Execution of the Treaty with the Winnebagoes.
THE SECRETARY OF WAR.
The information required by a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 19th instant, in relation to the Execution of the Treaty of 1st November, 1837, with the Winnebago Indians.
MARCH 1, 1839.
Referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.
February 28, 1839.
SIR: In obedience to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 19th instant, calling on the Secretary of War for "a statement of the proceedings of his [this] Department in the execution of the first and second provisions of the fourth article of the treaty of 1st November, 1837, with the Winnebago Indians, and copies of all correspondence relating thereto; and, also, a statement of any information received relating to any speculation or alleged misconduct of any person or persons employed in the execution of the said provisions, and copies of all correspondence relating thereto, and the report made on that subject by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and the decision of the Secretary of War thereon," I have the honor to transmit, herewith, documents numbered from 1 to 18, inclusive.
It was not the intention of the Department, in setting aside the proceedings of the commissioners, to impeach either their integrity or their judgment; the frankness and candor with which they state, in their report, the several instances in which they have departed from their instructions, place the former above suspicion, and the reasons which they assign for having thus acted warrant the conclusion that they were governed by a sound discretion. The Department, however, after a careful review of the case, and after giving full weight to the arguments adduced by the commissioners, feels constrained to confirm its former decision.
With regard to the distribution of the money ($100,000) to the half-breeds of tie Winnebago tribe of Indians, the Department sees no reason to attach any censure to the commissioners for the manner in which this portion of their duty was performed. They distributed the several
2amounts, in all probability, in due proportions among the claimants, and gave the certificates to the attorneys of the parties, no doubt, in good faith. Such a proceeding would have been unobjectionable, if the transaction had been between citizens of the United States, deriving their interests in another manner than from their half-breed wives and children; and the Government would have felt bound, in that case, to have regarded it as valid; but, as guardian of the Indians, it became its duty, as soon as it was made acquainted with the facts, to protect them from the great loss to which their impatience to receive the money, and their well-known improvidence, had exposed them. It appears from the argument of the commissioners that they were ignorant that the claims of the half-breeds had been prepared by the attorneys to whom the certificates were issued, at a rate of profit not warranted by any risk the purchasers could have been supposed to have incurred; and thus the half-breeds were deprived of more than one third of the benefit proposed to be conferred upon them by the Indians, and guarantied to them by the treaty of 1837, which the Government is bound faithfully to execute. The commissioners, being ignorant of the character of this transaction, were justified in giving the certificate to the attorneys, if they gave them drafts at all; but the Department, being made aware of it by irrefragable proof, will not recognise their validity, but will cause the money to be paid to the half-breeds themselves; and being convinced, from this occurrence, that they are not to be trusted with the interests of their infant children, will itself take such security as will insure the proper application of this fund.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
J. R. POINSETT.
Hon. JAMES K. POLK
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Office Indian Affairs, February 28, 1839.
SIR: In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 10th instant. I have the honor to transmit the accompanying papers. They exhibit all that has been done in execution of the first and second provisions of the fourth article of the treaty of 1st November, 1837, with the Winnebago Indians, and contain all the correspondence in relation thereto.
It was not the design of this office to impugn the motives or conduct of the commissioners. It was thought, and is still thought, they misapprehended the views of the Department; but, assuming the principles they did, the business seems to have been conducted with ability.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD.
Hon. J. R. POINSETT,
Secretary of War.
July 21, 1838.
SIR: By the direction of the President, you are appointed a commissioner to examine claims of half-breed relatives of the Winnebago Indians, and debts due by the same Indians, for the payment of which provision was made in the treaty concluded with them on the 1st of November, 1837. You will be allowed $8 for every twenty miles of travel, by the shortest and most direct practicable route, from your residence to Prairie du Chien, in Wisconsin Territory, and thence home, and for every twenty miles of necessary travel in the Indian country; and $8 for every day actually and necessarily otherwise spent in the execution of your duties while there. You are authorized to draw bills of exchange on the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, if at any time you should desire to do so, for such sums as may be due to you on account of mileage or service. These bills will be accompanied by accounts, showing, in detail, dates, distances, terms of service, &c., attested by your certificate.
Instructions for the execution of your duties will be transmitted to you by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
J. R. POINSETT.
SIMON CAMERON, Esq.,
Similar letter to James Murray, dated August 1, 1838.
Office Indian Affairs, July 26, 1838.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit an appointment constituting you a commissioner to examine claims against the Winnebago Indians, of November 1st, 1837. For the instructions that will govern you in the execution of your duties. I beg leave to refer you to the accompanying copy of those to the commissioners appointed to examine similar claims under the treaty with the Sioux Indians. That part of them which contemplates an inquiry to ascertain the members of the tribe interested in the land ceded grew out of the peculiar phraseology employed in that treaty, and has no application to that with the Winnebagoes, Mr. G. W. Featherstonhaugh, jr. has been appointed secretary to your board, and directed to report to you in person at Prairie du Chien by the 20th August next. This day has been named with reference to all the circumstances of the case; and I have to request that you will make your arrangements to reach the same place at that time.
Governor Dodge, the superintendent of Indian affairs in Wisconsin Territory, and Major T. A. B. Boyd, the sub-agent for the Winnebagoes, have been notified of your appointment, and directed to cooperate with you in any way the board may indicate,
C. A. HARRIS.
General SIMON CAMERON,
Middletown, Dauphin county, Pennsylvania.
P. S. The appointment of joint commissioner with you has been tendered to Mr. Hardenbury, of New Jersey; but a few days will elapse before it will be known whether he will accept it.
C. A. H.
Office Indian Affairs, July 26, 1838.
GENTLEMEN: I have the honor to communicate to you the instructions of this Department, for the execution of the duties devolved upon you as commissioners, to execute certain provisions of the treaty with the Sioux of the Mississippi of the 29th of September, 1837, a copy of which is enclosed.
You will please to make your arrangements to reach Fort Snelling by the 25th of August. The first step, after your arrival there, will be to fix the time and place at which you will enter upon the business of your commission, and the length of the notice proposed to be given to the Indians and the claimants; and, upon these points, I recommend that you consult the Indian agent, Major Taliaferro. The time should be fixed with reference to the payment of the annuities, in order to avoid the expense of two councils; and the place should be within the Indian country, that the intercourse law of 1834 (a copy of which you will find with the agent) may be enforced, in preventing the introduction and sale of ardent spirits, and in removing improper persons, if any should obtrude themselves.
The agent will take the necessary measures to convene the Indians, and to subsist them while together.
In the 2d clause of the 2d article of the treaty, the United States stipulate to pay $100,000 to the relatives of the parties having an interest in the land ceded, and who were represented by the chiefs and braves who signed the treaty. The first inquiry will therefore be, who are these parties? and, in determining this question, you will have regard to the information you may receive from the agent, the chiefs, and other persons worthy of confidence, who, from their long residence in the country, have had means of forming opinions on the subject. The next step will be to obtain an accurate list of all the relatives of these parties, who have not less than one quarter of Sioux blood. You will receive the applications of all who may deem themselves entitled; and, to satisfy themselves of their right to be admitted, it will be necessary to have recourse to the statements of the chiefs. These should be made publicly, and, if not controverted or disproved, they will be considered conclusive. The list should show the name, sex, and age, of each individual, the degree of his relationship to the Indians, and the amount awarded to him. It should also show your action in each case, and the reasons for your various decisions. When completed, you will submit it to the chiefs assembled in council, for their assent to it, which you will procure in writing, having their signatures duly witnessed. You will cause one copy of it to be transmitted to this office, and another to be deposited with Governor Dodge, the superintendent of Indian affairs in Wisconsin, or with the Indian agent. A third copy will be delivered by you to the person having charge of the money appropriated, with instructions to
5pay each person the amount allowed, and to take his receipt on the list, which will be his voucher. In determining the amount which each claimant shall receive, your attention will be directed to the following; considerations: the degree of relationship, and the value and extent of services or supplies rendered to the Indians, or the capacity, disposition, and intention, to render them in future, as these constitute the entire foundation for this provision in the treaty. Relatives who reside among the Indians will be entitled, of course, to some portion of this fund; how large will depend on the result of your inquiries; in the case of nonresidents, the most ample proof on the points indicated should be required. There will no doubt be a number of minors, of orphans, and of persons incompetent to make a right disposition of the sums allowed them. Whenever husband and wife are living together, and their children are living with them, or wherever the children are living with one of their parents, and you become satisfied that such parents, or either of them, are competent to take care of their children, you will direct the portions of the latter to be paid to such parent. In the cases of children who are orphans, or have been deserted by their parents, you are authorized to place their respective shares in the hands of some trustworthy person, who will apply it faithfully for their benefit. In the selection of this person you will consult the wishes of the chiefs; but they will not necessarily determine your action. The same course may be taken in the cases of Indians you may deem incompetent to manage their affairs properly. All other persons of full age will receive their respective shares. In all cases, where you may deem it advisable, you can cause witnesses to be summoned, sworn, and examined before you; and the testimony thus procured should be transmitted to this office.
The 3d clause of the 2d article of the treaty provides that the sum of $90,000 shall be applied to the payment of just debts of the Sioux Indians interested in the land ceded. This stipulation will not be so construed as to extend to any debts created since the date of the treaty.
Having ascertained, in the manner heretofore pointed out, who are the parties interested, you will call upon all persons holding claims against them to present them. You will require the respective creditors to deposite with you transcripts of their claims, exhibiting names, dates, articles, prices, and the original consideration of each claim. If notes or obligations, purporting to be signed by any of the Indians, shall be presented to you for allowance, you will inquire into the original consideration, and the circumstances under which they may have been signed. No such note or obligation will be received as evidence of a debt, unless the indebtedness shall be satisfactorily shown. If original books or entries cannot be produced, their loss or destruction must be proved. The sale of spirituous liquors to Indians being prohibited by the laws of the United States, no item of charge on that account will, under any circumstances, be allowed. You will prepare a roll of all the claimants, specifying the amount claimed by each, the places of residence or trade, the time when the debt was incurred, the kind of merchandise or other articles, the amount admitted by you to be justly due, and the amount rejected.
You will carefully record all the evidence in each case, and transmit it, with the affidavits themselves, if in that form, with the roll of claimants, and, with the grounds of your decisions, to this office, The accompanying
6printed copy of a report on similar claims, against the Pottawatamies, will give you a clear idea of the manner in which your own should be prepared.
Your examination cannot be too scrutinizing into the merits and justice of every claim. If it be against an individual Indian, he should be called before you, and each item in the account should be explained to him, and his assent or dissent to it required. If it be against the parties ceding the land collectively, or against either of the bands among them, as a band, the account should be explained in like manner, and their acknowledgment or denial taken. To this extent, I have no doubt, Indian testimony should be received; the weight it should have you must determine, after considering the character, general intelligence, and means of information, of the witness. The moral duty of paving every just claim should be pressed upon the Indians; and, in receiving their statements, you will bear in mind the danger arising on the one hand from a disposition to evade an obligation; and, on the other, from the exercise of improper influence by any of the claimants. The creditors will be required to swear to their accounts, and the testimony of disinterested persons will also be taken in regard to the justness of the prices charged. If the aggregate of claims admitted by you shall exceed the sum provided in the treaty, you will report the amount due to each claimant, after a pro rata distribution; and this he will be required to take, in full of all demands against these Indians up to the date of the treaty. Your decisions will be final. The assent of the Indians to your report you will procure in writing.
The sum appropriated for the half-breeds will be sent, in due season, to Major E. A. Hitchcock, at St. Louis, who will make the necessary arrangements for its disbursement, under your direction. The sum appropriated for the payment of debts will be retained here. You will give each claimant a certificate of the amount allowed him; and, upon his draft on this office, appended to this certificate, the payment will be made in New York. I enclose forms of certificate and draft. The sum of $500 for contingent expenses, such as stationery, &c., has been remitted to Captain Hitchcock, who will provide for its disbursement, on your requisition.
You are each authorized, if you desire to do so, to draw on this office, from time to time, bills of exchange for such sums as may be due to you on account of mileage or services. These bills must be accompanied by accounts, showing, in detail, dates, distances, terms of service, &c., and attested by your certificate. A similar authority has been given to your secretary, whose accounts, however, must be certified by one or both of you.
Mr. T. P. Spierin has been appointed secretary to your board, and instructed to report to you, and perform such duties as you may prescribe.
C. A. HARRIS.
L. T. PEASE, Esq., Hartford, Connecticut, and
W. L. D. EWING, Esq., Vandalia, Illinois.
OFFICE MILITARY DISBURSING AGENT, IND. DEPT.,
St. Louis, November 6, 1838.
I have been compelled, from a sense of duty, to suspend payment of the Winnebago half-breed money until I can receive your instructions.
I was directed to pay the half-breeds, on the requisition of the commissioners. The usage of the Department, under similar instructions, as understood by me, has been for the persons authorized to make requisitions to require the payment to be made to the proper claimant. (Form No. 1, Rev'd Reg's No. 3.) If the claimant is a white man, and disposes of his claim, it is his business, and his right so to do is not disputed. In the case of the Indians the rule is different, the 31st par. Rev'd Reg's No. 3 being explicit on this point.
Half-breeds are neither white men nor Indians, as expressed in their name; and the proper treatment of them is neither defined in the regulations, nor, perhaps, established by usage. If it is said they are not Indians, and must therefore be treated as white men, it may more plausibly be said they are not white men, and ought therefore to be treated as Indians, as they unquestionably have been in almost all treaties containing stipulations in their favor. (Art. 1st, treaty 4th August 1824, Sacs and Foxes; arts. 6 and 11, treaty June 3d, 1825, Kansas; arts. 3 and 6, treaty October 6, 1818, Miamies; art. 3d, treaty 23d October, 1826; art. 4th, treaty December 29,1835; art. 2d, treaty August 29, 1821, Ottawas, Chippewas, &c., last part of the art.; art. 2d, treaty February 18, 1833, Ottawas, &c.; and especially the spirit of the 6th article treaty 28th March, 1836, Ottawas and Chippewas.)
It is against all knowledge (although there may be exceptions) to suppose the half-breeds are acquainted with the nature of powers of attorney and bills of exchange; and to discuss a question concerning them upon a presumption of their moral responsibility to our laws and usages, is, to my mind, an absurdity.
Premising thus much, I have to state that the fund for the payment of the Winnebago half-breeds was not received by me until the 9th ultimo I availed myself of the first boat and first opportunity, (which occurred on the l6th,) and sent it from this city to Prairie du Chien, to be paid to the persons whom the commissioners might designate as the proper claimants.
But the commissioners had decided to require payment, not to the individual claimants, but, almost exclusively, to third persons, and principally to a moneyed man, who travelled from Philadelphia with a large amount of Philadelphia bank notes, (doubtless for some lawful purpose, ) upon his procuring powers of attorney. I do not wish to question the motives of this moneyed man in following the commissioners to Prairie du Chien with his bank notes; but I cannot sufficiently express my regret that the late date at which the half-breed money was remitted has given him the opportunity of purchasing, with his rags, the claims of a miserable body of ignorant half-breeds, totally unacquainted with the nature of the business in which he was engaged.
Another class of persons in whose favor the commissioners have required payments are called guardians and trustees, not one of whom has been required to give bond for the faithful disposition of the money.
To pay these people without requiring bonds will scarcely be even a
8form of payment; and to suppose that ten per cent. of the money, if thus paid, can ever benefit the proper claimants, is to defy all experience.
The commissioners, who are now in town, observe, on this point that they had no instructions to require bonds, and that, therefore, their doing so "would not be legal;" but I do not see the sequence.
One among these selected trustees was arrested for debt in this city last spring; another, I have been credibly informed, dared not come here, on account of his debts; and a third is a most notorious gambler. Two of these, I venture to say, could not borrow a thousand dollars to save them from the county jail.
It is from no disposition to retain the money in my hands that I suspend the payment. I had already sent it to Prairie du Chien; and my sending to the Sioux half-breeds their hundred and ten thousand dollars, without instructions, as reported by my letter of the 9th September, will show my readiness to disburse the public money when I am satisfied with the occasion; but the well-known and enormous frauds upon half-breeds of other tribes impose upon me a duty in this case; and I cannot pay this money to the Winnebago half-breed claimants without instructions, based upon a knowledge of the circumstances (doubtless unexpected to the Department) growing out of the fact that the money was not at Prairie du Chien until the commissioners had closed their labors.
I enclose, herewith, a list of claimants, as ascertained by the commissioners, with their requisition attached to it, which I request may be returned to me. I also send copies of individual orders or drafts, which will explain the manner of requiring payment.
I cannot close this letter, long as it is, without observing that the Department thought proper to indicate a distinction between the claims of white persons and those of half-breeds, by paying the former in Washington, while the money was sent for the latter. It appears to me the distinction thus drawn was not without meaning, extending, as it did, to all the tribes on the upper Mississippi.
Since writing the foregoing, I have seen and conversed with the commissioners. They urge that they were expected to distribute the money, and that they only are responsible. I answered, that their instructions were given under the presumption that the money would be on the spot, to be distributed by them to the proper claimants; that the money not being there presented a contingency not anticipated; and that, in point of fact, their duties would not be executed, and should have determined on the knowledge of that contingency.
I have also seen some of the claimants, one of whom has held out a threat of protest; but this was merely done to test the strength of my determination.
I hope, in considering this matter, you will do me the justice to bear in mind that I have already shown my willingness to pay the money, by sending it to Prairie du Chien.
I have remarked to the claimants, that I presumed the drafts would ultimately be paid, but that, in my belief, they were given under circumstances not contemplated in the instructions of the commissioners, and that the circumstances were of a character that required a higher sanction for the payment than my own, and, in short, that the Department could bear better than myself the responsibility of payment.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK, Major, M. D. Agent.
P. S. The importance of the list of claimants referred to has induced me to retain it until I can prepare a copy, which I will transmit tomorrow.
E. A. H.
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD, Esq.,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
No. 10 -- $2,800.
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, WIS. TER.,
October 25, 1838.
Pay to D. M. Brodhead, Esq., or order, two thousand eight hundred dollars, being the amount awarded to James, otherwise called Jacques L'Ecuyer, in his own right, as a half-blood Winnebago, and in right of David Twiggs, his adopted son, of quarter Winnebago blood, out of the fund provided for the relatives of the said Winnebago Indians of not less than one quarter blood, under the treaty of November 1, 1837; and for which sum a receipt has been signed, on the list of said relatives with which you have been furnished; the said D. M. Broadhead being the duly constituted attorney in fact of the said James or Jacques L'Ecuyer, as per letters of attorney filed with us.
U. S. Com'rs.
To Major E. A. HITCHCOCK,
United States Disbursing Agent, St. Louis.
Pay to N. Boilvin, or order.
D. M. BRODHEAD.
No. 27 -- $2,400.
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, WIS. TER.,
October 25, 1838.
Pay to Hercules L. Dousman, or order, twenty-four hundred dollars, which is the amount awarded to the said Hercules L. Dousman, as the trustee of Antoine Grignon, Hypolite Grignon, and Archange Grignon, (minors,) quarter-blood Winnebaeoes, out of the fund provided for the relatives of the said Winnebago Indians of not less than one quarter blood, under the treaty of November 1, 1837; and for which sum a receipt has been signed on the list of said relations, with which you have been furnished.
U. S. Com'rs.
To Major E. A. HITCHCOCK,
United States Disbursing Agent, St. Louis.
Pay to Pratte, Chouteau, & Co., or order.
H. L. DOUSMAN, Trustee.
PRATTE, CHOUTEAU, & Co.
No. 29 -- $900.
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, WIS. TER.,
October 25, 1838.
Pay to Ellen St. Cyr, or order, nine hundred dollars, which is the amount awarded to the said Ellen St. Cyr, in her own right, as a half-blood Winnebago, out of the fund provided for the relations of the said Winnebago Indians of not less than one quarter blood, under the treaty of November 1, 1837; and for which sum a receipt has been signed on the list of said relatives, with which you have been furnished.
To Major E. A. HITCHCOCK,
United States Disbursing Agent, St. Louis.
Pay the within to N. Boilvin, or his order.
ELLEN ST. CYR, her x mark.
Witness present: H. L. DOUSMAN.
Pay to Pratte, Chouteau, & Co., or order.
PRATTE, CHOUTEAU, & Co.
St. Louis, November 7, 1838.
SIR: I transmit, herewith, a copy of the list referred to in my letter of yesterday.
A day's reflection has in no manner changed my feelings in relation to this matter, and I earnestly request instructions at least to require bonds from guardians and trustees, before paying drafts in their favor from the fund for Winnebago half-breeds.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major, M. D. Agent.
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD, Esq.,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
St. Louis, November 8, 1838.
SIR: It was not my intention, as certainly it was not my wish, to occupy your time with another communication on the subject of the Winnebago half-breed money; but, as new circumstances come to my knowledge, I must write, to do justice to the subject, to myself, and to others.
I have crossed the purposes of a band of greedy speculators, and brought upon myself the maledictions of many who will pretend an infinite degree of sympathy for the very half-breeds whom they have cheated and almost robbed, by what will boldly be put forth as a legal proceeding. Be the consequences what they may, I rejoice that I have, for a few weeks at least, suspended the execution of this business.
I have now to inform you that I know an instance where a man, selected by the commissioners as a "trustee," received, in that capacity, an order for $1,800, who has, in this city, offered it in payment of a note of his own, due last summer, and which note was dishonored and paid by his endorser, and the amount suffered to remain a debt due the endorser to this day. Can this man be worthy of the trust reposed in him? And is it possible that instructions could have contemplated the payment of money in trust to such persons, without taking a bond for its faithful appropriation?
I am informed, and have not the slightest doubt of the fact, that every possible exertion was made to deceive the half-breeds into the belief that the Government was without money; was not disposed to pay the half-breeds; and that, if they permitted the opportunity of selling their claims to pass, they would never receive any thing; and that one claim of $1,800 was actually thus sold for $400. Can such a transaction pass in review without condemnation, because it may wear the color of law? It is monstrous; and, if lawful, the law is a scourge to the innocent. It will be urged upon you, that actual claimants have been refused money in their own proper persons, and subjected to great losses. I am not so blind as not to see the use intended to be made of a farce enacted in my office, when an artful "attorney in fact" and "trustee" brought into my presence a half-breed named Oliva, one of five only who received requisitions in their own names, for the purpose of making a case upon which to complain of hardship. I request you to examine the list of claimants, as shown on the copy forwarded, and you will see but five of the whole body have had the wit and strength to withstand the influences brought to bear by the cupidity of white men, and received certificates in their own name. Oliva, one of the five referred to, will not suffer; the wit that secured him at Prairie du Chien will not abandon him here; and he is the only one I have heard of as having come here except by attorney in fact or by "trustee."
It is in vain to attempt to smother the grossness of this proceeding. Why were not the certificates of claim simply recorded in favor of the original and proper claimants, if the commission must needs go through the form of payment? Was it because such certificates were not drafts? Was it because the "attorneys in fact" could not press their claims under purchase with half trip show of right they now pretend?
I beg of you to examine attentively the list of claimants forwarded yesterday.
12You will see the names of but five original claimants reported as having received orders on me. This was known to the commissioners, who, when I suggested the propriety of making payment at Prairie du Chien, immediately informed me that claims for nearly the whole amount were already in this city. I grieve to say it, but the impulse is irresistible, and I must express my apprehension that the form of payment was acquiesced in for the security of the purchaser, and not for the benefit of the claimant; and that in this proceeding the commissioners yielded their duty of guardianship of the half-breeds to a seeming compliance with the forms of law, for the protection of "attorneys in fact."
There has been great eloquence wasted in an argument to prove that the proper claimants are scattered, and beyond the reach of the paying agents of the Indian department; but this is all a waste of words. If they live with Indians, they can be found with them. If with white men, their blood will distinguish and publish them; and I, for one, as a disbursing agent, do not thank the commissioners for an attempt to save me from the performance of a duty appertaining to my situation. If "attorneys in fact" can find the claimants, so can the officers of the Indian department. If it be said that they have paid the claimants already, and are not expected to find them, the assertion truly characterizes the whole proceeding, and shows in what manner these "attorneys in fact" became invested with the confidential trust they have filed with the commissioners.
The powers of attorney were purchased, and for the most part by an utter stranger, a man entirely unknown to the half-breeds, and having not the shadow of claim upon their confidence but through the contents of his purse. The commissioners inform me that they have no knowledge of the sale of claims; yet they informed me that the claims were nearly all here. In the first assertion they must speak in a technical sense, and can only mean that the powers of attorney do not show the sale; while, in the second, they know, in another sense, all about the claims -- where they are and how they were procured. I do not wish to be disrespectful to the commissioners; but I must think they were not selected at a great distance from the scene of their duties, at $5 per day, at Congress travelling days, and their expenses all paid besides, to act with two species of knowledge, and shield themselves from a high moral responsibility by keeping the law on their side.
I was officially informed that their sittings were to have been held in the Indian country, where all the expenses were to be paid by the Government, in order to secure justice to the claimants; and drafts on the Government, for upwards of $5,000, are now in motion, besides the per diem due the commissioners on account of the expenses incurred by their commission; and yet, by a seeming fatality, the half-breeds have been cheated and abused under their eyes, and they "don't know it."
I recommend that payment be ordered to the original claimants; that the list reported by the commissioners he regarded only as a schedule like that embraced on page 588 of the book of "Treaties to 1837," except that "trustees" be paid on giving proper bonds; and the half-breeds can then refund the amount advanced to them by "attorneys in fact."
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major, M. D. Agent.
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD, Esq.,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
P. S. I have just been informed that the claimants at Prairie du Chien, on hearing that the money for them had actually been sent to the Prairie, contrary to assurances given them, sent to this place a protest against the proceedings of the commissioners, to stay the money in my hands; and it has been intimated, from a respectable source, that the agent has been bought to silence.
Time may disclose something on this subject important to the honor of the Government.
OFFICE DISBURSING AGENT, INDIAN DEPARTMENT,
St. Louis, December 3, 1838.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 21st ult., directing that no payments be made from the funds for Winnebago half-breeds without further instructions, and requesting me to communicate any further information I may have on the subject of the mode of payment directed by the late commissioners at Prairie du Chien.
Since my reports upon this subject, there has not been time to communicate with any one at Prairie du Chien; but I have a letter from General Street, dated at that place, November 1st, after the commissioners had left there, and before he could have heard of my proceeding. General Street says, in reference to the Winnebago commissioners, "the course pursued by the commissioners here has been very different from that of Mr. Fleming at Rock island. From the statements of correct persons here, the most shameful bribing and favoritism have been practised."
In a matter of so much importance, involving the reputation of gentlemen honored with the commission of the Government for the execution of a high trust, and affecting the interest of many individuals who have confided in the integrity of the Government agents, it is of the utmost consequence that nothing should be received as decisive, to the prejudice of such interests, without the fullest assurance of necessity.
I mention this consideration to show that I am aware of the responsibility under which I express my satisfaction with the order of the 21st ult., and recommend that it be continued until definite reports can be received from the parties interested at and in the neighborhood of Prairie du Chien. There is, however, one claimant living in this city, to whom I had sent the order of the 20th, with a notice of my readiness to pay him in his own proper person. Should he make his appearance, good faith will require me to make the payment. This I presume may be done without injustice to any one. Those who received drafts in their own right might also be paid the amounts awarded to them; for they cannot be entitled to less, though it is possible they should receive more.
I have the means, and shall employ them, of procuring accurate information from Prairie du Chien; and the results will be reported without delay.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major, M. D. Agent.
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD, Esq.,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
OFFICE DISBURSING AGENT, INDIAN DEPARTMENT,
St. Louis, December 5, 1838.
SIR: The Rev. Mr. Lowry, the superintendent of the Winnebago school and farm, under the treaty of 1832, being in this city, has furnished the enclosed letter in reference to the conduct of the commissioners at Prairie du Chien, having duties under the treaty of 1837.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
M. D. Agent.
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD, Esq.,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
ST. LOUIS, December 5, 1838.
DEAR SIR: Your letter of yesterday, on the subject of the late purchase of the claims held by the half-breeds of the Winnebagoes, is now before me. In reply, I beg leave to say that, during the investigation of the commissioners in reference to this matter, I was confined at home by sickness, so that I had no opportunity of witnessing, in person, any facts in reference to the purchase of the claims in question; but, so far as public rumor can be relied on, I have no hesitation in saying that those half-breeds were shamefully cheated out of their rights; and I believe this is the general impression of the disinterested part of the community at Prairie du Chien. Not having inquired into the true origin of the reports which have come to my knowledge in this affair, I decline giving any facts at present, but will, on my return home, render special attention to the subject, when you shall hear from me again.
Great dissatisfaction prevailed among the half-breeds; and I have no doubt but they will be much pleased with the suspension of payment which has taken place.
Yours, with high regard,
Superintendent Win. School and Farm.
SIR: Agreeably to instructions received from the department of Indian Affairs, we proceeded at as early a day as possible to Prairie du Chien; but being obliged, from the low state of the water in the Ohio and Mississippi, to take the route of the Northern lakes, did not arrive there until the 29th of August.
Immediately on our arrival, we published a notice in the various papers at Dubuque, (Iowa,) Mineral Point and Green Bay, (Wisconsin,) and at Chicago and Detroit, requiring all persons interested in claims against the Winnebago nation of Indians, under the 4th article of the
15treaty of November, 1837, to present them. The notice contained also directions to the claimants, of the kind and character of the testimony which would be required, conformably to the instructions received from the department. A copy of this notice is filed herewith, marked A.
Very soon after its publication, we learned from many of the creditors of the Indians then at Prairie du Chien, that it would be impossible to furnish the evidence required by the department, and that it was then a matter of deliberation among them, whether it would be expedient or not to file their claims before us; and it was not until the last day limited by the notice that a large proportion of the claims were presented.
It was soon apparent to us, that if we required proofs of the sale and delivery of particular articles to the Indians, nothing could be done, and that we should have to return home without effecting the objects for which we were sent to the country, and thus leave a large body of angry claimants among the Indians, who were already a good deal excited upon the subject of the treaty, and who could, as we were informed, influence them to any course they might think proper.
It became necessary, therefore, to examine if it would not be possible, by a liberal interpretation of the instructions, to effect the object of our mission, and do substantial justice to the parties concerned.
For this purpose, we began by examining the most intelligent and experienced traders upon the subject of the usages of Indian trade, for many years back; the mode of dealing between the traders and savages; the extent of credits usually given; the proportion in which such credits were usually paid by the Indians; the profits charged by traders upon their goods; and the expenses of their outfits, including costs, charges, &c. This course, which was adopted at first as an experiment by which to find out if it was possible to ascertain the amount of debts due the traders in a trade so loosely conducted as this evidence will exhibit, and to which we beg leave respectfully to refer, brought us to the conclusion that it was the only mode by which it would be possible to effect any settlement; and that, although it would be impossible to ascertain the amount of debts with precision, yet that substantial justice might be rendered, and both parties satisfied.
We were assisted and enlightened upon this subject by the proceedings of the creditors, who held a meeting to adjust their claims among each other, and at which they agreed upon certain principles by which it would be equitable to settle their accounts.
The resolution passed by this body of creditors, including, as well as we could learn, nearly the whole assembled at Prairie du Chien, were informally submitted to us, and, without at all receiving our official sanction, shed lights upon the subject, which were found afterwards of essential service in the settlement of our business; and the rules laid down by them were adopted by our board, so far as they corresponded with the evidence taken upon the subjects to which they referred.
Under the treaty of November, 1837, and the instructions from the Indian department, two distinct duties were imposed upon us, viz: to examine, adjust, and pay the just debts of the Winnebago nation of Indians; and, secondly; to distribute a certain sum among those of mixed origin, having not less than one quarter of Winnebago blood.
Under the first branch of this service we were directed "to require
16the respective creditors to deposite with us transcripts of their claims, exhibiting names, dates, articles, prices, and the original consideration of each claim. If notes or obligations, purporting to be signed by any of the Indians, are presented to you for allowance, to inquire into the original consideration, and the circumstances under which they were signed. No such note or obligation to be received as evidence of a debt, unless the indebtedness be satisfactorily shown. If original books or entries cannot be produced, their loss or destruction must be proved."
"If the debt be against an individual Indian, he should be called before you, and each item in the account be explained to him, and his assent or dissent to it required. If against the parties ceding the land collectively, or against either of the bands among them, as a band, the account should be explained in like manner, and the acknowledgment or denial taken. To this extent Indian testimony should be received. Your decisions will be final."
It very soon became obvious to us that it was not in the power of the traders, in more than one or two cases, to obey that part of the instructions requiring the presentation of transcripts from their books, giving names, dates, articles, &c., as the proof was abundant and uniform that it had not been the habit of the traders to keep books of Indian credits; indeed, there were but few cases in which the books or memorandums had been kept at all, and in all but -- cases these books or memorandums had been destroyed or lost. The Indian trader, though generally shrewd and managing, is unlettered; and travelling through a wild country, and dealing with savage people unknown to him, has little opportunity of keeping correct books, or indeed any books at all. The Winnebago Indians, previous to their late treaties, under which they now receive large annuities, had no money or present means of payment, and relied entirely on the success of their hunts to pay for the necessaries they were obliged to purchase on credit, for subsistence and the chase. They were known to be generally honest, but, by a common law peculiar to them, as the testimony accompanying this report will show, they considered that the avails of their hunting seasons were a fair set-off against the supplies furnished them; which, if good, would nearly, though not in all individual cases, pay; and, by common understanding among the traders and themselves, it was so considered. An Indian debt, after it had been due one or two years, was considered desperate, and was never called for; because, in the first place, of the inability of the Indian to pay, and the probable loss of the Indian custom if the demand was persisted in, in which case they could always find other traders to deal with; and hence the carelessness about books. The testimony taken before us abundantly proves this statement. If it had been our duty to pay to the traders their losses incurred in the Indian trade, and not the just debts of the Indians, our inquiries would have taken a different direction; but however profitable the trade might have been, the credits proved to remain unpaid were certainly just debts; and to ascertain the amount of these unpaid credits was the leading duty of the commissioners in relation to this branch of their duty.
Finding, then, as we have stated, but few cases in which the traders could file transcripts of accounts, &c., it became necessary to require proofs of the loss or destruction of books; and here a new difficulty presented
17itself. After proof that rough books or memorandums of credits had in some few instances been kept, and afterwards lost, the parties were not only unable to file transcripts exhibiting names, dates, &c., but could not furnish, from proof or recollection, the articles sold, their prices, or the parties who purchased.
This class of cases, then, under a strict construction of the instructions, was necessarily thrown out; and it became our duty to examine if there were any notes given by the Indians upon a settlement of accounts, or if not notes, whether any admission of balance due at any time could be proved. But one case of this kind was presented.
The next subject for investigation was, as to the sales to bands of Indians, or the nation at large; and here, also, no proof was offered.
Under, this aspect of the case, the commissioners knowing that the nation, in the treaty of 1837, had appropriated the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the payment of their debts thus virtually admitting that large debts were due to the traders, were obliged either under a strict construction of their instructions to return home, without fulfilling what they considered, after reflection, to be the spirit of the treaty stipulation, or to carry out what they believed to be that spirit, by a liberal construction of their instructions.
They concluded, that in setting aside this sum for the payment of debts due to the Indian creditors, out of a fund belonging to the nation, the Winnebago nation had assumed, as such, the payment of all the debts (not exceeding in the aggregate the amount appropriated in the treaty) due by individual Indians; and that if they could ascertain, with reasonable precision, the amount due, that the character of the Government, and, certainly, as they believe, its true policy, was to take the course they finally determined on, viz.: to ascertain as nearly as possible the amount due to each trader, and then to exhibit and explain to the Indians in council the accounts so adjudicated, for their adoption or rejection. It will be seen, also, by document E, filed herewith, that the Indians in council admitted that they were largely indebted to the traders.
This course was considered the more proper, because, there being no claims for debts incurred by the nation as such, and none even against bands, but all against individual Indians when first contracted, it was considered that, in making the treaty, the nation adopted as their own all the claims against individuals, there being none other to provide for.
The claims being considered, then, as national, an admission of them by the nation in council could not but be considered as sufficient authority for their payment.
This general principle being settled, the next step was to ascertain the amount of the debts due; and in their inquiry the commissioners found themselves much embarrassed, from the general looseness of the proofs offered, sunning through the lapse of many years.
The testimony of experienced traders, however, satisfied them that a probable average might be made of the unpaid credits, by taking testimony of the capital employed by different traders, the amount usually sold on credit, and the proportion of credits generally remaining unpaid. This course we were aware would not lead to certain conclusions, but would approximate truth as nearly as we could hope to attain it, in a matter necessarily so vague and uncertain.
The examination satisfied us that about one half of the sales were generally made on credit, of which from one half to one third were never received; and we adopted this proportion, as coming nearer the truth than any other, and were strengthened in our opinions of its fairness from finding that it accorded with the views of the traders themselves, as expressed in their private adjudications among themselves, before referred to. Particular cases, where the testimony warranted, were of course made exceptions to this general rule.
The same course was taken in regard to the proportion of sales to the Winnebagoes; the traders who dealt with them having been found at the same time to have dealt with other tribes. The general average was adopted of one half their trade with the Winnebago Indians; in particular cases, sometimes more, sometimes less, according to the testimony.
The register of claims, marked A, accompanying this communication; will show that claims to the amount of five hundred and twenty-eight thousand two hundred and nineteen dollars and thirty-three cents were put in before us; that they were considered as proven to the amount of one hundred and sixty thousand eight hundred and eighty-six dollars and thirty cents; and that a pro rata distribution of ninety-three cents and seventeen hundredths in the dollar was made, which was paid to the creditors, in full of their demands.
Before payment, the register was submitted to the Indians in council, and approved by them in writing, as will be seen by reference to document before referred to. Certificates of the amount due were given to the parties for these allowances, and forms of drafts to be drawn on the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, according to our instructions.
Considerable testimony was taken upon the subject of particular claims, and many ex parte depositions filed, all of which accompany this report, marked C.
In distributing the amount reserved in the treaty to Winnebagoes of mixed blood, not less than one quarter, the commissioners were instructed to inquire, "who are these parties? and, in determining this question, you will have regard to the information you may receive from the agent, the chiefs, and other persons worthy of confidence, who, from their long residence in the country, have had means of forming opinions on the subject; to receive the applications of all who may deem themselves entitled; and, to satisfy yourselves of their right to be admitted, it will be necessary to have recourse to the statements of the chiefs. These should be made publicly; and, if not controverted or disproved, they will be considered conclusive. The list should show the name, sex, and age, of each individual, the degree of relationship to the Indians, and the amount awarded to him; it should also show your action in each case, and the reasons for your various decisions. When completed, you will submit it to the chiefs assembled in council, for their assent to it, which you will procure in writing, having their signatures duly witnessed."
"You will cause a copy of it to be transmitted to this office, and another to be deposited with Governor Dodge, superintendent of Indian affairs in Wisconsin, or with the Indian agent. A third copy will be delivered by you to the person having charge of the money appropriated, with instructions to pay each person the amount allowed, and to take his receipt on the list, which will be his voucher. In determining the amount which each claimant shall receive, your attention will be directed to the
following considerations: the degree of relationship, and the value and extent of services or supplies rendered to the Indians, or the capacity, disposition, and intention to render them in future, as these constitute the entire foundation for this provision in the treaty. Relatives who reside among the Indians will of course be entitled to some portion of this fund; how large will depend on the result of your inquiries. In the case of non-residents, the most ample proof on the points indicated should be required. There will no doubt be a number of minors, or orphans, and of persons incompetent to make a right disposition of the sums allowed them. Wherever husband and wife are living together, and their children are living with them, or wherever the children are living with one of the parents, and you become satisfied that such parents, or either of them, are competent to take care of their children, you will direct the portions of the latter to be paid to such parents. In the case of children who are orphans, or who have been deserted by their parents, you are authorized to place their respective shares in the hands of some trustworthy person, who will apply it faithfully for their benefit. In the selection of this person you will consult the wishes of the chiefs, but they will not necessarily determine your action. The same course may be taken in the cases of Indians you may deem incompetent to manage their affairs properly. All other persons of full age will receive their respective shares.
"The sum appropriated for the half-breeds will be sent in due season to Major E. A. Hitchcock, at St. Louis, who will make the necessary arrangements for its disbursement, under your direction."
By the treaty, one hundred thousand dollars is reserved, to be distributed among the Winnebagoes of mixed breed, not less than one quarter; and by our instructions we were required to pay this in such proportions as we might think proper, taking into view services rendered and to be rendered.
Entire strangers in the country, having no knowledge of the mixed breeds, of their present or previous standing, ignorant of their history, so far as related in any manner to the discharge of this delicate duty, and limited in time, we were thrown for information upon the community of Prarie du Chien, and such strangers as happened to be there, and who had some knowledge of the services and standing of the Indians of mixed blood, for all the information to govern us in the distribution of this large fund.
The commissioners felt the delicacy and difficulties of their situation, and were then as well aware as now that they would necessarily commit mistakes which a better acquaintance with the parties interested might have enabled them to avoid. They knew not upon whom to call for correct information, and were not ignorant that ex parte depositions filed in these cases would be at least tinged with partiality, and have a tendency to mislead them.
The safest course, they thought, would be to call upon the most respectable and disinterested of the old settlers, to make a classified list of the half-breeds, according to their own knowledge of their merits; and upon this list, after an examination of the proofs in each case, to make their decision. This course was adopted, the result submitted to and ratified by the Indians in council, and the commissioners have every reason to believe gave universal satisfaction.
The register of distributions among the half-breeds, made out in the form required by the instructions, marked B, and herewith submitted, will show the manner in which this branch of duty was executed. They were divided into three classes, to the largest of which the sum of $ -- was given, to the second $ -- , and the third $ -- .
In cases where it was necessary to appoint guardians or trustees, recommendations in writing were required, and are herewith submitted to the department. It is believed that in all cases they are respectable, and by persons of the best standing in the country.
No bonds being required from guardians or trustees, the commissioners determined, after consultation on the subject, that it would not be proper to require them; in many cases it is presumed they could not have been given without great trouble and delay, in consequence of the distance at which some of the parties lived from the place of session; and if security had been required, the commissioners could have no knowledge of its competency.
In all, or nearly so, both of debt and half-breed cases, the parties appeared by attorneys in fact, whose powers were regularly executed and filed with the secretary, and are also herewith submitted; no doubt existed in the minds of the commissioners that the parties had a right thus to appear and give full authority not only to attend to the cases before the board, but to receive for them the allowance awarded. In the case of the traders, we presume no doubt can be or is entertained; and in the case of the half-bloods, who are understood to be free citizens of Wisconsin Territory, it appears to the commissioners there can be as little doubt. If the claims had belonged to white citizens, of education and standing in society, it would not have been at all a matter of surprise that they should appear by attorney, it being certainly the most convenient and best course. The business, though not conducted according to the strict course of courts of justice, was nevertheless governed necessarily by prescribed forms, with which the half-breeds could not generally be presumed to be familiar, although some of them were tolerably educated, and most of them highly respectable. Their right so to appear was not in any case questioned, and the instructions did not forbid it. The powers, therefore, were in all cases respected, and the business better conducted, as the commissioners conceive, than it could have been in any other manner. The money, too, not having arrived in time, no course remained but to give drafts; and many of the half-breeds not living on the spot, to whom could the drafts have been given, or who could receipt for them but the attorneys? If a different course had been adopted, the claimants would have been put to much unnecessary trouble and expense.
Before closing this report, it is proper to state the reasons upon which we determined to hold our sessions at Prairie du Chien, and not in the Indian country.
Our instructions from the department of Indian affairs recommended the Indian country as preferable, but were not imperative.
Immediately after our arrival at Prairie du Chien, it will be seen, by our correspondence with Major Boyd, and John H. Kinzie, late agent of the nation, that both of them recommended Prairie du Chien as the most convenient and best place at which, under all circumstances, we should hold our sessions. No other place was mentioned but "Painted Reck," in Iowa
21Territory, about fifteen miles above, on the Mississippi. Before coming to any conclusion on the subject, the commissioners thought it proper to examine this position, and judge for themselves. It was found altogether unsuited to the purpose, affording no accommodation of any kind, and too far for the transaction of business by daily visits -- it having occupied nearly the whole day in going to and returning from it. There was no intermediate place, and it being soon found, as before stated, that it would not be necessary to have the Indians before us often, it was thought better that they should be removed to a considerable distance from us, and thus avoid a too great intercourse with the whites. It would have been better, indeed, that the Indians should not have been assembled until after the accounts had been examined, inasmuch as their presence was not required during our investigations, and the long delay of their annuity after their arrival rendered them impatient. We were early informed, too, that it would be impossible to keep them together after the payment of their annuity, as they would become riotous and unmanageable. This information, we regret to say, proved frightfully correct.
The payment of the annuity, after its arrival, could not safely be postponed, as will be seen by a letter addressed to us by Governor Dodge, marked D, herewith submitted.
The commissioners, in the first place, were unwilling that the payment should be made before they had finished their investigations; because they conceived that it was necessary that the accounts, after adjudication, should be submitted to the whole nation. But as disagreeable consequences might have arisen from insisting on this, and the policy of the Government in removing them thwarted, they deferred to the opinion of Governor Dodge, who assured them, in the letter before referred to, that a deputation of the chiefs, selected in council, had full authority, to represent the whole nation. Under these circumstances, we felt constrained to consent to the payment. Eight chiefs were appointed to represent the nation before us, who addressed us a communication, in writing, before referred to, marked E, appointing Nicholas Boilvin a commissioner on their part, to attend to their business. This gentleman appeared to possess the entire confidence of the nation, and was of much service to us when it was necessary to hold any communication with the chiefs.
Our secretary, Mr. Featherstonhaugh, having unfortunately injured himself by a fall at St. Louis on our return home, has not yet joined us. We have, therefore, not been able to refer to our journal and docket, which we do not find among the papers brought on. It has, therefore, been impossible to refer to dates in this communication; and it is possible that some matters may be omitted, which we may find it necessary hereafter to submit in a supplemental report.
We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants,
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD, Esq.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
|No.||Number of claimants.||Kind of trade.||Amount claimed.||Amount allowed.||Proportion.||To whom paid||Signatures of receivers|
|Received certificates for the sums opposite our names|
|1||Solomon Junian||$1,275||$1,023||$953.12||Solomon Junian by his attorney in fact, Wm. N. Garnder|
|2||Arnold & Wells||Legal counsel||200||Not allowed|
|3||William Farnsworth||800||208.66||194.40||Wm. N. Gardner for Wm. Farnsworth.|
|4||J. E. Schwartz||3,000||1,200||1,108.04||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard.|
|5||J. S. Harner||Legal counsel||500||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard.|
|6||Paul Grignon||Merchandise||6,000||1,250||1,164.62||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard.|
|7||Aimable Grignon||Do||9,000||1,527||1,422.70||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard.|
|8||Louis Grignon||Do||16,650||1,111||1,035.11||Aimable Gr.||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard.|
|9||Robert Grignon||Do||6,119.79||796.04||741.63||H. L. Dousman, attorney in fact for Robert Grignon.|
|10||John Dixon||Do||2,298.25||2298.25||2,140.27||Received two certificates, No. 10, one for $1,876 27, and one for $264. James P. Dixon, attorney in fact.|
|11||George Johnson||Do||1,400||Not allowed|
|12||John Dousman's estate||Depredations||20,000||Not allowed|
|13||John Dousman's estate||Merchandise and cattle||600||400||327.68||H. L. Dousmnn, attorney for Rosalie Dousman.|
|15||John Lawe||Do||30,000||5,555||5,170.93||John Lawe.|
|16||Augustin Grignon||Do||20,000||1,888.88||1,759.86||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|17||A. J. Irwin||Do||8,172||2,000||1,863.40||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|No.||Names of claimants||Kind of trade||Amount claimed||Amount allowed||Proportions||Tom whom paid||Signatures received|
|18||J. P. Arndt||Do||1,250||200||186.34||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|19||John McCarty||Do||173.63||173.63||161.77||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|20||Dominick Brunette||Do||2,000||200||186.34||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|21||Louis Dubay||Do||600||Not allowed|
|22||L'Ecuyer's estate||Do||15,000||Not allowed|
|23||Laurent Filey||Do||5,000||Not allowed|
|24||Samuel Irwin||Do||800||225||209.63||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|25||James Porlier||Do||18,000||2,111||2,032.03||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|26||James Vieaux||20,000||1,611||1,500.96||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|27||Louis Beaupres's estate||14,000||777||723.93|
|28||Pierre Grignon||10,000||1,500||1,397.55||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|29||William Dickenson||Do||1,059||603.25||562.04||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|30||Burley Folet||Do||500||Not allowed|
|31||P. Powell, deceased||Do||10,000||555||517.09|
|32||Luther Gleason's estate||Do||4,000||500||465.35||Sat. Clark, jr. attorney in fact for H. Merrell, administrator for L. Gleason's estate.|
|33||Lewis Rouse||Do||15,000||4,538||4,223.04||Lewis Rouse|
|34||Powell & Grignon||Do||9,600||1,393.33||1,242.26||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|35||James Knaggs||Do||800||117||109||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|36||Franci Roy||Do||9,000||1,166.66||1,081.98||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|37||Daniel Whitney||Do||8,000||1,015.33||945.98||John Lawe, attorney in fact for H. S. Beard|
|38||Stanislaus Chappue||Do||3,000||Not allowed|
|No.||Names of claimant||Kind of trade||Amount claimed||Amount allowed||Proportion||To whom paid||Signatured received|
|Received certificates for the sums opposite our names|
|40||H. M. Fisher's estate||Merchandise||$3,750||$3,111||$2,893.51||B. W. Brisbois, administrator of Henry M. Fisher.|
|41||J. D. Doty||Legal services||2,000||Not allowed|
|42||Benjamin L'Ecuyer||Merchandise||2,630||533.33||496.90||Benjamin L'Ecuyer, his x mark. Test: John Colder, jr.|
|43||American Fur Companay,(old.)||Do||17,429||10,462||9,747.75||Robert Stuart, agent for American Fur Company|
|44||John Kenzie, deceased||Do||22,000||6,110.66||5,693.33||John H. Kenzie, at. in fact for the estate of J. Kenzie, dec'd||John H. Kenzie, attorney in fact for David Hunter, administrator of estate of John Kenzie, deceased.|
|45||Jean B. Beaubien||Do||13,580||2,777||2,587.33||In two receipts, one of $2,000 and one $587.33, paid to J. B. Beaubien|
|46||Joseph Rolette||Do||16,000||11,660.66||10,859.82||Received two certificates, each No. 46, for $8,000 and for $2,859.82. Joseph Rolette|
|47||Oliver Amelle||Do||3,000||833.33||776.41||C. H. Stewart, attorney in fact for Oliver Amelle||Charles H. Stewart, attorney in fact for Oliver Amelle.|
|48||Stephan Mack||Do||6,500||2,500||2,329.25||Received two certificates, one for $1,746.94 and one for $582.31, both numbered 48. Stephen Mack.|
|49||Francis Lousignon||Do||6,000||624.75||582.07||C. H. Stewart, attorney in fact for Francis Losignon||Received, Charles H. Stewart, attorney in fact for Francis Lousignon.|
|50||James Kenzie||Do||14,300||2,932||2,731.74||Receiv'd two drafts, one for $1,473.14 & one for $1,258.60.||James Kenzie.|
|51||J. K. Clark||Do||800||200||186.34||N. Boilvin, attorney for J. K. Clark.|
|52||Francis Labathe||Do||441.95||294.95||274.80||F. Labathe.|
|No.||Names of claimants||Kind of trade||Amount claimed||Amount allowed||Proportion||To whom paid||Signatures received|
|53||Pierre Paqnette's estate||Merchandise and provisions||22,689.80||20,542||19,133.98||H. L. Dousman, administrator of P. Paquette.|
|54||American Fur Company,(new)||Merchandise||40,000.66||40,00.66||37,263.61||H. L. Dousman, agent for American Fur Company, western outfit.|
|55||Henry Merrill||Merchandise and provisions||2,000||100||93.17||Sat. Clark, jr., attorney in fact for Henry Merrill|
|56||Abel Rasdell||Merchandise||520||260||242.24||Abel Rasdell.|
|57||William Deviese||Do||460||300||279.51||William Deviese, jr.|
|58||Leon Brough||Do||960||150||139.75||Leven Brough||Levin Brough, his x mark. Test: J. Murray.|
|59||Charles Menard||Do||1,100||1,100||1,624.87||N. Boilvin, attorney in fact.|
|60||Michael St. Cyr||Do||3,000||400||372.68||Michael St. Cyr, his x mark. Test: N. Boilvin.|
|61||James H. Lockwood||Do||10,082.98||5,226.17||4,864.22||J. H. Lockwood.|
|62||John Dougherty||Do||1,285||885||824.55||John Dougherty.|
|63||Michael Brisbois,dec'd||Do||25,000||10,334||9,628.18||J. Brisbois, executor.|
|64||Narcisse L'Eveque||Do||250||250||232.92||Narcisse L'Eveque, his x mark J. H. Lockwood, witness.|
|65||Hyacinth. St. Cyr||Do||1,314.05||656.41||611.57||Hyacinth St. Cyr.|
|66||William Turner||Depredations||20||Not allowed.|
|67||Ab. Wood||Merchandise||200||200||186.34||Abraham Wood.|
|69||Jean B. Pion||Do||2,200||750||698.77||Jean B. Peon, his x mark. Test: J. Murray.|
|70||John McFarland||Do||2,000||833.33||776.41||John McFarland.|
|71||Thomas P. Street||Merchandise and provisions||1,068.94||1,068.94||995.93||Jos. Moore, attorney in fact.|
|72||Wisconsin Shot Com'y||Merchandise||35.46||Not allowed.|
|73||J. B. Farribault||Depredations||7,680||Not allowed|
|74||Margaret McNair||Merchandise||5,000||Not allowed.|
We, the subscribers, being chiefs of the Winnebago nation of Indians, assembled in a public council of the nation at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Territory, on the twenty-fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight, having had the foregoing paper, containing the names of the creditors of the Winnebago nation of Indians, and the sums found due to them by the United States commissioners, [having been read and explained to us,] do hereby admit, approve, and ratify the same, and request the commissioners of the United States to pay to the said creditors a pro-rata distribution of their debts, as directed by the treaty made at Washington, on the first day of November, A. D. 1837. The words "having been read and explained to us," in the third line, interlined before signing.
In presence of
U. S. Commissioners.
N. BOILVIN, Commissioner on part of the Indians.
G. W. FEATHERSTONHAUGH, Jr., Secretary to U. S. Commissioners.
SIMON L'ECUYER, his x mark, U. S. Interpreter.
B. W. BRISBOIS,
JOHN H. KENZIE,
H. L. DOUSMAN,
S. C. STAMBAUGH,
ALFRED W. ELWES
KARRAY MAUNEE, his x mark.
WAU-KAUN-HAH-KAH, his x mark.
KAUGH-HAY-KAW, his x mark.
WAU-KAUN-TSHAH-TSKEE-WAUM-KAW, his x mark.
MORAH-TSHAY-KAW, his x mark.
HEE-WEE-TSAH-ZHUN-KAY-KAW, his x mark.
WAU-KAUN-TSHAH-KOO-KAH, his x mark.
WAU-KAUN-KAH, his x mark.
By his representative, Kaugh-kay-kaw.
|Name of claimant||In whose right||Age||Sex||Degree of relationship||Amount||Reasons for our action||Receipt for the amount, and to whom paid|
|Catherine Myotte by her attorney in fact, Nicholas Boilvin||In her own right||48||Female||Half||2,000||Valuable services rendered||Received om full by draft on E. A. Hitchcock, (No. 1.) N. Boilvin, attorney in fact|
|Mary Myotte, her daughter||13||Female||Quarter||1,600||Ability to render services||Received in full by E. A. Hitchcock, (No. 2) for the foregoing. N. Boilvin, gua'n|
|Oliver Amell, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Broadhead||Catherine Amell Oliver Amell, jr. Louis Amell Joseph Amell Nancy Amell||13 11 7 4 1||Female Male Male Male Female||Half Half Half Half Half||1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000||Value services with have been rendered by the father, and disposition and ability to render in future.||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 3) for five hundred dollars for the foregoing amount in full, October 25, 1838. D. M. Broadhead, attorney in fact|
|Simeon Lecuyer, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead.||In his own right His daughter Mary His daughter Margaret||32 1 5||Male Female Female||Half Quarter Quarter||1,800 900 900||Valuable services rendered as interpreter and otherwise, and ability and disposition to render.||Received a draft by E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 4) for three thousand six hundred dollars, for the foregoing amount in full, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|H. L. Dousman, Esq., is appointed trustee for||Therese Paquette Moses Paquette||11 9||Female Male||Quarter Quarter||1,800 1,800||Valuable services rendered by their father, Pierre Paquette, deceased.||Received a draft by E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 5) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. H. L. Dousman, trustee.|
|John Dougherty||Mary Dougherty, his wife Sarah B. Dougherty James P. Doughtery Mary Ann Doughtery Logan Doughtery||- 6 4 2 1||Female Female Male Female Male||Half Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter||1,800 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000||Valuable services rendered by their father, and disposition, ability, and capacity to do so in the future||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 6) for five thousand dollars; and another (No. 7) for eight hundred dollars, in full for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. John Doughtery.|
|Toussaint St. Onge, by his attorney in fact D. M. Brodhead||Celeste Paquette, his daughter by adoption||6||Female||Quarter||1,800||Services of father, Pierre Paquette, and ability of child.||Received drafton E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 8) for the forgoing amount, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Name of claimant||In whose right||Age||Sex||Degree of relationship||Amount||Reasons for action||Receipt for the amount, and to whom paid.|
|Benjamin Lecuyer, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||In his own right John Lecuyer Mary Lecuyer Mary Ann Lecuyer Benjamin Lecuyer James Lecuyer||37 9 7 5 3 2||Male Male Female Female Male Male||Half Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter||1,800 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000||Valuable services rendered by the father, and his own ability and disposition, as well as that of his children, to do so in future.||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 9) for six thousand eight hundred dollars, the forgoing amount in full, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|James, otherwise called Jacques Lecuyer, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead.||In his own right David Twigs, his adoptive son.||35 19||Male Male||Half Quarter||1,800 1,000||Valuable services of the father, and disposition of both to render services||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 10) for two thousand eight hundred dollars, in full of the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact|
|Michael St. Cyr||In his own right Michael St. Cyr, jr. Augustus St. Cyr||28 3 1||Male Male Male||Half 3 fo'rths 3 fo'rths||1,600 600 600||Valuable services rendered by father, and disposition to do so in the future.||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 11) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838: Michael St. Cyr, his x mark. Witness: G. W. Featherstonhaugh.|
|Antonine Grignon, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||In his own right||23||Male||Half||1,600||Very valuable services and great ability||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock Esq., (No. 12) for sixteen hundred dollars, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact|
|Francis Roy, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||Theresa Roy, his wife Theresa Roy Catherine Roy Joseph Roy Simeon Roy||19 14 7 2||Female Female Female Male Male||Half Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter||1,800 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000||Very valuable services of the father and mother, and the ability and disposition of all to render services||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 13) for five thousand eight hundred dollars in full for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838, D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact|
|John Roy, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||In his own right||23||Male||Quarter||1,600||Valuable services, and great ability to render services||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 14) for the foregoing amount, , October 25, 1838, D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact|
|Peter Legris, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||In right of his wife, Domitelle Legris M. A. Harrison William Harrison James Harrison Peter Harrison Joseph Harrison||32 12 9 5 3 1||Female Male Male Male Male Male||Half Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter||1,600 900 900 900 900 900||Valuable services rendered by her, she being the sister of the late Pierre Paquette, and great ability to render them.||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 15) for six thousand one hundred dollars, being in full for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838, D. M. Brodhead, attorney.|
|Name of claimant||In whose right||Age||Sex||Degree of relationship||Amount||Reasons for our action||Receipt for the amount, and to whom paid|
|Frederick Oliva||In his own right||22||Male||Quarter||1,500||Valuable services rendered by himself and sons, and disposition to do so in future||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 16) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. F. Oliva.|
|Lewis Monagu, by his attorney in fact, Satterlee Clark, jr.||In right of Peter Monagu Josette Monagu Jane Monagu Charles Monagu||19 15 13 10||Male Male Female Male||Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter||1,500 900 900 900||Valuable services rendered by himself and sons, and disposition to do in the future||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock. Esq., (No. 17) for four thousand two hundred dollars, in full for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838, Sat. Clark, jr., attorney in fact.|
|John Baptiste Peon, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brohead.||In right of his own son, John Baptiste Peon, jr., and of his daughter, Angelica Péon.||16 12||Male Female||Quarter Quarter||1,600 1,600||Very valuable services of father and mother, great ability.||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No.18) for three thousand two hundred dollars, for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838, D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Alexis Peyer, by his trustee, H. L. Dousman.||In his own right||12||Male||Quarter||1,600||Great service and ability||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 19) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838, H. L. Dousman, trustee.|
|Stephan Mack, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||Rosa Mack Mary Mack William Mack Louise Mack Thomas H. Mack||8 6 4 2 1/2 1||Female Female Male Female Male||Half Half Half Half Half||1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000||Valuable services rendered by the father and mother, and disposition and ability in children to do so.||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 20) for the sum of five thousand dollars, in full for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838, D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Peter Roy, by his attorney in fact, John Roy.||In his own right||22||Male||Quarter||1,000||Services and abilities||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 21) for the foregoing sum of one thousand dollars, October 25, 1838. John Roy, his x mark. Test: N. Boilvin|
|Joseph Paquette, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead.||Sophia Paquette Moses Paquette Easter Paquette Felicite Paquette||14 13 11 9||Female Male Female Female||Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter||1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000||Very valuable services rendered by the father, and great promise of children.||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 22) for four thousand dollars, the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Mary Bellair, by her attorney in fact, Satterlee Clark, jr., Esq.||In her own right Mary Bellair, her daughter Amable Grignon, her nephew.||30 14 2||Female Female Male||Half Quarter Quarter||1,000 900 600||Vaulable services of the mother and father, who is dead.||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 23) for two thousand five hundred dollars, the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. Sat. Clark, jr., attorney in fact.|
|Name of claimant||In whose right||Age||Sex||Degree of relationship||Amount||Reason for action||Receipt for the amount, and to whom paid|
|T. D. Laronde, by his attorney in fact, Satterlee Clark, jr.||In right of his daughter, Christine Laronde||3||Female||Half||$900||Valuable services of father||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 24,) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. Sat. Clark, jr., attorney in fact.|
|Julia Grignon, by her attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead.||In her own right||25||Female||Half||600||Valuable services||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 25,) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Lewis Barrett||In right of his wife, Madelaine Barrett||28||Female||Quarter||600||Valuable services||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 26,) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. Lewis Barrett, his x mark. Witness: J. Brisbois.|
|H. L. Dousman, being appointed trustee.||In right if Antoine Grignon Hypolite Grignon Archange Grignon||10 8 6||Male Male Male||Quarter Quarter Quarter||800 800 800||Valuable services rendered by father and mother||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 27,) for twenty four hundred dollars, the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. H. L. Dousman trustee.|
|Joseph Brisbois, being appointed trustee.||In right of Michl. Brisbois||21||Male||Quarter||600||Services and disposition||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 28,) for the foregoing sum, October 25, 1838. J. Brisbois, trustee|
|Ellen St. Cyr||In her own right||18||Female||Half||900||Valuable services||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838, being draft No. 29. Ellen St. Cyr, her x mark. Witness: D. M. Brodhead|
|Richard Laurant, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||In right of his daughter, Mary Laurant||2||Female||Half||600||Valuable services of parent||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 30,) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|John Pelky, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||His son, Louis Pelky||2||Male||Half||900||Valuable services||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (being draft No. 31,) for the foregoing amount. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Name of claimant||In whose right||Age||Sex||Degree of relationship||Amount||Reason for our action||Receipt for the amount, and to whom paid|
|Samuel Irwin, being appointed trustee, claims by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||John B. Perault George Duevin||18 17||Male Male||Quarter Quarter||900 900||Good education and ability Good education and ability||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 32,) for eighteen hundred dollars in full of the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Alexander Pallidu, in his attorney in fact, D. M. Brohead||Catherine Pallidu, his wife||18||Female||Quarter||600||Valuable services of parent||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 33,) for the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|John Louve, Esq., being appointed trustee by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brohead||Kuthoko And Caroline Harmy, her child||28 7||Female Female||Half Quarter||600 600||Kindness to Indians Intention to render service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 34,) for the foregoing amount October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Lewis Corbille, by his attorney in fact, H. S. Baird||Angel Corbille||8||Female||Quarter||600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 47,) for the foregoing sum awarded Lewis Corbille, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Satterlee Clark, attorney in fact for Charles Shelefous||William Shelefous Lousia Shelefous||4 2||Male Female||Quarter Quarter||600 600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 35,) for twelve hundred dollars, the amount of the foregoing claim October 25, 1838|
|Satterlee Clark, attorney in fact for Abraham Wood||Margaret Wood Hannah Wood||4||Female Female||Half Half||600 600||No special service||Received a draft as aforesaid for twelve hundred dollars, (No. 36,) for the foregoing amount October 25, 1838. Satterlee Clark, jr., attorney in fact for A. Wood and C. Shelefous|
|Satterlee Clark, jr., being appointed trustee||Mary Gleason Elisa Gleason William Gleason Caroline Gleason||11 8 4 3||Female Female Male Female||Half Half Half Half||600 600 600 600||No particular services||Received a draft as aforesaid (No. 37,) for twenty four hundred dollars, the foregoing amount, October 25, 1838. Satterlee Clark, jr., trustee for children of Luther Gleason; deceased.|
|Abel Rasdall||Can Rasdall Sarah Rasdall||3 1/2 1||Male Female||Half Half||600 600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 38,) for twelve hundred dollars, the foregoing amount. October 25, 1838. Abel Rasdall.|
|John Vark, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||His son, John Vark, jr.||2||Male||Half||600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 39,) for the foregoing sum of six hundred dollars, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Name of claimants||In whose right||Age||Sex||Degree of relationship||Amount||Reasons for out action||Receipt for the amount, and to whom paid|
|Francis Navalles, by his attorney in fact, N. Boilivin||Mary Navalles Mary Navalles Amelia Navalles Louisa Navalles Isabella Navalles||30 13 10 7 5||Female Female Female Female Female||Half Quarter Quarter Quarter Quarter||$600 600 600 600 600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 40,) for the foregoing sum of three thousand dollars, October 25, 1838. N. Boilvin, attorney in fact.|
|Oliver Landri, by his attorney in fact, D. M. Brodhead||Oliver Landri, jr., son||1||Male||2-thirds||600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 41,) for the foregoing sum of six hundred dollars, October 25, 1838. D. M. Brodhead, attorney in fact.|
|Nicholas Boilvin, being appointed trustee.||Margaret Deschamp||6||Female||Half||600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 42,) for the foregoing sum, October 25, 1838. N. Boilvin, trustee.|
|H. L. Dousmanm having been appointed trustee||Margaret Deschamp||6||Female||Half||600||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 43,) for the foregoing sum, October 25, 1838. H. L. Dousman, trustee.|
|Doctor Joseph Moore, being appointed trustee||Mary Ann Mitchell||10||Female||Half||600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 44,) for the foregoing sum, October 25, 1838. Joseph Moore.|
|Lewis Wood||2||Male||Half||600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 45,) for the foregoing sum, October 25, 1838. N. Boilvin, trustee.|
|Nicholas Boilvin, having been appointed trustee.||Lisette Thebeau Frances Thebeau Baptiste Thebeau||16 2||Female Female Male||Half Quarter Quarter||600 600 600||No special service||Received a draft on E. A. Hitchcock, Esq., (No. 46,) for the foregoing sum, October 25, 1838. N. Boilvin, trustee.|
We, the subscribers, being chiefs of the Winnebago nation of Indians, assembled in a public council of the nation at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Territory, on the twenty-fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight, having had the above list of relatives of mixed Winnebago blood submitted and explained to us, do hereby approve and ratify the same, as well as the manner in which the fund created under the treaty of November 1, 1837, has been distributed. Given, under our hands, the day and year aforesaid.
United States Commissioners.
N. BOILVIN, Commissioner on part of the Indians.
G. W. FEATHERSTONHAUGH, Jr. Secretary to the U. S. Commissioners.
SIMON L'ECUYER, his x mark. United States Indian Interpreter.
JOHN H. KINZIE.
H. L. DOUSMAN.
S. C. STAMBAUGH.
ALFRED W. ELWES.
B. W. BRISBOIS.
CHARLES HY. STEWART.
KARRAYMAUNESS, his x mark.
WAU-KAUN-HAH-KAH, his x mark.
KAUGH-HAY-KAW, his x mark.
WAU-KAUN-TSHAH-TSHEE-WAUN-KAW, his x mark.
MORAH-TSHAY-KAW, his x mark.
HEE-WEE-TSHAH-ZHUN-KAY-KAW, his x mark.
WAU-KAUK-TSHAH-KOO-KAH, his x mark.
WAU-KAUN-KAH, his x mark.
By his representative, Kaugh-hay-kaw.
J. H. Kinzie.
1. How long have you resided in this country?
2. Have you or have you not any, and if yea, what knowledge of the Indian trade?
3. Have you or have you not ever been engaged in the Indian trade, with the tribes inhabiting the State of Michigan and Territories of Wisconsin and Iowa; and if yea, how long and to what extent?
4. In what capacity did you act in the said trade; was it as a clerk for others or on your own account?
5. Do you or do you not know that it is the universal custom of those engaged in the Indian trade to credit a large proportion of their goods to Indians every year?
6. If a trader should refuse to give credit to Indians when they require it, what would be the consequences both to the trader and to the Indians?
7. Do you or do you not believe that the Indian trade could be carried on to any extent without credit being given to them?
8. What amount or proportion of the goods credited by traders, according to your best knowledge or experience, remains unpaid and entirely lost to the trader each year?
9. What amount or proportion of his capital, according to your experience and knowledge, do you believe a trader must necessarily credit during each year to the Indians?
10. What is the custom amongst the Indians, as respects the payment of their debts to their traders, after the lapse of two or three years from the time of contracting the debts?
11. Do or do not the Indians consider that after a debt is due for several years, it becomes a national debt, and is not a debt against the individual?
12. Were these individual debts considered as national when contracted, or has not that character been given to them within the last few years? If yea, how long?
13. Do or do not traders with the Indians keep and preserve regular accounts and books? If yea, why do not the traders preserve the books of Indian trade?
14. What profits do Indian traders, on an average, charge upon their goods?
15. Is it or not the custom of Indian traders to add costs and charges to invoice prices, and charge a profit on the aggregate amount?
16. What difference is usually made in the price of goods sold in the Indian country, and at the settlement from whence the outfit is sent?
17. What are the expenses of an outfit or adventure of goods to the remote trading posts among the Winnebagoes?
18. Is or is not a trader at a remote trading post obliged to credit a greater proportion of his goods than he who trades at a large settlement or town; and is not the loss of the former much greater than that of the latter, in proportion to his capital?
19. Has or has not the trade of the American Fur Company been profitable
35in each of the series of years in which you have acted as their agent, from 1816 to 1834? If yea, in what years has it been unprofitable, to what extent, and to what do you attribute it?
20. Has or has not the trade from 1816 to 1834 been profitable to individual traders? If yea, in what years has it been most disastrous?
21. Have or have not the profits upon goods sold to the Indians by traders fitted out by the American Fur Company been uniform, or have they varied in different years? If yea, in what years, and to what extent?
22. What capital was employed by the American Fur Company in 1816, and what has been the capital employed in each succeeding year?
23. What has been the aggregate profit of the American Fur Company, from 1816 to 1834?
24. What number of traders were generally employed by the branch of the Fur Company at Mackinac, and what was the usual yearly outfit for each, and what proportion of the trade dealt with each?
1. I have resided in the Western country all my lifetime.
2 and 3. I have had some little experience in the Indian trade, having traded with the Ottawas at Mackinac from 1819 to 1821; with the Pottawatamies at Chicago, 1816 and 1818; and with the Winnebagoes, Menomonies, and Sioux, at Prairie du Chien, from 1823 to summer of 1826. I traded at Mackinac, Chicago, and Prairie du Chien, about three years at each of those places.
4. I acted as clerk for others.
5. It is the universal custom of those engaged in the trade to credit a considerable proportion of their goods to the Indians every year.
6. The consequences would depend upon the situation of the trader. If the trader is far in the interior, and at the mercy of the band with whom he is trading, they would be apt to commit some depredation if he did not let them go on credit; and if, on the other hand, the trader was not in their power, and refused to give them the usual credit, he would lose their trade and friendship.
7. I do not believe the trade could be carried on to advantage without giving credit to the Indians in the fall of the year.
8. From a third to one half of his capital.
9. About one third, at least, of the goods credited remain unpaid generally, and entirely lost to the trader.
10. An Indian credit, if not paid say within two years, is rarely paid, particularly on account of his inability to do so.
11. They do.
12. These debts, I think, are not considered national at the time of contracting, but are so considered by the nation after having remained over say two years unpaid. Such has been the view taken by them during my experience with the Indians, and as is shown by their treaties concluded with the United States.
13. Those of them who can write keep memorandums of their credits to Indians, which are preserved for a year or two, or until all hope of getting paid is lost, and then destroyed as so much waste paper. Those who cannot write keep their, accounts by hieroglyphics, intelligible only to themselves; and after a sufficient lapse of time destroyed also. They
36have not until of late years (say since provision has been made in treaties for the payment of their debts) kept any thing like regular account books, to my knowledge.
14. About 100 per cent.
15. The Indian prices are generally pretty uniform, bearing an advance on the invoice price of about 100 per cent., to cover expenses and profit.
16. The price charged on goods in the settlement to the Winnebagoes would be something less than the above per centage, say about one fourth.
17. About 33 Ë or 40 per cent.
18. It is.
19. The trade was profitable to some of the traders in the years of 1823 and 1824. There were, in those seasons, a great number of muskrats in the St. Peter's and Rock river country, which then commanded a high price.
20. They have generally, as far as I know. Traders, where they have opposition in trade, sometimes lower the price on important articles of trade, to secure an Indian's furs, and endeavor to make up the loss on others. A good trader manages in this way to get his regular price, or thereabout.
21. They purchased their goods in New York, Detroit, Mackinac, Green Bay, and St. Louis, principally.
22. The aggregate capital employed, exclusive of American Fur Company, as near as I can judge, with the Winnebagoes, is about from twenty to twenty-four thousand dollars, (first cost.)
23. The capital usual for an outfit to trade with the Winnebagoes is from one to five thousand dollars. A clerk and five men is about the number of persons usually employed, particularly where the amount exceeds say three thousand dollars.
24. As far as my knowledge extends, it has not been profitable. I know of several who have retired from the trade in consequence of its unprofitable results. I also know of many who have continued in the trade from the fact of their having intermarried with the nation, got attached to their families and mode of life, and unfit themselves for any other business. Many, also, have continued in the trade with the hope of doing better for the future, but which has involved them more and more in debt. I know of not a single Indian trader who has made a fortune from the Indian trade alone. On the contrary, all have lost money, to a greater or less extent, in the business with the Indians; and many of those now living would have been bankrupt, had it not been for the aid extended to them by the late treaties with the different tribes.
Robert Stuart, of Detroit, being sworn, deposes:
Question. How long have you resided in this country?
Answer. I have been engaged in the trade since 1816, and conducted the affairs of the American Fur Company, at Mackinac, from that time to 1834; from which place the goods have been, distributed through all this country. Before this time, as far back as 1810, I went beyond the Rocky Mountains, engaged in this trade, in partnership with J. J. Aston, and returned to the United States in 1818.
Question. Have you or not any, and if yea, what knowledge of the Indian trade?
Answer. I have a general knowledge of its economy, and of the mode of carrying it on, both by the Indians with the traders, and vice versa.
Question. Have you or have you not ever been engaged in Indian trade with the tribe inhabiting the State of Michigan and the Territories of Wisconsin and Iowa; and if yea, how long and to what extent?
Answer. From the year 1817 to 1834, as agent for the American Fur Company, and generally as extensively as there was trade with the Indian tribes. We either sold goods to traders, where we had not a post, or sent out traders and goods ourselves.
Question. Do you or do you not know that it is the universal custom of those engaged in the Indian trade to credit a large proportion of their goods to Indians every year?
Answer. Yes, sir; it is the custom to credit a large proportion of the capital, from one half to one third.
Question. If a trader should refuse to give credits to Indians, when they require it, what would be the consequence both to the trader and to the Indians?
Answer. The consequence to the Indians would be that they would be unable to prosecute their hunt. From their improvidence, when the trader goes to them in the fall with his goods, he has to equip them with all the necessaries, else they would, not only be unable to prosecute, their hunt, but would starve or perish. The consequence, of course, to the trader, would be the destruction of his trade, since the Indians would be unable to hunt; and, in many cases, the Indians would take the goods by force. I have heard, in two or three instances, from our traders, that such has been the fact. In some cases they were forced to credit, and in others the goods have been actually taken from them.
Question. Do you or do you not believe that the Indian trade could be carried on to any extent without credit being given to them?
Answer. I do not believe it could.
Question. What amount or proportion of capital, according to your experience and knowledge, do you believe a trader must necessarily credit the Indians during each year?
Answer. This is a point which has always caused me much trouble, consideration, and consultation with the traders, because it was almost the only source of loss in the trade. By the best information I could collect from various sections of the country and the different traders, from one half to one third of the amount they trusted the Indians was annually lost; and this experience was confirmed in several cases where books of credit were correctly kept, and the amounts of capital ascertained; a few exceptions more, a few less. Thus, the trader, in trusting the Indians, added to the original cost of his goods, on an average, one hundred per cent., to cover expenses and yield him his profit on the trade. In our frontier towns and villages, where the expenses are small, the advance would probably be seventy-five per cent.; but far in the interior it would probably be two hundred per cent.; but, on an average, with the Winnebagoes, it was about one hundred per cent.; therefore, the trader lost by bad debts say one third of his original capital, or one sixth of the amount he sells at one hundred per cent advance. The trader charges, in general, about the same on credit and in furs, if the opposition (in trade) is not
38strong; then the trader trades as he can, sometimes even at first cost, and at times for much less, even as low as one half, (but this is rare,) from ambition to get the furs and favor of the Indians, &c.
Question. What amount or proportion of the goods credited by traders, according to your best knowledge or experience, remains unpaid and entirely lost to the trader each year?
Answer. From one third to one half, with but few exceptions.
Question. What is the custom amongst the Indians, as respects the payment of their debts to their traders, after the lapse of two or three years after contracting the debts?
Answer. I have never known an instance of their paying, individually, after two or three years, and they seldom pay after the year's hunt in which the credit is made; but I have heard of instances in which some individuals paid out of the ensuing year's hunt, if very successful. It is seldom they can pay, and most have not the disposition to do so; and the trader has no means of compelling them. Most of them, after the lapse of a year, will not even acknowledge the debt; this is partly (I believe) owing to some instances in which they acknowledged their debts, and were put in jail, which has made them very wary.
Question. Do or do not the Indians consider that after a debt is due for several years it becomes a national debt, and is not a debt against the individuals?
Answer. The traders have no hope of receiving payment after a few years from the individual; but I cannot exactly say in what light they consider the debt. I have heard them accuse the tribe of owing them large debts, and having thereby ruined them; and I have known the Indians acknowledge it, and make them donations at treaties: for instance, those of Chicago in 1833, and Mackinac in 1836. Since treaties have been made, and the United States have agreed to pay Indian debts under them, the debts have, as far as I know, been considered national, and not individual; but prior to that period the trader considered the debt as lost, for the Indians had no means of paying; hence their carelessness about their credit books.
Question. Were these individual debts considered as national when contracted; or has not that character been given to them within the last few years? If yea, how long?
Answer. They were not; they have only been considered such since the Government has agreed, to pay said debts under treaties.
Question. Do or do not traders with the Indians keep and preserve regular accounts and books? Why do not the traders preserve the books of Indian trade?
Answer. Most of the traders have been illiterate men; some could not write at all, and could not afford to keep clerks. Such kept their accounts of credits by hieroglyphics, or by notches on a stick, with some mark to designate the Indian, &c. Most of those who could write kept a rough book or sketch of accounts for a year or two, when they were considered of no value, and often destroyed used as waste paper, or thrown aside. I myself had many of them thrown away. Few of the traders, even of the present day, do or can keep books; most have continued careless, in consequence of the manner in which payments have generally been made heretofore, under treaties: that is, by allowing so much to individuals by treaty, or admitting and asking for no other evidence than the
39amount of capital, and reasonable testimony of the probable loss, where no books were produced.
Question. What profits do Indian traders, on an average, charge upon their goods?
Answer. When they keep store in a frontier town or village, generally about 75 per cent.; when they go to a great distance, say to the head of lake Superior, upper St. Peter's, &c., from 150 to 200 per cent., with the Winnebagoes, who are not very far in the interior, about 100 per cent., I believe, will be near the average.
Question. Is it or not the custom of Indian traders to add costs and charges to invoice prices, and charge a profit upon the aggregate amount?
Answer. The trader must, of course, add cost, charges, and profit on his original invoice. The American Fur Company at Mackinac, in making out their invoices, charged on the original cost of goods at New York and in England the charges to Mackinac, and on this cost the trader added his advance.
Question. What difference is usually made in the price of goods sold in the Indian country and at the settlement from whence the outfit is sent?
Answered in 14.
Question. What are the expenses of an outfit or adventure of goods to the remote trading posts among the Winnebagoes?
Answer. In general, on the watercourses, I believe about 33 1/2 per cent.; in parts of the Rock river country, where horses had to be employed to transport the goods and carry back the furs, about 40 per cent.
Question. Is or is not a trader at a remote trading post obliged to credit a greater proportion of his goods than he who trades at a large settlement or town; and is not the loss of the former much greater than that of the latter, in proportion to his capital?
Answer. The trader who goes inland is obliged to give much more on credit, because in frontier towns there are many stores where an Indian can get credit; and the trader is obliged to make large credits, at times, inland, else he might be robbed -- and there have been instances where they have. The risk is greater inland, because he cannot compel the Indians to pay; but the trader in a town, on the contrary, has the Indian in his power, if he return there.
Question. Has or has not, the trade of the American Fur Company been profitable in each of the series of years in which you have acted as their agent, from 1816 to 1834? If yea, in what years has it been unprofitable; to what extent; and to what cause do you attribute it?
Answer. The American Fur Company, from 1817 to 1824, lost about $45,000; since that period, they have made money some years, and lost others; deponent cannot recollect the particular years, but, on the whole, they have made some money; but with the exception of a very few years, on the trade, their main sources of profit were from selling their goods to individuals, and in purchasing furs from traders and others, which they shipped, principally, to China, Turkey, Germany, France, England, &c.; and, even with this advantage, they would, perhaps, have made little profit, had not the wealth of Mr. Astor enabled them to keep the furs on hand, at times for years, when the market was low, and still furnish means to carry on the trade. The chief source, of loss in the trade is by bad debts to the Indians, which the traders cannot avoid. Sometimes
40there is a loss by fall of furs; but then there is a gain by the rise, which will equal the loss in a series of years.
Question. Has or has not the trade, from 1816 to 1834, been profitable to individual traders? If yea, in what years has it been most disastrous?
Answer. I know of but three individual traders who made money; I think one of them left us with about $12,000, one with about $6,000, and one with about $3,000 or $4,000; and this was in a long series of years. Most of the traders owed us largely; some of them gave us land, others compromised for a trifle, and have since paid through money got by treaties or half-breed claims; to many we gave up all. I may safely say that nine traders out of ten have been ruined by the trade; some begin, now, to see better days, by securing favorable locations of land; others have got something through treaties and half-breed claims, which may enable them to live.
Question. Have or have not the profits upon goods sold to the Indians, by traders fitted out by the American Fur Company, been uniform, or have they varied in different years? If yea, in what years and to what extent?
Answer. I believe the traders vary their profits but little, if any; nor do I know that they did at all. This would give great discontent to the Indians, and incline them to cheat the traders out of their credits. There may have been some trifling variations with some traders, when opposition was strong; but if so, small and seldom; for a regular trader must keep up his character for truth, integrity, and fair dealing, else they will soon despise him.
Question. What capital was employed by the American Fur Company in the trade in the year 1816, and what has been the capital employed in each succeeding year to 1834?
Answer. The capital of the American Fur Company, by charter, was $300,000; but the capital employed in the trade was annually from say $600,000 to $800,000, exclusive of large sums, lying sometimes dormant for years, in unsold furs.
Question. What has been the aggregate profit of the American Fur Company, from 1816 to 1834?
Answer. I have not a correct knowledge of the transactions of, the company in general, as an agency was established at St. Louis for the trade of Missouri, &c., one at Detroit for that region, and the parent concern at New York. At Mackinac agency there was a loss, from 1817 to 1824, of about $45,000; from 1824 to 1834, a gain, I think, of about $362,000, exclusive of annual interest, including the profits on furs bought, goods sold, &c.
|Gain from 1824 to 1827||$167,000|
|" 1827 to 1834||$195,000|
|Deduct loss from 1817 to 1824||$45,000|
|Grain from 1817 to 1834||$317,000|
I do not mean on our trade with the Indians alone, nor can I state the proportion. There was a profit on our trade with the Sioux of upper
41Mississippi, a profit on the lake Superior trade, a profit on the Pottawatamie trade; since 1825 to 1830, a profit on the Ottawa trade of lake Michigan, a loss on the Menomonie trade, and the Chippewas about Mackinac and St. Mary's; I think a small loss on the Winnebago trade here, as will appear by the company's books, to be presented before you by Mr. Dousman. We probably had a small profit in 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828, on the Winnebago trade of the Chicago trade, as muskrats were then plenty; but a loss before and after those years, but not heavy.
Question. What number of traders with the Indians were generally employed by the branch of the fur company at Mackinac, what was the usual yearly outfit for each, and what proportion of the traders dealt with the Winnebagoes?
Answer. The trade from Mackinac was carried on in three different modes: to some we sold the goods; to some we paid salary, who traded exclusively on our account; and with others we were interested in profit or loss. I think there were, in all concerned with us in these various ways, eighty to one hundred traders, great and small, who received outfits, say $2,000 to $80,000 or $90,000; for instance, Mr. Rolette got, sometimes, this last amount, and divided it among ten to fifteen under traders. Others got $20,000 or $30,000, who acted in a similar manner.
There were employed by the company with the Winnebagoes, I think, three in the Chicago country, with a capital of about $5,000; how many Mr. Rolette employed, here I am not certain, but believe three. I do not know the amount of their outfits; Mr. Dousman does. We had no direct dealing with those near Green Bay, except one outfit, in 1818, of about $2,000. The people there got the goods from us, and traded with them.
Question. Where did the American Fur Company purchase their goods, and where did the traders?
Answer. The American Fur Company purchased their goods mostly in Europe and New York -- part in China. Other traders purchased generally in New York, Detroit, Mackinac, Green Bay, St. Louis, and Montreal.
Question. What was the -- or aggregate capital of the traders with the Winnebago Indians not in the employment of the company, so far as you know; and what the average outfit of Indian traders not in the employment of the company?
Answer. This question I cannot answer with certainty, but think others than those employed by the company had an aggregate capital per annum of $22,000 or $25,000; to which add 100 per cent., the price at which they were sold to the Indians, $44,000 to $50,000; this includes those we furnished with goods on their own account at Green Bay, &c. The American Fur Company had on the Mississippi, say $8,000, and in the Chicago country $6,000 or $7,000, making, with the addition of the 100 per cent.; $28,000; in all, $78,000.
I think there were generally from twenty-five to thirty traders, their outfits ranging from $1,000 to $6,000, as sold to the Indians. There may be some exceptions, where some few had more or less than stated. I am inclined to think the above calculation is short of the amount annually traded, as
42it is only about $13 per head, or about $65 for a family office, where it ought to be about $100, or $20 per head, on an average -- certainly not less than $80 per family, or $16 per head.
Question. What inducements, so far as you know, had the company or other traders to prosecute a trade apparently so unprofitable?
Answer. Previous to the late war with Great Britain, in 1810, Mr. Astor embarked largely in the fur trade, and sent, in connexion with several of us, who afterwards became interested in the American Fur Company, an expedition of about one hundred and twenty men, with ships, goods, &c., to establish a colony and the fur trade on the Columbia river, having a promise of protection and aid from the Government, (Mr. Jefferson in particular;) but during the war the British captured the place, and most of our people returned home across the continent. At the close of the war it was supposed that far would be very plenty within our limits, as most of the Indians had joined the British army, and neglected their hunts for several years. This induced Mr. Astor and company to associate themselves with a few gentlemen of Canada, who were conversant with the Indian trade within the United States -- for previous to that period the trade was principally carried on by British traders. In 1815 or 1816 it proved that game was, as anticipated, very plenty, and the trade profitable.
At that period Congress passed a law prohibiting foreign traders from coming within our limits, and Mr. Astor and company were induced to buy out the interest of the Canada gentlemen, expecting the trade to continue lucrative; but no sooner was it restricted to American citizens only, than numbers engaged, so that opposition soon became strong and numerous; the game also soon began to diminish, and, consequently, the Indians were unable to pay their debts, which were too freely made, partly owing to the excitement caused by so much opposition, as well as from an old established habit of the British and French traders to trust largely, which was encouraged by their Governments, to keep up their influence with them; and this the traders (previous to the war) were enabled to do, as they paid our Government pretty much what duties they chose on the Northwestern frontier. This may account principally for the company's continued losses from 1817 to 1824; about which time, several of the more formidable opposing houses failed, or gave up the trade; which gave the company some hope of doing better. Before this, however, some of its members would willingly have retired, but could not without great sacrifice, having every year large inventories of disassorted goods, horses, boats, trading establishments; &c., at Mackinac, and scattered all over the Indian country, amounting at times to about $200,000, which could not be disposed of nor turned to account otherwise. Mr. Astor had also a very great partiality for the Indian trade, and prided himself, somewhat, on not failing in his undertaking.
After 1824, you will perceive that the company made some profit, and we were always in hopes of making more; but opposition continued too strong to enable any person or company to make the trade really lucrative, as the United States Government can testify; for the Government carried on the trade against us for a number of years, and lost, I think, about half a million, as the reports before Congress will show; they were then satisfied, and wisely retired, leaving the traders to fight each other.
Several of the principal traders, previous to the war, had made some money; for then there was less opposition, and game was more plenty. Most of these continued after the war, for various reasons, viz.: future hopes of less opposition, better hunts, or better prices for furs. They also had inventories of goods, houses, cattle, boats, &c., which they could not dispose of. The losses of many fell, nominally, on themselves; but, in reality, on those from whom they procured goods. So long as such could purchase supplies on credit, they continued a mode of life which, above all others, suited their tastes and habits; and, while it held out vague prospects of future gain, afforded the means of present support; gradually assimilating to those among whom their life was spent, they looked not beyond the present hour. Many of them had, also, taken Indian women for wives; had families by them; besides, they felt themselves unfit to return to the pursuits and habits of civilized life. In 1818, and subsequently, the company brought into the Indian country a number of young men, as clerks; and most of these soon took wives, and got attached to that mode of life; for it has its pleasantness as well as privations. A man is at liberty to live and act pretty much as he pleases; he has fishing and hunting in abundance, and commands all around him, unless "the grey mare should prove the better horse."
In a few years he has a family of half-breed children to take care of; which, if nothing else would, are sufficient to prevent his return to former friends or family. He soon aspires, also, to become a bourgeois or trader, not believing, however many have failed of making money before him, but he must succeed. Flushed with this youthful hope, and that of being as great a man as any in the country, (except, perhaps, General Jackson,) he invests in an outfit the few hundred or thousand dollars he may have saved as clerk, and soon after you have him on the treaty grounds, telling you his melancholy story of depredations and lost credits, with many other mishaps, the half of which a stranger can hardly credit, nor conceive of the motives which could induce a man to continue in such a situation; and I can give none that are more satisfactory than the above, and the constant expectation that the Indians will make a better hunt the ensuing years; the furs sell to greater profit, &c.; just as the West India merchant hopes his next voyage will be profitable; and thus ventures on until he is ruined, (against all experience,) as is the case with most of those who engage in that hazardous business; but now and then a great voyage is made, which keeps up the infatuation, I fear that I have trespassed on your time and patience.
Answer to 1st interrogatory. I came on to the Mississippi river in the year 1816, and have resided on its waters to the present time.
Answer to 2d interrogatory. I have some knowledge of Indian trade, from having been engaged in it, more or less, since I came to the country.
Answer to 3d interrogatory. I have been engaged in the Indian trade in the Territories of Wisconsin and Iowa, with the Indians of said Territories, for the most of the period that I have been in this country.
Answer to 4th interrogatory. I was employed in the years 1816 and
441817, as clerk to Messrs. Frank, Aird, & Lawe, and wintered and traded at Lac que Parle, on the St. Peter's river. Since which time, I have traded on my own account, on the Mississippi river and its tributary waters; sometimes connected with others.
Answer to 5th interrogatory. It is usual with traders, so far as I am acquainted with the trade, to credit, on an average, about one half of their goods to Indians in the fall of the year, (that is, outfits in the Indian country.)
Answer to 6th interrogatory. If the trader should refuse to credit the Indians in the fall of the year, the consequence would be that some of the Indians would die with hunger, and all of them suffer very much from cold and hunger, as they could not hunt for the want of arms and ammunition; and the trader would sell very few of his goods, and, in some parts of the country that I have been in, he (the trader) would have been pillaged.
Answer to 7th interrogatory. I do not believe that the Indian trade can be carried on to any great extent in that part of the Indian country that I am acquainted with, without giving credits.
Answer to 8th interrogatory. I believe, on an average, about one half.
Answer to 9th interrogatory. It has been a general calculation with the traders in this part of the country, that about one half of an outfit was to be credited to Indians in the Indian country.
Answer to l0th and 11th interrogatories. After the hunt of one season is over, very few of the Indians pay the balances due, although they sometimes do pay the second year; after which, the traders generally cease to ask them for the credits. In their general councils, if left uninfluenced, they will acknowledge that they, as a people, owe the trader or traders; and since the Government has agreed to pay their debts, through treaties, they are generally desirous to have it done, which shows that they consider these debts as national.
Answer to 12th interrogatory. They were not, when contracted; but after, say two or three years, they were always considered, as national, and the Indians would acknowledge they owed; yet the trader had no hope of being repaid, as they had no means until the last few years the treaties gave them some hopes of a remuneration; the first that I recollect, of any provisions being made to pay balances due from the Indians to traders for old credits was, I think, the treaty made at Rock Island, with the Sacs and Foxes, in 1832.
Answer to 13th interrogatory. Such traders as can write keep a small Indian credit book, generally in a very rough manner, and are generally preserved until after the credits are made next fall, more for the purpose of showing the Indian how bad he had paid his credits the year before, and to check him from insisting upon a large credit, than with an expectation of collecting any thing from the old balances; and they were generally thrown aside, and made use of as waste paper.
Answer to 14th interrogatory. About 100 percent (in this region) on cost at Mackinac or New York.
Answer to 15th interrogatory. No; they generally have, as I may say, tariff prices, which the Indians understand. Some, articles yield more, some less profit on the cost, the same as sales to white persons; but the average would not vary much from 100 per cent.
Answer to 16th interrogatory. In the settlements the price is something
45thing less, for the expenses are less than on an outfit sent into the Indian country; prices vary more in the settlements than in the Indian country.
Answer to 17th interrogatory. Forty to forty-five per cent.
Answer to 18th interrogatory. He is, because he is in the power of the Indians, and his business depends more on their caprice; but even the trader at the settlement is obliged to credit, for fear of losing the confidence and trade of his customers; I think the loss is greater to the former.
Answer to 19th interrogatory. I know nothing in particular of the trade or profits of the American Fur Company, except the years 1819 and 1820, when they had an interest in my trade; it then was not profitable. I never was the agent of the American Fur Company, nor in their employ.
Answer to 20th interrogatory. Some years there was understood to have been some money made by individuals, and it is generally understood that money is made in the trade when there is no competition. I don't recollect any remarkable trade, except when I wintered, for Messrs. Frank & Co., on St. Peter's, in 1817.
Answer to 21st interrogatory. I believe pretty uniform; the trader hardly dares to raise the prices. The prices of the principal articles, being understood to be generally about so much in skins, unless when there is great competition, when goods are sold lower than usual.
Answer to 22d interrogatory. Their capital was said to be large, but I do not know the amount.
Answer to 23d interrogatory. I do not know.
Answer to 24th interrogatory. I do not know.
Answer to 25th interrogatory. In Europe and the United States; the traders bought at Mackinac, and I believe at St. Louis and Detroit.
Answer to 26th interrogatory. I cannot say with any degree of certainty.
Answer to 27th interrogatory. Many reasons may be assigned why men continue in the Indian trade, although I have known several, after a few years' experience, abandon it in disgust, finding the prospect of the trade not inviting. The idea prevails, I believe generally, with people not acquainted with the Indian trade, that a fortune is accumulated in a few years; and the person cannot persuade himself to the contrary until he has had a few years' experience in the business; and then he still hopes for some fortunate circumstance, of finding himself alone at some post, and of making something handsome, and of leaving the country. He knows that money has sometimes been made in the trade, and his pride becomes engaged in it, and he dislikes to quit the business, and acknowledge his incapacity for the business. He perhaps becomes involved in debt, and has probably on hand considerable property, in boats, rigging, &c., for the trade, debts due him from hands, &c., that cannot readily be turned into cash. A large number of the traders are either born in the country or have been brought into the country when young, as clerks, and are unacquainted with any other business; others, who go into the country with business habits, after an indolent life of a few years, feel that they are rusty in business in civilized life, and would have almost everything to learn again. Habit has made the Indian country his home, and created a charm or acquiescence in that mode of life. Some connect themselves with the native females, and have children
46and appear to have as much affection for them as though their mothers were white. This family he cannot carry into civilized life; hence they are doomed to an Indian country. The Indian trade is such that it creates habits of indolence; the Indians feel a contempt for any man that labors, and the trader who would do any labor would not be respected by Indians. Another reason which gives a charm to the life to many of the traders is, that they live at their posts, independent of most of the restraints of fashions and customs of civilized society, and, in place of looking up to, is looked up to by all around him; "he is the first man of that little village." And another reason is, so long as he conducts his business well, even if he does not make money, he is sure of employment in some way, from the outfitters of goods, that will give him a living; if he leaves the trade, and returns again to civilized life, his position is entirely changed; and habit is such that he does not, for any length of time, enjoy that society, there being such an entire change in his habits of life; but, like the sailor, sighs to return to where he has been accustomed to meet with privations, hardships, and danger. The traders contract loose habits of business, from the nature of the business -- accustomed to give at least one half of the goods on credit to the Indians, without any means of coercing payment. The Indians are great beggars, and the trader, being obliged to flatter them and keep up a good understanding with them, gives a great deal of tobacco and provisions; and his feelings of compassion are often excited, to see the poor starving women and children, and gives away his provisions, often to his great inconvenience. This statement refers, principally, to the wintering trader, or trader that goes into the country.
J. H. LOCKWOOD.
October 20, 1838, at Prairie du Chien, in presence of
Prairie du Chien, October 51 1838.
GENTLEMEN: From the restless state of the Winnebago Indians, particularly the Portage Indians, who have with great difficulty been induced to come to this place to receive their annuities, from the advanced state of the season, from the death of several of the Winnebago children, and from the subsistence for the Indians becoming scarce, I have suggested the propriety of making the annuity payment as early as possible, and permitting the Indians to return to their homes immediately with their families. I consider that a chief from each, of the different bands will be a sufficient representation of the nation to sanction any official act of yours, in the discharge of your duties as United States commissioners; they would be competent to make a sale of their country to the United States; and treaties have frequently been made by a chief from each of the bands of the nation. I deem it a matter of the first importance that the annuity payment should be made to the Winnebago nation
47while they are all present, to fulfil the treaty stipulations entered into by the United States, in their late treaty with them, to give no just grounds of complaint against the Government, should they refuse to leave the ceded country, which the Portage Indians have said they would do.
I have the honor, gentlemen, to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Superintendent Indian Affairs.
To Gen. SIMON CAMERON and Col. JAMES MURRAY.
U.S. Commissioners for the adjustment of claims against the Winnebago nation of Indians.
To the honorable Simon Cameron and James Murray, United States Commissioners:
FATHERS: Our father, the superintendent, at the council held in your presence yesterday, recommended us to select a chief from each of our bands, as a delegation to represent the entire nation, and assist you in paying our debts and half-breed relatives. We would willingly act always as he advises; but the winter is near, and we must be on our hunting grounds, to provide food for our families. Our goods are to be distributed, and our annuities paid, and we want to be present. Our young men will not all separate from us, and we shall be in small parties, at different places, when we should all be in our camping grounds, preparing for winter.
Fathers: Our relative, Nicholas Boilvin, is our friend. He knows our affairs, to whom we owe money, and who are our relatives. We have full confidence in him; his voice is ours. We wish him to represent us, and to set for us. We give to him all the power and authority we possess. We desire him to use it as we would do, and we hereby ratify and allow all that he shall do, as if we ourselves did it in your presence. He will remain and assist you. By his desire, we leave the first eight chiefs, who sign this paper, who will counsel and assist him, so long as they can remain.
Fathers: We owe much money to our traders; they have been kind to us, and gave us goods and food when we had no money and the Great Spirit did not send us good hunts. When we sold our lands, the home of our fathers, we left our money in your hands to pay then. We wish you to do so. Our friend knows all whom we justly owe; he will tell you, and we desire to have them all paid before you go away, as our great father promised us, at Washington. We know that you and he will do equal justice to all, and hope you will consent to receive him in our place. When you pay them all we wish it understood that every thing is washed out.
Kay-rah-mau-ne, his x mark.
Wau-kaun-hah-kaw, his x mark.
Whirling Thunder, his x mark.
Mo-rah-tshay-kaw, his x mark.
48Mau-wau-rah-kaw, his x mark.
Hee-wee-tshok-ee-zbun-kay-kaw, his x mark.
Noo-waunk-ko-no-kaw, his x mark.
Wau-tshee-ron-kun-nee-kaw, his x mark.
Watch-hat-tay-kaw, his x mark.
Wau-kaun-tshah-hair-ree-kaw, his x mark.
Wau-nah-pey-kau, his x mark.
Wau-kaun-tshah-zee-kaw, his x mark.
Wau-kaun-kan, his x mark.
Wau-kaun-tshah-koo-kaw, his x mark.
In presence of
HENERY DODGE, Superintendent Indian Affairs.
SAT. CLARK, JR.
JNO. H. KINZIE.
JOHN B. BEAUBIN.
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, October 6, 1838.
Office Indian Affairs, August 2, 1838.
GENTLEMEN: In the instructions from this office of the 26th ultimo, I omitted to enumerate, among the objects to which the contingent fund was applicable, the employment of interpreters. You will find a person acting in this capacity, attached to the agency, and you are authorized to require him to perform any services that may be necessary. Should you, from any cause, deem it proper to engage other persons for similar dutiesr you are authorized to do so, and their compensation will be a proper charge on the contingent fund.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
C. A. HARRIS,
Gen. SIMON CAMERON AND JAMES MURRARY, Esq.
Office, Indian Affairs, August 8, 1838.
GENTLEMEN: In consequence of an inquiry made by General Cameron, I deem it proper to say that, should any circumstance prevent either of you from commencing or completing the execution of the duties of your joint commission, it will be competent for the other to proceed alone in the discharge of them.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
C. A. HARRIS.
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
Gen. SIMON CAMERON
JAMES MURRAY, Esq.,
WASHINGTON, December 28, 1838.
SIR: I have now the honor to submit to you the proofs which were produced before our commission at Prairie du Chien, of debt and other claims of the Winnebago nation of Indians. The debt claims against them are marked from No. 1 to 47 inclusive, and the bundles contain the documentary evidence filed by the parties and their attorneys.
The depositions taken before us, applicable to these cases, will be found in separate bundles, marked with the name of the claimant, and numbered to correspond. The claims of Indians of mixed blood are numbered from No. 1 to 46, inclusive. The bundle marked "General Evidence" will be found to contain three depositions, taken before us, upon the usages of Indian trade, which, by agreement of all parties, are to be used in all cases where applicable. They will be found to contain much useful information in relation to Indian trade generally.
The proceedings of the traders having claims against the Winnebago Indians at Prairie du Chien, referred to in our report, are also herewith submitted. It will be observed, by a note endorsed on the claim of Julia Grignon, a half-blood, that a mistake has been made in paying over the certificate for the amount allowed her to D. M. Brodhead, instead of Aimable Grignon, her attorney in fact. The power of attorney is endorsed on the back, as if given to D. M. Brodhead, and the commissioners may thus have been led into error. Mr. Brodhead has been written to for an explanation.
In the case of the American Fur Company at Mackinac, it will be observed that an error has been made in the addition of the items.
This was the last case settled by the commissioners, and was acted on finally just at the eve of their departure from Prairie du Cbien. The notes of our proceedings in this case had been accidentally mislaid; and, upon examination of the papers, I am unable to say how the commissioners came to the conclusion that the precise sum allowed, was due. Whether the commissioners, from the proof effered, determined that three fourths or one half of the trade was with the Winnebago Indians, I cannot say; in either case, there is a mistake. In the first, something less than $100; in the latter, of exactly $1,000.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
T.H. CRAWFORD, Esq.,
PHILADELPIHA, January 27, 1839.
SIR: In the transactions with the Indians at St. Peters, there has been a great deal of money kept back by the commissioners, through their agent, Mr. Brodhead. Simon Cameron, one of them, boasts of having made $100,000. Is
50it so? Would it not be justice to the red man, if your department instituted an inquiry who was duped. And by refusing the payment of the certificates until the exact amount paid for them is ascertained, there could be no loss to any one; and justice, the attribute of the Government, would alleviate greatly the sufferings of the poor Indians. Pay those who have sold out to this collusive commission all that is due, and let the commissioners suffer; most certainly it must be done, if you would deal with the unlettered sons of the forest as your superior intelligence would prompt.
Yours, with esteem,
C. A. ROGERS,
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD, Esq.,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Office Indian Affairs, January 28, 1839.
SIR: By the treaty of 1st November, 1837, (ratified June 15, 1838,) a fund was provided for the payment of the debts of the Winnebagoes, "which may be ascertained to be justly due, and which may be admitted by the Indians."
To carry out this provision, and to ascertain the just debts due by those Indians, James Murray, Esq., of Maryland, and Simon Cameron, Esq., of Pennsylvania, were appointed commissioners. The instructions, dated the 26th day of July, 1838, by which they were to be governed in making their examinations, directed them to "require the respective creditors to deposite with you transcripts of their claims, exhibiting names, dates, articles, prices, and the original consideration of each claim. If notes or obligations, purporting to be signed by any of the Indians, shall be presented to you for allowance, you will inquire into the original consideration, and the circumstances under which they may have been signed. No such note or obligation will be received as evidence of a debt, unless the indebtedness shall be satisfactorily shown. If original books or entries cannot be produced, their loss or destruction must be proved;" and enjoined upon them to "prepare a roll of all the claimants, specifying the amount claimed by each, the places of residence or trade, the time when the debt was incurred, the kind of merchandise or other articles," &c. In an after part of the instructions, they were informed that "your examinations cannot be too scrutinizing into the merits and justice of every claim. If it be against an individual Indian, he should be called before you, and each item in the account should be explained to him, and his assent or dissent to it required. If it be against the parties ceding the land, collectively, or against either of the bands among them, as a band, the account should be explained in like manner, and their acknowledgment or denial taken." And elsewhere in the instructions it is said, "your decisions will be final. The assent of the Indians to your report you will procure in writing,"
"The sum appropriated for the payment of debts will be retained here. You will give each claimant a certificate of the amount allowed him; and,
upon his draft on this office, appended to this certificate, the payment will be made in New York."
Under these instructions, the commissioners repaired to the Indian country, and, on the 15th December last, filed a written report of the manner in which they had discharged their duties; and afterwards, viz.: on 28th December, placed in this office the evidence and other papers on which they had made their decisions. They report that they soon ascertained "that it was not in the power of the traders, in more than one or two cases, to obey that part of the instructions requiring the presentation of transcripts from their books, giving names, dates, articles, &c., as the proof was abundant and uniform that it had not been the habit of the traders to keep books of Indian credits; and there were but few cases in which books or memorandums had been kept at all; and in all but -- cases these books or memorandums had been destroyed or lost," because, they say, if the Indian hunts of one or two years did not pay their debts, they were regarded as desperate. We are further informed that, "after proof that rough books or memorandums of credits had, in some few instances, been kept, and afterwards lost, the parties were not only usable to file transcripts, exhibiting names, dates, &c., but could not furnish, from proof or recollection, the articles sold, their prices, or the parties who purchased." They found that a note had been given only in one case, and had no proof that sales had been made to the nation at large, or to particular bands thereof. Under these circumstances, the commissioners determined to receive proof of the capital employed, of the sales, and the proportion of them made on credit, not in particular cases, (with a very few exceptions,) but according to the general course of Indian trade, and satisfied themselves "that about one half the sales were generally made on credit, of which from one half to one third were never received." It appears that the creditors of the Winnebagoes held a meeting and passed resolutions, which were informally submitted to the commissioners, and, without receiving their official sanction, they say, "shed lights upon the subject, which were found, afterwards of essential service in the settlement of our business; and the rules laid down by them were adopted by our board, so far as they corresponded with the evidence taken upon the subjects to which they referred." It appears that claims were presented to an aggregate amount of $528,219.33, which the commissioners considered proved to the amount of $160,886.30, and that a pro rata distribution of 99 17/000 cents in the dollar was made, for which certificates were issued.
Can this report be confirmed? As the instructions say the report shall be final, it may be proper to remark that, to make it so, the commissioners must appear to have acted within the fair scope of the powers confided to them. The Government never could, have intended to say that they meant to sanction whatever was done, be it right or wrong, authorized or not. The natural and legal, construction of an exercise of delegated authority is that it shall be conclusive, if confined within the prescribed limits; in other words, the opinions formed or decisions made will not be interfered with, provided the rules laid down are observed. In this report of the proceedings of the commissioners, there appears in a very large proportion of the cases to have been a total departure from their instructions. Transcripts were not, produced; items were not set out; the articles alleged to have been sold not particularized; and we
are told the Indians who bought could not be recollected. In what sense can such claims be called debts? The commissioners say the tribe assumed by the treaty to pay the individual debts, and by the assumption made them national; and therefore the agreement in council, appended to the report, that it was correct, sanctifies the proceeding. I cannot agree to this. The nation agreed to pay individual debts; but surely that does not dispense with establishing them. Unless proved, to what can the Indians consent? It is a mere charge of personal responsibilities upon a general fund, leaving the necessity of making out that responsibility where it was before. I do not say that books, though the most usual and the best evidence of indebtedness by account, are indispensable, but some proof is necessary; and in the case of Indians, allowing every thing for the mode of doing business, it can be made, or, if it cannot, there is no evidence that any thing is due. Other commissioners have found proofs, and no difficulty interposed itself that was not overcome. The statement of claim is often: The Winnebago nation of Indians to -- , Dr. To amount due for losses on goods sold, from -- , 1815 to -- , 1837, $ -- . And the evidence in support of very many of the claims in this report is, that A B dealt with the Winnebagoes for a series of years; that he employed so much capital in each year; that he must have lost largely; and the witnesses believe that there is due him not less than $ -- . The traders had a meeting, and passed resolutions, which were submitted to the commissioners, and adopted by them so far as they corresponded with the evidence. They were the claimants, and the persons whose accounts were to be sifted. The assent obtained, and appended to the report, is signed by eight chiefs. The report states that not one national or band debt was owing; and yet the chiefs, who knew nothing of the matter, are the consenting parties, instead of the individuals who contracted the debts. On this subject the instructions are positive. This assent admits nothing. It seems to be thought there is some support given to the claims by the setting apart of -- dollars in the treaty to pay debts -- which is regarded as an acknowledgment that the Winnebagoes owed so much. I place no reliance on Indian admissions on such subjects. They have no idea of large amounts: but if they had, I am at a loss to see how it can aid in establishing particular debts. The advantage of the trade is all on the side of the whites; they have the power to keep books, or to secure other evidence: and if they fail the fault is their own. The Indian is only asked to assent or dissent, and has no means of opposing a claim, or contradicting the evidence adduced against him; and the least, I think, that can be done for him is, to require a man who sets up a claim to prove it.
I have examined this report laboriously, and reflected upon it seriously and anxiously, with a desire, if possible, to advise its confirmation, for the certificates that were given by the commissioners have passed into and through many hands; but a sense of duty to the Indians and to the Government constrains me to recommend its rejection, and that the matter be recommitted to a new commission, either under the former instructions, or such modification of them as you may think advisable.
A further, duty was confided to the commissioners. By the treaty, the United States agreed "to pay, under the direction, of the President, to the relations and friends of said Indians, having not less than one quarter of Winnebago blood, one hundred thousand dollars."
They were instructed to receive the applications of all "who may deem themselves entitled; and, to satisfy yourselves of their right to be admitted, it will be necessary to have recourse to the statements of the chiefs. These should be made publicly, and, if not controverted or disproved, they will be considered conclusive. The list should show the name, sex, and age, of each individual, the degree of his relationship to the Indians, and the amount awarded to him; it should also show your action in each case, and the reasons for your various decisions. When completed, you will submit it to the chiefs assembled in council, for their assent to it, which you will procure in writing, having their signatures duly witnessed. You will cause one copy of it to be transmitted to this office, and another to be deposited with Governor Dodge, the superintendent of Indian affairs in Wisconsin, or with the Indian agent. A third copy will be delivered by you to the person having charge of the money appropriated, with instructions to pay each person the amount allowed, and to take his receipt on the list, which will be his voucher." It was anticipated there would be minors, orphans, and persons incapable of using discreetly the sums allowed them. As to persons of this character, the commissioners were directed that, "whenever husband and wife are living together, and their children are living with them, or whenever the children are living with one of their parents, and you become satisfied that such parents, or either of them, are competent to take care of their children, you will direct the portions of the latter to be paid to such parent. In the cases of children who are orphans, or have been deserted by their parents, you are authorized to place their respective shares in the hands of some trustworthy person, who will apply, it faithfully for their benefit. In the selection of this person you will consult the wishes of the chiefs; but they will not necessarily determine your action. The same course may be taken in the cases of Indians you may deem incompetent to manage their affairs properly. All other persons of full age will receive their respective shares." They were also informed that "the sum appropriated for the half-breeds will be sent, in due season, to Major E. A. Hitchcock, at St. Louis, who will make the necessary arrangements for its disbursement, under your direction."
As to the persons entitled under this clause of the treaty, and the steps pursued by the commissioners to ascertain them, as developed in their report, I perceive no ground of exception. But there is a vital particular in which in my judgment, the instructions are not only violated, but which, if this branch of the report could be sanctioned, would divert the $100,000 from the quarter-blood Winnebagoes, and put it in the pockets of white men. The instructions point plainly to the payment of the money to the Indians; and if they did not, it seems to me the appearance by attorney in fact, and the granting of certificates to those representatives, opened so wide an entrance to fraud that I cannot, repress the expression of my surprise that such a course should have been deemed proper. The money was to be paid to the respective persons entitled to it, except in the instances of minors, orphans, and incompetents. The execution of the treaty, in either its spirit or letter, forbade any other procedure; and yet, out of ninety-two Indians of mixed blood, the report shows that only thirteen received certificates for their own money, either
54by themselves or parents; of the remaining seventy-nine, certificates were granted on sixty claims to attorneys in fact, and only nineteen to trustees. Where was the necessity for these attorneys? Are they not assignees of these claims? I have no doubt of it. A large proportion of the letters of attorney appear to have been granted by the father for his minor children, in many instances three or four years old. This he had no legal power to do; his authority extended only to the receipt of the money under the directions of the department. The authority he could not delegate. The whole proceeding was for this reason void. But the persons who appeared as attorneys were purchasers from the parent of the money and rights of his children, which he could not sell. The Government cannot stand by and allow such things to pass. The Indians probably received a mere pittance for undoubted rights, previously ascertained, about which no agency was necessary nor service required, and must not be deprived of the benefit intended them by the treaty. The certificates granted in these cases have, in all likelihood, passed through various hands, and inconvenience may be experienced in consequence by the present holders of them; but these Indians have a right to look to the Government for protection, whose duty it is to see that no evil befalls them that can be prevented by vigilance and care. Besides, the commissioners had no authority to grant these certificates; no such power was given them. The money intended to meet the claims was sent, but did not reach its destination seasonably, and the certificates were resorted to as a substitute. It is not required, for the purposes of justice, that the Indians should retain what may have been paid them heretofore by their attorneys in fact, and receive the whole sum allotted them by the commissioners.
It will be necessary, if you concur in the first part of this report, that a new commission be constituted, to pass upon the debts of the Winnebagoes; and it might be charged with the duty of ascertaining, from the mixed bloods, how much they had received for their claims, and, paying them the balance of their respective allotments, return to the assignees, respectively, the sums they had paid.
The trustees appear to have been appointed by the commissioners, but I think the money should not be paid in any instance without the giving of a bond, with sureties, to be approved of by the nearest Indian agent, or by such other person as may be designated, for the faithful discharge of the trust, and the paying over of the money, when the person for whose use it is held arrives at twenty-one years of age, or sooner, if demanded by the Government.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD.
Hon. J. R. POINSETT,
Secretary of War.
Report approved, except in so much as proposes to charge the commissioners with the duty of ascertaining from the mixed bloods how much they have received for their claims, and, after paying them the balance of their respective allotments, return to the assignees, respectively,
55the sums they had paid. The Department will in no manner recognise those transactions.
A new commission will be forthwith appointed.
J. R. P.
WASHINGTON CITY, February 4, 1839.
SIR: I have the honor to enclose, for the information of the Department, two papers forwarded to me by General J. M. Street, from Prairie du Chien, having reference to the proceedings of the commissioners, General Cameron and Mr. Murray; one a statement of John Bt. Peon, in presence of Jos. M. Street, Indian agent, and D. Lowry; the other a statement, over the signature of J. M. Street, reporting his own information, together with information purporting to have been famished by Frederick Oliva, a Winnebago half-breed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK.
Major, Military Disbursing Agent.
Hon. T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Statement respecting Mr. Brodhead's purchasing half and quarter breed claims.
Mr. Peon has one son and one daughter, named Jean Bt. Péon and Angelic Péon. Mr. Péon, the father, sold the claims of his two children to Mr. Brodhead, for $400 for each separate claim, and received certificates of the commissioners for $1,600 each, which drafts were given in the possession of Mr. Brodhead.
In the case of Antoine Grignon, who sold his claim to Brodhead for $800, and received certificates of the commissioners for $1,600, Mr. Grignon received, under the treaty, $2,000.
In the case of John Roy, who sold his claim for $800, to Brodhead, he receiving of the commissioners a draft for $1,000, Mr. John Roy received, under treaty, $2,000, as shown in the schedule of donations.
Frederick Oliva states that Mr. Brodhead and Mr. Boilvin came to see him two or three times, on the subject of purchasing his half or quarter breed claim, "when he finally told them that he did not choose to sell his claim, but would abide the decision of the commissioners; upon which he was solicited by Mr. Brodhead to manage or present his claim
56to the commissioners, for which Mr. B. would charge him 10 per cent., assuring claimant that if he did not receive $1,500 he would not charge him any per centage for his trouble; to which claimant consented, and received a draft for $1,500, for which he paid Mr. B. $150."
Joseph M. Street states that a Mr. Campbell, who married Sophia Paten, daughter of Joshua Palen, (mention of whom is made at page 440 of treaty book, in the 5th article of a treaty with the Winnebagoes,) by a half-blood Winnebago woman, the sister of Mrs. Péon, came to the residence of said Street, in Prairie du Chien, the 3d of November, 1838, and inquired of said Street what the commissioners had given his wife, as a part of the $100,000, and when it would be paid. Street answered, I have just got home, and know nothing of the business done by the commissioners. They left here, I learn, yesterday. I brought up the $100,000 from Major Hitchcock to Dr. Reynolds, and the money is now here in the room. Dr. Reynolds is at St. Peter's. The money, I presume, will be paid on his return, as I have sealed letters from Major H. to him.
Mr. Dousman then came in, and asked me if I had brought the $100,000 for the relations of the Winnebago Indians, I replied I had, and made the same statement as to Dr. Reynolds. Mr. D. then set to persuade me to take or send the money back to St. Louis. I utterly refused to do either, on any consideration; and remarked it would be useless, for the money is to be paid at this place, to the half and quarter blood Winnebagoes, and I do not think it will be paid any where else. Mr. D. said the relations had mostly all sold their dividends, and the drafts had gone along with the commissioners, the day before, to St. Louis. I replied, I don't think the orders, of half and quarter breeds will be paid. The money will only be paid to the relations or guardians, who will be required to give bonds and security, &c. That I could not understand how the dividends of minors could be paid to order; who can give the order, and who acts for them? Mr. D. answered, all that has been settled by the commissioners, and all we want of you is to get the money to St. Louis.
I then remarked, upon what Mr. Campbell said of classification of claims, that they were in three classes -- Nos. 1, 2, and 3 -- and No. 1 was the largest amount and No. 3 the smallest; and yet some of half-blood were in No. 3, and some of quarter in No. 1. I said the Indians declared their intention was, to get the names of all their relations of not less than, quarter blood, and divide the $100,000 between them equally, share and share alike. Mr. D. replied, the commissioners acted by the special order of the Secretary of War, who directed the classification as it was made.
I then remarked, I will get rid of this business myself, but I do not think the money will be paid to attorneys of half-breeds. I can, with an open letter in my possession, hand the money over to the quartermaster, Lieutenant McCissac.
I went with the letter and money immediately to the fort, and handed them over to Mr. M. Mr. D. and General Brook came into the quartermaster's office while I was paying over the money; and General B. remarked to Mr. M. that he would give him an order to go to St. Louis, that he might take that money down to meet the drafts that had gone.
57I supposed, from his coming in with Mr. D., that he (D.) had got the General to give the order, and deemed it not well to say any thing; so I paid the money and came off.
Mr. Campbell expressed much dissatisfaction at the amount granted him, ($600,) and still more at the charge of half by Mr. Dousman, and persisted that he had given no authority to any man to receive it for him. How he and Mr. D. ultimately settled it, I know not. Mr. Campbell returned home, where I can, by inquiring, know more of that transaction.
That in the case of Mr. Péon, he (Péon) had a claim for goods formerly sold the Winnebagoes, amounting to $700. That by advice of Mr. D. and Mr. Boilvin, he employed Mr. Brodhead to advocate his claim, as he was assured if he did not employ Mr. B. he could get nothing. On the claim he was allowed the full claim of $700. Similar remarks were made to several other claimants; and they were assured that if they did not employ B. they would get nothing. That these opinions were well known to be circulating by the commissioners, I am constrained to believe, from the concurring opinions of so many persons.
A slip of paper was left in the commissioners' quarters, purporting to be part of a docket of cases of application as half and quarter breeds; and that on said docket every application to which Brodhead is marked as counsel for claimant, the claim is in the first class, and at the highest rate allowed. This paper is now here preserved.
Another fact. Mr. Brodhead said that General Cameron and himself had brought on $40,000 or $60,000 with them. Mr. F. the secretary, also said the commissioners did not care whether the disbursing agent paid their private draft, for that the commissioners had brought on a large amount of money; and the money paid out here, was on a bank of which General C. is president. What could all this money be brought here for by the commissioners and Mr. Brodhead?
JOS. M. STREET.
JANUARY 2, 1839.
Mr. Brodhead first offered me six hundred dollars for the claims of my two children, stating they were only of quarter blood, and would be allowed very little. I refused to take it; but said, after being repeatedly urged, that I would sell for eight hundred dollars.
Colonel Brodhead finally agreed to give it. The action of the commissioners, however, in reference to my children, entitled them to thirty-two hundred dollars. On learning this, I became dissatisfied, and went to Mr. Brodhead, informing him what I had been assured, when he agreed to give me three hundred dollars more, making eleven hundred; which my children received, instead of thirty-two hundred dollars.
My son's name is John Baptist, and daughters Angelique.
JOHN BT. P&EACUTE;ON, his x mark.
Done in presence of
JOS. M. STREET. Ind. Agent
WASHINGTON CITY, February 6, 1839.
SIR: I have the honor to enclose a letter received by me from General J. M. Street, United States Indian agent for the Sac and Fox Indians, of date the 8th of January, 1839, written at Prairie du Chien, and having reference to the proceedings of the commissioners on adjudicating claims, &c. under the treaty with the Winnebagoes of 1837.
By the authority conferred in the first or second paragraph of the above described letter, I also enclose extracts from two letters from General Street, dated, respectively, the 10th of November and 10th of December, 1838, referring to the same subject.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant.
E. A. HITCHCOCK, Major, M. D. Agent.
Hon. T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Extract from a letter dated Prairie du Chien, November 10, 1838, from General Street to Major Hitchcock, St. Louis.
You will hereafter learn the course pursued by the commissioners. I have no leisure or heart to detail the shameful and corrupt course represented to me. Lockwood and Dousman, in conjunction with a Mr. Brodhead, (the latter with the commissioners, and bragged that he had made $60,000 out of the claims and half-breeds,) decided the cases, and the commissioners only confirmed their acts officially. Let any man of common sense and honesty look at the treaty, and then place the half-breeds in classes, if they can; and that, too, has no relation to half or quarter blood, but they are classed by favor. A quarter blood is in the first class, and a half in the third class. If the case was represented by Mr. Brodhead, or Mr. Dousman, or Lockwood, strongly, it was in the first or second class; if not advocated by either of these potent characters, the case went in the third class. On expressing any surprise at any classification under the language of the treaty, Mr. Dousman replied that, special instructions were given to the commissioners to make the classification.
You will, no doubt, hear from other sources of the conduct of the commissioners as represented to me. Not one cent ought to be paid upon such decisions. Had the commissioner under the Sac and Fox treaty been guilty of such conduct, I am confident he would not have been permitted to proceed. I had some idea of their conduct, from claims sent against the Sacs and Foxes, and promptly rejected.
Extract of a letter from General Street to Major Hitchcock, dated Prairie du Chien, December 10, 1838.
To take the statements made by most of the respectable persons here, whether claimants or not, and without regard to their success, you would with me conclude that they (the commissioners) were actuated by the most corrupt motives.
A lawyer, named Brodhead, came along with the commissioners, and it
59was soon noised about that it would greatly advance the interest of claimants if Mr. Brodhead was employed to present them; and also in relation to half and quarter breeds, that it would determine the amount to be given to a half or quarter breed, if they employed Mr. B.
In the first ease of claims, the claim, if presented through Mr. Brodhead, was established with little proof or trouble; and if the claimant declined employing Mr. B., but determined to rest his claim upon its real intrinsic merits, he was sure to lose the whole or a greater part of what he claimed.
In the case of the half and quarter breeds, much more depended on the employment of Mr. B.; yet a man of plain common sense and common honesty would declare that there was no need of a lawyer; for it must alone depend, under the treaty, upon one simple fact -- whether they were related to the Winnebagoes as near as half and quarter blood? if they were, they were entitled to a share; if not, they ought to be wholly excluded. The only question that could arise under the treaty was between the amounts to be granted to half and quarter breeds: whether half-breeds should draw the same as quarter-breeds, or if half-breeds would not be entitled to full shares, and quarter-breeds to half shares. But no one, from reading the treaty, will say that the commissioners, or the Indians who made the treaty, intended any thing but the equal division amongst all their relations not further off than quarter-blood, of $100,000, share and share alike. The idea of any classification of the relations was never thought of by the Indians; and a classification which has grown out of this measure, giving to a quarter-blood a full share, and to a half-blood less than half the amount given to the quarter, is monstrous; and to the Indians, and especially those who made the treaty, unsatisfactory. True, in some cases, the influence operating upon the Indians, and the constant stream of intoxicating drinks, freely given, to keep up that influence, prevent any thing from being said; still the language of the treaty remains, and gives color to the charges made from every quarter, of partiality in the classification of the relations of the Indians; and if inquired into, it is found to rest, as I have said, upon the fact of the employment of Mr. Brodhead. If Mr. B. was well feed to his satisfaction, the relation was placed in the first class, and entitled to the largest share; if not so well feed, in the second class, with a proportionate deduction of dividend; and if not feed at all, in the third class, with the smallest dividend. This classification, too, had no relation to blood, whether of half or quarter, but was graduated by the fee paid to Mr. Brodhead.
Long before any claimant could understand the fate of his claim, Mr. Brodhead could tell all about it; and in some cases, the claimants, by employing him when their claims were reported to them to be rejected for want of proof, got them allowed by employing Mr. B. Some, too, who were informed by the commissioners that most of their claims were rejected, and but a small part granted, gave Mr. B. his full fee, and found their claims confirmed at the largest amount they claimed, ultimately. In most cases, Mr. B's fee was such a per cent. upon the amount allowed, and secured to him out of the claim.
The impression has obtained currency here, that the commissioners brought Mr. Brodhead with them, upon a bargain to share the profits obtained through him, of the claimants and half-breeds; and that they have made at least $20,000 a piece; that is, Mr. B. declared his fees
60amounted to upwards of $60,000. Persons here calculate differently, and think his fees nearer to $80,000. These fees, too, were as good as cash in hand, being a per centum upon claims and shares.
These, you will admit, are high-handed measures, and it is some relief to consider they met with a man in office who dared to give them a check, and even to question the correctness of their course; and I do hope enough will reach the Department to induce at least a re-hearing in regard to the Indian relations. The claims are possibly too wide-spread to admit of a re-examination, without involving great expense; yet I do hope something may be done to show the dissatisfaction of the Government with such barefaced corruption. I have extended this letter so far as to leave no room for particular cases in point, nor do I suppose it would serve any purpose; yet they can be adduced, if required. I have merely taken up the talk as given to me by many of the most respectable persons at this place.
In the case of the claims, to have the advocacy of Mr. Brodhead, Mr. Dousman, and Mr. Lockwood, was sufficient to ensure the passage of the claim. And Mr. Boilvin was a most potent advocate, and doorkeeper for the commissioners frequently; indeed, most frequently they acted with closed doors; and Mr. Boilvin in most cases acted as doorkeeper, and turned gentlemen back who were coming into the commissioners' office on business with them. Was it not strange, passing strange, to have a board to decide on the claims and report to the commissioners, (who, in all cases confirmed their decisions) composed of two traders, themselves having large claims, and one of them the largest trader with those very Indians? To me it was astonishing. As I said in my former letter, if the commissioner at Rock island had appointed Davenport or any of the traders to examine claims, there would have been such discontent that I should have expected that the proceedings would have been forcibly stopped.
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, January 8, 1339.
DEAR SIR: After receiving your letters on the subject of half-breed claims amongst the Winnebagoes, I will freely give you all the information I have, or can obtain, in relation to the distribution of the $100,000 set apart, in the treaty of 1837, for the half-breeds of the Winnebagoes. As a friend, I have written you somewhat freely before, under feelings of deep indignation, on hearing of the shameful speculations made on the half-breeds during the sittings of the commissioners sent here to adjudicate claims against the Winnebagoes, and divide the $100,000 given to the relations of those Indians in the treaty of cession of 1837. I wish you to use any part of my correspondence you may think proper, and in such way as you choose. In them I have sometimes, possibly, desired the information to rest with you, lest I might draw down on myself the enmity and persecution of a very wealthy and (with the Indians) influential class of persons on the Indian frontier; but, if it can be in any way useful in doing good to the poor defrauded half-breeds, use them all as you deem best for the elucidation of the subject, and the obtaining of justice for the ignorant, defrauded half-breeds.
The information is, of course, from others, as I never saw the commissioners;
61and my duties with the Sacs and Foxes kept me away from this place during the whole time the commissioners were here.
The cases of Messrs. Péon and Oliva will show the amount shaved off of the sums allowed them by Mr. Brodhead; and I will add another case of a discharged soldier, named Vunk. I am unable to say how much Vunk was allowed by the commissioners, yet a reference to the name in their returns will show. This case of Vunk is on the information of Mr. Samuel Gilbert, a very reputable citizen of this place, and well known to you. Vunk came to this place, some time in July, with a Winnebago squaw, who had a half-breed child born previous to the treaty of 1837, and lived in an old dilapidated house belonging to Mr. Lockwood, next door to Mr. Gilbert. Vunk was subject to hard drinking, and told Mr. G. he came to get a part of the $100,000 given to half-breeds by the Winnebagoes, for his child; that he had sold his claim to Mr. Brodhead, and would go so soon as the commissioners decided on the claim; that he was to get $400, to be paid in Mr. Lockwood's store, and as soon as he could get it he intended to leave the squaw and go off. Mr. Gilbert saw Vunk getting goods afterward at Lockwood's, and V. came to T. P. Street's store with orders from Lockwood for goods. Vunk was frequently drunk, and about the time the commissioners left here, V. quit the place, leaving the squaw and child with the Indians: nor is it known where Vunk went. The squaw and child are dependent for food and clothing on their own exertions, and are with a hunting party of Indians on Turkey river. Every cent of the sum divided to this half-breed child is lost forever to the child; Vunk sold and conveyed away the claim, and the money paid to him he drank out and carried away, abandoning the squaw and the child to the care of her people. What good has this done a half-breed?
There are, doubtless, many similar cases; but as most of the half-breeds live at Green Bay and the Portage, I have been unable to see them; and no information can be obtained by letter, for few of the half-breeds can write, and a letter would be carried to some trader, or to Boilvin, who is too much involved in the frauds to suffer any information to be given that could go to establish the frauds in which they have so deeply engaged.
I am promised a few leaves from a docket, found in the quarters occupied by the commissioners here after their departure, which I will enclose if I can get them. On them may be seen, I am told, that every case to which Mr. Brodhead is marked as attorney for the half-breeds is in the first class, and of course entitled to the largest amount. The classification of the claims was certainly, in itself, unjust, and at once furnished the means of the most shameful speculation. If there had been no classification, the half-breeds, ignorant as they are, could have counted up their numbers, and, by dividing the $100,000 into that many parts, would see how much would be coming to each one; but placed into three classes, made by arbitrary distinctions unknown to the half-breeds, they and every other person (not in the confidence of the commissioners) were alike in the dark. Some of the first class were quarter-blood, some still further off, and some of the third class were full half-bloods.
The commissioners pretended to class them in proportion to their ability to be useful to the Indians; this, too, depending upon such information as they could get from Dousman, Lockwood, Boilvin,
62and Rolette, who are mostly engaged in the same speculations and impositions upon the half-breeds. Mr. Marsh, (a respectable merchant of this place,) partner of Bugbee, said to me that he knew not many persons of the half-breeds, but that one, a minor, was allowed $6,000, and, he understood, had sold his or her claim to Mr. Brodhead. Mr. Marsh further said, that when half-breeds first came to this place to attend upon the commissioners, the general opinion expressed by them was, that each one would get about $1,000 of the $100,000 to their share. They said there was about a hundred persons of the relations; that there were not more than five either over or under that number, and therefore they would get about $1,000 each. But very soon he heard of the classification, and the arbitrary rule of classing, by the commissioners -- not on the principles of the laws of the United States, according to blood, but according to the possible usefulness that the person might be to the Winnebago tribe, to be judged of by the commissioners, dependant on information obtained from the before mentioned packed source. This confounded all calculation amongst the relations and whites, (except those in the confidence of the commissioners,) the initiated few. The consequence was, the relations who were in the dark were persuaded by Brodhead, aided by Dousman, Brisbois, Boilvin, Lockwood, &c., that they would get very little, and strongly urged by all these advisers to sell to Brodhead; and the same management deterred merchants and other capitalists from coming into contact with a man domiciliated with the commissioners at private lodgings, who appeared the confidential friend and adviser of the commissioners, and, if he chose, could, and occasionally did, let persons know the decisions of the commissioners long before they were known to any other person. So deeply were the half-breeds and many other claimants impressed with the belief that the commissioners and Mr. Brodhead were acting in concert, that they generally spoke of Mr. B. as one of the commissioners.
One evening Mr. Brodhead came into a boarding-house with the commissioners, and sat for some time figuring on a paper, and exclaimed: "Not a bad business; they amount to $60,000, which, divided by four, gives $15,000 to each -- not a bad business." Mr. B. did not explain further, possibly as there were several other persons in the room; but Marsh suspected, from all the appearances, he meant himself, one or both the commissioners, and Messrs. Dousman and Lockwood; if the commissioners were concerned, Dousman, Brodhead, and the commissioners; if Cameron alone of the commissioners, then Dousman, Brodhead, Cameron, and Lockwood, made the four. Boilvin and Brisbois were evidently merely used, and found their account in the passage of such accounts as they laid in against the Indians, or got some small sop; and with this last class Lockwood may be numbered, as being bought by something in proportion to their limited head-pieces.
Mr. Marsh, though, thinks $60,000 was too small an amount, if Mr. Brodhead purchased all the half-breeds: so he thinks there were four persons engaged in B.'s speculations, amounting to $60,000, and that Dousman and Lockwood had made speculations separately. At this place I can certainly hear of but one case unsold: that is a half-breed, named Mitchell, for whom Doctor Moore drew as agent, and the draft was placed in my hands by T. P. Street, to be used by me to refund
63some money advanced by me for Moore and Street, and assigned to Pratte, Chouteau, & Co.; this is for $600. The half-breed lives with Doctor Moore, and is about eight or nine years old. The case of Mrs. Campbell (late Sophia Palen) is drawn to Dousman, agent for Palen, or Campbell,) and Dousman said is for $600; and in my hearing he told Campbell he could let him (C.) have but $300; for, said Dousman, "if I had not attended to your case you would not have got a cent." Moore and T. P. Street are merchants, trading as Moore & Street.
The information given is, principally, from the following sources, to wit:
Peon's case from Mr. Péon, the father, and Mr. Oliva, all living here.
Oliva's case, from Oliva, do. do.
The other cases given by Oliva, do. do.
Vunk's case, Samuel Gilbert, do. do.
Palen or Campbell's case, of my own knowledge; Campbell and wife, Lower Rapids.
Brodhead's declaration of the $60,000, Mr. Marsh, living here.
The other information is from Mr. Marsh, and the general suspicion of the speculation of the commissioners from various persons here, who all seem to think that, from all the appearances, B. and the commissioners were concerned and acted together.
The secretary, Mr. Featherstonhaugh, said that the commissioners did not care a fig whether the disbursing agent paid their drafts for expenses or not; General Cameron had brought upwards of $60,000 along with him, of his own money. Mr. B. made a similar declaration in Mr. Boyd's presence. What could this $60,000 be brought here for? And does not the amount strangely correspond with Mr. B.'s soliloquy about the $60,000 divided by 4 making $15,000 -- "not a bad business?" One thing is certain: $100,000 was to have been distributed to the half-breeds. Drafts for the whole amount have been made, and to whom? And who has the legal right over this large amount? The half-breeds? No. Mr. Brodhead, Mr. Dousman, Mr. Lockwood, &c. Some few thousand dollars in notes of a bank in Middletown, Penn., of which S. Cameron is cashier, were paid for these claims to half-breeds here; and I can hear of no obligations even for the payment of any more here. This is a strange disappearance of $100,000. Mr. Dousman said to me that there was not $1,000 of the drafts for parts of the $100,000 in Prairie du Chien, for they went to St. Louis on the same boat with the commissioners. Mr. Dousman further said today (8th January, 1839) "Major H. did wrong to suspend the payments, and he will be made to see it, and feel it too!" I have ordered all my cases to be protested legally, and have no doubt about it I will get the amounts and expenses of protest." This was said in my hearing, in presence of several gentlemen. At the same place, in a conversation with Mr. Rolette, he said "it would have been well enough to take security of persons to whom the money of half-breed minors was paid; for at St. Peter's, in paying half-breed Sioux, some $5,000 was paid to Stambaugh, but little of which will ever go to the half-breeds." I did not reply.
The request made in a former letter, that the information given should remain with you only, proceeded from a desired not to subject myself to the persecution it might raise, without any benefit to the half-breeds, and not from a want of evidence of the truth of the information. Now, if any thing can be done to obtain justice for the half-breeds, I freely give you
64leave to use whatever I have written, in such way as may best subserve the cause of right and justice. To me it seems base and unpardonable, that men chosen by the President, and sent at a great expense so far, to see justice done to the Indians and to the half-breeds, should suffer such speculations to go on under their noses, as it were, by a lawyer coming with them from the same portion of country they inhabit, and living all the time with the commissioners and in close intimacy with them. Even if the commissioners were not interested in the speculations, to suffer it, and in such a way, too, is monstrous. Yet, the only money paid out was the notes of the Middletown bank, of which General Cameron is cashier; and his friend, the secretary of the commissioners, boasted General C. had brought on $60,000; and no other bank-notes were flush about this place at the time, but miserable depreciated paper of Wisconsin. The Middletown notes were gladly received, and were the only paper currency at the place, until the quantity of specie was paid to the Indians, when some of it was taken up for specie, to get light money to travel on.
I regret that Mr. Marsh went into the country and I failed to see him, as I expected, to-day; when he promised, if practicable, to get the leaves of the docket and hand them over to me. If I cannot see. Mr. M. before the mail closes, they shall come in the next mail, three days hence. In my conversation with gentlemen here about the commissioners, they unite in an opinion that there was too close an intimacy between Mr. B. and the commissioners for them to remain ignorant of Mr. B.'s speculations; and they think Mr. B. knew too much of the state of their decisions before being known to any other persons, for the commissioners to be free from some interest in the business carrying on by B.; at least, such seems decidedly the case as to General C. Mr. Murray is described as a nervous hypochondriac, of extremely singular manners, and of unequalled irritable mind, though generally distant and gentlemanly in his deportment. Public mind here seems to favor the opinion that Murray was innocent, possibly, of any pecuniary interest in the speculations; but, from his disposition, declined prying into General C.'s conduct, or thrusting himself forward as an upright just man would have done, to save a parcel of ignorant fellow creatures from being so cruelly fleeced by General C. and Mr. B.
The half-breeds, too, thought there was no relief -- the offers of Mr. B. or nothing. These were men sent by the President, stood high in his favor, and what they did would be approved. Besides, the Sioux commissioners came down in the time, and the whites who had been up to prey upon them, and all united in high approbation of the plan of classification; and some declared in my presence that this (the classification) was made in obedience to the orders of the Secretary of War, which Mr. Dousman assured me he had seen.
All this taken together by unlettered, ignorant half-breeds, brought them to the conclusion to take any thing Mr. B. offered; for they considered it was that or nothing. Many had come more than 100 miles, and remained here on expenses for a long time, and had no money to pay; they were forced to sell, to get away. The time taken to simply divide $100,000 between less than 100 half-breeds was out of all reason; and there is no apology for making the half-breeds remain here until the claimants for debts should come in, and their claims be decided upon. The half-breeds might have been acted upon, and their business completed in a few days; and yet the commissioners kept them here, and their cases
65undecided, near seventy or eighty days. They did not even know what they were adjudged to receive until a few days before the departure of the commissioners from this place. When they learned (partially at last) how deep they had been shaved, they began to murmur so loud, that Mr. B., in Péon's case, had to plank up $300 in addition to the sum he had given him for the two claims of his children, (two minors,) who may or may not get the $1,100 given by Mr. B.; yet the commissioners gave their certificate to pay Mr. B. $3,200 for those two claims.
From all the calculations I can make from data here, out of the $100,000 the half-breeds got about $32,000, or $35,000 nominally; for much was paid in merchandise, at high rates, out of Mr. Lockwood's and the American Fur Company's stores.
I am told by T. P. Street, a merchant of this place, that he had a claim against the Winnebagoes for merchandise sold them; that Mr. B. beset him for some time after his claim was handed in to employ him at 10 per cent., on the amount allowed, and assured him he had better do it to get any thing. He declined, and said his account was plain, and the commissioners might decide on them without a lawyer, for he would not employ him. Mr. B. still persisted, and Mr. S.'s books were required. He gave them up to the commissioners, but still told Mr. B. he would not employ him; that his accounts were plain; the Indians acknowledged it; and the commissioners might do what they pleased with it -- he cared not. A few days before they left, they gave him a certificate for the amount.
If, out of all my letters on this subject, you can obtain information that will enable the Department to do justice to the abused and cheated half-breeds, I shall feel much gratification.
I have the honor to assure you of my high respect, and am your most obedient,
JOS. M. STREET, U. S. Indian Agent.
Major E. A. HITCHCOCK, Mil. Dis'bg Agent, Ind. Dept.
P. S. -- A few days past Mr. Lockwood said he felt perfectly sure his part of the $100,000 would be paid; for when the commissioners got to Washington, they would induce the Secretary of War to have all paid; for, said he, Mr. Brodhead has too deep a stake in the half-breed claims for the commissioners to see him suffer. I feel no fear for the event.
JOS. M. STREET.
WASHINGTON, February 16, 1839.
SIR: Our report to the Department, of the 15th of December last, having been overruled, and our proceedings harshly set aside, we beg leave to offer some suggestions in vindication of the course pursued by us.
For this purpose we design to examine the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of War, in the hope that you may be convinced that the conclusions to which he has arrived are not just and deducible from the evidence before him.
Under the treaty of November, 1837, with the Winnebago nation of Indians, $150,000 was left in the Treasury of the United States to pay
66the just debts of the nation, and $100,000 to be distributed among their relations and friends. These sums of money were not, as you know, donations from the Government of the United States, but constituted a part of the purchase-money of their land, and were set aside by them for the purpose of relieving their people from debt, and honestly discharging their just obligations to the white traders. The President of the United States was selected by them as their trustee to fulfil those objects; and, in virtue of this power, appointed us to perform this duty, and to carry out the treaty stipulations. We were instructed by him, through the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to require that transcripts, &c., should be furnished; and that after the creditor had proved his claim, according to the strictest rules of law, the defendant should be required to admit or deny the claim.
Without commenting on the severity of these instructions, in their operation upon the creditor -- unheard of, we believe, in any court of any civilized country -- we are authorized to believe that it was not expected by the Department that this rule should be rigidly followed, because we know that in the report of the Sioux commission this formality was dispensed with, and their report has been confirmed by the Department; although our report has been set aside by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, on the ground that on this subject the instructions are positive. We have been informed, too, and we believe correctly, that in other commissions, in some cases at least, a production of transcripts from the books of creditors has also been dispensed with.
The instructions, too, direct that where books are not produced, their loss or destruction shall be accounted for. Cui bono? For none other, as the commissioners conceive, than for the production of other satisfactory testimony. The same instructions are applied to notes or obligations, in which the indebtedness is to be proved. Was it intended that no debts should be paid but those due to creditors who could produce transcripts from their books? If so, it is admitted that in many cases the commissioners exceeded their instructions. But the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, in his report, admits the contrary. His language is, "I do not say that books, though the most usual and best evidence of indebtedness by account, are indispensable; but some proof is necessary." We desire to know what proof? But one kind of proof is mentioned in the instructions. If other proof was admissible, where books had not been kept, or were not produced, the commissioners were left to their own discretion. What, in this view of the case, was to be done with debts proved to the satisfaction of the commissioners by other testimony? Were they bound to pronounce that claims proved by other testimony to their satisfaction were not debts? To illustrate:
If a trader proved that he went into the Indian country with goods amounting to $10,000, and sold them all to Winnebagoes, one half on credit; is it contended that, because he kept no books of account, no debts were contracted with, him?
If a stranger buys my horse on credit, and I am unable afterwards to identify his person; does it prove that I did not sell the horse? If a man wantonly burns my house, or a mob destroys it; can I not recover damages, because I have no inventory of my furniture, with the appraised value of each article? The Commissioner of Indian Affairs charges that "in a
67very large proportion of the cases there has been a total departure from our instructions."
This is a grave and serious charge -- one which ought not to have been lightly made; and, to justify it, should be fully sustained by the evidence. Is it sustained? By reference to our report, it will be perceived that it was made in the absence of our secretary, and while the papers were in some confusion. It is there stated that some matters may be omitted, which it will be necessary to supply in a supplemental report. If the Commissioner of Indian Affairs had thought proper to give us any intimation that he held the views entertained in his report, or that he was preparing grave and serious charges of this character against us, we should at least have had an opportunity to defend ourselves before sentence.
Our register of claims allowed, will show that nearly one half in amount of the debt claims have been paid in the manner required by the instructions, with the single exception that the debtors were not called in to assent or dissent, &c. As this has, in the Sioux case, been dispensed with, it is presumed we have not been denounced for that omission. Upon what grounds were the other cases allowed?
The treaty required that the just debts of the Winnebagoes should be paid; and that a pro-rata distribution should be made, if the amount of debts exceeded the appropriation.
About one half in amount, then, of the claims presented, were proved according to the letter of the instructions; and the remainder by proofs satisfactory to us. What was our duty, under such circumstances?
The argument, and the conclusion, of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, is, that the claims proved by transcripts, &c., should have been allowed, and the others rejected. What would have been the result of this course? If the Department or the President had concluded, upon the examination of the testimony, that the balance of the claims allowed by us were just debts, could they afterwards have been placed upon the same footing with the first? In case of a pro-rata distribution, they certainly could not; because the first class of cases would have been paid in full, and the second subject to a diminished pro-rata distribution.
If in case we show, then, that the latter class of cases were as much just debts as the former, the course pursued by us was right, and irremediable injury to one class of creditors prevented.
The duty of the Government and of the commissioners was to pay the just debts of the Winnebagoes, and to protect them against fraud and imposition by the white traders.
The Commissioner of Indian Affairs assumes that the only or best evidence of indebtedness is to be found in the books of accounts of the traders.
If imposition or fraud was intended by the traders, is it clear that none but correct and honest accounts would be presented to the board of commissioners? Would it not be possible, and is it not a matter of everyday occurrence, that false entries may be made and credits omitted?
If the ignorant Indian had sense enough to demand receipts for payment, is it likely he would preserve them through the lapse of many years, and be prepared to present them to the commissioners?
In case of the denial of the handwriting of such creditors, could he be
68prepared, at all times, to prove it? What would be the consequence of his failure?
The whole amount of charges on books that on their face appeared to be regularly kept for a series of years, would be found to be just debts, and no alternative left but to allow them.
Let us now examine the ground on which the commissioners acted in this class of cases, and see if it will not present as good or better security against fraud. A trader proves that he had a certain capital employed in the Winnebago trade for many years; that he sold a part on credit. The most respectable men of the country, conversant with all the usages of Indian trade for a number of years, prove that, from their own experience, a certain proportion of goods vended to the Indians in a series of years were sold on credit, and a certain portion of those credits only were paid.
Would not decisions founded on those principles be better security against fraud than the ex-parle declarations of creditors, even though written down by themselves in their account books? And when the whole accounts, in the aggregate, are to be paid out of a common fund -- when an average of this sort could operate no particular injustice, can it be doubted that it affords a better security against frauds? The commissioners have no knowledge of the correctness of the average, as derived from the witnesses; but they know that they were men of the highest standing in the country for expedience and knowledge upon the subjects to which they testified; and, if they are to be credited, they believe that the class of cases allowed under what the Commissioner calls a total departure from their instructions, were allowed, so far as the principle is concerned, on better testimony than those which seem to meet his entire approbation. It will be seen, by reference to the report of the Sioux commissioners, that three out of four of this class of cases are allowed upon similar testimony, though not so strong as in the Winnebago cases. Why the Commissioner of Indian Affairs has confirmed the report of the Sioux commissioners upon the debt claims, and rejected ours, it would puzzle wiser heads than ours to determine, unless he had testimony before him, to which he does not refer, and which is unknown to us.
It is to be observed, that this part of the treaty was intended for the exclusive benefit of the Indians. The United States, or the President, who is selected to carry it into operation, have no interest in it. The object of it was to relieve the Winnebago Indians from debts due to white traders.
The government of the Indians is patriarchal, and the chiefs of headmen decide in all cases affecting the eights of their people, when conflicting with the whites. According to their ideas, the individual, in such cases, is merged in his tribe and identified with it.
If a Sioux kills a Winnebago, or vice versa, the injured party seeks redress from the adverse tribe, and not of the individual inflicting the wrong. If an individual of one nation robs one of another, reprisals are made on the whole nation.
By parity of reason, if a debt is due from an individual of one tribe to an individual of another, and payment is refused, the whole adversary tribe would be held responsible. In a word, all their property is held in
69common. The laws and customs of the Winnebago tribe are applicable to, and ought to be considered as applying to, their rights and obligations under the treaty.
The Winnebagoes, by documents referred to in the former report, and in the treaty, have treated these debts as national, both before and after their adjudication by the commissioners. Have they not a right to judge of the spirit and meaning of the treaty as much as the department of Indian Affairs? This stipulation was made for their benefit, and has been executed in a manner entirely satisfactory to them. No complaint has been made. By what authority does the department undertake to refuse to fulfil a stipulation intended for their benefit, and executed in a manner agreeable to them? Would the United States allow interference by a foreign Power in such a case?
France and Naples owed debts to our merchants. They agreed to pay to the United States a sum certain, and this Government assumed the debts. Who prescribed the evidence by which these claims should be established? Would this Government (after the ratification of the treaty) have allowed either of those Governments to prescribe the evidence, or the form of trial by which these claims were to be adjudicated? We are not aware that any complaint has been made to the department of injustice to any one claimant; and they have all given receipts in full, and the Winnebago people have been released from debt. The object of the treaty in this matter has been fulfilled, and the parties satisfied so far as has come to our knowledge. The Commissioner, in his report, remarks, that our report is signed and approved by "eight chiefs." Whether he intends to make this an objection, and to mean that it should have been approved by the whole nation in council, we do not know. It may be well, however, to explain how and why this was done.
The letter of Governor Dodge filed with our report will show that it was necessary, for cogent reasons, that, the annuity due to the nation should be paid before we had settled our business; and other documents filed in the Indian department, to which at this moment we have no access, will also show that it was out of the question to expect the nation to remain at Prairie du Chien, after the payment of the annuity, as they would become restive, and would no longer be manageable. It was, therefore, at the suggestion of Governor Dodge, agreed that they might depart on the condition that they left a principal chief from each of their bands to settle their business with us. That letter will show it to have been the opinion of Governor Dodge that this was a full representation of the nation, and would have full authority to act for it; that it would be competent to make a treaty. Let it be understood, also, that the Department has the evidence that these chiefs were formally appointed in full council of the nation to act in this matter for them. It is believed, also, that most if not all of these chiefs were the very persons who made the treaty of November, 1837, with the United States. Will it be insisted that they did not understand the treaty, or how it was intended by them it should be executed?
Let the other side of the picture be exhibited; and allow us to inquire, what would the Department have thought if we had returned without adjudicating the claims, on the ground that the evidence, which the Commissioner in his report seems to consider as essential to the proof of the claims, could not be furnished?
70We will suppose the Department had been informed that strong remonstrances had been made by the leading men of the country against this course, because it might lead to dangerous consequences; that a faithful fulfilment by the United States of this treaty was necessary to be immediately made, because the Indians, on their part, would be called to execute their obligations in this month, by leaving the ceded country; that it was represented to the commissioners, and believed by them, that the traders could influence them to any course they might in their disappointment think proper; that if the Indians were removed before their claims were adjudicated, there would be no means of obtaining their debts, as the Indians would be beyond their reach; or at least that they could not carry their proofs after them, if the United States should think it proper to establish a new commission beyond the Mississippi.
Let it, then, be understood that the commissioners believed then, as they now do, that the claims were established by sufficient evidence, but would not officially adjudicate them because of the technical objection urged by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Would or ought the Department, under such circumstances, to sanction such a course? We think not. We believed then, as we now believe; that the claims are proved within the spirit of the instructions and the treaty; and we would respectfully claim credit of the Department rather than censure.
No possible harm could be done by the course we pursued, but much good. There was danger to the Government and to the people of that country to be apprehended, if we refused to act; and as our instructions required that we should submit not only our judgments, but the evidence on which our opinions were founded, to the Department, it was in the power of the Government to prevent injury, by controlling our decisions as they have done, and appoint a new commission to adjudicate the claims under modified instructions. But, believing as we did, and now do, that the evidence taken brought the cases within the spirit and meaning not only of the instructions but of the treaty, and that the proofs on which those opinions were founded were better than in the cases precisely embraced in the instructions of which we have before spoken, we thought it our duty to present them to the Department.
If the Department had reversed our decisions upon the grounds not offensive to our feelings and injurious to our characters as gentlemen and public officers; if it had stated that in this matter we had erred in judgment and mistaken the views of the Department; if it had given us credit for correct intentions; we would, however we might have regretted the difference of opinion and its probable consequences, have had nothing to complain of, and submitted silently to its decision.
It is a mistake to suppose, however, that all the frauds and impositions, in the Indian country are practised by the whites. The evidence furnished by the commissioners in this case will show that the instances are very rare in which an Indian trader who has continued in the business for many years has not been ruined or much impoverished; and when they have been at all successful, the profit has arisen more from a fortunate selection of lands, than the profits made by the sale of their goods.
In relation to the other branch of our duty, viz: the distribution of $100,000 among the relatives and friends of the Winnebagoes, the Commissioner states, "that, as to the persons entitled under this clause of the treaty, and the steps pursued by the commissioners to ascertain them,
71as developed in their report, I perceive no ground of exception. But there is a vital particular in which, in my judgment, the instructions are not only violated, but which, if this branch of the report could be sanctioned, would divert the $100,000 from the quarter-blood Winnebagoes, and put it into the pockets of white men. The instructions point plainly to the payment of the money to the Indians; and if they did not, it seems to me the appearance by attorneys in fact, and the granting certificates to those representatives, opened so wide an entrance to fraud that I cannot suppress the expression of my surprise that such a course should have been deemed proper. The money was to be paid to the respective persons entitled to it, except in the instances of minors, orphans, and incompetents. The execution of the treaty, in either its spirit or letter, forbade any other procedure."
The only objection urged against this branch of our report is the granting of certificates to attorneys in fact.
The Commissioner of Indian Affairs seems to have forgotten that we did not pay the money; that that part of the duty was to have been performed by another officer of the Government, who did not reach the country during our protracted stay there, and whose presence at the proper time might have saved the necessity of giving certificates. The commissioners having closed their session, and the money promised by the treaty and the instructions not having arrived, what more natural course could have been pursued than to give the parties interested, or their attorneys, a certificate in the form of a draft upon the officer charged with the disbursement of the funds?
As we unfortunately did not anticipate the great surprise and astonishment which our course in this respect has occasioned in the mind of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, we regret that testimony was not taken to show the number of mixed bloods who were before us at Prairie du Chien.
We trust, however, that we still have credit enough at the department of Indian Affairs to be believed when we state, that, although we required that those who could come conveniently should be brought before us, the proportion of those who attended was small. It was not required that the recipients of this bounty should assent or dissent to the awards in their favor; and, therefore, it was not required that they should all attend. All were entitled to a portion of the fund, in such proportion as their particular merits entitled them to.
It is evident, we presume, that it was necessary that their claims and proofs of parentage, &c., must be presented, or we could have no knowledge of their existence. By whom were these proofs to be offered? According to our views, heretofore expressed, we then entertained no doubt that, even when the parties were present, it was greatly to their advantage to be represented by respectable agents acquainted with forms of business, and accustomed to the preparation of proofs, &c. In the case of absentees, the necessity, to our minds, appears to have been stronger.
Admitting that those who were present might have presented their claims, how were the claims of others to be brought before us? The mails, it may be said, offered a recourse; but, in that wild country, they are uncertain. Special messengers might have been employed; but, in either alternative, affidavits and proofs were required; and the preparation of these required more skill and learning than is generally found
72among this class of people. Besides that, it would have been a very expensive course, as the distances at which many lived from our place of session was very great; and to pay them, the parties entitled had no means other than a part of their award; and this would have made them obnoxious to a charge of being assignees of the claim.
How, then, were we to be put in possession of the proofs? We confess that here we should be at a loss; and can conceive of no other or better mode than the appointment of respectable attorneys in fact, did we not fear we might again surprise and astonish the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Who were the attorneys in fact of the mixed bloods? Were they men without reputation, whom we should at once have repudiated and rejected as unworthy our confidence, and unfit persons to be trusted by the Indians?
We have no list before us at present; but we are under the impression that they are men of the highest standing in the country -- the attorney general of Wisconsin, a lawyer of eminence from Mackinac, another from Philadelphia, a person holding a responsible employment under the War Department at Fort Winnebago, and another at Fort Crawford, and, as well as we recollect, one or two intelligent and respectable merchants.
In our instructions, we were directed to pay the amount awarded into the hands of all who were of age and competent to take care of it. Is it necessary to make an argument to prove that the person competent to take care of his money is competent to give a power to receive it? In other words, did the Commissioner of Indian Affairs intend that the competency to be ascertained by us was a limited competency, and that it would be sufficient if the party intrusted with the receipt of the money had sense enough to button his pocket? Besides, the parties, in many cases, who gave their powers, were white men of some education, married to women of mixed blood; some of them were Indian interpreters, and employed by the Government; and others, Indian traders.
In fine, the commissioners supposed that when they had decided that an individual was deemed competent to receive the amount due him, they did not limit his competency merely to the fact of receiving, but that the competency was unqualified, and that the party had discretion enough to take care of it under all circumstances? Under ordinary circumstances, we should have thought that, in a new and wild country, the claimants were fortunate in being so respectably represented. But the Commissioner says that they were assignees of the cases they represented. We ask, where is the proof to sustain this assertion? We have seen none. And here we take occasion to assert, in the most unqualified manner, that, until after the awards were made in favor of the mixed bloods, and the certificates delivered, we had no knowledge that speculations had been made by attorneys in fact in those claims; and we challenge contradiction.
But, suppose the fact had been known to us; what power had we to prevent it? It may be said that we might have cut down the sum awarded to the sums paid by the speculator. But all cases, without exception, as far as we remember, were in the hands of attorneys in fact; and the instructions required that all the money should be distributed. Besides, if it was necessary to employ attorneys, it was also necessary that they should be paid.
Had the mixed bloods money to pay the attorneys for the labor and long journeys they made to represent these claims?
They could only pay, as we conceive, by assigning a portion of their claims. It has been stated that the portion paid was too large. If the facts are so, we shall regret it as much as any person in the community. But where is the proof? and, if proved, does it sanction the spirit with which our proceedings have been set aside?
It is also said we had no authority to grant certificates. We ask, in what other mode this matter could have been settled? It may be said, in reply, that our return to Major Hitchcock, the disbursing officer, would have given the names of the parties entitled, and the sums due to them. Is this all the proof he would have required? Would it not have been necessary to prove to him that the party presenting himself to him as a claimant should prove that he was the identical person named in the register?
These persons live many hundred miles from St. Louis. Would the Government require them to go there, and take with them persons to prove their identity? Who would have paid the expense? Would the disbursing officer have considered himself authorized to do so? If the Government would not have required this of the claimants, it would have been necessary that he or some deputy should have gone into the wilderness on an exploring expedition to find the persons entitled.
If they had found persons of the same name, how could they protect themselves against the common fraud of the substitution of one person for another; or how could they know if there were not many of the same name, of whom but one was the proper party? In this case, were they authorized to take proof? If so, the award of the commissioners, so far as it has been approved, might have been set aside by a deputy paymaster, and the amount paid to a party not designated in the report of the commissioners.
We conceive that in this matter we have pursued the course pointed out by reason and justice.
The policy of protecting the ignorant and weak against the crafty, which the Commissioner of Indian Affairs places at the basis of his report, is certainly enlightened and humane. No sensible or honest man will dispute it. In its application is found the great difficulty; and it cannot be disputed that the Government, in carrying it out, should be careful to do no injustice to the party whom they may designate as the stronger or more enlightened, or expose the weaker party to great inconvenience and loss by excess of caution.
The Indians, it is well known, are uneducated, and require the protection of Government. But there are just limits to this guardianship. Sailors in England are by the courts of admiralty treated as perpetual minors; and it is certainly a humane rule. But even this care and protection has defined limits. In regard to the Indians, even of mixed blood so little as one quarter, we do not mean to contend that great vigilance should not be observed by the Government and its officers to protect them against their proverbial improvidence. Of the limits of this, Government is certainly, in the matter we are discussing, the proper judge. But, inasmuch as the Department did not think proper to instruct us upon this subject, but directed us to pay the parties interested, (which it is no strained construction to say might mean even assignees, but without
74out doubt, as we conceive, attorneys in fact,) we thought our guardianship ended when the final award was made; and that the persons in whose favor awards were made, had as good right to direct us to pay A, B, or C, (we mean when there was no allegation of fraud,) as themselves.
How far would the Commissioner of Indian Affairs extend his guardian care? Would he require that we should have seen the money in the pockets of the Indians? Would it then be secure? To make it so, a guardian should have been appointed in every case to remain with the party until his money should have been properly expended.
But it is said, also, that we received powers of attorney in cases where parents had given them to cover the claims of their children. Had these things been done in the State of Pennsylvania or Maryland, we grant it would have been informal. But in a new country, among a savage people, where the people with whom we were dealing were not in the habit of applying to the orphans' court for letters of guardianship, and where, more than in our more fortunate country, parents are considered as the natural guardians of their children, we did not think it necessary that such formalities should be observed. We intended to pay the money in all cases into the hands of responsible men, who were certainly accountable for the faithful payment over to their clients.
Besides, we were particularly instructed to pay the amounts awarded to minors into the hands of parents, if competent to take care of it; and for the reasons assigned in relation to all competent persons, we considered them capable of making attorneys.
Before closing this communication, we cannot refrain from the expression of our great concern, mortification, and regret, at the spirit in which the Commissioner of Indian Affairs has written his report. We had hoped and expected that some credit would have been allowed us, at least for integrity of purpose, if not for good judgment in our proceedings. It is true, no intimation is given in the report that our integrity is suspected; but, under the peculiar circumstances of this case, filled as the country is with rumors (not unknown to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs) discreditable to us, we regret that, instead of "seriously and anxiously examining this report with a view to its confirmation," he has rather looked for reasons to confirm opinions founded upon rumors injurious to the commissioners, with a view to its rejection.
If the Department is in the possession of any information impugning our motives, or charging against us corruption of any kind, we are sure we shall be excused if we demand that it may be produced, in order that we may defend ourselves.
We have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your obedient servants,
Hon. J. R. POINSETT, Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON CITY, February 20, 1839.
SIR: Since our report, in reply to the one made by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, rejecting the decisions made by the United States
75commissioners at Prairie du Chien, has been closed, I have been shown some letters filed at your Department by Major Hitchcock, the disbursing agent at St. Louis, and some of his friends in the Indian country. I am much supprised at the means used by your disbursing agent to blacken the reputation of the commissioners; but I feel no disposition, at this time, to, go into an investigation of his motives.
I might refer you to the fact, that in our instructions we were directed to reach Prairie du Chien by the 20th of August, and that we did arrive there a few days after. We were told the money would be there in the hands of Major Hitchcock, in due time for distribution under our direction.
We remained there till November, (a month longer than it was supposed our session would continue,) and the money did not reach there until after we had left; and when it did arrive, it was not in specie, as directed by the treaty and your instructions, but in the notes of a bank worth some two or three per cent, less than Eastern funds. And I might say to you, that when I reached St. Louis, Major Hitchcock regretted very much that the bank-notes had been returned to him, "instead of having been paid out in the Indian country." I could also bring to your mind the great advantage to be gained by a disbursing agent from having a special deposite of $100,000 held from payment for an unlimited time by litigation.
These facts might be used as some motive for declining to pay the drafts of the United States commissioners in St. Louis, after their holders had reached there, and afterwards seeking to injure the reputation of the persons who had directed their payment; but as it is to me exceedingly unpleasant to ascribe bad motives to a man wearing the uniform of our army, even should he be one who has not hesitated to do me gross injustice, I shall not dwell on these topics.
I am sorry, however, the major did not seek his information from the respectable persons at Prairie du Chien who were present, rather than from a person who reached there after we had left, and whose relatives, by their conduct, had rendered themselves liable to be reported by the commissioners, on their arrival at Washington, as unfit for the public stations which they held. The grounds of suspicion which they produced, after all the labor they have bestowed in collecting evidence, is so absurd to one having a knowledge of our instructions, and of the evidence of our decisions as laid before you, that I cannot bring myself to argue them here, and must therefore refer you respectfully to the documents before you.
It is true I am charged individually with having had a large sum of money, of notes of the Bank of Middletown, of which I am the cashier, in my possession; and that it formed the circulating medium of Prairie du Chien. I did take with me $5,000 in notes of that bank, out of which the expenses of myself and family were paid, and also the contingent expenses of the commissioners, which were thrown upon me in consequence of Major Hitchcock having refused to pay our draft for contingencies. A part of the balance I invested in land, and a part I brought home with me. If it be a sin to carry notes of that bank, or to expend them I am very seldom innocent of it.
But I desire the fullest investigation of all the facts and documents connected with our official proceedings. Deciding, as we were, compelled,
76the adverse claims of several hundred persons, many of them amounting to many thousand dollars, and often belonging to individuals whose whole lives have been spent in the wilderness among savages, it is to me a matter of pride that so small cause of complaint has been hunted up by persons interested in giving the worst coloring to our acts. Conscious of having been actuated by motives devoid of all personal interest, I am only anxious that justice be done to the claimants under the treaty.
I do not desire to occupy your time further than to lay before you some letters from gentlemen whom I accidentally met in this city, who were present at our deliberations, and whose honor and respectable standing in the Indian country are fully known at your Department. They will, I trust, be considered sufficient to balance the testimony gathered up by Major Hitchcock.
I append, also, a letter, in reply to one I addressed him, from our secretary, whose intimate knowledge of our proceedings entitles his opinion to weight, and whose good character having been certified to by some of the few complainants, cannot, in this case, be objected to.
And I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. JOEL R. POINSETT, Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON (D. C.,) February 12, 1839.
DEAR SIR: An answer to the question proposed to me by Mr. Murray, in his letter of December 26, 1838, (which applied to yourself, would be, "If I had, have now, or ever had, any knowledge or suspicion that you were in any manner, directly or indirectly, concerned in any speculation in Indian claims of any description, while at Prairie du Chien, or at any other time?") I am gratified in being asked for, and in being able to make an unqualified declaration that I never suspected, or had any reason to believe, that you were in any manner, directly or indirectly, concerned in any speculations in Indian claims, of any description, whilst at Prairie du Chien, or at any other time.
From my official connexion with the commissioners to adjust the claims against the Winnebago Indians, I had certainly excellent opportunities for judging of the acts, and I believe of the motives, of the commissioners; and must state that both the former and latter were unbiased by either fear, favor, or interest.
Apart from the intimate knowledge of the conduct of the commissioners, imparted by my official connexion, it would appear to my humble judgment that a cognizance of various occurrences at Prairie du Chien, during the months of September and October last, would render highly improbable any allegation of improper or interested collusion between the commissioners and any other parties.
At a somewhat advanced period of the session, after a familiarity with the usages of Indian trade, and a personal knowledge of a large proportion of the individuals having claims to be adjudicated had been acquired the claimants under the treaty, either personally or by attorney, held a meeting in order to memorialize the Department of War either to issue new orders to its commissioners, whoever they might be, or, by some
77contemplated modification of the present official instructions, to secure a payment of the just debts of the Winnebago Indians, and thus consummate the treaty.
Those claimants who took the lead in any steps or consultations affecting their general interests as a body of creditors, thought proper to consult me upon some particular points of business with which I was supposed to be conversant. I thus became privy to the deliberations of the above mentioned meeting, and state, from personal knowledge, that the projected memorial to the Department only failed by two dissenting voices. It is, therefore, an exceedingly forced supposition, that the interests of the commissioners could be enlisted in favor of claimants who were strenuously endeavoring to have their claims settled under another tribunal. There are, also, with reference to the proceedings of the commissioners, two facts sufficiently notorious, and which should weigh in every impartial mind:
1st. That the majority of the claimants, or their representatives, entertained sentiments of positive hostility towards the commissioners, occasioned, perhaps, by the antagonist attitudes in which they stood to each other; and, 2d. That almost each and every claimant, on receiving his award, expressed the highest satisfaction for having received what was termed substantial justice. The former, perhaps, may, in some measure, explain the assertions directed against the commissioners. The latter, however, most certainly shows with what sort of grace they come from certain of the quarters that have uttered them.
The interest I naturally feel in the honor and success of the commissioners has caused me to digress from a concise answer to the general interrogatory embodied in your letter. And I again reiterate, that every member of the commission having throughout the whole of the session dwelt under the same roof, and with their families formed a single household, together with the perpetual access I had to the society and deliberations of the commissioners, made any concealment or traffic of official honor from my privity a sort of moral impossibility. Had I detected any such mal-adminstration of powers committed to the commissioners, I most certainly should not have been silent upon the subject. Whatever some persons may have expressed to me before our departure from the West, it was in exception to the universal opinion of the country, which declared that your decisions on the spot were demanded by justice, equity, and the best interests of the country.
The principle involved in these adjustments was, in my hearing, emphatically urged by the highest public functionary in the Territory of Wisconsin -- I mean the superintendent of Indian affairs. If it be not in its nature and practice an equitable one, it would be hard to prove that any other applicable to the case exists within the scope of human intelligence.
Before I conclude this answer, I shall merely recall to your mind, that, previous to my being addressed upon this subject by Mr. Murray, I voluntarily offered to sustain, by my testimony, the integrity of your official course.
Very truly, and respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. W. FEATHERSTONHAUGH, Jr.
General S. CAMERON.
February 21, 1889.
SIR: I received a communication from you this morning, making some inquiries as regards your duty while acting as commissioner on the part of the United States for the Winnebagoes, and whether your proceedings were satisfactory both to the Indians and all those concerned.
I had the honor to act in like manner on the part of the Winnebagoes, and had thus every opportunity of observing closely your conduct; and, sir, so far as I have seen or observed any of your proceedings, they were such as would entitle you and your colleague, General Murray, to credit and honor.
I held several conversations with the Indians, and explained to them what you had done. They were perfectly satisfied and contented; also those claimants with whom I conversed on the subject. It would be well to remark, that the Indians would have been better pleased had the moneys been sent up before you left the country; but of that you had no control.
I have received several letters from Prairie du Chien, since I left; they all manifest their satisfaction of your proceedings, with the exception of Major Boyd and T. P. Street, with whom the commissioners had some personal difficulties. Governor Dodge, who was present at part of your proceedings, I saw at Galena, the forepart of January last, who expressed entire satisfaction.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General SIMON CAMERON.
February 21, 1839.
SIR: Your communication requesting me to give my opinion on the manner you and your colleague (Mr. Murray) conducted your business in the investigation of the debt and half-blood claims against the Winnebago Indians, under the treaty of November 1st, 1837, I have just received; and take this the earliest opportunity to give you the information you request.
I was present at Prairie du Chien during the whole of the sessions of the commissioners; was at their office nearly every day, at all times of the day; saw nearly all the evidence that was presented to them; have lived in the country for some years; am personally acquainted with nearly every individual half-blood in the Winnebago nation, and was called on (among other individuals who had been in the country for some time) to assist in distributing the money to the several classes of half-bloods.
You say, in your communication, that charges injurious to yourself and Mr. Murray have been made by the military disbursing agent of the Indian department, through the means of which the Commissioner of Indian Affairs has refused to confirm the report of the commissioners.
As far as my knowledge extends, (and I think no person but one of
79the commissioners had any better opportunity of knowing more,) I have no hesitation in saying the business was conducted honorably and fairly on the part of the commissioners, and with more general satisfaction than any other commissioners to settle Indian claims I have heard of in the country since I went to it.
I am, with much respect, your obedient servant,
SAT. CLARK, JR.
SIMON CAMERON, Esq., Present
WASHINGTON CITY, February 25, 1839.
SIR: The extent to which my interests and my character may perhaps be affected by the proceedings of your Department on the report of the Winnebago treaty commissioners, will sufficiently excuse my addressing to you this letter. I acted as the attorney in fact of many of the claimant's before those commissioners. I collected and arranged for them the evidence of their rights, and advanced moneys to defray the expenses of prosecuting them; and when, in consequence of the failure of the disbursing agent to transmit funds to pay the awards, the commissioners determined to give warrants on him instead, I received from them, in my own name, as attorney, the warrants for the claims which I had successfully prosecuted before them. Most of these warrants have been since transferred by my endorsement, under authority derived from my clients; and a large proportion of them have, as I learn, been again transferred by the endorsees to individuals and banking institutions in different parts of the country, who now regard me as liable on my endorsements. Under this view of my responsibilities, I am made acquainted with the fact that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs has recommended to you to treat the doings of the commissioners under the treaty as null; and that, adopting his recommendation, you have determined to organize a new commission forthwith, as if the former had never existed. It is to the injustice of such a procedure, in reference as well to the vested rights of third parties as to the censure which it implies on my conduct, that I feel it my duty to call your attention.
The Treaty with the Winnebagoes of 1st November, 1837, directs that, out of moneys belonging to them, $150,000 shall be applied to the payment of debts due from their nation, and $100,000 shall be distributed, under the directions of the President, to such of their relatives and friends as have not less than a quarter of Winnebago blood. The instructions from your Department to the commissioners under the treaty, directed them to give to each claimant against the $l50,000-fund a certificate of the amount allowed him, on which his draft would be honored by the Government; as to the other fund, it was directed that the moneys awarded by the commissioners should be disbursed, under their instructions, by Major Hitchcock of the army, he taking receipts. "Your decisions," it was added, "will be final,"
The commissioners met the claimants and their representatives at Prairie du Chien, and made their several decisions and awards. They
80gave to the successful claimants against the first fund the certificates prescribed by the instructions. But the literal execution of so much of their instructions as regarded the other fund was rendered impracticable by the non-arrival of Major Hitchcock with the moneys to be disbursed. After some weeks had been consumed in waiting for him, the commissioners, at the solicitation of the claimants, gave their drafts on that officer for the amount of the several awards, and took receipts for the same; thus substituting a payment by draft for a payment in cash, and a receipt signed in their presence for a receipt signed in the presence of Major H.; but, in other respects, it is believed, exactly conforming to their instructions.
It seems to me too plain to admit of argument, that, under circumstances like these, the holders of the drafts appended to the certificates against the first fund, and of the commissioners' drafts against the second fund, cannot properly be required to furnish additional evidence of their right to receive payment. The commissioners were, under their instructions, the final arbiters. Neither the claimants nor their transferees had any right to control the action of the commission, or to inspect its instructions. They could regard the commissioners in no other character than as the exclusive delegates of the whole authority of the Executive under the treaty, fully empowered to decide who should and who should not be distributes. The claimants should not now be called on to defend the adjudications of a legally constituted tribunal, whose acts, by the terms of its constitution, were declared to be conclusive.
But I am so thoroughly satisfied, myself, of the propriety of the commissioners' conduct, that I am not anxious to protect even my rights by a consideration which might seem to screen their proceedings from scrutiny.
The Commissioner of Indian Affairs has remarked at large, in his report, to you, on the omission of the commissioners to exact from claimants against the $150,000 fund certain forms of proof which were detailed in their instructions. I forbear to remark on the singular ignorance of the modes of transacting business with the Indians which the prescription of such forms of proof implies, and on the frauds which a compliance with those forms would have directly invited. My answer to his objections on this score, which compel him, reluctantly, to advise the total abrogation of the commissioners' proceedings, is found in a simple reference to the transactions of the War Department in a case precisely parallel. The treaty with the Sioux was ratified in the same week as that with the Winnebagoes, and contains similar provisions. The instructions to the commissioners under the two treaties were identical. The commissions met at nearly the same time, in adjacent districts, and closed their labors within a fortnight of each other. The evidence, on which the two admitted claims was in every respect the same, as appears by the reports now in the Department, and, of course, varying in an equal degree from the tenor of the instructions. The two reports came in within a month of each other, and that from the Sioux commissioners received the sanction of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs without hesitation or remark. It is impossible to distinguish between the two cases, except in tie degree of favor with which the Commissioner has seen fit to regard them.
As to the action of the commissioners under the Winnebago treaty on the other branch of its inquiries -- that of the distribution of $100,000 among the half-breeds -- the Commissioner of Indian Affairs "perceives no ground of exception, either as to the persons entitled, or as to the steps taken to ascertain them." But he considers the instructions as violated in a vital particular, by the fact that the certificates were, in many cases, granted to attorneys, and not to the parties claiming in person. This he supposes to have opened a wide entrance to fraud; and he remarks, that "out of 92 Indians of mixed blood, only 13 received certificates for their money, the rest being made payable to attorneys or trustees."
In examining the principle of this objection, (for it is erroneous in its details of fact, as will be seen by the report,) it is important to remark, that the commissioners were expressly required to appoint trustees for all such claimants as might, in consequence of orphanage or other cause, be judged incompetent to manage their affairs properly. The extent to which this power should be exercised was, of course, in some degree, affected by the time and manner in which the payment of the awards was to be made. If the money was at hand, ready for distribution in the presence of the commissioners, it would be easy to guard many from imposition, who could not be safely trusted with the charge of personally collecting their money at a distance and removed from the guardianship of the commissioners. The number of persons apparently requiring the protection of a trustee was determined on by the commissioners while the funds were hourly expected to arrive at the place where they were sitting. The fact that they did not arrive, and the consequent necessity of making the payments at St. Louis, where Major Hitchcock was, made it proper to appoint trustees for a largely increased number of claimants, or to devise at the last moment some new provision for their security against imposition. These claimants, it will be remembered, too, were persons whom the commissioners had judged competent, under ordinary circumstances, to the proper management of their affairs; they had constituted attorneys, in whose fidelity it was to be presumed that they had confidence, and of whose integrity, I may venture to add, the commissioners had no doubts. Was it strange, then, that the attorneys thus nominated by the claimants should be authorized by the commissioners to collect their clients' moneys? Did it present a wider door to fraud than would have been opened if the claimants had been required to go down to St. Louis, 400 miles, there to receive their money personally, whenever it should arrive, or the agent be prepared to pay it over? Had the commissioners seen fit to style the attorneys trustees, the compliance with the instructions would have been literal: does the change of name affect the validity of the act?
The Commissioner of Indian Affairs finds, too, "that a large proportion of the letters of attorney appear to have been granted by the father for his minor children." "This," he remarks, "the father had no right to do; he could not delegate his authority;" and he infers that "the whole proceeding was, for this reason, void," I confess myself utterly unable to follow the Commissioner in this branch of his argument. If the father had the right to receive the money of his child, (a right expressly reserved to him by the instructions,) does the Commissioner mean to assert that the whole proceeding is made void by his constituting an attorney to receive it for him? Does he intend to affirm that a guardian "cannot
82delegate his authority" to receive money and give an acquittance? Such may be the lex loci in Illinois or Wisconsin, but I have not so understood it; in Pennsylvania, at least, it is otherwise.
But the objection remains, that, in the opinion of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, many of the attorneys in fact were, in reality, purchasers of the claims they represented. Admitting the fact, how, it may be asked, can it affect the validity of the proceedings of the commission? If such a purchase was unlawful or fraudulent, the sale of the claim was invalid, and communicated no title to the purchaser; but the claim was not thereby destroyed. It was still good in the hands of the original claimant, and cannot be impeached without showing that the allowance by the commissioners was itself fraudulent. But this idea is expressly negatived by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who admits that the awards were to persons entitled, and that those persons were properly ascertained; and I had the pleasure to hear from yourself, in an interview with which you recently honored me, that you do not doubt the integrity of the conduct of the commissioners.
The last of the objections which are suggested in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, is, that in appointing trustees, the commissioners omitted to take bond with sureties for their fidelity. It is summarily answered by the remark, that neither the treaty nor the instructions gave to the commissioners any authority to ask or take such a bond.
I have thus gone through the several reasons which are presented by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for setting aside the awards of the commissioners. I have purposely avoided any reference to his allegations that frauds and imposition have been practised on the claimants by their attorneys. These, were they even proved, could form no basis for an argument against the valid character of the awards, or the legality of the action of the commissioners generally. It might even be admitted that the commissioners transcended their authority in directing payments to attorneys at all; but the essential results of their authorized labors, the determination of the persons entitled lawfully to claim, and of the amounts of their respective claims, would still remain unaffected. The direction to pay the attorney may be conceded to be wrong; but the award is still a good one in favor of his constituent. On this ground, then, I respectfully submit to you the unequivocal propriety of modifying your decision on the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
You will not, however, understand me as by any means admitting that the commissioners erred in directing payments to attorneys of the claimants. On the contrary, I believe that they had no right, under the treaty, the laws of the country, or their instructions, to regard these claims otherwise than as property, in the ordinary acceptation of the term; assignable as such, and susceptible of being reduced into possession by the agency of an attorney, just as any other lawful claim may be either assigned or collected. It was not a gratuity from the United States to the claimants; it was debt due from the United States, in consideration of the cession of the Winnebago lands, and which the Unites States had bound themselves, by treaty, to pay. The amount of the debt was fixed; all that remained was, to ascertain the parties to whom it was stipulated to be paid, and to determine their shares. The debt was not t to the Winnebago Indians; it was to their transferees under the treaty, their friends and relatives of the half and quarter blood. There
83is nothing in the treaty or in the laws of the United States which limits or takes away from such a debt its assignable character, or which excludes the owner from the privilege of collecting and receiving it just as any other debt. Nor was there any thing in the instructions which could indicate to the commissioners a purpose on the part of the Government to regard this debt in a different point of view from any other which it had bound itself to pay. The United States, by the treaty, are in fact trustees for certain persons to be ascertained; and it might well be doubted whether the Government could in anywise vary its responsibility, or qualify the vested rights of its cestui que trusts. Certainly the Government did not assume the right of doing so, in the language it employed towards the commissioners. A direction to award to a party entitled, does not, by any implication, deny his right to constitute an assignee; and a direction to pay to the awardee is, both in law and according to the practice of the Government, a direction to pay to him or his assigns. If the Government intended otherwise in this particular case, I respectfully submit to you that care should have been taken to express its intention. The rights of third persons cannot be varied by an intention not revealed.
Nor, by the course of argument which I have pursued, have I meant to imply a doubt as to the perfect regularity of the commissioners making their warrant or draft (as it has been termed) in favor of the admitted claimants or their assigns. Major Hitchcock was required to pay to the persons who should be named on the list presented to him by the commissioners; he was to receive the list, with "instructions" from them; he was to disburse the moneys "under their directions." Was there any thing in this to negative their right to give their instructions and directions to him in writing? There was nothing to indicate that the payment to the awardee was to be made in the presence of the commissioners. If the payment was to be made elsewhere than in their presence, was it not clearly proper that something in the nature of a warrant or certificate should be placed in the hands of the awardee, to identify him with the individual named in the list of awards, and avert the hazard of a fraudulent impersonation? The answers to these questions are obvious, and their application is equally so.
On what grounds, then, allow me to ask, is payment now refused to the holders of these certificates or drafts? Is it, that, though regular in their original character, they have been fraudulently negotiated, and have become invalid in consequence? This would be a most harsh extension of the legal principle in its application to a subsequent transferee without notice.
I am aware that the policy of the Government of the United States regards the Indians as in a condition of perpetual pupilage, and as entitled at all times to a watchful supervision of their rights interests. It is an honorable as well as humane policy, and I shall never be found among those who question its justice. But, surely, the rules of procedure which it suggests must have some limit to their application; they never can be so extended as to set aside the laws of civil property and social right, and to vest in an executive department the power to decide on questions which, by the constitution, are referred to the judiciary alone. Such are the questions daily arising between citizens of the United States, respecting their property of their engagements. If, between two citizens
84who have contracted together, one alleges that there has been fraud or imposition, it is for the courts of justice to decide between them. If no such allegation is made by the party aggrieved, I do not know that there exists, under our constitution and laws, any tribunal which can, unsolicited, assume jurisdiction.
These remarks have the most direct bearing on the question before you. I frankly record the admission which I have heretofore made in conversation with you, that I was, at the time when the commissioners met, the holder by purchase of numerous claims to be made under the treaty before them, for which I had paid what, under the circumstances, I esteemed their fair value; assuming the trouble and expense of proving their validity and amount, and encountering the risk of loss should they fail of allowance. But I contracted only with citizens of the United States; all my purchases were from citizens, men fully competent, as I aver, in law and in fact, to make the contracts into which they entered with me. The sympathy is wasted which assumes that they were Indians, either within the spirit or letter of the policy adopted towards that race by the Government. Of the twenty parties with whom I contracted, seventeen were free white male citizens of Illinois or Wisconsin, without a particle of Indian blood; and the remaining three, the interpreters of the Winnebago tribe, though of but three-quarters white blood, were citizens of the United States, and the sons of citizens; had the habits and intelligence of whites, two of them having been in your official employ at large salaries; were as able to manage and guard their property as the white men, their neighbors and associates; and took as active a concern as any persons in the Territory in the political and other questions which interest citizens.
Mr. Péon, whose statement is among some of the papers in the Department, (the only person, I believe, who complains that he made a disadvantageous bargain,) is a white man, and was for a long time a trader in extensive business. Why, I would most respectfully ask, should the Department of War assume the right of deciding between him and myself, when he has access, like every other citizen, to the ordinary tribunals of the country? Why, still further, should it assume the right of deciding between me and others who have made no complaint, and of subjecting me to the anxieties, trouble, and expense of a defence in a remote region, where the first business of the Department must be to raise up an accuser against me, and suggest to him a charge? You will not be surprised that I protest, as a citizen, against such an irregular adjudication upon my rights.
I have not been able to give more than a cursory glance at the papers transmitted to your Department by Major Hitchcock, to explain away his own violations of duty by imputing frauds to the commissioners and myself. I have a short answer to give to whatever they contain affecting either my integrity or honor -- it is untrue; and if ever investigated by impartial persons, it will be seen to be so. There are men enough at Prairie du Chien, of elevated character, in military as well as civil life, to disprove them all.
On this point I am perfectly willing to encounter the severest scrutiny; and if the Department of War shall be of opinion that the quarter-breeds from whom I purchased are proper objects of its supervision, as the constituted guardian of the Indian tribes. I invite the appointment of a commissioner, who shall be charged who shall be charged specially to inquire whether either of
85them has been defrauded or imposed upon by me. If, on the report of an honorable man, it shall appear that they have been, I consent that my claims as their attorney and transferee shall be instantly cancelled.
In conclusion, I beg leave to solicit that this communication may be transmitted to the House of Representatives, in connexion with the documents called for by its resolution, adopted on the 19th instant, respecting the proceedings in execution of the treaty with the Winnebago Indians, &c.
I have the honor to be, sir, your very obedient servant,
D. M. BRODHEAD.
Hon. J. R. POINSETT,
Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON, February 26, 1839.
SIR: in my communication of the 25th instant, want of time compelled me to content myself with a general denial of the imputations contained in the letters of Major Hitchcock and their enclosures. Your courtesy in withholding a reply to the call of Congress for another day has enabled me to examine them somewhat in detail; and I now beg leave to present you with a few hasty remarks on their character and contents.
The first letter of Major Hitchcock is dated 6th of November, 1837. It deduces from the Army Regulations a principle, that "if the claimant is a white man, and disposes of his claim, it is his business, and his right so to do is not disputed." I am not acquainted with the regulations, but I recognise the principle, and I claim its application; for, as you will find by the documents which accompany this note, the claimants who disposed of their claims to me were all white men, except in the three eases of the quarter-breed interpreters, whose intelligence and standing in civilized society would repel the notion that they were proper objects of protection from a disbursing deputy of the Department. They are all of them mentioned in Judge Doty's letter to me, marked B.
After this introductory principle, Major Hitchcock proceeds to remark, that "it is against all knowledge, although there, may be exemptions, to suppose the half-breeds are acquainted with the nature of powers of attorney and bills of exchange; and to discuss a question concerning them, upon a principle of moral responsibility to our laws and usages, is, to my mind, an absurdity." That, in this remark, Major H. has done injustice to the half-breeds, is unequivocally established by the documents which I annex, as well as by the depositions filed in the Department with the commisioners' report. From these it will be apparent that the half-breeds with whom I contracted were men of standing and rank in society, necessarily familiar with all the means ordinarily employed in the business intercourse of civilized men.
His charge against the commissioners, that they omitted to take bonds from the trustees they appointed, I have already answered. I might have added, that the same charge might have been made with equal reason to the proceedings of the Sioux commissioners, whose report has not been objected to.
His charge that some of the trustees appointed were unworthy of trust, carefully avoids specification of names. I have no interest in the question whether any were so; but my impressions are that the charge is unfounded.
The next sentence assures you that "it is from no disposition to retain the money in his hands that he suspends the payment;" and this, connected with his subsequent remark, that he hopes the Department "will hear in mind that he has already shown his willingness to pay the money," compels me to remark that this defence to an anticipated objection was not without cause. Major H. had received the funds for distribution under the treaty, in notes of one of the Eastern banks. He had converted them into other notes, which were worth two per cent less than those which he received. At our first interview, on being apprized of this fact, I announced my determination to ask from him payment of the drafts I held in funds similar to those remitted to him. I bring these facts to your notice, not so much for the purpose of charging him with misapplication of public moneys, (for I do not know that he received the two per. cent. premium, or that he has failed to account for it,) as for the purpose of explaining why, in my opinion, he refused payment of the drafts. He was called upon to pay in moneys which he had not in his possession.
His second letter, that of the 8th November, contains much abuse of the commissioners, but presents no fact to which I can reply; unless, indeed, it be where he speaks of a draft of $1,800 as having been bought for $400; to which I can only say, that if it refers to me, it is untrue; and if it refers to others, I believe it to be untrue.
His next letter, 3d December, 1838, recommends that the order not to pay the drafts "be continued until definite reports can be received from the parties interested at, and until the neighborhood of Prairie du Chien;" and avers, "I have the means, and shall employ them, of procuring accurate information from Prairie du Chien, and the result will be reported without delay." Major H. had abundant means of procuring accurate information. His deputy, Dr. Reynolds, was at the Prairie during the greater part of the time that the commissioners were there. The officers at Fort Crawford, (of which the commissioners were inmates,) General Brooke and the rest, high-minded and gallant-spirited men, were there. The gentlemen upon whom the commissioners had called, under their instructions, for advise, (the most respectable citizens the region,) were accessible to him. For three months he sought "definite reports," and the temper of his letters will prove to every fair-minded man that he has held back none of those "reports" which could criminate either the commissioners or myself. The "definite reports from the parties interested" consist of a statement from a single individual -- Mr. Péon, a respectable though uneducated man -- who attests by his mark that after the award was made he became "dissatisfied;" that he went to Mr. Brodhead, complained to him, received from him $300 more than he was entitled to claim by his contract. I might admit the essential facts of this statement, without, perhaps, affecting my character as a man; but I am obliged to say that its whole coloring is false. It is, however, attested by the Rev. Mr. Lowry and by General J. M. Street; of the latter of whom I shall be constrained to take a brief notice hereafter; but of the Rev. Mr. Lowry I shall dispose at once.
This same Mr. Lowry furnishes the next item of Major Hitchcock's
87budget, in a letter dated 5th December, 1838. After regretting "that, during the investigation of the commissioners, in reference to this matter," he "was confined at home by sickness, so that" he "had no opportunity of witnessing any facts in person," he "declines giving any facts at present;" adding, "on my return home I will render special attention to the subject, when you shall hear from me again." Mr. Lowry's disease was of the memory only. I saw him frequently at the Prairie, while the commissioners were in session, dining lustily at the same table with myself, at the public hotel; and from that time to the present he has forgotten his promise that Major H. should hear from him again, or Major H. has forgotten to transmit his report to the Department.
In the same envelope with Mr. Peon's statement, Major Hitchcock transmits a memorandum from J. M. Street, in which it is declared that "Frederick Oliva states that Mr. Brodhead and Mr. Bolivia came to see him two or three times on the subject of purchasing his claim," All this is mere romance; I never called on him -- never solicited him. The whole narrative is as false as it is irrelative, except that I collected his claim, and he paid me my stipulated fee.
The same statement of J. M. Street mentions that "Mr. Péon had a claim for goods formerly sold the Winnebagoes, amounting to $700," which was allowed in full by the commissioners, in consequence of my undue or dishonest influence with them. The proceedings of the commissioners, now on file in the Department, show how far removed this story is from truth. On examining them, you will find that Peon's claim was filed under oath for $2,200, and was reduced by the commissioners to (I think) $733.33.
"Another fact," in the same statement is, that "a slip of paper, from the docket of the commissioners," was found, showing that all the half and quarter-breed cases I represented were placed by the commissioners in the first class; so as to have "the highest rate allowed." "This paper," it is added, "is herewith presented." Unfortunately, the paper was not presented, after all; and for the simple reason, that it never could have had existence. The proceedings filed in your Department show that a very considerable share of my cases were assigned to the third or lowest class, and received the smallest rate.
Still "another fact," says the statement of Mr. Street: "Mr. Brodhead said that General Cameron and himself had brought out $40,000 or $60,000 with them." I never said so. I brought out somewhat less than the smallest of those sums myself, and had no knowledge of the money of which either of the commissioners was possessed.
So much for this authentic statement.
I need not waste your time, sir, in a review of General Street's letters of the 10th November and 10th December, of which extracts are furnished in Major Hitchcock's letter of the 6th instant. The facts in them I have already denied and disproved. The arguments are against the commissioners' instructions; for the defence of which, I refer myself to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. The individuals assailed are the highly respected gentlemen whom, under those instructions, the commissioners invited to consult with them; and whose character I have, perhaps, unnecessarily ventured to support by the concurrent testimonials of the present and late delegates from the Territory, the Hon. J. D. Doty and G. W. Jones; of S. Clark, Esq., whose character is well known in your
88Department; and of the two Senators and three Representatives from Illinois. Mr. Boilvin, who is styled the commissioners' doorkeeper, is the estimable gentleman whose statement you will find annexed, together with a cordial tribute from the Senators and Representatives of his State (Illinois) to the admirable character that he bears.
The letter of General Street which bears date 8th January, l839, comes next. It is made up, in a principal degree, of complaints against the commissioners for acts which were enjoined on them by their instructions; of repetitions of petty fables and village scandal, which I have already exposed, or which a proper regard to the officer I am addressing will not allow me to notice in detail; and of slurs against the character of the gentlemen, his neighbors, whose standing I need not vindicate further than I have done. The story of Mr. Marsh, repeated at second hand, that "one half-breed, a minor," (of course a client of mine,) was allowed $6,000, may serve as a specimen. The report in your office shows the highest award to be $2,000; and that to a married woman. The basis of one, of his arguments, that I "was domiciliated with the commissioners at private lodgings," is of the same character. The commissioners lived at Fort Crawford; I at the hotel, nearly a mile off. And so is the silly tale of my proclaiming that I had made $60,000, or the fourth of it, or the third of it, or more than it; for the informant of General Street leaves it doubtful, after all, what was my share, or who shared with me. If, sir, a sense of official duty has compelled any officer of your Department to read through General Street's sixteen page letter of the 8th January, I shall be excused for the summing up my answer to the rest of it in the single, definite, and well-considered observation, that, so far as it is pertinent, it is false. I, of course, do not except from the application of the general averment the story which is told, on the authority of "Mr. T. P. Street, a merchant of his place" -- in fact, General Street's own son -- of my soliciting his business as an attorney. It so happens that a gentleman is now in Washington, who, if the game were worth the candle, could prove that it is the opposite of fact.
It is, perhaps, proper that I should indicate the causes which make General Street, and his son "the merchant," such zealous witnesses for Major Hitchcock. They are found in the facts that the son, who is postmaster at Prairie du Chien, and his brother-in-law, who is the United States sub-agent for the Winnebagoes at the same place, drew from me, by their gross official misconduct while I was there, the distinct and public pledge that I would, on my return home, subject their behavior to the scrutiny and censure of their respective departments -- a pledge which the position in which General Street has placed me has alone, thus far, prevented my redeeming.
The only remaining document is a letter dated Philadelphia, January 27, 1839, signed "C. A. Rogers." I can consider this only as contemptible jest, under an assumed name, Philadelphia is now my home; and, after inquiring of others who are as familiar as myself with the names of its inhabitants, I feel justified in assuring you that there is no person, certainly of any consideration, who bears the name signed to that letter. Besides the letter speaks of "transactions with the Indians at St. Peter's," and "the agent of the commissioners, Mr. Brodhead." You are of course aware that the commissioners had no transactions at St. Peter's, and that I was not their agent.
I should feet it incumbent on me, sir, to close this letter with an apology for noticing, at such length, the allegations and suspicions to which it is at once a commentary and reply, but that the papers which imbody them have now a place in the public archives; and I have learned, from painful experience, within the last month, that no charges can be too futile to be considered.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, sir, your very obedient servant,
D. M. BRODHEAD.
To the Hon. J. R. POINSETT,
Secretary of War.
GADSBY'S HOTEL, WASHINGTON CITY,
February 25, 1839.
SIR: As I have never had the pleasure of an acquaintance with you personally, except that derived from a bare introduction, you will pardon the liberty I have taken in addressing you this note, and in asking from you answers to the inquiries which I am about to make.
In addressing a gentleman of your high standing upon any subject, and more particularly on one involving the character of some of the citizens of the Territory which you now represent in Congress, I consider it my duty to premise, that my motive is not the gratification of idle curiosity, but, having spent a few months in your Territory during the last year, I had some business transactions, in which all the persons of whose character and standing I am about to inquire were interested, and in consequence of which transactions my own honor and interest have become involved.
I conclude this will be a sufficient apology for the liberty I have taken, and that, so far as you are acquainted with the persons, you will oblige me with an answer at the earliest moment that you can possibly make it convenient.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
D. M. BRODHEAD.
Hon. J. D. DOTY.
1st. Are you acquainted with H. L. Dousman, Joseph Rolette, J. H. Lockwood, and Joseph Brisbois, of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Territory; Satterlee Clark, jr., of Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin Territory; John H. Kinzie and Stephen Mack, of Illinois; Henry S. Baird, John Lawe, and Samuel Irwin, of Green Bay, Wisconsin Territory? and if so, please to state what is their standing for honor, integrity, and intelligence, and what their means of knowledge of the Winnebago Indians, in all their different relations.
2d. I should also be glad to know, sir, whether you are acquainted with Joseph Paquette, Oliver Amell, John Dougberty, John B. Péon, Francis Roy, Toussant St. Onge, Peter Legris, Alexander Pallido, John Pelky, Richard Laurant, Oliver Landri, John Vunk, Benjamin L'Ecuyer,
90Simeon L'Ecuyer, James or Jacques L'Ecuyer, Antoine Grignon, and John Roy; and if so, which of them are white men, and which of mixed Winnebago blood; which of them are free citizens and voters in the Territory of Wisconsin; which are respectable men, and of sufficient intelligence to manage their own affairs, and fully competent to make contracts, and take care of their own rights and interests, without the intervention of guardians or trustees.
3d. I also desire you to state whether you were at Prairie du Chien during the session of the commissioners under the treaty of November 1, 1837; and if so, whether you are acquainted with the manner in which they performed their duties, and whether they sat with closed or open doors.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 26, 1839
SIR: Your note of yesterday, making certain inquiries of me in relation to several of the citizens of Wisconsin, and two in Illinois, came to my hands this morning, and with great pleasure I furnish you the information desired, especially as I have it in my power to give a favorable answer to all your inquiries regarding the character of the persons named. My reply is, that I am well and intimately acquainted with all the gentlemen named in your first interrogatory, and do not hesitate to say that they are all among the most respectable citizens of the country in which they live, and hold the highest standing for "honor, integrity, and intelligence," and that their means of knowledge of the Winnebago Indians, in all their different relations, are not surpassed by any other of our citizens. They have long been in our country, in the very midst of the Indians, and, with the exception of Mr. Baird, have, traded extensively with them.
Mr. Dousman is the acting agent and a partner of the western outfit of the American Fur Company; Mr. Rolette is also a partner of that company; Mr. Lockwood is the judge of probate for Crawford county, and a respectable merchant at Prairie du Chien; and Mr. Brisbois is a notary public for the same county.
Satterlee Clark, jr. is sutler for the United States troops at Fort Winnebago, is a gentleman of high standing and moral worth, and one whose knowledge of the Winnebago Indians, and whose influence with them, is equal to that of any other man in the Territory. J. H. Kinzie was formerly agent for the Winnebagoes, and no one held a stronger influence with them while he was agent, and no man commanded more respect with the whites; he now resides at Chicago, and is there one of the first citizens. Stephen Mack is an old Indian trader, a respectable man, well educated, and now resides upon his farm on Rock river. Henry S. Baird is the attorney general of the Territory, with an extensive practice as a lawyer. John Lawe is one of the most respectable men in the country; and Mr. Irwin is one of the most respectable merchants at Green Bay.
In answer to your second interrogatory, I reply that I am acquainted with all the persons there named, and know them all to be "free white
91citizens and voters, respectable men, of sufficient intelligence to manage their own affairs, and fully competent to make contracts, and take care of their own interests, without the intervention of guardians or trustees," except Benjamin L'Ecuyer, Simeon L'Ecuyer, Jacques L'Ecuyer, Antoine Grignon, and John Roy, the four former being half and the latter a quarter blood Winnebago. They are, however, no less "free citizens and voters, as they pay their equal quota of our taxes, partake warmly in our political contests, and enjoy all the rights of citizenship; and they are equally respectable, and sufficiently intelligent to manage their own affairs, and competent to make contracts, and take care of their rights and interests, without the intervention of guardians or trustees." In fact, sir, they are proverbially shrewd men in making bargains. The three L'Ecuyers and Grignon have been Indian traders; Simeon L'Ecuyer is now the United States interpreter at Prairie du Chien, and A. Grignon and John Roy were the two interpreters who were employed by the Indians and the Government in making the treaty of November 1, 1837, for which service they each received $2,000. As to the other persons named in your second interrogatory, I know that Amell, Dougherty, Peon, and Francis Roy, have all been selling goods to the Indians, to a greater or less amount.
As to your third inquiry, I answer that I was not at Prairie du Chien during the session of the commissioners under the treaty of November 1, 1837, and consequently know nothing about "the manner in which they performed their duties," except that they rejected my claim for $2,000.
Your obedient servant,
J. D. DOTY.
To D. M. BRODHEAD, Esq.
WASHINGTON CITY, D. C. February 27, 1838.
I am now, and have been for many years, personally acquainted with H. L. Dousman and Joseph Brisbois, of Prairie du Chien, and Henry S. Baird, Esq., an attorney and counsellor at law at Green Bay, Wisconsin Territory. I take particular pleasure in making this statement of these gentlemen, and in saying that I am well assured that they are gentlemen of unblemished character, of intelligence, and worthy of implicit confidence. Mr. Dousman has long been a merchant at Prairie du Chien, and possesses there, and wherever known, in the East and in the West, and particularly in Wisconsin, the confidence and esteem of his acquaintances. Mr. Brisbois, though not so generally known abroad, is highly esteemed at Prairie du Chien for his honesty and correct deportment.
Mr. Baird has been a citizen of the Territory for many years; stands at the head of the bar, as an attorney. His character is without a blemish, and I am entirely confident that he would, on all occasions, refrain from the commission of a dishonest or unworthy act.
GEO. W. JONES.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 25, 1839.
SIR: Yours of yesterday I received; and, as you request the earliest possible answer, I hasten to reply to it.
In answer to your first question, I reply, that I am intimately acquainted with H. L. Dousman, and know him to be a very respectable citizen of Prairie du Chien; that he is agent for and partner of the American Fur Company, and has traded with the Winnebagoes a number of years. Joseph Rolette is also a partner in the same company, and is a respectable citizen. J. H. Lockwood is a merchant at Prairie du Chien, is a justice of the peace, and judge of probate; he is one of the most respectable citizens of Prairie du Chien. Joseph Brisbois is a respectable and intelligent man, and has lived a long time in the country; he is a notary public. John H. Kinzie was formerly agent for the Winnebagoes, and was very popular, both with the Indians and whites. He is now one of the first men in the city of Chicago, where he resides. H. S. Baird is the attorney general for the Territory of Wisconsin, and resides at Green Bay, where he has practised law for a number of years. John Lawe is one of the oldest and most respectable Indian traders in the country. Samuel Irwin has been in mercantile business at Green Bay for some years. All the above named individuals are well acquainted with the Winnebagoes and their relatives.
In reply to your second interrogatory, I have the pleasure to inform you that I am personally acquainted with Joseph Paquette, Oliver Amell, John Dougnerty, Francis Roy, Toussant St. Onge, Peter Legris, Alexander Pallido, John Pelky, Richard Laurant, John Vunk, and Stephen Mack, who are all white citizens, and also Benjamin, Simeon, and Jacques L'Ecuyer, and Antoine Grignon, who are half-bloods, and John Roy, who is a quarter-blood. Simeon L'Ecuyer is the present United States interpreter. John Roy and Antoine Grignon acted in that capacity to the delegation that visited this city, and made the treaty of November 1, 1837. Francis Roy, the three L'Ecuyers, and John Roy, have all been more or less engaged in the Indian trade, and are entirely competent to manage their own business. They habitually make their own contracts, and take excellent care of their interests in every way. All the above individuals are voters, pay their quota of taxes, and enjoy all the rights of citizenship in our Territory. In your third interrogatory you wish me to state whether the commissioners at Prairie du Chien did their business with closed doors. I was there during the whole session, and I know that the doors were open at all times, and to all persons, except while the commissioners were deciding on the merits of the different claims; and then they were open to all who had any business. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SAT. CLARK, JR.
To DANIEL M. BRODHEAD, Esq.
WASHINGTON CITY, D. C., February 26, 1839.
DEAR SIR: I hasten to reply to your inquiries of me respecting the character and standing of a number of persons in Wisconsin Territory and Illinois. I am well and intimately acquainted with H. L. Dousman, James H. Lockwood, and Joseph Brisbois, and it affords me pleasure to say that they are considered among the most respectable citizens of the country in which they reside. The two former are among the first merchants of that country, and all three hold offices of honor. They are gentlemen of integrity and intelligence, and their knowledge of the character and wishes of the Winnebago nation is not surpassed in that country, where they have all traded. John H. Kinzie I have known for many years; he is one of the first men of the city of Chicago. He was for some time Indian agent for the Winnebagoes, and has yet their full confidence, so much so that I believe they would have been pleased to have retained him as their agent. He is in every respect a gentleman.
Another interrogatory is, whether I am acquainted with the half-breeds generally, in that section of country, I am; and particularly with John Roy and Antoine Grignon, Simeon, Jacques, and Benjamin L'Ecuyer. The first one is a quarter-blood, and the others are half-breed Winnebagoes. I know them to exercise all the rights and privileges of citizens. They manage their own affairs, make their own contracts, buy and sell lands, and generally take care of their rights and interests, just in the same way and with as much skill as other citizens. They live like the whites, associate with them, and two of them have married white ladies, (John Roy and Antoine Grignon;) besides, they are all of them quite as refined in their dress and habits as the white people of the better sort at the Prairie, and are not different from white men, except in their color, and hardly in that. They are for the most part traders with the Indians. Roy and Grignon were the two interpreters in making the treaty in 1837, and Simeon L'Ecuyer is now the United States interpreter at Prairie du Chien. Mr. Penn is a man of property, of Canadian French family; he lives at Prairie du Chien, and has lived in that place for some years, always considered as an honorable man. John Dougherty, Stephen Mack, and Oliver Amell, are white men, Indian traders; and Dougherty and Mack are especially educated and intelligent.
And, in answer to your next question, I should say that I think, from my business with Grignon and Roy, and the others, (having purchased from them and sold to them,) that they are about as little likely to be taken in at a bargain as most people that I have met with. Messrs. Paquette, Francis Roy, St. Onge, Legris, Pelkey, Laurant, Landri, and Vunk, are white men; but my acquaintance is not as perfect with them as with those I have named above; except Mr. Vunk, whom I know slightly, I should account them all, however, sagacious men of business.
I mention, in reply to your last inquiry, that I was the commissioner or attorney appointed by the Winnebagoes to meet Messrs. Murray and Cameron, and to take care of their interest before the commission.
The commissioners did not sit with closed doors, but they permitted
94all citizens to come into their apartment freely, except only at the time when they were making their award; at which time they refused admission to all persons who had not business with them.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
DANIEL M. BRODHEAD, Esq.
P. S. In answer to the additional questions you have handed me, I have to say:
1. The number of quarter and half breed Winnebagoes, having a right under the treaty to be shared of the $100,000, was supposed by themselves and by me to be from 150 to 200, and I so told Mr. Brodhead at the time. We did not find out our mistake till just about the time the awards were to be made.
2. I saw Rev. Mr. Lowry frequently at Prairie du Chieu during the time the commissioners were sitting. He was about as usual, and often eat his dinner at the tavern with me.
3. Mr. Brodhead boarded and lodged at the tavern kept by Mr. Fainter, at the Prairie. The commissioners staid at the hospital of Fort Crawford. The distance between the two places is three-quarters of a mile.
WASHINGTON CITY, D. C.,
February 20, 1839.
SIR: Understanding that it is the intention of the Department to remove the Winnebago Indians to the west side of the Mississippi river, and that, in the course of next summer, it is intended to send an exploring party of some of those Indians to examine the country southwest of the Missouri river, with a view to their permanent location, and that there is also a probability that a vacancy may occur in the agency of said tribe of Indians, we beg leave, respectfully, but most earnestly, to recommend Nicholas Boilvin, Esq., of Chicago, Illinois, as a gentleman of honor and sterling integrity of character, and every way qualified to discharge with fidelity the duties of emigrating agent or conductor. We further add, with justice, that Mr. Boilvin not only possesses the confidence of us, but, in a very great degree, that of the Winnebago Indians themselves.
Very respectfully, your obedient servants,
RICHARD M. YOUNG.
JOHN M. ROBINSON.
A. W. SNYDER.
WILLIAM L. MAY.
Hon. JOEL R. POINSETT,
Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON CITY, D. C.,
February 19, 1839.
SIR: I was much pleased to hear you declare your determination, the other day, to have the Winnebago Indians removed to the west side of the Mississippi river at as early a day as possible; and also that you intended, early in the spring, to send off an exploring party of the same nation, to examine the country southwest of the Missouri river, with a view to their permanent location there. To effect both of these objects, allow me, in a most decided and earnest but respectful manner, to recommend to you Mr. Nicholas Boilvin, of Chicago, Illinois, as a gentleman in every way eminently qualified for the performance of the duties of conductor and emigrating agent.
I have known Mr. Boilvin intimately for the last twenty-one years, and can speak with entire confidence as to his character and qualifications for this or any other appointment connected with the Indian service and more particularly when the Winnebagoes are concerned.
His father, Mr. Nicholas Boilvin, of Missouri, was at his death, and had been for many years before, agent for the Winnebagoes, and exercised unbounded influence over them. On his account, and for his own sake, his son has inherited the confidence and regard of these Indians, and I am confident his appointment would be most gratifying to them, and in every particular promote the objects of the Government.
Mr. Boilvin is intelligent and honorable, active and untiring in the discharge of his duties, and I most sincerely hope that you will confer the appointment alluded to on him, or indeed any other, in connexion with the Indians, that may hereafter be created.
I have the honor to be, sir, with very great respect, your obedient servant,
GEO. W. JONES,
Of Wisconsin Territory.
Hon. JOEL R. POINSETT,
Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON, February 24, 1839.
SIR: I had the honor, on the 16th instant, in conjunction with my associate, General Cameron, to address you a communication in defence of my official conduct as a commissioner under the Winnebago treaty of 1837.
I have now the more painful duty of vindicating my moral character from grave and serious charges made, against me while acting in that capacity.
I begin by making a short statement, which will exhibit my exact position in relation to the manner in which those charges were first made known to me, and the time when the first notice was given me of the proofs in the possession of the Indian department.
I have, within a few days, received copies of letters from Major E. A. Hitchcock to the department, with sundry letters to him, relating to
96the manner in which a commission, of which I was a member, discharged its duties at Prairie du Chien, in Wisconsin Territory, in September and October last. These papers were shown me, as well as I recollect, on the 19th of this month, for the first time, with one exception: I mean the letter of Major Hitchcock to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated the 8th November. When that letter was exhibited to me, early in December last, soon after my arrival in Washington from Wisconsin, I verbally requested of you that the commissioners should be put on their trial at once, and an opportunity offered to Major Hitchcock and the world to substantiate any charges against us.
You informed me the commissioners were functi officio, and that the department could not try them. I then requested that Major Hitchcock should be required to furnish his proofs; and to every inquiry made at the department of Indian Affairs since, (and my inquiries have been frequent,) I have been informed that no letters had been received on the subject.
A few days since, and after our communication to you of the 16th instant was in the hands of the copyist. I received a verbal message from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, requesting General Cameron and myself to call at his office, to look at some letters he wished to show us. I had reason to believe these letters were private, and declined the invitation.
Afterwards, when at the office of Indian Affairs on other business, my attention was called to these letters by Mr. Crawford. I at once informed him that I would read no private letters upon the subject of my official conduct; if he would place them on the files, and give me copies of such as I indicated, I would read them. To this he assented; the letters were exhibited to me, as before stated, and copies furnished.
I have examined them, sir, and lose no time in making such remarks on them as I think they merit, in the expectation that this letter will reach you before you reply to a call which, I am most happy to see, Congress has made for the correspondence relating to this business.
The greater part of this correspondence of Major Hitchcock and his friends applies to speculations said to have been made by Mr. Brodhead, of Philadelphia, in the claims of the Winnebagoes of mixed blood, under the -- article of the treaty of 1837.
With Mr. Brodhead's affairs in this matter I have nothing to do. General Cameron and myself, in our communication to you of the 16th instant, have expressly denied all knowledge of his speculations, until after the business relating to the half-breeds had been finally disposed of. This denial I here take leave to repeat.
It will not, I am sure, be expected, either by yourself or the Congress of the United States, that I, or any honorable, man, can descend to make an argument to clear myself of charges founded upon such assertions as will be found in these letters; not a fact is stated, or proof offered, showing any connexion, on my part, with the speculations of Mr. Brodhead or any other person; nothing is offered, in the shape of proof, having the least tendency to show that I had any knowledge that such speculations were being made.
Were argument necessary at all, it would be quite sufficient to say that no better evidence of my entire innocence could be desired than that men who have been employed more than two months, hunting testimony
97on the spot, (in relation to matters not done in a corner,) should be unable to furnish any thing, that bears even the semblance of proof against me.
I have before stated that this letter of the 7th November was shown me early in December last, and it may be thought strange that I should have permitted these charges to remain so long without notice; the reasons are known to you, sir, and are, I presume, satisfactory.
What are the charges?
They consist in artful inferences, drawn entirely from an assumed connexion between Mr. Brodhead and the commissioners.
Is this connexion proved? Is any fact stated, from which this presumption is fairly deducible?
We are charged with having appointed improper persons as trustees.
It may be true that improper persons have been appointed trustees. Is there any proof offered or suggestion made that the commissioners knew them, at the time of the appointment or afterwards, to be improper persons?
The commissioners were strangers in the country, and had no personal knowledge of individuals.
The prosecutor gives no instances by name; if he will particularize, I have no doubt the files of the Indian office will furnish him with the proof that the person appointed is respectably recommended. I venture to say this, because I know that the commissioners were cautious in requiring the most respectable recommendations in all cases.
But one of the trustees was a bankrupt, says Major Hitchcock.
I know not whom he means; but will he inform the Department that I knew or had reason to believe such to be the fact?
Bonds were not taken, says our prosecutor.
Bonds were not required by our instructions, and without authority we could not be required to take them.
It is stated that our drafts in favor of trustees have been used improperly by them.
One instance is given by General Street, the major's great correspondent: Dr. Moore, of Prairie du Chien, the partner of his (Street's) son in a mercantile establishment at Prairie du Chien, and also sutler at Fort Crawford, was appointed, upon good recommendation, trustee for an Indian girl living with him, (Moore,) in whose favor we had awarded the sum of six hundred dollars.
What was done with the draft?
General Street tells you it was placed in his hands, to indemnify him for moneys advanced for Moore and Street, by him.
Did the high-minded general indignantly reject it? He does not so inform us, but leaves us to infer that he used it; which is more than probable.
Could we provide against this?
It is charged against us that we adopted the mode of payment by drafts, to secure the attorneys in fact, and upon two species of knowledge, &c., when we informed Major Hitchcock that the greater part of the drafts were in St. Louis.
Did it never occur to this moral casuist that the commissioners might know to whom they gave drafts, and that it was at least, permitted them to remember who came down in the boat with them to St. Louis?
Might he not have supposed that, in a long passage of a week, the fact that a large amount of these drafts were on board might fairly have come to their knowledge? Perhaps it may surprise him to learn, if he has not before heard it, that on our passage down the Mississippi, at the rapids of Des Moines, (where our boat was detained,) we were overtaken by a boat in which Lieutenant McKissack, quartermaster at Fort Crawford, and in charge of this half breed money, was passenger. That it was then and there proposed to me, and I suppose also to General Cameron, that the drafts should be paid at once. This proposition was made me by Mr. Brodhead. I had no authority, as a commissioner, to control this matter. But did I advise it? Mr. Brodhead, if called on, will, I am sure, do me the justice to say that I advised against it, upon the ground that it was not a proper place for the transaction of such business; and that, as the drafts were drawn on Major Hitchcock, he had better pay them.
What would have been the course of the commissioners, if they had adopted this mode of payment for the purpose of protecting the attorneys in fact, and particularly Mr. Brodhead, as charged? A word from them, if I am not mistaken, would have settled the business, and the holders of the drafts on board been paid.
Has Major Hitchcock forgotten that, in an interview between himself and the commissioners, in his office, on the 6th November, (I take the date from his letter,) at St. Louis, he expressed his regret to them that the money had not been paid at Prairie du Chien? Has he forgotten that, in this same interview, when the commissioners had heard from him his reasons for refusing to pay their drafts, and had expressed their opinion of their insufficiency, upon being asked if he had no other reasons, he replied, none which can in any manner affect the commissioners? Does he recollect that he states, in his letter of the 6th November, that this interview between himself and the commissioners took place after his letter was begun, and while it was unfinished; and does he not know that the commissioners did not leave St. Louis until the 8th, the date of his letter charging them with serious offences? I could have been found in St. Louis, if my memory does not deceive me, until the afternoon of the 8th. If representations injurious to my character had been made to him between the 6th and 8th, would it have been unbecoming in him to have so informed me, (an officer of the Government like himself,) and thus have given me an opportunity on the spot, where only witnesses could be found, to protect myself, if innocent? Was it proper to permit me to leave St. Louis, ignorant that charges affecting my reputation had reached his ears, without giving me an opportunity to explain or disprove them on the spot, where they were made, and while the witnesses against me could be found? Has be even informed me who those witnesses were, or what were the facts stated by them? Has he ever informed the Department upon whose authority the charges are founded?
He cannot say that the proofs are to be found in the papers before him, because he had them at the time of our interview of the 6th.
I left St. Louis under favorable impressions of the character of Major Hitchcock; he was a stranger to me before. It is true I thought he had mistaken his powers, but I believed he was acting under high and honorable impulses, and had incurred heavy personal responsibilities in the discharge of his public duty.
I gave him my opinion, in the interview before referred to, on the subject of his determination to suspend payment of our drafts, in few words, but wasted no words to sustain the opinion. I did not think it became me to argue the point with him. Our interview was short.
Acting under the impressions which I supposed he was, he did his duty in refusing payment of the drafts. If he had only advised the proper Department of the facts, and asked and obeyed its instructions on the subject, he would have stood on high ground.
Was it necessary he should step from this ground, and endeavor to affect the character of the commissioners? Did his own vindication require it? Were we not public officers like himself, and ought he not to have presumed that we had acted honorably in the discharge of our public duties?
If proofs had been offered to the contrary, should he not have sifted them carefully, before charging us with offences seriously affecting our official and personal characters? Should he not, at least, have at once furnished the Government with the proofs on which he made these charges, instead of making the case his own, and standing forth as our prosecutor? And, above all, sir, if he had discovered that these charges had been hastily and unadvisedly made, should he not have promptly and publicly withdrawn them?
He informs the Department that he has the means, and will use them, of ascertaining the truth at Prairie du Chien.
What were his means, and what the proofs, so far as we are informed by the Department?
On the 3d December, Major Hitchcock writes the Department that he has received a letter, dated Prairie du Chien, November 1, from General Street, who says: "The course pursued by the commissioners here has been very different from, that of Mr. Fleming, at Rock island. From the statement of correct persons here, the most shameful bribery and favoritism has been practised."
He remarks upon this: "In a matter of so much importance, involving the reputation of gentlemen honored with the commission, of the Government, for the execution of a high trust, and affecting the interests of many individuals who have confided in the integrity of the Government agents, it is of the utmost consequence that nothing should be received as decisive, to the prejudice of such interests, without the fullest assurance of necessity."
The sentiment does him honor, and, if he had carried it out, the commissioners would have had no difficulty. The next paragraph shows the spirit and manner in which he is disposed to act in carrying out these elevated sentiments, and upon whom be intends to rely for information.
His letter continues: "I mention this consideration to show that I am aware of the responsibility under which I express my satisfaction with the order of the 21st ultimo, and recommend that it be continued until definite reports can be received from the parties interested, at and in the neighborhood of Prairie du Chien."
Interested in what? Does he mean interested in sustaining the character of the gentlemen honored with the commission of the Government? Major Hitchcock's orders from the Indian department, imbodied in the second paragraph of this letter, are "to communicate any further information he may have on the subject of the mode of payment directed
100by the late commissioners at Prairie du Chien." His letters to his agents at Prairie du Chien are not given; we can judge them only by their fruits, and they bring me to no other conclusion than that his inquiries took the opposite direction, and were directed to persons not interested in sustaining the character of the officers of the Government, but interested in setting aside their proceedings.
Who were the persons at Prairie du Chien from whom, if he were anxious to obtain correct reports, particularly of public sentiment, he would naturally refer to? I should suppose the most respectable people of Prairie du Chien, who were present during the time of the proceedings there; of the officers of the army, in which he holds a high command, and upon whose candor and integrity he might rely. Does he apply to them? No. To whom, then, does he look for information? His only correspondents, so far as I am informed, are General Street, the sub-agent of the Government among the Sac and Fox Indians, residing at Rock island, some hundred miles below Prairie du Chien, and a Mr. Lowry, the superintendent of the Winnebago school, residing about six miles from Prairie du Chien, and who, by his own account, was not present during the whole time of the proceedings of the commissioners. This gentleman, who appears to have been only an accidental correspondent, is unknown to me; but after giving Major Hitchcock what he calls the general impression of the disinterested part of the community in relation to frauds committed (he does not say by whom) upon the half-breeds, declines, with commendable prudence, giving any facts, because he has not inquired into the true origin of the reports. This letter is dated 5th December; and he promises to render special attention to this subject, and write again. No other letter from this correspondent is given. Why? Has he failed to give this matter his special attention, or have his inquiries been unsatisfactory?
Major Hitchcock's letter of inquiry to him is not furnished.
The next information is a statement from Joseph M. Street, none of which applies to the commissioners but the last two paragraphs.
It is there stated that "a man by the name of Péon was advised by Mr. D. and Mr. Boilvin to employ Mr. Brodhead to prosecute a debt claim, who assured him, if he did not, he would get nothing. He employed Mr. Brodhead, and obtained his whole claim. Others were advised to the same course, and the same reasons given. That these opinions were well known to the commissioners I am constrained to believe, from the concurring opinion of so many persons." What persons? Mr. D. and Mr. Boilvin are only named.
I can only meet this charge by a solemn denial; and I here declare that I had no knowledge such reports were in circulation until my arrival in Washington.
He goes on: "A slip of paper was left in the commissioners' quarters, purporting to be part of a docket of cases of application a half and quarter breeds; and that on said docket every application to which Brodhead is marked as counsel for claimants, the claim is in the first class, and at the highest rate allowed. This paper is now here presented,"
Does Major Hitchcock verify this charge by his endorsement? He had in his possession the whole register of claims, showing the allowance to each of the mixed bloods, and the name of the attorney in fact who
101received the draft for the amount awarded. The fact is not true, and, as I am informed, does not approximate the truth, as the register will show. Would not Major Hitchcock, if he were not anxious to assail the character of the commissioners, have at least noticed this false statement? But the paper speaks for itself. Where is it? It has not been exhibited to the commissioners.
Again, another fact: "Mr. Brodhead said that General Cameron and himself had brought out sixty, thousand dollars with them. Mr. Featherstonhaugh, the secretary, also said the commissioners did not care whether the disbursing agent paid their private drafts, for that the commissioners had brought on a large amount of money; and the money paid out here was on a bank of which General Cameron is president. What could all this money be brought here for by the commissioners?"
To whom did Mr. Brodhead and Mr. Featherstonhaugh make this statement? Mr. Street does not inform us. General Cameron speaks for himself on this subject; for myself, I carried with me only money enough to pay my expenses. The only other testimony in this letter does not relate to the commissioners.
The next testimony is enclosed in a letter from Major Hitchcock, and consists of General Street's letter to him, dated 8th January, and extracts of two letters from the same person, dated 10th November and 10th December, which, private before, are now permitted by General Street to be used openly.
These letters will, I presume, be furnished under the call of Congress, and it is not necessary, therefore, to make large extracts.
In the letter of November 10th he again charges corruption against the commissioners, but does not state on what authority. He says that Mr. Lockwood, (who is the judge of probate,) and Mr. Dousman, (who is the head of the American Fur Company at Prairie du Chien,) and Mr. Brodhead, decided the cases, and the commissioners only confirmed the decisions. He further charges, that no man of common sense or honesty, who looked at the treaty, could place the half-breeds in classes; and if a case was strongly advocated by Mr. Lockwood or Dousman, it was placed in the first or second class, if not in the third.
In relation to the charge of influence by Lockwood, Dousman, and Brodhead, he gives no authority. In the charge against our common sense and honesty, for classifying the half-breeds, the witness would, I am sure, be much astonished if he knew the shaft went over our humble heads, and struck where, if I do not mistake his character, he would have been unwilling to aim.
Our instructions on this subject were positive. In his letter of December 10 he charges that it was soon noised about "that it would greatly advance the interest of claimants if Mr. Brodhead was employed to present them; and that, in relation to half-breeds, it would determine the amount to be given to a half or quarter blood, if they employed Mr. Brodhead.
"In the first case of claims, the claims, if presented through Mr. Brodhead, were established with little proof; and if the claimant declined employing Mr. Brodhead, but determined to rest his claim upon its merits, he was sure to lose the whole or greater part."
It is a little remarkable that it should have happened, from the peculiar character of the proofs offered by the traders, the claims were all decided
102upon general principles, and rules applied to every case alike; and that the general average by which they were all graduated was obtained from general testimony, applied without discrimination to every case not proved according to the letter of the instructions. This is fully explained in our report, and needs no repetition. How could there be partiality, when the same general rules and principles were applied to all? Mr. Brodhead, as well as I recollect, had but few debt cases, and, if I am not mistakes, presented those in which the least difficulty occurred -- cases where the claimants produced regular books and conclusive proof. If he had other cases, I have no doubt the evidence in the Department will show that they were decided by the general rules and principles which governed all cases of the same description. How, then, can it be said that his influence controlled the commissioners, or gave particular advantage to his clients?
It is possible such things may have been said, because he was on a familiar footing at our quarters. May not the same thing be said of any judge who admits a lawyer, practising in his court, to any decree of intimacy? The charge is absurd.
The next attack in this letter again overshoots the commissioners, and is upon the subject of the classification ordered by our instructions, and declares that it violates common sense and honesty, is monstrous, and gives color to the charge, made from every quarter, of partiality in the classification of the relatives of the Indians.
An examination of the decision of the commissioners upon the merits of the half-breeds, made, as our report states, not by ourselves, but by the most respectable and judicious people of the country, to whom they were well known, and who had, in no single instance that I know, an interest in any case, is a full answer to all the rhetoric of this eloquent and disinterested correspondent of Major Hitchcock.
He again states that an impression has obtained currency here, that the commissioners brought Mr. Brodhead with them, upon a bargain to share the profits obtained from the claimants and half-breeds; and that the profits amounted to $20,000 apiece.
It may be proper here to state that I never saw Mr. Brodhead, or heard of him, in my life, until I met him on board a steamboat at Detroit, on our passage to Chicago, last fall, on my way to Prairie du Chien, when I was introduced to him. He went onto Chicago in the boat with us, where we left him. I did not see him again until, for a few moments, we met him on the road between Prairie du Chien and Mineral Point, whither General Cameron and myself were going on public business; we found him at Prairie du Chien on our return. General Cameron's and Mr. Featherstonhaugh's families had then taken their residence at the garrison at Fort Crawford, where I took up my quarters with them. Mr. Brodhead boarded at a tavern, not less than three-quarters of a mile from us. Before we went to Mineral Point, and before Mr. Brodhead arrived at the Prairie, we had been boarding at the tavern; after my return from Mineral Point, I do not think I was in the tavern one dozen times, and generally, I believe I may say always, for a short time. I mention these facts by way of reply to Mr. Street's assertion that Mr. Brodhead and the commissioner lived together. Mr. Brodhead, it is true, visited us frequently, and was always politely received, and, I think, knew me too well to venture, if he had wished to do so, (which
103I do not believe,) to approach me in the manner charged by our prosecutors.
The commencement of the next paragraph (as this letter consists of extracts) might have been omitted by a modest man, as it conveys a compliment to the major for his gallant bearing in daring to check the commissioners in their high-handed measures. The major is too modest, however, to give us extracts from his correspondence, with the gallant general. He, no doubt, returns the compliment by encouraging him in his persevering efforts to obtain from the parties interested the precious proofs conveyed in his most gentlemanly and eloquent productions.
He (the general) says he does not think it necessary to give cases in point, but will furnish them if required. The major, I presume, does not require them, and they are not given. The major and his correspondent both seem to have a decided taste for generalities.
The next charge in this letter is for sitting with closed doors. This is untrue, until after the testimony was all taken, and we were making up opinions. Then, for a few days, we were compelled to be private, at our lodgings, and Mr. Boilvin may have gone to the door, and so informed persons calling. I do not myself know. Mr. Boilvin, you will recollect, was appointed by the Indians to represent their interests with us.
The last charge in this long letter is for appointing two traders, (meaning, I suppose, Mr. Lockwood and Mr. Dousman, before spoken of,) on a committee of six or seven persons, to classify the half-bloods according to merit. Neither of these gentlemen had, so far as I know, any interest in any half-breed claim, as purchaser or attorney in fact; and I presume it is not meant that these gentlemen settled the debt claims.
The next and last letter is dated January 8th, and says: "He has written to him before as a friend, but now gives him authority to use his letters in any manner he may choose." The stores of valuable information, hitherto locked up in the bosom of friendship, are to be opened for the benefit of the Indian department; and the deep foundations on which the charges against the commissioners have been built are to be no longer hidden from view. So far, the attack has been conducted entirely upon the resources of Major Hitchcock; it has become necessary, however, to strengthen himself by bringing up his auxiliaries. General Street, hitherto apprehensive of "drawing down on himself the enmity and persecution of a very wealthy class of persons," and satisfied so far to persecute others behind the rampart of Major Hitchcock, as long as it would serve his purpose, finds it necessary now to produce some authority for the facts he has stated. In other words, he thinks it may be considered necessary by the Indian department that he should prove his assertions by responsible witnesses, or his story might not be believed. If he has any sensibility, he must have felt uncomfortable in marching up his brigade for inspection. Who are his witnesses? Two half-breed Indians, a Mr. Gilbert, and a Mr. Marsh. I do not mean to say these gentlemen may not be very respectable men, but in a two-months residence at Prairie du Chien I had not the pleasure to form their acquaintance, or even to hear their names, unless in the case of the two half-breeds, whose cases were, I suppose, before us.
Well, sir, what do they prove? I ask, what do they say in relation to the commissioners? Mr. Marsh is the only one who speaks at all of them; and his testimony applies only to some remarks which he said Mr. Brodhead made, in a boarding-house, about a division of $60,000 into four parts, which, he says, is a good day's work, (or something to that effect, I have not the paper at hand;) and, as to matters affecting the commissioners, he has "heard from various persons here, who all seem to think that, from all the appearances, Brodhead and the commissioners were concerned and acted together."
General Street, however, in an after part of this letter, seems somewhat to differ from Mr. Marsh in relation to one of the commissioners; he says the public mind seems to favor the impression "that Murray (myself) possibly was innocent of any pecuniary interest in the speculation; but, from his disposition, declined prying into General Cameron's conduct," &c.
The last in the series is a letter from a Mr. C. A. Rogers, which is evidently a forgery, and by a bungling hand, as the writer does not even know where to lay his scene of action.
Can any answer be required to slanders of this kind, not having even a reputed father?
This, sir, is the testimony upon which a military disbursing agent of the Government has attacked the character of the commissioners of the United States, holding high and responsible trusts, with a view to sustain his first position. Yes, sir, charges affecting us not only in our official but moral character, of the most grave and serious character, founded upon no better basis than the loose suggestions of a credulous old man, stimulated, evidently, by an intemperate zeal to blacken our characters, are received time after time by the Indian department, and no rebuke is given to the person sending them; they are not even communicated to the persons charged, (until the last moment,) that they may have an opportunity to defend themselves. I put it to you, sir, with a confident reliance on your known magnanimity, to say if we have not cause to complain; and if, under such circumstances, we were not entitled to the protection of the Department of War.
If Major Hitchcock had acted with any of the magnanimity which characterizes the profession to which he belongs, so far as relates to the commissioners, much pain and trouble would have been saved. A man of his mind must have been blind not to have seen that there is not even a particle of testimony to sustain his charges against the commissioners; and he might most honorably have said so.
Under these circumstances, what has been the course of the Indian department. Without a hearing, (for our first report was merely formal,) although we said in that report that it was made in the absence of our secretary, and while the papers were in confusion, and that a supplemental report might be necessary, our proceedings are set aside, in relation to every matter before us but one, and a new commission ordered. We are not called on for explanations, and hear only by accident of the action of the Department on our proceedings.
Not one word is said of our moral conduct, charged as we were before the Department with serious offences; and when we complain that such course is harsh, we are informed, verbally, by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, that the Department has not attacked our reputation; that not
105one word is said in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs on the subject. Why, sir, this is the very gist of our complaint. Silence, on such an occasion, is censure. Knowing, as I am proud to say I do know, that I have discharged my duties faithfully, and I hope I shall not be charged with egotism if I say judiciously, I had a right to expect protection, if nothing better, from the Department, when assailed by gross charges, having not even the shadow of proof for their foundation.
It would be but a poor satisfaction to me, if the Department shall say, at this late hour, that the charges against me, for criminal association with speculations in claims before me for adjudication, are not sustained by the proofs. I fear not that the Congress and people of the United States, before whom the facts are about to be laid, will say this for me. I ask that full justice be done us, upon the principles recognised in other cases. I care not in what manner this is done. I care not whether a new commission is sent out or not, if I and my associate are vindicated. Let a new commission go out when it may; if it go with the same instructions, the result will be the same, or worse; about this I care not; but I claim of the Department the obligation to sustain my character, so long as it is upright and honest, while I am in its employment.
It is no part of my policy, sir, to maintain my own innocence by attacking the character of others. Were I disposed to carry the war into Africa, it would, I think, from the letters before you, and information in my possession, be no difficult task to put others on their defence. With this I shall not at present meddle.
To conclude this long and desultory letter, I will, only say that it is a source of great pleasure to me that it is to be submitted to one in whose justice and magnanimity I know I can place entire reliance. I will not presume, sir, to indicate what, under such circumstances, you ought to do; your own good sense and manliness of character will be your best guide.
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. J. R. POINSETT,
Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON CITY, March 12, 1839.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following remarks, (with copies of letters,) in view of the letters of Messrs. Cameron and Murray of the 20th and 24th ultimo, respectively, on the subject of the Winnebago half-breed money.
Referring to my reports upon this subject, especially those of the 6th and 8th of November last, and desiring as far as possible to avoid repetition, I have to observe that, in order to understand the motives of my conduct, (which General Cameron more particularly is disposed to question,) it will be necessary to take into view my conduct towards the half-breeds of the Sioux, who were entitled to $110,000.
Under date of September 9, 1838, I reported to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs the preparation of two steamboats for departure from St. Louis, with annuity and other supplies for the Sioux and Chippewas. For the half-breeds of the latter tribe, I had placed on board of one of the boats $50,000 in specie; but I remark, in my report of the date referred to, as follows:
"You have not sent the fund for the half-breeds, for either the Sioux, ($10,000,) or Winnebagoes, ($100,000,) but say they will be sent in due season. I have examined very carefully all your instructions, copies of letters to Governor Dodge, &c., and cannot resist the belief that the payment was designed to be made to the half-breeds of the Sioux, on the decision of the commissioners, in the same manner as in the case of the Chippewas. The boats now about to go up will probably be the last that will ascend the river (to St. Peter's) this season, so that another opportunity of sending the specie may not occur.
"In the hope that I shall but anticipate your wishes, I shall send $110,000 in specie for the Sioux, half-breeds, with the most careful instructions as to its disposition. * * * I cannot furnish the $100,000 for the Winnebagoes, and there is not the same importance in so doing at this time, for there will be frequent opportunities of remitting the funds to Prairie du Chien hereafter."
The directions given by myself in reference to the payment of the $110,000 were addressed in writing to the special agent, Mr. F. Pfiister, making a part of very minute instructions, underrate of the 10th of September, to wit:
"The commissioners having been directed to decide upon the half-breed claims under the Sioux treaty, * * * it seems important that payment should immediately follow the decision; otherwise the claimants may disperse, and create a difficulty in their future recognition, sufficient to render the labors of the commissioners nugatory. You will therefore place in the hands of Lieutenant Whitehorne $110,000 in specie, for payment, under the 2d paragraph, 2d article of the treaty with the Sioux of 1837, advising him that it the express directions from this office that no part of this money be paid to any proxy, to any person holding a receipt, or pretending in any manner to represent a claimant. That the money will be paid only to a claimant in his own proper person, and then only on the requisition of the commissioners,
countersigned by the Indian agent; and this principle you will please observe yourself, in the similar payments you may make to the Chippewa half-breeds."
These directions, which will sufficiently show the principle I deemed to be important in the payment contemplated, were repeated by myself in a detailed letter of instructions to Lieutenant Whitehorne, of the same date, the 10th of September, to wit:
"I have to observe that the fund ($110,000) for the half-breeds [Sioux] has not been remitted by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and I have taken the responsibility of forwarding it without instructions.
"My object is two-fold: to make use of the most convenient opportunity, and at the same time to satisfy the claimants. If the commissioners have ample instructions, which I must assume to be the fact, and will specifically set forth the claims of the half-breeds, indicating their persons and assigning the amounts to be paid, you can take official evidence over their signatures, and, with the official sanction of the Indian agent, you can pay the amounts in specie to the particular claimants."
On the following day, the 11th of September, I made a report to his excellency Henry Dodge, Governor of Wisconsin, and ex-officio superintendent of Indian affairs, from which the following is an extract:
"The fund for the payment of the Sioux half-breeds has not been sent to me from the Treasury. This circumstance has induced a step on my part which I hope may not be productive of evil. I had on hand a considerable balance, due for purposes not immediately requiring an expenditure; and I have sent it, without instructions from Washington, to pay the half-breeds of the Sioux, under the treaty of 1837, $110,000. I had received the money for the Chippewa half-breeds, ($50,000,) and was furnished copies of letters to yourself, in one of which the Commissioner of Indian Affairs says the half-breed money will be sent in ‘due season,’ for the Sioux and Winnebagoes.
"I considered that to pay the Chippewas and not the Sioux would appear singular; that, although those tribes were at war, the fact of payment [to either] would be known [to the other,] and any difference of treatment would be marked. I also thought this opportunity the most convenient, if not perhaps the last that will occur this season. I further thought, that if the commissioners, under your directions, should designate the half-breeds, and the amounts due them, respectively, an immediate payment would prevent all future difficulty; whereas, were the payment to be delayed, and the half-breeds disperse, there would be nearly as much difficulty hereafter in identifying the claimants as before the commissioners entered upon duty. * * * Add to all these considerations, the Indians, were the half-breeds not paid, would be likely to be influenced by them unfavorably.
"I have been thus particular in stating the reasons for my conduct, because I am anxious to justify myself. I have consulted the treaty, and all the instructions referring to this matter, and find nothing which seems to contemplate a delay of payment.
"To guard against erroneous payments, I have ordered that specie only be paid, and that no payment be made to any representative of any claimant." * * *
No one can read these letters and reports, and imagine for a single
109moment that I had the slightest disposition, as intimated by General Cameron, to retain public money in my hands.
In the case I have stated, I was under no instructions to send a single dollar for the Sioux half-breeds, and the letters will show reasons for taking heavy responsibility, and the precautions resorted to for the protection of the half-breeds.
No one can imagine, having a knowledge of the facts I have shown, that I could pat at St. Louis the drafts of the Winnebago commissioners in favor of third persons, on account of the Winnebago half-breeds.
Why should I have been so particularly careful in my instructions to others, in all that I related to the Sioux and Chippewa half-breeds, and contradict all my principles in my own conduct at St. Louis, in relation to Winnebago half-breeds? In this showing of the case, it is paying the money on the drafts of the commissioners in favor of the third persons.
In my report of the 6th November, to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, I have stated the time at which I received the money for the Winnebago half-breeds, and the time I sent it to Prairie du Chien.
General Street, who is so unworthily referred to by Mr. Murray, was in St. Louis when it was my wish to send the money to Prairie du Chien. I requested him to take charge of it, and convey it there. He was, however, unwilling to take the hazard of so heavy a charge in specie, and I had not the shadow of right to require such a service from him. We conversed upon the subject some time, alluding to the loss by the theft of $15,000 in specie, only a few weeks before, at Prairie du Chien. After maturely considering the subject, I determined to send the notes of the deposite for my public money. My funds were there in specie. That bank had never refused payment in specie for her notes, since she went into operation.
In order, however, to protect half-breeds, I requested the cashier of the bank to furnish me with notes of one denomination, (20's,) for the whole $100,000, explaining to him that I could not send the specie, for the reason stated above. He accordingly furnished me with $100,000 on 20-dollar notes of the Bank of the State of Missouri, the specie for which was in the vaults of the bank, subject to the call of whoever might hold the notes.
As upwards of $200,000 in specie had but few weeks before been paid by the Indian department in the Mississippi river, I naturally supposed that a large portion would fall into the hands if traders, who would gladly exchange it for the notes sent for the Winnebago half-breeds; and the following letters of instruction were given by me in reference to the payment of the Winnebago half-breeds.
Under date October 16, I addressed Dr. J. C. Reynolds:
"SIR: I send by the hands of General Street, Indian agent, $100,000 for the payment to the Winnebago half-breeds, under the 4th article of the treaty of 1837."
"This money will be paid to the particular individuals who shall be designated, and for whom specific amounts shall be required by the United States commissioners (Messrs. Murray and Cameron) for the examination of claims under the treaty. You will please pay the precise amounts required (not exceeding the whole amount) to the particular individual
for whom required, taking such evidence as is necessary in the payment of annuities.
It is presumed as much specie can be procured, in exchange for notes, as will be necessary for satisfying the claims of those who may be unacquainted with the nature of paper money; for all others, bills of one denomination (20's) are furnished; and especial care will be taken, in all cases, to explain the value of the money, and that it is receivable in the land office."
To Lieutenant McKissack I wrote, under the same date, as follows:
"I have sent, by the hands of General Street, $100,000 to Dr. Reynolds, for payment to the Winnebago half-breeds. Should Dr. Reynolds have left Prairie du Chien, I request you to receive from General Street the money, and open the letter in his charge from this office, to the address of Dr. Reynolds, and execute the instructions therein contained."
After thus sending the money to be paid at Prairie du Chien, I was astonished, on the 5th of November, to find Lieutenant McKissack at St. Louis, with the whole amount.
As Mr. Murray (or Mr. Cameron) lays much stress upon my expressing regret to Lieutenant McKissack that the amount was not paid at Prairie du Chien, I must observe that I made the remark alluded to, not as regretting that the half-breeds themselves had not been paid. All of my letters and reports on the subject of half-breeds money will show to what my regret referred.
If I had desired the payment of the drafts, it was the expressed opinion of the commissioners that I not only had authority to make the payment, but that I was required to make it; and if it was really so, whether my agent paid the money at Prairie du Chien, or myself as St. Louis, was a matter of indifference.
On the evening of the 5th of November, I called to pay my respects to the commissioners that I not only had arrived at St. Louis the same day with the money, but in another steamboat. The subject if the mode of payment determined upon by the commissioners was discussed more than I desired in a public reading-room; and I insist upon it that much argument was then and there wasted, to prove that the half-breeds were dispersed, and could not be found by the paying agents of the Indian department.
In the evening of that day I prepared the report of the 6th of November. I had not, up to that time, heard of any particulars in relation to the proceedings of the commissioners, except that the mode of payment determined by them set aside the principle which all my letters will show I deemed indispensable. Your letter of instructions to me of the 20th of November, approving my conduct will show that I was correct as to that principle.
Under the impression that this departure from the principle of a direct payment to the half-breeds might be overlooked by the Department unless there should be reason to fear that the half-breeds had been duped and cheated, I gave my opinion to the claimants that the drafts might ultimately be paid; and this fact makes a part of my letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs of the 6th of November.
My letter of the 7th substantially repeats this; for, by requesting authority
111to require bonds from trustees, I virtually intimate my expectation of orders to pay the drafts.
I have now to add a few words in explanation of my intercourse with General Street, which has fallen under the severe censure of Mr. Murray. It gives me great pleasure to do an act of justice to a high-spirited, intelligent, and conscientious man, who had attained years and respectability, but neither honors nor fortune, in a life spent in the public service.
It will be recollected that General Street undertook to convey, and did convey, $100,000 to Prairie du Chien for the Government. This was an extra-official act; and by this voluntary act, for which he received no compensation, his passage in the steamboat even not being paid, he saved to the Government not less than $300 or $400, which it would have cost had I employed a special agent to perform that service.
Having been the bearer of the money for the half-breeds, he very naturally referred, in a private letter he addressed to me on the 1st of November. To the proceedings of the commissioners, and on the 10th wrote again on the subject. The opinions and feelings expressed by him on the occasion place him above the reach of the commissioners; written, as they were, before he could have known any thing of the suspension of payment at St. Louis on my part. On the receipt of his second letter, I wrote to him a very brief statement of my proceedings, simply requesting him, if he thought proper, to communicate such information to me as he might have or could procure. This was a private letter, of which I never had any copy; but the following letter, addressed to the Rev. Mr. Lowry, will show the spirit with which I prosecuted the inquiry. Adding here that General Street followed the dictate of his own sense of what was due from an officer of the Government, in his communications to me, I will now present a copy of my letter to Mr. Lowry, which Mr. Murray has called for, with strong intimation that it contained something improper; and I desire him to read it in connexion with my report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs of the 3d of December:
ST. LOUIS, December 4, 1838.
"SIR: You may have heard that the payment of half-breed money for the Winnebagoes has been suspended. I have need of information in reference to the conduct of the commissioner at Prairie du Chien, and I address you as an officer of the Government, in a position likely to give you some means of information on this subject. I also refer to you, as a man of judgment and discretion, able to discriminate between mere rumor and establish facts, and tender of the reputation of men whose characters may be involved on the matter."
[I underscore these lines, for the especial observation of Mr. Murray, and proceed with the letter.]
"If you have any direct knowledge, I will thank you to communicate it; or if you can make inquiries of the half-breeds interested, or other persons who may be in the knowledge of facts, I wish you to inform me of the results."
"Existing reports are also important in the first stages of an investigation, not to be relied on themselves, but as pointing out sources of information; and I will thank you, therefore, to state impressions, if any, which may seem to have general credit."
"I know you can have no other interest or principles in this matter than such as I participate in myself."
"I ought to inform you that the Secretary of War had approved of the suspension of payment, and will expect, and certainly has a right to expect, the officers of the Government to use their endeavors to protect the objects of its care from wrong; a duty to the half-breeds in this case, and necessary from the preservation of the dignity of the Government.
"With great respect and regard, your obedient servant,
"E. A. Hitchcock,
Rev. D. Lowry,
Principal, &c., Prairie du Chien."
Mr. Murray notices the absence, on the part of Mr. Lowry, of any communication such as he indicated in the letter enclosed by me, on the 5th of December, to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. By a letter of the 8th of January, Mr. Lowry informs me that it was his intention to sign a letter or statement, jointly with General Street having been present and assisted in the inquires of General Street, but that the state of the ice on the Mississippi river prevented his going to Prairie du Chien, and that of General Street sent the letter without his signature.
I have thus furnished a statement of my proceedings in relation to half-breeds of Chippewas, Sioux, and Winnebagoes, which, as already observed, should be considered together as a whole, in order that my conduct shall be properly understood.
I am under no concern in relation to this matter. If my letter if the 8th of November was severe upon the commissioners, it was written under very strong impressions of duty, and I never expected the commissioners would read it with complacency. My object was not to defame or distress them, but to exhibit the importance of suspending payment until inquiries could be made; and for this purpose I stated such facts as I had heard, and gave such impressions as I had formed. Under similar circumstances I would take the same course, and no apprehension of consequences could deter me from it.
Although my reports of the 6th and 8th of November are long, and I convey some variety of facts and impressions, nothing has since come to my knowledge to induce any change, with the single exception that I had mistaken the person of one of the trustees, misled by the name, and supposed him a notorious gambler.
As for General Cameron's insinuation that I desired to retain and use the public money, as a reason for my not paying the drafts, I blush for him, while I appeal to the case of the Sioux half-breed money, and deny it. He should have been ashamed of the meanness that could induce him to utter such an insinuation; but I spare him, in pity for his weakness, while I despise his malice.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK
Major, Disbursing Agent.
Hon. T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.