Pictures and Illustrations.
Dedication of Vol. II.
To MRS. E. SAUNDERS, Salem, Mass.
Madam—The moment I concluded to publish my Discourses on the Origin, History and Character, and the Wrongs and Rights of the Indians, it was in association with your name. How natural! You have, with your pen, most eloquently pleaded the cause of the poor Indians, and by your purse sustained the efforts of others, made in their behalf. These very Discourses were made to reach the ears of thousands, by the instrumentality of your unsolicited, unlooked for, and generous co-operation; and you occupy that distinguished position alone; no assistance, of a like sort, having been proffered by any other hand.
The victors, in the ancient games, were crowned with laurel. Theirs was the ephemeral glory of a day; or, at most, of a generation, unmingled with a single ray of humanity, and unadorned by a particle of benevolence. Your writings, madam, in behalf of the one, and your contributions in aid of the other, have secured to you a crown of enduring brightness, with which FAME never fails to surmount the brows of all who contribute their aid towards the relief of suffering humanity.
Accept, madam, the humble offering I now make of a dedication of these Discourses to you—of my prayers that you may long live to adorn human nature, illustrate the
ivbenevolence of the Gospel, and make happy and bless the society of your family and friends.
THOMAS L. McKENNEY.
Cape Cottage, February, 1845.
SALEM, November, 1845.
Dear Sir—The Origin, History and Character, and the Wrongs and Rights of the Indians—these are all too deeply impressed on my heart and mind, ever to be effaced—and could my name or influence afford any weight to your just and powerful arguments in favor of this ill-fated but noble race, it would give me the highest satisfaction. Should our government have the justice and magnanimity to do all now in their power to restore this fallen race, our country may be saved from that retributive justice which our manifold offences demand.
That your noble efforts may be crowned with success, is the fervent prayer of your very sincere friend,
Preface to Vol. II.
THE Discourses which are presented to the public, in the following pages, are the same that were delivered during the years 1843-4, in various parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, including Annapolis, before the legislature, and Harrisburgh, in the capitol of Pennsylvania, by a vote of the House, granting the hall for the purpose. Numerous distinguished citizens, among the crowds that honored the author with their presence, in all of these states, were kind enough, by letters and otherwise, to bestow high commendations upon them, as did also the press, both political and religious, embracing all parties, and all sects.
The author's object was to awaken in the public mind an interest in behalf of the Indian race, and their destiny; to give impetus to public opinion in regard to what ought to be done, and done speedily, for their welfare; and when that opinion should be fully formed, bring it to bear on Congress, in connection with a plan for the preservation and well-being of the remnants of this hapless people.
Circumstances over which the author has no control, will not allow of his carrying out his original purpose of visiting and traversing all the states, in person—and still anxious to accomplish the same objects—which he believes concern not the Indian race alone, but the honor and fame, as well as the peace of the nation—has concluded to refer to this volume the performance of what yet remains to be done.
viIn this little messenger, the reader will find discussed the question of THE ORIGIN of the Indian race; their HISTORY will be glanced at, and their CHARACTER portrayed; whilst their WRONGS will be made manifest, and their RIGHTS enforced.
It not having been in the view of the author, at the time of preparing these Discourses, to publish them, he was not particular in making, always, quotation marks, or marks of reference to authors whom he consulted; and it sometimes happened, when their language was better than his own, he employed it. The reader will find the addresses printed as they were delivered. He will be kind enough, therefore, to accept of this explanation, and apply it to all cases where quotations are not made, and the usual marks of reference happen to be omitted.
After all, however, the author has no very strong reason for being particularly sensitive on this point, as his own writings have had very free liberties taken with them by many who have written on this Indian subject, since it first claimed, over twenty years ago, his attention; and yet he would not be thought insensible to the claims of others, in such matters.
And now, whoever may take up this work, will consider him or herself as being appealed to by the thousands of the sons and daughters of the wilderness in whose bosoms quiver the arrows shot from the bow of the white man's cruelty, and down whose cheeks stream tears of supplication for relief!
Who, in view of the fact that we are now enjoying the blessings and benefits arising out of a country and home that were once owned by this down-trodden, impoverished, and suffering race, who have been persecuted and driven into their present wretched exile by our fathers and ourselves, will refuse to lend an hour to their cause, or to second and sustain a plan for their relief?
Discourse I. — Origin of the Races, Ancient and Modern, that Peopled America, Previous to its Discovery by Columbus.
Part I. — Probable Origin of the Present Indian Tribes of North America.
Limits of the question proposed — Deep interest felt in it — Lasting effect of early impressions — Their injustice to Indian character — Who are the Indians? — Are they descendants of the lost tribes of Israel? — Adair — Boudinot — Hubbard — Lord Kaimes' theory — An original, underived race — Absurdity, as well as infidelity of this theory — Nea-Mathla's theory of the distinctive races of man — American Indians of Tartar origin — Similarity of language no proper criterion of judgment — Ledyard's opinion — The Indians resemble the Tartars in physical conformation — Remarkable uniformity of features — Ledyard — The same monuments — Habitations, and wandering habits — Ineffectual efforts to induce them to adopt more comfortable dwellings — Their improvidence — Modes of dress — Use and value of wampum — Remarkable wampum belt among the Wyandots — Similarity of faith and worship — Dr. Wolf — Mon-Catchape, an Indian antiquarian — His researches and their results — By what route did the Indians reach our shores? — Behring's Strait not so wide formerly as now — The two continents probably joined — Probable causes of the original emigration — Deacon Sockbason and his voyage.
HE who proposes, at this time of day, to discuss the question of the ORIGIN of the Indian tribes of North America, can mean nothing more, of course, than to offer the theory which has, as he views it, the strongest claims to be considered the true one. This is the position I occupy, on this occasion, in relation to this question. All I can promise, is, to lift as much as I may be able of the age-worn
10and cumbrous curtain that time has let fall between the early history of this race, and the period when, from our closer proximity, we are made better acquainted with their character, and with the events that give such thrilling interest to their history. Nothing of absolute certainty will ever, in all probability, be discovered, beyond those limits—everything there being involved in the "outer darkness," and buried amidst the accumulated ruins of ages.
It is scarcely possible, I think, no matter in what way the subject is approached, to deprive it of its intrinsic interest. Whether we bring it to the mind's imaginings, and employ these as drapery, to adorn a favorite theory, or come to it laden with facts and lumbered up with details, the ear will listen to these imaginings, and the memory will store away the more solid materials, drawn from the records of this hapless race.
BURNS, the celebrated Scottish bard, owed much of his poetry, he tells us in one of his letters, to "an old woman who resided in the family, remarkable for her ignorance, credulity, and superstition. She had, I suppose," says Burns, "the largest collection in the country, of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, towers, dragons, and other trumpery." Besides "cultivating the latent seeds of poetry," these songs and stories, he says, "had so strong an effect upon his imagination, that to the hour when he wrote that letter, in his nocturnal rambles, he kept a sharp look-out in suspicious places," &c.
Now, there are few of us who have not been similarly affected, in our juvenile years, by our nurses, and others, in the pictures they would draw of the border wars, in which the Indian was always in the foreground, engaged in the death-grapple with the settler—or in striking his tomahawk, and leaving it there, quivering and bloody, into the victim's temples—or in firing the frontier cabin—or shooting, with his rifle, some flying female, until we fancied we
11heard the crack of it—or in personal contest with a mother, to wrest from her her infant, whose brains were in the next moment dashed out upon the ground—whilst the yell and the war-whoop were made to ring in our ears from all the borders.
It is to these early impressions, doubtless, that so many of us owe much of the interest we take in whatever relates to this hapless race; and especially are we to attribute all of the enmity that so many cherish toward the red man, upon whom we had been taught to look as the barbarous instigator to those appalling tragedies. It will be part of my business in my second discourse, to rescue the Indian from this imputation, and to show that he was acting only on the defensive.
But I am anticipated by you, and already have the following questions been revolving in your minds:—
"WHO ARE THE INDIANS? WHENCE CAME THEY? WHEN, AND BY WHAT ROUTE, WAS THEIR EXODUS FROM THE LAND OF THEIR ORIGIN, TO THIS, IN WHICH OUR ANCESTORS FOUND THEM? WHO WERE THEY, IF ANY, THAT PRECEDED THEM IN THE OCCUPANCY OF THIS COUNTRY? TO WHAT PEOPLE, IF NOT TO THE INDIANS, ARE WE TO ATTRIBUTE THE ERECTION OF THOSE MOUNDS AND CIRCUMVALLATIONS, THE REMAINS OF WHICH ARE TO BE FOUND REACHING FROM OUR NORTHERN LAKES TO FLORIDA? IF BUILT BY ANOTHER RACE, BY WHAT RACE? AND WHAT HAS BECOME OF THAT PEOPLE?"
These are embarrassing questions! They pass over a lengthened void—terminate in the far-distant past, and amidst a darkness such as comes of another night upon midnight. Our resort, in the absence of almost everything that could be converted into authentic data, must be, therefore, necessarily, in great part, at least, to theory.
Who, then, are the Indians?
They are supposed by some, as you all know, to be descendants of the Israelites. A world of speculation has
12been exhausted in support of this theory. Among those who labored most to establish it, was ADAIR, who wrote and published a large quarto volume in its support. BOUDINOT, in his Star in the West, backs Adair manfully, and reasons himself into the conclusion that the "long-lost ten tribes of Israel," are, by descent, seen in the persons and tribes of the American Indians. This theory has found favor with many, and some have adopted it. Long, however, before Adair wrote, and as far back as 1680—and when the rituals of the Indians were more clearly marked, and less diluted with other ceremonies—HUBBARD had sifted this question, and after winnowing away the chaff, says, "Doubtless those who fancy the Indians to be descended from the ten tribes of the Israelites, carried captive by Shalmaneser and Esarhaddin, hath the least show of reason of any other; there being no footsteps to be observed of their propinquity to them, more than to any other tribes of the earth, either as to their language or manners."
Now, Hubbard was a divine and a historian, and lived at a time when the Indians were numerous, and more observant, it is fair to presume, of their pristine customs. As a divine, he was, doubtless, well acquainted with the Jewish ceremonies; and living in the early period of the settlement of this country, and in close personal connexion with the Indian tribes, and being a man of education and talents, it is a fair inference, that if there had been any resemblance, either in language or rituals, of any sort, between the Jews and the Indians, he would have detected it. But the testimony from such a source, and from that early period, is in direct opposition to the theory of Adair, and those who agree with him in opinion.
Doctor Wolf, whose travels have been extensive, and whose observation is close and pertinent, having journeyed from Abyssinia to Bombay, and from Bombay to the United States, made, on his arrival here, some reference to
13this question, which has thrown a good deal of light upon it.
"Worthy people," says the doctor, "desired me to travel about with them, in order that I might convince the Indians of their extraction from the Jews; but this was putting the argument the wrong way. I wanted the Indians to convince me of their origin, and not to aid in deluding them into the notion, as I perceived many well-intentioned people did.
I came among the Mohican tribe, near New York, and asked them ‘Whose descendants are you?’ They replied, ‘We are of Israel.’ I asked, ‘Who told you so?’ and expected to hear much ancient tradition. To my great surprise, they said, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Simon, of Scotland.’"
My own personal observation has led me to the same conclusion, that our Indians are not the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.
Lord KAIMES is not willing to admit that they are of foreign origin at all; or that they are the descendants of any people, and claims for them the distinction of an original and separate race. "America," says his lordship, "has not been peopled from any part of the old world." His lordship blunders, however, in one, at least, of his proofs: he asserts that "the Americans"—meaning the Indians—"have no beards." This we all know to be an error. It is true, very few of them are thus equipped. It is not, however, because nature has denied to them this appendage, but because they decline the acceptance of the boon, and, in token of their dislike to it, pluck it out. Aged Indians, however, tired of the process, sometimes omit to do this, when the appendage re-appears.
But this hypothesis of his lordship may be fairly met by something more conclusive than by the overturning of that part of it which denies beards to the Indians. It is true, he
14may reserve the right, although he does not express it, to locate the ancient paradise in some one of the fair portions of this continent; and assume that creative power was exercised here; that here the first man Adam was "formed of the dust of the ground;" and that the Indians are the immediate descendants of this Adam, and that the world has been peopled from America, and thus jump to the conclusion that "America has not been peopled from any part of the old world."
Apart from such surmises, and with the Bible before us, both his lordship's assumptions and conclusions must be denied; and especially, since, before either can be admitted, it would be required of him to tell in what part of this continent "the garden was planted," and where the river went out that watered it; and where this river "was parted, and became into four heads;" and where the lands that were compassed by these four rivers. All this must be made plain, or we who differ with his lordship, have the right to insist that the garden was nowhere in America; and if not here, then it must have been elsewhere; and wherever that elsewhere is, there we have the recorded testimony of the Bible to authorize our belief, man was formed; and thence, it is fair to infer, came his descendants to people the earth.
I am aware that opinions are entertained by some, embracing the theory of multiform creations; by such, the doctrine that the whole family of man sprang from one original and common stock, is denied. There is, however, but one source whence information can be derived on this subject—and that is the Bible; and, until those who base their convictions on Bible testimony, consent to throw aside that great land-mark of truth, they must continue in the belief that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, when he became a living soul." Being thus formed, and thus endowed, he was put by his Creator in the garden, which was eastward, in Eden, whence flowed the river
15which parted, and became into four heads; and that from his fruitfulness his species were propagated.
But this Bible account of the creation of man has been sustained from the beginning till now; for nowhere have external elements, whether of the "dust of the ground," or any other, combined to form man, or anything in the least approximating to him. If man, as some have assumed, were the product of certain combinations of external elements, apart from the direct and life-giving energy of Godlike power, why have not such creations, and under these forms, been continued?
That the whole human family sprang from an original pair, that pair being the product of the power of God, operating upon external matter, is a truth so universally admitted, as to render any elaborate argument in its support superfluous. If, therefore, the garden of Eden is nowhere in America, Adam, (the Adam of the Bible, and we have no authentic record of any other,) could not have been created here. The Indians cannot be, therefore, indigenous to America, but, being descendants of the original pair, they must have come of some one of the families that settled and peopled some one of the divisions of the globe. In other words, they must be of Asiatic, of African, or of European descent.
Having thus given the opinions of some of the learned of our race respecting the creation of man, it may not be deemed irrelevant to state the belief of at least some of the Indians upon that same subject.
The government had made arrangements, somewhere about the year 1825, for introducing among the Seminoles of Florida, the school system, and a sum of money was appropriated for that object. It was resisted by NEA-MATHLA, a chief, at that time, of distinction, and exercising over that tribe great authority. After several ineffectual attempts to apply the government bounty under that form, a council was held, when Nea-Mathla rose and addressed
16Governor Duval, ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs, as follows:—
"Father—It is not my wish to have my red children made white children of. When the Great Spirit made man, he made him as he is, and under three marks. He assigned to each color, at the creation, the duties of each; and it was never intended that they should mingle.
Father—This was the way in which the Great Spirit made man. He stood upon a high place. Then taking into his hand some dust, he mixed it, and dried it, and then blew upon it, sending it from his hand in front of him—when there stood up before him a white man!
The Great Spirit was sorry. He saw that what he had made was not what he aimed at. The man was white! He looked feeble and sickly. When the Great Spirit, looking at him, said, ‘White man, I have given you life. You are not what I want. I could send you where you came from; but no—I will not take away your life. Stand aside.’ The Great Spirit mixed up the dust again, and drying it, blew upon it again—and there stood before him a black man!
"The Great Spirit was grieved. He saw, now, this man was black and ugly; so he bade him stand aside; when, mixing up the dust again, he blew upon it—and there stood before him A RED MAN! The Great Spirit smiled. At this moment, all looked up and saw an opening in the heavens, and through it descended, slowly, three boxes. They came down, at last, and rested on the ground; when the Great Spirit spoke, saying, ‘I have given life to you all. The red man, alone, is my favorite; but you shall all live. You must, however, fulfil, each of you, the duties that are suited to you. These three boxes contain the tools you are to use in getting what is necessary to support you.’ So saying, he called to him the white man. ‘White man,’ said the Great Spirit, ‘you are not my favorite—but I made you first. Open these boxes, and look, and choose which
you will take. They contain the implements you are all three to use through life.’
The white man opened the boxes, looked in, and said, ‘I'll take this.’ It was full of pens, and ink, and paper, and all the things you white people use. He looked at the black man, saying, ‘I made you next, but I cannot allow you to have the second choice;’ then turning to the red man, he smiled, and spoke, saying, ‘Come, my favorite, and make a choice.’ The red man looked into the two remaining boxes, and said, ‘I'll take this.’ That was full of beaver-traps, bows and arrows, and all the kind of things the Indians use. Then the Great Spirit said to the negro, ‘You can take this;’ and that was full of hoes and axes—plainly showing that the black man was made to labor for both the white and red man.
Father—Thus did the Great Spirit make man, and in this way did he provide the instruments for him to labor with. It is not his will that our red children shall use the articles that came down in the box which the white man chose, any more than it is proper for the white man to take of the implements that were prepared by the Great Spirit for the use of his red children."
The result was, the means provided for the support of schools were rejected, and have never been employed to this day.
Nea-Mathla's account of the creation of man may appear visionary, and doubtless is so. But is it any more so than are others emanating from some of the learned of our race, who venture to strike light from their own minds, and not from the Source of all Light?
If the Indians are not the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, nor indigenous to this continent, the question recurs, "WHO ARE THEY?"
I believe them to be branches of the great Tartar stock. I have had occasion to publish my views of this subject, and beg leave to introduce, on this occasion, a portion, at
18least, of what has been heretofore written. In arriving at the conclusion that the Indians are of Tartar origin, I have not given much weight to any casual coincidences that may be discovered between the Asiatic and American dialects. Of all the sources of information by which the descent of nations can be traced, I consider the deductions of comparative etymology, when applied to a written language, the most uncertain. It is difficult, in such cases, to fix, with accuracy, the true sound of words; and it is well known that coincidences exist in many languages, radically different from one another, and spoken by communities whose separation from any common stock, precedes all historic monuments. Such coincidences are either accidental, or the analagous words are the common relics of that universal tongue which was lost in the miraculous interposition upon the plains of Shinar.
I will state a fact illustrative of this position, which demonstrates the futility of any conclusion drawn from such premises. It is well known that the practice of dividing fields in England, by ditches, was introduced in the last century. When it was first adopted, the common people were suddenly arrested in their walks upon the brink of these ditches, without being aware of their existence, until they approached them. Their surprise was manifested by the exclamation "Ha-ha;" and eventually, the ditches themselves were denominated Ha-ha. Among the Sioux Indians, the Falls of St. Anthony are called Ha-ha. These falls, approached from below, are not visible until a projecting point is passed, when they burst upon the traveller in all their grandeur. The Indians, no doubt, struck with the sudden and glorious prospect, marked their surprise, as did the English peasants, with the same exclamation, "Ha-ha;" and this exclamation has become, in the Sioux language, the name of the cataract. He who would deduce from this coincidence, the common origin of the English and the Sioux Indians, would reason as logically as
19many of those who arrange the branches of the human family into classes, because a few doubtful resemblances in their vocabularies are discovered.
Some curious observations were made on this subject, by the celebrated American traveller, John Ledyard.
"I have not," says Ledyard, (as he states in his journal written in Siberia,)
"I have not yet taken any vocabularies written in the Tartar language. If I take any, they will be very short ones. Nothing is more apt to deceive than vocabularies, when taken by an entire stranger. Men of scientific curiosity make use of them in investigating questions of philosophy as well as history, and, I think, often with too much confidence, since nothing is more difficult than to take a vocabulary that shall answer any good ends for that purpose. The different sounds of the same letters, and of the same combinations of letters, in the languages of Europe, present an insurmountable obstacle to making a vocabulary that shall be of general use. The different manner, also, in which persons of the same language, would write the words of a new language, would be such that a stranger might suppose them to be two languages.
"Most uncultivated languages," he proceeds, "are very difficult to be orthographised in another language. They are generally guttural; but when not so, the ear of a foreigner cannot accommodate itself to the inflection of a speaker's voice, soon enough to catch the true sound. This must be done instantaneously; and even in a language with which we are acquainted, we are not able to do it for
several years. I seize, for instance, the accidental moment when the savage is inclined to give me the names of things. The medium of this conversation is only signs. The savage may wish to give me the word for head; and lays his hand on the top of his head. I am not certain whether he means the head, or the top of the head, or perhaps, the hair of the head. He may wish to say leg, and puts his hand to the calf. I cannot tell whether he means the leg, or the calf; or flesh, or the flesh.
"There are other difficulties. The island of Onalaska is on the coast of America, opposite to Asia. There are few traders on it. Being there with Captain Cook, I was walking, one day, on the shore, in company with a native, who spoke the Russian language. I did not understand it. I was writing the names of several things, and pointed to the ship, supposing he would understand that I wanted the name of it. He answered me in a phrase, which, in Russ, meant—I know. I wrote down a ship. I gave him some snuff, which he took, and held out his hand for move, making use of a word which signified, in Russ, a little—I wrote more.
The claims of our primitive people to an Asiatic descent, are founded upon other and stronger testimony; upon the general resemblance which they bear, in many points of character, manners, customs, and institutions, (circumstances not easily changed, or easily mistaken,) to the various tribes occupying the great table-lands of Tartary. Superadded to these, is the color, which is the same in the Tartar and the North American Indian. If black, wherever found, is the sure evidence of the African, and white of the Caucasian races, why should not red, or copper, be recognized, wherever found, as indicating the presence of the Tartar? If no other race known to us, except the African, are black, and none except the European, are white, why should it be thought incredible that red, where-ever found, should designate the Tartar race?
But there is another, and scarcely less striking resemblance. This is to be found in the structure and form of the crania of both, and in the conformity of the bones of the face. We see, in both, the low and compressed forehead—the same width and prominence of the cheek bones—the breadth of the jaw, and structure of the coronal and occipital regions, are alike, in both. These resemblances are regarded as tests, not of the identity of the Tartar and the Indian races, only, but of other races; and they have been often and successfully referred to, after those traces were removed by decay, by which the dead are ordinarily recognized. On the battle-field, where men of several nations, as at Waterloo, have met, and fought, and fallen, making one great and mingled mass of English, and French, and German, &c., it has been found no difficult matter to arrange and classify the skulls of these several nations; and if a Tartar had chanced to have fallen in that battle, there would have been even less difficulty in recognizing his cranium, since admixtures have broken in upon, and to a certain extent, at least, given a more general uniformity to the rest. When the skull of the red man of Tartary is placed beside that of the red man of America—both being genuine—they are found in all things to correspond, with disagreements nowhere; and to be, at the same time, unlike those of the natives of both Europe and Africa. Would, it not be a departure from our customary methods of arriving at conclusions upon other matters, where comparison is the test, to doubt the common origin of the Tartar and the Indian; or to refuse our assent to the position I have assumed—that they belong to the same common stock?
Ledyard says, "I know of no people among whom there is such a uniformity of features, (except the Chinese, the Jews, and the Negroes,) as among the Asiatic Tartars—(this remark applies with equal truth to our Indians.) They are distinguished, indeed, by different tribes, but this
22is only nominal. Nature has not acknowledged the distinction; but on the contrary, marked them, wherever found, with the indisputable stamp of Tartars. Whether in Nova Zembla, Mongolia, Greenland, or on the banks of the Mississippi, they are the same people, forming the most numerous, and, if we must except the Chinese, the most ancient nation on the globe. But I, for myself," continues Ledyard, "do not except the Chinese, because I have no doubt of their being the same family." Again he says, in a letter addressed to Mr. Jefferson, "I am certain that all the people on the continent of America, and on the continents of Europe and Asia, as far south as the southern parts of China, are all one people, by whatever names distinguished, and that the best general name would be Tartar. I suspect that all red people are of the same family. I am satisfied that America was peopled from Asia, and had some, if not all, its animals from thence." But this distinguished traveller does not confine himself to opinions, but produces a number of proofs, all going to show the identity of the North American Indian with the Tartar race. I have time to notice only a few of these—for it forms no part of my plan, further than I may deem it necessary, to deal in details. Ledyard says, that in his route to Kazan, he saw large mounds of earth, often of twenty, thirty, and forty feet elevation, which he conjectured, and found to be, on inquiry, ancient sepulchres. "There is," he continues, "an analogy between these and our own graves, and the Egyptian Pyramids, and an exact resemblance between them and those piles, supposed to be of monumental earth, which are found among some of the tribes of North America." I have examined some of these mounds, which Ledyard says are supposed to be of monumental earth, and found them to be, invariably, depositories of the dead.
Doctor Wolf says, "Many of their customs, besides words in their language, and their physiognomy, rather seem to betray a Tartar race. Thus, for instance, they
23have the word Kelaun—great—which is also used in the same sense at Bokhara. They have nine as a favorite number, which the Tartars also have. The Turkomauns also play on a flute, in a melancholy strain, around the dwellings of their beloved mistresses, and the Indians do the same."
Another point of resemblance may be traced in the attachment of the Tartar and the Indian to the wigwam. "Offers have been made," says Ledyard, "by the Crown, to build the Yakutes commodious and comfortable houses, with strong, superadded inducements, for them to occupy them; among these was freedom from the charge for rent. But they refused the offer, preferring their yontees," which answer to the wigwams of our Indians.
The same aversion to fixed habitations is seen in the Indians. In a failure to establish a colony in Virginia, the settlers having been driven away by the natives, there were left standing many comfortable cabins, which it was reasonable to suppose would have been taken possession of by the Indians; but not so. On the arrival of a new colony sent over by Sir Walter Raleigh, the year after—in 1587—these buildings were found as they had been left, untenanted and uninjured, and ready, after the weeds were removed and the deer driven away, for the accommodation of the new comers. This having been in the south, where the weather is comparatively warm, it may be thought not very unreasonable in the Indian to prefer, as a matter of superior comfort, his wigwam.
But the same preference is shown by the Indians of the north. I have known, as stated in my memoirs, excellent log houses put up by our people on the Fox river, in Michigan, for purposes connected with the ceremonies of a treaty, and left standing after these ceremonies were concluded. In that region of snows and frosts, we would think such shelters would prove highly acceptable to the shivering natives. But not so; for we had scarcely lost
24sight of the theatre of our negotiations, before the Indians fired these buildings, and consumed them. Like their progenitors, the Tartars, they preferred their wigwams. The yonti of the Tartar, and the wigwam of the Indian, are built after the same fashion, and constructed of the same materials. These are of skins, the bark of trees, of grass or mats, and sometimes of mud.
They resemble each other, also, in their improvidence, Of the Tartars, Ledyard says, "They discover the same indifference about accumulating more, and for the concerns of to-morrow, that a North American Indian does. They stroll about the village, and, if they can, get drunk, smoke their pipe, or go to sleep."
It is not possible for a comparison to be more perfect; its exact similitude will be recognized by all who have visited our border towns and villages, that are resorted to by our Indians. Their moccasins are also alike; and wampum is prized by both, and is employed to hand down traditions by both. The Tartar, sometimes, works his up into the initials of his name, and ornaments with it the borders of his garments. The Indian employs the same material in ornamenting his garments, also, wears it in strings about his neck, dangles it from his ears, works it up on his belts into forms, though not of letters, that can be read from generation to generation.
I have recorded and published a remarkable illustration of this—which I take the liberty to repeat on this occasion. It has been stated by Mr. Stickney, an intelligent observer, well acquainted with the Indians, (having been formerly Indian agent at Fort Wayne) that he once saw a very ancient belt among the Wyandots, which they told him had come from a large Indian nation, in the southwest. At the time of its reception, as ever since, the Wyandots were the leading tribe in this quarter of the continent. Placed at the head of the great Indian commonwealth, by circumstances which even their tradition
25does not record, they held the great council-fire, and possessed the right of convening the various tribes around it, whenever any important occurrence required general deliberation. This belt had been specially transmitted to them; and, from the attendant circumstances, and accompanying narrative, Mr. Stickney had no doubt it was sent by the Mexican emperor, at the period of the invasion of that country, by Cortez. The speech stated, in substance, that a new and strange animal had appeared upon the coast, describing him like the fabled Centaurs of antiquity, as part man, and part quadruped; and adding, that he commanded the thunder and lightning. The object seemed to be, to put the Indians on their guard against this terrible monster, whenever he might appear.
Could a collection of these ancient belts be now made, and the accompanying narratives recorded, it would afford curious and interesting materials, reflecting, no doubt, much light upon the former situation and history of the Indians. But it is vain to expect such a discovery. In the mutations and migrations of the various tribes, misfortunes have pressed so heavily upon them, that they have been unable to preserve their people or their country, much less the memorials of their former power. These have perished in the general wreck of their fortunes—lost, as have been the sites of their council-fires, and the graves of their fathers.
But further, on the subject of comparison. A highly important matter with both, is, to have, well-defined, the limits of their hunting grounds; and nothing leads so directly to conflicts, as encroachments, by tribes or hunting parties, upon these ascertained limits.
The Tartars are a roving people; so are the Indians. They both believe in the existence of one great and good spirit, and that from him they receive everything that is good; and in the existence, also, of a bad spirit, of whom comes all that they suffer. To this bad spirit, they offer
26sacrifice, and under various forms deprecate his wrath. Some of these, the sacrifice of the Wabana, for example, are so demoniac in their manifestations, that a stranger might be easily tempted to believe his Satanic majesty was himself present, directing and governing the semi-infernal ritual.
Among those who have made diligent search after materials for the ascertainment of the origin of the Indians, was Du Pratz. The great theatre of his investigations was among the tribes of the southwest. All he could gather from their traditions or otherwise, was, that they had come "from between the north and where the sun sets." This was their tradition then, and to it they adhere. It was during his researches in that quarter, that he fell in with the famous Yazoo chief, Mon-Catchape, who had himself been in search of like materials. To know his origin, and the origin of his race, was, to Mon-Catchape, an all-absorbing feeling. Five years were spent by this chief, in travels, in pursuit of this knowledge. His first move was to visit the Chickasaws, of whom the Yazoos inherited their language; and who, for that reason, were looked upon as the elders of their tribe. Finding nothing satisfactory there, he made for the country of the Chaouanoes, thence up the Ohio, and onward till he reached that occupied by the Iroquois. There he took an old Indian for his guide, and travelled towards sunrise, till he came to what is called "the great water." The noise of the billows, and the coming in and going out of the tide, greatly alarmed him; but on being assured that they could not pass the barriers assigned by the Great Spirit, to keep them from overflowing the land, he became satisfied. This great water, doubtless, was the Atlantic ocean.
Returning from the sea-board, he wintered among the Wabanackies—which means Indians of the East. Thence he made his way to the St. Lawrence, and to Niagara. The sight of this great cataract, he told Du Pratz, "made
27his hair stand on end, and his heart almost leap out of its place." Before quitting it, however, he mustered sufficient courage to walk under it. Without following this chief in his wanderings, suffice it to say, he continued on, reached the Missouri, visited the Missouri, Kansas, and other bands—and passing on, joined himself to those who lived more westward on the coast, and with these he "travelled along the shore of the great water, (the Pacific, doubtless,) which bends directly between the north and setting sun." Here he found the days very long, and the nights very short; and here the old men persuaded him to give over all thoughts of continuing his journey.
From these old men he learned that "the land extended still a long way in a direction between the north and the setting sun; after which it ran directly west, till it was cut by the great water from north to south." One of these old men added, when he was young, he knew a very old man, who had seen that distant land before it was cut away by the great water; and that when the great water was low, many rocks still appeared in those parts. Mon-Catchape finding it impossible, owing to the severity of the weather and the absence of game, to proceed farther, returned home by the route he had travelled in going out. This account, (the entire details of which are very interesting,) satisfied Du Pratz that the Indians came from the continent of Asia by the way of Behring's Straits.
I find I have anticipated the question, "Whence came the Indians?" But when, and by what route was their Exodus from the land of their origin, to this in which our progenitors found them? That period, and that route, can never be known! Time, "the grave of all things," has closed upon the answer to these questions, and shut it up in endless night. Nobody knows, nor will anybody ever know, when the Exodus of our Indians was begun, or when it was ended. Whether, like the Israelites, they were forty years in a wilderness, led off by some Moses,
28from the cruel exactions of some Pharaoh; or were stung, any of them, by flying fiery serpents; or were fed by the way on manna; or clung to their flesh-pots; or were refreshed by water made to gush from the rock by miraculous agency; or whether they wandered hither in pairs, or by tribes, or bands, to where the waters divided this continent from theirs; and whether they crossed upon ice, or were driven over by some storm, in rude vessels, or sought the passage by design—all, all is buried from our view, and forever! Not a trace remains by which we can be guided into anything more than a plausible theory; and by means of it, if not to a satisfactory, perhaps to some acceptable conclusion.
It is not unreasonable to presume that nothing was known of this continent, and nothing of its resources, by these Tartar rovers, previous to the time of crossing the strait; or, if the crossing was by design, and with a knowledge of the continent and its resources, it was to ascertain whether game abounded, and fish were plenty; or, they might have been forced over by the scourge of persecution, as were the pilgrim fathers; or, as were the ancient Israelites, to avoid the pursuit and exactions of some Tartar Pharaoh. It is by no means unreasonable to suppose that there was not any, or if any, but a very narrow crossing to be made. The more enlightened opinion is, that there was a connexion, by means of an isthmus, and that at the period of which I am speaking, Asia and America, as they are now known, formed one undivided portion of the globe, and the report of Mon-Catchape to Du Pratz would seem to favor this theory. If what is now a strait of only about forty miles wide, was, not over three hundred and fifty years ago, a passage in which, at low water, many rocks were visible, the conclusion would seem to be reasonable that the two continents were once united. We err, in my opinion, in compressing the events touching the peopling of this continent in too narrow a compass of time; as we
29do, also, in supposing, as we are apt to do, that straits and water-falls have always been where they now are. How many are there, who, on beholding the Falls of Niagara, suppose them to have been always where they now are? And yet how evident, upon the slightest examination, are the proofs to the contrary. The changes upon the face of the globe are as various as they are endless.
In what numbers they came, or how long they continued to cross over, we know nothing. The high probability is, the crossing was accidental,
30passed over, returned and reported what they had discovered to their countrymen, when everything having been found to be abundant, and in accordance with their wants and tastes, colony after colony came over, until the Tartar hordes were drained of their most adventurous, and daring, and restless associates.
And now, having made the crossing, (whether upon what was then an isthmus, or across what is now a strait, is immaterial,) they spread themselves over the country, under the impulse of their natural habits, as well as for the sake of freedom from the pressure of those in their rear, as to find retreats where the game was most plenty, and fish were most easily taken; whilst the game, doubtless, with the instinct common to all animals, retired before the advances of the invaders. It is characteristic of the Indian to go where he can get what he wants with the least trouble; but in this he only shows himself to be in close alliance with his intellectually and morally elevated pale-faced brother; for, after all, it is not more true of man that he is an imitative, than that he is an indolent animal.
Part II — Condition, Character and Customs of the Indian Races. Remarkable Ancient Works of Art. By Whom Built. Their Fate, and that of Their Conquerors.
Aspect of the country on the advent of the Indians — The varied destiny that awaited them — Their simple habits — Their ignorance — The degraded condition of their women — Their increase and division into tribes — Present races of Indians not the first occupants of America — Discoveries of the Northmen — Remarkable remains of fortifications, mounds, &c. — Extent of these works at Camillus, Marietta, &c. — Great age of these works — Absence of tradition respecting them — Improbability that the present races constructed them — Theirs was scarcely more than a physical existence — No culture — No advance for ages — Works of ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, considered — Further notice of the Northmen — These works not constructed by them — They were erected by ancient Mexicans or Peruvians — Resemblance in form and use to works of those nations — They were not the progenitors of the present Mexicans, but an extinct race — Dr. Warren's collection of skulls — Combe — Further speculations upon this theory — Warlike character of Indians — A Chippewa war-song — Cause of the division into tribes and confederacies — Great numbers of the Indians — Devastating effects of their wars — The accompaniments of European civilization still more desolating — Obligations of Americans to arrest these destroying influences.
HAVING now (in accordance with this theory, at least,) fairly landed the Indian upon this continent, and offered a few brief reasons in support of my opinions that he is of Tartar origin, and glanced at the probable route he took in getting here; it may be well to pause awhile, and contemplate the scenes by which he found himself surrounded in this new world, and himself moving in their midst.
Upon what a theatre had the red man now entered! How full of varied interests, henceforth, was to be his
32destiny! Could he have run his eye down the vista of time, and seen only a part of what his race was doomed to suffer, he would have turned from the terrible prospect, and with his bands, recrossed the strait, though tasks, and stripes, and even death, awaited him! Better, he would have reasoned, better to die at home, and among kindred and friends, and be covered with the same turf that rests upon the remains of my fathers, than to be made wretched in a distant land, and die there an outcast! How merciful is that provision of our Creator, that shuts the future from our view!
The Indian saw nothing of all that was to befall his race; and so onward he came. Above him, was the same sun that now daily shines, and had shone for ages before, and that blesses all it shines upon. And there was the same moon, upon whose silvery face he had so often vacantly gazed, in the land he had left; and there, also, were the same stars. "The Seven Stars, and Orion," were there; and there was the Galaxy, and there the Aurora Borealis—the first, as now, looked upon by him as the path of the ghosts; the last, as the graceful evolutions of dancing spirits. The lightning's flash illumined the heaven, and the thunder uttered its voice. The ocean was the same as now—lifted into billows by the storm, or sunk to rest in the calm, as if to gather strength from its repose for some fresh onset upon the boundaries that had been fixed, and beyond which, the mandate of the Eternal had gone forth, forbidding it to pass. And there were the forests, time-worn, and moss-grown—wild, tangled, interminable—furnishing shelter, by excluding the sun's rays, for winter, where he lay concealed in his magazine of snows. The vernal year came then, as now, breathing its violet breath upon the desert air, where it was wasted. Wild flowers bloomed, and the valleys were everywhere clothed with "the livery nature delights to wear." Upon every hillside, animals browsed and reposed. And there were the
33mountains—rocky and barren, crowned as now, with pine, and spruce, and hemlock; amidst which the aspen's leaves quivered, as the breeze played upon, and among them. BUT THERE WAS NO SABBATH THERE!
Amidst all this grandeur and magnificence of earth, and sky, and ocean, roamed those emigrant Tartar bands—the progenitors of the Indian race. It was cause of no gratulation to them, nor did they profit by it, that the earth was full of germinating stores, the richest and most varied; nor was it perceived that it was waiting in gentle and sweet repose, for the direction of the appropriate intelligence, for the "seed time, and the harvest." Nor did they dream that the plough was destined to open its teeming bosom, and "side-long turn the glebe." Nor was the value of the refreshing rains and fertilizing dews comprehended. So far as the cultivated fruits of the earth were concerned, these enriching treasures fell in vain.
Confined within the narrow limits of his wants—and these were supplied by game and fish—the skins of the former serving for garments, the Indian comprehended nothing of all this lavish economy. No light, direct or reflected, had shone, except only in faint and confused glimmerings upon this book of nature; nor were his eyes instructed to read its glorious contents. Not one ray of that blessed light which comes from the Gospel, bringing with it "life and immortality," had penetrated the darkness that brooded over his mind, wrapping the future in such dismal and appalling mystery!
Onward, and yet onward, moved the bands, clothed in winter in the skins of beasts, and in summer free from all such encumbrance. The earth was their mother, and upon its lap they reposed. Rude wigwams sheltered them. Hunger and thirst satisfied, sleep followed—and within this circle was contained the happiness of the aboriginal man. True, within it was his squaw—and there, too, were his papooses. Alas! then, as now, her shoulders
34were made to bear the weight, and her hands to perform the drudgery of the domestic labor. She put up and took down the wigwam, and with stone axes cut the wood, kindled the fire, skinned, cut up, and cooked the meat. Her lord having partaken of the food, retired, if in warm weather, to some shade hard by, where he spread himself out and smoked, and slept. If in cold weather, he would turn from the bark bowl, or rude earthen vessel, in which the food was served up, out of which, with his fingers, he had fed himself, into some part of the wigwam where the fire was warmest, and smoke and sleep there. Meantime, she, in quiet and subdued silence, made her meal—the papooses and dogs sharing it with her.
The beauty and graces of the sex had not then shone forth. These are produced, only, by those spring-time-like influences that come over her gently, affectionately, fondly. This happy state was reserved for the refinements of civilization, and the influences of the Gospel. Show me anywhere, and among any people, no matter where situated, or by what name called, a disregard for woman, a lack of tenderness towards her, and of affection for her, and I will show you a comparatively savage people. But show me by whom she is regarded, protected, cherished, honored, loved, and I will show you the representative of civilization, refinement, and Christianity.
It was, as I have stated, amidst all this display of nature, and thus living, and thus feeling, that these uneducated and rude people—these emigrant Tartar bands—roamed. The fish and game upon which they subsisted being abundant, they no doubt greatly multiplied; for, as yet, wars had not been waged, nor was the peace of their new home interrupted by collisions, or intrusions of any kind.
But this abundant, and tranquil, and prosperous condition, was destined to be changed; and this calm to be followed by a storm. How long their state of repose lasted, there are no means of ascertaining—but it was long
35enough, doubtless, for them to have become formidable in numbers, and even terrible in power. Here they were, spread over immense portions of the territory, and in multitudes which it may have required ages to produce; and whilst pushing their population onward, and when the continent itself seemed just within their grasp, they were suddenly surprised by the presence of a race that had preceded them in the occupancy of the country. To a people who had been so long accustomed to the unmolested possession of a home, and to the enjoyment of boundless liberty, and unobstructed freedom, the sudden uprising of a power like this, produced in them that sort of rebound which the billow makes, when it rolls, in all its storm-impelled force, upon some ocean-rock.
Than human passions please. In every heart
Are sown the sparks that kindle fiery war—
Occasion needs but fan them, and they blaze."
Here, then, was the occasion, and here the breeze that fanned.
It is not difficult to fancy, under such circumstances, the state of excitement into which those hitherto "monarchs of all they surveyed," were thrown. Runners were, doubtless, despatched in all directions, to convey the astounding intelligence to the widely scattered bands, and to summon the head men into council, to contrive some plan for the general security, and for an onset upon the new power; whilst upon the other hand the opposite party were no less busy in making preparations to defend and maintain their hitherto undisputed right to their possessions; when, as was most natural, a bloody and exterminating war followed.
This was not the ordinary excitement growing out of trespasses upon the limits of hunting grounds, (and yet these have been known to continue for more than a hundred years,) but of a trespass upon country, and home,
36and liberty. It was an invasion of the whole; and to be passive, would be to surrender all. It was the Tartar power, upon the one hand, against a new, a formidable, but unknown power, on the other; and this was not more natural than it was, as we may well suppose, in accordance with the spirit of that fierce, and rude, and barbarous age.
But who were the people, you have already silently inquired, that were thus met by the ancestors of our Indians, in that remote period, and who had preceded them in the occupancy of this country? I may not satisfy you, in the answer I am about to give to this question, by DEMONSTRATING who these people were; but that such a race did exist, and were in the occupancy of this country prior to the coming into it of the present race of Indians, I have not the shadow of a doubt; and this, I think, I shall make plain to you in the sequel.
It is a well authenticated historical fact, that the Danes and Normans visited this continent five hundred years before Columbus put foot upon it; and that "they had pushed their way from Iceland and Greenland to where the climate was very temperate, the soil fruitful in pasturage, and to a river, in which they anchored, the waters of which were full of the largest salmon they had ever seen, and where the days were nearer of an equal length than in Greenland or Iceland; and when they were at the shortest, the sun rose at half-past seven, and set at half-past four." "Supposing," says Wheaton, the historian, in a note to this passage, "this computation to be correct, they must have been in the latitude of Boston, the present capital of New England."
It would be a departure from all precedent, if these Northmen, after having arrived in such waters, surrounded by such a country, and witnessing for themselves the superior and abundant productions of both land and sea, and feeling the genial temperature of the climate to be, in comparison with their own, a paradise, should have been content
37with planting colonies, only, and leaving them, without making them permanent, to remain in all time a source of aggrandizement to their country, and a monument to their fame. Be this as it may, few things are more certain, than that this country was inhabited by a race, prior to the coming into it of those from whom the present race of Indians are descended; (and, in all probability, ages before it was visited by the Northmen;) and that that race was advanced in civilization and the arts, especially in the art of fortification.
We have ample and enduring proof of this, in the monuments which remain, that those who built them had their "origin from nations of great cultivation." Bradford, on American Antiquities, says, "Many of these ancient remains indicate great elegance of taste, and a high degree of dexterous workmanship and mechanical skill in their construction; while the size and extent of the fortifications and mounds demonstrate the former existence of populous nations, capable of executing works of enormous dimensions, requiring perseverance, time, and combination of labor, for their erection." Reference is had here to those fortifications and places of security and defence, the remains of which are to be met with from the lakes to Florida. These works, the product of the skill and labor of the most experienced engineers, could never, I assume, have been the work of our Indians, since it is scarcely possible, if they had ever possessed the art, for them so entirely to have lost it.
Some idea of the nature and extent of these works, and of the science, and skill, and labor that were employed in their construction, may be formed, by a reference to a few of them.
"In Onondaga county, (New York,) are the remains of one of these fortified towns, containing over five hundred acres. The form is that of three elliptical forts, disposed in a triangle; and distant from each other, about eight
38miles, were the outworks." "At Camillus, in the same county, there were, only a few years since, two elliptical forts, with gates, and covered ways to the adjacent water. On Seneca river stood another, which was in the form of a parallelogram, two hundred and twenty yards in length, and fifty-five yards in breadth, with gates opening on either side, towards the river and to the country."
The late President Harrison says "he examined three of these fortifications—one at Marietta, one at Cincinnati, and one at the mouth of the Great Miami, particularly the latter; and that they all have a military character stamped upon them which cannot be mistaken." "The engineers," he proceeds, "who directed the Miami work, appear to have known the importance of flank defences; and if the bastions are not so perfect, as to form, as those which are in use in modern engineering, their position, as well as that of the long lines of curtains, are precisely as they should be."
Carver, the celebrated traveller, who, it is said, was the first to notice these works, makes a similar remark in relation to the entrenchments he discovered near Lake Pepin. "Though much defaced by time," he says, "every angle was distinguishable, and appeared as regular, and fashioned with as much military skill, as if planned by VAUBAN himself."
Over two hundred years have passed since history began to embody the attainments of the Indians, and to record their nature, extent, and variety. To these it is fair to add five hundred years more for tradition, making in all seven hundred years, during which period we may claim to know, from these two sources, what they were masters of in the arts and sciences. In all that period, beginning with the time when tradition is supposed to have lost none of its freshness, and through the period when history has recorded whatever relates to the Indians, (a period, as I have supposed, of at least seven hundred years,) there exists
39not a single trace, IN EITHER, to authorize the belief that the works that have been referred to were either of their execution or conception. Their intellectual acquirements were as low as they are recorded to have been among any people on the face of the earth. They had no letters, and no learning.
Not the slightest rudiments of a single science were known among them. The sun, and moon, and stars, were balls of light, set in the heavens. The earth was an island. Their pathology referred every disorder to a spirit which was to be driven out by the noise and incantations of the jugglers, which constituted their medical science. Their arithmetic enabled them to count a hundred, and here, generally, their power over numbers ceased. Their arts consisted in making a canoe, a bow and arrow, a little rude pottery, in the weaving of mats, the putting up of the wigwam, and in taking their game upon the land and the water. I presume there was scarcely an Indian on the continent, who could comprehend an abstract idea; and at this day, the process is neither common nor easy. I have, of course, no reference here to those who are civilized, in whole or in part. The great business of their lives was to procure food, and devour it; and to subdue their enemies, and scalp them. Tradition has furnished nothing going beyond this state of the Indians' attainments; and such, in general, was their condition, over two hundred years ago, when the Europeans arrived among them. Why they had advanced so little in all that constitutes the progress of society, it is not so easy to conjecture. The question presents one of the most difficult problems to be found in the whole history of mankind.
Thus were the Indians, stationary, looking upon life as a scene of physical exertion, without improving, or attempting to improve. With the exception of the half-civilized empires of Mexico and Peru, all the primitive inhabitants, from the Straits of Magellan to Hudson's Bay, were in this
40state of helpless ignorance and imbecility. Whether they inhabited the mild and genial climates, were burned by the vertical sun of the tropics, or, by a still harder fate, were condemned to the bleak and sterile regions of the north, all were equally stationary and improvident. Ages passed by, and made no impression on them. The experience of the past, and the aspirations of the future, were alike unheeded. Their existence was confined to the present.
Now, I ask, is there anything in all this, that would warrant the belief that these works of art, the result of a skill so consummate, and of labor so immense, were the product of the science and labor of this Indian race?
It may be asked, if many of the arts of the ancients, (the Egyptians, for example, as also of the Greeks and Romans,) are lost, why may not the same fate have involved, in the same extinction, those of the Indians? Who of us knows by what instrument of power those huge masses of stone were raised to the elevation of five hundred feet, of which the Pyramids of Egypt are formed? And where is the secret of embalming the dead, which has been so long lost to the world, and which, three thousand years ago, was known, in all probability, to the whole of Egypt? And where that of those inimitable colors used by painters, which time, instead of obliterating, or fading, only serves to freshen? And so of other arts that might be enumerated. Such a thing is possible, that the Indians may have, at some far-back period of their history, retrograded, and yet it is scarcely possible that such a backward movement should have lost, even to their tradition, every vestige of every art, as well as of every trace of every utensil, and of every sort that relates in the remotest degree to those fortifications, or to the domestic economy of those who built them, and especially as they have been in close and visible association with those monuments, and those utensils, from the beginning. The night must have been long and dark, indeed, to have hidden from the Indians, (if
41those monuments were built by their race,) every trace of their origin; and the change in their domestic economy must have been radical, to have separated them from not only the use, but the knowledge of the utensils that are found in these fortifications.
The conclusion I have arrived at is, that the Indian race had no agency in building those monuments of the art of fortification, to which I have referred.
I do not wish to be understood as inculcating the doctrine that the Indians are incapable, or have ever been incapable, of learning and practising the lessons of civilization and the arts. Such is not my belief, but the contrary. I shall discuss this question in my next discourse. The reference to the presence of the Northmen upon this continent, five hundred years before Columbus landed upon it, may have led some to the inference, that I supposed them to have been the artificers of these great works. My belief is, they had nothing to do with them. If they had, the same history, it is fair to presume, that has recorded so many events connected with their intercourse with this country, would have taken note of such labors. Everything, besides, is made clear enough. "In the ninth century," we are told, "Iceland, and in the tenth, Greenland, was discovered by these adventurous people." Explorations were made, say the records, and a colony planted and settled in Vinland—(New England.)
The movements of Erick the Red, are recorded in detail. "He landed in Greenland, in 982, and devoted two years in exploring the country. In 985, he went again to Greenland, and took with him many persons, and there founded a colony; whilst Thorvald, (brother of Lief Eirekson—he who remained a year in Vinland, taking back a cargo of timber,) explored the coast of North America, from Newfoundland, almost to Florida. He took up his residence in Vinland, and remained there three years, and explored the interior. The natives were found, at that far back
42period, to be numerous and hostile, which caused him to leave." And this may be the reason why no permanent colony was established here. The country, however, was continued to be visited, and we learn that "Bishop Eirek visited Vinland in 1121;" and that "merchant ships arrived at Markland, (Nova Scotia,) for timber, centuries afterwards." The hardships, and perils, and deaths, attendant upon these adventures, are recorded. The indomitable Thorvald lost his life; Thorstien was driven off by a storm to a distant shore, where he died. Thorfien had not to contend with mutiny and desertions only, but was menaced by famine, for an entire winter. The war spirit of the natives was kindled, and battles were fought.
Now all these, and a thousand other things, are left permanently recorded; and why, after having experienced the genial influences of this climate, and been fanned by the breeze of Florida, and had demonstrated to them, by explorations, and otherwise, the almost boundless resources of both the land and the ocean, these Northmen should have turned their backs upon it all, and bidden adieu to it forever, is a mystery that cannot be solved. And yet, some may assume that the settlers may have been cut off by savage incursions, and separated from all the means that might have connected them with history; and in their isolated state put up those places of defence, which reach from the lakes to Florida. There would be something plausible in this, if the relics found in those mounds and circumvallations were such as connected the Northmen with their use; or if they, together with the fortifications and mounds, and traditions, did not connect them with another race.
The question again occurs—who were the people that preceded the Indians in the occupancy of this continent, and left these enduring memorials of their science, and skill, and labor? And who were met—fought—conquered,
43and annihilated, (so far, at least, as North America is concerned) by the Tartar bands, from whom the present race of Indians are descended?
I believe them to have been MEXICANS, OR PERUVIANS, or both—and shall proceed, briefly, to assign some of the reasons for this belief. And first, there is an exact conformity in the structure and form of those mounds and circumvallations of North America, to those which are common to Peru and Mexico; second, the relics, so far as I have been able to ascertain, are the same; third, tradition favors the supposition; fourth, we have possession of skulls, dug from our soil, of an extinct race.
It has been justly assumed, that nothing marks the common origin of a people, language excepted, with so great certainty, as the style of architecture in their dwellings, in their temples, and in their fortifications. No traces are left of the style of the dwellings of the race who built the fortifications alluded to; no comparison, therefore, can be made between them and those of Peru. Time has mouldered these into dust. Not so, however, with their temples and fortifications. Here the similarity is most exact; as much so, at least, as the action of the elements, operating for so long a period, upon those built of less durable materials, will permit; whilst the dilapidations of mural structures make it difficult to distinguish which were used for religious worship, and which for defence—except, indeed, the remains of that particular feature which shows the greater adaptation of the one over the other, to these separate objects. "In North America, most of these fortifications and mounds are composed of earth; in Mexico, South America, &c., of stone, or brick, or earth. Where they are found in this country, built entirely of earth, there happens to be no other material at hand, out of which to construct them."
But the points of analogy are so strong between them, as to identify them as being built by the same rules, and
44for the same objects. "In Peru, these mounds are terraced, and are regarded as having been used by the sunworshippers. In Mexico, the TEOCALI—or houses of the Sun, or of God—were terraced; and upon their tops were chapels, in which were the idols of the worshippers. We have the same terraced form in the United States; but, owing to the materials of which the structures are composed, these are nearly worn away—some, however, are distinctly marked." There is a mound at Cahokia, which Breckenridge reports as being constructed with as much regularity as any of the Teocali of New Spain, and was, doubtless, cased with brick or stone, and crowned with buildings. The Natchez, and other tribes of North America, are known to have been sun-worshippers. And then, there are the relics and utensils, found in these mounds, which are known to bear an exact resemblance to those used in Mexico and Peru.
We have tradition, also, in support of this theory. "The Choctaw Indians call not only the mound on Black river ‘The House of the Great Spirit,’ but all the old mounds are, in their language, called Nane-Yah; which means, literally, hills, or mounts of God; answering precisely to the Teocali of the Mexicans." The ancient belt to which I have referred, and which was sent to the Wyandots, there can be little doubt was a messenger from Mexico, so far back as the invasion of that country by Cortez, sent to warn them, and put them upon their guard, against the monster whom it described—thus forming a link in the connexion between those who gave the warning, and the party warned. The hieroglyphics of that belt must have been familiar to both, else it would have proved to those to whom it was sent, a dumb messenger.
But we have something of a yet more remarkable sort. The mounds we know to have been the work of man; and for the reasons assigned, we cannot admit them to have been built by the progenitors of the present race of Indians;
45and as this country, when discovered by the Europeans, was found to be occupied by the Indians, and by no other people, the inference is, that the mounds must be the product of the labor and skill of a race now extinct. My theory embraces this very position; and, in support of it, there are to be seen in Doctor Warren's collection of numerous specimens of crania, in Boston, three skulls, picked up in the valley of the Mississippi, of an extinct race! COMBE, the celebrated phrenologist, in remarking upon these skulls, says, they strikingly resemble the Chinese skulls in the Edinburgh collection. Be this as it may, one thing is certain—they do not resemble the skulls of the Indians; nor are they of European, or African conformation. And here they are, found in the very soil whose turf, I have assumed, the feet of that people once trod; whose works, in the mounds and fortifications referred to, yet exist, to attest at the same time the numbers, and power, and science of those who built them.
The theory which I have advanced, is, that this country was peopled by a race advanced in civilization and the arts, prior to its occupancy by the Indians; that the Indians warred with and exterminated that race; and that those who were thus exterminated, were Mexicans, or Peruvians, or both. How these fortified places were captured, can never be known. Whether by sieges, or open fight; by the slow process of starvation, or the sweeping outbreak of the battle-field; or, whether the contests were within, or without the fortifications, none can tell. But that a people, occupying a point high above the highest point of Indian improvement, did once occupy this country, and are now extinct, appears to me to be no less certain than is the existence of their works, that brave the elements, and the levelling agencies of time and man; or the cranialogical remains, that have for ages resisted the process of decay, as if to assure us, from the tomb, and in the language of the living, that the Tartar bands which now
46exist, are they who warred with, conquered, and exterminated the race represented by these exhumed, bony demonstrations. How long the war continued between these races, or with what weapons the parties fought, none can tell. The war was, doubtless, of long duration. It is easy to imagine how protracted it must have been, to have afforded time for the overthrow and extermination of a people capable of erecting works of such magnitude and extent as those to which I have referred.
It is highly probable that the war spirit which animates the Indians to this day, and which has been always, since we have known anything of them, and is yet, their chief glory, was kindled during this very conflict. Wars had not, in all probability, until that time, been common among them; not exceeding, perhaps, those which we denominate family jars. But the appetite for war, in human nature, being one of the sort that "grows by what it feeds on;" and that appetite having been whetted and made keen, by the successive triumphs, and final overthrow of their antagonists, became thereafter the cherished idol of the Indians, and remains so to this day.
The press heralded the triumphs of Napoleon, and as his bulletins were read, the spirits of the victorious legions were warmed into rapture, and the sound of the trumpet, summoning them to some new battle-field, was music to them. The Indian warrior proclaims his victories in the dance, and in song, amidst his bands, who shout a response to his deeds, and pant for the opportunity to imitate them.
Never did the heart of Caesar, of Alexander, or Napoleon, beat with greater emotion, or the bosom of either heave with feelings of more rapturous sort, or the eye of either beam and glisten with more of the diamond's lustre, than I have witnessed in the warrior chief, when, in the midst of his bands, and in the dance, he has rehearsed, in song, his victories—told of the enemies he had slain—the
47scalps he had taken—and the captures he had made. I can never forget the song of the famous Ojibewa war chief of Lake Superior, Wab-jeek. I have often listened to it on the shores of Lake Superior, when sung by his descendants. It was all his own—the English version being a close imitation of the original. It is this:—
"On that day when our heroes lay low—lay low—
On that day when our heroes lay low,
I fought by their side, and thought ere I died,
Just vengeance to take on the foe—the foe—
Just vengeance to take on the foe.
"On that day when our chieftains lay dead—lay dead—
On that day when our chieftains lay dead,
I fought hand to hand, at the head of my band,
And here, on my breast, have I bled—have I bled—
And here, on my breast, have I bled.
Our chiefs shall return no more—no more—
Our chiefs shall return no more—
And their brothers in war who can't show scar for scar,
Like women, their fates shall deplore—shall deplore—
Like women, their fates shall deplore.
Five winters in hunting we'll spend—we'll spend—
Five winters in hunting we'll spend—
Then our youths grown to men, to the war lead again,
And our days like our fathers', we'll end—we'll end—
And our days like our fathers', we'll end."
But these war songs, to be appreciated, must be listened to as rehearsed, or sung, by the Indians, and their effects witnessed upon the bands. The wildness of the strain in which they are sung, together with the gestures and energy of the narrator, are enough to make anybody fight.
The war between the two powers, (the emigrant Tartar bands and the emigrant Peruvians, or Mexicans, or both,) having terminated, and so triumphantly to the former, so far from abating, in the victors, the spirit which that war had kindled, must have rendered the repose which followed as irksome as it was inglorious. Every chief who had distinguished himself, became, after that war, the head of a
48band, and each, in his own prowess, sought for cause of quarrel with other bands, that occasions of triumph might arise in which himself and his warriors might recount new victories, and sing and dance amidst the excitements and acclamations of their followers. Then, doubtless, alliances were sought and formed, and out of these grew confederacies, whose territorial limits were the theatres of constant sieges and counter-sieges; which, not being tempered by the mercy of the civilized code, were, no doubt, fearfully savage and destructive.
The war spirit had now become the predominating spirit of the whole; and having no foreign or external foe to combat with, they fell, in the way I have supposed, upon one another; and then followed the great check upon the increase of their population. What the Indian population numbered, when at its highest, can never be known; but it is ascertained that when the Europeans came among them, there were, along the Atlantic border alone, two hundred and seventy-two tribes. There might have been twice, or even twenty times that number—but of these we have the names. How long those tribes had been warring with one another, we have no means of ascertaining; but so far back as the tenth century, as has been stated, the Northmen reported the natives to be "warlike" and "numerous;" and in 1615, "Sir Richard Hawkins, who sailed from England with a commission from the Council of Plymouth, to do what service he could for them at New England, found, on arriving here, a destructive war prevailing among the natives, and he passed along the coast to Virginia."
But desolating as were those wars upon the natives, they were light in their effects, and even tender in the quality of their mercy, compared with the devastating inroads which were destined, in the progress of time, to desolate their race! Plagues more fatal than those which were scattered from the box of Pandora, were to be let loose
49among them; and foremost in the train, the most unrelenting and most murderous, was the "fire-water" so called by the natives, but which is known among us by the scarcely less consuming names of brandy, rum, and whiskey. And as king among these plagues, avarice, that monster of inordinate appetite, was destined to mount the throne, and by the aid of superior skill, and the tempting influence of liquid fire, the blight and the mildew were made to fall upon the race of the red man; and this it is, in connexion with the anomalous relations which they have always borne, and yet bear, to us, which we now see, and which has for over two hundred years been so perishing to the happiness, the hopes, and the lives of the Indians.
But I will not, on this occasion, review the opening of that intercourse, which has proved so disastrous to the natives. There remains a period between that at which I shall leave this discussion, on the present occasion, and the one made so memorable by the landing of our fathers, and their success in establishing permanent colonies upon this continent; and that period will form the opening remarks of the next discourse.
And now, and even before we begin a discussion of the relations which we have borne and yet bear to this Indian race, with what rapidity do the incidents connected with those relations rise to our view! and how varied is their character! REVENGE and SYMPATHY, DESPAIR and HOPE, come up in their order, to agitate or soothe us. Revenge, prompted by the recollections of Indian incursions and massacres, upon and along all the borders; attended by a shudder, at the sight of mangled carcasses, smouldering habitations, and dismembered limbs, and scalped heads, of all ages, and of both sexes! Sympathy, for the perpetrators of those bloody deeds; a sympathy awakened by the reflection that all these ferocious acts were committed by a people who were untaught and savage, and who saw their homes invaded, their systems, social, political, and
50religious, struck at, and tottering, and falling all around them, and even their country about to be taken away from them forever. Despair, produced by the thought that the race has been made wretched, and sunk so low in degradation, by our neglect, as to make it a matter of doubt whether we can atone for the past, even by the rescue of the remnants that remain;—whilst Hope, the charmer, that blessed influence which comes with such sweet soothing and is the last to leave the human bosom, yet lingers, prompting and wooing us, by all the considerations of pity, of humanity, of justice, and of mercy, as well as by the high and imposing obligations of our most holy faith, to follow the retiring remnants of this ill-fated race, and with the voice of entreaty, of tenderness and love, beseech them to accept of our aid and our counsels, and of the hopes and happiness of the Christian state.
As a Christian people, we should not omit this duty if we could—it is very certain we could not make a void of the obligation, if we would. The Indians, as a race, may disappear—not a red man of them all may exist. But there will remain, and forever, memorials to rebuke us. "These are in the nomenclature which they have indelibly impressed on the scenery of our country. Our mountains have become their enduring monuments; and their epitaph is already inscribed in the lucid language of nature on our majestic rivers." How terrible will these be to us, and our posterity, if, over the whole, the spectre of the wrongs we have inflicted upon the race shall be seen, whenever our mountains or our rivers are looked upon, or their names are mentioned, without the accompanying consolation arising from the reflection that we had, so far as we had the power, atoned for the past; which reflection, like the sunbeam upon the mist, would, and which alone can, dissolve the spectre, or transform it into a vision of delight and transport. But this can never be, if our best efforts are not made to save and bless the remnants of this Indian race.
How beautiful, as well as affecting, is that conception of one of the sweetest writers of the age, in which she traces the memorials of this long buffeted and afflicted race!
"Ye say that all have pass'd away;
The noble race—and brave;
That their light canoes have vanish'd
From off the crested wave—
That 'mid the forests where they roam'd,
There rings no hunter's shout:—
But their name is on your waters,
Ye may not wash it out.
Ye say their cone-like cabins
That cluster'd o'er the vale,
Have disappear'd, as wither'd leaves
Before the autumn gale—
But their mem'ry liveth on your hills,
Their baptism on your shore,
Your ever-rolling rivers speak
Their dialect of yore."
Discourse II. — Claims of the Indians Upon Our National Regard, Arising From Past Services and Sufferings, and From Unanswerable Evidences of Endowments, and Capacity to Receive and Enjoy the Benefits of Civilization.
Part I. — North America as Our Ancestors Found it. Irresistable Claim of the Indian Races on Our Gratitude and Favor.
Brief review of the position of the American Indian — Difficulty of picturing the past— Humble attempt to overcome this difficulty — The hunter and his prey — The canoe — Fishing — The war-whoop — The conflict — Trophies of victory — The scalp-dance — The voice of thunder — The wilderness — The ocean — The forest — Contrast of all this with its present appearance — Amazement of the natives on the arrival of the Europeans — Their first intercourse — Secret fears — First settlement at Jamestown — Indebted for its preservation to Pocahontas, the instrument of Providence — Her character — The sufferings and extermination of the Indians unnecessary — The white man responsible for it all — The appeal of Pocahontas, "the deliverer" — A second deliverance from the same hand — Her marriage and early death — Her descendants — Anecdote of John Randolph — Lines, by Miss M. F. Caulkins.
THE Indians were left, in our previous discourse, sole occupants of this country; victorious legions over a vanquished and exterminated race, but warring fiercely with one another. How long these intestine feuds continued, before the arrival of the Europeans, cannot be known—perhaps centuries.
Here, then, was this vast continent, which had been, as I have supposed, the theatre of a bloody and exterminating
53war—then claimed by two powers—now in the sole and undisputed possession of one; and this triumphant party separated into bands, each under the direction of some experienced and successful chief, with the war-flag always flying, and the war-drum always beating.
I have discussed the question of their ORIGIN, and by the aid of such light as could be commanded, followed them in their various migrations, and amidst all the variety of their condition, to the period when they became sole possessors of this vast continent.
Allow me yet longer to dwell upon that far-back period, when what we now know as North America, was one vast wilderness; when there were no cities, no towns, no villages; when there were no churches, or school-houses, no cultivated fields, and no gardens; when the forests were interminable and unbroken, save where the oceans on the east and on the west, the sandy deserts of the south, the prairies, the rugged and cloud-capped peaks of mountains, and the bays and rivers, broke in upon the dull uniformity; and when ALL THIS WAS THE HOME OF THE RED MAN, who was literally (at the period to which I am referring) "monarch of all he surveyed."
I know it is difficult to throw one's self back upon the past, and see it as it was at that far-back period—it being scarcely possible to disengage our senses from the presence and sight of the objects and scenes which surround us on every side, and to obliterate the associations grown out of all these. It requires a greater effort of the imagination to break up, and lose our perceptions of an existing world, with which we are familiar, than, by the aid of that same power, to create and people a new one.
But let us make the experiment, and fancy, if we can, the sudden and total disappearance of this, and of every other city, and village, and hamlet of the land, together with every vestige of all that relates to the arts, and to commerce—that the rivers, and bays, and the ocean, were
54swept of every ship, and of every vessel, and of every sort; that with these all the wharves and landings should also disappear, together with every road-way, every cultivated field and garden—and at the same instant, the sounds of the axe, of the hammer, the trowel, and the saw were hushed, and forests should everywhere appear; and amidst these should be heard nothing but the growling of bears, the barking of foxes, the howl of the wolf, the screams of the eagle, the boding note of the owl, and the moaning of the winds of heaven. Let us fancy, I say, the presence of all this, and ourselves in the midst—and that, presently, groups of savages should be seen; that there, on your right, stepping softly and warily, is one, with bow in hand, and the arrow notched, with his keen eye fixed upon some animal. Presently, we see him stand—cautiously raise his bow—draw the arrow to its point, and let it fly. We hear the momentary whiz of this messenger of death, as it speeds its way into the side of the victim. We see the struck beast stagger, and fall; and the savage, with body inclined forward, and quickened step, hastens to the spot where the arrow-struck beast is struggling in its last agonies. He seizes it by one of its legs, and with his war-club strikes it a blow, lets it fall upon the ground, where it quivers out its life, and dies.
On a sudden, a whoop is heard—it is answered; when, from the dense forest, savages are seen hastening to the spot, and as they arrive, stoop over to get a sight of the dead animal. Presently, a smoke rises, and spreads amidst the foliage, curls over it, and then, slowly rolling away, mingles with the atmosphere. Then a fire is seen, and around it are grouped the savages, when the meal is eaten.
Near by is a river. We hear the murmur of the wave, as it breaks upon the shore, and turning in that direction, see a canoe floating along with its freight of Indians. The men are decked out with feathers, and have auzeom about
55their middle; a squaw sits holding the paddle, with which, now and then, she touches the water. About her hips is tied, with the sinews of the deer, or the roots of the red cedar, the skin of some beast; and seated in regular positions, are some half dozen nearly or quite naked papooses, and as many dogs. In another canoe hard by, is seen a single Indian, watching, with eagle eye, the motions of some fish which he is aiming to shoot with his arrow, or decoy to his line, made of deer's sinews, with a hook attached of bone, baited, perhaps, with clam or muscle.
On a sudden, a shout is heard. We turn in the direction from which it comes. It is not yet day. But we gaze till the light of the morning reveals to our alarmed sight a band of warriors, each armed with a bow and quiver, a war-club, and a lance, engaged in battle with another band. The war-whoop and the battle-cry resound on every side; and the forest echoes them! At one point, two have met and clenched each other; they are bleeding; at another, one is down, and his antagonist is just giving him the fatal blow with the war-club; at another, we see, behind trees, a dozen or more, availing themselves of their dexterity in sending their arrows into their less guarded and more exposed antagonists. Presently all is still. Then we hear murmurs—now and then a shout. We look, and see coming in the direction of our position, some hundred warriors smeared with blood, with scalps dangling from their fingers. We watch their movements. They pass near us, follow the curvatures of the shore, and then suddenly start into a wood, and become lost to our sight.
Presently they re-appear, and we see them on a hill-side that slopes down to the bend of the river, moving with stately step, and in Indian file. Just before them is an Indian village. The wigwams are cone-like in form, and covered with bark. A shout is heard; it is answered—when from these wigwams come pouring out, half-naked
56squaws, and children, and dogs. They mingle in one dense mass. Then a drum is heard. Now we see a circle formed—the war-flag is raised in its centre—a song is chanted—a dance is seen. It is the scalp-dance! In the midst of these ceremonies, a cloud arises; the west becomes blackened over. Lightning is seen, and presently is heard the rumbling of distant thunder. The wind moans amidst the forests, and the tops of the trees bend before it. A vivid flash, "forked and fierce," now breaks through the cloud, followed by a rattling peal of thunder. The song of the Indians is hushed!—the war-drum is silent. The group is scattered—some are seen running to their wigwams, others to clefts of rocks, and others to caverns in the hill-sides. At every peal of the thunder, they start and tremble! Every flash is from the eye of the Manitou; and every sound is the muttering of his voice! They quail before it, as the manifestation of the displeasure of the Great Spirit! We become alarmed—not at the thunder-storm, but at our isolated, wilderness-bound, and exposed situation; and we look instinctively around for our species. But the white man is nowhere seen! We strain our eyes to catch the point of some tall spire, and listen, hoping to hear the sound of some village bell, or the hum of some city—but neither spire, nor bell, nor hum is there. All, all is desert, and all the scenes are wild and savage! We go down to the shore of the river, and follow its meanderings to the bay, and look over its heaving tides—but see nothing but the rolling billows, the rolling porpoises, and myriads of wild fowl; some in flocks of countless thousands, flying over the deep; others blackening the face of the waters, covering whole acres, sporting, and diving, and feeding, and all unmindful of our presence. As yet no death-rattle had been shot in among them, dying the waters with their blood; and no flash, and no roar from guns, had put their instinctive terrors in motion.
We go to the shore of the ocean, clamber up the peak of
57some high rock, and from a ledge there, send out our vision upon this world of waters. Ocean is everywhere, but nothing else is seen; not a sail, nor anything indicating life, or having life's instincts, save the spouting up of the whale, and the sudden uprising of some fish, hotly pursued by its voracious enemy; the sea-gulls eddying in the air, and then alighting delicately, softly, their white plumage "now up, and now down on the wave;" the fish-hawk, over all, sending his screams down, as he sails and hovers over us, as if to tell that he was hunger-smitten, and ravenous for food. On either side are seen nothing but broken-up rocks, fragments of the "girders of the earth" and ocean boundaries, set there by Almighty power to keep the sea within its limits. At our feet the breakers roll, and strike, and burst up in whitened spray, and fall, and undulate, in foam, to be urged on by some coming-in wave, to be severed, and sent up, and descend as before, to mix and mingle with this ever restless tide. Behind us are forests of pine, and spruce, and hemlock, and the whole array of hardy trees, sent, (as it were easy to imagine,) by those of a more delicate texture, to curtain them from the spray, and preserve them from the effects of an atmosphere made salt by the vapors of the sea.
From this hasty glance at the solitudes and desert state of this continent, and its uncivilized inhabitants and their occupations—HUNTING and WAR—may be formed some slight conception of its appearance before it became the theatre of civilization, and of the intelligence, enterprise, and polished labors of the Europeans, which have, in a period of time so comparatively short, made of this wilderness a garden of such unparalleled beauty, decorating it with works of art, and enriching it with the sciences of which the oldest and most polished countries might well be proud.
And now, at the commencement of this change, the period had arrived when the Indian was to be aroused from
58the repose of his forests, and called off from his hunting and war, to behold the approach of that which was more alarming to him than the lightning, and more astounding than the thunder. The sight of the ships, of their crews, and of the flash and smoke of their guns, and the thunder of these terrible messengers, which shook the land and agitated the water, were all new, and strange, and terrible to him! Never, in all of his imaginings, had the Indian arrayed anything in circumstances so appalling, as were those which attended the arrival of the first ships in his hitherto untroubled and familiar waters. A wild amazement, mingled with conjectures of the origin and object of the visiters, and a deep-seated terror, characterized the whole of it. Every motion of ship and of men produced in him agitations scarcely less restless than were the undulations of the waters upon which the ships floated, whilst every discharge of the guns carried a conviction that some terrible event was about to befall his race, which shook him almost to dissolution!
We may easily imagine the caution that marked the opening intercourse between the terror-stricken Indian and the new comers. Distrust was entertained by both, and a consequent vigilance observed. The apprehensions of the savages were to be quieted; and this was effected by the usual resort of the civilized in his intercourse with the savage man. Shining metal, and dazzling and sparkling gew-gaws, were held up as offerings for his acceptance, which, after a thorough scanning of the persons and color and dress of the white man, were generally received. The way for a barter being thus opened, a coat, ornamented with lace and tinsel, an axe, or a knife, would be given in exchange for corn, or beans, or the skins of animals; till at last having grown familiar, and the ship having been visited, and the hand of the red man made to rest upon the guns, and then taken off without injury, the danger losing some of its frightfulness, exchanges of more importance
59were set on foot, and consummated. Meantime, all was caution and suspicion on the one side, and solicitude and anxiety on the other.
The Indian felt that he was surrounded by power, and when on board or near the ships, feared, (notwithstanding he had touched the guns unhurt,) its destructive effects, for he had seen the fire and heard the roar of the guns, and felt the tremulous effects of their discharges upon the air around him and the earth beneath him.
And then the size of the ships, (a canoe had hitherto set limits to his conceptions of such contrivances,) and the number, and dress, and color of the men, all combined to create in him a suspicion that something terrible, of which he could see, as yet, but little, was meditated by these strangers. On the other hand, efforts were unremitted, on the part of the new comers, to gain the Indian's confidence; and with these, doubts were mingled, lest some outbreak might frustrate their designs, and oblige them to quit the country before these were consummated. The Indian often, no doubt, when oppressed by his fears, was led to sigh after his stone axes, and bows and arrows, his garments of skins, and his ornaments of beasts' and birds' claws, fishes' bones, wampum, and feathers, preferring them to iron axes and knives, the blue and red cloth, and beads, and other gew-gaws, which he could obtain in barter of the white man, in connexion with his present forebodings and his alarm.
Various and fruitless attempts were from time to time made by the Europeans to get foothold upon this continent, as we all know. The first permanent settlement, as we also all know, was secured in the month of May, of the year 1607, by Captain Christopher Newport, "who, with a colony of one hundred and five persons, settled on James river, in Virginia, built a town, and named it Jamestown." There is every reason to believe that if one of these colonists had not been of the number, this settlement would
60have shared the fate of others that had preceded it. I need not say that I refer to the celebrated Captain John Smith. Nor would the intelligence, and tact, and indomitable courage of this wonderful man have secured to the colonists a permanent footing, had it not been for the interposing humanity of the princess Pocahontas, who, at the moment when the uplifted club was about to execute its commission of death, threw herself upon the bound victim, and by the eloquence of her looks, her tears, and her language, softened her father's heart, arrested, and turned aside the blow.
The history of this extraordinary deliverance is so well known, as to forbid, on an occasion like the present, any more than this slight reference to it. But it may not be out of place to indulge in a few reflections, which an incident of so much interest, producing consequences so momentous, as well to the Indians as the Europeans, give rise.
The first reflection comes of that abiding sense which we all have of the ever-present and ceaseless agency of an overruling Providence, and which was so signally illustrated in this memorable rescue. The second arises out of the mysterious fact that Pocahontas, in her angel-like interposition to save the life of Smith, became, thereby, the first and chief instrument of the ultimate destruction of her race! It were impossible to class an event so big with the destinies of men, with such as are of ordinary occurrence. It stands out in bold and beautiful relief, and challenges a comparison with that other movement of the same Providence that raised up Washington to be the deliverer of this people; and both these bear a close resemblance to that memorable event of old in which Moses was set apart for the rescue of the Israelites from the captivity in which they were held by Pharaoh. In all time, God has raised up and endowed men for the accomplishment of his purposes and the consummation of his designs.
61And it being his will to people this continent with a civilized and Christian race, he raised up Pocahontas, and endowed her, in her tender years, and employed her as the angel for the deliverance of the colony at Jamestown. But how deep is the mystery, that in accomplishing this work of mercy, she should have become, in that very act, the procuring cause of the subsequent suffering, and final extinction of her race! And how are we to reconcile events so seemingly opposed to one another? Was it the purpose of the merciful God to introduce one race of men upon this continent, though they were destined to make the wilderness blossom as the rose, and to ornament it with all that was refined in the civilized, and adorn it with all that is captivating in the Christian state, at the mighty cost of the annihilation of another? ordaining, at the same time, as part of the machinery that was to bring about this destiny, the ceaseless exercise of injustice, cruelty, and oppression, such as the natives were, and yet are, made to endure? NEVER! NEVER! And yet, these results have been produced, (and by the operation of those agencies,) the first being everywhere manifest, and the last in a rapid course of a final consummation! How are we to harmonize these conflicting events with our conceptions of the all-wise, and good, and merciful God? The difficulty would be insurmountable, if the introduction of one race of men produced, necessarily, the destruction of another. But the question is, was it, in the case before us, a necessary consequence? I think not. The parties were under the government of the same laws—physical, social, intellectual, and moral. It is true, there was light on the one side, and darkness on the other; there was education, knowledge, religion, against ignorance, superstition, and paganism. But did not these superior endowments create an obligation on the party possessing them, to impart those acquirements to the party whose misfortune it was not to be blessed with them? At the same time that we admit the peopling
62of this continent by an enlightened and civilized race, to have been by the agency of God, we see the heavy responsibility that grew out of the relations which were necessarily to attend upon the new intercourse. And just so far as efforts were honestly and conscientiously made by the European settlers, to harmonize these relations, and benefit and bless the unenlightened and savage natives, was this fearful responsibility met; and just so far as all, or any part, of this duty was neglected, WILL OUR RACE BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE INDIANS' DESTINY.
Who doubts that Joseph was chosen and ordained by infinite wisdom and infinite mercy, to be the instrument for the rescue of his house and people from famine? But who considers it as forming any part of the plan of this wisdom, and of this mercy, that his brethren should sell, and make a slave, of him? It is true, infinite wisdom and goodness overruled this base conduct of Joseph's brethren, for good; but none will doubt that they were amenable to the righteous laws of God, for their perfidious cruelty to their youthful and unoffending brother.
The plea will not avail, that this sad overthrow of a noble race—as our Indians are known to be, by all who know anything about them—was not produced by any systematic and intentional plans for its accomplishment; but it will be required, before we can be justified, that all the means in our power were honestly and zealously employed to prevent it. Were these means adopted? Are they even to this hour, in operation, to the extent which the condition of the Indians requires? I leave the answer, for the present, at least, to history, and to your own knowledge, and judgments, and consciences. These are the tests by which we can all determine how far, as a people, we are culpable in this matter, and how far we are not.
It would seem that, in the instrument chosen by the Almighty for the rescue of Smith, and the consequent security of the colony, and its permanent settlement, a most
63winning appeal was made, and under the most attractive form, to the kindly feelings of the colonists, and their posterity, in behalf of the natives. It was no rude or rough instrument that was set apart for this work of mercy, but a young and lovely female! As if a voice from the infinite glory had spoken to the settlers, saying:—
"Behold the turning point in your destiny! Your mighty man and great leader, in this attempt to settle in this new world, has incurred the displeasure of Powhattan. He is bound—his head is upon the block—the club is upraised—in an instant, he dies, and with him you all perish! But behold, in the person of the daughter of the king, Powhattan, your deliverer! See her—in the moment when her presence and agency are needed, and under forms which no heart that is human, and rightly instructed, can fail to be grateful for, interposing, and pleading, as with an angel's tongue and an angel's countenance, for his rescue and your preservation. The blow is averted—Smith lives. Then be grateful, and in return for such mercy, manifested under a form so captivating, cultivate friendly relations with her race. Enlighten them, for they are ignorant—bless them, for they need blessings—if not for humanity's sake, for her sake. In a word—‘As ye would that they should do to you, do ye even so to them.’"
What a claim upon the gratitude of the colonists did this one act of the youthful, humane, and beautiful Pocahontas establish! And with what angel-like eloquence did it plead, for the exercise of all that was benevolent, and kind, and generous towards her race? But, as if to double the obligation, and insure its fulfilment, the same angel of mercy was destined to become, a second time, the deliverer of the colonists. It was not now an issue between the life of Captain Smith, and through its loss, the lives of the colonists—but one that was designed, and at a single blow, to exterminate them all!
Occurrences arose in 1609, and subsequent to the
64rescue of Captain Smith, which greatly embittered the feelings of Powhattan towards the settlers. He resolved on their destruction. Pocahontas having ascertained her father's purpose, and moved by that spirit of tenderness and of pity, with which she had been endowed, under cover of a dismal night of rain and tempest, hastened to Jamestown alone, and revealed the plot. All the requital she asked, was, that it should not be made known that she had given the information, there being little doubt but the enraged Powhattan would have visited upon her (much as he loved her) the vengeance which he had planned to wreak on the colony. Being thus forewarned, the lives of the colonists were saved.
If the first interposition had failed to secure for Pocahontas the most grateful returns, here was one that saved not the life of a single individual, only, but the lives of the entire colony. If returns were made, either of grateful services to herself (excepting only Smith's letter to Queen Anne, giving a detailed account of her services and her virtues,) or her race, history has not made us acquainted with them. Her marriage with Mr. Rolf operated favorably upon the relations that had now began to grow up between the settlers and the natives. She went with her husband to England, after having embraced the Christian religion, and being baptized into the name of Rebecca. On the eve of her return to this country, and in the twenty-second year of her age, she died at Gravesend, leaving one son, whose "descendants," as we have all heard a thousand times, "have ever since ranked among the most distinguished citizens of Virginia—of these, the late John Randolph, of Roanoke, was one."
I was present in the hall of the House of Representatives at Washington, during an exciting debate; on the one side of which, was Mr. Randolph, and on the other, Mr. Jackson, of Virginia. Mr. Randolph had spoken, when Mr. Jackson rose in reply. He had not proceeded
65far, when, having occasion to refer to some part of Mr. Randolph's speech, he addressed him as—"My friend from Virginia." He had scarcely given utterance to the word "friend," when Mr. Randolph sprang to his feet, and throwing his lustrous eyes first on Mr. Jackson, and then on the speaker, keeping his arm extended, meantime, and his long, bony finger, pointing at Mr. Jackson, said, in that peculiar voice of his—
"Mr. Speaker!—I am not that gentleman's FRIEND, sir. I have never been his friend, sir; nor do I ever mean to be his friend, sir!"—when he took his seat.
Mr. Jackson, meantime, keeping his position on the floor, looking first upon Mr. Randolph, and then at the speaker, replied—
"Mr. Speaker, I am at a loss to know by what title to address the honorable member from Virginia"—then pausing awhile, with his finger beside his nose, he said—"I have it, sir—I have it—it shall be"—looking Mr. Randolph full in the face—"THE RIGHT HONORABLE DESCENDANT OF HER MAJESTY, QUEEN POCAHONTAS!"
The entire countenance of Mr. Randolph changed instantly; and, from a look of mingled aversion and contempt, to a smile the most complaisant and gracious. The storm-cloud was dissipated, and the rainbow seemed to reflect all its hues upon his countenance, in one glow of heartfelt reconciliation—when he bowed most courteously, giving evidence that of all the honors he had ever coveted, that of having descended from that heaven-inspired woman, was the one he most highly prized. And who would not be proud of such a descent?
I cannot refuse to my feelings their promptings, to add the following lines, by MISS F. M. CAULKINS, of New London, Connecticut, based upon the following:—
"Pocahontas, having renounced the religion of her ancestors, was baptized in the small, rude church, at Jamestown, by the name of REBECCA. In Captain Smith's
66account of her, she is called ‘the first Christian ever of that nation—the first Virginian that ever spoke English.’ Again he says—‘In London, divers courtiers, and others of my acquaintances, have gone with me to see her, that generally concluded God had a great hand in her conversion.’"
Screen'd the brave captive from the axe's gleam;
Not POCAHONTAS, lov'd, renown'd, caress'd,
But meek REBECCA, is my gentle theme.
Of tawny lineage—but of aspect bright—
A sunny gleam that, through the woodlands wild,
Ran freely on, in her own path of light;
A song-bird warbling in the lonely shade;
A mountain stream, in whose meand'ring flow,
The depth of Heaven, its own pure blue survey'd.
Her joy, her theme of glory and of song;
Her wild, red rose, that in the Stuart's bower
Shed grace—not took it—from the courtly throng.
Freed from earth-worship, cleans'd from rites obscene;
Who, from unnumber'd gods, to Zion's King
Escaping, waves her palm of deathless green.
And to resplendence fades her olive dye;
She prays—the howling demons of her race,
Bewilder'd, from the dazzling vision fly.
Encircled by the hush'd and rev'rent air;
Her upward glance was a sweet hymn to God—
Her downward look, a soul-suffusing prayer.
She gathered in her heart, and, bending low,
Bound her green leaf upon the living vine,
And felt its fragrant shadow round her flow.
A Christian matron stands—from whose sweet tongue
Flows the pure stream of English, undefil'd—
Flows the deep anthem, and eternal song.
Unknown the spot, yet holy is the ground;
The Saviour's breath there left its rich perfume,
And angels keep their guardian watch around.
Still shall our Zodiac show the Virgin sign—
But, as REBECCA, when yon stars shall wane,
Yon Heavens roll by, she, AS A STAR, SHALL SHINE."
Part II. — The Mistakes of Our Forefathers in Regard to the Indians, and the Lesson We Should Learn From Them.
Rapid settlement of the country — The Plymouth colony — Providentially preserved from destruction — Story of Samoset and Squanto — Interview and treaty with Massasoit — Increase of the white men, and jealousy of the Indians — Two centuries of desolating war — To Pocahontas and Massasoit, the white man indebted for his ascendancy — Points of resemblance and contrast between the two races — Colonists ignorant of the Indian character and habits — Their mistakes in the treatment of them — Father Robinson — The wisdom of William Penn — Bartram the botanist — Instances of cruelty and treachery towards the Indians — Difficulty to judge of the position of our forefathers — We may profit by their mistakes — The present condition of the remnant of Indians — Their wretchedness chargeable to us — Noble exceptions — Elliott — Mayhew — Brainerd — Kirkland, &c.
THE sea-coast was now becoming dotted with settlements; and wherever the emigrants landed, the natives were either present, or soon after showed themselves.
"In 1610, we find the Dutch as far up the Hudson as Albany; 1620, the pilgrims were at Plymouth; in 1623, Pisquataqua, now Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was settled; in 1628, a colony was established on Massachusetts bay; in 1630, Boston began to be peopled; in 1634, Maryland; in 1635, Connecticut; in 1636, Providence; in the same year the Swedes occupied various points on the Delaware; in 1638, Rhode Island and New Haven were settled"—and so on. "In 1610, Captain Smith explored the coast from Penobscot to Cape Cod. On his return to
69England, he submitted a map of his explorations to Prince Charles, who named the country New England."
It does not fall within the limits which I have set to this discourse, to follow out the details of these various settlements, or to recount the collisions which took place between the settlers and the natives. This would comprise the entire history of those times. It will not be irrelevant, however, to notice an important event which has made memorable the year 1620. I refer to the settlement of Plymouth by the Puritans. As the colony at Jamestown was the first that had, thirteen years before, obtained a permanent footing in Virginia, so was the Plymouth colony the first to establish itself, permanently, in New England.
The similitude does not stop here. The colony at Plymouth owed its preservation, under Providence, like that of Jamestown, to the friendly agency of the natives. True, the forms were not so attractive, nor were the appeals to the common admiration, and the common sympathy, so touching; but there was enough of external grace even here, to challenge admiration, awaken in each heart feelings of the most grateful sort, and create obligations, as lasting as the rock on which the pilgrim fathers first set their feet, to labor for the Indian's reformation, and advance him into the high enjoyments of the civilized and Christian state. I know that over and amidst the too general neglect to do this, a beautiful light was occasionally seen; and this arose out of the labors of Elliott and his associates, for the reformation of the natives. These primitive efforts in a cause so holy, can never be forgotten; nor will the names and memories of those who made them, ever cease to be cherished.
I have said there were circumstances attendant upon the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth, which, like those of Jamestown, were calculated to awaken the most grateful feelings towards the natives, and produce the most
70strenuous efforts for their well-being. I will briefly review those circumstances, as history has recorded them.
The destination of the May-Flower, as you all know, was not to any part of the coast of New England. History more than intimates that the captain was influenced by a bribe to shape his course to a more northerly point, that the emigrants might not, if landed on the Hudson, interfere with the interests of the Dutch in their already opened trade with the natives there. Finding themselves, in the month of November, so far north of their destination, and not being willing, at that inclement season, to encounter the dangers of the coast, the company concluded to land where they were, and fix upon a spot for their permanent home.
They did so. He who feedeth the ravens when they cry, and who fed, by their agency, the prophet in the wilderness, was present to protect and feed the pilgrims. Corn was literally provided for them. Soon after landing, baskets filled with this almost indispensable article of food, were found covered up in the sand, which served, not only for partial sustenance then, but for seed in the ensuing spring. But this was not all. They had not been long on shore before a solitary Indian came to their village, and as he entered, uttered a salutation in the words "Welcome, Englishmen." It was the famous Sagamore SAMOSET, who, having previously fallen in with fishermen along the coast, had been taught to speak some English.
Of Samoset, the pilgrims learned that about five years before, the Great Spirit had sent the plague among the natives at that time settled there, which killed them all—not a man, woman or child, who had inhabited thereabouts, being left. Here, then, was an unoccupied and unclaimed territory, which the pilgrims invaded no rights in taking possession of. Who can doubt that Providence guided them to that spot? or that if a landing had been made upon any other part of the coast, they would have met with resistance
71from the natives, and been, in all probability, exterminated? The pilgrims were kind to Samoset—and by being so, secured his confidence. He made them, as we read in history, a second visit; and coming a third time, brought with him SQUANTO. Squanto had been captured by a man named HUNT, and sold into slavery, and carried to Spain. From Spain he was taken to London, and from London he returned to his native wilds, and to that very spot, bringing with him that indispensable instrument in all intercourse where two parties speak different languages—a tongue skilled in both. What a merciful provision was this! An easy channel of communication was thus opened, by which a direct intercourse could be held by the pilgrims with the natives. There is little doubt that Samoset, immediately after his first interview, sent runners to inform the great sachem, Massasoit, of the arrival of the English; for shortly after his third visit, he informed them that this great chief was not far off, attended by a guard of sixty men. We can well imagine the effects which this annunciation produced on the pilgrims! What fate awaited them, in the near neighborhood of such a band of savages, they could not know. No doubt they imagined the worst.
Squanto, with his interpreter's tongue in his mouth, "was sent to hold a parley with Massasoit, who came back, saying the sachem desired the English to send a messenger to talk with him. The lot fell upon Mr. Edward Winslow, who went charged with presents for Massasoit." The sachem, distrusting the objects of the English, and no doubt suspecting their designs, caused Winslow to be retained as a hostage, and went in person to the English, who received him with every demonstration of honesty of purpose, and of hospitality. "The result of this interview was a treaty, which bound the parties in a league of friendship, of commerce, and of mutual protection. The treaty was made in March, 1621, and was kept inviolate for over
72fifty years, and until it was broken in upon by Philip's war."
How strongly marked are the events of that period by the finger of Providence! The diversion of the May-Flower from the point of her destination—the landing upon the only vacated land upon all the coast—the coming into the village of Samoset, and the presence of an interpreter in the person of Squanto—the subduing effects of the recent plague upon the surrounding bands—the finding of the hidden corn—the broken-down power of the Massachusetts tribe, not by the plague, only, but by internal wars—and last, not least, the new relations of the pilgrims being opened under the auspices of the good and powerfully influential Massasoit, "the boundaries of whose dominions embraced Cape Cod, and all that part of Massachusetts and Rhode Island between Narragansett and Massachusetts bays, extending inland between Pawtucket and Charles rivers, taking in, also, all the contiguous islands," all filled with numerous and warlike tribes, but all acknowledging the sway of Massasoit, and being subject to his rule.
The pilgrims might have found, as they did, an evacuated territory, and the corn; both Samoset and Squanto might have been there, and been friendly; but if Massasoit had not been present, full as he was of all the dispositions of peace and friendship, and exercising, as he did, unlimited power over the bands within his territory, and any other sachem known to us had been in his place, it is very clear, to my mind, that the pilgrims would have been either driven away or exterminated.
The new power that was destined to work so mighty a change in the condition and destiny of the natives, was now firmly established. The oegis of Massasoit was thrown over the settlement at Plymouth as had been the mantle of Pocahontas over that at Jamestown.
And now commenced, on every hand, the invasion of the Indians' domain. In emigration, and the increase of
73population, they saw a mysterious something that awakened their jealousy and alarmed their fears, whilst every expansion of the new power was felt to press more and more heavily upon them. It required time, however, for the full development of the plans and purposes of the white man; but these becoming manifest, at last, aroused a spirit in the Indian, watchful, jealous, vindictive. His early apprehensions for the safety, and even existence of his race, being now confirmed, and no longer able to endure the pressure that he was made to feel, and borne down by the wrongs that were heaped upon him, he attempted, by resistance and retaliation, to relieve himself of the one, and avenge himself of the other; when wars broke out, which continued, with slight intermissions, between the two races, for the space of two hundred and fourteen years—for we may date their beginning in 1600—and they continued till 1814, when the Indian power fell, its combinations being broken up, and everywhere they were seen to be, and felt themselves to be, a conquered race! The Black Hawk and Seminole wars, which have occurred since, may be regarded as sporadic cases, only.
From the two points, Jamestown and Plymouth, went forth the elements which, in the order of time, brought about this subjection of the Indian race. And now trace those elements back to their source, and in what, I ask, did they originate? In the HUMANITY, I answer, and the GENEROSITY of POCAHONTAS and of MASSASOIT. The springs whose waters were sweetened by their agency, and to which they imparted the life-sustaining quality, for the preservation of the emigrants, were, by those emigrants, converted into poison, which, when tasted by the natives, produced in them disease, decay, and death! They were felt in all their perishing tendencies, over all the territories, from the Penobscot to Florida—from the Atlantic to the Alleghanies—and from the lakes to the Mississippi, carrying
74with them, also, the excitements out of which WARS were so universally generated.
The Puritans of Plymouth, it is conceded, "came to find, in the new world, that liberty which had been denied them in the old;" but they brought along with them, nevertheless, plans and purposes, in common with the rest, connecting them with earthly objects, and with earthly pursuits, and with hopes, of a terrestrial sort, for themselves and their posterity; and these embraced, not the ordinary affairs of life with one another, only, but trade and commerce, also, with the natives. If these interchanges had been confined to themselves, and upon a soil, and in waters owned by them in common, or by one portion of them, only, it is reasonable to suppose that when collisions should happen, the elements of a common origin, a general equality in the intellectual and moral powers, the same language, the possession of the same weapons, with a knowledge of their use, and above all, the pervading and controlling agency of gospel influences, would have kept the balance, if not even, or altogether steady, yet from an entire preponderance either to the one side or the other.
This did not happen to be the case; They had come into a country that was owned and occupied by another race, between whom and themselves there was nothing congenial, either in language, or thought, or modes of living. There were no points of resemblance, save only in the physical structure of each, and in the elements of the intellectual and moral powers; but these elements in the Indian had never been operated upon by the hand of culture; nor had he been taught those lessons, apart from the influences of which, man is cruel, revengeful, and ungovernable. And not less unlike were their instruments of offence and defence. Those used by the natives, were comparatively feeble, consisting of the bow and arrow, the club, and the lance; and these were destined, in the sequel, to
75oppose the cannon, the musket, the bayonet, and the sword; whilst axes of stone, and knives of shells, were to be pitted against those made of iron and steel. And there were no meliorating gospel influences, and no conscience, enlightened by the oracles of God, to restrain the wild outbreaks of revenge, on the part of the Indian. When, therefore, for injuries real or supposed, the untaught savage became excited, and impelled to the overt act, there were no bounds within which to limit his fierceness, or restrain the ardor of the onset, but those which were set by resistance, and an adequate and subduing force; and this, in most cases, implied the destruction of one or both of the parties; and the Indian being the weaker of the two, not in arms, only, but in skill, it was a necessary consequence that he should finally fall; and such has been the issue of this contest, though carried on for over two hundred years.
If the colonists could have looked forward through the long and bloody vista, as we now look back upon it, they would have been led, doubtless, to avoid many, if not all of the errors into which they fell, in their treatment of the Indians, as also into the adoption of better contrived, and more strenuous, as well as more general efforts, than were made for their enlightening reformation. There certainly was manifested, on the part of the first settlers, great ignorance of the Indian character. It was not comprehended how a race so deficient in the material for war, could be so formidable. They appear not to have known that the men with whom they had resolved to contend, were "naturally proud, cautious, cunning, cruel, obstinate, vindictive, and little capable of reflection or combination." I say naturally so. Nor, that if they knew not "how to set a squadron in the field," they could, in a mode of their own, often-times overmatch those who did; that there were retreats and fastnesses, which, when once gained, furnished a security against the guns of their pursuers; that there were roots and berries upon which these
76untutored Indians could subsist, and that their powers of endurance were far greater than those which had fallen to the lot of their more luxurious antagonists.
Nor did the settlers seem to know that their very presence, under the circumstances, was enough to set all the machinery of this peculiar and indomitable character in motion, and keep it so. The Indian eyed the white man with distrust and jealousy—but when to this was superadded the wrongs which history has recorded as having been inflicted on his race, it ceases to be matter of surprise that the two powers should, in their manifestations, have produced just such results as have actually happened. I do not charge upon the early settlers of this country any premeditated design upon the lives of the aborigines. It formed no part of their plan, in coming here, to exterminate them. That they greatly erred in their treatment of the Indians, and themselves caused the outbreaks that succeeded one another with such fearful rapidity, involving so much suffering, and so many lives on both sides, is a truth that history has placed beyond all cavil. If there be a single conflict that did not originate with the white man, either proximately or remotely, I have yet to learn where and when it took place. Father Robinson, of the church of Plymouth, has recorded a pointed rebuke touching this matter. "I have my doubts," says this estimable divine, "whether there was not wanting—in the early settlers—that tenderness of the life of man, made after God's own image, which was so necessary; and above all, that it would have been happy if they—the colonists—had converted some of the natives before they killed any."
The law resorted to in the beginning, and the law which has, as a general and overruling power, continued to operate to the present time, in our intercourse with the natives, is the law of force. Here was, and here is yet, the great mistake; and to this single error, may be traced all that has been distressing to ourselves, and perishing to the
77Indians; or if not all, yet the greater portion of both. It was, and yet is, the thunder-bolt that rends the sky, shivers the trees of the forest, and demolishes the labors of man in his dwellings, his temples, and his monuments, and then buries itself in the earth, and is lost—leaving upon all minds within the range of its bewildering descent, alarm, and terror, and dismay; and not the gentle, but all-pervading, and all-combining principle of gravitation, which operates alike upon the masses of the universe, the cygnet's down, and the snow-flake, gently and imperceptibly producing COHESION, UNION, and HARMONY.
The law which should have obtained, and the operations of which ought never for a moment to have been relaxed, is the LAW OF KINDNESS. Of its power over the Indians, we have recorded many examples; not over individuals, only, but entire communities. To name these, would be tedious. It may suffice to make a reference or two.
A beautiful illustration of the power of this law may be seen in the history of the intercourse of WILLIAM PENN with the natives; and around the brow of his memory, because he loved this law, and practiced it, and extended it with such gentle hand over the natives of his own Pennsylvania, and ministered to them with such mercy and justice, has posterity twined a wreath, that shall be as undying as his name! BARTRAM, the celebrated botanist, was in the habit of traversing on foot whole states, in quest of new varieties of plants and flowers. At this time, the Indians on and along the borders were numerous and warlike, and refractory; and yet has Bartram passed through their bands from the lakes to Florida, unprotected and alone, and without arms of any sort; and never, in all of his rambles, did he receive anything at the hands of the natives but kindness. It was because he confided in, and was kind to them.
I received, some years ago, from a distinguished personage in Virginia, a letter, enclosing a copy of an ode which
78had been written on a blank leaf of a book that had once formed a part of Doctor Franklin's library, in commemoration of those peaceful relations between the estimable Bartram and the Indians.
It is in imitation of Horace's ode, "Integer vitoe," and was applied to J. Bartram, ancestor of the present family, the inheritors of Bartram's gardens, near Philadelphia, on his botanical excursion to the lakes, in 1751. It appears, as already stated, on a page of the pamphlet giving an account of the excursion, and presented to Benjamin Franklin.
Needs not, O BARTRAM! arm himself with weapon
Useless to him—the sword, the venom'd shaft, or
O'er pathless mountains, nature's works exploring;
Or through vast plains where rolls his mighty waters—
Or, yet more fierce and wild, the savage Indian,
Meet thee—God-praising, and his works admiring,
Instant they'd fly thee.
Now to unwholesome fogs, tho' thou'rt expos'd,
Thy guardian angel, INNOCENCE, shall keep thee
Safe from all danger."
Mistaking the character of the natives, and alarmed for their own safety, the settlers, on the first intimation of danger, flew to arms, looking upon them as their only resort; and blood being once shed, however ready the Christian party may have been to enter into a covenant of peace, there could be expected no such forgetfulness and forgiveness on the part of those who had been taught no other law than that which demanded "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."
The records of the wars between the early settlers of Virginia and New England, and in after times in other
79parts of the country, and the natives, exhibit cruelties on both sides that, even at this distant period, make one shudder. The Indian, it is admitted, is, in his unrenewed state, cruel; his modes of dealing out death are terrific and revolting. But he knows no better. Was it, I ask, calculated to reform his practice in this particular, for those against whom he was warring to practice, themselves, the same enormities? When the Indian would tear the scalp from the crown of the scarcely yet dead victim, and mutilate the body, could he be expected to reform these cruelties, when he saw the white man, in his turn, cut off the heads of his people, and mutilate and quarter their bodies, as was done with King Philip's, whose head, after being cut off, was sent to Plymouth, and hung up there on a gibbet, where it remained twenty years; whilst one of his hands was sent to Boston, as a trophy, his body being quartered and hung upon four trees?
So early as 1623, the settlers began to murder the Indians by both stratagem and force—by stabbing and hanging some, cutting off the heads of others, and hanging them up in their forts. And it sometimes occurred that "Indians calling in a friendly manner, were seized and put in irons;" whilst rewards, at other times, were offered for their scalps! Under such revolting forms was the law of force resorted to, to reduce, and humble, and subdue the Indians! But whilst it must be condemned, not only on account of its cruelties, but on account, also, of its inadaptation to the objects intended to be accomplished by it, great forbearance is called for, in any judgment which may be awarded by us upon those long by-gone practices.
We live under different circumstances. Our fears and our passions are at rest. We live, too, in a brighter light, and can look back upon those thrilling and heart-rending scenes, with the ability to separate and classify them, and judge better of the merit of the controversy; as also of the better way to have managed it. It would, doubtless, not have been different with us, had we lived in those days
80of peril and of dread; and the same errors, (for I apply to them no harsher name,) might, and doubtless would, have been committed by us. It is too common a thing for us, even of the present day, when there is so much light, and so much knowledge, to condemn men whom we see come out of scenes of trying sort, to their injury, and console ourselves with the reflection, that if we had been thus circumstanced, our course would have been different. This mode of arriving at such conclusions, is no less deceptive than unjust.
My object, in the reference made to the nature of the intercourse had with the aborigines, by our fathers, is not to censure, but profit by it. And it is with this view, in connexion with another, that I have glanced at it; and that other view is, to rescue, if I can, the Indian from the judgment which some, even of the present day, are too apt to pronounce upon his race. In this, I do no more than assume that he is human; that physically, intellectually, and morally, he is, in all respects, like ourselves; and that there is no difference between us, save only in the color, and in our superior advantages.
Are all these lessons, and all this historic teaching, to be lost upon us? Are there no obligations growing out of our relations with this race, strong enough to induce us to do them justice? Or, are they, to whose country we have succeeded, extinct? Not quite. Over three hundred thousand yet remain. And what is their condition? One, I answer, of positive wretchedness—wretchedness under every variety of form—physical, intellectual, and moral. Are there no exceptions? Happily, there are; and enough to prove the truth of what I have asserted, that, with like culture, the Indian is OUR EQUAL. The great mass, however, is but one exhibition of human degradation and human misery. We of the Atlantic States know but little of all this; and when the wailing does come, as it sometimes does, from their cheerless and desolate homes, made so by the nature of our intercourse with the
81sufferers, it is too apt to die upon our ears, or to pass us by "like the idle wind, which we regard not." Or, perhaps, the conclusion has been adopted that the Indians are not capable of receiving and profiting by the lessons of civilization; or, from some peculiarity of their nature, if they are taught those lessons, they relapse, instinctively, and by a law of their nature, into the savage state. It is certainly true that in the earlier and later times, Elliott, and Mayhew, and Brainerd, and Kirkland, and others, since their day, did strive with a zeal almost apostolic to rescue the tribes they labored among, from the savage, and introduce them into the civilized and Christian state; and Elizabeth Isles, and Nantucket, and other portions of New England, will forever remain as monuments of their generous and pious labors.
None will doubt the partial success of these efforts. The wonder, however, is, not that there were so few converts, but that there were so many. The systems adopted for the production of this reformation, were not less contracted than defective; or, if these had been more enlarged and more perfect, still the great excitement of those times, the wars that prevailed, and the consequent bad blood that was produced in the Indian, to disaffect him to the white man, and make him despise his offerings, all tended to thwart those pious purposes. There was enough, however, accomplished, to lift the Indian out of the slough of degradation to which some would consign him, by the judgment that he is, by nature, disqualified from receiving instruction, and profiting by it. There never has been, from the beginning, a system established, either by individuals associated for missionary objects, or by the government, either under our colonial or independent relations, adequate in its extent, and of corresponding means, or having in it the indispensable regenerating principles, to reform and civilize the Indians, as a race.
Part III. — Illustrations of the Noble Sentiments, High Moral Qualities, and Intellectual Capacity of the Indian.
Difficulties in the way of improvement not insurmountable — Skenandoah — His conversion and death — Kusick — His love for La Fayette — His pension — His scrupulous honesty and piety — David and Catharine Brown, and the Cherokee nation — Other proofs of the capacity of the race — Their eloquence, bravery, benevolence — Logan, Pushmataha, Red-Jacket, Sequayah, Philip, Pontiac, Tecumthe — Departure of the Wyandots for the West — Their respect for the memory of Harrison — Speech of Colonel Cobb, the Choctaw chief — Attakullaka — Osceola — Mr. Jefferson's opinion of the Indian character — Colonel Boyd rescued from death by Siloue — Petalesharro and the Itean captive — The singleness of his motive — His personal appearance at Washington — Receives a medal — His reply to the donors — Letalashahou — Rescue of the Spanish captive.
THE resistance on the part of the Indian to a change of his pursuits, his habits, and his faith, is formidable, and naturally so, and calls for a corresponding power and skill in its management, to overcome it. This resistance is the joint effect of causes, all operating to produce such a result. There is his instinctive and early cherished love of freedom from restraint; his attachment to his mode of life, in which this freedom is indulged in its widest range; his love of the hunter's state; his aversion to toil; his passion for war; his jealousy and dislike of the white man; his doubts in the sincerity, (when these happen to be made,) of his offers of kindness; his attachment to the traditions and religion of his fathers; the influence which dreams and omens have over him; and then there are his views of the future world, and in the objects that are destined to gratify him there, and minister to his eternal happiness—
83the whole of these forming one mass of materials, not one of which bears the slightest resemblance to the attachments of the civilized to their condition, or to the faith and hope of the Christian.
If we can comprehend the power that it would require to unhinge all that we cling to, and introduce in its stead an entirely new system of both faith and practice, overturning all that is lovely in our eyes, in our social, political, and moral relations, we may form some tolerable notion of what that system should be, and of the extent of the means to keep it in operation, and of the sort of agencies that would be required to superintend the whole, to produce a reformation in the Indians, lead them to cast aside their habits, remodel their modes of thinking, abandon their faith, and their hopes in the future, and adopt in their places everything new, everything strange, and everything mysterious!
The partial efforts that have, from time to time, been made for the reformation of the Indian, have always resulted, notwithstanding, in a corresponding success; and if time permitted, it were easy to enumerate cases of Indian conversion, followed by lives that bore testimony to the genuineness of the change. I will trespass on your time long enough to furnish a few examples, the first that occur to me.
Who has not heard of the famous Oneida chief, Skenandoah? He whose pathway, for sixty years, had been marked with blood; whose war-whoop had resounded through many a terrified settlement, and until the regions of the Mohawk rang with it; and who was, in all respects, the cruel, the indomitable savage. One would suppose that habits, stiffened by so long a period of indulgence, could not be easily, if at all, softened and remoulded; that the spirit of the warrior having been so long indulged in the practices so congenial to the feelings of the savage, could not be subdued, and made to conform to all that is gentle, and
84peaceful, and pious. But all this was effected in the person of this chief. He was awakened under the preaching of the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, and became a convert to the faith of the Christian. The tomahawk, the war-club, and the scalping-knife, fell from his grasp; the desolations which he had produced, he mourned over; he saw, in his mythology, nothing but chimeras; he was penitent—and was forgiven. Nor did he ever abandon the faith he had adopted, but continued a peaceful, faithful, and devoted Christian, until his death, which occurred when he was over a hundred years old.
Awhile previous to his death, a friend calling to see him, and inquiring after his health, received this answer, (which most of you, doubtless, have heard)—"I am an aged hemlock. The winds of a hundred winters have whistled through my branches. I am dead at the top—(referring to his blindness.) Why I yet live, the great, good Spirit only knows. When I am dead, bury me by the side of my minister and friend—(meaning Mr. Kirkland)—that I may go up with him at the great resurrection!" He was accordingly so buried, and I have seen his tomb.
Another case was that of Kusick, chief of the Tuscaroras. He was also an Indian, and had served under La Fayette, in the army of the Revolution. It was usual for him, in company with a few of his leading men, to visit, once in every two or three years, the State of North Carolina, whence his tribe originally came, to see after some claims they had upon that State. In passing through Washington, the old chief would call at my office, for the purpose of submitting his papers, and of counselling with me. On one of these occasions, he made a call before breakfast, at my residence, accompanied by his companions. A neighbor had stepped in to see me, on his way to his office, and our conversation turned on Lady Morgan's France, which had been just then published, and was lying on my table. We spoke of La Fayette. The moment his
85name was mentioned, Kusick turned quick upon me his fine black eyes, and asked with great earnestness—
"Is he yet alive? The same La Fayette that was in the Revolutionary war?"
Yes, Kusick, I answered, he is alive; and he is the same La Fayette who was in that war. That book speaks of him as being not only alive, but looking well and hearty.
He said, with deep emphasis, "I'm glad to hear it."
Then you knew La Fayette, Kusick?
"Oh, yes," he answered, "I knew him well; and many a time in the battle, I threw myself between him and the bullets—for I loved him."
Were you in commission?
"Oh, yes," he replied, "I was a lieutenant; General Washington gave me a commission."
My friend, (who was the late venerable Joseph Nourse, at that time Register of the Treasury,) and myself, agreed to examine the records, and see if the old chief was not entitled to a pension. We (or rather he) did so. All was found to be as Kusick had reported it; when he was put on the pension list.
Some years after, in 1827, when passing through the Tuscarora reserve, on my way to the wilderness, I stopped opposite his log cabin, and walked up to see the old chief. I found him engaged drying fish. After the usual greeting, I asked if he continued to receive his pension.
"No," said the old chief, "no; Congress passed a law making it necessary for me to swear I cannot live without it. Now here is my little log cabin, and it's my own; here's my patch, where I can raise corn, and beans, and pumpkins; and there's Lake Oneida, where I can catch fish. With these I can make out to live without the pension; and to say I could not, would be to lie to the Great Spirit!"
Here was principle, and deep piety; and a lesson for many whose advantages had far exceeded those of this
86poor Indian. In connexion with this, I will add another anecdote, in proof of his veneration for the Deity. He breakfasted with me on the morning to which I have referred; and knowing him to be a teacher of the Christian religion among his people, and an interpreter for those who occasionally preached to them, I requested him to ask a blessing. He did so, and in a manner so impressive, as to make me feel that he was deeply imbued with the proper spirit. He employed, in the ceremony, his native Tuscarora. I asked him why, as he spoke very good English, he had asked the blessing in his native tongue? He said, "When I speak English, I am often at a loss for a word. When, therefore, I speak to the Great Spirit, I do not like to be perplexed, or have my mind distracted, to look after a word. When I use my own language, it is like my breath; I am composed." Kusick died an honest man and a Christian; and though an Indian, has doubtless entered into his rest.
I might multiply instances of this kind, beginning with the earliest times when Elliott commenced his labors among the Indians of New England, down to our times—including in the long catalogue those beautiful specimens of pure and undefiled religion, as seen in the lives and deaths of David and Catharine Brown, of the Cherokee nation. But we have a large portion of that whole nation to appeal to. The Cherokees, buffeted as they have been, and yet are, present, even in their new wilderness abode, and distracted as they are, the most cheering examples of a most thorough progressive reform; and whilst much remains to be done, there is a controlling mass which promises, at no distant day, to regulate and reform the whole, provided one indispensable element be superadded—what that element is, I will make known at the conclusion of this discourse. This withheld, and the fate of the Indian race is sealed.
The same state of progressive improvement is seen,
87also, among the Choctaws, and Chickasaws, and Creeks; indeed, the entire population at this time within what is called "the Indian territory," partakes more or less of that spirit of improvement which had begun to operate among the Cherokees and others, on this side of the Mississippi. "A general council," adopting the language of a recent writer, "recently held among them in their new abode, with representatives from seventeen tribes, may be said to have laid the foundation of a Federal Union. For such a step, the leading tribes are already well prepared. The Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks, are already organized states—having settled constitutions, written laws, representative legislatures, and regular courts of justice; little inferior, either in theory or practice, to those of the white man." These are the fruits from the seed sown, (within the last thirty years,) on this side the Mississippi, by the combined labors of the government and the missionaries—to which I shall refer more at large in the sequel—the taste of which is now beginning to be so grateful to them in their new homes. Homes! did I say? They have no homes—and to this, their cheerless and destitute condition, I shall hope to have your attention and sympathy, when I come to that part of my subject. What if the Choctaws have decided to build a college in some central part of the nation, where the education of their youth is to be completed, and towards the building of which they have subscribed twenty thousand dollars? What if they have, over their whole country, which is divided into four districts, courts of law, judges, inferior and superior, with all the appropriate officers? What if their religious and temperance societies are numerous—and what if a spirit of reform in these branches is active? I ask what of all this, if this intellectually budding, and spring-time-like prospect is at any moment liable to be blighted, and themselves to be driven farther west, or into a conflict more terrible in its consequences, to both them
88and us, than any that has preceded it? But I am anticipating what I have reserved for another place.
But suppose we had none of these examples to refer to, of high attainments in civilization, and in the Christian faith; and that not an Indian had adopted or practised lessons derived from either, but could furnish examples of eloquence, bravery, benevolence, and generosity; specimens of a high intellectual bearing, and love of kind and country; ought not a people thus endowed by nature, to be esteemed worthy of the Christian teaching and labors, and of the government's protection, as well as of the cooperating agency of every good man?
Logan might be cited for his eloquence; and Pushmataha, and Red-Jacket, and many others; but let a single quotation from the dying address of the Choctaw warrior-chief, Pushmataha, suffice for the whole. He died in Washington, and of the croup. His remains repose by the sides of the illustrious of our race, with a monument over them. His associates being around his death-bed, he said—"I shall die, but you will return to our brethren. As you go along the paths, you will see the flowers, and hear the birds sing; but Pushmataha will see them and hear them no more. When you shall come to your homes, they will ask you, where is Pushmataha? And you will say to them, he is no more! They will hear the tidings like the fall of a mighty oak, in the stillness of the wood!"
For benevolence and generosity, Pocahontas and Massasoit, and a host besides, may be pointed to, as challenging comparisons with the most renowned in these virtues; for intellectual vigor, Sequayah, a Cherokee, who gave to his people the alphabet of their language, and who ranks with Cadmus; and for bravery, and devotion to their country and kind, Philip, and Pontiac, and Tecumthe, may be regarded as settling the controversy touching endowments in these departments of the Indian character. By whom were combinations for war purposes better arranged; and where, considering the means at the disposal of all three of these men of renown, were results more demonstrative of mind, and of its powers? Aye—and mark the spirit, which under certain circumstances animates these outcasts, and then tell me, if they are not susceptible of the loftiest, noblest, and most generous impulses of our nature?
When the last of the Wyandot race were, in July, (1843,) bidding a final farewell to their Ohio home, where their council-fire had burned for ages, to cross that water which was to form an eternal barrier to their return, as it will prove to all the red men that have passed over it, or that may hereafter pass over it, they approached, in descending the Ohio, the spot where repose the remains of HARRISON. Many of their braves had fought under the general in the last war, and several had distinguished themselves at the battle of Fort Meigs. For the memory of the "white chief," as they called him, they cherished the greatest devotion. They were in number, six hundred and thirty men, women and children. On nearing North Bend, the principal chief requested Captain Claghorn to have the "big gun" loaded. It was done. Meantime, the chiefs and braves silently gathered upon the hurricane roof, and formed in line, fronting the resting-place of their departed chief. "The engine was stopped, and the boat was suffered to drift with the current. As they passed the tomb, they all uncovered, and gently waved their hats, in silence; and after the boat had passed, and the report of the cannon had died away, the chief stepped forward, and in an impressive manner exclaimed, "FAREWELL, OHIO, AND HER BRAVE!"
"A letter published in the Christian Advocate, from Rev. James Wheeler, dated September 30, represents these poor wanderers in rather a sad condition. They were encamped on the Kansas river, about two miles above its junction with the Missouri. As yet, they had met with
90no tribe with whom they would like to mingle, and found no spot on which they would like to settle.
Mr. Wheeler states that there was a good deal of sickness among them." And yet we are Christians!
Hear the wail of another tribe, and listen to the eloquence of another of these outcasts. It is a speech of Colonel Cobb, the celebrated half-breed chief of the Choctaws, made in reply to J. J. McRae, Esq., the agent for enrolling and emigrating the Indians to the west of the Mississippi, who had made a speech to about one thousand in number, when assembled at Hopahka, informing them that "their council-fires could no more be kindled here;" that "their warriors can have no field for their glory; and that their spirits will decay within them;" and that if they should "take the hand of their great father, the President, which is now offered to them, to lead them to their western homes, their hopes will be higher, their destinies brighter."
"Brother—We have heard your talk as from the lips of our father, the great white chief at Washington, and my people have called upon me to speak to you. The red man has no books, and when he wishes to make known his views, like his father before him, he speaks from his mouth. He is afraid of writing. When he speaks he knows what he says; the Great Spirit hears him. Writing is the invention of the pale-faces; it gives birth to error and to feuds. The Great Spirit talks—we hear him in the thunder—in the rushing winds and the mighty waters—but he never writes.
Brother—When you were young we were strong, we fought by your side; but our arms are now broken. You have grown large: my people have become small.
Brother—My voice is weak; you can scarcely hear me;
it is not the shout of a warrior, but the wail of an infant. I have lost it in wailing over the misfortunes of my people. These are their graves, and in those aged pines you hear the ghosts of the departed. Their ashes are here, and we have been left to protect them. Our warriors are nearly all gone to the far country west; but here are our dead. Shall we go, too, and give their bones to the wolves?
Brother—Two sleeps have passed since we heard you talk. We have thought upon it. You ask us to leave our country, and tell us it is our father's wish. We would not desire to displease our father. We respect him, and you his child. But the Choctaw always thinks. We want time to answer.
Brother—Our hearts are full. Twelve winters ago our chiefs sold our country. Every warrior that you see here was opposed to the treaty. If the dead could have been counted, it could never have been made; but, alas! though they stood around, they could not be seen or heard. Their tears came in the rain-drops, and their voices in the wailing wind, but the pale-faces knew it not, and our land was taken away.
Brother—We do not now complain. The Choctaw suffers, but never weeps. You have the strong arm, and we cannot resist: but the pale-face worships the Great Spirit. So does the red man. The Great Spirit loves truth. When you took our country you promised us land. There is your promise in the book. Twelve times have the trees dropped their leaves, yet we have received no land. Our houses have been taken from us. The white man's plough turns up the bones of our fathers. We dare not kindle our fires; and yet you said we might remain, and you would give us land.
Brother—Is this truth? But we believe now our great father knows our condition, he will listen to us. We are as mourning orphans in our country; but our father will take us by the hand. When he fulfils his promise, we will
answer his talk. He means well. We know it. But we cannot think now. Grief has made children of us. When our business is settled, we shall be men again, and talk to our great father about what he has proposed.
Brother, you stand in the moccasins of a great chief, you speak the words of a mighty nation, and your talk was long. My people are small, their shadow scarcely reaches to your knee; they are scattered and gone; when I shout, I hear my voice in the depth of the woods, but no answering shout comes back. My words, therefore, are few. I have nothing more to say, but to request you to tell what I have said to the tall chief of the pale-faces, whose brother
stands by your side."
It were easy to multiply examples, not perhaps of equal capacity, or of such pathos—and, I may add, sublimity, but all going to demonstrate the truth we are aiming to establish. ATTAKULLAKA, a Cherokee chief of times long gone by, might be referred to, and an hour employed in the presentation and illustration of his virtues; and OSCEOLA, of modern times. The very fact that so weak and destitute a people as the Seminoles are known to be, should be able to resist the power of this nation, and for a period nearly, if not quite as long, as that embraced by the war of the revolution, affords strong evidence in favor of the skill and bravery of that unfortunate tribe.
Of the Indian, Mr. Jefferson says—"He is affectionate to his children; careful of them, and indulgent, in the extreme; that his affections comprehend his other connexions, weakening, as with us, from circle to circle, as they recede from the centre; that his friendships are strong, and faithful to the uttermost extremity. A remarkable instance of this," he proceeds, "appeared in the case of Colonel Boyd, who was sent to the Cherokee nation to transact some business with them. It
93happened that some of our disorderly people had killed one or two of that nation;" (if I am not mistaken, basely prompted thereto by the reward which had been offered for Indian scalps,) "it was, therefore, proposed in the council of the Cherokees, that Colonel Boyd should be put to death, in revenge for the loss of their countrymen. Among them was a chief called SILOUE, who, on some former occasion, had contracted an acquaintance with Colonel Boyd, and a friendship for him. He came to him every night, in his tent, and told him not to be afraid, they should not kill him. After many days deliberation, however, the determination was, contrary to Siloue's expectation, that Boyd should be put to death, and some warriors were despatched as executioners. Siloue attended them, and when they approached the tent, he threw himself between them and Boyd, and said to the warriors: ‘This man is my friend: before you get at him, you must kill me.’ On which they returned, and the council respected the principle so much, as to recede from their determination."
I cannot resist the inclination, though at the hazard of being thought tedious, of presenting to you another instance of humanity, mingled with the highest order of chivalry:
"The Pawnee Loups had long practised the savage rite, known to no other of the American tribes, of sacrificing human victims to the Great Star, or the planet Venus. This dreadful ceremony annually preceded the preparations for planting corn, and was supposed to be necessary to secure a fruitful season. To prevent a failure of the crop, and a consequent famine, some individual was expected to offer up a prisoner, of either sex, who had been captured in war, and some one was always found who coveted the honor of dedicating the spoil of his prowess to the national benefit. The intended victim, carefully kept in ignorance of the fate that impended, was dressed in gay attire, supplied with choicest food, and treated with every
tenderness, with the view of promoting obesity, and preparing an offering the more acceptable to the deities who were to be propitiated. When, by the successful employment of those means, the unconscious victim was sufficiently fatted, a day was appointed for the sacrifice, and the whole nation assembled to witness the solemn scene."
You will now fancy yourselves in view of the great gathering of the Pawnees, and in sight of the multitude assembled in honor of the sacrifice. In your nearer approach you will hear their orgies. In the midst of the great circle a stake is brought, its end is sharpened, when it is driven deep in the ground. Yells and shouts are heard, and these announce that all is ready. In the distance is a company of Pawnees—by the side of the leader is a delicate girl. She is an Itean maid. They approach nearer. He who made her captive steps proudly into the circle. Shouts welcome him. He takes the maid by the hand, and leads her to the fatal spot. Her back is placed against the stake; cords are brought, and she is bound to it. The fagots are now collected, and placed round the victim. A hopeless expression is seen in her eye—perhaps a tear! Her bosom heaves, and her thoughts are of home. A torch is seen, coming from the woods, hard by. At that moment a young brave leaps into the circle— rushes to the stake—severs the cords that bind the victim to it, and springing on a horse, and throwing her upon another, and putting both to the top of their speed, is soon lost in the distance. Silence prevails—then murmurs are heard, and then the loud threats of vengeance, when all retire! The stake and the fagot are all that remain to mark the spot, on which, but for this noble deed, ashes and charred bones would have been distinguished. Who was it that intrepidly released the captive maid? It was the young, the brave, the generous PETALESHARRO. Whether it was panic, or the dread of Letalashahou's vengeance, (LETALASHAHOU was the great chief of the Pawnees, and father of Petalesharro)
95that operated to keep the warriors from employing their bows and arrows, and rifles, on the occasion, is not known; but certain it is, they did not use them.
"Having borne the rescued maid into the broad plains beyond the precincts of the Pawnee village, and supplied her with provisions, he admonished her to make the best of her way to her own nation, which was distant about four hundred miles, and left her. She, alive to her situation, lost no time in obeying such salutary counsel, and had the good fortune, the next day, to fall in with a war-party of her own people, by whom she was safely carried home."
Can the records of chivalry furnish a parallel to this generous act? Can the civilized world bring forward a case demonstrating a higher order of humanity, united with greater bravery? Whence did the youthful Petalesharro learn this lesson of refined pity? Not of civilized man. The lessons of the good had never yet reached the Pawnees, to instruct them, or to enrapture their thoughts by such beautiful illustrations of the merciful. It was the impulse of nature:—nature, cast in a more refined mould, and probably, as the sequel will show, nurtured by the blood and spirit of a noble, though untaught father.
The rescue of the Itean maid happened a short time before Petalesharro was deputed to Washington, as one of a deputation on matters connected with the interests of the Pawnee nation. His visit to that city, was in 1821. "He wore a head-dress of the feathers of the war-eagle, which extended in a double series, down his back, to his hips, narrowing as it descended. His robe was thrown gracefully, but carelessly, over his shoulders, leaving his breast, and often one arm, bare. The usual garments decorated his hips, and lower limbs—these were the auzeum, the leggins, and the moccasins—all ornamented. The youthful and feminine character of his face, and the humanity of its expression, were all remarkable. He did not appear to be
96older than twenty years, but his age was about twenty-five. I had his portrait taken, which is a perfect one.
As was most natural, the tidings of his noble deed accompanied Petalesharro to Washington. Both himself and his chivalry became the theme of the city. The ladies, as is their nature, hastened to do him honor. A medal was prepared, and a time appointed for conferring on him this merited gift. An assembly had collected to witness the ceremony. He was told, in substance, that the medal was given him in token of the high opinion which was entertained of his act, in the rescue of the Itean maid. He was asked by the ladies who presented it, to accept, and wear it for their sake; and told, when he had another occasion to save a captive woman from torture, and from the stake, to look upon the medal, think of those who gave it, and save her, as he had saved the Itean girl. With that grace which is peculiar to the Indian, he held the prize he had so nobly won before him, and as he gazed upon it, thus replied:—‘This brings rest to my heart. I feel like the leaf, after a storm, and when the wind is still. I have listened to you. I am glad. I love the pale-faces more than ever I did, and will open my ears wider, when they speak. I am glad you heard of what I did. I did not know the act was so good. It came from my heart. I was ignorant of its value. I now know how good it was. You make me know it, by giving me this medal.’
The rescue of the Itean girl might, if a solitary act, be looked upon as the result of impulse, and not as proceeding from a generous nature. It happens, however, not to stand alone, as the only instance of the sort, in the life of Petalesharro. One of his brother warriors had brought in a captive boy. He was a Spaniard. The captor resolved to offer him as a sacrifice to the great star. The chief Letalashahou had been for some time opposed to these barbarous rites. He sent for the warrior, and told him he did not wish him to make the sacrifice.
97The warrior claimed his right, under the immemorial usages of the tribe. They parted. Letalashahou sent for his son, and asked what was to be done to divert the captor from his purpose? Petalesharro replied promptly, ‘I will take the boy, like a brave, by force.’ The father thought, no doubt, that danger would attend upon the act, and resolved on a more pacific mode. It was to buy the boy. This intention was made known, when those who had any goods of any kind, brought them to the chief's lodge, and laid them down, as an offering, on the pile which the chief had supplied from his own limited stores. The captor was again sent for, and in the authoritative tone of the chief thus addressed:—‘Take these goods, and give me the boy.’ He refused, when the chief seized his war-club, and flourished it over the head of the captor. At the moment, Petalesharro sprang forward, and said—‘STRIKE! and let the wrath of his friends fall upon me.’
The captor, making a merit of necessity, agreed, if a few more articles were added, to give up the boy to the chief; they were added, and the boy was saved. The goods were sacrificed instead of the boy. The cloth was cut into shreds, and suspended on poles, at the spot upon which the blood of the victim had been proposed to be shed, and the remainder of the articles were burned. No subsequent attempt to immolate a victim was made."
Part IV. — A Partial Effort to Elevate the Indian, Attended with Promising Success — Objections to Further Efforts Considered and Answered.
Higher claims of the Indian upon our sense of justice — Recent efforts to improve their condition — Successful as far as carried out — Broken up by the encroachments of the white men — The Indian not irreclaimable — Objection considered — Educated Indians relapse to barbarism — Konkapot — Strong attachment to their free mode of life — Daniel Boone — Chateaubriand and Philip the Recluse — The force of instinct — Chateaubriand's reflections upon the narrative — His parallel between the Frenchman and the Indian — This "instinct" not peculiar to Frenchmen — Not even confined to men — Inference — The objection as good against the white as the red man — Another objection — Great expense of a system of education — Immense gain in purchasing the Indian territory — Appeal to a higher principle.
THESE random references are made to establish the claims of the Indian to be considered as a human being, and to be treated as such. But he has claims of another sort, and these are upon our magnanimity and justice. We have taken from them their country—despoiled them of the loftiness of their native character, by infusing into it the dregs of our own—thus disfiguring and making a wreck of God's own image. We have, when they resisted our encroachments upon their soil, (a pure prompting of nature on their part, and as justifiable in them as it would be in us to repel an invasion,) shot them down like dogs, hung them up like felons, quartered them like malefactors, and even put a price upon their heads, which, when severed from their bodies, were stuck upon gibbets, their bones
99being left to whiten the soil, and decreed as unfit for the rites of sepulture!
I know that the larger portion of this dark coloring was laid on the picture before our free institutions came into play—before the light that now shines with a more softened influence, had broken forth in its beauty and fulness—before Washington commenced the humane policy of opening a government trade with them, expressly for the supply of their wants, without reference to gain—before Jefferson sought to call them off from the uncertainty of the chase, growing more and more so by the increasing scarcity of game, and to attach them to agriculture and the arts—before the missionaries of modern times began to cultivate green spots in the desert—before Congress, during the administration of Mr. Monroe, made an appropriation of ten thousand dollars, annually, for their enlightening and civilization—before the Moravians, the Baptists, the Methodists and Episcopalians, the American Board of Commissions for Foreign Missions; and before the Quakers and Roman Catholics, all combined, uniting their means with those provided by Congress, to establish a system for the advancement of the natives in civilization, in the arts, and in religion.
That system went into operation, and its results settled the question, in my opinion, and forever, as to the capacity of the natives to profit by this benevolence, and this teaching. In the short space of four or five years, eighteen hundred Indian children were collected, whose progress in learning, and acquiescence in the restraints which this new teaching imposed, would compare with the most prosperous schools among ourselves. I speak of my own knowledge; for I not only, as Chief of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at Washington, received the quarterly returns showing the state of these schools, but I visited them all, from Lake Superior to Fort Mitchell, in Alabama. But this system, when in the vigor of its operations, was, by
100the expansive power of our settlements, broken up. As in the beginning, when the white man willed it, the Indian must fall back! His hill-sides and valleys, his home, which had begun to blossom with delights, and the graves of his fathers, must be abandoned; and he must submit, and turn his back upon all these, and upon the nurseries of education that had begun to dot and ornament his country, towards the setting sun—there to find, on the west of the Mississippi, a new home, at which to linger, till another expansion of the population of the white race shall take place, and another upheaving of its power be felt, when, (unless the appropriate means be adopted to stop this onward progress, and to these I shall refer presently,) he will be started again, further to the west; and yet further, "until the waters of the Pacific shall become the winding-sheet of the last of the race!" And in this way has system after system, (this last, however, the only one that was fitted to the occasion, and even this was not sufficiently extended, or adequately sustained, nor was it based on the right principle,) been made to give way before the power that was mightier than any the Indian could bring to oppose it—and then, when the Indian was found to be unreclaimed, still, the conclusion is arrived at, that he is irreclaimable! The cause is not in the Indian, my friends, but in ourselves.
But I am met by another objection. When, (it is argued by some,) a reformation has attended the labors of the missionary, and the Indian has conferred upon him all that our academies, and, in some instances, our colleges could impart, he has relapsed into his former state.
I admit this to have been quite a common result, and it is still one of occasional occurrence. KONKAPOT, and the protege of La Fayette, whom he took with him to France, both, after having become familiar with the classics, and discoursed in the Greek and Roman tongues, returned to their original attachments; and putting aside the polish, and grace, and elegance of civilization, returned to the
101blanket, the moccasin, and the wigwam. But is there anything surprising in this? It is no more than, under the same circumstances, we should do; it is no more than has been done by at least one polished Parisian, and even by well instructed females of our own country. The necessity of the white man is not so pressing, thus to retrograde; nor are the inducements so strong. The necessity of the case, on the part of the Indian, arises out of the absence of civilized and polished society;—when he goes back among his people, he finds none of this. He has therefore either to remain a dumb, isolated object, in their midst, or fall in with their practices and modes of life, he having no power to bring them up to his standard. The white man never had, in his youth, tasted the fresh enjoyments of the forest home; and never experienced the freedom of that home, from restraint; knew nothing of its boundless liberty, and the absence of its cares. The Indian knew all this; and had, like the imprisoned bird, that knew how sweet it was to cleave the air, and mingle with the songsters of the grove, only to be set free from his cage-confined limits, to feel all the tide of his early happiness and early associations to rush in upon him, bearing him again amidst those cherished scenes. And yet, without these attractions, the white man has preferred, like the Indian, the newly acquired relish of the forest life. What was Daniel Boone, in all the essential elements of his character, but an Indian?
CHATEAUBRIAND has recorded an anecdote which sheds much light on this question. I quote his words:
"When I was travelling through the wilds of America, I was not a little surprised to hear that I had a countryman established as a resident, at some distance, in the woods. I visited him with eagerness, and found him employed in pointing some stakes, at the door of his hut. He cast a look towards me, (which was cold enough,) and continued his work; but the moment I addressed him in
French, he started at the recollection of his country, and the big tear stood in his eye. These well-known accents suddenly roused in the heart of the old man all the sensations of his infancy.
"Philip (the name of the recluse) entreated me to enter his dwelling, and I followed him. He had considerable difficulty in expressing what he meant. I saw him labor to regain the ancient ideas of civilized man, and I watched him most closely. For instance, I observed that there were two kinds of relative things absolutely effaced from his mind, viz: that of any superfluity being proper, and that of annoying others, without an absolute necessity for it. I did not choose to put my grand question till after some hours of conversation had restored to him a sufficiency of words and ideas. At last I said to him—
"Philip—are you happy?"
He knew not, at first, how to reply. "Happy," said he, reflecting—"happy?—Yes;—but happy, only, since I became a savage."
"And how do you pass your life?" asked I.
"I understand you," continued I, "you think such a question unworthy of an answer. But should you not like to resume your former mode of living, and return to your country?"
"My country—France? If I were not so old, I should like to see it again."
"And you would not remain there?" added I.
The motion of Philip's head answered my question sufficiently. "But what induced you," continued I, "to become what you call a savage?"
"I don't know," said he—"instinct."
"This expression," proceeds Chateaubriand, "put an end to my doubts and questions. I remained two days with Philip, in order to observe him, and never saw him swerve for a single moment from the assertion he had made. His
103soul, free from the conflict of the social passions, appeared, in the language of the savages with whom he dwelt, calm as the field of battle, after the warriors had smoked together their calumet of peace."
"Is it," asks the same author, in another place, but in reference to the same subject—
"is it that the extremes of a circle meet, and that the highest degree of civilization, being the perfection of the art, touches closely upon nature?—or is it owing to a sort of universal talent, and pliability of manners, that adapt the Frenchman to every climate, and to every sphere in life? Be this as it may," continues our author, "he (the Frenchman) and the American Indian possess the same bravery, the same indifference to life, the same improvidence as to what will happen to-morrow, the same dislike to work, the same inclination to be tired of good things which they possess, the same inconstancy in love, the same taste in dancing and for war, the fatigues of the chase, and the pleasures of the forest. These similarities of dispositions, in the Frenchman and Indian, cause in them a great inclination towards each other, and easily convert the inhabitant of Paris into the rambler of the American forests."
But this inclination towards each other, in the Frenchman and the Indian, is not confined to them. It is found to exist (though not to the same extent, I admit,) in the English and the Americans—and not in the men, only, but in women. When at Lake Superior, in 1826, I learned that there were, about five hundred miles distant, some women who had, years before, been taken captives by the Indians. I made an arrangement for their liberation and restoration to their homes and friends. They declined the offer, preferring their present condition.
I infer, from this, that the civilized is not the state most congenial to man, and that his instincts and his tastes combine, whether he be white or red, to attach him to the repose and indolence of a state of nature. The conclusion
104is, that if this relapsing tendency to a forest life is proof of a disqualifying power in the Indian to continue, when placed there, in the higher condition of the civilized state, it is proof, no less conclusive, that we are, also, disqualified; and cannot, ourselves, retain that elevation. But it is not true of either.
But I am met by another objection: it is, that the cost of the undertaking, upon a scale commensurate with the object contemplated, would be too great, and therefore it ought not to be attempted.
There can be no successful reasoning with any one who puts money in competition with the happiness of any portion of the human race. But even here a balance-sheet may be struck, and there will be found means enough coming, not of ours, but of the Indian's own providing, to accomplish the great work of his political and civil reformation; and not that, only, but for his establishment amidst the comforts of domestic, and social and religious life, and enough, besides, to form a barrier to his onward progress to the west, and to annihilation. This country was once owned by the Indians. It is now ours. At what cost? Why, including all our expenditures, and of every sort, for and on account of the Indians, we have succeeded to this country, and become owners of it, at a price not exceeding two cents and three-quarters the acre!
105their rise." Oh! "it ill befits" these forest rovers "thus to pick the very refuse (and not permitted even to pick that) of those fields" which once were theirs. Let us think of them—feel for them—as brethren, and act towards them as such; for there is not one of them who cannot say with truth—
As sweet as charity, from human breasts.
I think, articulate—I laugh, I weep,
And exercise all functions of a man.
—Pierce my vein—
Take of the crimson stream meand'ring there,
And catechise it well. Apply the glass—
Search it, and prove, now, if it be not blood,
Congenial with thine own; and if it be,
What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose
Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art,
To cut the link of brotherhood, by which
One common Maker bound me to the kind?"
Preservation of the Indians — A Plan for the Preservation and Happiness of the Remnants of the Aboriginal Race, and for the Consolidation of Peace Between Them and Us.
The plan stated — Reasons why missionary labors have proved so comparatively unsuccessful — A chief of Lake Superior — His views of education upon his little son — McDonald, the Choctaw youth — His personal appearance, accomplished manners, moral worth, and high attainments in learning — His academic and law studies — His appointment as one of a delegation to Washington — Great power over the subjects connected with his mission — His fall — Recovery — Commences the practice of the law — A letter from him — Proposals of marriage — His tragic end — Anomalous relations between the whites and Indians the great barrier to their reformation — Review of past labors in their behalf — The present homeless condition of the Indians — No right in the soil — This right essential to their advancement — No nation ever advanced in civilization without it — The present the only period when this right could be, without trouble and great embarrassment, if at all, conferred — Providence — The doctrine of retribution — Probable consequences of our omission to do this down-trodden race justice — The nature of the war, should it occur — Devastating — Costly in blood and treasure — An appeal.
I WILL now offer a PLAN for the protection, preservation, and future well-being of the remnants of this ill-fated race. It is simply this: to connect "THE INDIAN TERRITORY," as it is named and defined on our maps, and which lies west of the western confines of Missouri and Arkansas, to the United States, and by precisely the same tie which binds Iowa to the Union, and which has hitherto bound other Territories; giving to the Indians the same fee-simple title to the soil, and the same privileges, present and prospective, embracing that ultimate one of becoming a State, that are enjoyed by the citizens of Iowa, and that were possessed by the citizens of Michigan and other Territories, when occupying a territorial relation to the Union.
It would seem almost superfluous to enlarge upon the proposition, or illustrate the effects which these relations would produce on the Indians and their destiny. A new and hitherto unfelt impulse would be at once given to all the higher and nobler elements of their nature, which could not fail of raising them in a very short time, as a race, upon the same platform with ourselves. Our destiny, in a word, would be their destiny.
It has been for the want of these elements, which are known to be so potent in the elevation and ennobling of man, that the Indians have been so long, and are to this hour, wasting away. Missionary labors have been employed, for over two hundred years, among these people; and, as I have frequently remarked, always with partial success—that is, the few natives upon whom the Gospel influences could be brought to bear, have always been more or less influenced by them. But we have only to look at the wasting away of the Indians—their almost total disappearance from the east of the Mississippi, and see them as they are, in the west, with some exceptions, remaining Indians still, to be convinced that by far the larger portion of what was sought to be accomplished, has failed of the success which was hoped for, furnishing at the same time the most incontrovertible evidence that there was something lacking—some vital element not embraced in the plans and systems which have been so long relied upon for the reformation of the Indians, as a race; and yet we see these same plans, without addition or amendment, kept in operation, just as if the experience of the past was of no sort of moment; or if the same causes had reversed the order of their action, and, in opposition to the laws of nature, would produce other than the same effects that have followed them for over two centuries.
Missionary labors are, I admit, indispensable; but they will never produce any other results, in the future, upon and among our Indians, than they have in the past, unless they
108can be made to operate upon other, higher, and more dignified elements than have hitherto enshrined the Indian's hopes, and characterised his condition. I will illustrate by an anecdote. A chief of Lake Superior, holding by the hand a fine little boy, about ten years old, I inquired of him why he did not send his son to school, at Mackinac? "What for?" inquired the old chief. To learn of the white man, I answered, how to till the ground, and make the grain grow, and potatoes and corn; and how to talk on paper, and to understand more about the Great Spirit, and the world to come—
The old chief interrupted me, saying: "Father, all you say is good; but I do not want the eyes of my boy made any bigger than they are. I want them to remain small. If he gets them opened, what will he see? He will see how big the white man is, and how little the red man. He will see how the white man has trampled upon the red man, taken away his lands from him, stolen his beaver, and done many such things to make the red man miserable. The white man is strong—the red man is weak. I do not want my boy to see this any sooner than it is forced upon him. He will learn it all soon enough."
But suppose this chief, with that same little boy, to be in the Indian Territory, after it was connected to the United States, and I should ask him why he did not send his boy to school there; what, think you, would be his answer? It would be, "Take him." But why take him, and school him, now? "Because his privileges and the privileges of the white man are the same. His oath will be taken in a court of justice; he can call the land his own, and be no more driven from it; he can rise to command your army and your navy—he can go to the Legislature and to Congress—he can be a judge of your courts of law, be governor, and President of the United States. Take him, educate him, and qualify him for this high destiny." That would be the effect of the plan I have proposed; nor is there an Indian, anywhere,
109who would not feel its force, and seek to place himself within reach of its certain effects upon his destiny.
I have a case which will show in a stronger light than all the reasoning I can bring to bear on the subject, the destructive effects upon the Indians of the anomalous relations that have, from the beginning, and which yet exist, between them and us.
I was in my office at Washington, as Chief of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, when, my messenger opening the door, an old and valued friend of mine, Philip E. Thomas, Esq., of Baltimore, entered, accompanied by a youth, who was introduced to me by my friend as a Choctaw, named James Lawrence McDonald. The object of the visit was to procure for the youth the patronage of the government, and to place him under my care. As the subject was discoursed about, I could see in the fine eye of McDonald that expression in which hope and fear alternate, and that much anxiety was felt as to the result of the application. At last I said, this will very much depend upon the wishes of the youth himself, when a gleam of gladness darted across his face, and a smile told, before he spoke, what his wishes were. He said, and in accents tremulous, and with a voice somewhat subdued by his agitated feelings, that it was what he desired. He had heard his chiefs, PUCKSHENUBBIE and PUSHMATAHA, speak of me as the red man's friend, and he would like to be with me. I soon relieved him of the last vestige of his doubts, by saying to Mr. Thomas I would adopt the youth, and that he might consider him from that moment under my protection.
This arrangement being made, Mr. Thomas returned to Baltimore, and McDonald accompanied me, that afternoon, to WESTON, my residence, on the heights of Georgetown, where he was introduced to my family, a room was assigned to him, and all necessary accommodations provided. My son and McDonald were nearly of the same age, about
110fourteen, I believe. They soon became intimate, and mutually attached to each other.
I selected for McDonald's preceptor the Rev. Dr. Carnahan, who fills at this time, with so much usefulness to the public, and honor to himself, the distinguished office of President of Princeton College, at that time principal of an academy in Georgetown. A short time after McDonald became an inmate of my family, he was a pupil in this academy.
I soon discovered that there were qualities of both heart and head in this youth of rare excellence, and that nature had bestowed on him not only personal lineaments of uncommon beauty, but a manner and action altogether graceful and captivating. His motions were all harmony. Whether he walked, or ran, or sat down, or rose up, it was all with a manner so unrestrained and easy, as might have led a stranger to suppose he had been taught by the most experienced of posture-masters. But it was wholly the development of nature. To these personal endowments was superadded a manner the most winning and gracious, and a morality that I never saw invaded. There was more beauty in the expression than in the lineaments of his face, that being strongly marked with the characteristics which distinguish his race. His head was finely developed, but his forehead was compressed; his eyes were black, and full of expression; his nose less of the Roman than usual; his cheek-bones high; his mouth, which was supplied with fine teeth, was well formed and expressive, though moderately large, whilst his jaws were wide. His voice was musical in a high degree.
I soon discovered that McDonald was bent on distinguishing himself. His book was his constant companion; whether on the road, going to or returning from school, or in the garden, or the fields, or in alcove, or grove, it was in his hand, or about his person. I was proud of my charge; and often, when I have seen him and my son indulging,
111over my grounds, in the pastimes of youth, has my heart throbbed with delight, at the promised destiny of this poor Indian boy. He became warmly attached to me, and to my family; and was the idol of my servants, and the beloved of his schoolfellows, and of all who knew him. I made no distinction between him and my son, in dress or attentions. He had a horse at his service, when he chose to ride; took a seat with my family in the coach, rode with us to church, and visited where we did; and was never overlooked, in any of those social relations in which we indulged, whether in or out of Washington.
McDonald had been for some time with his preceptor, before anything had passed between this gentleman and myself, as to the progress of his pupil; when one day we met. I thought I saw something serious in his countenance. He had scarcely gone through with the customary civilities, when he said—"Really, Colonel, I do not know what I shall do with McDonald." Instantly I feared some latent Indian quality had burst forth, and that all my high hopes were to be destroyed. Seeing this in my countenance, as I suppose, Doctor Carnahan continued—"Well, the difficulty is one which I will try and remedy. It is this: he comes to school with his lessons all so well digested, and with more Latin, and Greek, and mathematics in one of them, than the class I attached him to can get through in a week, so I have put him in a class by himself."
My relief was as instant, as my gratification was perfect. For about three years did this youth continue his studies, without any relaxation of his devotion to them, or in any single instance departing from that line of conduct that had so endeared him to me.
When about finishing his academical course, I one day asked Mr. Calhoun, at that time Secretary of War, what I should do with McDonald. "Make a lawyer of him," was his prompt reply. I had thoughts of this myself, but
112really feared to place him in any of our cities, lest his morals might become corrupted; when it occurred to me that Mr. McLean, then a member of Congress, and now one of the judges of the Supreme Court, from being often at my house, and knowing McDonald well, might consent to take him with him to Ohio, and, in his law office there, superintend his law education. I inquired of him to this effect, and got for answer, that he would take charge of him most cheerfully.
I had not yet spoken to McDonald on the subject of his future studies, nor made any inquiry of him as to his preference in regard to a profession, or occupation of any sort. Being one afternoon seated in my piazza, McDonald stepped in from one of the doors leading thereto, with one hand on his forehead, and the other in his bosom, and made, with great agitation of manner, a turn or two, without noticing that I was there; when, with a deep sigh, his hand fell from his forehead, and he stood for a moment with his back to me, and his head drooping, then turning, saw me, and glided back into the drawing-room whence he had come. I called to him. He came to me, still having one hand in his bosom. Thinking he was laboring under some private grief, I concluded I would call off his attention from it, by telling him of the profession I had chosen for him, and of my plans for his future studies. I did so. He listened to me with attention, but with great agitation. Having informed him, he looked at me earnestly, though affectionately, and said: "Wherefore! wherefore! Of what use to me, will be my present or future attainments? Oh, sir," pressing his hand against his forehead, he continued, "it will be all lost on me." I told him I could not see why it should be; and asked him what had led him to that conclusion. Fetching a deep sigh, and looking at me with a subdued expression, he said: "I am an Indian." Well, McDonald, I asked, what of that? "Ah, sir, being an Indian, I am marked with a mark as deep and abiding as that
113which Cain bore. My race is degraded—trodden upon—despised." Then taking from his bosom the hand that had been all the while in it, and in which was a letter, he presented the letter to me, saying: "Read that, sir, if you please."
The letter was from his brother, who was a lieutenant in the United States army, I believe, and who was named Thomas Jefferson. The letter, in substance, spoke of the receipt of several from his brother; at the high gratification he felt at his having fallen into such friendly hands; also, of his improvement, &c., but concluded by telling him "he had one of two things to do—either throw away all that belonged to the white race, and turn Indian; or quit being Indian, and turn white man. The first, you can do; the last, it is not in your power to do. The white man hates the Indian, and will never permit him to come into close fellowship with him, or to be a participator in any of his high prerogatives or distinguished advantages."
Having read this letter, I told him I thought his brother had greatly erred, not only in indulging in such sentiments, but in expressing them as he had done; and asked him if, during his residence with me, he had seen anything that would authorize such conclusion? "Oh, no, sir; no, sir," was his impassioned reply—"no, indeed. But this is an exception, and serves only to prove the rule. You are to me a father. My gratitude to you, and your family, can never die. I know I am treated with the greatest attention, even to tenderness." The tears came to his eyes, his utterance was choked, and he sat down by my side, pressing his handkerchief to his face, literally wetting it with his tears.
After a while he spoke. "Yes, sir," he said, "I will go to Ohio, and with Mr. McLean; and will read law, and will qualify myself. I will do anything that it may be your pleasure for me to do; I should be indeed an ingrate to
114thwart your kind designs towards me in anything. But the seal is upon my destiny."
The time being near at hand, that McDonald was to set out for Ohio, I told him to fix upon a day most agreeable to himself, and invite to dine with him as many of his schoolfellows, and friends, as he might think proper; to let me know the day, and I would put the servants and all things necessary for the festival at his disposal. It was all done accordingly; and the day coming soon after, when he was to leave me, I saw him growing sad. His countenance lost its brightness, and he would stroll alone among his favorite walks in the garden, the woods, and by a streamlet in a deep glen, by which he used to sit conning over his lessons, and where he would remain for hours, listening to the gurgling of the waters, the singing of birds, and the rustling of the leaves, as the breeze played among them. The evening preceding the morning of his intended departure arrived. His trunks were packed. Orders had been given to the servants to see to their being at my outer gate, in time for the stage, as it passed in the morning, before daybreak, on its way to the west.
I was at my table, reading; my family were in a wing of the building, preparing to retire for the night; McDonald was walking in the saloon. Presently he made a short turn, and coming hastily up to me, said—"Is it necessary, sir, that I should leave to-morrow?" Not at all, I replied, nor next day, nor for a week, if it is your pleasure to delay your departure. "Thank you, sir," with one of his graceful bows, was his response; when he turned and went out, saying, as he passed through the door, "It's hard to part!"
Another day was fixed upon, a week or so ahead. The evening of that day arriving, the same arrangements were made as before. I was again at my desk, reading; my family had retired, as before, and McDonald was again in
115the saloon, walking to and fro; when, suddenly, he came from it, and with quick step advanced towards me. For a moment he stood motionless, his eyes fixed on mine. Tears began to fill them, when he reached out his hand, and taking mine, held it, saying, "Farewell, best of fathers!" Then turning short about, he went from the room into the wing of the building to which my family had retired. I heard him rap at the door. It was opened. Presently he returned, and continued on through the saloon to his room in the other wing of the building. I heard him shut the door, when all was still.
His leave-taking of my family was pretty much of the same character as it had been with me, except that he employed looks and tears, but no language. His feelings so oppressed him, that he could not speak.
The following morning I went to his room. How lonely was everything, and what a sense of bereavement oppressed me! There was his chair, his couch, his table, and his bed. All was silence! On the table lay two letters; one directed to Hon. John C. Calhoun, the other to myself. They were letters of the heart, expressing, in terms of most grateful sort, his obligations for the kindness which had been shown him, and the abiding sense which he would cherish of it. Mr. Calhoun thought, on reading these letters, that few men, no matter how highly gifted, or thoroughly educated, could excel them, in either the spirit which animated, or the beauty of the composition that characterised them. He asked to have both to show to some of his friends. Being desirous of inserting them in this narrative, I sent to Mr. Calhoun for them; but they were not within his reach, being among his papers in South Carolina.
Arriving at the point of his destination, he commenced the study of the law, with his new patron, according to arrangement. Such was his capacity, and power over this science, that in about one-half the time ordinarily occupied
116by the most talented of the young men of our race, he had gone the rounds of his studies, and was qualified for the bar.
McDonald had often expressed a desire to go to the Choctaw country, on a visit to his mother. Having completed his law studies, he fulfilled that purpose, and gratified that wish. While there, a delegation of chiefs was selected, to come to Washington, on business of high importance—he was chosen one of the delegates. I found him so skilled in the business of his mission, so prompt, and so competent, both in verbal discussions, and with the pen, as to make it more of an up-hill business than I had ever before experienced in negotiating with Indians. I believe Mr. Calhoun, who negotiated the treaty, thought so too. The spectre, I found, yet haunted him. A conflict between his Indian caste and his hope of overcoming it, and rising above its effects upon his prospects, shook him from his balance, and he fell before the strife, into habits of intemperance—the too usual resort of the unwary to drown sorrow, and clear away from the present the clouds of a dreaded destiny.
I sought all proper opportunities to restore him. On one occasion I detained him in my office, after the rest of the delegation had retired, and, locking the door, spoke to him on his fall with every tenderness that I could employ. I had looked to him as the crowning of my hopes, and trusted to see, from his continued good example, a day-star arise for the enlightening of his race. I referred to those days of innocence, and honor, and bliss, he had enjoyed at Weston. But the moment I spoke of these, he sprang from his seat, saying—"Spare me! oh, spare me! It is that thought that makes me so miserable. I have lost that sweet home, and its endearments; the veil that was so kindly placed between me and my Indian caste, has since been torn away. I have been made to see since, that I cannot, whilst such anomalous relations exist as do exist,
117between the red and the white race, be other than a degraded outcast." He walked the floor greatly agitated, and begged me to allow him to retire. I did so, expressing the hope that I might see him soon, at Weston, where the same kind welcome awaited him, that he had always found there. "Oh, name it not to me, sir, I can never go there again! The very thoughts of its haunts and of those retreats where I was once so happy, and of the kindness shown me there, being met, as they are, and crushed, by the consciousness of what I now am, distract me—do allow me to retire."
He never could be induced to visit Weston. He recovered himself, however, in a good degree, and at the close of the negotiations, left Washington, promising me to devote himself to the law, and try yet longer to brave his destiny. Shortly after, he opened his law office in Jackson, Mississippi. In one of my letters, I referred to him the writing of the life of Pushmataha, whose death occurred at Washington when chief of the delegation to which I have referred, and to whom reference is made on several occasions in this work; and whose death-scene furnishes one of the embellishments to this volume. I wanted it for my large work on "the History, &c., of the Aborigines of North America." I subjoin in a note his answer.
118it, though the letter bears marks of having been written in great haste, may be inferred the high order of talent which distinguished this young man.
His prospects in Jackson became flattering. When seeking to form an alliance which would bring happiness to his domestic circle, he selected a lady as the one in whom the elements seemed to centre for the securing of what he sought after. On making his proposal, it was rejected with promptness, and, as he thought, with scorn. In a moment his caste came before him. "You are an Indian, and degraded," rang in his ears. Hope fled—despair assumed dominion over him. All that his brother had written to him, was now seen by him to be reality. The spectre
119was too formidable for his power of resistance—he rushed to the river, sprang off a bluff, and drowned himself!
In this brief sketch of the life, character, and tragic end of this gifted and accomplished youth, may be seen the elements that have operated so destructively upon the happiness and lives of his race. They did not, however, reach the intensity of their action, until years after the jurisdictional lines of our states and territories were thrown around them. The work of Indian destruction had been hitherto carried on by wars, by the small-pox, by drunkenness, and the various other plagues which our race carried in among them. To have withstood either of these plagues, and overcome it, was not given to the Indian to do; whilst to have resisted them all, in combination, or in the rapid succession with which they were made to assail his race, implies the possession of a power more than human.
Wars may be endured, and their effects recovered from; the pestilence may be outlived, and even the traces of its ravages, in the lapse of time, be obliterated—even famine, if it slay not all, may be so far lost sight of, as to leave on the minds of survivors nothing more than the mournful memory of a thing that had been—but when the human heart is transfixed by the arrows of despotism, and the relentless hand of tyranny presses any people to the earth, dispossessing them of country and home, and depriving them of all the privileges of the free;
120from which there is felt to be no appeal, consigning them to degradation, allowing them no privileges in common with those who lord it over them, there can be no hope that any people, thus circumstanced, can long survive.
This was literally the condition of the Indians from the moment the anomalous relations began, which found them in certain districts of country, not as sovereign owners, but as possessory occupants, only, of the land, around
122which the lines of our states and territories were thrown. It was reserved, however, or the policy of the last sixteen years to bring to a focus all these elements of oppression, degradation, and expulsion.
It is my belief that there have existed only two periods, since our intercourse with the Indians commenced, when it was possible for them to have been civilized, as a race. The first relation in which the two parties stood to one another, was one of positive independence on the part of the Indian. He was found owner and occupant of almost boundless forests—and from these, and the rivers, and bays, and lakes, he derived his clothing and his food, and the attainment of these cost him no labor that was not made sweet by the pleasure which was associated with it. The lessons of civilization could not be otherwise than lost
123upon any people who had, for ages, been thus situated. Who are they of all the race of Adam, that would surrender all the freedom, and the abundance, that were enjoyed by the North American Indian, when his country was first invaded by our race, and place himself, voluntarily, under the restraints which civilization imposes? It is not in the nature of man to do this. It requires, before he can bring himself to endure the labor and toil that attend upon the civilized state, the operation of that stern law—NECESSITY.
The Indian must first find himself separated from his forests—and the game must be gone, or so difficult to find, and take, as to expose him to want; his rivers must become too agitated, by the agencies of a civilized commerce, for the security of his bark canoe; and the fish, therefore, not easily taken, before he will consent to exchange his bow and arrow, and lance, for the plough, the hoe, the axe and maul; and surrender all that is free in his wanderings, and liberty-like in its tendencies, and settle down to the sober and toilsome work of building a house, clearing the ground, fencing them in, and engaging in all the other labors that attend upon such a life—in a word, earning his bread by the sweat of his brow. The Indians could not, for these reasons, when in the full possession and enjoyment of their forest home, be brought within reach of means, even had they been a thousand times multiplied by our early progenitors, for their civilization, much less by the partial ones that were attempted to effect it.
Every succeeding year found the circle in which the Indian moved, lessened. His forests were invaded, and the game become less and less plenty. And then he was warred with, and his people were slain. And when any respite of the strife occurred between him and the new comers, some outbreak, as in the French war of '56, and that of the Revolution, would engage his attention, and lead him to take part in the excitements which wars always produce in him. Thus was the red man, from the beginning,
124the victim of circumstances, not one of which was calculated to produce the reformation of his race, but contrariwise, to prevent it.
But when, at last, his forests and the game were gone, and his race were reduced in numbers and power, and the infant with whom he used, centuries before, to contend had become a giant of overpowering strength, and all hope of being ever able to cope with him being extinguished, then was the time when the hitherto intractable and indomitable Indian was in a condition to be advanced into the enjoyment of all the blessings and benefits of the civilized and Christian state. And yet, instead of being taken up at this point, and transferred to this new condition, for which he was as well fitted by nature as we are, he was doomed to even a more debasing destiny than any that had previously awaited him, and that was to be hemmed in by the limits of state sovereignty, as though the design was to curse him with a system of unmitigated degradation, and give the final blow for his extermination.
Another change, however, in the inscrutable ways of Providence has been permitted. And although it was brought about under the forms of cruelty and oppression, too revolting to be dwelt upon, still the change has been effected, and these anomalous relations which had been made to exist between us and the Indians, are, for the present, at least, broken up. And now, once more, the Indians are in a position, which appears to me to be even more favorable than that which preceded the establishment of those paralyzing relations to which I have referred, for their reformation and preservation. Beyond the limits of our organized states and territories, they have a country assigned to them, and of the three hundred thousand and upwards that yet exist, over one hundred thousand occupy this territory; and with the relations such as I now propose to establish between them and us, the entire population both on this and the other side of the Rocky mountains,
125or by far the larger portion of it, would hasten to place themselves within the action of these elements of freedom, and the rights of man which I have proposed to carry in among them, under the forms of annexation and a territorial government.
Never before has Providence revealed its purposes, with so much distinctness, at least to my mind, in regard to our duty to this unfortunate race, as now. Every barrier which hitherto existed between the purposes of the good and merciful, and the aborigines of this country, are seen to be removed, and the way thrown wide open for the statesman, the Christian, and philanthropist, to preserve and save the remnants of this long harrassed, and persecuted people.
The Indians have been driven from the east to the west of the Mississippi, and beyond the western confines of Missouri and Arkansas, for good or for evil. This movement has not been made by chance, or accident. There are ends to be answered by it, which it behooves this nation to look well to. God, and not chance, governs the world; and it is with him, and his laws, we, as a nation, have to do, in reference to this Indian subject. That eye that never sleeps has taken note of all the oppressions and cruelties, the wrongs and outrages, which, as a people, we have inflicted on this Indian race. Is God just? Who can doubt it? Will he not vindicate his laws when these are violated in relation to the Indians, with the same certainty as when they are defied and trampled on in their relation to white men? If the blood of Abel cried from the ground to God, and the bolt of retribution was discharged upon Cain, until the pain it inflicted forced from the murderer the exclamation, "My punishment is greater than I can bear"—is there not reason to apprehend, in view of the Indian blood, with which so much of the soil of this country has been made red, that a day of retribution will come, when ample atonement will be required by that Being whose every attribute is opposed to the treatment the Indians have been
126receiving at our hands, for over two hundred years? What an accumulation of wrath! How fierce, should the cloud with which it is surcharged not be delivered of it by the appropriate means, and how destructive will be its emissions!
I have said the Indians are, where they are, for good or for evil. It is for the government and people of this country to decide which—nor is there, in my opinion, any time to be lost. We cannot flatter ourselves with the belief that the Indians entertain for us feelings of kindness, or sympathy of any sort. They have been made to feel too keenly the wrongs we have inflicted on them. They are not ignorant of the past. They know what the relations are now, and what they have always been, between us and them; nor are they ignorant of the superior advantages which their present condition affords for a suitable retaliation, whenever the time should arrive, bringing with it a favorable opportunity for its exercise, or a cause occur forcing them to the overt act.
If I had been called upon to locate the Indian population upon a territory better situated than all others for their successful annoyance of this nation, I should have chosen the very territory upon which they are now concentred. They have only to will it, and a war more costly, and more bloody, will ensue, than any that has ever yet been inflicted upon this country. Philip, and Pontiac, and Tecumthé, and Osceola, have read us lessons on the capacity of the Indians to revenge themselves; but never in all their history did they occupy a position so formidable as that which is now held by their successors.
I will suppose the purpose formed by those Indians to resist any new attempts on our part to push them further to the west; or to remove them under any forms from the country they now occupy; or that they should resolve to revenge the wrongs done them in all the past, without any further attempt on our part to add to them.
What would be the first movement of these eighty thousand men? for I hold it they could concentrate that number. It would be by that silent preparation which would be as still as the calm before the storm, to rise upon, and by a system adapted to such a purpose, and which the Indians know how to contrive, destroy the population of Missouri and Arkansas, almost at a blow, cross the Mississippi, burning and killing, as they advanced, all before them, till they should reach Pittsburgh. And this might all be accomplished, and themselves again on the west of the Mississippi, before an army could be concentred to attack them. And before this army could be prepared to take the field, they would adopt the guerrilla practice of fighting—taking care to drive the buffalo before them, securing, by this means, their own subsistence, and to burn the prairies, thus depriving the enemy of its cavalry and artillery; for, if the means to subsist horses should be destroyed, the big guns could not be employed. Should they be pursued to the Rocky Mountains, the war they would carry on from the fastnesses there, would be terrible; if forced over them, and down towards the Pacific, their means of subsistence would be still congenial to their wants; and if, at last, as would be the case, the last man of them should perish, it would be at a cost so mighty to us, as may well demand of the statesman a suitable attention to this momentous subject, and in time to avoid the contingency that might produce the conflict. This will not be by the erection of forts and batteries, or by means of coercion of any sort. It can be accomplished, in my humble opinion, only by the means I have suggested. It is high time that a policy other than that of force and cruelty, were employed in our intercourse with the Indians.
There would seem to be entertained by a vast body of Indians, now collected in the Indian territory, apprehensions that future cause of collision may arise between them and us. Sixteen tribes were represented at Talequa,
128in the Cherokee country, in June, eighteen hundred and forty-three. The delegates present were from the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Delaware, Shawnee, Piankeshaw, Wea, Osage, Seneca, Stockbridge, Ottawa, Chippewa, Peoria, Witchataw, Pottawattamie, and Seminole tribes. The result, says a neighboring paper, of their deliberations, was a compact, binding upon each nation party thereto, embracing the following objects: "To maintain peace and friendship with each other, and among themselves. To abstain from retaliation for offences committed by individuals. To provide for the improvement of their people in agriculture, manufactures, and other arts of peace. That no nation, party to this compact, shall, without the consent of the whole, sell, cede, or in any manner alienate to the United States, any part of their present Territory. To provide for the punishment of crimes committed by citizens of one nation upon the citizens of another. To admit the citizens of one nation to citizenship in any other nation, party to this compact. To endeavor to suppress the use of ardent spirits, within the limits of their respective nations; and to prohibit its introduction by the citizens of one nation into the territory of another."
Now would it not be to shut our eyes to all the experience of the past, in the whole of our intercourse with the Indian tribes, to doubt, for a single moment, that in the progress of time, the United States will, under some form, seek to dislodge the Indians from the territory they now occupy; unless, indeed, other relations shall be established between the Indians and the United States, than those which now exist, or ever have existed? When that attempt will be made, cannot be foreseen; but it will not be long after that country shall be made tempting by the cultivation of its soil, the building of houses, the planting of orchards and gardens, and the erecting of mills. When, in a word, it shall be recovered from its desert state, and made productive, and be ornamented, then, as in the past,
129AVARICE, backed by power, will seek to succeed to it—regardless of the condition, and feelings, or rights, or remonstrances, of the Indians. What if the preamble to the treaty of 1835, does say: "With a view to re-uniting their people (the Cherokees) in one body, and securing a permanent home for themselves, and their posterity, in the country selected by their forefathers, without the territorial limits of the state sovereignties, and where they can establish and enjoy a government of their own choice, and perpetuate such a state of society as may be most consonant with their views, habits, and conditions, as may tend to their individual comfort, and their own advancement in civilization?" does this mean anything more than similar provisions have meant, beginning with the treaty of Hopewell, of 1785, I believe, down to this time? What has become of the reiterated pledge which runs through all the treaties made with the Indians? By the treaty of Holston, in 1791, a cession of lands was made, and the seventh article thereof is in these words: "The United States solemnly guarantee to the Cherokee nation, all their lands not hereby ceded." In 1794, another treaty was made at Philadelphia, confirming that of 1791, especially as to boundaries. In 1798, and '99, another treaty was made which provided for a further cession of lands, securing them the "remainder of their country forever;" and yet, in the face of all these solemn promises, these same Cherokees were driven, at the point of the bayonet, from those very lands, thus guarantied to them, by the faith and honor of the United States!
With all this history of the power of the strong over the destinies of the weak, what better guarantee have the Indians, now on the territory west of Arkansas and Missouri, that they shall not be disturbed, or have their lands taken from them, than those given them when on this side the Mississippi? I know the preamble of the treaty of 1828 says—"In the far west the Cherokees shall have a permanent home, and which shall, and under the most solemn
130guarantee of the United States, be, and remain, theirs FOREVER; a home that shall in no future time be embarrassed by having extended around it the lines, or placed over it the jurisdiction, of a territory or state."
After referring to these pledges, but doubting their sincerity, or rather doubting the continuance in the future of that honesty of intention which made them, the Cherokee Delegation at Washington, addressed a letter to the President of the United States, bearing date Nov. 8, 1845, of which the following is an extract:
"Now, sir, to relieve us from the apprehension which we cannot but feel, that similar dreadful scenes to those described above may occur again, and our people be again driven forth into the wilderness, we entreat that these guarantees and pledges of the government, so often repeated, be carried into effect by giving to our nation a patent for their lands west—a full title to a permanent home, as promised, where we shall not again be disturbed. Cannot this boon, or rather this mere act of justice, be granted to the remnant of the once numerous aboriginal people of this continent, whose lands extended from the Atlantic ocean to the river Mississippi, and which wide domain forms now the richest and most essential part of your great republic, supporting in affluence millions of your people? Surely, in exchange for such an empire, you will not disappoint the hopes of our people by refusing the only title to the comparatively little territory where it has been your pleasure to place them, in which they can feel secure. More than half a century ago, General Washington, that just, and good, and great man, made a talk to our fathers, and signed it with his great name. At the conclusion, he says: ‘I shall subscribe my name to this talk, which shall be written in your book, in order to be preserved among you as a witness to our transactions together, and to which you may have recourse in future. This book you will sacredly preserve.’ We have preserved it sacredly, and
now, in our great need, we have recourse to it. At the beginning of his talk, General Washington says: ‘I am highly satisfied with the confidence you repose in me, and in the United States, as your friends and protectors. We shall, indeed, rejoice in being the instruments of the Great Master of breath, to impart to you and your whole nation all the happiness of which your situation will admit; to teach you to cultivate the earth, and to raise your own bread as we do ours; to raise cattle; to teach your children such arts as shall be useful to them; and to lead you, by degrees, from one information to another, in order not only to better your situation on this earth, but, by enabling your minds to form a more perfect judgment of the great works of nature, to lead you to a more exalted view of the Great Father of the universe. Rest, therefore, on the United States, as your great security against all injury.’ These words of kindness sunk deep into the hearts of our fathers, and the result is, that our nation from paganism has been converted to the blessed faith of Christianity—from savage hunters, depending upon the chase for a precarious subsistence, to a civilized agricultural community. We have an alphabet of our own; and our written republican constitution and the simple laws suited to our condition are printed in our own language, as are the Holy Scriptures, many useful books, and a newspaper. We have eighteen public schools, and some private institutions of like character. Our people are generally moral, industrious, and well informed as to the public affairs of their country, and upon general subjects. We are, then, a civilized and Christian people; and we appeal to the sense of justice of the government and people of the United States to make us safe in the country we now occupy. Our position towards the United States is now changed; we are outside of any State or Territory; the policy of the government, as to the removal of the Indians, has been carried out; no State can now complain of intrusion on
our part. We ask a new treaty which shall define distinctly our new position, direct the issue of a patent in fee simple for our territory, establish on a permanent footing our relations to the United States, and provide for the payment of our just claims. We ask, sir, the fulfilment of the terms held out to us by General Jackson and by Mr. Tyler. The first, then President of United States, in an address to our people east of the Mississippi, dated Washington, 16th March, 1835, urging us to go to the west, says: ‘The United States have assigned to you a fertile and extensive country, with a very fine climate adapted to your habits, and with all the other natural advantages which you ought to desire or expect. I shall, in a short time, appoint commissioners for the purpose of meeting the whole body of your people in council. They will explain to you more fully my views, and the nature of the stipulations which are offered to you. These stipulations provide—1st. For an addition to the country assigned to you west of the Mississippi, and for the conveyance of the whole of it by patent in fee simple; and also for the necessary political rights, and for preventing white persons from trespassing upon you.’ We thus briefly advert to this promise of President Jackson. We quote now the words of President Tyler, in his letter to our delegation of September, 1841, in which he offers us indemnity for the past and security for the future. Mr. Tyler says: ‘I still propose, at a future day, to negotiate with you a new treaty. You may assure your people, that, so far as I shall have any power or influence to effect such results, not justice merely shall be done them, but that a liberal and generous course of policy shall be adopted towards them. Upon the ratification of the treaty contemplated, which shall give to the Cherokee nation full indemnity for all wrongs which they may have suffered, establish upon a permanent basis the political relations between them and the people of the United States, guarantee their lands in absolute fee simple,
and prescribe specific rules in reference to subjects of the most interesting character to them and their remotest posterity, a new sun will have dawned upon them,’ &c. The execution of these offers of President Jackson and of President Tyler, which we think we have fairly earned by our progress in civilization, under the paternal advice of the great Washington, and by our forbearance, fidelity, and suffering, is all we ask, and we conceive it to be but simple justice."
How much confidence these Cherokees repose in the fulfilment, or carrying out, of these, no doubt honestly meant promises, is seen in their language employed to the President, as above quoted. They seek to be relieved from the "apprehension which they cannot but feel, that similar dreadful scenes, &c., &c., may occur again." It is high time that these "apprehensions" were allayed, and put to rest forever. The way to do it is the question. I can see no way which would so certainly accomplish an end so desirable, as that which I have suggested; and that is, by connecting their country to ours, by the tie territorial, and making them part and parcel of ourselves. Give them the fee simple title to their lands, without which no people ever yet were transferred from the savage to the civilized state; and having done this, the sure foundation will be laid, as I verily believe, upon which to erect the superstructure of aboriginal prosperity and greatness.
It does appear to me, apart from the humanity of the plan, and its justice, and the benefit it proposes to confer on the remnants of the Indian race, that the government of this country is bound to guard, in some way, against the contingencies of a rupture with them. The plan I have proposed contemplates more than a bare avoidance of a collision with the Indians; it looks to a neutralizing of the enmity which they cannot do else than cherish towards us; and to a conversion of that enmity into lasting friendship. Then, instead of having a power
134on our frontier, so formidable as it now is, ready at any moment to be employed against us, either upon its own basis, or in alliance with other powers, we should secure to ourselves a certain protection, and a barrier of defence, and if needed, the co-operating agency of this Indian population, in any strife which might come from that quarter in all time to come.
There can surely be no objection to the admission of this long-injured people into our confederacy, even should the beneficial consequences of such fellowship be confined to themselves; but how much greater is the obligation to carry out this design, when our interests, to say nothing of our justice and honor, are so intimately connected with the measure?
But will the Indians accept the proposed terms of annexation? It might be time enough to make this inquiry after it was decided to make them the offer. I see some objections which it is probable might be made by them, to this proposition. They have, now, organized governments, and laws, and constitutions; to these they are attached. They might not relish, at first, the levelling process that would attend upon this act of annexation. Their chiefs, as men feel always, are not insensible to the commanding position they occupy, nor ought they to be, and so with the inferior grades of officers. But it will not escape the notice of these officers under the Indian government, that they are fitted to fill the places which their proposed new relations to us would create. If one of these men could no more be a chief, he might be a governor of the territory; and another a Speaker in the House of Representatives, and another President of the Senate, whilst others would be called to fill the offices of senators and legislators, and all the other offices which enter into the composition of these territorial relations.
And then, again, the disparaging relations that now exist between them and their government, well organized as it
135is—made so, not only by our overshadowing power, but by the consciousness of the disparity which they must feel to exist between them and their governments, and the United States—would all be merged into that feeling of equality with us, which would succeed, at once, to these new relations. But when, to all this, is superadded the soul-elevating thought, that no future change, either of country or condition, except to elevate and dignify, and improve the latter, will ever happen to them more, I can contemplate the acceptance of the proposition in no other light than as meeting the universal and hearty concurrence of chiefs, warriors, and people.
I have already referred, in the commencement of this proposal to annex the Indian territory to our Union, to those good men, who, in the character of missionaries, have kept side by side with the Indians in so many of their afflictions and migrations. I will again refer to them, and implore them by all the lost labor of the past, and by the hopes of the future; by the critical condition of the pacific relations that exist between the Indians and us; and by the sacredness of the cause in which they are engaged, to look well and earnestly into this subject, and learn from the past what must attend upon their labors in the future, if the change I propose, or some other change equivalent to it, be not brought about. And, seeing, as they must see, that the plan I propose, or some other, is indispensable to the success they seek to command, I implore them to take up the subject in all its bearings, and by the instrumentalities which they have at command, manufacture, collect, and embody public opinion, in regard to what may be determined to be done; and by memorial, and personal agencies, bring this opinion to bear upon Congress, with whom alone the power is vested, to redeem, disenthrall, and save, and bless, the remnants of this aboriginal race. And I make the same appeal to all the good, of all religious persuasions, both in the Church
136and out of it, and to politicians of all parties, to second this attempt, feeble as I know it to be, to save the Indians, and consolidate, and perpetuate peace between them and us, and by so doing, ward off the terrible retribution which must, sooner or later, unless it be averted, fall upon this nation.
The principal was DEACON SOCKBASIN, who spoke English tolerably well, and could write also with sufficient accuracy to make known what he had to say, on paper. His name had been made familiar to me by various communications bearing his signature, on matters relating to their school.
Their wants were supplied, and the means given them to bear their expenses home. One of the canoes—the other having been injured—I had brought to the War Department, and hung up in the passage, over the door of my office, where it remained till the Indian portraits and other relics which I had collected there, were sent to the Columbian Institute, with the canoe, where the latter yet remains to attest in how frail a vessel human beings may be driven by a storm, upon the ocean, for at least one thousand miles.
If this party of Quoddy Indians could survive such a storm as Sockbasin described that to be which drove him and his party from off Eastport, in Maine, to the capes of Virginia, it is not unreasonable to conclude that other adventurers on the deep blue sea may have, in all times, been subject to like transitions, and by the same cause. In this way, as I have said, this continent may have had thrown upon it the progenitors of the Indian race.
To COL. THOMAS L. MCKENNEY, Philadelphia:—
Dear Sir—I did not receive your favor of 23d May until yesterday, and I exceedingly regret that it is out of my power to furnish forth the life of Pushmataha, as requested by you. I mean that it is out of my power to do it immediately, and in time for the July number of the work which you have taken in hand. If I could now see Major Pitchlynn, and spend a few days with him, I am sure that I could get some curious details of old Push's history, and such as I think would prove interesting. But I am one hundred and fifty miles from Major Pitchlynn, and I do not expect to see him for several months. If Pushmataha's biography could appear with propriety in some subsequent number of your work—say next winter or spring—I will endeavor to send it to you.
I have, at different times, heard various incidents of Pushmataha's life related, well worthy of commemoration; but my recollection of them is not as distinct as I could wish, nor could I put them down chronologically. He was distinguished in early life as a warrior, and in the first or second battle in which he was ever engaged, he is said to have produced the scalps of five or six warriors whom he had slain with his own hand. His earlier contests were principally with the Osages, or Washashe; and on one occasion he was surrounded, with less than a dozen followers, in a vast prairie, by a band of about two hundred Osages, against whom he maintained an undaunted contest of more than an hour's duration, until the enemy, struck with some unaccountable panic, retreated. Pushmataha commanded a large party of Choctaws during the last war, under General Jackson, and did his duty; but had no opportunity of signally distinguishing himself.
He was, however, chiefly distinguished for his eloquence. His style of speaking, whether in public or in private, was nervous and highly figurative, and his talent at repartee was, I think, unequalled. I never knew him at a moment's loss for an apt answer to any question, whether serious or jocose. He was facetious rather than sarcastic, and he was, generally speaking, the soul of good humor. He was slow to anger, but when aroused, as fierce as a tiger; of which, however, I never saw but one or two instances in all my acquaintance with him.
He was, indeed, an extraordinary man, and I wish that justice could be done him. You might safely say of him, that his intellect was of the highest order—his perceptions rapid—his eloquence persuasive or commanding, and his courage unconquerable. He was generous even to prodigality, and continued through life poor, when he might have become rich.
I should be highly pleased to hear of the success of your arduous and praiseworthy undertaking.
Respectfully your friend,
and obedient servant,
J. L. MCDONALD.
P. S.—Col. Silas Dinsmoor, of Cincinnati, and Col. John McKee, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, can both, I am confident, furnish you very valuable materials for your work, especially as regards the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Choctaws.
WASHINGTON, February 18, 1825.
SIR—The enclosed is an address from the Choctaw delegation now in this city to the Congress of the United States. Be pleased to present it to the Senate, and much oblige
Yours, very respectfully,
J. L. MCDONALD, One of the Delegation.
Hon. JOHN GAILLARD, President pro tem. U. S. Senate.
WASHINGTON, February 18, 1825.
To the Congress of the United States:
As the representatives of the Choctaw nation, and, in part, of the aborigines of this country, we feel ourselves impelled alike by duty and by inclination to address you at the present crisis. The Indians are becoming objects of increasing interest among your people. Sympathy is felt for their condition, and the most benevolent exertions have been, and continue to be, made to improve and civilize them. Under such circumstances, we cannot refrain from giving an expression of our feelings with regard to our condition and prospects. You are an assembly which we have been taught to consider the most august in the world, and into whose hands are committed the destinies of our people. To whom, then, could we more properly address ourselves on the great points connected with our happiness and prosperity?
Our good father the President has spoken to you, and requested you to adopt some measures to improve the condition of the Indian race. He has recommended that all the Indians east of the Mississippi be persuaded to remove and establish themselves to the west; that a certain form of government be provided for them; and that the land to which they may remove be secured to them forever.
Of the policy and practicability of the measure, we will not now express a decided opinion; time alone can determine. Of the motives which prompted the recommendation, we entertain no question. The opinion expressed by the President, that under no pretence should the Indians be forcibly removed from the lands which they occupy, gives us an assurance that his feelings are truly paternal towards us. That opinion accords with the sentiment entertained by all just and reflecting men, and cannot, therefore, fail to be responded to by your honorable body.
We have long been sensible of our weakness, and we know that, should the government of the United States rise in hostility against us, we must inevitably be exterminated, or driven to the west. We know that the extensive country which you now possess once belonged to our forefathers. We have heard that from a small beginning you have grown to be a great and powerful people; and that, as you advanced, we receded; as you flourished, we decayed. We have been tempted to ask, Why should this be so? Has the Great Spirit frowned upon his red children, that they should thus have withered in your presence? Yet we have been told from the good book that he loves all his children alike, and that his greatest attribute is that of infinite mercy. This we are most willing to believe; and, believing, we are led to the natural conclusion that for some great end, only known to himself, he has permitted us to melt before you; but that the time must come when his interposing hand will be out-stretched in our behalf, and we be made to become like white men.
We rejoice to think that that period is approaching. The voice of the President, the sentiments of philanthropy which seem to pervade the people, the schools and religious institutions which have been established among us—all give us the consoling assurance that we are not doomed to extinction. We have become sensible that one great reason of the power and prosperity with which our white brothers are so eminently favored, has been the general diffusion of literature and the arts of civilized life among them. You have institutions to promote and disseminate the knowledge of every branch of science; you have a government, and you have laws, all founded upon those principles of liberty and equality which have ever been dear to us; for, in all our vicissitudes of fortune, and notwithstanding the constant and gradual diminution of our numbers, we have never been the slaves of any Power, and we trust in the Great Spirit we never shall be. The theory of your government is justice and good faith to all men. You will not submit to injury from one party because it is powerful, nor will you oppress another because it is weak. Impressed with that persuasion, we are confident that our rights will be respected.
We have but small tracts of territory remaining, and our numbers are comparatively few. The majority of those east of the Mississippi are turning their attention to agriculture, are settling themselves, and would in time become useful citizens. We admit, at the same time, that a large number still continue a wandering life, are wretched and degraded. These it would give us pleasure to see settled west of the Mississippi. It would be better for them, and better for those who remained. But you cannot persuade all to remove. The gradual operation of the laws which you may enact with regard to this subject would probably effect much. But there are those whom the strongest inducements could scarcely persuade to leave the land which contains the bones of their fathers, and which has been rendered dear to them by the recollections of youth. The important question then presents itself, What will you do with those that remain? What measures will you adopt to improve their condition, to promote their happiness? It is this great point to which our address is intended principally to direct your attention.
As connected with the subject, and with the question just proposed, we are constrained to say, that in several of the Southern States we are denied privileges I to which, as members of the human family, we are of right entitled. However qualified by education we may be, we are neither permitted to hold offices, nor to give our testimony in courts of justice, although our dearest rights may be at stake. Can this be a correct policy? Is it just? Is it humane? When schools are multiplying among us; when we have made liberal appropriations of money for the education of our children; when we are forsaking the chase, and turning our attention to agriculture, and are becoming an orderly and social people; does it comport with an enlightened and liberal policy to continue the imposition of those degrading restrictions upon us? Should not inducements be held forth to our young men to qualify themselves to become useful citizens of your republic? Should not the portals of honorable distinction be thrown open to them as well as to their white brothers? But the subject is a painful one, and we will dismiss it. The mist of prejudice is gradually vanishing before the light of reason, and enlarged sentiments of philanthropy begin to prevail. We leave the issue of the question to your wisdom, and to the liberality of the South.
In conclusion, we would express the earnest hope that the result of your deliberations respecting our unfortunate race, may be such as to insure durable benefits to them, and lasting credit, in the eyes of posterity, to yourselves.
Respectfully submitted by
MOOSHULATUBBE, his mark.
ROBERT COLE, his mark.
DANIEL McCURTAIN, his mark.
TALKING WARRIOR, his mark.
RED FORT, his mark.
NITTUCKACHEE, his mark.
J. L. MCDONALD.
Interpreted, and the signing witnessed by me,
United States Interpreter for the Choctaws.