« ZurückWeiter »
us, if they choose rather to break up their settlements and come over to live in peace with us, we will find other settlements for them, and they shall become our children. The red nations who shall remain in peace with the United States, shall forever find them true friends and fathers. Those who commence against them an unprovoked war, must expect their lasting enmity.
My children, I wish you well, and a safe return to your own country
WASHington, December 2, 1808. To the Delaware Chief, Captain Armstrong :
I have received your letter of October 20th, wherein you express a wish to obtain a deed for the thirteen sections of lands reserved for the Delawares in the State of Ohio, by an act of Congress. I accordingly now send you an authentic deed designating the thirteen sections, and signed by the Secretary of the Treasury, who was authorized for this purpose by the act of Congress. Under this you are free to settle on the lands when you please, and to occupy them according to your own rules. You cannot, indeed, sell them to the white citizens of the United States. Knowing how liable you would be to be cheated and deceived, were we to permit our citizens to purchase your lands, our government acting as your friends and patrons, and desirous of guarding your interests against the frauds that would surround you, does not permit white persons to purchase your lands from you. In every other way they are yours, free to be used as you please ; and their possession will be protected and guaranteed to you by the United States. I salute you and my children, the Delawares, with friendship.
December 21, 1808. To the Miamis, Powtewatamies, Delawares and Chippeways.
My Children :—Some of you are old enough to remember, and the youngest have heard from their fathers, that the country was formerly governed by the English. While they governed it there were constant wars between the white and the red people. To such a height was the hatred of both parties carried that they thought it no crime to kill one another in cold blood whenever they had an opportunity. This spirit led many of the Indians to take side against us in the war; and at the close of it the English made peace for themselves, and left the Indians to get out of it as well as they could. It was not till twelve years after that we were able by the treaty of Greeneville to close our wars with all our red neighbors. From that moment, my children, the policy of this country towards you has been entirely changed. General Washington, our first President, began a line of just and friendly conduct towards you. Mr. Adams, the second, continued it; and from the moment I came into the administration I have looked upon you with the same good will as my own fellow citizens, have considered your interests as our interests, and peace and friendship as a blessing to us all. Seeing with sincere regret that your people were wasting away, believing that this proceeded from your frequent wars, and the destructive use of spirituous liquors, and scanty supplies of food, I have inculcated peace with all your neighbors, have endeavored to prevent the introduction of spirituous liquors among you, and pressed on you to rely for food on the culture of the earth more than on hunting. On the contrary, my children, the English persuade you to hunt, they supply you with spirituous liquors, and are now endeavoring to engage you to join them in the war against us, should a war take place. You possess reason, my children, as we do, and you will judge for yourselves which of us advise you as friends. The course they advise has worn you down to your present numbers, but temperance, peace and agriculture will raise you up to be what your forefathers were, will prepare you to possess
property, to wish to live under regular laws, to join us in our government, to mix with us in society, and your blood and ours united will spread again over the great island.
My children, this is the last time I shall speak to you as your father, it is the last counsel I shall give. I am now too old to watch over the extensive concerns of the seventeen States and their territories. I have, therefore, requested my fellow citizens to permit me to retire, to live with my family and to choose another chief and another father for you, and in a short time I shall retire and resign into his hands the care of your and our concerns. Be assured, my children, that he will have the same friendly disposition towards you which I have had, and that you will find in him a true and affectionate father. Entertain, therefore, no uneasiness on account of this change, for there will be no change as to you. Indeed, my children, this is now the disposition towards you of all our people. They look upon you as brethren, born in the same land, and having the same interests. In your journey to this place you have seen many of them. I am certain they have received you as brothers and been ready to show you every kindness. You will see the same on the road by which you will return ; and were you to pass from north to south, or east to west in any part of the United States, you would find yourselves always among friends. Tell this, therefore, to your people on your return home, assure them that no change will ever take place in our dispositions towards them ; deliver to them my adieux and my prayers to the Great Spirit for their happiness, tell them that during my administration I have held their hand fast in mine, that I will put it into the hand of their new father, who will hold it as I have done.
My Son,—It is always with pleasure that I receive you here and take you by the hand, and that to the assurances of friendship to your nation I can add those of my personal respect and
esteem for you. Our confidence in your friendship has been the stronger, as your enlarged understanding could not fail to see the advantages resulting to your nation as well as to us from a mutual good understanding. We ask nothing from them but their peace and good will, and it is a sincere solicitude for their welfare which has induced us, from time to time, to warn them of the decay of their nation by continuing to rely on the chase for food, after the deer and buffalo are become too scanty to subsist them, and to press them before they are reduced too low, to begin the culture of the earth and the raising of domestic animals. A little of their land in corn and cattle will feed them much better than the whole of it in deer and buffalo, in their present scarce state, and they will be scarcer every year. I have, therefore, always believed it an act of friendship to our red brethren whenever they wished to sell a portion of their lands, to be ready to buy whether we wanted them or not, because the price enables them to improve the lands they retain, and turning their industry from hunting to agriculture, the same exertions will support them more plentifully.
You inform me, my son, that your nation claims all the land on the Wabash and the Miami of the Lake and their waters, and that a small portion of that which was sold to us by the Ottaways, Wyandots, and other tribes of Michigan belonged to you. My son, it is difficult for us to know the exact boundaries which divide the lands of the several Indian tribes, and indeed it appears often that they do not know themselves, or cannot agree about them. I have long thought it desirable that they should settle their boundaries with one another, and let them be written on paper and preserved by them and by us, to prevent disputes among themselves. The tribes who made that sale certainly claim the lands on both sides of the Miami, some distance up from the mouth, as they have since granted us two roads from the rapids to the Miami, the one eastwardly to the line of the treaty of Fort Industry, and the other south eastwardly to the line of the treaty of Greeneville. I observe, moreover, that in the late conveyance of lands on the White River branch of the Wabash, to the Delawares, the Powtewatamies join you in the
conveyance, which is an acknowledgment that all the lands on the waters of the Wabash do not belong to the Miamis alone. If, however, the Ottaways and others who sold to us had no right themselves, they could convey none to us, and we acknowledge we cannot acquire lands by buying them of those who have no title themselves. This question cannot be determined here, where we have no means of inquiring from those who have knowledge of the facts. We will instruct Governor Hull to collect the evidence from both parties, and from others, and to report it to us. And if it shall appear that the lands belonged to you and not to those who sold them, be assured we will do you full justice. We ask your friendship and confidence no longer than we shall merit it by our justice. On this subject, therefore, my son, your mind may be tranquil. You have an opportunity of producing before Governor Hull all the evidences of your right, and they shall be fairly weighed against the opposite claims.
My son, I salute your nation with constant friendship, and assure you of my particular esteem.
My Son, I am happy to receive you at the seat of Government of the United States, to take you and your nation by the hand, and to welcome you to this place. It has long been my desire to see the distinguished men of the Powtewatamies, and to give them the same assurances of friendship and good will which I have given to all my other red children. I wish to see them living in plenty and prosperity, beginning to cultivate the earth and raise domestic animals for their comfortable subsistence. In this way they will raise up young people in abundance to succeed to the old, and to keep their nation strong. For this reason I recommend to them to live in peace with all men, and not, by destroying one another, to make the whole race of red men disappear from the land.