On the eighth of August Wayne reached the junction of the Au Glaize and the Maumee, and began the erection of Fort Defiance. The whole country was filled with the Indian gardens and corn fields which extended up the Maumee to the British fort. On the thirteenth of August, the General dispatched the scout, Christopher Miller, with the last and final overture of peace. In the event of a refusal, there must be a final appeal to arms. "America," said Wayne, "shall no longer be insulted with impunity. To the all-powerful and just G.o.d I therefore commit myself and gallant army." Impatient of a reply, Wayne moved forward again on the fifteenth, and met Miller returning. The Indians requested a delay of ten days to debate peace or war. Wayne gave orders to march on. At eight o'clock on the morning of the twentieth of August, 1794, the army advanced in columns and in open order to meet the enemy. The Indian forces consisted of Shawnees, Delawares, Wyandots, Ottawas, Miamis, Potawatomi, Chippewas and Mohawks, numbering from fifteen hundred to two thousand warriors. Added to these were two companies of Canadian militia from Amherstburg and Detroit, commanded by Captain Caldwell. Alexander McKee was present, and Matthew Elliott and Simon Girty, but they kept well in the rear and near the river. The whole mixed force of Indians and Canadians were encamped on the north bank of the Maumee, "at and around a hill called 'Presque Isle,' about two miles south of the site of Maumee City, and four south of the British Fort Miami."
The order of march was as follows: The Legion was on the right, its flank covered by the Maumee. On the left hovered a brigade of mounted Kentucky volunteers under Brigadier-General Todd. In the rear was another brigade of the same kind of troops under Brigadier-General Barbee. In advance of the Legion rode a select battalion of mounted Kentuckians under Major Price. These were to be on the lookout and to give timely notice to the regulars in case of attack. The army had advanced about five miles and were entering an area covered with fallen timber and high gra.s.s, when the advance corps under Price received such a sudden and terrible fire from the hidden enemy that they were compelled to retreat. "The savages were formed in three lines, within supporting distance of each other, and extending for two miles, at right angles with the river." The fallen trunks of the trees, blown down by a tornado, made a fine covert for the red men and prevented any favorable action by the cavalry. Wayne was instantly alert. He formed the Legion into two lines, one a short distance behind the other, and began the fight. He soon perceived from the weight of the savage fire and the extent of their lines that they were trying to turn his left flank and drive him into the river. He now ordered the second line to advance and support the first; directed Major-General Scott to take all the mounted volunteers and turn the right flank of the enemy, while he issued orders to Mis Campbell who commanded the legionary cavalry, to gallop in at the right and next to the river and turn the Indian left. The front line was ordered to charge with trailed arms and rouse the Indians from their coverts at the point of the bayonet, "and when up, to deliver a close and well directed fire on their backs, followed by a brisk charge, so as not to give them time to load again." The mounted volunteers under Scott, Todd and Barbee, and the second line of the Legion, had only gained their positions in part, when the battle was over. The first line of the federal infantry, charging with that impetuosity imparted to them by their gallant commander, drove savages and Canadians in headlong rout for a distance of two miles and strewed the ground with many corpses. The legionary cavalry, blowing their trumpets and das.h.i.+ng in upon the terrified Indians, slew a part of them with broadswords, and put the remainder to instant retreat. "This horde of savages," says Wayne, "with their allies, abandoned themselves to flight and dispersed with terror and dismay, leaving our victorious army in full and quiet possession of the field of battle." The British, with their usual treachery, closed the gates of the fort in the face of the fleeing red men and refused them refuge. Lured and encouraged into a hopeless contest, they found themselves abandoned by that very power that had urged them to reject all offers of peace. The Americans lost thirty-three in killed, and had one hundred wounded. The savage loss was much heavier.
Immediately after the battle of Fallen Timbers the American army moved down the river and encamped within view of the British garrison. Fort Miami occupied a well fortified position on the north bank of the Maumee near the present Maumee City. There were four nine-pounders, two large howitzers, and six six-pounders, mounted in the fort, and two swivels.
The entire fortification was surrounded by a wide, deep ditch about twenty feet deep from the top of the parapet. The forces within consisted of about two hundred and fifty regulars and two hundred militia. All were under command of Major William Campbell, of the Twenty-fourth Regiment. The rout of the Indian allies had been humiliating enough, but at sight of the victorious ranks of the American army Campbell became furious. On the next day after the battle he could contain himself no longer. He addressed a note to Wayne complaining that the army of the United States had taken post on the banks of the Maumee and within range of his majesty's fort, for upwards of twenty-four hours, and he desired to inform himself as speedily as possible, in what light he was to view so near an approach to the garrison. Wayne made immediate reply. He said that without questioning the authority or the propriety of the major's question, he thought that he might without breach of decorum observe, that if the major was ent.i.tled to an answer, that a most full and satisfactory one had been announced to him from the muzzles of his (Wayne's) small arms on the previous day, in an action against a horde of savages in the vicinity of the British post, which had terminated gloriously to the American arms.
He further declared that if said action had continued until the Indians were driven under the influence of the British guns, that these guns would not have much impeded the progress of the victorious army under his command, "as no such post was established at the commencement of the present war between the Indians and the United States." On the next day the incensed major wrote another note, threatening Wayne with war if he continued to approach within pistol shot of the fort with arms in his hands. To this Wayne replied by inviting the major to return with his men, artillery and stores to the nearest post "occupied by his Britannic Majesty's troops at the peace of 1783." Campbell wrote another reply refusing to vacate the fort and warning Wayne not to approach within reach of his cannon. "The only notice taken of this letter," says Wayne, "was by immediately setting fire to and destroying everything within view of the fort, and even under the muzzles of the guns." For three days and nights the American troops continued to destroy the houses and corn fields of the enemy both above and below the British post, while the garrison looked on and dared not sally forth. One of the severest sufferers from this devastation was the notorious renegade, Alexander McKee, who had done so much to inflame the war between the tribes and the United States. His houses, stores and property were utterly consumed.
The army now retired by easy marches to Fort Defiance, laying waste the villages and corn fields for about fifty miles on each side of the Maumee. On the fourteenth of September the march was taken up for the Miami villages at the junction of the St. Joseph and the St. Marys, and the troops arrived there on the seventeenth. On the eighteenth, Wayne selected a site for a fort. On the twenty-second of October the new fortification was completed, and a force of infantry and artillery stationed there under command of Colonel John F. Hamtramck. The new post was named Fort Wayne. On the twenty-eighth of October, the main body of the troops started back on the trace to Fort Greenville, and here, on the second day of November, 1794, General Wayne re-established his headquarters.
The victory of Wayne was complete and final. It brought peace to the frontiers, and paved the way for the advance of civilization. In 1802, Ohio became a state of the Union. His triumph did more. It made the name and the power of the United States respected as they never were before, and gave authority and dignity to the federal arms. The Indian tribes were sorely dispirited. Not only had the British abandoned them in their final hour of defeat, but their fields and cabins had been laid waste and their supplies of food destroyed. There was much suffering among them, during the ensuing winter. The establishment of the post at Fort Wayne put a new obstacle in the path of the British in the valleys of the Wabash and the Maumee, and led the way to the final abandonment of the northwest by their troops and garrisons.
The administration of Was.h.i.+ngton was also vindicated. In the face of two disheartening defeats, a lack of confidence in the west, and almost open opposition in the east, a fighting general had at last been found, an army trained, and led forth to splendid victory. The great northwest owes a debt of eternal grat.i.tude to the first president of the republic, George Was.h.i.+ngton.
The administration was further successful. While General Wayne was preparing for his campaign, the Chief Justice of the United States, John Jay, had been sent to England to effect a treaty of peace. Feeling was high in both countries and the danger of war was imminent, but the prudence and moderation of Was.h.i.+ngton led him to see that what the nation needed most was peace and repose and a chance for development. On the nineteenth of November, 1794, Mr. Jay and Lord Grenville "concluded a treaty of amity, commerce and navigation between the United States and Great Britain," by the terms of which the latter country, among other things, agreed to surrender the western posts. On the eleventh day of July, 1796, at the hour of noon, the Stars and Stripes floated over the ramparts of the British fort at Detroit.
THE TREATY OF GREENVILLE
--_The surrender of the Ohio lands of the Miamis and their final submission to the Government._
Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, Joseph Brant and Alexander McKee did all that lay within their power to stem the tide of savage defection. Simcoe advised the tribes not to listen to any American overtures of peace, but to simply propose a truce and make ready for further hostilities. He tried to secure a deed of trust for the Indian lands from each nation, promising them that England would guarantee the land thus ceded. A general attack was to be made on all the frontiers in the spring. Brant told them "to keep a good heart and be strong; to do as their father advised." In the spring he would return with a large party of warriors to fight, kill and pursue the Americans. He had always been successful and victory was a.s.sured. McKee was active distributing clothing and provisions. He made an especial appeal to the Shawnees who were known to be the most hostile of all the tribes. In a private conference afterwards held with Wayne, the Shawnee chief, Blue Jacket, told the general that McKee had invited him to his house and had strongly urged him to keep away from the council with the Americans. Seeing that his entreaties were of no avail, he said: "The commission you received from Johnson was not given you to carry to the Americans. I am grieved to find that you have taken it to them. It was with much regret I learned that you have deserted your friends, who have always caressed you, and treated you as a great man. You have deranged, by your imprudent conduct, all our plans for protecting the Indians, and keeping them with us. They have always looked up to you for advice and direction in the war, and you have now broke the strong ties which held them all together, under your and our direction. You must now be viewed as the enemy of your people, and the other Indians whom you are seducing into the snares of the Americans have formed for their ruin, and the ma.s.sacre and destruction of their people by the Americans must be laid to your charge." Ma.s.sas, a Chippewa chieftain, told Wayne that when he returned from the treaty of Muskingum (Fort Harmar), that McKee threatened to kill him. "I have not now less cause to fear him, as he endeavored to prevent my coming hither."
The importunities of the British agents, however, failed of their object. The Indians had lost all confidence in British promises and Wayne had filled them with a wholesome respect for the American arms.
Numbers of their leading chieftains, including Tarhe, of the Wyandots, and Little Turtle of the Miamis, thought all further resistance useless.
No doubt many of them entertained the views that Brant long afterwards openly expressed to Sir John Johnson. "In the first place," said the great Mohawk, "the Indians were engaged in a war to a.s.sist the English--then left in the lurch at the peace, to fight alone until they could make peace for themselves. After repeatedly defeating the armies of the United States, so that they sent Commissioners to endeavor to get peace, the Indians were so advised as prevented them from listening to any terms, and hopes were given them of a.s.sistance. A fort was even built in their country, under pretense of giving refuge in case of necessity; but when that time came, the gates were shut against them as enemies. They were doubly injured by this, because they relied on it for support, and were deceived. Was it not for this reliance of mutual support, their conduct would have been different."
The first to come to Greenville to consult with Wayne, were the Wyandots of Sandusky. "He told them he pitied them for their folly in listening to the British, who were very glad to urge them to fight and to give them ammunition, but who had neither the power nor the inclination to help them when the time of trial came; that hitherto the Indians had felt only the weight of his little finger, but that he would surely destroy all the tribes in the near future if they did not make peace."
During the winter of 1794-1795 parties of Wyandots, Ottawas, Chippewas, Potawatomi, Sacs, Miamis, Delawares and Shawnees came in, and on February 11th, 1795, the preliminaries of a treaty were agreed upon between the Shawnees, Delawares and Miamis, and the Americans.
Arrangements were also made for a grand council with all the Indian nations at Fort Greenville, on or about the fifteenth of the ensuing June.
[Ill.u.s.tration: General Anthony Wayne and Little Turtle at Greenville.
From an old painting by one of Wayne's staff. By Courtesy The Chicago Historical Society]
The a.s.semblage of Indian warriors and headmen that met with Anthony Wayne on the sixteenth of June, and continued in session until the tenth day of August, 1795, was the most noted ever held in America.
Present, were one hundred and eighty Wyandots, three hundred and eighty-one Delawares, one hundred and forty-three Shawnees, forty-five Ottawas, forty-six Chippewas, two hundred and forty Potawatomi, seventy-three Miamis and Eel Rivers, twelve Weas and Piankeshaws, and ten Kickapoos and Kaskaskias, in all eleven hundred and thirty savages.
Among the renowned fighting men and chiefs present, was Tarhe, of the Wyandots, known as "The Crane," who had fought under the Cornstalk at Point Pleasant, and who had been badly wounded at the battle of Fallen Timbers. He now exercised a mighty influence for peace and remained the firm friend of the United States. Of the Miamis, the foremost was the Little Turtle, who was probably the greatest warrior and Indian diplomat of his day or time. He had defeated Harmar and destroyed St. Clair, but he now stood for an amicable adjustment. Next to Little Turtle was LeGris. Of the Shawnees, there were Blue Jacket and Cataheca.s.sa, or the Black Hoof. The latter chieftain had been present at Braddock's defeat in 1775, had fought against General Andrew Lewis at Point Pleasant in 1774, and was an active leader of the Shawnees at the battles with Harmar and St. Clair. Blue Jacket had been the princ.i.p.al commander of the Indian forces at Fallen Timbers. Buckongahelas, of the Delawares, Au-goosh-away, of the Ottawas, Mash-i-pinash-i-wish, of the Chippewas, Keesa.s.s and Topenebee, of the Potawatomi, Little Beaver, of the Weas, and many other distinguished Indian leaders were among the hosts. The chief interpreters were William Wells, Jacques Laselle, M. Morins, Sans Crainte, Christopher Miller, Abraham Williams and Isaac Zane.
The basis of the negotiations, steadfastly maintained by Wayne, was the treaty of Fort Harmar of 1789. The general boundary established was to begin at the mouth of the Cuyahoga river, run thence up the same to the portage between the Cuyahoga and the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum, thence down that branch to the crossing place above old Fort Laurens, thence westwardly to a fork of that branch of the great Miami river running into the Ohio, where commenced the portage between the St. Marys of the Maumee and the Miami of the Ohio, thence westwardly to Fort Recovery, thence southwesterly, in a direct line to the Ohio, so as to intersect that river opposite the mouth of the Kentucky. The land west of the Miami, and within the present limits of western Ohio and eastern Indiana, was cut off of the domain of the Miamis, and included the line of posts extending from Fort Was.h.i.+ngton to Fort Wayne. It was highly prized by the Indians as a hunting ground, and its cession caused a loud remonstrance from the Little Turtle. "You pointed out to us the boundary line," said the great Miami leader, "which crossed a little below Loramie's store, and struck Fort Recovery, and run from thence to the Ohio, opposite the mouth of the Kentucky river. Elder Brother; You have told us to speak our minds freely, and we now do it. This line takes in the greater and best part of your brothers' hunting ground; therefore, your younger brothers are of opinion, you take too much of their lands away, and confine the hunting of our young men within limits too contracted. Your brothers, the Miamis, the proprietors of these lands, and all your younger brothers present, wish you to run the line as you mentioned, to Fort Recovery, and to continue it along the road from thence to Fort Hamilton, on the Great Miami river." This, however, Wayne refused to do. The ground had been hardly won, and the United States, although willing to pay a fair remuneration, was determined to protect the outposts and inhabitants of the Ohio country.
Another controversy arose with the Little Turtle concerning the portage at Fort Wayne. The government insisted on reservations of from two to six miles square at Fort Wayne, Fort Defiance, Ouiatenon, Chicago, and other important trading places. A large tract was reserved near Detroit, and another near the Post of Michillimacinac. Clark's Grant was also specially reserved by the United States. But when Wayne insisted on a tract two miles square on the Wabash river, "at the end of the portage from the Miami of the Lake (Maumee), and about eight miles westward from Fort Wayne," the Little Turtle claimed that this was a request that neither the English nor the French had ever made of them; that this portage had in the past yielded them an important revenue, and had proved, "in a great degree, the subsistence of your younger brothers."
The valiant old warrior made a stout defense of his claims, and fought to the last for all that was dear to him about Fort Wayne, but was forced to bow to the superior genius and commanding influence of the American general.
Wayne had on his side two powerful factors. The first, was the treachery of the English, which he dilated upon with telling effect. The second, was the commanding influence of Tarhe and the Wyandots of Sandusky, who were addressed with deference by the other tribes, and who threw all their influence on the side of the treaty. At last the several articles were agreed upon, and General Wayne, calling upon the separate tribes in open council for a confirmation of the pact, met with a full and unanimous response of approval. One of the originals of the treaty was deposited with the Wyandots as the custodians of all the nations. At the last arose Tarhe to make this touching and final appeal: "Father: Listen to your children, here a.s.sembled; be strong, now, and take care of all your little ones. See what a number you have suddenly acquired.
Be careful of them, and do not suffer them to be imposed upon. Don't show favor to one, to the injury of any. An impartial father equally regards all his children, as well those who are ordinary, as those who may be more handsome; therefore, should any of your children come to you crying, and in distress, have pity on them, and relieve their wants."
The tribes were satisfied. A fair price had been paid to them for their lands, and satisfactory annuities had been granted. Practically all of the leading chiefs remained loyal to the government, and true to the peace. Wayne had proved himself not only successful at war, but proficient in diplomacy.
GOVERNOR HARRISON AND THE TREATY
--_Purchase of the Miami lands known as the New Purchase which led to the strengthening of Tec.u.mseh's Confederacy,--the final struggle at Tippecanoe._
In the year 1800, William Henry Harrison was appointed by President John Adams as Governor of Indiana Territory, and he arrived at Vincennes on the tenth day of January, 1801, and immediately entered upon the discharge of his duties. At that time he was twenty-eight years of age, but notwithstanding his youth he had seen hard duty as a soldier and officer on the frontier and as we have seen, had served as aide-de-camp to General Wayne at the battle of Fallen Timbers. In that struggle he had distinguished himself for gallant conduct. At a time when a detachment of the troops were wavering under the murderous fire of the savages, and hesitating as to whether they would advance or retreat, he had galloped to the front of the line, and with inspiring words had cheered the soldiers on to victory. The report of General Wayne says that he "rendered the most essential services by communicating his orders in every direction, and by his bravery in exciting the troops to press for victory."
In personal appearance, Harrison "was commanding, and his manners prepossessing. He was about six feet high, of rather slender form, straight, and of a firm, elastic gait, even at the time of his election to the presidency, though then closely bordering on seventy. He had a keen, penetrating eye, denoting quickness of apprehension, promptness and energy."
Though descended from an old and aristocratic family of Virginia, and having been reared amid surroundings of luxury and elegance, the youthful soldier never shrank from the most arduous duty and the severest hards.h.i.+ps of camp or field. At the time of his first arrival at Fort Was.h.i.+ngton (Cincinnati), after the defeat of St. Clair's army, he had been placed in command of a company of men who were escorting packhorses to Fort Hamilton. The forest was full of hostile savages, and the winter season was setting in with cold rains and snow. The company was ill provided with tents and Harrison had nothing to shelter him from the weather but his uniform and army blanket. He not only eluded the attacks of the Indians and convoyed his charge through in safety, but made no complaint whatever to his commanding general, and received St.
Clair's "public thanks for the fidelity and good conduct he displayed."
"During the campaign on the Wabash, the troops were put upon a half pound of bread a day. This quant.i.ty only was allowed to officers of every rank, and rigidly conformed to in the general's own family. The allowance for dinner was uniformly divided between the company, and not an atom more was permitted. In the severe winter campaign of 1812-13, he slept under a thinner tent than any other person, whether officer or soldier; and it was the general observation of the officers, that his accommodations might generally be known by their being the worst in the army. Upon the expedition up the Thames all his baggage was contained in a valise, while his bedding consisted of a single blanket, over his saddle, and even this he gave to Colonel Evans, a British officer, who was wounded. His subsistence was exactly that of a common soldier. On the night after the action upon the Thames, thirty-five British officers supped with him upon fresh beef roasted before the fire, without either salt or bread, and without ardent spirits of any kind. Whether upon the march, or in the camp, the whole army was regularly under arms at daybreak. Upon no occasion did he fail to be out himself, however severe the weather, and was generally the first officer on horseback of the whole army. Indeed, he made it a point on every occasion, to set an example of fort.i.tude and patience to the men, and share with them every hards.h.i.+p, difficulty and danger."
Of his personal courage in the presence of great danger and peril, there can be no question. Judge Law says: "William Henry Harrison was as brave a man as ever lived." At Tippecanoe, after the first savage yell, he mounted on horseback and rode from line to line encouraging his men, although he knew that he was at all times a conspicuous mark for Indian bullets. One leaden missile came so close as to pa.s.s through the rim of his hat, and Colonel Abraham Owen, Thomas Randolph and others were killed at his side. "Upon one occasion, as he was approaching an angle of the line, against which the Indians were advancing with horrible yells. Lieutenant Emmerson of the dragoons seized the bridle of his horse and earnestly entreated that he would not go there; but the Governor, putting spurs to his horse, pushed on to the point of attack, where the enemy was received with firmness and driven back."
To these traits, his fearless courage and willingness to share in the burdens and hards.h.i.+ps of the common soldier, may be attributed his great and lasting hold on the affections of the old Kentucky and southern Indiana Indian fighters. To them he was not only a hero, but something almost approaching a demi-G.o.d. It is pleasing to remember that when the expedition against the Prophet was noised abroad, that Colonel Joseph H.
Daviess, then one of the most eloquent and powerful advocates at the Kentucky bar, offered in a personal letter to the General, to join the expedition as a private in the ranks; that Colonel Abraham Owen, one of the most renowned Indian fighters of that day, joined the army voluntarily as an aide to its leader, and that Governor Scott, of Kentucky, sent two companies of mounted volunteer infantry under Captains Funk and Geiger, to partic.i.p.ate in the campaign. It is also pleasing to remember that the warm affection of the pioneers of that early day was transmitted to another and younger generation who grew up long after the Indian wars were over, and who gave a rousing support to the old general that made him the ninth president of the United States.
On his arrival at Vincennes in 1801, the population of that town was about seven hundred and fourteen persons. The surrounding country contained about eight hundred and nineteen more, while fifty-five fur-traders were scattered along the Wabash, who carried on a traffic more or less illicit with the Indians. A large part of the inhabitants of Vincennes belonged to that cla.s.s of French-Canadians, who produced the La Plantes, the Barrens, and the Brouillettes of that time, some of them renowned Indian interpreters and river guides, who figured prominently in the scenes and contests that followed. The remaining part of the population consisted of settlers from the states, the more conspicuous being the Virginians, who were afterwards denominated as the "aristocrats," but who in reality contributed more to the growth and prosperity of the frontier posts than any other element. From this cla.s.s of Virginians, some of them men of learning and attainment, Harrison selected his retainers and henchmen. Chief among them was Benjamin Parke, one of the commanders at Tippecanoe, and the founder of the State law library in after years; and also Waller Taylor and Thomas Randolph, two of his aides in the Wabash campaign and of his immediate military family. These men, together with Harrison, comprised the "inner circle,"
who administered the affairs of Knox County and Vincennes, and at that time Knox County held the lead and control in public transactions throughout the Territory. That they favored the suspension of the sixth article of the Ordinance of 1787, prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory, is now established history. But they also organized the courts and the representative a.s.semblies of that day; enacted and enforced the public laws, and set about to establish inst.i.tutions of learning. Harrison in particular was a friend of the schools. Besides that, these men and their followers organized the militia, gave the woodsmen a training in the manual of arms, and exercised a wide-awake and eternal vigilance for the safety of the frontier. The military instinct of the early Virginian was one of the great factors that determined the conquest and established the permanent peace of the new land.
Probably no magistrate was ever invested with greater powers in a new country than was General Harrison in the first years of his governors.h.i.+p. "Amongst the powers conferred upon him, were those, jointly with the judges, of the legislative functions of the Territory; the appointment of all the civil officers within the territory, and all the military officers of a grade inferior in rank to that of general, commander in chief of the militia--the absolute and uncontrolled power of pardoning all offenses--sole commissioner of treaties with the Indians, with unlimited powers, and the power of confirming, at his option, all grants of land." That he was left in control of these powers both under the administrations of President Jefferson and President Madison is sufficient confirmation of the trust and confidence they reposed in him. In the years to follow, he was to conduct a great number of difficult negotiations with the chiefs and head warriors of the Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis, Potawatomi, Kickapoos and other tribes, but in all these treaties he was pre-eminently fair with the savages, never resorting to force or treachery, or stooping to low intrigue or fraud.
We have a statement from his own pen as to his manner of conducting an Indian treaty. In a letter from Vincennes on the third day of March, 1803, to Secretary of War Henry Dearborn, we have the following: "I should have pa.s.sed over without an observation, if he had not hinted at the use of unfair means in procuring the consent of the Indians to the treaties I have made with them, and as I have never before, that I recollect, informed you of my mode of proceeding on these occasions I have thought it proper to do so at the present moment. Whenever the Indians have a.s.sembled for any public purpose the use of ardent spirits has been strictly interdicted until the object for which they were convened was accomplished, and if in spite of my vigilance it had been procured, a stop was immediately put to all business until it was consumed and its effects completely over. Every conference with the Indians has been in public. All persons who chose to attend were admitted, and the most intelligent and respectable characters in the neighborhood specially invited to witness the fairness of the transaction. No treaty has ever been signed until each article was particularly and repeatedly explained by the most capable and confidential interpreters. Sketches of the tract of country about to be ceded have always been submitted to the Indians, and their own rough delineations made on the floor with a bit of charcoal have proved their perfect comprehension of its situation and extent." Copies of the old Western Sun, amply testify to the fact that prior to the important treaties of 1809, at Fort Wayne and Vincennes, he issued a public proclamation at the latter place, prohibiting any traffic in liquor with the Indians, so that their judgment might not be perverted; that he constantly inveighed against this illegal commerce with the tribes, and that he at various times attempted to restrain the violence of the squatters and settlers who sought to appropriate the lands of their red neighbors. The language of his first message to the territorial legislature reads thus: "The humane and benevolent intentions of the government, however, will forever be defeated, unless effectual measures be devised to prevent the sale of ardent spirits to those unfortunate people. The law which has been pa.s.sed by Congress for that purpose has been found entirely ineffectual, because its operation has been construed to relate to the Indian country exclusively. In calling your attention to this subject, gentlemen, I am persuaded that it is unnecessary to remind you that the article of compact makes it your duty to attend to it. The interests of your const.i.tuents, the interests of the miserable Indians, and your own feelings, will urge you to take it into your most serious consideration and provide the remedy which is to save thousands of our fellow creatures. So destructive has been the progress of intemperance, that whole villages have been swept away. A miserable remnant is all that remains to mark the homes and situation of many numerous and warlike tribes."
Again, at Fort Wayne, on the seventeenth of September, 1809, preliminary to the famous treaty of that year, this entry appears in the journal of the official proceedings: "The Potawatomis waited on the Governor and requested a little liquor, which was refused. The Governor observed that he was determined to shut up the liquor casks until all the business was finished." This is the conduct throughout of a wise and humane man dealing with an inferior race, but determined to take no advantage of their folly.
It was the steady and uniform policy of the United States government to extinguish the Indian t.i.tles to the lands along the Wabash and elsewhere, so that they might be opened up to the increasing tide of white settlers. Contrary to the practices of most governments, however, in their dealings with aborigines, the United States had established the precedent of recognizing the right of the red men to the occupancy of the soil and of entering into treaties of purchase with the various tribes, paying them in goods and money for their land, while allowing them the privilege of taking wild game in the territory ceded. President Jefferson had always insisted on the payment of annuities in these purchases, instead of a lump sum, so that a fund might be created for the continual support of the tribes from year to year, and so that they might be enabled to purchase horses, cattle, hogs and the instruments of husbandry and thus gradually enter upon the ways of civilization. That the dream of Jefferson was never realized; that the North American savages never adopted the manners and pursuits of their white brethren, does not bespeak any the less for the humane instincts of his heart.
In the negotiation of these treaties in the northwest, Governor Harrison acted as the minister plenipotentiary of the government, and the numerous Indian treaties of that day were conducted under express authority and command from the City of Was.h.i.+ngton. The series of negotiations finally terminated in the Treaty of Fort Wayne on September 30, 1809, by which the United States acquired the t.i.tle to about 2,900,000 acres, the greater part of which lay above the old Vincennes tract ceded by the Treaty of Grouseland, and below the mouth of Big Racc.o.o.n Creek in Parke County. "At that period, 1809," says Dillon, "the total quant.i.ty of land ceded to the United States, under treaties which were concluded between Governor Harrison and various Indian tribes, amounted to about 29,719,530 acres."
As the consummation of that treaty was the princ.i.p.al and immediate cause which led up to the great controversy with Tec.u.mseh, and the stirring events that followed, including the Battle of Tippecanoe, and as the charge was subsequently made by Tec.u.mseh that it was brought about through the threats of Winamac, the Potawatomi chief, it may rightfully be said to be the most important Indian treaty ever negotiated in the west, outside of General Wayne's Treaty of Greenville, in 1795. We will now enter into the details of that transaction.
That part of the lands acquired by the United States Government by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, and being situated in the valley of the Wabash and its tributaries may be thus described: It lay south of a line drawn from the mouth of the Big Racc.o.o.n Creek, in what is now Parke county, and extending southeast to a point on the east fork of White River above Brownstown. This line was commonly called The Ten O'clock Line, because the direction was explained to the Indians as toward the point where the sun was at ten o'clock. The whole territory acquired in the Wabash valley and elsewhere embraced about 2,900,000 acres and in the Wabash region was to be not less than thirty miles in width at its narrowest point. It will thus be seen that the tract lay directly north of, and adjoining the white settlements in and about Vincennes. It was afterwards known as the New Purchase.
There had been frequent and bitter clashes between the settlers and the Wea and Potawatomi Indians of this part of the territory for years.
Justice and right was not always on the side of the white man. An accurate commentator, speaking of the early frontiersmen, says: "They eagerly craved the Indian lands; they would not be denied entrance to the thinly-peopled territory wherein they intended to make homes for themselves and their children. Rough, masterful, lawless, they were neither daunted by the powers of the red warriors whose wrath they braved, nor awed by the displeasure of the government whose solemn engagements they violated."
The Treaty of Greenville had given the undisputed possession and occupancy of all the lands above Vincennes and vicinity, and embraced within the limits of the territory ceded by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, to the Indians. They were given the authority by that pact to drive off a squatter or "punish him in such manner as they might think fit,"
indulging, however, in no act of "private revenge or retaliation." No trader was even allowed to enter this domain unless he was licensed by the government.
It is needless to say that no fine sense of right and justice existed either in the mind of the white land-grabber or in that of his red antagonist. Many unlawful invasions of the Indian lands were made.
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