lavery and minorities
Revise the basic time line for the period
Chronology (to be revised for tests)
Study a more elaborate time line
A Timeline of American Indian Relations with the Federal Government, 1787 to 1956
Suggested audiovisual documents
Revise some basic concepts
Native Americans (Indians):
on this website |
Native Americans (Excellent)
The Original Beachhead (1630)
To the Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation Washington, January 10, 1806
Jefferson's Indian Policy
Andrew Jackson's Seventh Annual Message (On Indian Removal)
Slavery, a Positive Good
Slavery, like all great systems of wrong
The White Man's Road is Easier
Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia - John Marshall - 1831
Memorial and Protest of the Cherokee Nation
Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, the first mover of
plantation, having many years solicited many of his friends, but found
small assistants, at last prevailed with some Gentlemen, as Captain
Smith, Master Edward-Maria Wingfield, Master Robert Hunt, and divers
who depended a year upon his projects, but nothing could be effected
by their great charge and industry it came to be apprehended by certain
of the nobility, gentry and merchants, so that his Majesty by his
patent, gave commission for establishing councils to direct here, and
govern there and execute there. To effect this was spent another year,
and by this time three ships were provided.….
On the 19 of December, 1606, we sait sail from Blackwall, but by unprosperous winds, were kept six weeks in the sight of England; all which time, Master Hunt our preacher was so weak that few expected his recovery. …
We watered at the Canaries. We traded with the savages at Dominica. Three weeks we spent in refreshing ourselves amongst these West-India iles.….
Gone thence in search of Virginia, the company was not a little discomforted seeing the mariners had three days passed their reckoning, and found no land, so that Captain Radcliffe (Captain of the Pinnace) rather desired to bear up the helm to return to England, than make further search. But God, the guider of all good actions, forcing them by an extreme storm to hull all night, did drive them by his providence to their desired port, beyond all their expectations for never any of them had seen that coast.
The first land they made, they called Cape Henry, where anchoring, Master Wingfield, Gosnoll and Newport, with 30 others, recreating themselves on shore, were assaulted by five savages who hurt two of the English very dangerously. …
Until the 13 of May they sought a place to plant in. Then the Council was sworn, Master Wingfield was chosen President, and an oration made why Captain Smith was not admitted of the Council as the rest. Now falls every man to work, the Council contrive the Fort, the rest cut down trees to make place to pitch their tents; some provide clapboard to reload the ships, some make gardens, some nets, etc. The savages often visited us kindly. The President's overweening jealousy would admit no exercise at arms, or fortification but the boughs of trees cast together in the form of a half moon by the extraordinary pains and diligence of Captain Kendall.
Newport, Smith and 20 others, were sent to discover the head of the river. By diverse small habitations they passed. In six days they arrived at a town called Powhatan, consisting of some twelve house [sic] pleasantly seated on a hill. Before it three fertile iles, about it many of their cornfields. …
The people in all parts kindly entreated them till being returned within 20 miles of Jamestown, they gave just cause of jealousy. But had God not blessed the discoverers otherwise than those at the fort, there had then been an end of that plantation. For at the fort, where they arrived the next day, they found 17 men hurt, and a boy slain by the savages. And had it not chanced a cross-bar shot from the ship struck down a bough from a tree amongst them, that caused them to retire, our men had all been slain, being securely all at work, and their arms in dry fats. Hereupon the President was contented the Fort should be pallisadoed, the ordnance mounted, his men armed and exercised, for many were the assaults and ambuscadoes of the savages. …
What toil we had, with so small a power to guard our workmen adays, watch all night, resist our enemies and effect our business, to reload the ships, cut down trees, and prepare the ground to plant our corn, etc., I refer to the reader's consideration.
It was as President of the United States that Thomas Jefferson had the greatest impact on the Indian nations of North America. He pursued an Indian policy that had two main ends. First, Jefferson wanted to guarantee the security of the United States and so sought to bind Indian nations to the United States through treaties. The aim of these treaties was to acquire land and facilitate trade, but most importantly to keep them allied with the United States and not with European powers, namely England in Canada and Spain in the regions of Florida, the Gulf Coast and lands west of the Mississippi River.
Secondly, Jefferson used the networks created by the treaties to further the program of gradual "civilization." His Federalists predecessors had begun this program, but it was completely in keeping with Jefferson's Enlightenment thinking. Through treaties and commerce, Jefferson hoped to continue to get Native Americans to adopt European agricultural practices, shift to a sedentary way of life, and free up hunting grounds for further white settlement.
The desire for land raised the stakes of the "civilization program." Jefferson told his agents never to coerce Indian nations to sell lands. The lands were theirs as long as they wished, but he hoped to accelerate the process. In a letter to William Henry Harrison, written as the diplomatic crisis leading to the Louisiana Purchase unfolded, Jefferson suggested that if the various Indian nations could be encouraged to purchase goods on credit, they would likely fall into debt, which they could relieve through the sale of lands to the government. The "civilization program" would thus aid the Indians in accordance with Enlightenment principles and at the same time further white interests.
American Indian peoples were divided as to how to respond to Jefferson's policies. The Shawnee chief Black Hoof embraced the "civilization program," and he and many Shawnee settled within the state of Ohio and lived as farmers, while the Shawnee war leader Tecumseh took a different course and led the formation of a pan-Indian resistance movement against the United States government in the years prior to the War of 1812. Some of the Indian nations in the South also accepted the "civilization program" and eventually became known as the "Five Civilized Tribes." Many in the Creek and Cherokee nations built towns and plantations, and some individuals held African American slaves just as their white neighbors. Yet many southern Indians remained skeptical of "civilization" and joined Tecumseh's movement. Among the Creeks, a distinct anti-white resistance movement called the Red Sticks rose against the United States and the Creek nation itself during the War of 1812.
http://www.monticello.org/jefferson/lewisandclark/presidentindian.html Accessed 27 Dec. 2002
MY FRIENDS AND CHILDREN, CHIEFLY OF THE CHEROKEE NATION, -- Having now finished our business an to mutual satisfaction, I cannot take leave of you without expressing the satisfaction I have received from your visit. I see with my own eyes that the endeavors we have been making to encourage and lead you in the way of improving your situation have not been unsuccessful; it has been like grain sown in good ground, producing abundantly. You are becoming farmers, learning the use of the plough and the hoe, enclosing your grounds and employing that labor in their cultivation which you formerly employed in hunting and in war; and I see handsome specimens of cotton cloth raised, spun and wove by yourselves. You are also raising cattle and hogs for your food, and horses to assist your labors. Go on, my children, in the same way and be assured the further you advance in it the happier and more respectable you will be.
Our brethren, whom you have happened to meet here from the West and Northwest, have enabled you to compare your situation now with what it was formerly. They also make the comparison, and they see how far you are ahead of them, and seeing what you are they are encouraged to do as you have done. You will find your next want to be mills to grind your corn, which by relieving your women from the loss of time in beating it into meal, will enable them to spin and weave more. When a man has enclosed and improved his farm, builds a good house on it and raised plentiful stocks of animals, he will wish when he dies that these things shall go to his wife and children, whom he loves more than he does his other relations, and for whom he will work with pleasure during his life. You will, therefore, find it necessary to establish laws for this. When a man has property, earned by his own labor, he will not like to see another come and take it from him because he happens to be stronger, or else to defend it by spilling blood. You will find it necessary then to appoint good men, as judges, to decide contests between man and man, according to reason and to the rules you shall establish.
If you wish to be aided by our counsel and experience in these things we shall always be ready to assist you with our advice.
My children, it is unnecessary for me to advise you against spending all your time and labor in warring with and destroying your fellow-men, and wasting your own members. You already see the folly and iniquity of it. Your young men, however, are not yet sufficiently sensible of it. Some of them cross the Mississippi to go and destroy people who have never done them an injury. My children, this is wrong and must not be; if we permit them to cross the Mississippi to war with the Indians on the other side of that river, we must let those Indians cross the river to take revenge on you. I say again, this must not be. The Mississippi now belongs to us. It must not be a river of blood. It is now the water-path along which all our people of Natchez, St. Louis, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and the western parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia are constantly passing with their property, to and from New Orleans. Young men going to war are not easily restrained. Finding our people on the river they will rob them, perhaps kill them. This would bring on a war between us and you. It is better to stop this in time by forbidding your young men to go across the river to make war. If they go to visit or to live with the Cherokees on the other side of the river we shall not object to that. That country is ours. We will permit them to live in it.
My children, this is what I wished to say to you. To go on in learning to cultivate the earth and to avoid war. If any of your neighbors injure you, our beloved men whom we place with you will endeavor to obtain justice for you and we will support them in it. If any of your bad people injure your neighbors, be ready to acknowledge it and to do them justice. It is more honorable to repair a wrong than to persist in it. Tell all your chiefs, your men, women and children, that I take them by the hand and hold it fast. That I am their father, wish their happiness and well-being, and am always ready to promote their good.
My children, I thank you for your visit and pray to the Great Spirit who made us all and planted us all in this land to live together like brothers that He will conduct you safely to your homes, and grant you to find your families and your friends in good health.
http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/ot2www-singleauthor?specfile=/web/data/jefferson/texts/jefall.o2w&act=text&offset=4912483&textreg=2&query=Indians Accessed 27 Dec. 2002
source : http://www.nhc.rtp.nc.us/tserve/nattrans/ntecoindian/essays/indianremovalb.htm
May 4, 2003
Early in the 19th century, while the rapidly-growing United States expanded into the lower South, white settlers faced what they considered an obstacle. This area was home to the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chicasaw and Seminole nations. These Indian nations, in the view of the settlers and many other white Americans, were standing in the way of progress. Eager for land to raise cotton, the settlers pressured the federal government to acquire Indian territory.
Andrew Jackson, from Tennessee, was a forceful proponent of Indian removal. In 1814 he commanded the U.S. military forces that defeated a faction of the Creek nation. In their defeat, the Creeks lost 22 million acres of land in southern Georgia and central Alabama. The U.S. acquired more land in 1818 when, spurred in part by the motivation to punish the Seminoles for their practice of harboring fugitive slaves, Jackson's troops invaded Spanish Florida.
From 1814 to 1824, Jackson was instrumental in negotiating nine out of eleven treaties which divested the southern tribes of their eastern lands in exchange for lands in the west. The tribes agreed to the treaties for strategic reasons. They wanted to appease the government in the hopes of retaining some of their land, and they wanted to protect themselves from white harassment. As a result of the treaties, the United States gained control over three-quarters of Alabama and Florida, as well as parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky and North Carolina. This was a period of voluntary Indian migration, however, and only a small number of Creeks, Cherokee and Choctaws actually moved to the new lands.
In 1823 the Supreme Court handed down a decision which stated that Indians could occupy lands within the United States, but could not hold title to those lands. This was because their "right of occupancy" was subordinate to the United States' "right of discovery." In response to the great threat this posed, the Creeks, Cherokee, and Chicasaw instituted policies of restricting land sales to the government. They wanted to protect what remained of their land before it was too late.
Although the five Indian nations had made earlier attempts at resistance, many of their strategies were non-violent. One method was to adopt Anglo-American practices such as large-scale farming, Western education, and slave-holding. This earned the nations the designation of the "Five Civilized Tribes." They adopted this policy of assimilation in an attempt to coexist with settlers and ward off hostility. But it only made whites jealous and resentful.
Other attempts involved ceding portions of their land to the United States with a view to retaining control over at least part of their territory, or of the new territory they received in exchange. Some Indian nations simply refused to leave their land -- the Creeks and the Seminoles even waged war to protect their territory. The First Seminole War lasted from 1817 to 1818. The Seminoles were aided by fugitive slaves who had found protection among them and had been living with them for years. The presence of the fugitives enraged white planters and fueled their desire to defeat the Seminoles.
The Cherokee used legal means in their attempt to safeguard their rights. They sought protection from land-hungry white settlers, who continually harassed them by stealing their livestock, burning their towns, and sqatting on their land. In 1827 the Cherokee adopted a written constitution declaring themselves to be a sovereign nation. They based this on United States policy; in former treaties, Indian nations had been declared sovereign so they would be legally capable of ceding their lands. Now the Cherokee hoped to use this status to their advantage. The state of Georgia, however, did not recognize their sovereign status, but saw them as tenants living on state land. The Cherokee took their case to the Supreme Court, which ruled against them.
The Cherokee went to the Supreme Court again in 1831. This time they based their appeal on an 1830 Georgia law which prohibited whites from living on Indian territory after March 31, 1831, without a license from the state. The state legislature had written this law to justify removing white missionaries who were helping the Indians resist removal. The court this time decided in favor of the Cherokee. It stated that the Cherokee had the right to self-government, and declared Georgia's extension of state law over them to be unconstitutional. The state of Georgia refused to abide by the Court decision, however, and President Jackson refused to enforce the law.
In 1830, just a year after taking office, Jackson pushed a new piece of legislation called the "Indian Removal Act" through both houses of Congress. It gave the president power to negotiate removal treaties with Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi. Under these treaties, the Indians were to give up their lands east of the Mississippi in exchange for lands to the west. Those wishing to remain in the east would become citizens of their home state. This act affected not only the southeastern nations, but many others further north. The removal was supposed to be voluntary and peaceful, and it was that way for the tribes that agreed to the conditions. But the southeastern nations resisted, and Jackson forced them to leave.
Jackson's attitude toward Native Americans was paternalistic and patronizing -- he described them as children in need of guidance. and believed the removal policy was beneficial to the Indians. Most white Americans thought that the United States would never extend beyond the Mississippi. Removal would save Indian people from the depredations of whites, and would resettle them in an area where they could govern themselves in peace. But some Americans saw this as an excuse for a brutal and inhumane course of action, and protested loudly against removal.
Their protests did not save the southeastern nations from removal, however. The Choctaws were the first to sign a removal treaty, which they did in September of 1830. Some chose to stay in Mississippi under the terms of the Removal Act.. But though the War Department made some attempts to protect those who stayed, it was no match for the land-hungry whites who squatted on Choctaw territory or cheated them out of their holdings. Soon most of the remaining Choctaws, weary of mistreatment, sold their land and moved west.
For the next 28 years, the United States government struggled to force relocation of the southeastern nations. A small group of Seminoles was coerced into signing a removal treaty in 1833, but the majority of the tribe declared the treaty illegitimate and refused to leave. The resulting struggle was the Second Seminole War, which lasted from 1835 to 1842. As in the first war, fugitive slaves fought beside the Seminoles who had taken them in. Thousands of lives were lost in the war, which cost the Jackson administration approximately 40 to 60 million dollars -- ten times the amount it had allotted for Indian removal. In the end, most of the Seminoles moved to the new territory. The few who remained had to defend themselves in the Third Seminole War (1855-58), when the U.S. military attempted to drive them out. Finally, the United States paid the remaining Seminoles to move west.
The Creeks also refused to emigrate. They signed a treaty in March, 1832, which opened a large portion of their Alabama land to white settlement, but guaranteed them protected ownership of the remaining portion, which was divided among the leading families. The government did not protect them from speculators, however, who quickly cheated them out of their lands. By 1835 the destitute Creeks began stealing livestock and crops from white settlers. Some eventually committed arson and murder in retaliation for their brutal treatment. In 1836 the Secretary of War ordered the removal of the Creeks as a military necessity. By 1837, approximately 15,000 Creeks had migrated west. They had never signed a removal treaty.
The Chickasaws had seen removal as inevitable, and had not resisted. They signed a treaty in 1832 which stated that the federal government would provide them with suitable western land and would protect them until they moved. But once again, the onslaught of white settlers proved too much for the War Department, and it backed down on its promise. The Chickasaws were forced to pay the Choctaws for the right to live on part of their western allotment. They migrated there in the winter of 1837-38.
The Cherokee, on the other hand, were tricked with an illegitimate treaty. In 1833, a small faction agreed to sign a removal agreement: the Treaty of New Echota. The leaders of this group were not the recognized leaders of the Cherokee nation, and over 15,000 Cherokees -- led by Chief John Ross -- signed a petition in protest. The Supreme Court ignored their demands and ratified the treaty in 1836. The Cherokee were given two years to migrate voluntarily, at the end of which time they would be forcibly removed. By 1838 only 2,000 had migrated; 16,000 remained on their land. The U.S. government sent in 7,000 troops, who forced the Cherokees into stockades at bayonet point. They were not allowed time to gather their belongings, and as they left, whites looted their homes. Then began the march known as the Trail of Tears, in which 4,000 Cherokee people died of cold, hunger, and disease on their way to the western lands.
By 1837, the Jackson administration had removed 46,000 Native American people from their land east of the Mississippi, and had secured treaties which led to the removal of a slightly larger number. Most members of the five southeastern nations had been relocated west, opening 25 million acres of land to white settlement and to slavery.
Author: Andrew Jackson
Year Published: 1835
Accessed 28 Dec. 2002
Extract from Andrew Jackson's Seventh Annual Message to Congress December 7, 1835
The plan of removing the aboriginal people who yet remain within the settled portions of the United States to the country west of the Mississippi River approaches its consummation. It was adopted on the most mature consideration of the condition of this race, and ought to be persisted in till the object is accomplished, and prosecuted with as much vigor as a just regard to their circumstances will permit, and as fast as their consent can be obtained. All preceding experiments for the improvement of the Indians have failed. It seems now to be an established fact they can not live in contact with a civilized community and prosper. Ages of fruitless endeavors have at length brought us to a knowledge of this principle of intercommunication with them. The past we can not recall, but the future we can provide for. Independently of the treaty stipulations into which we have entered with the various tribes for the usufructuary rights they have ceded to us, no one can doubt the moral duty of the Government of the United States to protect and if possible to preserve and perpetuate the scattered remnants of this race which are left within our borders. In the discharge of this duty an extensive region in the West has been assigned for their permanent residence. It has been divided into districts and allotted among them. Many have already removed and others are preparing to go, and with the exception of two small bands living in Ohio and Indiana, not exceeding 1,500 persons, and of the Cherokees, all the tribes on the east side of the Mississippi, and extending from Lake Michigan to Florida, have entered into engagements which will lead to their transplantation. The plan for their removal and reestablishment is founded upon the knowledge we have gained of their character and habits, and has been dictated by a spirit of enlarged liberality. A territory exceeding in extent that relinquished has been granted to each tribe. Of its climate, fertility, and capacity to support an Indian population the representations are highly favorable. To these districts the Indians are removed at the expense of the United States, and with certain supplies of clothing, arms, ammunition, and other indispensable articles; they are also furnished gratuitously with provisions for the period of a year after their arrival at their new homes. In that time, from the nature of the country and of the products raised by them, they can subsist themselves by agricultural labor, if they choose to resort to that mode of life; if they do not they are upon the skirts of the great prairies, where countless herds of buffalo roam, and a short time suffices to adapt their own habits to the changes which a change of the animals destined for their food may require. Ample arrangements have also been made for the support of schools; in some instances council houses and churches are to be erected, dwellings constructed for the chiefs, and mills for common use. Funds have been set apart for the maintenance of the poor; the most necessary mechanical arts have been introduced, and blacksmiths, gunsmiths, wheelwrights, millwrights, etc., are supported among them. Steel and iron, and sometimes salt, are purchased for them, and plows and other farming utensils, domestic animals, looms, spinning wheels, cards, etc., are presented to them. And besides these beneficial arrangements, annuities are in all cases paid, amounting in some instances to more than $30 for each individual of the tribe, and in all cases sufficiently great, if justly divided and prudently expended, to enable them, in addition to their own exertions, to live comfortably. And as a stimulus for exertion, it is now provided by law that "in all cases of the appointment of interpreters or other persons employed for the benefit of the Indians a preference shall be given to persons of Indian descent, if such can be found who are properly qualified for the discharge of the duties." Such are the arrangements for the physical comfort and for the moral improvement of the Indians. The necessary measures for their political advancement and for their separation from our citizens have not been neglected. The pledge of the United States has been given by Congress that the country destined for the residence of this people shall be forever "secured and guaranteed to them." A country west of Missouri and Arkansas has been assigned to them, into which the white settlements are not to be pushed. No political communities can be formed in that extensive region, except those which are established by the Indians themselves or by the Untied States for them and with their concurrence. A barrier has thus been raised for their protection against the encroachment of our citizens, and guarding the Indians as far as possible from those evils which have brought them to their present condition. Summary authority has been given by law to destroy all ardent spirits found in their country, without waiting the doubtful result and slow process of a legal seizure. I consider the absolute and unconditional interdiction of this article among these people as the first and great step in their melioration. Halfway measures will answer no purpose. These can not successfully contend against the cupidity of the seller and the overpowering appetite of the buyer. And the destructive effects of the traffic are marked in every page of the history of our Indian intercourse. . . .
Sectional Tension had been continually rising throughout the 1800's in America. The vast differences of Southern and Northern living had been made even greater with the North adopting a general favoring of abolition. The laws being passed for the country now had more implications over sectional tension. The power of Congress and Senate was split between Northern abolitionists and Southern slave and plantation owners. The basic idea for stability was a balance of power in Congress and the Senate. However, for this balance to happen, America needed an equal number of slave and non-slave states. http://www.darien.k12.ct.us/jburt/approject/civilwar/1850/per3/background.html. Accessed 23 Janauray 2002.
Slavery has often been treated as a marginal aspect of history, …. In fact, slavery played a crucial role in the making of the modern world and the development of the United States.
Beginning at least as early as 1502, European slave traders shipped approximately 11 to 16 million slaves to the Americas, including 500,000 to what is now the United States. During the decades before the Civil War, slave grown cotton accounted for over half the value of all United States exports, and provided virtually all the cotton used in the northern textile industry and 70 percent of the cotton used in British mills.
In the decades before the Civil War. A third of the South’s population labored as slaves. Enslaved African Americans performed all kinds of work, but slavery mainly meant backbreaking field work.
… in the late 1820s, the advance of northern industrialization and abolitionism were more than a bit worrisome to southern leaders. Aside from slavery, the battle lines were initially drawn over two other issues, the Tariff of 1828 and federal land policy as it pertained to the development of the western territories.
… On the land issue, squatting rules were being amended in the late 1820s which worried both the north and south because a mass migration to the west could lead to higher labor costs for both. The federal government had been having trouble selling large tracts of unusable land at the minimum price of $1.25 per acre (oh, if I only knew of the opportunities back then), so it was losing out on tax revenues, thus the adoption of a new policy which allowed squatters to claim the land and purchase it whenever the government chose to formally offer it.
With this as background, Calhoun sought to broker some sort of compromise, while protecting the core southern beliefs. He was aware, however, that if southern extremists prevailed, secession was a distinct possibility.
In December 1829, Senator Foot of Connecticut proposed that Congress put a brake on the sale of public lands and suddenly the Senate was in an uproar. Would the West side with the North or South? This was the debate that would directly lead to the Civil War, as it ranged from land, to tariffs to slavery and the meaning of the Constitution itself.
http://www.buyandhold.com/bh/en/education/history/2002/a_jackson_pt_2.html. Accessed 23 Janauray 2002.
Several years since, in a discussion with one of the Senators from Massachusetts (Mr. Webster), … I then predicted that the doctrine of the proclamation and the Force Bill — that this Government had a right, in the last resort, to determine the extent of its own powers, and enforce its decision at the point of the bayonet, which was so warmly maintained by that Senator, would at no distant day arouse the dormant spirit of abolitionism. I told him that the doctrine was tantamount to the assumption of unlimited power on the part of the Government, and that such would be the impression on the public mind in a large portion of the Union. The consequence would be inevitable. A large portion of the Northern States believed slavery to be a sin, and would consider it as an obligation of conscience to abolish it if they should feel themselves in any degree responsible for its continuance, and that this doctrine would necessarily lead to the belief of such responsibility. I then predicted that it would commence as it has with this fanatical portion of society, and that they would begin their operations on the ignorant, the weak, the young, and the thoughtless, — and gradually extend upwards till they would become strong enough to obtain political control, when he and others holding the highest stations in society, would, however reluctant, be compelled to yield to their doctrines, or be driven into obscurity. But four years have since elapsed, and all this is already in a course of regular fulfilment. Standing at the point of time at which we have now arrived, it will not be more difficult to trace the course of future events now than it was then. They who imagine that the spirit now abroad in the North, will die away of itself without a shock or convulsion, have formed a very inadequate conception of its real character; it will continue to rise and spread, unless prompt and efficient measures to stay its progress be adopted. Already it has taken possession of the pulpit, of the schools, and, to a considerable extent, of the press; those great instruments by which the mind of the rising generation will be formed. However sound the great body of the non-slaveholding States are at present, in the course of a few years they will be succeeded by those who will have been taught to hate the people and institutions of nearly one-half of this Union, with a hatred more deadly than one hostile nation ever entertained towards another. It is easy to see the end. By the necessary course of events, if left to themselves, we must become, finally, two people. It is impossible under the deadly hatred which must spring up between the two great nations, if the present causes are permitted to operate unchecked, that we should continue under the same political system. The conflicting elements would burst the Union asunder, powerful as are the links which hold it together. Abolition and the Union cannot coexist. As the friend of the Union I openly proclaim it, — and the sooner it is known the better. The former may now be controlled, but in a short time it will be beyond the power of man to arrest the course of events. We of the South will not, cannot, surrender our institutions. To maintain the existing relations between the two races, inhabiting that section of the Union, is indispensable to the peace and happiness of both. It cannot be subverted without drenching the country or the other of the races. . . . But let me not be understood as admitting, even by implication, that the existing relations between the two races in the slaveholding States is an evil: — far otherwise; I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be to both, and will continue to prove so if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition. I appeal to facts. Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. 4
In the meantime, the white or European race, has not degenerated. It has kept pace with its brethren in other sections of the Union where slavery does not exist. It is odious to make comparison; but I appeal to all sides whether the South is not equal in virtue, intelligence, patriotism, courage, disinterestedness, and all the high qualities which adorn our nature. But I take higher ground. I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good — a positive good. I feel myself called upon to speak freely upon the subject where the honor and interests of those I represent are involved. I hold then, that there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other. Broad and general as is this assertion, it is fully borne out by history. This is not the proper occasion, but, if it were, it would not be difficult to trace the various devices by which the wealth of all civilized communities has been so unequally divided, and to show by what means so small a share has been allotted to those by whose labor it was produced, and so large a share given to the non-producing classes. The devices are almost innumerable, from the brute force and gross superstition of ancient times, to the subtle and artful fiscal contrivances of modern. I might well challenge a comparison between them and the more direct, simple, and patriarchal mode by which the labor of the African race is, among us, commanded by the European. I may say with truth, that in few countries so much is left to the share of the laborer, and so little exacted from him, or where there is more kind attention paid to him in sickness or infirmities of age. Compare his condition with the tenants of the poor houses in the more civilized portions of Europe — look at the sick, and the old and infirm slave, on one hand, in the midst of his family and friends, under the kind superintending care of his master and mistress, and compare it with the forlorn and wretched condition of the pauper in the poorhouse. But I will not dwell on this aspect of the question; I turn to the political; and here I fearlessly assert that the existing relation between the two races in the South, against which these blind fanatics are waging war, forms the most solid and durable foundation on which to rear free and stable political institutions. It is useless to disguise the fact. There is and always has been in an advanced stage of wealth and civilization, a conflict between labor and capital. The condition of society in the South exempts us from the disorders and dangers resulting from this conflict; and which explains why it is that the political condition of the slaveholding States has been so much more stable and quiet than that of the North. . . . Surrounded as the slaveholding States are with such imminent perils, I rejoice to think that our means of defense are ample, if we shall prove to have the intelligence and spirit to see and apply them before it is too late. All we want is concert, to lay aside all party differences and unite with zeal and energy in repelling approaching dangers. Let there be concert of action, and we shall find ample means of security without resorting to secession or disunion. I speak with full knowledge and a thorough examination of the subject, and for one see my way clearly. . . . I dare not hope that anything I can say will arouse the South to a due sense of danger; I fear it is beyond the power of mortal voice to awaken it in time from the fatal security into which it has fallen.
Calhoun (1837) http://douglassarchives.org/calh_a59.htm. Accessed April 21, 2003.
1865 - Lincoln fatally shot at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth. Vice President Johnson sworn as president. He was to fight the Radical Republicans.
1865 Amendment XIII: Slavery is abolished and prohibited throughout the States.
1865 Ku Klux Klan created
1865-66 Black Codes before Radical Republican Reconstruction, held the freedmen on the plantations where they had worked as slaves.
1866 - The Civil Rights Act in theory gave the right to vote to Blacks.
1866 Amendment XIV: This amendment creates national citizenship for all males, therefore to Blacks. Along with amendments XIII (abolition of slavery) and XV (the suffrage i.e. the right to vote cannot be denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude) it might be looked upon as the peace settlement forced upon the South.
1869 - Amendment XV grants the franchise (the right to vote) to freedmen .
1872 - Congress gives amnesty to most Confederates.
1877 End of Reconstruction.
First Reconstruction. President Johnson launched a moderate program by issuing a generous amnesty proclamation to follow Lincoln's policy of "malice towards none, charity for all." Southern states were required to write new constitutions to re-enter the Union. But they did not give the Negro the vote or real civil rights. On the contrary, they enacted a series of Black Codes designed "to keep the Negro in his place" and away from the polls. Congress responded with the 14th Amendment.
In 1866, victory at the polls strengthened the Radical Republicans' position so that Radical Reconstruction (1867-1877) could be launched. The South was militarily occupied (five military districts). The military commanders were to register "loyal" voters (Negroes and Scalawags) and readmission into the Union was made dependent on ratification of the 14th and 15th amendments.
1 - Radical Republicans were members of the Republican Party who had very progressive ideas, radical ideas. They wanted to destroy the aristocratic South of the plantations. They were a minority, but they managed to impose their views between 1867 down to 1877. Politically speaking, the interests of the industrialist North were represented by the Radical Republicans. The Radical Republicans represented the rapidly developing industrial capitalists of the North East and Mid West. What they wanted from Washington was a uniform and standardized market place for their products.
2- Rampant immorality is another phrase that is often quoted when dealing with Reconstruction. This was the time of political corruption, crime, when Southerners were supposed to be pushed around and bossed about by Northerners and Blacks alike.
3- Carpet-baggers are also traditionally associated with Reconstruction. They were poor Whites from the North. They had not succeeded in making it in the North, so they went South with all their belongings in travel-bags called carpet-bags, hence their names. They wanted to profit from the unsettled conditions in the South after the Civil War and from the climate of corruption. They were adventurers.
4- Scalawags were Southerners who accepted to co-operate with the Yankees i.e. Northerners. They were considered traitors. 20% of the Whites in the South must have been Scalawags.
5-Share-cropping (more or less "métayage" or "colonage") soon appeared after the war. Planters had no money to pay the black workers on their plantations. The Blacks had no money to buy or rent farms. So planters would supply their black tenants (farmers) with some land, a mule, tools, a cabin and fertilizers. The tenant would keep one third of the crop, the rest to go to the owner. The problem was that very soon black and white tenants alike became indebted and had to pledge (mettre en gage) their growing crops. They felt discouraged and fell into absolute poverty.
6- "40 acres and a mule"was what the freed slaves believed they had been promised. But in fact Congress only tried to give them political rights, without really trying to give them economic security—40 acres and a mule.What developed during that period was the share-cropping system. What the Black had been promised was 40 acres and a mule after the confiscation of land from white planters and during a very short period between Jan. 1865 and June of the same year, when the Confederacy was collapsing, abolitionist, liberal and radical generals of the Union Army could do whatever they wanted to. And what they did was to divide up the plantations, confiscate the land, and give slaves titles to the land. So some slaves in some states (Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana) ) were actually given 4O acres and a mule for a few months. But Henry Johnson, as President after the assassination of Lincoln, fired these generals. From 1867 till 1877 "Radical" Reconstruction was radical only in the political sense. Blacks were given the right to vote. Civil Rights laws were passed. But the old dream of 40 acres and a mule was gone.
Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey and sired by his own master, he escaped from slavery in Baltimore in 1838 and took the name Douglass in New Bedford, Mass. He emerged as the best-known black abolitionist after writing a brief account of his slavery years in 1845, and edited the Rochester, N. Y., North Star (1847-63). He used his influence to recruit negro troops in the Civil War.
With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in December 1865, slavery was officially abolished in all areas of the United States. The Reconstruction era was under way in the South, the period during which the 11 Confederate states would be gradually reintroduced to the Union. In the meantime, Norhern armies continued to occupy the South and to enforce the decrees of Congress. …
In many parts of the South, the newly freed slaves labored under conditions similar to those existing before the war. The Union army could offer only limited protection to the ex-slaves, and Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, clearly had no interest in ensuring the freedom of southern blacks. The new president's appointments as governors of sourthern states formed conservative, proslavery governments. The new state legislatures passed laws designed to keep blacks in poverty and in positions of servitude. Under these so-called black codes, ex-slaves who had no steady employment could be arrested and ordered to pay stiff fines. Prisoners who could not pay the sum were hired out as virtual slaves. In some areas, black children could be forced to serve as apprentices in local industries. Blacks were also prevented from buying land and were denied fair wages for their work.
At a meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in May 1865, one month after the end of the Civil War, William Lloyd Garrison had called upon the organization to disband, now that its goal was achieved. Douglass came out against Garrison's proposal, stating that "Slavery is not abolished until the black man has the ballot." The society voted to continue the struggle for black rights, but many abolitionists left the movement. Fortunately, abolitionists were not the only ones interested in giving blacks the right to vote. The Republican party was worried that the Democrats would regain their power in the South. If this happened, the Republicans would lose their dominant position in Congress when the southern states were readmitted to the Union. Led by two fierce antislavery senators, Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner, a group of radical Republicans joined with abolitionists in a campaign for voting rights for black men, who, they believed, would naturally support the Republicans. During the later part of 1865, Douglass traveled throughout the North, speaking out for black suffrage and warning the country that the former slaveholders were regaining control of the South. In February 1866, he addressed his most important audience, President Andrew Johnson. Along with his son Lewis and three other black leaders, Douglass met with Johnson to impress upon him the need for changes in the southern state governments. The president did most of the talking, and he told the delegation that he intended to support the interests of southern whites and to block voting rights for blacks. Douglass and Johnson parted, both saying that they would take their cases to the American people.
… In the summer of 1866, Congress passed two bills over the president's veto. One, the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, extended the powers of a government agency that had been established in 1865 for the purpose of providing medical, educational, and financial assistance for the millions of impoverished southern blacks. Congress also passed the Civil Rights Bill, which gave full citizenship to blacks, along with all the rights enjoyed by other Americans. President Johnson's supporters, mainly Democrats and conservative Republicans, organized in the summer of 1866 to stop the movement for further black rights. The radical Republicans also held a meeting in Philadelphia to vote on a resolution calling for black suffrage, and Douglass attended the convention as a delegate from New York. Unfortunately, he encountered much prejudice from some Republican politicians, who were unwilling to associate with blacks on an equal level. Nonetheless, Douglass went to the convention and spoke out for black suffrage. The vote on the resolution was a close one, for some of the delegates were afraid that white voters would not support a party that allied itself too closely with blacks.
Speeches by Douglass and the woman suffragist Anna E. Dickinson helped turn the tide in favor of black suffrage. For Douglass, the convention also held a more personal note. While marching in a parade of delegates, he spotted Amanda Sears, whose mother, Lucretia Auld, had given him his first pair of pants and arranged for him to leave the Lloyd plantation. Sears and her two children had traveled to Philadelphia just to see the famed Frederick Douglass. The movement for black suffrage grew rapidly after the Philadelphia convention. With President Johnson's supporters greatly outnumbered, in June 1866, Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment, which was designed to ensure that rights guaranteed earlier to blacks under the Civil Rights Bill were protected by the Constitution. The amendment was finally ratified in July 1868 after all the states approved it. Although the new amendment declared that no state could deny any person his full rights as an American citizen, it did not guarantee blacks the right to vote. In most states, however, blacks were already voting.
THE assembling of the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Congress may very properly be made the occasion of a few earnest words on the already much-worn topic of reconstruction.
[…] The last session really did nothing which can be considered final as to these questions. The Civil Rights Bill and the Freedmen's Bureau Bill and the proposed constitutional amendments, with the amendment already adopted and recognized as the law of the land, do not reach the difficulty […]. All that is necessary to be done is to make the government consistent with itself, and render the rights of the States compatible with the sacred rights of human nature.
[…] Slavery, like all other great systems of wrong, founded in the depths of human selfishness, and existing for ages, has not neglected its own conservation. It has steadily exerted an influence upon all around it favorable to its own continuance. And to-day it is so strong that it could exist, not only without law, but even against law. Custom, manners, morals, religion, are all on its side everywhere in the South; and when you add the ignorance and servility of the ex-slave to the intelligence and accustomed authority of the master, you have the conditions, not out of which slavery will again grow, but under which it is impossible for the Federal government to wholly destroy it, unless the Federal government be armed with despotic power, to blot out State authority, and to station a Federal officer at every cross-road. This, of course, cannot be done, and ought not even if it could. The true way and the easiest way is to make our government entirely consistent with itself, and give to every loyal citizen the elective franchise, -- a right and power which will be ever present, and will form a wall of fire for his protection.
[…] It is not, however, within the scope of this paper to point out the precise steps to be taken, and the means to be employed. The people are less concerned about these than the grand end to be attained. They demand such a reconstruction as shall put an end to the present anarchical state of things in the late rebellious States, -- where frightful murders and wholesale massacres are perpetrated in the very presence of Federal soldiers. This horrible business they require shall cease. They want a reconstruction such as will protect loyal men, black and white, in their persons and property; such a one as will cause Northern industry, Northern capital, and Northern civilization to flow into the South, and make a man from New England as much at home in Carolina as elsewhere in the Republic. No Chinese wall can now be tolerated. The South must be opened to the light of law and liberty, and this session of Congress is relied upon to accomplish this important work.
The plain, common-sense way of doing this work, as intimated at the beginning, is simply to establish in the South one law, one government, one administration of justice, one condition to the exercise of the elective franchise, for men of all races and colors alike. This great measure is sought as earnestly by loyal white men as by loyal blacks, and is needed alike by both. Let sound political prescience but take the place of an unreasoning prejudice, and this will be done.
Frederick Douglass, "Reconstruction," Atlantic Monthly (1866)
(A synthesis from various sources: Chronicles of American Indian Protest; Leonard Dinnerstein, Roger L. Nichols, David M. Reimers, Native and Strangers, Ethnic Groups and the Building of America, (New York Oxford University Press, 1979) and others.
1865-1875 In the twenty years following the Civil War tens of millions of the animals [the bison or buffalo] were killed to feed construction crews building the transcontinental railroads, and to provide leather hides for the rest of the nation. From 1872 to 1874 the hide hunters alone killed more than 3,500,000 of the shaggy beasts while during those same years the Indians killed a mere 150,000 for their food. […] General Philip Sheridan [said] "Let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated,[…] as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow civilization to advance." […] The federal government’s policy toward the Indians of "destroying their hunting habitats, coercing them on reservations, and compelling them to begin to adopt the habits of civilization," would have a better chance for success, officials believed, if the warriors could no longer hunt.
1870s the Black Hills of South Dakota stolen from the Sioux Indian Nation And in 1980 the Supreme Court ordered the government to pay $117 million plus interest to the Sioux Indian Nation for the Black Hills of South Dakota, stolen from them when gold was discovered there in the 1870s.
1871 the United States stopped treating Indian tribes as sovereign nations As the colonial powers in North America had done, the United States treated Indian tribes as sovereign nations until Congress ended the practice in 1871. In its relations with tribal leaders, the government followed the ritual of international protocol. Indian chiefs who visited Washington were received with the appropriate pomp and ceremony. Agreements between a tribe and the United States were signed, sealed and ratified as was any international pact. ... In practice however Indian sovereignty was a fiction. […] Essentially, treaty-making was a process used to acquire Indian land.
1875 Indian Homestead Act The so-called Indian Homestead Act extended to some Indians the provisions of the 1862 Homestead Act if they asked for the land. The optional provisions of this law failed to satisfy the proponents of allotment, however, and after an extended campaign they succeeded in getting Congress to pass the Dawes Severalty Act in 1887.
Dawes Severalty Act (1877) Approximately 138 million acres owned by Indians in 1877 (a little more than 50 million acres in 1966.) The 1887 Dawes Severalty Act /the General Allotment Act / the Dawes Act gave the President authority to divide reservation lands into small plots and allocate them to the Indian men. It was the logical culmination of the nineteenth-century effort to dismember the tribes and deal with individual Indians. The General Allotment Act, or Dawes Act, was passed to destroy the reservation system and to end tribal relations based on the shared use of land. The Dawes Act provided that Indians on the reservations would be allotted land individually: 160 acres per head of family, 80 acres per single adult, and 40 acres per minor. Reservation lands left over after the allotment would be sold to whites. According to the "assimilation" rationale, The Dawes Act would be good for the Indian because it would encourage him "to take his land in severalty and in the sweat of his brow and by the toil of his hands to carve out, as his white brother had done, a home for himself and his family." It rarely worked that way. First of all, the land was not allotted to Indians directly but was given in trust to the Bureau of Indian Affairs—the government agency with almost total power over all things Indian.
1890 Frontier closed / Wounded Knee Massacre 1890 The Census Bureau officially declared the Frontier was closed. Wounded Knee Massacre: last Indian Rebellion; Chief Big Foot and 300 people of his tribe were massacred.
An Act to Provide for the Allotment of Lands in Severalty to Indians on the Various Reservations, and to Extend the Protection of the Laws of the United States and the Territories over the Indians, and for Other Purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in all cases where any tribe or band of Indians has been, or shall hereafter be, located upon any reservation created for their use, either by treaty stipulation or by virtue of an act of Congress or executive order setting apart the same for their use, the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, authorized, whenever in his opinion any reservation or any part thereof of such Indians is advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes, to cause said reservation, or any part thereof, to be surveyed, or resurveyed if necessary, and to allot the lands in said reservation in severalty to any Indian located thereon in quantities as follows:
To each head of a family, one-quarter of a section;
To each single person over eighteen years of age, one-eighth of a section;
To each orphan child under eighteen years of age, one-eighth of a section; and
To each other single person under eighteen years now living, or who may be born prior to the date of the order of the President directing an allotment of the lands embraced in any reservation, one-sixteenth of a section:
SEC. 4. That where any Indian not residing upon a reservation, or for whose tribe no reservation has been provided by treaty, act of Congress, or executive order, shall make settlement upon any surveyed or unsurveyed lands of the United States not otherwise appropriated, he or she shall be entitled, upon application to the local land-office for the district in which the lands arc located, to have the same allotted to him or her, and to his or her children, in quantities and manner as provided in this act for Indians residing upon reservations; … .
SEC. 5. That upon the approval of the allotments provided for in this act by the Secretary of the Interior, he shall cause patents to issue therefor in the name of the allottees, which patents shall be of the legal effect, and declare that the United States does and will hold the land thus allotted, for the period of twenty-five years, in trust for the sole use and benefit of the Indian to whom such allotment shall have been made, or, in case of his decease, of his heirs according to the laws of the State or Territory where such land is located, and that at the expiration of said period the United States will convey the same by patent to said Indian, or his heirs as aforesaid, in fee, discharged of said trust and free of all charge or incumbrance whatsoever: … That at any time after lands have been allotted to all the Indians of any tribe as herein provided, or sooner if in the opinion of the President it shall be for the best interests of said tribe, it shall be lawful for the Secretary of the Interior to negotiate with such Indian tribe for the purchase and release by said tribe, in conformity with the treaty or statute under which such reservation is held, of such portions of its reservation not allotted as such tribe shall, from time to time, consent to sell, on such terms and conditions as shall be considered just and equitable between the United States and said tribe of Indians, which purchase shall not be complete until ratified by Congress, and the form and manner of executing such release prescribed by Congress: Provided however, That all lands adapted to agriculture, with or without irrigation so sold or released to the United States by any Indian tribe shall be held by the United States for the sale purpose of securing homes to actual settlers and shall be disposed of by the United States to actual and bona fide settlers only tracts not exceding one hundred and sixty acres to any one person, on such terms as Congress shall prescribe, subject to grants which Congress may make in aid of education: And provided further, That no patents shall issue therefor except to the person so taking the same as and homestead, or his heirs, and after the expiration of five years occupancy thereof as such homestead; and any conveyance of said lands taken as a homestead, or any contract touching the same, or lieu thereon, created prior to the date of such patent, shall be null and void. And the sums agreed to be paid by the United States as purchase money for any portion of any such reservation shall be held in the Treasury of the United States for the sole use of the tribe or tribes Indians; to whom such reservations belonged; and the same, with interest thereon at three per cent per annum, shall be at all times subject to appropriation by Congress for the education and civilization of such tribe or tribes of Indians or the members thereof. The patents aforesaid shall be recorded in the General Land Office, and afterward delivered, free of charge, to the allottee entitled thereto. And if any religious society or other organization is now occupying any of the public lands to which this act is applicable, for religious or educational work among the Indians, the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to confirm such occupation to such society or organization, in quantity not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres in any one tract, so long as the same shall be so occupied, on such terms as he shall deem just; but nothing herein contained shall change or alter any claim of such society for religious or educational purposes heretofore granted by law. And hereafter in the employment of Indian police, or any other employees in the public service among any of the Indian tribes or bands affected by this act, and where Indians can perform the duties required, those Indians who have availed themselves of the provisions of this act and become citizens of the United States shall be preferred.
SEC. 6. That upon the completion of said allotments and the patenting of the lands to said allottees, each and every number of the respective bands or tribes of Indians to whom allotments have been made shall have the benefit of and be subject to the laws, both civil and criminal, of the State or Territory in which they may reside; and no Territory shall pass or enforce any law denying any such Indian within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. And every Indian born within the territorial limits of the United States to whom allotments shall have been made under the provisions of this act, or under any law or treaty, and every Indian born within the territorial limits of the United States who has voluntarily taken up, within said limits, his residence separate and apart from any tribe of Indians therein, and has adopted the habits of civilized life, is hereby declared to be a citizen of the United States, and is entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of such citizens, whether said Indian has been or not, by birth or otherwise, a member of any tribe of Indians within the territorial limits of the United States without in any manner affecting the right of any such Indian to tribal or other property.
SEC. 10. That nothing in this act contained shall be so construed to affect the right and power of Congress to grant the right of way through any lands granted to an Indian, or a tribe of Indians, for railroads or other highways, or telegraph lines, for the public use, or condemn such lands to public uses, upon making just compensation.
Approved, February, 8, 1887.
Source: United States Statutes at Large © 1997 The Avalon Project. William C. Fray and Lisa A. Spar, Co-Directors.
The Avalon Project : Statutes of the United States Concerning Native Americans was last modified on: Fri Sep 15 13:53:00 2000
"The White Man's Road is Easier!": A Hidatsa Indian Takes up the Ways of the White Man in the Late Nineteenth Century by Edward Goodbird (1914, but about the 1890s and the effects of the Dawes Act of 1887)
Following the passage of the Dawes Act in 1887, which forced Plains Indians to give up communal ways of life for individual family farms, many American Indians struggled to adapt to the new ways of life being dictated to them. But while many suffered under the federal government's attempt to exorcise Indian customs and beliefs some, like Edward Goodbird, a member of the Hidatsa tribe in North Dakota, embraced the new order. In this excerpt from his autobiography, Goodbird describes the often subtle ways in which Indians managed to retain small aspects of their culture.
The time came when we had to forsake our village at Like-a-fish-hook Bend, for the government wanted the Indians to become farmers. "You should take allotments," our agent would say. "The big game is being killed off, and you must plant bigger fields or starve. The government will give you plows and cattle."
All knew that the agent's words were true, and little by little our village was broken up. In the summer of my sixteenth year nearly a third of my tribe left to take up allotments.
We had plenty of land; our reservation was twice the size of Rhode Island, and our united tribes, with the Rees who joined us, were less than thirteen hundred souls. Most of the Indians chose allotments along the Missouri, where the soil was good and drinking water easy to get. Unallotted lands were to be sold and the money given to the three tribes.
Forty miles above our village, the Missouri makes a wide bend around a point called Independence Hill, and here my father and several of his relatives chose their allotments. The bend enclosed a wide strip of meadow land, offering hay for our horses. The soil along the river was rich and in the bottom stood a thick growth of timber.
My father left the village, with my mother and me, in June. He had a wagon, given him by the agent; this he unbolted and took over the river piece by piece, in a bull boat; our horses swam.
We camped at Independence in a tepee, while we busied ourselves building a cabin. My father cut the logs; they were notched at the ends, to lock into one another at the corners. A heavier log, a foot in thickness, made the ridge pole. The roof was of willows and grass, covered with sods.
Cracks between the logs were plastered with clay, mixed with short grass. The floor was of earth, but we had a stove.
We were a month putting up our cabin.
Though my father's coming to Independence was step toward civilization, it had one ill effect: it removed me from the good influences of the mission school, so that for a time I fell back into Indian ways. Winter, also, was not far off; the season was too late for us to plant corn, and the rations issued to us every two weeks rarely lasted more than two or three days. To keep our family in meat, I turned hunter.
There were no buffaloes on the reservation, but blacktailed deer were plentiful, and in the hills were a good many antelopes. I had a Winchester rifle, a 40.60 caliber, and I was a good shot.
To hunt deer, I arose before daylight and went to the woods along the Missouri. Deer feed much at night, and as evening came on, they would leave the thick underbrush by the river and go into the hills to browse on the rich prairie grasses. I would creep along the edge of the woods, rifle in hand, ready to shoot any that I saw coming in from the feeding grounds.
I was careful to keep on the leeward side of the game; a deer running up wind will scent an Indian as quickly as a buffalo.
I loved to hunt, and although a mere boy, I was one of the quickest shots in my tribe. I remember that one morning I was coming around a clump of bushes when I saw a doe and buck ahead, just entering the thicket. I fired, hardly glancing at the sights; I saw the buck fall, but when I ran up I found the doe lying beside him, killed by the same bullet.……
Independence was a wild spot. The hill from which the place took its name had been a favorite fasting place for young men who sought visions; at its foot, under a steep bank, swept the Missouri, full of dangerous whirlpools. Such spots, lonely and wild, we Indians thought were haunts of the spirits.
Once, when I was a small boy, my father took me to see the Sun dance. A man named Turtle-no-head was suspended from a post in a booth, and dancing around it. Turtle-no-head's hands were behind him, and he strained at the rope as he danced. Women were crying, "A-la-la-la-la-la!"Old men were calling out, "Good; Turtle-no-head is a man. One should be willing to suffer to find his god; then he will strike many enemies and win honors!"
I was much stirred by what I saw, and by the old men's words.
"Father," I said, "when I get big, I am going to suffer and seek a vision, like Turtle-no-head!"
"Good!" said my father, laughing.
At Independence, I thought of this vow made years before. One day, I said to my father, "I want you to suspend me from the high bank, over the Missouri."
When evening came, my father stripped me to my clout and moccasins, and helped me paint my body with white clay. He called a man named Crow, and they took me to the bank, over the Missouri. My father fastened me to the rope, and I swung myself over the bank, hanging with my weight upon the rope. "Suffer as long as you can" called my father, and left me.
I did not feel much pain, but I became greatly wearied from the strain upon my back and thighs. Toward morning I could stand it no longer. I drew myself up on the bank, and went home and to bed; and I slept so soundly that no dream came from the spirits.
A year later, I again sought a vision. This time my father took me to a high hill, a mile or two from the river. He drove a post into the ground, fastened me to it, as before, and left me, just at nightfall.
I threw myself back upon the rope and danced around the post, hoping to fall into a swoon and see a vision.
It was autumn, and a light snow was falling; the cold flakes on my bare shoulders made me shiver till my teeth chattered. The night was black as pitch. A coyote howled. I was so lonely that I wished a ghost would sit on the post and talk with me, though I was dreadfully afraid of ghosts, especially at night. I grew so cold that my knees knocked together.
About two o'clock in the morning, I untied the rope and went home. For an hour I felt sick, but I soon fell into a sleep, again dreamless.
I was eating my breakfast when my father came in. "I have seen no vision, father," I told him; he said nothing.
The next year the government forbade the Indians to torture themselves when they fasted. My father was quite vexed. "The government does wrong to forbid us to suffer for our gods!" he said. But I was rather glad. "The Indian's way is hard," I thought. "The white man's road is easier!" And I thought again of the mission school.
Other things drew my thoughts to civilized ways. Our agent issued to every Indian family having an allotment, a plow, and wheat, flax, and oats, for seeding. My father and I broke land near our cabin, and in the spring seeded it down.
We had a fair harvest in the fall. Threshing was done on the agency machine, and, having sacked our grain, my father and I hauled it, in four trips, to Hebron, eighty miles away. Our flax we sold for seventy-five cents, our wheat for sixty cents, and our oats for twenty-five cents a bushel. Our four loads brought us about eighty dollars.
I became greatly interested in farming. There was good soil on our allotment along the river, although our fields sometimes suffered from drought; away from the river, much of our land was stony, fit only for grazing.
My parents had been at Independence eight years, when one day the agent sent for me. I went to his office.
"I hear you have become a good farmer," he said, as I came in. "I want to appoint you assistant to our agency farmer. Your district will include all allotments west of the Missouri between the little Missouri and Independence. I will pay you three hundred dollars a year. Will you accept?"
"I will try what I can do," I answered.
"Good," said the Major. "Now for your orders! You are to measure off for every able-bodied Indian, ten acres of ground to be plowed and seeded. If an Indian is lazy and will not attend to his plowing, report him to me and I will send a policeman. In the fall, you are to see that every family puts up two tons of hay for each horse or steer owned by it."
I did not know what an acre was. "It is a piece of ground," the agent explained, "ten rods wide and sixteen rods long."From this I was able to compute pretty well how much ten acres should be; but I am not sure that all the plots I measured were of the same size.
I began my new duties at once, and at every cabin in my district, I measured off a ten-acre plot and explained the agent's orders. Not a few of the Indians had done some plowing at Like-a-fish-hook village, and all were willing to learn. Once a month, I took a blacksmith around to inspect the Indians' plows.
Rains were abundant that summer, and the Indians had a good crop. Some families harvested a hundred bushels of wheat from a ten-acre field; others, seventy-five bushels; and some had also planted oats.
The government began to issue cattle in payment of lands sold for us. The first issue was one cow to each family, and the agent ordered me to see that every family built a barn.
These barns were put up without planks or nails. A description of my own will show what they were like; it rested on a frame of four forked posts, with stringers laid in the forks; puncheons, or split logs, were leaned against the stringers for walls; rough-cut rafters supported a roofing of willows and dry grass, earthed over with sods.
More cattle were issued to us until we had a considerable herd at Independence. The cattle were let run at large, but each steer or cow was branded by its owner. Calves ran with their mothers until fall; the herd was then corralled and each calf was branded with its mother's brand. My own brand was the letters SU on the right shoulder.
Herders guarded our cattle during the calving season; we paid them ten cents for every head of stock herded through the summer months.
I had been assistant farmer six years and our herd had grown to about four hundred head, when Bird Bear and Skunk, our two herders, reported that some of our cattle had strayed. "We have searched the coulees and thickets, but cannot find them," they said. Branding time came; we corralled the herd and found about fifty head missing.
We now suspected that our cattle had been stolen. Cattle thieves, we knew, were in the country; they had broken into a corral one night, on a ranch not far from Independence and killed a cowboy named Long John.
Winter had passed, when the agent called me one day into his office. "Goodbird," he said, "I want you to take out a party of our agency police and find those thieves who stole your cattle. Start at once!"
I got my party together, eight in all; Hollis Montclair, my boyhood chum; Frank White Calf, Crow Bull, Sam Jones, White Owl, Little Wolf, No Bear, and myself. Only Hollis and I spoke English.
We started toward the Little Missouri, where we suspected the thieves might be found. I drove a wagon with our provisions and tent; my men were mounted. We reached the Little Missouri before nightfall, and camped.
The next morning, we turned westward; before noon, we crossed a prairie dog village, and shot three or four prairie dogs for dinner. The hair was singed off the carcasses, and they were drawn, and spitted on sticks over the fire. Prairie dogs are not bad eating, especially in the open air, by a good wood fire; I have never become so civilized that I would not rather eat out of doors.
Toward evening we met a cowboy. "How!" I called, as I drew in my team. "Have you seen any stray cattle, with Indian brands, ID, 7 bar, 7, or the like?" And I told him of our missing cattle.
"I know where they are," said the cowboy. "You will find them on a ranch near Stroud's post-office; but don't tell who told you!"
"Have no fear," I answered.
Stroud's post-office was further west, near the Montana border; we reached it the third or fourth day out.
We made camp, and after supper, I went in and told Mr. Stroud our errand.
"Yes," he said, "your cattle are three miles from here, on a ranch owned by Frank Powers; he hired two cowboys to steal them for him."
The next morning my men and I mounted, and leaving our wagon at Stroud's, started for Powers' ranch. I was unarmed; the others of my party had their rifles.
We stopped at the cabin of a man named Crockin, to inquire our way. A white man came in; after he had gone out again, I asked Crockin, "Who is that man?"
"He is Frank Powers," said Crockin.
I turned to my men and said in their own language,"That is the man who stole our cattle."
Little Wolf drew his cleaning rod. "I am going to give that bad white man a beating," he cried angrily.
"You will not," I answered. "We will go into Power's pasture and round up his cattle; and I will cut out all that I think are ours. If that bad white man comes out and says evil words against me, do nothing. If he shoots at me, kill him quick; but do not you shoot first!"
My men loaded their rifles, and about two o'clock I led them into the pasture. Powers' cattle were all bunched in a big herd; we drove them to a grassy flat, and I began cutting out those that were ours.
Powers saw us and came out, revolver in hand, and two or three white men joined him. He was so angry that he acted like a mad man; he grew red in the face, talked loud, and swore big oaths; but he did not shoot, for he knew my men would kill him.
I cut about twenty-five head out of the herd, all that I found with altered brands on the right shoulder or thigh. Maybe I took some of Powers' cattle by mistake, but I did not care much.
Powers left us after a while. My men rounded up our cattle, and we drove them back to Stroud's and camped.
After supper, I asked Mr. Stroud to write a letter to our agent, telling him what I had done. "Tomorrow," I told my men, "we will set out for home. You drive our cattle back to the reservation in short stages, so that they will not sicken with the heat. I will go ahead with Mr. Stroud's letter."
I set out before sunrise; at four o'clock I reached Independence, eighty miles away; and at sunset, I was at Elbowoods.
It was Decoration day, and the Indians were having a dance. The agent was sitting in his office with the inspector, from Washington.
"I have found our cattle," I said; and I gave him Mr. Stroud's letter.
He read it and handed it to the inspector.
"Report this matter to the United States marshal,"the inspector said to him. "Tell him to have Powers arrested."
Edward Goodbird, as told to Gilbert L. Wilson, Goodbird the Indian, His Story (1914; reprint, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1985), 55-64.
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