But, as the force of the Indians was not so far weakened by these partial successes as to lead them to submit, and, as their savage inroads were frequently repeated, early measures were taken for placing at the disposal of Governor Call, who, as commander-in-chief of the territorial militia, had been temporarily invested with the command, an ample force, for the purpose of resuming offensive operations in the most efficient manner, so soon as the season should permit. Major-General Jessup was also directed, on the conclusion of his duties in the Creek country, to repair to Florida, and assume the command.

"The result of the first movement made by the forces under the direction of Governor Call, in October last, as detailed in the accompanying papers, excited much surprise and disappointment. A full explanation has been required of the causes which led to the failure of that movement; but it has not yet been received. In the mean time, it was feared that the health of Governor Call, who was understood to have suffered much from sickness, might not be adequate to the crisis; and, as Major-General Jessup was known to have reached Florida, that officer was directed to assume the command, and to prosecute all needful operations with the utmost promptitude and vigor. From the force at his disposal, and the dispositions he has made, and is instructed to make, and from the very efficient measures which it is since ascertained have been taken by Governor Call, there is reason to hope that they will soon be enabled to reduce the enemy to subjection. In the mean time, as you will perceive from the report of the Secretary, there is urgent necessity for farther appropriations to suppress these hostilities.

"Happily for the interests of humanity, the hostilities with the Creeks have been brought to a close, soon after your adjournment, without that effusion of blood which,

-- 478 --

at one time, was apprehended as inevitable. The unconditional submission of the hostile party was followed by their speedy removal to the country assigned them west of the Mississippi. The inquiry as to alleged frauds in the purchase of the reservations of these Indians, and the causes of these hostilities, requested by the resolution of the House of Representatives, of the 1st of July last, to be made to the President, is now going on, through the agency of commissioners appointed for that purpose. Their report may be expected during the present session.

"The difficulties apprehended in the Cherokee country have been prevented, and the peace and safety of that region and its vicinity effectually secured, by the timely measures taken by the War Department, and still continued." 650

-- 479 --

Chapter VI. — Organization and Political Condition of the Colonized Tribes.

THE removal of the friendly portion of the Seminoles was entrusted to General Jessup, about the middle of February, 1836. The whole number of this nation did not probably exceed 1500. The friendly portions of the tribe separated themselves from the hostile, to the number of 450, and fled for protection to the military post at Tampa Bay. On the 10th of April, 407 persons were enrolled and mustered, preparatory to embarking on the transports which were to convey them to the West. Of this number, 308 arrived at Little Rock, Arkansas, on the 5th of May.

After the commission of hostile acts by the Creeks, their removal was also entrusted to the efficient management of General Jessup. Under contracts which secured them every comfort, and the attention of careful emigrant agents, they were located at different points in the Indian colony, in bands of 2300, of 165, and of 1300, leaving behind 700 warriors to operate against the Seminoles. 651

The removal of the Creeks was commenced through the influence of the chief, Roly M'Intosh, under the provisions of the original M'Intosh treaty, concluded February 12, 1825, as modified by the treaty signed at Washington, January 24, 1826, and finally determined by the treaty entered into at Washington, March 24, 1832. During the year, the respective emigrant parties arrived in the territory, and were satisfactorily located on their lands. The agent remarks, "They have a rich country, and those that emigrated with M'Intosh have been engaged busily in making corn; they usually have a large surplus, as high some years as 30,000 bushels, besides stock of every description. As there is now a large emigration coming into the country, they will find a sale for all they have to sell." 652

The number of the Choctaws was then estimated at 18,000 in all, a large proportion

-- 480 --

of whom were in the territory, or in the process of removal to the fine tract of country they had acquired in it. They had, immediately on their arrival, turned their attention to labor, in which they evinced striking proficiency. They had adopted a form of government, which was administered by an elective council and presiding magistrates, and had a written code of laws. They had introduced the culture of cotton; erected cotton-gins; planted large fields of corn; raised horses, hogs, and cattle, which were pastured on the natural prairies; erected smiths' shops; and pursued various mechanical trades. They conducted their own mercantile operations, importing large stocks of goods, for which they exchanged their products. 653

In 1835, a census of the Cherokees, east of the Mississippi, placed their number at 18,000. The western Cherokees had segregated themselves from the nation under the provisions of the treaties of July 8, 1817, and February 27, 1819, after which time they had emigrated to the West in parties under their own organization, and settled on the lands which were assigned to them. At the era when the census was taken, these western Cherokees constituted, to a great extent, a separate nationality. The Government agent, in his report, 654 represents them "as gradually progressing in civilization and the cultivation of the soil; and depicts their society as containing many intelligent men. He remarks, that they raise corn, beef, pork, sheep, &c., to a considerable extent, and in travelling through their country, you are quite comfortably entertained. Many of them are engaged in trade with their own people. They have some mills erected amongst them, and, with a wide extent of country, a portion of it finely watered, they bid fair, with frugality and temperance, to become a leading tribe." 655 In this report, the Choctaws, Creeks, and Cherokees, are stated to have collectively seventeen churches within their territorial limits, viz.: ten in the Choctaw, four in the Cherokee, and three in the Creek country. 656

Regarding the other, and for the most part minor, tribes, the report gives data of which the following is a synopsis. The Seminoles, who had recently arrived, were reported to be in possession of one of the finest sections of the Indian country, and, with their advantages, could soon prosper. The Osages, an indigenous people, were still absorbed in the chase; raised no corn except what their women cultivated; hunted the buffalo, and stored the jerked meat for winter use. They are stated to have little, or no stock; all their extra means of support being derived from their annuities. The Quappas, advantageously located on the banks of the Neosho, are in possession of 160 sections in one place, surveyed and marked off, adjacent to the Cherokees and

-- 481 --

Osages. The Senecas, and the mixed band of Senecas and Shawnees, have 60,000 acres. The Senecas of Sandusky, 67,000 acres. These lands adjoin, are fertile and well watered. The Senecas cultivate the soil, have a mill in operation, which is of great service to them, and are improving.

Nine tribes are located north of the district just mentioned. They comprise the Shawnees, Delawares, Kickapoos, Kanzas, Weas, Piankashaws, Peorias, Kaskaskias, and Ottowas. These nine tribes have an aggregate population of 4467 souls. The Shawnees and Delawares, who are agriculturists, are industrious, temperate, and thrifty, possess a fertile country, and are supplied with schools, shops, mills and churches. They successfully cultivate the various cereals, and raise large stocks of horses, cattle, and hogs. The Kickapoos began to turn their attention to agriculture in 1835, and both men and women labor assiduously. The Kanzas, like the Osages, are indigenous, and live by the chase. The small bands of the Weas, Piankashaws, Peorias, and Ottowas, are cultivators of the soil. The manners, habits, dress, and deportment of all the agricultural tribes and bands, denote a decided advance toward civilization.

The Indian population of the above-mentioned colonized tribes, with the exception of the Creeks, was estimated, on the 1st of October, 1836, at 37,748. To this computation must be added, 16,500 for the Creeks who have emigrated, making an aggregate of over 50,000 persons now on the soil. The tribes still in the east, who are under treaty obligations to remove, are 4000 Creeks, 5400 Chickasaws, 16,000 Cherokees, and the Seminoles of Florida. The Chippewas, Ottowas, and Pottawattamies, who, by the treaty concluded at Chicago, in 1833, entered into engagements to remove, are estimated at 9400. It is estimated that the entire Indian population of the territory will, by these additions, be increased to 90,148. 657

The general result of the negotiations with the Indians, during eight years prior to January 1, 1837, was the cession of 93,401,637 acres by the tribes, for which $26,982,068 were paid, together with the grant to them of 32,381,000 acres west of the Mississippi, valued at $40,476,250, the total compensation amounting to $67,458,318. 658

-- 482 --

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