Personal Memoirs Of A Residence Of Thirty Years With The Indian Tribes On The American Frontiers
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
Part 13 out of 15
particular, spoke with a commanding voice and just appreciation on the
subject, which evinced no ordinary mental elevation, purpose
_11th_. George Bancroft, Esq., of Boston, in a letter of this date,
observes: "I can only repeat, what before I have urged on you, to
collect all the materials that can illustrate the language, character
and origin of the natives, and the early settlement of the French." The
encouragement I receive from my literary and scientific friends, and
which has been continued these many years, is, indeed, of a character
which is calculated to stimulate to new exertions, although the love for
such exertions pre-exists. I do not know that I shall live to make use
of the materials I collect, or that I have the capacity to digest and
employ them; but if not, they may be useful in the hands of
_16th_. Office of Indian Affairs, Michilimackinack. On returning from
Grand River, I observed a continuation of the misrepresentations begun
last winter, respecting the Indian policy and proceedings of the
Department. A ground for these misconceptions, and in some things,
perversions, arose from the _goods' offer_ for the half annuity, made in
1837. This offer being rejected by the Michigan Indians, was renewed to
those of Wisconsin, and accepted by the Menomonies of Green Bay. Traders
and merchants who were expecting the usual payments of cash annuities to
the Indians, were sorely disappointed by finding a single tribe in the
lake country paid in merchandise. The policy itself was a bad one, and
denoted the inexperience and consequent unfitness of Mr. Carey A. Harris
for the post of Commissioner of Indian Affairs at Washington. I
anticipated the storm it would raise on the frontiers, and, when the
project was transmitted to me, did not attempt to influence my Indians
(the Michigan Indians) to accept or reject it, but left it entirely to
their own judgments, after appointing two honest men to show the goods
and state the prices. A less impartial course appears to have been
pursued at Green Bay, where this policy of the "goods offer" of 1837 was
loudly called in question. I had shielded the tribes under my care from
it, and should have had credit for it from all honest and candid men,
but finding no disposition in some quarters to discriminate, I
immediately, on reaching home, sat down and wrote a plain and clear
statement of the affair for the public press, and having thus satisfied
my sense of justice and truth, left others, who had acted wholly out of
my jurisdiction and influence, to vindicate themselves. J.W. Edmonds,
Esq., and Maj. John Garland, who had been chief actors in the matter,
did so. But it seemed like talking against a whirlwind. The whole action
of this offer, on the Michigan Indians, _was to postpone, by their own
consent_, the payment of the half annuity in coin one year.
The Grand River Indians declined to come to Mackinack, the place
specially named in the treaty, to receive their half annuity, in
consequence of which, it was not practicable to send it to them till the
next spring. I paid it myself on the 5th of June, 1848, in silver. Yet
the rumor of gross injustice to the Indians only gained force as it
spread. The Grand River memorialists made "nuts" of it, and General Jim
Wilson wielded it for my benefit, in his classical stump speeches in New
Hampshire. I had carefully shielded my Indians from a cent's loss, yet
my name was pitched into the general condemnation, like the thirteenth
biscuit in a baker's dozen. Nothing rolls up so fast as a lie, when once
[Footnote 86: Harris felt disobliged by my independence of action
respecting the "goods offer." He had, in fact, been overreached by a
noted commercial house, who dealt heavily in Indian goods in New York,
who sold him the goods on credit; but who actually collected the
_specie_ from the western land offices, on public drafts, before the
year expired. He vented this pique officially, by suspending my report
of Oct. 18th, 1837, on the debt claims against the Indians, finally
_assumed_ powers in relation to them, directly subversive of the
principles of the treaty of March 28th, 1836, which had been negotiated
by me, and referred them for revision to a more supple agent of his
wishes at New York, who had been one of the efficient actors in the
"goods offer" at Green Bay, Wisconsin, as above detailed.]
Missions--Hard times, consequent on over-speculation--Question of the
rise of the lakes--Scientific theory--Trip to Washington--Trip to Lake
Superior and the Straits of St. Mary--John Tanner--Indian improvements
north of Michilimackinack--Great cave--Isle Nabiquon--Superstitious
ideas of the Indians connected with females--Scotch
royals--McKenzie--Climate of the United States--Foreign coins and
natural history--Antique fort in Adams County, Ohio--Royal Society of
Northern Antiquaries--Statistics of lands purchased from the
Indians--Sun's eclipse--Government payments.
1838. _June 18th_. W. Lowrie, Esq., Missionary Rooms, N.Y., announces
the sending of an agent to explore the missionary field, which it is
proposed to occupy by the Presbyterian Board, in the region of Lake
Michigan, bespeaking my friendly offices to the agent.
The plethora of success which has animated every department of life and
business, puffing them up like gas in a balloon, since about '35 has
departed and left the fiscal system perfectly flaccid and lifeless. The
rage for speculation in real estate has absorbed all loose cash, and the
country is now groaning for its fast-locked circulating medium. A friend
at Detroit writes: "With fifty thousand dollars of productive real
estate in the city, and as much more in stocks and mortgages, I am
absolutely in want of small sums to pay my current expenses, and to rid
myself of the mortification produced by this feeling I am prepared to
make almost any sacrifice."
_27th_. Received a communication from the chief engineer of the New York
canal (Alfred Barrett, Esq.) on the subject of the rise of water in the
lakes. "A question of considerable importance," he says, "has arisen in
our State Legislature, in relation to the rise of water in Lake Erie.
The lake has been gradually increasing in its height for the last ten
years, and has gained an elevation of four feet above that of 1826. The
inhabitants along the shores of the lake as far as Detroit, upon both
sides, and many throughout our State, have been led to attribute this
increase to the erection of the State and the United States pier at the
outlet of the lake, opposite Black Rock, which presents an obstruction
to the action of the river. But this evidently is not the only cause of
the rise of the lake, for, by observation, we find the Niagara River
below the dam, and the surface of Lake Ontario, to have increased in the
same ratio in the same time. Lake Ontario is four feet higher than it
was in 1826.
"Our Legislature has called for information on the subject. And for many
important facts we shall be indebted to the goodness of persons residing
or acquainted at the places where they may exist. The canal
commissioners of the State have desired me to communicate with you,
desiring such data as you may have in your possession relevant to the
subject. And we are induced to trouble you for information respecting
the condition of the water in Lake Superior and other western waters,
believing that your extensive acquaintance and close observation in that
region have put you in possession of facts which will enable you to
determine, with a degree of accuracy, the fluctuations of these waters,
and their present increased or diminished height, as well as to trace
some of the causes which have an influence in producing the results that
are experienced in the rise and fall of the lakes."
This rise and fall is found to be concurrent in volume and time in the
whole series of lake basins, and is not at all influenced by artificial
constructions. It is believed to be dependent on the annual fall of
water, on the water sheds of the lake basins, and the comparative
evaporation caused by the annual diffusion of solar heat during the same
periods. Nothing less than the accumulation of facts to illustrate these
general laws, for considerable periods of time, will, it is believed,
philosophically account for the phenomena. Tables of solar heat, rain
guages, and scientific measures, to determine the fall of snow over the
large continental era of the whole series of basins, are, therefore, the
scientific means that should be employed before we can theorize
properly. As to periodical rises, actually observed, they are believed
to be the very measure of these phenomena, namely, the fall of
atmospheric moisture, and the concurrent intensity of solar heat
_between the unknown periods of the rise_.
The fluctuations in Lake Michigan and the Straits of Michilimackinack
are capable of being accounted for on a separate theory, namely, the
theory of lake winds.
_4th July_. Letters from Detroit show that the political agitations
respecting Canada still continue. One correspondent remarks: "The fourth
of July passed off here with more _apparent_ patriotic feeling than I
have ever known before. Canada is still across the river--the
_pat-riots_ have not yet removed any part of it; they are, however,
Another says: "Times look troublesome, but I am in hopes that it will
all blow over and peace continue, which should be the earnest wish of
_23d_. Public business calling me to Washington, I left Mackinack late
in June, and, pushing day and night, reached that city on the 9th of
July. The day of my arrival was a hot one, and, during our temporary
stop in the cars between the Relay House and Bladensburg, some
pickpocket eased me of my pocket-book, containing a treasury-note for
$50, about $60 in bills, and sundry papers. The man must have been a
genteel and well-dressed fellow, for I conversed with none other, and
very adroit at his business. I did not discover my loss till reaching
the hotel, and all inquiry was then fruitless. After four days I again
set out for the North in an immense train of cars, having half of
Congress aboard, as they had just adjourned, and reached Mackinack about
the tenth day's travel. This was a toilsome trip, the whole journey to
the seat of government and back, say 2,000 miles, being made in some
twenty-five days, all stops inclusive.
_31st_. I set out this day from Mackinack in a boat for Lake Superior
and the Straits of St. Mary, for the purpose of estimating the value of
the Indian improvements North, under the eighth art. of the treaty of
March 28th, 1836. The weather being fine, and anticipating no high winds
at this season, I determined, as a means of health and recreation, to
take Mrs. S. and her niece, Julia, a maid, and the children along,
having tents and every camping apparatus to make the trip a pleasant
one. My boat was one of the largest and best of those usually employed
in the trade, manned with seven rowers and provided with a mast and
sails. An awning was prepared to cover the centre-bar, which was
furnished with seats made of our rolled-up beds. Magazines, a
spy-glass, &c., &c., served to while away the time, and a
well-furnished mess-basket served to make us quite easy in that
department. At Sault St. Marie I took on board Mr. Placidus Ord to keep,
the record of appraisements.
While here, the notorious John Tanner, who had been on very ill terms
with the civilized world for many years--for no reason, it seems, but
that it would not support him in idleness--this man, whose thoughts were
bitter and suspicious of every one, followed me one day unperceived into
a canoe-house, where I had gone alone to inspect a newly-made canoe. He
began to talk after his manner, when, lifting my eyes to meet his
glance, I saw mischief evidently in their cold, malicious, bandit air,
and, looking him determinedly in the eyes, instantly raising my heavy
walking-cane, confronted him with the declaration of his secret purpose
with a degree of decision of tone and manner which caused him to step
back out of the open door and leave the premises. I was perfectly
surprised at his dastardly movement, for I had supposed him before to be
a brave man, and I heard or saw no more of him while there.
[Footnote 87: Eight years afterwards, namely, in July, 1846, this lawless
vagabond waylaid and shot my brother James, having concealed himself in
a cedar thicket.]
Tanner was stolen by old Kishkako, the Saginaw, from Kentucky, when he
was a boy of about nine years old. He is now a gray-headed,
hard-featured old man, whose feelings are at war with every one on
earth, white and red. Every attempt to meliorate his manners and Indian
notions, has failed. He has invariably misapprehended them, and is more
suspicious, revengeful, and bad tempered than any Indian I ever knew.
Dr. James, who made, by the way, a mere pack-horse of Indian opinions of
him, did not suspect his fidelity, and put many things in his narrative
which made the whites about St. Mary's call him an old liar. This
enraged him against the Doctor, whom he threatened to kill. He had
served me awhile as an interpreter, and, while thus employed, he went to
Detroit, and was pleased with a country girl, who was a chambermaid at
old Ben. Woodworth's hotel. He married her, but, after having one child,
and living with him a year, she was glad to escape with life, and, under
the plea of a visit, made some arrangement with the ladies of Fort Brady
to slip off, on board of a vessel, and so eluded him. The Legislature
afterwards granted her a divorce. He blamed me for the escape, though I
was entirely ignorant of its execution, and knew nothing of it, till it
In this trip to the North, I called on the Indians to show me their old
fields and gardens at every point.
It was found that there were _eight_ geographical bands, consisting of
separate villages, living on the ceded tract. The whole population of
these did not exceed, by a close count, 569 souls. The population had
evidently deteriorated from the days of the French and British rule,
when game was abundant. This was the tradition they gave, and was proved
by the comparatively large old fields, not now in cultivation,
particularly at Portagunisee, at various points on the Straits of St.
Mary's, and at Grand Island and its coasts on Lake Superior.
They cultivate chiefly, the potato, and retire in the spring to certain
points, where the _Acer saccharinum_ abounds, and all rely on the
quantity of maple sugar made. This is eaten by all, and appears to have
a fattening effect, particularly on the children. The season of
sugar-making is indeed a sort of carnival, at which there is general joy
and hilarity. The whole number of acres found in cultivation by
individuals, was 125-1/2 acres; and by bands, and in common, 100-3/4
acres, which would give an average of a little over 1/3 of an acre per
soul. Even this is thought high. There were 1459 acres of old fields,
partly run up in brush. There were also 3162 acres of abandoned village
sites, where not a soul lived. I counted 27 dwellings which had a
fixity, and nineteen apple trees in the forest. In proportion as they
had little, they set a high value on it, and insisted on showing
everything, and they gave me a good deal of information. The whole sum
appraised to individuals was $3,428 25; and to collective bands, $11,173
While off the mural coast of the Pictured Rocks, the lake was perfectly
calm, and the wind hushed. I directed the men to row in to the cave or
opening of the part where the water has made the most striking inroad
upon the solid coast. This coast is a coarse sandstone, easily
disintegrated. I doubted if the oarsmen could enter without pulling in
their oars. But nothing seemed easier when we attempted it. They, in
fact, rowed us, in a few moments, masts standing, into a most
extraordinary and gigantic cave, under the loftiest part of the coast.
I thought of the rotunda in the Capitol at Washington, as giving some
idea of its vastness, but nothing of its dark and sombre appearance; its
vast side arches, and the singular influence of the light beaming in
from the open lake. I took out my note-book and drew a sketch of this
very unique view.
[Footnote 88: See Ethnological Researches, vol. i., plate xliv.]
The next day the calmness continued on the lake, and I took advantage of
it to visit the dimly seen island in the lake, off Presque Isle and
Granite Point, called _Nabikwon_ by the Indians, from the effects of
mirage. Its deep volcanic chasms, and upheaved rocks, tell a story of
mighty elemental conflicts in the season of storms; but it did not
reward me with much in the way of natural history, except in geological
_Aug. 7th_. The Chippewas have some strange notions. Articles which have
been stepped over by Indian females are considered unclean, and are
condemned by the men. Great aversion is shown by the females at finding
hairs drawn out by the comb, which they roll up, and, making a hole in
the ashes, bury.
Indian females never go before a man: they never walk in front in the
path, or cross in front of the place where a sachem is sitting.
A man will never eat out of the same dish with a woman. The
lodge-separation, at the period of illness, is universally observed,
where the original manners have not been broken down. If she have no
barks, or apukwas to make a separate lodge, a mere booth or bower of
branches is made near by.
_10th_. Mrs. Deborah Schoolcraft Johnson died at Albany, aged fifty-four
years. The father of this lady (John McKenzie, usually called McKenny)
was a native of Scotland, and served with credit in the regiment of
Royal Highlanders, before the Revolutionary War, of whose movements he
kept a journal. He was present during the siege of Fort Niagara, in
1759, witnessed the death of Gen. Prideau, and participated in the
capture of the works, under Sir William Johnson. He was also engaged in
the movements of Gen. Bradstreet, to relieve the fort of Detroit from
the hosts brought against it by Pontiac and his confederates three or
four years after. He settled, after the war, as a merchant at Anthony's
Nose, on the Mohawk, where he was surprised, his store and
dwelling-house pillaged, and himself scalped. He recovered from this, as
the blow he received had only been stunning, and the copious bleeding,
as is usual in such cases, had soon restored consciousness. He then
settled at Albany, a place of comparative safety, and devoted himself in
old age to instruction. He left a numerous family. His son John, who
embraced the medical profession, became a distinguished man in
Washington County (N.Y.), where his science, as a practitioner, and his
talents as a politician, rendered him alike eminent. But he embraced the
politics of Burr, a man whose talents he admired, when that erratic man
ran for Governor of the State, and shortly after died. Five daughters
married respectable individuals in the county, all of whom have left
families. Of such threads of genealogy is the base of society in all
parts of America composed. One of her granddaughters, now living in
Paris, is a lady entitled to respect, on various accounts. Deborah,
whose death is announced, married in early life, as her first husband,
John Schoolcraft, Jr., Esq., a most gifted son of one of the actors and
patriots of the revolution--a man who was engaged in one of its earliest
movements; who shared its deepest perils, and lived long to enjoy its
triumphs. The early death of this object of her choice, induced her in
after years to contract a second marriage with an enterprising son of
Massachusetts (R. Johnson), with whom she migrated to Detroit. Death
here again, in a few years, left her free to rejoin her relatives in
Albany, where, at last at ease in her temporal affairs, she finally fell
a victim to consumption, at a not very advanced age, meeting her death
with the calmness and preparedness of a Christian.
"As those we love decay, we die in part."
_25th_. Returned to Michilimackinack, at a quarter past one o'clock,
A.M., from my trip to the north, for the appraisal of the Indian
_31st_. According to observations kept, the average temperature of the
month of August (lat. 42 deg.) was 69.16 degrees. Last year the average
temperature of the same month was sixty-five degrees. The average
temperature of the entire summer of 1838 was 70.85; while that of the
summer of 1837 was but 65.48. Our lakes must sink with such a
temperature, if the comparative degree of heat has been kept up in the
upper lakes during the year.
_Sept. 4th_. Troops arrive at Fort Mackinack to attend the payments.
An officer of the army, who has spent a year or so in Florida, and has
just returned to Michigan, says: "I have seen much that was well worth
seeing, am much wiser than I was before, and am all the better contented
with a lot midway of the map. The climate of Florida, during the winter,
was truly delicious, but the summers, a part of one of which I saw and
felt, are uncomfortable, perhaps more so than our winters. This puts the
scales even, if, it do not incline the balance in our favor. The summer
annoyances of insects, &c., are more than a counterbalance for our ice
and snow, especially when we can rectify their influences by a
_6th_. A literary friend in Paris writes: "I send a box to Detroit
to-day, to the address of Mr. Trowbridge. It contains, for you, upwards
of 200 coins, among which is one Chinese, and the rest ancient. You must
busy yourself in arranging and deciphering them. I send you, also, some
specimens, one from the catacombs of Paris, others from the great
excavations of Maestricht, where such large antediluvian remains have
been found, also relics from the field of Waterloo. The petrifactions
are from Mount Lebanon."
Mr. Palfrey writes in relation to the expected notice of Stone's
"Brant," but my engagements have not permitted me to write a line on
_10th_. Dr. John Locke, of Ohio, announces the discovery in Adams
County, in that State, of the remains of an antique fort, supposed to be
600 years old. It is on a plateau 500 feet above Brush Creek, and is
estimated at 800 to 1000 feet above the Ohio at low water. It is covered
by soil, forest, and trees. Some of the trees in the vicinity are
twenty-one feet in diameter. He infers the age from a large chestnut in
the enclosure. His data would give A.D. 1238, as the date of the
abandonment. We must approach the subject of our western antiquities
with great care and not allow hasty and warm fancies to run away
_12th_. A communication from Mr. Rafn informs me that the Royal Society
of Antiquaries of Copenhagen, Denmark, have honored me by enrolling my
name as one of its members.
_12th_. Congress publishes a statement submitted by the Indian Bureau,
showing, 1. That upwards of fifty treaties have been concluded with
various tribes since Jan. 1, 1830, for their removal to the west, in
accordance with the principles of the organic act of May 28th, 1830. 2.
That by these treaties 109,879,937 acres of land have been acquired. 3.
That the probable value of this land to the United States is
$137,349,946. 4. That the total cost of these cessions, including the
various expenses of carrying the treaties into effect, is $70,059,505.
_13th_. Major Chancy Bush, Assistant to Major Garland, the Disbursing
Agent, arrives with funds to make the annuity payments.
_14th_. The Cherokees West, meet in general council to consult on their
affairs, and adopt some measures preparatory to the arrival of the
eastern body of the nation. John Ridge, a chief of note of the Cherokees
West, states, that this meeting is entirely pacific--entirely
deliberative--and by no means of a hostile character, as has been
_18th_. The obscurity which attends an Indian's power of ratiocination
may be judged of by the following claim, verbally made to me and
supported by some bit of writing, this day, by Gabriel Muccutapenais, an
Ottawa chief of L'Arbre Croche. He states that, at one time, a trader
took from him forty beavers; at another, thirty beavers and bears; at
another, ten beavers, and at another, thirty beavers, and four carcasses
of beavers, for all which he received no pay, although promised it. He
also served as a clerk or sub-trader for a merchant, for which he was to
have received $500, and never received a cent. He requests the President
of the United States to pay for all these things. On inquiry, the skins
were hunted, and the service rendered, and the wrong received at
Athabasca Lake, in the Hudson's Bay Territory, when he was a young man.
He is now about sixty-six years old.
_18th_. The sun's eclipse took place, and was very plainly visible to
the naked eye, agreeably to the calculation for its commencement and
termination. I took the occasion of its termination (four o'clock, fifty
minutes) to set my watch by astronomical time.
_18th_. The Indian payments were completed by Major Bush this day. These
payments included the full annuity for 1838, and the deferred half
annuity for 1837, making a total of $47,000, which was paid in coin
The whole number of Indians on the pay rolls this year amounted to
4,872, of whom 1,197 were in the Grand River Valley. Last year they
numbered, in all, 4,561, denoting an increase of 311. This increase,
however, is partly due to emigrations from the south, and partly to
imperfect counts last season, and but partially to the increase of
_births_ over _deaths_. The annuity divided $12 57 on the North, $22 50
in the Middle, or Thunder Bay district, and $11 50 on the Southern pay
list. The Indians requested that these _per capita_ divisions might be
equalized, but the terms in the treaty itself create the geographical
Descendant of one spared at the massacre of St. Bartholomew's--Death of
Gen. Clarke--Massacre of Peurifoy's family in Florida--Gen. Harrison's
historical discourse--Death of an emigrant on board a steamboat--Murder
of an Indian--History of Mackinack--Incidents of the treaty of 29th
July, 1837--Mr. Fleming's account of the missionaries leaving
Georgia, and of the improvements of the Indians west--Death
of Black Hawk--Incidents of his life and character--Dreadful
cruelty of the Pawnees in burning a female captive--Cherokee
emigration--Phrenology--Return to Detroit--University--Indian
affairs--Cherokee removal--Indians shot at Fort Snelling.
1838. _Sept. 20th_, COUNT CASTLENEAU, a French gentleman on his travels
in America, brings me a note of introduction from a friend. I was
impressed with his suavity of manners, and the interest he manifested in
natural history, and furnished him some of our characteristic northern
specimens in mineralogy. I understood him to say, in some familiar
conversation, that he was the descendant of a child saved accidentally
at the memorable massacre of St. Bartholomew's; and suppose, of course,
that he is of Protestant parentage.
_21st_. The St. Louis papers are dressed in mourning, on account of the
death of Gen. William Clarke. Few men have acted a more distinguished
part in the Indian history of the country. He was widely known and
respected by the Indians on the prairies, who sent in their delegations
to him with all the pomp and pride of so many eastern Rajahs. Gen.
Clarke was, I believe, the second territorial governor of Missouri, an
office which he held until it became a state, when Congress provided the
office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs for him. He contributed
largely, by his enterprise and knowledge, to the prosperity of the west.
The expedition which he led, in conjunction with Capt. Meriwether Lewis,
across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, in 1805 and 1806, first
opened the way to the consideration of its resources and occupancy.
Without that expedition, Oregon would have been a foreign province.
_24th_. Letters from Florida indicate the war with the Seminoles to be
lingering, without reasonable expectation of bringing it soon to a
close. Etha Emathla, however, the chief of the Tallasees, is daily
expected to come in, his children being already arrived, and he has
promised to bring in his people.
But what a war of details, which are harassing to the troops, whose
action is paralyzed in a maze of swamps and morasses; and how many
scenes has it given birth to which are appalling to the heart! A recent
letter from a Mr. T.D. Peurifoy, Superintendent of the Alachua Mission,
describes a most shocking murder in his own family, communicated to him
at first by letter:--
"It informed me," he says, "that the Indians had murdered my family! I
set out for home, hoping that it might not prove as bad as the letter
stated; but, O my God, it is even worse! My precious children, Corick,
Pierce and Elizabeth, were killed and burned up in the house. My dear
wife was stabbed, shot, and stamped, seemingly to death, in the yard.
But after the wretches went to pack up their plunder, she revived and
crawled off from the scene of death, to suffer a thousand deaths during
the dreadful night which she spent alone by the side of a pond, bleeding
at four bullet holes and more than half a dozen stabs--three deep gashes
to the bone on her head and three stabs through the ribs, besides a
number of small cuts and bruises. She is yet living; and O, help me to
pray that she may yet live! My negroes lay dead all about the yard and
woods, and my everything else burned to ashes."
_Oct. 1st_. Mr. Palfrey, Editor of the _North American Review_, requests
me (Sept. 20th) to notice Gen. Harrison's late discourse on the
aboriginal history, delivered before the Ohio Historical Society. The
difficulty in all these cares is to steer clear of some objectional
theory. To the General, the Delawares have appeared to play the
key-note. But it has not fallen to his lot, while bearing a
distinguished part in Indian affairs in the west, to examine their
ancient history with much attention.
The steamer Madison arrived with a crowd of emigrants for the west, one
of whom had died on the passage from Detroit. It proved to be a young
man named Jesse Cummings, from Groton, N.H., a member of the
Congregational Church of that place. Having no pastor, I conducted the
religious observance of the funeral, and selected a spot for his burial,
in a high part of the Presbyterian burial ground, towards the N.E.,
where a few loose stones are gathered to mark the place.
_2d_. Wakazo, a chief, sent to tell me that an Ottawa Indian,
Ishquondaim's son, had killed a Chippewa called Debaindung, of Manistee
River. Both had been drinking. I informed him that an Indian killing an
Indian on a reserve, where the case occurred, which is still "Indian
country," did not call for the interposition of our law. Our criminal
Indian code, which is defective, applies only to the murder of white men
killed in the Indian country. So that justice for a white man and an
Indian is weighed in two scales.
_3d_. Mrs. Therese Schindler, a daughter of a former factor of the N.W.
Company at Mackinack, visited the office. I inquired her age. She
replied 63, which would give the year 1775 as her birth. Having lived
through a historical era of much interest, on this island, and
possessing her faculties unimpaired, I obtained the following facts from
her. The British commanding officers remembered by her were Sinclair,
Robinson, and Doyle. The interpreters acting under them, extending to a
later period, were Charles Gothier, Lamott, Charles Chabollier, and John
Asken. The first interpreter here was Hans, a half-breed, and father to
the present chief Ance, of Point St. Ignace. His father had been a
Hollander, as the name implies. Longlade was the interpreter at old Fort
Mackinack, on the main, at the massacre. She says she recollects the
transference of the post to the island. If so, that event could not have
happened, so as to be recollected by her, till about 1780. Asken went
along with the British troops on the final surrender of the island to
the Americans in 1796, and returned in the surprise and taking of the
island in 1812.
_5th_. Finished my report on a resolution of Congress of March 19th
respecting the interference of the British Indian Department in the
Indian affairs of the frontier. The treaty of Ghent terminated the war
between Great Britain and the United States, but it did not terminate
the feelings and spirit with which the Indian tribes had, from the fall
of their French power regarded them.
Mr. Warren (Lyman M.), of La Pointe, Lake Superior, visited the office.
Having been long a trader in the north, and well acquainted with Indian
affairs in that quarter, I took occasion to inquire into the
circumstances of the cession of the treaty of the 29th of July, 1837,
and asked him why it was that so little had been given for so large a
cession, comprehending the very best lands of the Chippewas in the
Mississippi Valley. He detailed a series of petty intrigues by the St.
Peter's agent, who had flattered two of the Pillager chiefs, and loaded
them with new clothes and presents. One of these, Hole-in-the-Day, came
down twenty days before the time. The Pillagers, in fact, made the
treaty. The bands of the St. Croix and Chippewa Rivers, who really lived
on the land and owned it, had, in effect, no voice. So with respect to
the La Pointe Indians. He stated that Gen. Dodge really knew nothing of
the fertility and value of the country purchased, having never set foot
on it. Governor Dodge thought the tract chiefly valuable for its pine,
and natural mill-power; and there was no one to undeceive him. He had
been authorized to offer $1,300; but the Chippewas managed badly--they
knew nothing of _thousands_, or how the annuity would divide among so
many, and were, in fact, cowed down by the braggadocia of the flattered
Pillager war chief, Hole-in-the-Day.
Mr. Warren stated that the _Lac Courtorielle_ band had not united in the
sale, and would not attend the payment of the annuities; nor would the
St. Croix and Lac du Flambeau Indians. He said the present of $19,000
would not exceed a breech-cloth and a pair of leggins apiece. I have not
the means of testing these facts, but have the highest confidence in the
character, sense of justice, and good natural judgment of Gov. Dodge. He
may have been ill advised of some facts. The Pillagers certainly do not,
I think, as a band, own or occupy a foot of the soil east of the
Mississippi below Sandy Lake, but their warlike character has a sensible
influence on those tribes, quite down to the St. Croix and Chippewa
Rivers. The sources of these rivers are valuable only for their
pineries, and their valleys only become fertile below their falls and
From Mr. Warren's statements, the sub-agencies of Crow-wing River and La
Pointe have been improperly divided by a _longitudinal_ instead of a
_latitudinal_ line, by which it happens that the St. Croix and Chippewa
River Indians are required to travel from 200 to 350 miles up the
Mississippi, by all its falls and rapids, to Crow-wing River, to get
their pay. The chief, Hole-in-the-Day, referred to, was one of the most
hardened, blood-thirsty wretches of whom I have ever heard. Mr. Aitkin,
the elder, told me that having once surprised and killed a Sioux family,
the fellow picked up a little girl, who had fled from the lodge, and
pitched her into the Mississippi. The current bore her against a point
of land. Seeing it, the hardened wretch ran down and again pushed
_8th_. The Rev. Mr. Fleming and the Rev. Mr. Dougherty arrived as
missionaries under the Presbyterian Board at New York. Mr. Fleming
stated that he had been one of the expelled missionaries from the Creek
country, Georgia. That he had labored four years there, under the
American Board of Commissioners, and had learned the Creek language so
as to preach in it, by first _writing_ his discourse. The order to have
the missionaries quit the Creek country was given by Capt. Armstrong
(now Act. Supt. Western Territory), who then lived at the Choctaw
agency, sixty miles off, and was sudden and unexpected. He went to see
him for the purpose of refuting the charges, but found Gen. Arbuckle
there, as acting agent, who told him that, in Capt. Armstrong's absence,
he had nothing to do but to enforce the order.
Mr. Fleming said that he had since been in the Indian country, west, in
the region of the Osage, &c., and spoke highly in favor of the fertility
of the country, and the advanced state of the Indians who had emigrated.
He said the belt of country immediately west of Missouri State line, was
decidedly the richest in point of natural fertility in the region. That
there was considerable wood on the streams, and of an excellent kind,
namely: hickory, hackberry, cottonwood, cypress, with blackjack on the
hills, which made excellent fire-wood.
As an instance of the improvement made by the Indians in their removal,
he said that the first party of Creeks who went west, immediately after
Mackintosh's Treaty, were the most degraded Indians in Georgia; but that
recently, on the arrival of the large body of Creeks at the west, they
found their brethren in the possession of every comfort, and decidedly
superior to them. He said that the Maumee Ottawas, so besotted in their
habits on leaving Ohio, had already improved; were planting; had given
up drink, and listened to teachers of the Gospel. He spoke of the
Shawnese as being in a state of enviable advancement, &c.
_11th_. First frost at Mackinack for the season.
A friend at Detroit writes: "The Rev. Mr. Duffield (called as pastor
here) preached last Sabbath. In the morning, when he finished, there was
scarce a dry eye in the house. He excels in the pathetic--his voice and
whole manner being suited to that style. He is clear-headed, and has
considerable power of illustration, though different from Mr.
Cleaveland. I like him much on first hearing."
_13th_. Finished grading and planting trees in front of the dormitory.
_12th_. The _Iowa Gazette_ mentions the death of Black Hawk, who was
buried, agreeably to his own request, by being placed on the surface of
the earth, in a sitting posture, with his cane clenched in his hands.
His body was then enclosed with palings, and the earth filled in. This
is said to be the method in which Sac chiefs are usually buried. The
spectacle of his sepulchre was witnessed by many persons who were
anxious to witness the last resting place of a man who had made so much
noise and disturbance.
He was 71 years of age, having, by his own account, published in 1833,
been born in the Sac village on Rock River, in 1767--the year of the
death of Pontiac. In his indomitable enmity to the (_American type of
the_) Anglo-Saxon race, he was animated with the spirit of this
celebrated chief, and had some of his powers of combination. His strong
predilections for the British Government were undoubtedly fostered by
the annual visits of his tribe to the depot of Malden. His denial of the
authority of the men who, in 1804, sold the Sac and Fox country, east of
the Mississippi, may have had the sanction of his own judgment, but
without it he would have found it no difficult matter to hatch up a
cause of war with the United States. That war seems to have been brooded
over many years: it had been the subject of innumerable war messages to
the various tribes, a large number of whom had favored his views. And
when it broke out in the spring of 1832, the suddenness of the movement,
the great cruelties of the onset, and the comparatively defenceless
state of the frontier, gave it all its alarming power. As soon as the
army could be got to the frontiers, and the Indian force brought to
action, the contest was over. The battle of the Badaxe annihilated his
forces, and he was carried a prisoner to Washington. But he was more to
be respected and pitied than blamed. His errors were the result of
ignorance, and none of the cruelties of the war were directly chargeable
to him. He was honest in his belief--honest in the opinion that the
country east of the Mississippi had been unjustly wrested from him; and
there is no doubt but the trespasses and injuries received from the
reckless frontier emigrants were of a character that provoked
retaliation. He has been compared, in some things, to Pontiac. Like him,
he sought to restore his people to a position and rights, which he did
not perceive were inevitably lost. He possessed a degree of intellectual
vigor and decision of character far beyond the mass, and may be regarded
as one of the principal minds of the Indians of the first half of the
_15th_. A letter of this date from Council Bluffs, describes a most
shocking and tragic death of a Sioux girl, of only fourteen years of
age, who was sacrificed to the spirit of corn, by the Pawnees, on the
22d of February last. For this purpose she was placed on a foot-rest,
between two trees, about two feet apart, and raised above the ground,
just high enough to have a torturing fire built under her feet. Here she
was held by two warriors, who mounted the rest beside her, and who
applied lighted splinters under her arms. At a given signal a hundred
arrows were let fly, and her whole body was pierced. These were
immediately withdrawn, and her flesh cut from her bones in small pieces,
which were put into baskets, and carried into the corn-field, where the
grain was being planted, and the blood squeezed out in each hill.
CHEROKEE EMIGRATION.--A letter from Gen. Scott of this date, to the
Governor of Georgia, states that, of the two parties of Cherokees, or
those who are for and against the treaty of New Echota, only about five
hundred (including three hundred and seventy-sixty Creeks) remain east
of the Mississippi, and of the anties a little over five thousand souls.
About two thousand five hundred of these had been emigrated in June,
when the emigration was suspended on account of sickness. An arrangement
was made in the month of September, by which John Ross was, in effect,
constituted the contractor for the removal of the remainder (twelve
thousand five hundred) of his people.
_16th_. Mr. J. Toulmin Smith, the phrenologist, of Boston, writes: "I
perfectly concur with you in your remarks on the _minor details_ of
phrenology. They have hitherto been loose and vague, but though at first
sight they seem _minor_, they will be found, in truth, of great
importance to the thorough elucidation and application of the subject.
"The Indian tribes do, indeed, present most interesting subjects for
examination, and it is an anxious wish of my mind to be able to examine
them thoroughly (per crania), and also to compare them with the crania
found in their ancient burial-places, supposed to be the remnants of an
anterior race. Not only will this throw light on their history, but it
will do so also on those 'minor' but most interesting points, to the
elucidation of which my attention has been, and is particularly
directed. I should be exceedingly happy to be able to compare also one
or two _female_ Indian skulls with the males of the same tribe. The
females, I presume, may be easily recognized phrenologically; it may be
done with facility by the large philoprogenitiveness, and the smaller
general size of the head."
_22d_. Rumor says that Mr. Harris, Com. Indian Affairs, had entered into
land speculations in Arkansas, which led Mr. Van Buren to call for a
report, which, being made, the President returned it with the pithy and
laconic endorsement "unsatisfactory," whereupon Mr. H. tendered his
resignation. Rumor also says, that Mr. T. Hartley Crawford, of
Pennsylvania, is appointed in his stead. This gentleman is represented
to be a person of some ability; an old black-letter lawyer, but a man
who is apt to lose sight of main questions in the search after
technicalities. They say he is very opinionated and dogmatical;
personally unacquainted with the character of the Indians, and the
geography of the western country, and not likely, therefore, to be very
ready or practical in the administrative duties of the office. Time must
test this, and time sometimes agreeably disappoints us.
_29th_. I reached Detroit this day, with my family, in the new steamer
"Illinois," having had a pleasant passage, for the season, from
Mackinack. The style of the lake steamboats is greatly improved within
the last few years, and one of the first-class boats bears no slight
resemblance to a floating parlor, where every attention and comfort is
promptly provided. He must be fastidious, indeed, who is not pleased.
_31st_. Col. Whiting called at my office to get the loan of an
elementary work on conchology. Dr. Pitcher stated that the Board of
Regents of the University of Michigan had adopted a plan of buildings to
be erected at Ann Arbor. Four Saginaw delegates are sent in by Ogema
Kegido, to ascertain the time and place of their annuity payments.
_Nov. 4th_. The Regents of the University of Michigan adopt resolutions
respecting the establishment of branches in the counties, which are
apprehended to be rather in advance of their means; but the measure is
stated to be popular.
_3d_. Mr. James Lawrence Schoolcraft, the acting agent of Indian Affairs
at Michilimackinack, writes respecting the additional claim of the
estate of John Johnston, an Irish gentleman of the upper country, whose
name is mentioned in a prior part of these memoirs: "I have looked over
the old books belonging to the estate, and find the following result
upon the most critical examination.
"William's account of the beaver skins due was 7,221. Mr. Edmonds'
account was 4,313. My own 6,043. William's account exceeded mine 1,178.
Mine exceeds Mr. Edmonds' 1,730. In my account I have cast out all debts
(or skins) charged for liquor. William did not. Mr. Edmonds did.
"I found all the books but one in the box, which one, according to
William's account, contained five hundred and sixty skins. From these
five hundred and sixty, I made deductions corresponding with the skins
found to be charged in all the other books, so that the difference can
be but very trifling, and, by the liberal discount made, I think, will
be in favor of the claim."
The account stands thus:--
Due 6,043 beavers at $4 = $24,172 00
Average loss on four years' trade, from 1813 to 1816,
at $2,014 per annum = $8,056 00
Item 2 as allowed in 1836. $6,040 00
" 6 " " . $9,192 00
" 7 " " . $1,141 00
" 8 " " . $44 90 = $10,384 72
Allowed in 1836. = $32,436 72
"Books are shown from 1816 to 1828, a period of twelve years;
consequently twelve divided into 24,172 will give the average loss for
the four years' trade, for which no books are shown. Mr. Edmonds made
an error in computing the number of skins due; the other difference was,
of course, in consequence. I am inclined to think Mr. E. was prejudiced
against the claim, as I cannot see how he could so much reduce the
number of skins due."
_6th_. The Rev. Mr. Potter, a missionary for sixteen years among the
Cherokees, called and introduced himself to me. He said that he thought
the Cherokees had received enough for their lands; that they were
peaceably emigrating west, but had been delayed by low water in the
streams. While thus waiting, about five hundred persons had died.
This gentleman had been stationed at Creek Path, where the morally
celebrated Catherine Brown and her brother and parents lived. While
there, he had a church of about sixty members, and thinks they exhibited
as good evidences of Christianity as the same number of whites would do.
He speaks in raptures of the country this people are living in, and are
now emigrating from, in the Cumberland Mountains, as full of springs, a
region of great salubrity, fertility, and picturesque beauty. Says a
portion of the country, to which they are embarking west, is
Florida, the papers of this date tell us, is now free from Indians. This
can only be strictly true of the towns on the Apalachicola, &c. The
majority of them are doubtless gone.
A Wyandot, of Michigan, named Thomas Short, complains that his lands, at
Flat Rock, are overflowed by raising a mill-dam. Dispatched a special
agent to inquire into and remedy this trespass.
The Swan Creeks complain that a Frenchman, named Yaks, having been
permitted to live in one of their houses at Salt River, on rent, refuses
to leave it, intending to set up a pre-emption right to the lands. I
replied, "That is a matter I will inquire into. But you have ceded the
land without stipulating for improvements, and cannot prevent
_7th_. I received instructions from Washington, dated 29th Oct., to draw
requisitions in favor of the Ottawas and Chippewas, for the amounts
awarded for their _public_ improvements in the lower peninsula,
agreeably to the estimates of Messrs. MacDonnel and Clarke, under the
treaty of March 28th, 1836.
Eshtonaquot (Clear Sky), principal chief of the Swan Creeks, states that
his people will be ready to remove to their location on the Osage, by
the middle of next summer. He states that his brother-in-law, an Indian,
living at River _Au Sables_, in Upper Canada, reports that a large
number of Potawattomies have fled to that province from Illinois; and
that many of the Grand River Ottawas, during the past summer, visited
the Manitoulines, and gave in their names to migrate thither. Little
reliance can be placed on this information. Besides, the government does
not propose to hinder the movements of the Indians.
Maj. Garland states that he was present, a few years ago, at Fort
Snelling, Upper Mississippi, at the time the fracas occurred in which
the Sioux fired on the Chippewas and killed four of their number. Col.
Snelling exhibited the greatest decision of character on this occasion.
He immediately put the garrison under arms, and seized four Sioux, and
put them in hold till their tribe should surrender the real murderers.
Next day the demand was complied with, by the delivery of two men, to
replace two of the four hostages, the other two of the prisoners being,
by hap, the murderers. The Indian agent vacillated as to the course to
be adopted. Col. Snelling said that he would take the responsibility of
acting. He then turned the aggressors over to the Chippewas, saying:
"Punish them according to your law; and, if you do not, I will." The
Chippewas selected nine of their party as executioners. They then told
the prisoners to run, and shot them down as they fled. Two were shot on
the very day after the murder, and two the following day, when they were
brought in. One of the latter was a fine, bold, tall young fellow, who,
having hold of the other prisoner's hand, observed him to tremble. He
instantly threw his hand loose from him, declaring "that he was ashamed
of being made to suffer with a coward."
_8th_. Col. Whiting exhibited to me, at his office, several bound
volumes of MSS., being the orderly book of his father, an adjutant in a
regiment of Massachusetts Continentals, during the great struggle of
1776. Many of the orders of Gen. Washington show the exact care and
knowledge of details, which went to make up a part of his military
_12th_. Texas is involved in troubles with fierce and intractable bands
of Indians. Among these the Camanches are prominent, who have shown
themselves, in force, near Bexar, and in a conflict killed ten Americans
Embark for New York--A glimpse of Texan affairs--Toltecan
monuments--Indian population of Texas--Horrible effects of drinking
ardent spirits among the Indians--Mr. Gallatin--His opinions
on various subjects of philosophy and history--Visit to the
South--Philadelphia--Washington--Indian affairs--Debt claim--Leave to
visit Europe--Question of neutrality--Mr. Van Buren--American
imaginative literature--Knickerbocker--Resume of the Indian question of
1838. _Nov. 14th_. I Embarked in a steamer, with my family, for New
York, having the double object of placing my children at eligible
boarding-schools, and seeking the renovation of Mrs. S.'s health. The
season being boisterous, we ran along shore from river to river, putting
in and putting out, in nautical phrase, as we could. On the way,
scarlatina developed itself in my daughter. Fortunately a Dr. Hume was
among the passengers, by whose timely remedies the case was successfully
treated, and a temporary stop at Buffalo enabled us to pursue our way
down the canal. Ice and frost were now the cause of apprehension, and
our canal packet was at length frozen in, when reaching the vicinity of
Utica, which we entered in sleighs. In conversation on board the packet
boat on the canal, Mr. Thomas Borden, of Buffalo Bayou, Texas, stated
that there is a mistake in the current report of the Camanche Indians
being about to join the Mexicans. They are, perhaps, in league with the
Spaniards of Nacogdoches, who now cry out for the federal constitution
of 1824; but there is no coalition between them and the Mexicans. Lamar
is elected president, the population has greatly increased within the
last year, customs are collected, taxes paid, and a revenue raised to
support the government. Mr. Borden said, he was one of the original
three hundred families who went to Texas, with my early friend Stephen
F. Austin, Esq., the founder of Texas, of whom he spoke highly.
"Hurry" was the word on all parts of our route; but, after reaching the
Hudson, we felt more at ease, and we reached New York and got into
lodgings, on the evening of the 24th (Nov.). The next day was
celebrated, to the joy of the children, as "Evacuation Day," by a
brilliant display of the military, our windows overlooking the Park,
which was the focus of this turnout.
_28th_. In conversation with the Rev. Henry Dwight, of. Geneva, he made
some pertinent remarks on the Toltecan monuments, and the skill of this
ancient people in architecture, in connection with some specimens of
antiquities just deposited in the New York Historical Society. This
nation had not only preceded the Aztecs in time, as is very clearly
shown by the traditions of the latter, but also, there is every reason
to believe, in knowledge.
_29th_. Texas papers contain the following statistics of the Indian
population of that Republic, of whom it is estimated that there may be
20,000. "The different tribes known as wild Indians, comprise about
24,000, west and south-west. There are on the north ten tribes, known as
the 'Ten United Bands,' between the Trinity and Red River, numbering
between 3 and 4000. Of these latter tribes, three are said to have
wandered off beyond the Rio Grande and the Rocky Mountains. Of the
_Comances_, nearly one-half of the Indians known by that name are, and
have always been, _without_ the limits, and press upon the tribes of New
Mexico. In all it appears that we have within the limits of Texas, an
Indian population of 20,000--of whom one-fifth may be accounted
Warriors. There are one or two remnants of tribes (perhaps not more than
fifty in number) living within the settlements of the whites, whom they
supply with venison, and in that way support themselves.
"Some of these tribes are the hereditary enemies of Mexico, who has
nevertheless furnished them with arms and ammunition, in the hope of
inciting them against our people, at a risk to her own. If, looking
beyond our borders, we turn our eyes to the north, we behold within
striking distance of the United States frontier on the north-west, an
indigenous Indian population of 150,000, and on their western frontier
46,000; in all between 2 and 300,000 Indians within the jurisdiction of
the United States--against whom, were they to combine, they could at any
moment direct a war force of 60,000 men."
These popular estimates, may serve the purpose of general comparison,
but require some considerable abatements. There is a tendency to
estimate the numbers of Indian tribes like those of flocks of birds and
schools of fish. We soon get into thousands, and where the theme is
guessing, thousands are soon added to thousands.
_Dec. 4th_. James L. Schoolcraft of Michilimackinack, in a letter of
Nov. 10th, describes a most revolting scene of murder, which, owing to
the effects of drinking, recently occurred at the Menomonie pay-ground
at Grande Chute, Wisconsin.
"Since closing my letter of this morning, Lieut. Root, just from Fort
Winnebago, informs me that he attended the payment of the Menomonies, at
the _Grande Chute_; that liquor, as usual, had found its way to the
place of payment, and that, in consequence, an Indian had killed two
Indian women. That the individual (murderer) was taken to the tent of
the agent, Colonel Boyd, but that, in consequence of the repeated and
threatening demands of the Indians for the man, the agent was obliged to
deliver him up to them, and that they then, in front of the tent,
inflicted wounds of death, from six different blades, upon the body of
the murderer, beat his brain out with clubs, and then threw his body
upon a burning fire, after which he was dragged some distance, to which
place he might be traced by attached embers strewed along the path.
"A child was crushed to death by a drunken Indian accidentally. Lieut.
Root informs me that he left the ground, soon after the scene above
alluded to, and that many of the Indians were armed with knives, and in
_6th_. I visited Mr. Gallatin at his house in Bleecker Street, and spent
the entire morning in listening to his instructive conversation, in the
course of which he spoke of early education, geometric arithmetic, the
principles of languages and history, American and European. He said,
speaking of the
EARLY EDUCATION OF CHILDREN.--Few children are taught to read well
early, and, in consequence, they never can become good readers. A page
should, as it were, dissolve before the eye, and be absorbed by the
mind. Reading and spelling correctly cannot be too early taught, and
should be thoroughly taught.
_Arithmetic_.--_G_. There is no good arithmetic in which the reasons are
given, so as to be intelligible to children. Condorcet wrote the best
tract on the subject, while in confinement at a widow's house near
Paris, before his execution. The language of arithmetic is universal,
the eight digits serving all combinations. They were not introduced till
1200. The Russians count by sticks and beads. The Romans must have had
some such method. M stood for 1000, D for 500, C for 100, L for 50, X
for ten, V for five, and I for one. But how could they multiply complex
sums by placing one under another.
LANGUAGES.--_S_. How desirable it would be if so simple a system could
be applied to language.
_G_. Ah! it was not designed by the Creator. He evidently designed
diversity. I have recently received some of the native vocabularies from
Mackenzie--the Blackfeet and Fall Indians, &c. Parker had furnished in
his travels vocabularies of the Nez Perces, Chinooks, &c.
LEADING FAMILIES.--_S_. The term Algonquin, as commonly understood, is
not sufficiently comprehensive for the people indicated.
_G_. I intended to extend it by adding the term "Lenape." The Choctaw
and the Muscogee is radically the same. The Chickasaw and Choctaw has
been previously deemed one. Du Pratz wrote about the Mobilian language
without even suspecting that it was the Choctaw.
_G_. The National Institute at Paris has printed Mr. Duponceau's Prize
Essay on the Algonquin. Dr. James wrote unsuccessfully for the prize.
Duponceau first mentioned you to me. He has freely translated from your
lectures on the substantive, which gives you a European reputation.
PUBLISHERS ON PHILOLOGY.--_G_. There is no patronage for such works
here. Germany and France are the only countries where treatises on
philology can be published. It is Berlin or Paris, and of these Berlin
holds the first place. In Great Britain, as in this country, there is
not sufficient interest on the subject for booksellers to take hold of
mere works of fact of this sort. They are given to reading tales and
light literature, as here.
ORAL TALES OF THE INDIANS--_G_. Your "Indian Tales" and your
"Hieroglyphics" would sell here; but grammatical materials on the
languages will not do, unless they can be arranged as appendices.
_S_. I urged Governor Cass to write on this subject, and he declined.
_G_. Does he understand the languages?
_S_. Pronouns, in our Indian languages, are of a more permanent
character than philologists have admitted. They endure in some form, in
kindred dialects, the most diverse.
_G_. This is true, the sign is always left, and enables one, clearly
enough, to trace stocks. Dialects are easily made. There are many in
France, and they fill other parts of Europe. Every department in
France has one.
DISCRIMINATING VIEWS OF PHILOLOGY AND PHILOLOGISTS.--_G_. It is not
clear what Heckewelder meant by "whistling sound," in the prefix
pronouns. I told Mr. Duponceau that it had been better that the
gentleman's MSS. were left as he originally wrote them, with mere
corrections as to grammar--that we should then, in fact, have had
_Indian_ information. For Heckewelder thought and felt like a Delaware,
and believed all their stories.
[Footnote 89: This admission of the re-composition of Mr. Heckewelder's
letters, and the excellent missionary's general deficiency, furnishes a
striking confirmation of the views and sagacity of a critic of the
_North American Review_, writing on that topic, in 1825. And the more
so, as those views were conjectural, but they were the conjectures of
one who had personally known Mr. Heckewelder.]
MONOSYLLABIC LANGUAGE.--_G_. You have asserted that all the Indian roots
_S_. Most of them, not all. This is a branch to which I have paid
particular attention; and if there is anything in Indian philology in
which I deem myself at home, it is in the analysis of Indian words, the
digging out of roots, and showing their derivatives and compounds.
_G_. The societies would print your observations on these topics. They
are of much interest.
ORIGIN OF THE INDIAN LANGUAGE.--_S_. The Hebrew is based on roots like
the Indian, which appear to have strong analogies to the Semitic family.
It is not clearly Hindostanee, or Chinese, or Norse. I have perused
Rafn's Grammar by Marsh. The Icelandic (language) clearly lies at the
foundation of the Teutonic.
_G_. I have not seen this. The grammatical principles of the Hebrew 
are widely different (from the Indian). There is, in this respect, no
resemblance. I think the Indian language has principles akin to the
Greek. The middle moods, or voices, in the Greek and Indian dialects are
alike; they make the imperfect past, or _aorist_, in a similar manner.
[Footnote 90: Mr. G. did not understand the Hebrew, and was not aware
that the person he addressed had made a study of it in particular
reference to the Indian.]
PATOIS.--_G_. The great impediment to popular instruction in France, is
the multiplicity of _patois_, and the tenacity of the peasantry for
them. The same objection exists to the use of so many Indian dialects by
such numbers of petty tribes. Pity these were not all abolished. They
can never prosper without coming on to general grounds in this respect.
CHINESE.--Mr. Duponceau had published Col. Galindo's account of the
Ottomic of Mexico, and likened it to the Chinese. It was the
ENGLISH LANGUAGE.--_S_. The English language of Chaucer's day, is based
on the Frisic, Belgic, and Low Dutch; and not on the Saxon. (Examples
were given. He fully assented to this, and used his familiarity with
European history to demonstrate it.)
_G_. There was, in fact, no Anglo-Saxon but that of Alfred, which was
the old English. The early migrations were from Belgium. Doubtless the
Teutons had made the conquest ascribed to them, but I think they did not
revolutionize the language. They conquered the people, but not
WASHINGTON IRVING.--_G_. Washington Irving is the most popular writer.
Anything from his pen would sell.
JOHN JACOB ASTOR.--Several years ago, J. J. A. put into my hands the
journal of his traders on the Columbia, desiring me to use it. I put it
into the hands of Malte Brun, at Paris, who employed the geographical
facts in his work, but paid but little respect to Mr. Astor, whom he
regarded merely as a merchant seeking his own profit, and not a
discoverer. He had not even sent a man to observe the facts in the
natural history. Astor did not like it. He was restive several years,
and then gave Washington Irving $5,000 to take up the MSS. This is the
History of "Astoria."
RAFINESQUE.--This erratic naturalist being referred to, he said--
"Who is Rafinesque, and what is his character?"
NAPOLEON AND NERO.--Bonaparte was a mathematician; but, whatever he did,
he did not appreciate other branches of science and research. On taking
Rome, he carried to Paris all the Pope's archives, containing, in fact,
the materials for the secret history of Europe. The papers occupied
seventy large boxes, which were carefully corded and sealed, and put
away in a garret of the Louvre at Paris, and never opened. On the
restoration of the Bourbons, Louis XVIII. gave them back to the Pope's
nuncio. The seals had never been broken.
Bonaparte hated Tacitus. He was an aristocrat, he said, and lied in his
history. He had blackened the character of Nero merely because he was a
republican. "That may be, sire," said ----, "but it is not the generally
received opinion, and authorities sustain him." "Read Suetonius," said
he. "Truly," said M. Gallatin, "it is there stated that the people
strewed flowers on Nero's grave for years."
ALGIC RESEARCHES.--The oral legends of the Indians collected by me being
adhered to, he said, "Take care that, in publishing your Indian legends,
you do not subject yourself to the imputations made against Macpherson."
On leaving the hall, whither he came to see me out, he said: "I am
seventy-eight, and (assuming a gayer vein) in a good state of
preservation." He was then a little bent, but preserved in conversation
the vivacity of his prime. He had, I think, been a man of about five
feet ten or eleven inches. His accent and tone of voice are decidedly
French. His eye, which is black and penetrating, kindled up readily. He
wore a black silk cap to hide baldness.
_15th_. A singular coincidence of the names and ages of Indian chiefs,
is shown in the following notice from a Russian source:--
"We have just received from Nova Archangesk, an account of the death of
the chief of one of the most powerful tribes of North America, Black
Hawk, who was suddenly carried off on the banks of the River Moivna, in
the seventy-first year of his age. The loss of this chief, who kept up
friendly relations with the authorities of the Russian colony, and was
always hostile to the English, is felt in a lively manner by the Russian
government, who rested great hopes on the influence exercised by Black
Hawk, not only over his own tribe, but also over all the neighboring
nations. The Czar has ordered the new governor-general of the Russian
colony in America to endeavor by all means to secure the friendship of
the three sons of Black Hawk, the eldest of whom, now forty-eight years
of age, has succeeded his father in the government of the tribe."--_Le
_22d_. I left New York on the 12th, in the cars, with Mrs. Schoolcraft
and the children, for Washington, stopping at the Princeton depot, and
taking a carriage for Princeton. I determined to leave my son at the
Round Hill School, in charge of Mr. Hart, and the next day went to
Philadelphia, where I accepted the invitation of Gen. Robert Patterson
to spend a few days at his tasteful mansion in Locust street. I visited
the Academy of Natural Sciences, and examined Dr. Samuel George Morton's
extensive collection of Indian crania. While here, I placed my daughter
in the private school of the Misses Guild, South Fourth Street. I
attended one of the "Wistar parties" of the season, on the 15th, at Mr.
Lea's, the distinguished bookseller and conchologist, and reached the
city of Washington on the 21st, taking lodgings at my excellent friends,
the Miss Polks.
_24th_. Submitted an application to the department for expending a small
part of the Indian education fund, for furthering the general object, by
publishing, for the use of teachers and scholars, a compendious
dictionary, and general grammar of the Indian languages.
_25th_. In a conference with Mr. Murray, of Pennsylvania, a recent
commissioner to adjust Indian claims at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, he
gave me Mr. Robert Stuart's testimony respecting the Indian trade, to
read. It appears from the document that the gain on trade of the
American Fur Company, from 1824 to 1827, was $167,000. From 1827 to 1834
it was $195,000. From the aggregate of ten years' business, there is to
be deducted $45,000, being a loss from 1817 to 1824, which leaves a
profit on seventeen years' trade of $317,000.
Mr. Murray presented me a copy of the Commissioner's report. These
claims have not yet received the action of the department. The
commissioners set out with requiring of traders high evidence of the
_individual_ indebtedness by Indians. They finally decided that the
Winnebago debts were _national_. They went further--they approved and
adopted the decision of a meeting of the claimants themselves, as to the
application to individual firms, of the fund. This decision was
subsequently sanctioned by _eight_ Winnebago chiefs, who were stated to
be authorized to act for the nation.
The error, in all these cases, seems to be, that where a tribe has
agreed to set apart a generic sum to satisfy debts, and the United
States has accepted the trusteeship of determining the individual
shares, that the Indians, who cannot _read, or write, or understand
figures, or accounts at all_, and cannot possibly tell the arithmetical
difference between one figure and another, should yet be made the
subject of these minor appeals. The TRUSTEE himself should determine
_that_, by such testimony as he approves, and not appear to seek to
bolster up the decisions of truth and faithfulness, by calling on Indian
ignorance and imbecility, which is subject to be operated on by every
species of selfishness.
_25th_. I applied to the department this day, by letter, for leave of
absence from my post on the frontier, to visit Europe.
_26th_. I called on Mr. Poinsett, the Secretary of War, and received
from him the permission which I had yesterday solicited. I also called
on the President (Mr. Van Buren), who, in turning the conversation to
the state of disturbances on the frontier, evinced the deepest interest
that neutrality should be preserved, and asked me whether the United
States Marshal at Detroit had faithfully performed his duty.
_27th_. Visited Mr. Paulding (Secretary of the Navy) in the evening.
Found him a father aged bald-headed man, of striking physiognomy,
prominent intellectual developments, and easy dignified manners. It was
pleasing to recognize one of the prominent authors of _Salmagundi_,
which I had read in my schoolboy days, and never even hoped to see the
author of this bit of fun in our incipient literature. For it is upon
this, and the still higher effort of Irving's facetious History of New
York, that we must base our imaginative literature. They first taught us
that we had a right to laugh. We were going on, on so very stiff a
model, that, without the Knickerbocker, we should not have found it out.
_28th_. I prepared a list of queries for the department, designed to
elicit a more precise and reliable account of the Indian tribes than has
yet appeared. It is astonishing how much gross error exists in the
popular mind respecting their true character.
Talk of an Indian--why the very stare
Says, plain as language, Sir, have you been there?
Do tell me, has a Potawattomie a soul,
And have the tribes a language? Now that's droll--
They tell me some have tails like wolves, and others claws,
Those Winnebagoes, and Piankashaws.
_30th_. Mr. Paulding transmits a note of thanks for some Indian words.
The euphony of the aboriginal vocabulary impresses most persons. In most
of their languages this appears to result, in part, from the fact that a
vowel and a consonant go in pairs--_i.e._ a vowel either precedes or
follows a consonant, and it is comparatively rare that two consonants
are required to be uttered together. There is but one language that has
the _th_, so common in English. _Sh_ and _gh_ are, however, frequently
sounded in the Chippewa. The most musical words are found in the great
Muscogee and Algonquin families, and it is in these that the regular
succession of vowels and consonants is found.
_31st_. The year 1838 has been a marked one in our Indian relations. The
southern Indians have experienced an extensive breaking up, in their
social institutions, and been thrown, by the process of emigration, west
of the Mississippi, and the policy of the government on this head, which
was first shadowed out in 1825, and finally sanctioned by the act of
land exchanges, 1830, may be deemed as having been practically settled.
The Cherokees, who required the movements of an army to induce them to
carry out the principles of the treaty of New Echota, have made their
first geographical movement since the discovery of the continent, a
period of 331 years. How much longer they had dwelt in the country
abandoned we know not. They clung to it with almost a death grasp. It is
a lovely region, and replete with a thousand advantages and a thousand
reminiscences. Nothing but the drum of the Anglo-Saxon race could have
given them an effectual warning to go. Gen. Scott, in his well advised
admonitory proclamation, well said, that the voice under which both he
and they acted is imperative, and that by heeding it, it is hoped that
"they will spare him the horror of witnessing the destruction of the
Cherokees." The great Muskogee family had been broken up, by the act of
Georgia, before. The Seminoles, who belong to that family, broke out
themselves in a foolish hostility very late in 1835, and have kept up a
perfectly senseless warfare, in the shelter of hummocks and quagmires
since. The Choctaws and Chickasaws, with a wise forecast, had forseen
their position, and the utter impossibility of setting up independent
governments in the boundaries of the States. It is now evident to all,
that the salvation of these interesting relics of Oriental races lies in
colonization west. Their teachers, the last to see the truth, have fully
assented to it. Public sentiment has settled on that ground; sound
policy dictates it; and the most enlarged philanthropy for the Indian
race perceives its best hopes in the measure.
Sentiments of loyalty--Northern Antiquarian Society--Indian
statistics--Rhode Island Historical Society--Gen. Macomb--Lines in the
Odjibwa language by a mother on placing her children at school--Mehemet
Ali--Mrs. Jameson's opinion on publishers and publishing--Her opinion of
my Indian legends--False report of a new Indian language--Indian
compound words--Delafield's Antiquities--American Fur Company--State of
Indian disturbances in Texas and Florida--Causes of the failure of the
war in Florida, by an officer--Death of an Indian chief--Mr. Bancroft's
opinion on the Dighton Rock inscription--Skroellings not in New
England--Mr. Gallatin's opinion on points of Esquimaux language,
connected with our knowledge of our archaeology.
1839. _Jan. 1st_. I called, amid the throng, on the President. His
manners were bland and conciliatory. These visits, on set days, are not
without the sentiment of strong personality in many of the visitors, but
what gives them their most significant character is the general loyalty
they evince to the constitution, and government, and supreme law of the
land. The President is regarded, for the time, as the embodiment of this
sentiment, and the tacit fealty paid to him, as the supreme law officer,
is far more elevating to the self-balanced and independent mind than if
he were a monarch _ad libitum_, and not for four years merely.
_2d_. I received a notice of my election as a member of the Royal
Northern Antiquarian Society of Copenhagen, of which fact I had been
previously notified by that Society. This Society shows us how the art
of engraving may be brought in as an auxiliary to antiquarian letters;
but it certainly undervalues American sagacity if it conjectures that
such researches and speculations as those of Mr. Magnusen, on the
Dighton Rock, and what it is fashionable now-a-days to call the NEWPORT
RUIN, can satisfy the purposes of a sound investigation of the
Anti-Columbian period of American history.
There was a perfect jam this evening at Blair's. What sort of a
compliment is it to be one of five or six hundred people, not half of
whom can be squeezed into a small house, and not one of whom can pretend
to taste a morsel without the danger of having server and all jammed
down his throat.
_3d_. The mail hunts up everybody. Go where you will, and particularly
to the seat of government, and letters will follow you. Whoever is in
the service of government bears a part of the functions of it, though it
be but an infinitesimal part. Mr. H. Conner, the Saginaw sub-agent, in a
letter of this date, reports the Saginaws at one thousand four hundred
and forty-three souls, and the Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas at
one hundred and ninety-eight. One of the most singular facts in the
statistics of the most of the frontier Indian tribes of the Lakes, is,
in the long run, that they neither _increase_ nor _decline_, but just
keep up a sort of dying existence.
_4th_. Dr. Thomas H. Webb, Secretary of the Rhode Island Historical
Society, announces the plan of that Society in publishing a series of
works illustrating, in the first place, the history and language of the
Indians, and soliciting me to become a contributor of original
observations. The difficulty in all true efforts of our literary history
is the want of means. A man must devote all his leisure in researches,
and then finds that there is no way in which these labors can be made to
aid in supplying him the means of subsistence. He must throw away his
time, and yet buy his bread. There is no real taste for letters in a
people who will not pay for them. It is too early in our history,
perhaps, to patronize them as a general thing. Making and inventing new
ploughs will pay, but not books.
_9th_. The Secretary of War confirms my leave of absence, to visit
Europe, and extends it beyond the contingencies of a re-appointment, on
the 4th of March next.
_10th_. Attended a general and crowded party at Gen. Macomb's, in the
evening, with Mrs. Schoolcraft. The General has always appeared to me a
perfect amateur in military science, although he has distinguished
himself in the field. He is a most polished and easy man in all
positions in society, and there is an air and manner by which he
constantly reveals his French blood. He has a keen perception of the
ridiculous, and a nice appreciation of the mock gravity of the heroic in
character, and related to me a very effective scene of this latter kind,
which occurred at Mr. John Johnston's, at St. Mary's Falls, on the
close of the late war. He had visited that place in perhaps 1815 or
1816, as military commander of the District of Michigan, in the suite of
Major-Gen. Brown. They were guests of Mr. Johnston. In going up the
river to see Gros Cape, at the foot of Lake Superior, the American party
had been fired upon by the Chippewas, who were yet hostile in feeling.
When the party returned to the house of Mr. Johnston, their host, the
latter drew himself up in the spirit of the border times of Waverley,
and, with the air and accent of a chief of those days--which, by the
way, was not altogether unnatural to him--manifested the high
gentlemanly indignation of a host whose hospitality had been violated.
He exclaimed to his eldest son, "Let our followers be ready to repel
this gross affront." The General's eye danced in telling it. The thing
of the firing had been done--nobody was hurt--nobody was in fact in
hostile array; and far less was the party itself alarmed. It had been
some crack-brained Indian, I believe Sassaba, who yet smarted at the
remembrance of the death of his brother, who was killed with Tecumseh in
the Battle of the Thames.
_11th_. Left Washington, with my family, in the cars for Baltimore,
where we lodged; reached Philadelphia the next day, at four P.M.;
remained the 13th and 14th, and reached New York on the 16th, at 4
_14th_. Mrs. Schoolcraft, having left her children at school, at
Philadelphia and Princeton, remained pensive, and wrote the following
lines in the Indian tongue, on parting from them, which. I thought so
just that I made a translation of them.
Nyau nin de nain dum
May kow e yaun in
Ain dah nuk ki yaun
Waus sa wa kom eg
Ain dah nuk ki yaun
Ne dau nig ainse e
Ne gwis is ainse e
Ishe nau gun ug wau
Waus sa wa kom eg
She gwau go sha ween
Ba sho waud e we
Nin zhe ka we yea
Ishe ez hau jau yaun
Ain dah nuk ke yaun
Ain dah nuk ke yaun
Nin zhe ke we yea
Ishe ke way aun e
Nyau ne gush kain dum
Ah! when thought reverts to my country so dear,
My heart fills with pleasure, and throbs with a fear:
My country, my country, my own native land,
So lovely in aspect, in features so grand,
Far, far in the West. What are cities to me,
Oh! land of my mother, compared unto thee?
Fair land of the lakes! thou are blest to my sight,
With thy beaming bright waters, and landscapes of light;
The breeze and the murmur, the dash and the roar,
That summer and autumn cast over the shore,
They spring to my thoughts, like the lullaby tongue,
That soothed me to slumber when youthful and young.
One feeling more strongly still binds me to thee,
There roved my forefathers, in liberty free--
There shook they the war lance, and sported the plume,
Ere Europe had cast o'er this country a gloom;
Nor thought they that kingdoms more happy could be,
White lords of a land so resplendent and free.
Yet it is not alone that my country is fair,
And my home and my friends are inviting me there;
While they beckon me onward, my heart is still here,
With my sweet lovely daughter, and bonny boy dear:
And oh! what's the joy that a home can impart,
Removed from the dear ones who cling to my heart.
It is learning that calls them; but tell me, can schools
Repay for my love, or give nature new rules?
They may teach them the lore of the wit and the sage,
To be grave in their youth, and be gay in their age;
But ah! my poor heart, what are schools to thy view,
While severed from children thou lovest so true!
I return to my country, I haste on my way,
For duty commands me, and duty must sway;
Yet I leave the bright land where my little ones dwell,
With a sober regret, and a bitter farewell;
For there I must leave the dear jewels I love,
The dearest of gifts from my Master above.
NEW YORK, _March 18th_, 1839.
_17th_. Went, in the evening, to hear Mr. Stephens, the celebrated
traveler, lecture before the Historical Society, at the Stuyvesant
Institute, on Mehemet Ali. Public opinion places lecturers sometimes in
a false position. An attempt was here made to make out Mehemet Ali a
great personage, exercising much influence in his times. An old despotic
rajah in a tea-pot! Who looks to him for exaltation of sentiment,
liberality and enlargement of views, or as an exemplar of political
truth? Mr. Stephens, however, knew the feeling and expectation of his
audience, and drew a picture, which was eloquently done, and well
received. This popular mode of lecturing is certainly better than the
run-a-muck amusements of the day. But it panders to an excited
intellectual appetite, and is anything but philosophical, historical, or
_18th_. I received instructions from Washington, to form a treaty with
the Saginaws, for the cession of a tract of ground on which to build a
light-house on Saginaw Bay.
The next letter I opened was from Mrs. Jameson, of London, who writes
that her plan of publication is, to divide the profits with her
publishers, and, as these are honest men and gentlemen, she has found
that the best way. She advises me to adopt the same course with respect
to my Indian legends.
[Footnote 91: I followed this advice, but fell into the hands of the
"I published," she says, "in my little journal, one or two legends which
Mrs. Schoolcraft gave me, and they have excited very general interest.
The more exactly you can (in translation) adhere to the _style_ of the
language of the Indian nations, instead of emulating a fine or correct
English style--the more characteristic in all respects--the more
original--the more interesting your work will be."
_21st_. I read the following article in the New York Herald:--
NEW INDIAN TRIBE.--Dr. Jackson, in his report of the geology of the
public lands, states that at the mouth of the Tobique there is an Indian
settlement, where a large tribe of Indians reside, and gain a livelihood
by trapping the otter and beaver. These Indians are quite distinct from
the Penobscot tribe, and speak a peculiar language.
_Query_. What is the name of this tribe? what language do they speak?
and what evidence is there that they are not Souriquois or Miemacks,
who have been known to us since the first settlement of Acadia and
Indian compound words are very composite. _Aco_, in the names of places
once occupied by Algonquin bands, means, _a limit_, or _as far as_, and
is intended to designate the boundary or reach of woods and waters.
_Ac-ow_ means length of area. _Accomac_ appears to mean, at the place of
the trees, or, as far as the open lands extend to the woods: _mac_, in
this word, may be either a derivative from _acke_, earth, or, more
probably, _auk_, a generic participle for tree or trunk.
_21st_. The editor of the _North American Review_ directs my attention
to Delafield's Antiquities as the subject of a notice for his pages.
Delafield appears to have undertaken a course of reading on Mexican
antiquities. The result is given in this work, with his conjectures and
speculations on the origin of the race. The cause of antiquarian
knowledge is indebted to him for the first publication of the pictorial
Aztec map of Butturini.
_24th_. Called on Mr. Ramsey Crooks, president of the American Fur
Company, at his counting-house, in Ann street. He gave me an interesting
sketch of his late tour from La Pointe, Lake Superior, to the
Mississippi. The Chippewas were not paid at La Pointe till October. This
made him late at the country. The St. Croix River froze before he
reached the Mississippi, and he went down the latter, from St. Peter's,
in a sleigh. Bonga had been sent to notify the Milles Lacs, Sandy Lake,
and Leoch Lake Indians to come to the payments. When he reached Leech
Lake, Guelle Plat had gone, with twenty-four canoes, to open a trade
with the Hudson's Bay Factor, at Rainy Lake. Mr. Crooks thinks that the
dissatisfaction among these bands can be readily allayed by judicious
measures. Thinks the Governor of Wisconsin ought to call the chiefs
together at some central point within the country, and make
explanations. That the payments, in future, should be made at _one_
place, and not divided. That the Leech Lake, and other bands _living
without the ceded district_, ought not to participate in the annuities.
Mr. Crook's manner is always prompt and cordial. He concentrates, in his
reminiscences, the history of the fur trade in America for the last
forty years. I have always thought it a subject of regret, that such a
man should not have kept a journal. There was much, it is true, that
could not be put down, and he was always so exclusively an active
business man that mere literary memoranda never attracted his attention;
they were not adverse to his tastes. He has nearly, I should judge,
recovered from the severe hardships and privations which attended his
perilous journey across the Rocky Mountains, on the abandonment of
Astoria, on the Pacific, in 1812.
_29th_. Texas and Florida continue to be the rallying points of Indian
warfare. The frontier of Texas is harassed by wandering parties of
Indians. A Mr. Morgan, who resided near the falls of Brazos, had been
killed, and three women carried off by a band of fifteen savages. A
company of rangers was sent in pursuit.
The Florida War still lingers, without decisive results. The _New
Orleans Bee_ says that General Taylor has been very active, the past
season, in trying to bring it to a close. A writer from Tampa Bay, of
the 25th instant, who appears to have good knowledge of matters, states
three causes, particularly as opposing a successful prosecution and
consummation of it, namely:--
"1st. An ignorance of the topography of Florida--the position of the
numerous swamps and hummocks, the usual hiding-places of the Indians.
"2d. A want of proper interpreters.
"3d. A countervailing influence from some unknown quarter."
He supports his view as follows: "It is a well known fact that, previous
to the year 1836, the portion of Florida south of the Military Road from
Tampa to Garey's Ferry was unexplored and unknown, and since that time
the only information has been derived from the hasty reconnoissances of
officers, made in the progress of the several divisions of the army
through the country. Since the organization of the Corps of
Topographical Engineers, several have been sent to this country, and are
now actively engaged in making surveys and plotting maps. Could the
information they are expected to give have been known even before the
commencement of the last campaign, it would have aided materially in the
subjugation of the enemy. A correct knowledge of this country is needed
more especially because such another theatre of war probably has not a
place on the earth; a theatre so peculiarly favorable to the Indians and
disadvantageous to the white man. Swamps may be delineated as well
perhaps as any other natural object; but _such_ swamps as are found in
Florida, are not to be imitated in painting or described by words. As an
instance, I may mention the Halpataokee or Alligator Water, which is
made up of small islands, surrounded by water of various depths, through
which for two miles the road of the army passed during the winter
"_2d_. The only Interpreters are Seminole negroes, who, for the most
part, find it difficult to understand English. As an instance of the
numerous mistakes occurring daily, may be mentioned the following: The
General told the interpreter to say to Nettetok Emathla, that 'patience
and perseverance would accomplish everything.' While he was speaking to
the Indian, the remark was made that he did not know the meaning of the
sentence. When questioned the following day, he said 'patience and
'suverance mean a little book,' Our laughter convinced him he was
mistaken, and he said 'patience mean you must be patien; I don't zackly
know what 'suverance do mean, sar!' Numerous errors of this nature are
doubtless occurring daily, and among a people who are so scrupulously
nice and formal in their 'talks,' such trifling mistakes may be
"_3d_. We are now to speak of the most important difficulty in the way
of termination of hostilities, and the removal of the Seminoles to their
new homes beyond the 'Muddy Water.' That the Indians are and have been
supplied by whites, Americans or Spaniards, is a point so decisively
settled that 'no hinge is left whereon to hang a doubt.' However
shameless it may appear, proofs are not wanting to establish the fact,
so much to the discredit of our patriotism. When Coacoochee escaped from
St. Augustine he carried with him bolts of calico and factory cloths,
which he afterwards sold to the Indians in the woods for three chalks
(six shillings) per yard. It was reported to Colonel Taylor, then at
Fort Bassinger, by an Indian woman, who ran away from Coacoochee's camp,
that he had one poney packed solely with powder; that he had plenty of
lead, provisions, etc., and was determined never to come in or go to
Arkansas. On several occasions when Indians have been killed or taken,
or their camps surprised, new calico, fresh tobacco, bank bills, and
other articles of a _civilized_ character, have been found in their
possession. Besides, this, the Indians are constantly reporting in their
talks that some persons on the other side of the territory prevent the
hostiles from complying with the treaty. Ethlo Emathla, Governor of the
Tallahassees, promised the general to be in with his people on a
specified day. It is reduced almost to a certainty that he has been
prevented from doing so by the representations of some person or persons
in a quarter, the name of which charity alone forbids to mention. The
only object is, and for a long time has been, to keep entirely out of
the way, to hide themselves from the whites, and every effort to bring
them to battle, either by sending small or large parties among them, has
proved useless. _They will not fight_, and thirty thousand men cannot
find them, broken up as they are into small parties. What then is to be
done? Protect the inhabitants of the frontiers, gradually push the
Indians south, and at no distant day, the necessary, unavoidable and
melancholy consummation must arrive, viz., the expulsion of the last
tribe of red men from the soil over which they once roamed the sole
lords and possessors."
_30th_. The oldest man in the Ottawa nation, a chief called
Nish-caud-jin-in-a, or the Man of Wrath, died this day at L'Arbre
Croche, Michigan. He was between ninety and one hundred years of age,
withered and dry, and slightly bent, but still preserving the outlines
of a man of strength, good figure, and intellect. What a mass of
reminiscences and elements of history dies with every old person of
observation, white or red.
_Feb. 4th_. Mr. James H. Lanman writes respecting the prospects of his
publishing a history of Michigan--a subject which I gave him every
encouragement to go forward in, while he lived in that State. The theme
is an ambitious one, involving as it does the French era of settlements,
and the day for handling it effectively has not yet arrived. But the
sketches that may be made from easily-got, existing materials, may
subserve a useful purpose, with the hope always that some new fact may
be elicited, which will add to the mass of materials. "I have been
delayed here," he says, "in preparing the book, and the delay has been
occasioned by my publishers having failed. It is now, however,
stereotyped, and will be out in about a fortnight." 
[Footnote 92: He afterwards re-cast the work, and it was published by the
Harpers as one of the volumes of their library.]
_21st_. Mr. Bancroft writes to me, giving every encouragement to bring
forward before the public my collections and researches on Indian
history and language, and expressing his opinion of success, unless I
should be "cursed with a bad publisher."
"Father Duponceau," he says, "won his prize out of your books, and
Gallatin owes much to you. Go on; persevere; build a monument to
yourself and the unhappy Algonquin race."
Making every allowance for Mr. Bancroft's enthusiastic way of speaking,
it yet appears to me that I should endeavor to publish the results of
investigations of Indian subjects. My connection with the Johnston
family has thrown open to me the whole arcanum of the Indian's thoughts.
I wrote an article for Dr. Absalom Peter's Magazine, expressing my
dissent from the very fanciful explanations of the Dighton Rock
characters, as given by Mr. Magrusen in the first volume of the Royal
Society of Northern Antiquarians, published at Copenhagen. It appears to
me that those characters (throwing out two or three) are the Indian
_Kekewin_--a species of hieroglyphics or symbolic devices, still in
vogue among them. To this view of the matter Mr. Bancroft assents. "If
you have a proof-sheet of your article on the Daneschrift, send it me.
All they say about the Dighton Rock is, I think, the sublime of
What is said in the interpreted Sagas, of the Skroellings or Esquimaux
being in New England at the date of Eric's voyage (A. D. 1001) is, I
think, problematical. Those tribes are not known to have extended
further south than the Straits of Belleisle, about 60 deg., or to parts of
Newfoundland. The term deduced from the old journals appear to belong to
the Esquimaux proper, rather than to the New England class of the
Algonquins. The Esquimaux had the free use of the sound of the letter
_l_, which was not used at all by the N.E. Indians.
Mr. Gallatin, in a letter of Feb. 22, in response to me on this subject,
says: "The letter _L_ occurs in every Esquimaux dialect of which I have
any knowledge. Thus heaven or sky, is in Greenland, _Killak_; Hudson's
Bay, _Keiluk_; Kadick Islands, _Kelisk_; Kotzebue's Sound, _Keilyak_;
Asiatic Tshuktchi, _Kuelok_.
"I am not so certain about the _v_, which I find used only by Egede, or
Crantz (not distinguished from each other in my collection) for the
Greenland dialect. In their conjurations I find 'we (sing. and dual)
wash them' Ernikp-auvut, and Ernikp-auvuk. In the Mithradites, the same
letter _v_ is repeatedly used in dual examples of the Greenland and
Labrador dialects, principally (as it appears to me) but not exclusively
in the pronominal terminations, _picksaukonik, akeetvor, tivut_,
Profetiv-vit! that is, good ours, debtors ours, a prophet art thou.
"By comparing this with the pronouns of the other Esquimaux dialects, I
suspect that _oo_ and _w_ in these, are used instead of _v_. But the
difference may arise from that in the mother tongue, or in the delicacy
of the ear, of those who have supplied us with other verbal and
pronominal forms or vocabularies."
_22d_, The Indian names may be studied analytically.
_Ches_ (pronounced by the Algonquin Indians _Chees_), signifies a plant
of the turnip family. _Beeg_ is the plural, and denotes water existing
in large bodies, such as accumulations in the form of lakes and seas. If
these two roots be connected by the usual sound in Algonquin words, thus
Ches-a-beeg, a sound much resembling Chesapeake would be produced. The
Nanticokes, who inhabited this bay on its discovery, were of the
Potomac appears to be a clipped expression, derived, I believe, from
Po-to-wau-me-ac. Po-to-wau, as we have it, in Potawattomie, means to
make a fire in a place where fires, such as council fires, are usually
made. The _ac_ in the word is apparently from _ak_ or _wak_, a standing
tree. The whole appears descriptive of a burning tree, or a
Megiddo in the Algonquin means he barks, or a barker. Hence me-giz-ze,
an eagle or the bird that barks.
Workings of unshackled mind--Comity of the American Addison--Lake
periodical fluctuations--American antiquities--Indian doings in Florida
and Texas--Wood's New England's Prospect--Philological and historical
comments--Death of Ningwegon--Creeks--Brothertons made citizens--Charles
Fenno Hoffman--Indian names for places on the Hudson--Christian
Indians--Etymology--Theodoric--Appraisements of Indian property--Algic
researches--Plan and object.
1839. _Feb. 22d_. Hon. Lucius Lyon, Senator in Congress from Michigan,
writes, informing me of the movements of political affairs in that
State. The working of our system in the new States is peculiar. Popular
opinion must have its full swing. It rights itself. Natural good sense
and sound moral appreciation of right are at work at the bottom, and the
lamp of knowledge is continually replenished with oil, by schools and
teaching. That light cannot be put out. It will burn on till the world
is not only free, but enlightened and renovated.
_24th_. Washington Irving kindly encloses me a letter to Colonel
Aspinwall of London, commending to him my contemplated publication on
the oral legends of the North American Indians. "I regret to say," he
adds, "that the last time he wrote to me, he was in great uneasiness,
apprehending the loss of one of his daughters, who appeared to be in a
_25th_. Mrs. Jameson, on returning from her trip to the lakes, writes
for my opinion on the causes of the phenomenon of the rise in the waters
of the lakes. Alluding to this subject, the Superintendent of the works
in the Ohio says: "The water of Lake Erie, which has been rising for
many years, and has attained a height unequaled in the memory of man,
seems to have attained its maximum, and to have commenced its reflux.
Since the first day of June last, as I have ascertained by means of
graduated rods at different points along the coast of Lake Erie, the
water has fallen perpendicularly nineteen inches, and is still falling.
The meteorological character of the present season, as compared with
that of several previous seasons, clearly shows the cause of the rise
and fall of the lakes not to be periodical, as has heretofore been
asserted, but entirely accidental. For several years the summers have
been cloudy and cold, with a prevalence of easterly winds and rainy
weather. The last summer has been excessively warm for the whole season,
and of exceeding drought. When it is remembered that the amount of water
evaporated over the surface of these vast bodies of water, during a
period of warm sunny weather, greatly exceeds that which passes the
outlet of one of these lakes (Niagara River, for example), the cause of
the phenomenon is apparent."--See _Mr. Barrett's inquiries, ante_.
_26th_. The _New York Star_ publishes a notice of _Delafield's
Antiquities_. This handsomely printed and illustrated work contains four
things that are new to the antiquarian inquirer: 1. A theory by the
author, by which he conceives the Indian race to be descended from the
ancient Cuthites, who are Hamitic. This is wrong. 2. A curious and
valuable pictographic map of the migration of the Aztecs, not heretofore
printed. This is an acquisition. 3. A disquisition of Dr. Lakey, of
Cincinnati, on the superiority of the northern to the southern race of
red men. This seems true. 4. A preface, by Bishop McIlvaine, showing the
importance in all inquiries of the kind, of keeping the record of the
Bible strictly in view. This is right.
_27th_. The _Houston Telegraph_ of this date gays: "A party of about
eighty men from Bastrop County, accompanied by Castro and forty Lipan
warriors, recently made an expedition into the Comanche country, and,
near the San Saba, attacked and routed a large body of Comanches, who,
with their women and children, were encamped on a small branch of the
stream. About thirty of the Comanche warriors were killed in the
engagement, many huts and considerable baggage destroyed, and a large
number of horses and mules captured. On their return, however, a few
Comanches stole silently into the droves of horses, while feeding at
night, and recaptured the whole except ninety-three horses, which the
shrewd Castro, with ten of his warriors, had driven far in advance of
the main company, and which he subsequently brought in safety to
Lagrange. Only two of the citizens of Texas were injured on this
"General Burlison, at the head of about seventy men, recently
encountered a large body of Indians on the Brushy, and, after one or two
skirmishes, finding the enemy numerous, retreated to a ravine in order
to engage them with more advantage; but the Indians, fearing to attack
him in his new position, drew off and retreated into a neighboring
thicket. Being unable to pursue them, he returned to Bastrop. It is
reported that he has lost three men in this engagement; the loss of the
Indians is not known; it, however, must have been considerable, as most
of the men under Burlison were excellent marksmen, and had often been
engaged in Indian warfare."
_March 4th_. The _N. Y. Evening Post_ says, that a gentleman from
Tallahassee, just arrived at Washington, states that murders by the
Indians are of everyday occurrence in that vicinity, and that between
the 17th and 21st Feb. fifteen persons had been killed.
_5th_. Finished the perusal of William Wood's "_New England's
Prospects_," a work of 98 12mo pages, printed at London, 1634. This was
fourteen years after the first landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth, and
the same year that John Eliot came over. Its chief claim to notice is
its antiquity. "Some have thought," he says, "that they (the Indians)
might be descendants of the Jews, because some of their words be near
unto the Hebrew; but by the same rule they may conclude them to be some
of the gleanings of all nations, because they have words which sound
after the Greek, Latin, French, and other tongues. Their language is
hard to learn, few of the English being able to speak any of it, or
capable of the right pronunciation, which is the chief grace of their
tongue. They pronounce much after the diphthongs, excluding B and L,
which, in our English tongue, they pronounce with much difficulty, as
most of the Dutch do T and H, calling a lobster, a _nobstan_."
The examples of a vocabulary he gives show them to be Algonquins, and
not "Skroellings," or Esquimaux, as they are represented to have been by
the Scandinavians (vide Ant. Amer.), who visited the present area of
Massachusetts in the tenth century.
The close alliance of their language with the existing Chippewa and
Ottawa of the north, is shown by the following specimens:--
_New England Tribes_. _Chippewa of Lake Superior_.
_Woman_, Squa, E-qua.
_Water_, Nip-pe, Ne-be.
_A raccoon_, Au-supp, A se-bun.
_Daughter_, Tawonis, O-dau-nis.
_A duck_, Sea-sceep, She-sheeb.
_Summer_, Se-quan, Se-gwun.
_Red_ Squi, Mis-qui.
_A house_, Wig-wam, Weeg-wam.
He divides the tribes into:--
Churhers (local tribes even then under instruction).
Aberginians (Algonquins of the St. Lawrence, probably).
Narragansetts (a tribe of the N.E. Algonquins with dialectic peculiarities).
Pequants (" " ")
Nepnets (" " ")
Connectacuts (" " ")
Mohawks (a tribe of Iroquois).
The people whom he calls "Tarrenteens," are clearly Abenakies.
Cotton Mather, L. of E., 1691, p. 78, denominates the Indians "the
veriest ruins of mankind. Their name for an Englishman was a knifeman;
stone was used instead of metal for their tools; and for their coins
they have only little beads, with holes in them, to string them upon a
bracelet, whereof some are _white_, and of these there go six for a
penny; some are _black_ or _blue_, and of these go three for a penny;
this _wampum_, as they call it, is made of shell fish, which lies upon
the sea-coast continually."
P. 79. "_Nokehick_, that is, a spoonful of parched meal with a spoonful
of water, which will strengthen them to travel a day."
"Reading and writing are altogether unknown to them, though there is a
stone or two in the country that has unaccountable characters
engraved upon it."
The intention of the King in granting the royal charter to Massachusetts
was, says Cotton Mather:--
"To win and invite the natives of that country to the knowledge and
obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind, and the Christian
faith, is our Royal intentions, and the adventurer's free profession is
the principal end of the plantation."--_Life of Eliot_, p. 77.
_10th_. Died at Little Traverse Bay, on Lake Michigan, Ningwegon, or
the Wing, the well-known American-Ottawa chief--a man who distinguished
himself for the American cause at Detroit, in 1812, and was thrown into
prison by the British officers for his boldness in expressing his
sentiments. He received a life annuity under the treaty of 28th
_11th_. Received notice of my election as a corresponding member of the
_12th_. A small party of chiefs of the Seneca tribe under the command of
"Blacksmith," successor to Red Jacket, arrived in this city yesterday
from Washington, and took lodgings at the Western Hotel in Courtland
Street. They were received by the Mayor at the Governor's room about 12
o'clock. In the address made by one of the number, it was stated that
the object of their visit had been to urge upon the President the
impropriety of driving them from their present possessions.
_13th_, PEACE AMONG THE INDIANS.--The two nations of Upper and Lower
Creeks, who were hostile while residing east of the Mississippi, have,
in their new homes in Arkansas, united in general council, at which
fifteen hundred were present. The oratory on this occasion, of smoking
the calumet, is described as of the highest order.
_14th_. Judge Bronson, of Florida, last evening, at a party at his
cousin's (Arthur Bronson, 46 Bond Street, N. Y.), states that, as
Chairman of a Committee in Congress, a few years ago, he had reported a
bill for allowing the Brotherton Indians to hold their property in
Wisconsin individually, and to enjoy the rights of citizenship; and that
this bill passed both houses.
_20th_. Went to dine with Charles Fenno Hoffman, at his lodgings in
Houston Street. Found his room garnished with curiosities of various
sorts, indicative, among other things, of his interest in the Indian
race. A poet in his garret I had long heard of, but a liberal
gentlemanly fellow, surrounded by all the elegances of life, I had not
thought of as the domicil of the Muses. Mr. Hoffman impressed me as
being very English in his appearance and manners. His forehead is quite
Byronic in its craniological developments. His eye and countenance are
of the most commanding character. Pity that such a handsome man, so
active in everything that calls for the gun, the rod, the boat, the
horse, the dog, should have been shorn of so essential a prerequisite as
a leg. His conversational powers are quite extraordinary. I felt
constantly as if I were in the presence of a lover of nature and natural
things; a _bon vivant_ perhaps, or an epicure, a Tom Moore, in some
sense, whose day-dreams of heaven are mixed up with glowing images of
women and wine.
_27th_. I was directed from Washington to relieve the principal
disbursing officer at Detroit. Here then my hopes of visiting Europe are
blown sky high for the present. I must return to the north, and, so far
as labor is concerned, "heap Pelion on Ossa."
_April 6th_. There is hardly a word in the Indian languages which does
not readily yield to the power of analysis. They call tobacco, Ussama.
_Ussa_, means to put (anything inanimate). _Ma_, is a particle denoting
smell. The _us_, in the first syllable, is sounded very slight, and
often, perhaps, nearly dropt, and the word then seems as if spelt _Sa
ma_. The last vowel is broad.
_8th_. Left the city for Detroit. In ascending the Hudson, with so good
an interpreter at my side as Mrs. Schoolcraft, whom I have carried
through a perfect course of philological training in the English, Latin,
and Hebrew principles of formation, I analyzed many of the old Indian
names, which, until we reached Albany, are all in a peculiar dialect of
SING SING.--This name is the local form of the name for rocks, and
conveys the idea of the plural in the terminal letter. _Os-sin_ in
modern Algonquin (the Chippewa dialect), is stone, or rock. _Ing_, is
the local form of all nouns proper. The term may be rendered simply
Back to Full Books