Moreover, many of the fur traders along the Wabash were of the lowest type of humanity. They employed any and all means to cheat and defraud the Indians by the barter and sale of cheap trinkets and bad whiskey and often violated every principle of honesty and fair-dealing. This kind of conduct on the part of settlers and traders furnished ample justification in the minds of the ignorant savages for the making of reprisals. Many horses were stolen by them, and often foul murders were committed by the more lawless element. This horse-stealing and a.s.sa.s.sination led in turn to counter-attacks on the part of the whites.
In time, these acts of violence on the part of the vicious element in both races spread hate and enmity in every direction. This kind of history was made. "A Muskoe Indian was killed in Vincennes by an Italian inn-keeper without any just cause. The governor ordered that the murderer should be apprehended, but so great was the antagonism to the Indians among all cla.s.ses, that on his trial the jury acquitted the homicide almost without any deliberation. About the same time, two Wea Indians were badly wounded near Vincennes by some whites without the slightest provocation. Such facts exasperated the Indians, and led to their refusal to deliver up Indians who had committed like offenses against the white man." These things occurred shortly prior to the Tippecanoe campaign, but a condition similar to this had existed for some time before the Treaty of Fort Wayne. The Governor was not insensible to the true state of affairs. He once said: "I wish I could say the Indians were treated with justice and propriety on all occasions by our citizens, but it is far otherwise. They are often abused and maltreated, and it is rare that they obtain any satisfaction for the most unprovoked wrongs." But he also recognized the fact, that the two races, so incompatible in habits, manners, customs and tastes, could not dwell in peace together; that the progress of the white settlements ought not to and could not on that account be stayed; that it was up to him as the chief magistrate of the western country and as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to solve if he could, the troublous problem before him, and he accordingly instructed Mr. John Johnston, the Agent of Indian Affairs, to a.s.semble the tribes at Fort Wayne for the purpose of making a new treaty.
[Ill.u.s.tration: Governor William Henry Harrison]
There were many false sentimentalists of that day, who not unlike their modern brethren, wept many crocodile tears over the fate of the "poor Indian." They charged that the Governor, in the ensuing negotiations, resorted to trickery, and that he availed himself of the threats and violence of Winamac, the Potawatomi chief, in order to bring the hesitating tribes to the terms of the purchase. In the face of the revealed and undisputed facts of history, these facts were and are entirely false, and were evidently put in motion by the disgruntled office seekers at Vincennes as food for the foolish.
The position of Governor Harrison during the whole course of his administration seems to have been this: he sought to ameliorate the miserable condition of the savages at all times; sought by all means within his power to bring to punishment those who committed outrages against them; constantly demanded that the illegal traffic in liquor be stopped. However, neither Governor Harrison nor any other man, however powerful, could stop the hand of fate, or abrogate the eternal law of the survival of the fittest. After every endeavor to put a stop to abuses, and to quiet the impending storm on the frontier, he resorted to the next, and seemingly only available means of putting an end to the difficulty. That is, he provided for the separation of the two races as far as possible so as to prevent the conflicts between them; he provided for the payment of annuities for their support and so that they might purchase horses and cattle and implements of husbandry, and thus enter gradually upon the pursuits of peace. That the plan was not feasible does not detract from the fairness and benevolence of the proposer. He was but following the uniform custom which the government had at that time adopted and which the best minds of that age endorsed. He could not foresee, in the light of that day, that the red men of the forest would not accept the ways of civilization, and that all attempts of the government, however charitable, would be wasted and in vain.
The Governor set out for the council house at old Fort Wayne on the first day of September, 1809, on horseback, and accompanied only by Peter Jones, his secretary; a personal servant; Joseph Barron, a famous Indian interpreter; a Frenchman for a guide, and two Indians, probably Delawares of the friendly White River tribes. He travelled eastwardly toward the western borders of Dearborn county, and thence north to the Post. Joseph Barron, the interpreter, is thus spoken of by Judge Law: "He knew the Indian character well; he had lived among them many years; spoke fluently the language of every tribe which dwelt on the upper Wabash, understood their customs, habits, manners and charlatanry well, and although but imperfectly educated, was one of the most remarkable men I ever knew."
The Governor arrived at the Post on the fifteenth of the month, at the same time with the Delawares and their interpreter, John Conner.
To appreciate properly the hazard of this journey of two weeks through an untamed wilderness, across rivers and through dense forests, camping at night in the solitude of the woods, and exposed at all time to the attacks of the savages, one must take into consideration that already Tec.u.mseh and the Prophet were forming their confederacy and preaching a new crusade at Tippecanoe; that they were fast filling the minds of their savage hearers with that fierce malice and hatred which was to break forth in the flame of revolt in a little over two years hence; that the British agents at Maiden were loading the Indians with presents and filling their ears with falsification as to the intentions of Harrison; that they were already arming them with guns, bullets, knives and tomahawks, and that there were those among them who would not hesitate at a.s.sa.s.sination, if they might hope to reap a British reward.
Notwithstanding these facts, Harrison did not hesitate.
The scene about to be enacted was a memorable one. On the one hand were arrayed the Governor, with his servant and secretary, four Indian interpreters and a few officers of the Post; on the other, the painted and feather-bedecked warriors and sachems of the Miamis, the Potawatomi, the Delawares and the Weas. On the third day of the council, eight hundred and ninety-two warriors were present; on the day of the actual signing of the treaty, thirteen hundred and ninety. No such body of red men had been a.s.sembled to meet a commissioner of the United States since the treaty with Anthony Wayne in 1795. Even at that a.s.semblage there were present only eleven hundred and thirty.
There were chiefs of the Mississinewa, loud and defiant, who openly declared their connection with the British. There was Winamac, the Potawatomi, who afterwards slaughtered the surrendered garrison at Fort Dearborn, and boasted of his murder. There were Silver Heels and Pecan, Five Medals and The Owl. But above them all stood Little Turtle, the Miami. He had been present at the defeat of Harmar and the slaughter of St. Clair's army. He had fought against Wayne at Fallen Timbers. In 1797 he had visited the great white father at Philadelphia, President Was.h.i.+ngton, and had been presented with a brace of elegantly mounted pistols by the Baron Kosciusko. There were braves present whose hands had been besmeared with the blood of innocent women and children--who had raised the savage yell of terror while setting firebrands to the cabin and tomahawking its inmates.
During the days that were to follow there were many loud and violent harangues; parties of warriors arrived with presents of the British emissaries in their hands, and saying that they had been advised never to yield another foot of territory; at one time, on September twenty-sixth, the Potawatomi, in open a.s.sembly, raised a shout of defiance against the Miamis, poured out torrents of abuse on the heads of their chieftains and withdrew from the council declaring that the tomahawk was raised. Amid all this loud jangling and savage quarreling the Governor remained unperturbed and steady to his purpose.
Notwithstanding frequent demands, he constantly refused to deal out any liquor except in the most meager quant.i.ties--he restrained the Potawatomi and made them smoke the pipe of peace with their offended allies--he met and answered all the arguments suggested by the British agents--and after fifteen days of constant and unremitting effort won over the chiefs of the Mississinewa and gained the day.
The official account of the proceedings as made by Peter Jones, secretary to the Governor, and now reposing in the archives of the United States government, shows that instead of attempting to make any purchase of Indian lands when only a small number of representatives of the tribes were present, that the Governor on the eighteenth of September, dispatched messengers to Detroit to summon certain Delawares and Potawatomi who were absent; that on the same day he also directed Joseph Barron to go to the Miami villages along the Wabash to call in Richardville, one of the princ.i.p.al chiefs of that tribe. The records also show that while the Governor had some private conferences with some of the princ.i.p.al chiefs for the purpose of urging their support to his plans, that he addressed all his princ.i.p.al remarks to the tribes in open council of all the warriors, and at a time when four interpreters were present, to-wit: William Wells, Joseph Barron, John Conner and Abraham Ash, to translate his observations.
The first of these great councils was on September 22. The arguments of the Governor, so interesting at this day, are set forth: "He urged the vast benefit which they (the Indians) derived from their annuities, without which they would not be able to clothe their women and children.
The great advance in the price of goods and the depression in the value of their peltries from the trouble in Europe, to which there was no probability of a speedy determination. The little game which remained in their country, particularly that part of it which he proposed to purchase. The usurpation of it by a banditti of Muscoes and other tribes; that the sale of it would not prevent their hunting upon it as long as any game remained. But that it was absolutely necessary that they should adopt some other plan for their support. That the raising of cattle and hogs required little labor, and would be the surest resources as a subst.i.tute for the wild animals which they had so unfortunately destroyed for the sake of their skins. Their fondness for hunting might still be gratified if they would prevent their young men from hunting at improper seasons of the year. But to do this effectually, it would be necessary that they should find a certain support in their villages in the summer season. That the proposed addition to their annuities would enable them to purchase the domestic animals necessary to commence raising them on a large scale. He observed also that they were too apt to impute their poverty and the scarcity of game to the encroachments of the white settlers. But this is not the true cause. It is owing to their own improvidence and to the advice of the British traders by whom they were stimulated to kill the wild animals for their skins alone, when the flesh was not wanted. That this was the cause of their scarcity is evident from their being found in much greater quant.i.ty on the south than on the north sh.o.r.e of the Wabash, where no white men but traders were ever seen. The remnant of the Weas who inhabit the tract of country which was wanted, were from their vicinity to the whites, poor and miserable; all the proceeds of their hunts and the great part of their annuities expended in whiskey. The Miami Nation would be more respectable and formidable if its scattered members were a.s.sembled in the center of their country."
The reasoning of the Governor was cogent. The motive that had prompted the British to hold the frontier posts for so many years after the revolution, was to secure a monopoly of the fur trade. Their traders constantly urged the tribes to bring in peltries, and this led to a merciless slaughter of animals for their hides alone. These measures involved the ultimate destruction of the food supply of the tribes. It was also true that the tribes along the Wabash were exhausting the supply of wild game. The plan of inducing them to accept annuities and to purchase cattle, hogs and other domestic animals for the purpose of replenis.h.i.+ng their food supply, seemed highly plausible to the minds of that day. That the Weas on the lower Wabash would be better off if removed from the immediate neighborhood of the white settlements where they could purchase fire-water and indulge their vices, did not admit of doubt. It was possibly the only plan of bringing relief from the troubles which were daily augmenting between the two races of men.
From the first, however, the appeal of the Governor met with a cold reception at the hands of the Mississinewa chiefs. That their feelings in the matter were prompted by their jealousy of the other tribes present, and their claim to the sole disposal of any of the lands along the Wabash, there can be no doubt. Little Turtle was soon won over, but the younger and more aggressive chiefs of the Miami villages were hostile to him and openly expressed their disapproval of his conduct.
The Mississinewa chiefs were also violently opposed to the pretensions of Winamac and the Potawatomi. They claimed that the Potawatomi were new comers and usurpers and had no right to a voice in the sale of lands in the Wabash valley. The Mississinewa chiefs prevailed. On the twenty-fourth the Miamis, "declared their determination not to sell a foot of land, observing that it was time to put a stop to the encroachments of the whites who were eternally purchasing their lands for less than the real value of them. That they had also heard that the governor had no instructions to make any purchase, but was making it upon his own authority to please the white people whom he governed." On the twenty-fifth, the Governor, to overcome their opposition, made another long appeal in open council, declaring that the British alone were responsible for the feeling between the races. On that occasion he gave expression to certain ideas that Tec.u.mseh afterwards eagerly seized upon as an argument in favor of the communistic owners.h.i.+p of all the Indian lands, and as an argument against the sale of 1809. The governor said: "Potawatomis and Miamis, look upon each other as brothers, and at the same time look upon your grandfathers, the Delawares. I love to see you all united. I wish to hear you speak with one voice the dictates of one heart. All must go together. The consent of all is necessary.
Delawares and Potawatomis, I told you that I could do nothing with the Miamis without your consent. Miamis, I now tell you that nothing can be done without your consent. The consent of the whole is necessary."
This second appeal met with the same reception as the first. On the twenty-sixth, the Miamis, again declared that they would never consent to the sale of any more of their lands. "That they had been advised by their Father, the British, never to sell another foot." At this moment it was that the Potawatomi started a violent altercation, setting up a shout of open defiance in the council house and threatening to resort to force. On repairing to the Governor's headquarters, however, and reporting their conduct, Harrison, "blamed them for their rashness and made them promise not to offer the Miamis any further insults."
On the evening of the same day, the Governor held another extended conference with the Miami chiefs, and explained to them that the British were to blame for all their troubles. His remarks were prophetic. He said: "In case of a war with the latter (the Americans), the English knew that they were unable to defend Canada with their own force; they were therefore desirous of interposing the Indians between them and danger." The death of Tec.u.mseh in the British ranks was part of the fulfillment of this prediction.
All the conferences proved in vain. On the twenty-seventh, Silver Heels, a Miami chief, was won over and spoke in favor of the treaty, and Harrison succeeded on the twenty-eighth in reconciling the Miamis and Potawatomi, but in full council on the twenty-ninth, The Owl, a Miami chief, flatly refused to sell an acre; made a bitter and sarcastic speech, and among other things said; "You remember the time when we first took each other by the hand at Greenville. You there told us where the line would be between us. You told us to love our women and children and to take care of our lands. You told us that the Spanish had a great deal of money, the English, and some of your people likewise, but that we should not sell our lands to any of them. In consequence of which last fall we put our hands upon our hearts and determined not to sell our lands." Harrison answered in a speech of two hours length, and ended by saying, "that he was tired of waiting and that on the next day he would submit to them the form of a treaty which he wished them to sign and if they would not agree to it he would extinguish the council fire."
We now come to a circ.u.mstance which refutes much that Tec.u.mseh afterwards claimed. In his famous meeting with the Governor at Vincennes in August, 1810, and speaking of the treaty of 1809, he said: "Brother, this land that was sold, and the goods that were given for it were only done by a few. The treaty was afterwards brought here, and the Weas were induced to give their consent because of their small numbers. The treaty at Fort Wayne was made through the threats of Winnemac; but in the future we are prepared to punish those chiefs who may come forward to propose to sell the land." The record of the official proceedings, made at the time, show, however, that immediately upon the close of Harrison's last speech of September twenty-ninth, that Winamac arose to reply, but upon noting that fact all the Mississinewa Miamis left the council house in contempt. Not only was the treaty of 1809 concluded by a larger number of Indians than were present at Greenville, Ohio, in 1795, but the influence of Winamac with the Miamis seems to have been of a very negligible quant.i.ty.
The truth is that the final consummation of the pact of 1809 was brought about by the ready tact and hard common sense of Harrison himself. On the morning of the thirtieth of September, the very day the treaty was signed, it was thought by all the officers and gentlemen present that the mission of the Governor was fruitless. No solution of the obstinacy of the Mississinewa chiefs had been discovered. Nothing daunted, Harrison resolved to make one more attempt. He took with him his interpreter, Joseph Barron, a man in whom he had the utmost confidence, and visited the camps of the Miamis. He was received well and told them that he came, not as a representative of the President, but as an old friend with whom they had been many years acquainted. "That he plainly saw that there was something in their hearts which was not consistent with the attachment they ought to bear to their great father, and that he was afraid that they had listened to bad birds. That he had come to them for the purpose of hearing every cause of complaint against the United States, and that he would not leave them until they laid open everything that oppressed their hearts. He knew that they could have no solid objection to the proposed treaty, for they were all men of sense and reflection, and all knew that they would be greatly benefited by it." Calling then, upon the princ.i.p.al chief of the Eel River tribe, who had served under him in General Wayne's army, he demanded to know what his objections to the treaty were. In reply, the chief drew forth a copy of the Treaty of Grouseland and said: "Father, here are your own words.
In this paper you have promised that you would consider the Miamis as the owners of the land on the Wabash. Why then, are you about to purchase it from others?"
"The Governor a.s.sured them that it was not his intention to purchase the land from the other tribes. That he had always said, and was ready now to confess that the land belonged to the Miamis and to no other tribe.
That if the other tribes had been invited to the treaty, it was at their particular request (the Miamis). The Potawatomi had indeed taken higher ground than either the Governor or the Miamis expected. They claimed an equal right to the land in question with the Miamis, but what of this?
Their claiming it gave them no right, and it was not the intention of the Governor to put anything in the treaty which would in the least alter their claim to their lands on the Wabash, as established by the Treaty of Grouseland, unless they chose to satisfy the Delawares with respect to their claim to the country watered by the White river. That even the whole compensation proposed to be given for the lands would be given to the Miamis if they insisted upon it, but that they knew the offense which this would give to the other tribes, and that it was always the Governor's intention so to draw the treaty that the Potawatomi and Delawares would be considered as partic.i.p.ating in the advantages of the treaty as allies of the Miamis; not as having any rights to the land."
The Governor's resourcefulness saved the day. There was an instant change of sentiment and a brightening of the dark faces. The claim of the Miamis acknowledged; their savage pride appeased, and their t.i.tle to the land verified, they were ready for the treaty. Pecan, the chief, informed the Governor that he might retire to the fort and that they would shortly wait upon him with good news. The treaty was immediately drafted, and on the same day signed and sealed by the headmen and chiefs without further dissent.
Thus was concluded the Treaty of Fort Wayne of September 30, 1809. The articles were fully considered and signed only after due deliberation of at least a fortnight. The terms were threshed out in open council, before the largest a.s.sembly of red men ever engaged in a treaty in the western country up to that time. No undue influence, fraud or coercion were brought to bear--every attempt at violence was promptly checked by the Governor--no resort was had to the evil influence of bribes or intoxicants. When agreed upon, it was executed without question.
RESULTS OF THE TREATY
_--Harrison's political enemies at Vincennes rally against him in the open, and are defeated in the courts._
The Treaty of Fort Wayne having been consummated and certain disputes relative to horse-stealing and other depredations having been arranged between the two races, the Governor, on the fourth of October, 1809, set out on his return to Vincennes. He travelled on horseback, accompanied by his secretary and interpreter, pa.s.sing through the Indian villages at the forks of the Wabash and striking the towns of the Miamis at the mouth of the Mississinewa. Here dwelt John B. Richardville, or Peshewah, a celebrated chief of that tribe, who was later chosen as princ.i.p.al sachem on the death of Little Turtle. Richardville had not been personally present at Fort Wayne, but he now received the Governor cordially, and gave his unqualified approval to the previous proceedings.
The day before his arrival at Peshewah's town, the Governor met with a singular experience, which not only served to ill.u.s.trate the advancing ravages of liquor among the tribes but Harrison's intimate knowledge of Indian laws, customs and usages. On coming into the camp of Pecan, a Mississinewa chieftain, he discovered that one of the warriors had received a mortal wound in a "drunken frolic" of the preceding evening.
The chiefs informed him that the slayer had not been apprehended, whereupon the Governor recommended that if the act "should appear to have proceeded from previous malice," that the offender should be punished, "but if it should appear to be altogether accident, to let him know it, and he would a.s.sist to make up the matter with the friends of the deceased." The payment of wergild or "blood-money" among the Indian tribes in compensation of the loss of life or limb, is strongly in accord with the ancient Saxon law, yet it seems to have prevailed as far back at least as the time of William Penn, for in one of his letters describing the aborigines of America, he says: "The justice they (the Indians) have is pecuniary; in case of any wrong or evil fact, be it murder itself, they atone by feasts and presents of their wampum, which is proportioned to the offense, or person injured, or of the s.e.x they are of; for, in case they kill a woman, they pay double, and the reason they render, is that she can raise children, which men cannot do." Later on, at Vincennes, the Governor had another and similar experience which affords additional proof that the custom above mentioned was still prevalent. A Potawatomi chieftain from the prairies came in attended by some young men. He found there about one hundred and fifty of the Kickapoos, who were receiving their annuity, and he immediately made complaint to the Governor as follows: "My Father," said he, "it is now twelve moons since these people, the Kickapoos, killed my brother; I have never revenged it, but they have promised to cover up his blood, but they have not done it. I wish you to tell them, my father, to pay me for my brother, or some of them will lose their hair before they go from this." The Governor accordingly advised the chief of the Kickapoos to satisfy the Potawatomi. On the following day the latter again called upon the Governor, and said: "See there, my father," showing three blankets and some other articles, "see what these people have offered me for my brother, but my brother was not a hog that I should take three blankets for him," and he declared his intention of killing some of them unless they would satisfy him in the way he proposed. The Governor, upon inquiry, finding that the goods of the Kickapoos were all distributed, directed, on account of the United States, that a small addition be made to what he had received.
At the villages on Eel river the Governor met with certain of the Weas of the lower region, and dispatched them to summon their chiefs to meet with him at Vincennes and ratify the treaty. He arrived at the latter place on the twelfth of October, having been absent for a period of about six weeks, and found that the complete success of his mission had restored in a large measure that popularity which he had beforetime lost on account of his advocacy of slavery. The acquisition was heralded far and wide as a measure calculated in all respects to forward the interests of the Territory. Not only was the total domain acquired, vast in acreage, (being computed at about 2,900,000 acres), but it was considered extremely fertile, well watered, and as containing salt springs and valuable mines. Once the Weas and other tribes were removed from close proximity to the settlements, it was confidently expected that the old clashes would cease and that the new territory would be speedily surveyed and opened up for entry and purchase to within twelve miles of the mouth of the Vermilion. The Indians also, seemed well satisfied. The Potawatomi had been urgent; Richardville, Little Turtle and all the Miamis had given their consent; the Weas and Kickapoos were about to ratify.
Nothing was then heard of the pretensions of the Shawnee Prophet or his abler brother. In a message to the territorial legislature in 1810, reviewing the events of this period, Harrison said: "It was not until eight months after the conclusion of the treaty, and after his design of forming a combination against the United States had been discovered and defeated, that the pretensions of the Prophet, in regard to the land in question, were made known. A furious clamor was then raised by the foreign agents among us, and other disaffected persons, against the policy which had excluded from the treaty this great and influential character, as he is termed, and the doing so expressly attributed to the personal ill-will on the part of the negotiator. No such ill-will did in fact exist. I accuse myself, indeed, of an error in the patronage and support which I afforded him on his arrival on the Wabash, before his hostility to the United States had been developed. But on no principle of propriety or policy could he have been made a party to the treaty.
The personage, called the Prophet, is not a chief of the tribe to which he belongs, but an outcast from it, rejected and hated by the real chiefs, the princ.i.p.al of whom was present at the treaty, and not only disclaimed on the part of his tribe any t.i.tle to the land ceded, but used his personal influence with the chiefs of the other tribes to effect the cession."
The "princ.i.p.al chief" of the Shawnees above alluded to was undoubtedly Black Hoof, or Cataheca.s.sa, who at this time lived in the first town of that tribe, at Wapakoneta, Ohio. Being near to Fort Wayne he had no doubt attended the great council at that place. He had been a renowned warrior, as already shown, and had been present at Braddock's Defeat, at Point Pleasant, and at St. Clair's disaster, but when Anthony Wayne conquered the Indians at Fallen Timbers, Black Hoof had given up, and he had afterwards remained steadfast in his allegiance to the United States government. When Tec.u.mseh afterwards attempted to form his confederacy, he met with a firm and steady resistance from Black Hoof, and his influence was such that no considerable body of the Shawnees ever joined the Prophet's camp. Black Hoof died in 1831 at the advanced age of one hundred and ten years, and tradition says that like Moses, "his eye was not dim; nor his natural force abated." The fact that Black Hoof, who was of great fame among his tribe, as both orator and statesman, made no claim to any of the lands sold below the Vermilion, is strong c.u.mulative proof of the a.s.sertion afterwards made by Harrison to Tec.u.mseh, that any claims of his tribe to the lands on the Wabash were without foundation.
The personal admirers and intimate a.s.sociates of Harrison, were, of course, overjoyed. They were no doubt influenced to some extent by the fact that another long lease of power was in sight. Their leader's victory would inure to their own benefit. Still, there were no cravens among them. A banquet followed, partic.i.p.ated in by a number of the leading citizens of the town and adjacent country. Judge Henry Vanderburgh, of the Territorial Court, presided, and toasts were drank to the treaty, Governor Harrison, his secretary, Peter Jones, and the "honest interpreter" Joseph Barron. Of those present on that occasion, some were afterwards officers at Tippecanoe, and one, Thomas Randolph, fell at the side of his chief.
There were those, however, who were not to be silenced by the Governor's triumph. The political battles of that time were extremely vitriolic, and the fights over territorial politics had been filled with hate.
Certain foes of the Governor not only appeared in Knox county, but eventually in the halls of the national congress, and there were those who did not hesitate to question the Governor's integrity. Among those who bitterly opposed Harrison was one William McIntosh, "a Scotchman of large property at Vincennes, who had been for many years hostile to the Governor, and who was not believed to be very partial to the government of the United States." Harrison terms him as a "Scotch Tory." One John Small made an affidavit before Judge Benjamin Parke that prior to the year 1805, McIntosh had been on good terms with Harrison, but that Harrison's advocacy of a representative government for the territory, or its advancement to the second grade, had turned him into an enemy.
However this may be, Harrison and his friends, in order to vindicate his fame at home and abroad, now resolved to bring an action for damages in the territorial courts against McIntosh, "for having a.s.serted that he had cheated the Indians, in the last treaty which had been made with them at Fort Wayne." The suit being brought to issue, it was found that of the territorial judges then on the bench, one, probably Judge Parke, was a personal friend of the Governor, and one a personal friend of McIntosh. These gentlemen, therefore, both retired, and the Honorable Waller Taylor, who had recently come into the territory a.s.sumed the ermine. A jury was selected by the court naming two elisors, who in turn selected a panel of forty-eight persons, from which the plaintiff and defendant each struck twelve, and from the remaining twenty-four the jury was drawn by lot. With this "struck jury," the cause proceeded to a hearing. The following account, given in _Dawson's Harrison_, will prove of interest: "Before a crowded audience, this interesting trial was continued from ten A. M., till one o'clock at night. Every person concerned in the Indian Department, or who could know anything of the circ.u.mstances of the late treaty at Fort Wayne, was examined, and every lat.i.tude that was asked for, or attempted by the defendant, in the examination, permitted. Finding that the testimony of all the witnesses went to prove the justice and integrity of the Governor's conduct in relation to everything connected with the Indian Department, the defendant began to ask questions relating to some points of his civil administration. To this the jury as well as the court objected, the latter observing that it was necessary that the examination should be confined to the matter at issue. But at the earnest request of the Governor the defendant was permitted to pursue his own course and examine the witnesses upon every point which he might think proper. The defendant's counsel, abandoning all idea of justification, pleaded only for a mitigation of damages. After a retirement of one hour the jury returned a verdict of $4,000 damages. To pay this sum, a large amount of the defendant's lands were exposed for sale, and in the Governor's absence in the command of the army the ensuing year, was bought in by his agent. Two-thirds of his property has since been returned to McIntosh and the remaining part given to some of the orphan children of those distinguished citizens who fell a sacrifice to their patriotism in the last war."
The head chief of the Weas at this time was Lapoussier, whose name would indicate that he was of French extraction. He arrived at Vincennes on the fifteenth day of October, with fifteen warriors and was later followed by Negro Legs, Little Eyes and Shawanoe, who came in with other companies of the tribe. On the twenty-fourth, the Governor a.s.sembled them for the purpose, as he stated, of ascertaining whether they "were in a situation to understand the important business he had to lay before them." He said that he had shut up the liquor casks, but that he found that his proclamation prohibiting the sale of liquor had been disobeyed.
He was glad to find however, that they were sober, and expressed a wish that they would not drink any more while the deliberations were in progress. On the twenty-fifth he explained fully all the provisions of the Treaty of Fort Wayne, the benefit the Weas would derive from an increase in their annuity, and the removal from the vicinity of the settlements to the neighborhood of their brothers, the Miamis, who lived farther up the river. He also told them that they would be granted the same amount of goods in hand received by the larger tribes, on account of the inconvenience they would suffer by moving from their present habitations. The Governor's conduct in refusing to negotiate while any evidences of liquor were manifest was in strict keeping with his att.i.tude at Fort Wayne, and his generous treatment of a smaller and weaker tribe certainly redounds to his credit. The Treaty of Fort Wayne was duly ratified and approved on the twenty-sixth day of October, 1809, and the convention was signed by Lapoussier and all the Wea chieftains without a single dissent.
Only one tribe now remained who had any manner of claim to any of the lands in the Wabash valley. This tribe was the Kickapoos, who lived at the mouth of the Vermilion river and in that part of Indiana now comprising practically all of Vermilion county and parts of Warren and Parke. Accordingly a treaty was concluded with them at Vincennes on the ninth of December, 1809, whereby they fully ratified all the proceedings at Fort Wayne, and further ceded to the United States "all that tract of land which lies above the tract above ceded (the north line of which was Racc.o.o.n creek), the Wabash, the Vermilion river, and a line to be drawn from the north corner of said ceded tract, so as to strike the Vermilion river at a distance of twenty miles in a direct line from its mouth."
Among the interesting names attached as witnesses to the articles is that of Hyacinthe Laselle.
THE SHAWNEE BROTHERS
--_The Prophet as an Indian Priest and Tec.u.mseh as a political organizer--The episode of the eclipse of 1806--Tec.u.mseh's personal appearance described._
The confederacy of Tec.u.mseh was established upon a priesthood. Let us regard the priest. He was a character remarkable enough to invite the attention of all the leading men of that day, including Jefferson. He was subtle and crafty enough to delude Harrison into the belief that he might be a friend instead of a foe.
The account related by Simon Kenton, and vouched for by John Johnston and Anthony Shane, is that Tec.u.mseh, Laulewasikaw, the Prophet, and a third brother, k.u.mskaukau, were triplets; that Tec.u.mseh was the youngest or last born of the three; that "this event so extraordinary among the Indian tribes, with whom a double birth is quite uncommon, struck the mind of the people as supernatural, and marked him and his brothers with the prestige of future greatness--that the Great Spirit would direct them to the achievement of something great." The date of this extraordinary event is given by most authors as 1768, making Tec.u.mseh and the Prophet some five years the seniors of General Harrison. "They were born in a cabin or hut, constructed of round saplings c.h.i.n.ked with sticks and clay, near the mouth of Stillwater, on the upper part of its junction with the Great Miami, then a pleasant plateau of land, with a field of corn not subject to overflow."
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