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The Indian Question   By: (1840-1897)

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First Page:

THE INDIAN QUESTION.

BY

FRANCIS A. WALKER,

LATE U. S. COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.

BOSTON: JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY, (LATE TICKNOR AND FIELDS, AND FIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO.) 1874.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874 by F. A. WALKER, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

BOSTON RAND, AVERY, & CO., STEREOTYPERS AND PRINTERS.

CONTENTS.

PAGE THE INDIAN QUESTION 5

INDIAN CITIZENSHIP 101

AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRIBES 148

THE INDIAN QUESTION.[A]

On the 3d of March, 1871, Congress declared that "hereafter no Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe, or power, with whom the United States may contract by treaty."

Brave words these would have seemed to good William Penn, treating with the Lenni Lenape, under the elm at Kensington; or even to doughty Miles Standish, ready as that worthy ever was to march against the heathen who troubled his Israel. Heathen they were in the eyes of the good people of Plymouth Colony, but nations of heathen, without question, as truly as were the Amalekites, the Jebusites, or the Hittites to the infant colony at Shiloh. It would have been deemed the tallest kind of "tall talk," in the councils of Jamestown, Providence, and Annapolis, to express disdain for the proffered hand of Indian friendship, or even to object to payment of some small tribute, in beads or powder, to these native lords of the continent. In 1637, when Capt. John Mason marched against Sassacus, at the head of ninety men, he had with him half the fighting force of the Connecticut Colony. In 1653 a wall was built across Manhattan Island to keep out the savages; though, when we say that the line of defence just covered the present course of Wall Street (which derives its name from that circumstance), our readers may not fail to wonder whether the savages were not the rather kept in by it. In 1675, when the New England Colonies had grown comparatively strong, they mustered for their war against Philip one thousand men, of whom Massachusetts furnished five hundred and twenty seven, Plymouth one hundred and fifty eight, and Connecticut three hundred and fifteen.

To men peering out from block houses, or crouching behind walls, awaiting the terrific yell of an Indian attack, it was not likely to occur that they might compromise their dignity by treating on equal terms with an enemy tenfold as numerous as themselves; nor were the statesmen of that early heroic age likely to give themselves trouble about the character and standing among the nations of the earth, of confederacies that could bring five thousand warriors into the field. And so the feeble colonies struggled on through those days of gloom and fear, deprecating the anger of the savages as they might, and circumventing their wiles when they could; played off one chieftain against another; made contribution of malice and powder to every intestine feud among the natives; bought off tribes, without much scruple as to the ultimate fulfilment of their bargains; postponed the evil day by every expedient, knowing that time was on their side: and when they had, in spite of all, to fight, fought as men who know that they will not themselves be spared, planned ambuscades and massacres; fired Indian camps, and shot the inmates as they leaped from their blazing wigwams; studied and mastered all the arts of forest warfare; and beat the savages with their own weapons, as men of the higher race will always do when forced by circumstances to such a contest.

Nor during the early part of the eighteenth century, when all danger of a war of extermination had passed from the apprehension of the most timid, when the Colonies had become in a degree compacted, and the line of white occupation had been made continuous from Massachusetts to Georgia; nor later still, when the Colonies had become States, and the representatives of the new nation of the Western world were received in all the courts of Europe was the policy abandoned of treating with the Indian tribes as parties having equal powers of initiative, and equal rights in negotiation... Continue reading book >>




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