[From the Yreka Union:] The Indian depredations in Oregon have caused public meetings, in which they represent very great suffering and loss of life among the whites, and suggest, as may be seen from the subjoined resolution, that a treaty of friendship and amity be formed between the whites and Indians. We have very little faith in Indian treaties, but even a temporary suspension of hostilities is a consummation devoutly to be wished. The meeting was held in Jacksonville, and is said to have been very fully attended. Here is the resolution, however, which speaks for itself:
"Resolved, that a committee be appointed by this meeting, who shall, in connection with the Indian agent or other authorities, adopt the appropriate means to secure a friendly interview with the chiefs, and offer them the liberty to select from the whites those in whom they have confidence, for the purpose of holding a general council for the purpose of inquiry into all matters of mutual grievance, and to ascertain upon what terms an honorable adjustment can be made--in the meantime, agree upon terms to suspend hostilities, until a final settlement can be completed."
"From Yreka and the North," Shasta Courier, Shasta City, California, February 2, 1856, page 3
A large meeting of the citizens of Jackson County met at the Eden school house, on Friday, the 23rd of May, 1856, to express their indignation at the course pursued by John Beeson, of Rogue River Valley, in writing letters to the editors of the several newspapers in Oregon and the United States.
Rev. S. P. Taylor was called to the chair, and W. G. T'Vault appointed secretary. The chairman explained the object of the meeting, in a brief and appropriate manner, whereupon the reading of a manuscript letter, signed by John Beeson and directed to the editor of the Herald (San Francisco) was called for and read. Capt. Smith, H. Colver, Esq., and Maj. Cranmer made appropriate speeches, whereupon W. G. T'Vault moved that a committee of five be appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the views of this meeting--passed. Messrs. Hays, Smith, Rice, Cranmer and Taylor were appointed said committee. After a short deliberation they reported the following preamble and resolutions:
Whereas, Certain singular and unjustifiable assertions and misrepresentations have recently, by some means, come into circulation, in the form of a letter purporting to have been written by John Beeson, of this place, for publication in the S.F. Herald, reflecting upon the character of the people of Southern Oregon, by charging them with aggressions and wrongs upon the Indian tribes of the country, and thereby, without cause, bringing about an unjustifiable and disastrous war, waged indiscriminately upon the innocent and defenseless Indians; therefore--
Resolved, That said letter contains numerous misrepresentations and charges against the people of Southern Oregon that have not the least shadow of truth, but are the productions of a low and depraved intellect.
Resolved, That it is the duty of all well-meaning citizens promptly and publicly to expose the author of said letter, as by neglecting to do so the falsehoods set forth therein might be received as truth by those who are unacquainted with the facts.
Resolved, That we approve of the course taken by the editors of the Table Rock Sentinel, in refusing to publish such false and unjust statements.
On motion of Capt. Smith the resolutions were accepted, and, on motion of Capt. Rice, unanimously adopted. On motion of Capt. Smith, the secretary is requested to furnish the editors of the Table Rock Sentinel with the proceedings of this meeting, with a request that they publish the same.
On motion, the meeting adjourned.
S. P. Taylor, Ch'n.Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 24, 1856, page 2
W. G. T'Vault, Sec'y.
The Democratic candidates will meet the people of Jacksonville, at Ashland Mills, on Tuesday the 27th inst.
At Wait's Mills, on Wednesday, the 28th.
At Westgate's Store, Butte Creek, Thursday the 29th.
At Jacksonville, Friday the 30th.
At Sterling, Saturday the 31st.
At the same times and places, the people will pass resolutions expressive of their views in relation to certain articles, written for publication by John Beeson, upon the subject of the Rogue River War.
All are invited to attend.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 24, 1856, page 2
(ADVERTISEMENT.)In the Table Rock Sentinel of Rogue River Valley, O.T,, of May 24, 1856, there is an account of the proceedings of a public meeting, and as those proceedings aim a blow at every press in the Union, at the integrity of the postal department, and the constitutional rights of every citizen, I doubt not but it will be deemed a proper subject for public discussion. The following is the article to which I allude:
To American Citizens.
Salem, O.T., June 1, 1856.
"PUBLIC MEETING.--A large meeting of the citizens of Jackson Co., Rogue River Valley, O.T., met at the Eden school house on Friday, the 23rd of May, 1856, to express their indignation at the course pursued by John Beeson, of Rogue River Valley, in writing letters to the several editors in Oregon and the United States. Rev. S. P. Taylor was called to the chair, and W. G. T'Vault appointed secretary. The chairman explained the object of the meeting in a brief and appropriate manner, whereupon the reading of a manuscript letter, signed by John Beeson and directed to the editor of the Herald (San Francisco) was called for and read. After several speeches in support of the above charges, a committee of five were appointed to draft resolutions, when the following were presented and adopted as the sense of the meeting:
"Whereas, certain singular and unjustifiable assertions and misrepresentations have recently by some means come into circulation, in the form of a letter purporting to have been written by John Beeson, of this place, for publication in the S.F. Herald, reflecting upon the character of the people of Southern Oregon, by charging them with aggressions and wrongs upon the Indian tribes of the country, and thereby bringing about an unjustifiable and disastrous war, waged indiscriminately upon the innocent and defenseless Indians;
"Resolved, That said letter contains numerous misrepresentations and charges against the people of Southern Oregon that have not the least shadow of truth, but are the productions of a low and depraved intellect.
"Resolved, That it is the duty of all well-meaning citizens promptly and publicly to expose the author of said letter, as by neglecting to do so the falsehoods set forth therein might be received as truth by those who are unacquainted with the facts."
As the foregoing is only a one-sided statement, permit me to present the other. About an hour before the meeting, I was waited upon by two gentlemen with an invitation to attend, at the same time assuring me they did not know for what purpose the meeting was called. (For there had been no previous public notice.) Upon my arrival I found the house more than full, and the Rev. S. P. Taylor reading an article in the N.Y. Tribune of April 5th, under the item of "War in Oregon." The chairman observed there was also on hand another article of the same kind, and doubtless by the same author, in the shape of a manuscript document signed by John Beeson. I arose to inquire if it had my signature, why it had not been forwarded to its destination, or returned to the writer. But as I wished them to hear it read, it would look better for them to hand me the letter first, and I would either read or give it to anyone they might appoint for that purpose. But the chairman decided that as it was addressed to a public paper it was public property. I had no right to interfere. Mr. T'Vault then read the letter, at the conclusion of which he states that John Beeson was not only the author of that, but of numerous letters to editors in the Territory and States, and even that very week had offered him an article for publication styled "A Plea for the Indians." Mr. H. Culver spoke to the effect that as himself and others had not participated in the war, they should consider it slander to be accused. The Hon. Capt. Smith then followed, with a long speech, explaining the first attack on Indians at the head of the valley, but as the details showed more atrocity than the brief allusion to the same contained in the letter, some of his comrades were heard to say he did not tell it correctly. He concluded by hoping that the people would express their views on the author of the document in some form that "would smell pretty hot of pepper." Maj. Branmer, of the volunteers, then made a very patriotic appeal in behalf of the honor of the lamented Maj. Lupton, who (he said) "had fallen fighting for his country's good," concluded his remarks with oaths and curses, and emphasis most awful, as though "hell and damnation" was too good for the "the old foreigner," who had questioned the right of the "volunteer patriots" to do as they choose. Mr. T'Vault now moved the appointment of committee as already stated. I arose to ask the privilege of answering before the committee made report, but the chair decided it would be out of order. I reminded the chairman that this committee were to act as judge and jury, and as two of my accusers seemed desirous for an execution, they might bring in a verdict to hang. I should therefore look for justice and protection in the common sense and sober second thought of my neighbors. The following day the Sentinel announced a succession of public meetings in each of the precincts, for the purpose of hearing the Democratic candidates and passing in relation "to the articles written by John Beeson." Being informed from different and reliable sources that personal violence was determined upon, I fled to the Fort for protection and was escorted by U.S. troops beyond the scene of excitement.
As I am thus exiled from my family and home, simply for the utterance of deep conviction, as opposed to wrong, and clearly acting within the sphere of constitutional right as a citizen, I appeal to the people at large for sympathy and approval. I appeal to the authorities for redress--I demand that the "letter" which has been purloined or improperly detained from its destination be immediately forwarded for publication, as I hold myself responsible to the public for its contents.
In regard to the charge of being an "old foreigner," possessing a "low and depraved intellect," I have only to state that I landed in N.Y. the second day of June 1830--have been a continuous resident of the States, and this Territory to the present time, that the proof of citizenship may be seen by calling at my house in Rogue River Valley or at the Recorder's office in Ottawa, LaSalle Co., Ill. As to the grade or quality of intellect, perhaps those with whom I lived and labored in Ill. for about 20 years have formed an opinion as well as my accusers. I conclude by asking the whole press of the land whether their correspondents, upon whom they depend for items of news, shall be subject to popular violence for trying to keep a record of passing events. I ask, shall our rulers be misled by designing men? Shall the truth be suppressed, for a waste of treasure, for the destruction of life and morals of our people and widespread mischief all around? I ask, it is not possible (yes certain) that if those numerous letters (not one of which has been published) for which I am condemned, for sending to the territorial press, had been spread before the public, the southern war would not have been--the people there might now have enjoyed peace and plenty, instead of scourge and desolation. And in regard to that "Plea for Indians," I ask, are they not men? Have they not national and personal rights to maintain, grievances to redress, and wrongs to remove? Who then shall plead their cause if their nearest neighbors turn a deaf ear and refuse the rights of common humanity in their behalf. How, I ask, can the authorities exercise control when facts are suppressed and fiction proclaimed as truth. Surely the eternal Father of us all cannot approve of such perversions.
Respectfully yours,Oregon Statesman, Salem, June 10, 1856, page 3
Salem Sept 22nd / 56To Hon Jos. Lane
My dear Genl. I have recd some favors from you by last mail, for which I thank you. I only wonder how you can remember so many of your constituents. I see by some of the late papers that Genl Wool has been giving you & the citizens of Oregon another of his grape & canister fires in the way of lying. He seldom writes or publishes anything but what is filled with untruth. His authority principally is rumor and I see he quotes John Beeson, a man who was drove out of Rogue River Valley for his lying. This man Beeson is an Englishman not naturalized, settled in Oregon in '53. He at one time of his life kept a station in Illinois in the Underground Railroad for negro stealing from Missouri to Canada. He is a monomaniac on the subject of slavery, considers the negro or Indians better than the whites. So much for Genl Wool's truthful informants.
The war north is not ended yet. The regulars are endeavoring to coax them into a treaty with success the future will show. They have been tampered with by the policy of Genl Wool that even if a treaty is made they will break out again as soon as they rest a while and get more ammunition. There is yet some few scattering Indians in the vicinity of Rogue River Valley who are committing depredations on the settlers, and the army officers are making no efforts to bring them to terms. The citizens are trying to get up a purse and offer a reward for scalps. They are forced to do this to protect themselves & families. I have been on the Grand Ronde Reservation twice since the war south has been ended, and I have talked with all the chiefs from R. River, and they are very much dissatisfied. They say Genl Palmer told them lies. Old Sam & Ben told me that Palmer told them that as soon as old Chief John & his people came down that he would let them (Sam & Ben) and their people go back again to the reserve at Fort Lane. So you see I expect an outbreak amongst Indians on the Grand Ronde reserve next spring or as soon as they can rest and get a little ammunition from the regulars. It will require great prudence and energy as well as firmness in the agents to keep the Indians peaceable and on the reserve. I am boring [you] with a long letter, which I hope you will excuse.
John K. Lamerick
The Only Safe Way.
Editors True Californian:
In view of the fact that mutual murders are of frequent occurrence between the Indians and whites, wherever the races are in proximity, and as there is reason to believe much if not all might be avoided if the Indians were more fully protected in their natural rights, and proper means adopted to restrain the evil-disposed of both races.
To effect this it is necessary to press the subject upon the attention of the government and the people at large. Private war should be forbidden, and all, without distinction, should be protected by the civil law. Heretofore the Indian has not had much occasion to respect our laws or esteem our justice, for he has often felt their severity to punish, and but rarely their power to redress. Hence his wrongs and his religion alike prompt him to retaliate, and circumstances often leave him no alternative but to subject victims to his vengeance, who as individuals were innocent of offense.
We, as a people, have despoiled them of their heritage; we have taken possession of all the pleasant valleys of the Pacific, and soon we shall occupy the pleasant places of the interior; and, therefore, as a people having honor, magnanimity and Christian principle, we are bound to give them an equivalent in thorough protection in the means of support, and ample facilities for progress in the arts and civilization. It is a great mistake, which some try to propagate, viz: That Indians will not improve, and they are doomed to perish from the earth, and that the races cannot live in peace contiguous to each other.
The fact that they learn our language, adopt our dress, and imitate our manners, and when furnished with motive and means soon adapt themselves to the labors of the mine, the mechanic, or the farmer; they also soon learn the value of money and the modes of commerce; all of which proves the reverse of a too current opinion. Mr. Hervey, of Oregon City, formerly an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company, informed me that on one occasion he had a thousand acres of wheat and only three men. The harvesting was done, and well done, by Indians.
And as for peace, Dr. McLoughlin, who has been a trader for fifty years, and [for] twenty-two of which he was Superintendent for the Company, informs me that although their commerce extended from the coast to the headwaters of the Columbia and the Sacramento, yet in all that time they had no wars or serious difficulties with the Indians. "But," said he, "we administered impartial laws." And when this is uniformly done, it is well known the Indians are proud of the white man's friendship and patronage, and willingly submit to the guidance of his superior intellect.
It does by no means follow, that because the Indian tribes have to a great extent perished before the march of civilization, therefore they always will. It only proves that the proper means have not been taken to prevent it, and when a more philanthropic policy is pursued, it will not be the case.
The wars in Oregon and California, which are yet scarcely brought to a close, may be purely attributed to the mischief-making policy of Squatter Sovereignty. Numbers of a floating population have pursued a course alike inimical to justice and the true interests of the country, on the plea that they could, and had a right to, do as they chose, and thus the great object of good government--the preservation of life and liberty--has been cast aside, and violence and outrage substituted to a dreadful degree.
The unfortunate Indians are the special victims of this class of men, for whatever they do of a warlike character, no matter though it be in just retaliation or an act of self-defense, it is generally published as an act of aggression, of murder or massacre on the part of the Indians, whilst they have no means of access to the public ear. Whatever their enemies choose to say or do must be endured in silence, or suffer the punishment due only to the vilest criminals. I write this in hope that benevolent persons everywhere will interest themselves to inquire into the cause, whenever difficulties occur, and expose to public censure the conduct of those who would oppress the poor, or take advantage of the ignorant. We should do this not only as a matter of justice to the Indian but as a matter of self-interest to ourselves. Wars are destructive and costly--we might prevent them. Protect and civilize these outcasts, and they will contribute to our glory and strength. Neglect doing this, and we allow the growth of violence and wrong, which will fill the land with mutual robbery and outrage. Nothing is more true than that if the rights of any class are neglected, the rights of all others are in jeopardy, and the only permanent safety consists in universal justice.
Respectfully yours, JOHN BEESON.
Undated newspaper clipping (probably early 1856), Letter to the Oregon Statesman of October 8, 1856, NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency 1856, frame 22.
A large meeting of the citizens of Jackson County met at the Eden school house, on Friday, the 23rd of May, 1856, to express their indignation at the course pursued by John Beeson, of Rogue River Valley, in writing letters to the editors of several newspapers in Oregon and the United States.
Rev. S. P. Taylor was called to the chair, and W. G. T'Vault appointed secretary. The chairman explained the object of the meeting in a brief and appropriate manner, whereupon the reading of a manuscript letter, signed by John Beeson and directed to the editor of the Herald (San Francisco) was called for and read. Capt. Smith, H. Culver, Esq., and Maj. Cranmer made appropriate speeches, whereupon W. G. T'Vault moved that a committee of five be appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the views of this meeting--passed. Messrs. Hays, Smith, Rice, Cranmer and Taylor were appointed said committee. After a short deliberation they reported the following preamble and resolutions:
WHEREAS, Certain singular and unjustifiable assertions and misrepresentations have recently, by some means, come into circulation, in the form of a letter purporting to have been written by John Beeson, of this place, for publication in the S.F. Herald, reflecting upon the character of the people of Southern Oregon, by charging them with aggressions and wrongs upon the Indian tribes of the country, and thereby, without cause, bringing about an unjustifiable and disastrous war, waged indiscriminately upon the innocent and defenseless Indians; therefore--
Resolved, That said letter contains numerous misrepresentations and charges against the people of Southern Oregon, that have not the least shadow of truth, but are the productions of a low and depraved intellect.
Resolved, That it is the duty of all well-meaning citizens promptly and publicly to expose the author of said letter, as by neglecting to do so the falsehoods set forth therein might be received as truth by those who are unacquainted with the facts.
Resolved, That we approve of the course taken by the editors of the Table Rock Sentinel, in refusing to publish such facts and unjust statements.
On motion of Capt. Smith the resolutions were accepted, and, on motion of Capt. Rice, unanimously adopted. On motion of Capt. Smith, the secretary is requested to furnish the editors of the Table Rock Sentinel with the proceedings of this meeting, with a request that they publish the same.
On motion, the meeting adjourned.
S. P. Taylor, Ch'n.Table Rock Sentinel, May 24, 1856, page 2
W. G. T'Vault, Sec'y.
To the Public.
In the Table Rock Sentinel of Rogue River Valley, O.T., of May 24, '56, and also in the advertising columns of the Oregon Statesman of June 10, there is an account of a public meeting, and as the proceedings of which aim a blow at the press generally, at the integrity of the Postal Department, and the constitutional rights of every citizen, I doubt not but it will be deemed a matter of some interest.
The object of the meeting appears to have been to express indignation at the course of an individual in writing letters to several editors in Oregon and the United States, in proof of which a manuscript letter was produced by Mr. T'Vault addressed to the San Francisco Herald, signed by John Beeson. Mr. T'Vault observed that the same writer had that very week offered him for publication in the Sentinel a document headed "A Plea for the Indians." After several speeches denunciatory of the aforesaid John Beeson, a series of resolutions were adopted and published as the sense of the meeting, of which the following are the principal:
"Resolved, That said letter contains numerous misrepresentations and charges against the people of Southern Oregon, that have not the least shadow of truth, but are the productions of a low and depraved intellect.
"Resolved, That it is the duty of all well-meaning citizens promptly and publicly to expose the author of said letter, as by neglecting to do so the falsehoods set forth therein might be received as truth."
I would observe that no statements were written or otherwise made by me but what were subject of conversation and belief in the valley. I did not write for other papers until after repeated attempts and failures to be heard through those at home and a declaration in public meeting that I would be heard through those abroad.
The manuscript letter alluded to was sent to the P.O. about the 1st of May, and was, by some means not explained, taken possession of by T'Vault and privately circulated for the purpose of getting up an excitement of which the above meeting was to have been the expression, but in consequence of the predominance of a better sentiment the object was for the time defeated. I was invited to the meeting, but forbidden the privilege of speaking in self-defense.
Now I ask the whole press of the land, shall those upon whom they depend for items of news be subject to popular violence for trying to report a truthful statement of passing events? I ask, shall our rulers be misled by deception? Shall the truth be suppressed for a waste of treasure and destruction of the life and morals of our people, and widespread mischief all around? I ask, is it not possible that if those letters which I am accused of sending to the editors in Oregon (not one of which were published) had been spread before the people inquiry would have been induced and the southern war prevented? I therefore appeal to the authorities for redress. I demand that the letter which has been purloined or improperly detained be immediately forwarded to its address, as I hold myself responsible to the laws of the land for its contents.
Through the manly indulgence of the editor of the Argus, who believes in fair play for all, I shall in succeeding numbers publish an answer to the foregoing charges in an address to the citizens of Rogue River Valley.
Also, A Plea for the Indians, so that all may judge of the amount of censure or punishment due for the same.
JOHN BEESON.Oregon Argus, Oregon City, June 21, 1856, page 2
Oregon City, June 21, '56.
To My Family and Friends in Rogue River Valley.
The circumstances of my departure and continued absence from your midst have I know occasioned you anxious thoughts as to my whereabouts and welfare. Having an opportunity, I avail myself of the politeness of the Argus to relieve your anxieties by addressing you all at once, and as little incidents are endowed with interest amongst friends, you will be pleased to know some of the details of what I have observed since my sojourn amongst strangers.
Having a natural objection to unnatural treatment, and being informed that the recently disbanded volunteer companies (many of whom were encamped in my vicinity) were highly exasperated by the reading of a "manuscript letter" and comments upon the same by Mr. T'Vault and others, and being informed that violence was determined upon, as a matter of prudence I left home at 11 o'clock at night of the 24th of May--arrived at Fort Lane by daylight on Sunday the 25th--spent several hours in agreeable conversation with the gentlemanly Captain Underhill, commandant at the fort. I was particularly struck with the exact order and discipline which prevailed; even the blacksmith was polite, and the demeanor of the steward was as easy and courteous as that of a polished gentleman. I inquired of the Captain if the observance of such constant etiquette was not irksome to rough, uncultured men. He said they not only soon learned, but LOVED THE PRACTICE.
If I could have doubted the Captain's word I should have been reassured by the narration I heard the other evening by a returned volunteer from the north, who said: "When volunteers under Nesmith met with the regulars under Haller they exchanged mutual salutes of three cheers each, but" (said he with emphasis) "they beat us. They swung their caps with such a graceful sweep, it was beautiful to see, and their voices were all of the same pitch and time; it was as the shout of one man, expressive of the feeling they meant to convey."
I think this subject deserves more attention than is commonly given, for, truly, if mind makes the man, manners give the finish, and in connection with this I am sure I cannot do better than commend to my friends the "Illustrated Manners Book," by Dr. Nichols, of Cincinnati. It lays down the principle and illustrates the practice in every phase of human intercourse in such a manner as scarcely any can read without greatly enhancing their own and others' happiness. I believe that book is destined to be a national standard in manners, as Webster's is in words. It is sent by mail free for one dollar.
At three o'clock in the afternoon an escort under the command of a young lieutenant, whose name I have forgotten (but he was an amiable and courteous officer) started with me for Evans' Fort, 23 miles. The following incident suggested thoughts which it may not be out of place to record: Immediately on landing from the ferry boat, a pet deer approached us with all the confidence of an old friend, putting her nose in our hands and upon our persons. The question arose, why this agreeable familiarity in a creature naturally so timid? Doubtless it is the result of proper treatment with kindness. Now suppose I speak to it in the language and tone with which Captain Smith says he spoke to the Indians, when with others he went before sunrise to their ranch after a missing horse. Would not its heart throb with fear? And if I should make it conscious of my intent to kill by shooting down its mate by its side, would not its muscles tremble and its eyes, now so mild, glisten with terror? And if I pursued and cornered it, would it not assume the attitude of one determined to flee if it could, or fight if it must? Inference--If such an unpleasant relative change takes place from such a cause in the feelings and conduct of a deer, we need not wonder that another creature called a "buck," possessing equal sense and higher reason, should be correspondingly affected.
During our ride I found it difficult to keep my horse (a cayuse) in due military order of march; whether it was diffidence arising from a feeling of inferiority, or whether it was emblematic of another race, I will not determine, but certain it is I could not induce him to travel abreast with his American brethren--but at the same time he would not be left far behind, but followed close on their heels, treading in their footsteps.
Before commencing our march on the morning of the 27th the lieut. informed me that there were two or three places along our route, owing to deflections in the mountain and heavy timber, suitable for an ambuscade, which it was customary to pass at a rapid pace. So in order to be fully prepared for any emergency, I inquired of Mr. Evans if he could sell me a pair of spurs. He soon presented me with a pair of very large ones with tingles and all complete for $6, but as I had never before in my life had such an appendage to my heels I thought one was enough, so I bought but one. After traveling a mile or two we came to one of those dangerous points. My guards suddenly spurred on in a rapid canter. We had proceeded but a few rods with this increased speed before my steed drew up in a sudden halt, and no spurring or pounding would cause him to stir an inch, but such was the impetus the troopers had attained that those in the rear shot ahead for some distance before they perceived the difficulty. Well, I thought, here's a pretty fix; if old Limpy and his warriors, or any other bloody assassins, emerge from their hiding place, what shall I do? I have no revolver or knife, and if I had I should be loath to use them. Quick as thought the resolve was made: I'll pull off my hat, and make a pleasure bow. They will see at once there is no show for a scalp, and then I knew a smile, a friendly look of recognition toward an Indian or a Chinaman, or any of the outcasts, which I always try to give, has never failed to elicit a spark, a flash of sympathy, indicative of anything but mutual hate. So I felt assurance, and in fact my courage never failed, for I thought let the worst come, I would expect the Savior's blessing, and rather die making peace than waging war. But my horse--what was the matter? Upon placing my hand upon his abdomen, I perceived an inward flutter or tremor, indicative of inflammation. I soon ascertained that contrary to my request the stable man, out of pure good will, had given him a full feed of oats and old corn with the stable-fed horses; mine coming direct from grass could not digest such a meal and travel at the same time. However, the guard traveled more slowly, and by letting him drink a small quantity at every stream, in the course of an hour he was able to perform with the rest. I took the first opportunity to relieve my foot from the spur, which, when on, gave the foot somewhat the appearance of a miniature steamboat with a stern wheel. I threw it in a deep ravine, where I hope it will remain, and thought $3 was little enough penalty for the torture of a suffering brute, although I could find no spur galls on his side, and when I afterwards saw a man riding before me with a similar thing, and noticed how he elevated his heel in its use, I knew I had made no such motions, so possibly my poor horse never felt its touch.
Having passed one of the volunteer forts, and believing myself beyond the scene of the excitement, and the escort having accompanied me as far as the commander of Fort Lane had directed, I cheerfully took leave of my military friends and pursued my course alone.
On the 28th passed through the Canyon, and did not wonder at the many stories I had heard of failing teams and broken wagons, for truly it is both muddy and rough in the extreme; nevertheless I had very pleasant thoughts whilst passing along. I felt no fear of Indians or of evil of any kind. The deep solitude and majestic timber seemed to apprise me of the presence of Him who dwelleth not in temples made with hands, and the trees and the rocks, the birds and the rivulets inspired feelings of holy worship toward the great Creator of ALL.
When near the north end I met a drove of hogs, all in tolerable order and size except one little fellow, which I suppose was the only survivor of his brothers, who were all dead and buried in the mud, and it seemed as though it ought either to be killed or carried, for it evidently "travailed in pain." In the rear of the hogs were several drivers, and behind them an escort of mounted men, whom I took to be a "detachment from the north battalion of the southern army." Afterwards, I think on the following day, I met a train of several wagons, each drawn by four yoke of oxen. I supposed they were loaded with bacon, butter &c., for the mines, but upon inquiry was informed the loading consisted of ammunition and medicine bound for Jacksonville.
I was particularly delighted with the varied and beautiful scenery which ever and anon presented itself to my view as I traveled through the Umpqua. I spent one night and a part of the next day with my good old friends of twenty years' acquaintance, the Rev. Messrs. Royal, of the Umpqua Academy, visited the institute of learning in which they are engaged, and was pleased with what I saw of the intellectual productions of the students. Singing formed a part (as I think it should in all schools) of their daily exercises, and its cheering and elevating effect is visible in the bright and happy countenances of both teachers and taught, as well as in the kind demeanor toward each other which the frequent blending of voices in cheerful song naturally tends to induce. I counted 32 little ones, of ages from 5 to 12, arranged in a circle, who sang several pieces in excellent style, without notes and without leaders, Mrs. Royal only giving the pitch. These children were not selected on account of natural gift, neither were they acquainted with notes, but had learned by practice to sing in harmony. Every child sang, and scarcely did I perceive a discordant note. Why then, thought I, cannot every child be learned, and ALL in every congregation sing, and thus realize the poet's exclamation:
"Oh, how delightful 'tis to seeBy request I delivered a short address, and the persuasive control of the teachers, the willing obedience of the pupils, the thrill of sweet sounds, the general appearance of comfort in the surrounding section, the pure air and beautiful landscape, all conspired to suggest the theme of HARMONY AND ORDER as Heaven's first law. Here (it was observed) are the conditions and surroundings for a high development of intellectual and social happiness. God here speaks from the towering monuments of His power, and in the sweet breeze which, as the breath of Heaven, imparts a zest and enjoyment to all the blessings of Earth. "Be ye holy, for I am holy."
The whole assembly worship Thee,
At once they sing, at once they pray,
They hear of Heaven and learn the way."
Whilst making the foregoing remarks, the idea occurred, if these favorable conditions are so conducive to the culture of the higher faculties in us, were they not proportionally so in respect to the people who occupied this region before we took possession? And I felt the impression that there must of necessity be some correspondence between the physical and intellectual condition of the inhabitants and the country they occupy. It is too true that the influence of evil example, contact with civilized vice, and the use of tobacco and alcohol, must necessarily deteriorate any primitive race. Therefore, making due allowance, I cannot but believe that a fair investigation in regard to intellectual capacity and moral faculties of the Indian tribes would develop a far higher grade than what is generally admitted they possess. In view of the law of harmony, I could not but feel how discordant is war, and that if our people adhered strictly to purity, love and truth, the races would be a mutual benefit, and both grow in peace and plenty.
In crossing the Calapooia Mountains, I was agreeably disappointed in finding them not high or precipitous, but to consist of rolling hills covered with various timber and hazel bushes. The soil appeared adapted for grass and grain, and I anticipate but a few years will pass before multitudes of people will here find sustenance and thrift.
Before reaching the Willamette my horse seemed tired, so I traded for a fresh one, giving $15 to boot. It is a black, with a white face and numerous white marks from his mane to his tail, evidences of the suffering to which he has been subject. The man said, "You must frequently give him a good pounding, for these ponies are like the Indians--saucy, unless you keep them well under." Finding him a good traveler, I made headway for several miles, until I alighted at a brook to drink, but to my disappointment found it impossible to remount. The beast seemed to expect the usual "pounding," and whenever I approached his side he shied back, trembled, and snorted with excitement. As I believed a pounding would be rather an aggravation than a cure for such symptoms, I concluded to carry my own truck, and lead him two or three miles, when meeting with help I remounted, and by oft-repeated gentle pats and kind words succeeded in gaining his confidence. Have had no more trouble, and find him good for 40 miles a day without whip or spur.
This letter is already too long, or I would like to tell you what I realize in this lovely climate and beautiful valley. I have spent some time in Corvallis, Albany, Salem and Dayton. In each of these places I found much of pleasant interest, which I cannot now relate. I am at present in Oregon City, enjoying the hospitalities of my old friend Robert Pentland, who in company with others own the transit warehouse, situate on the brim of the great Falls of the Willamette. They have a sawmill adjoining, and have at the present time a number of workmen engaged in the erection of a grist mill. I judge this property must be of immense value. Steamboats are almost always in sight, both above and below, and seem to be doing quite an active business. Oregon City is a rough but romantic location. Although it has been somewhat depopulated by the rush to the mines, yet her permanent resources and her people, who know how to make them available, will ultimately secure a preeminence in the noble country whose name she bears. There is evidence of taste and refinement in the improvements in progress and the tasteful culture of fruits and flowers, the gardens redolent with roses, and the charming bouquets in hands vying in beauty with those who carried them.
I have paid several visits to the justly renowned Dr. McLoughlin, whose name and history are inseparably connected with those of Oregon. His appearance indicates a fine specimen of the venerable and good amongst men. He possesses a large frame, with a face ruddy with health, and a profusion of silken hair and whiskers whitened with age. Fifty-three years he has lived and traded with the Indian tribes, 22 of which he was Superintendent, or he might have been called King in Oregon. When he first arrived on the site of this city he had but seven men, and was surrounded by 5000 Indians, yet he maintained absolutely authority, and during all those years had no general war. I inquired, "How did you prevent difficulties?" He replied, "By the administration of impartial justice. The Indians saw that they were protected as well as punished by law, and they learned to respect it. On one occasion a white man committed a rape on an Indian female. I sentenced him to forty stripes in presence of the tribe, which was applied with such severity as to cover him with blood and gore, but if I had not done it two white ladies then coming into the country would have suffered from retaliation, for which if I had inflicted punishment general war would have been the consequence. Indians are tenacious of their rights, and the only way to live in peace is to maintain just laws."
Believe me your friend as ever,
JOHN BEESON.Oregon Argus, Oregon City, June 21, 1856, pages 2-3
Oregon City, June 21, '56.
We yield a good deal of our space today to an interesting letter written by Mr. Beeson. Mr. B. complains that other Oregon papers have denied him the use of their columns. He shall most assuredly have the use of ours. We have before now been gagged in this way ourself; consequently we know how to prize the freedom of speech and of the press, and so long as we have control of a press, all sides shall have access to its columns, Christians, Jews, infidels or even locofocos and Mormons.
Mr. Beeson is a peace man, opposed to all war and violence; consequently his views in regard to Indian fighting would not exactly accord with ours who have a little more combativeness. There is, however, great power in kindness and Christian forbearance toward all our brethren, white, black or red.
Oregon Argus, Oregon City, July 26, 1856, page 2
Address to the Citizens of Rogue River Valley.Fellow Citizens.--As you have accused me of falsehood and slander, and some of you have threatened personal violence, because I have protested against the war as being unnecessary and aggressive; and as I am denied the freedom of speech and of your press for self-defense, patriotism, equally with self-respect, demands that I should speak to you from my retirement, for although the occurrence has transpired in a remote corner of our vast Republic, yet in its bearings it affects the interests and elicits the attention of the nation. Permit me then, fellow citizens, briefly to state the case as it stands between us.
For eight months the scourge and waste of war has been carried on in our vicinity, and until quite lately there seemed little disposition and less prospect for a speedy close, either by treaty or conquest. On the other hand, I have not failed from its first inception and at every stage of its progress, both in public and in private, to declaim against it as a cruel injustice to the people against whom it is waged, and its prosecution as a reckless and unnecessary waste of the resources of our common country.
You have through your press and in public assembly attempted to justify yourselves, not by explaining the facts or refuting the proof upon which opposition is based, but by impugning motives and aspersing character; and so far as the authorities and the public at large can see to the contrary, you are unanimous, and they might therefore infer that you are correct. You have sought to destroy the testimony by asserting that it is nothing but the "production of a low and depraved intellect." Since you have made the matter to rest upon the credibility of the witness, I am necessitated to speak in vindication of self, and however reluctant I may feel to dwell on so small a point, yet it is the only one you have given me occasion to sustain, and I dare not by silence allow you to triumph in a matter in which the deepest interests of humanity and our national honor are alike involved.
I shall not go abroad for certificates of character, but shall appeal to yourselves as the witnesses of my "course" and the hearers of my "assertions." I shall simply state the causes which operated as motives, and the occasions on which they found expression.
Having come to this country in acceptance of the governmental offer of land for occupancy, I honestly believed that the original owners had received a fair compensation, and that the treaty stipulation guaranteeing protection and forbidding private war would be promptly fulfilled. And as I never looked with pleasure at the master brute monopolizing the crib and forcing his weaker mate to starve by his side, so when I saw that we had possessed ourselves of the fertile valleys and creeks and most of the pleasant homes of the Indian, and had exposed him to violence and outrage of the evil disposed and vicious, I could not but feel the injustice we were doing. And when so many of you frequently recited in my hearing cases of aggravated cruelty and wrong, and at the same time I read almost weekly in the Yreka Herald merciless appeals to the baser passions, exciting to still more destructive violence upon a people who had no hold upon public sympathy or governmental protection, I felt aroused to plead for justice. And, moreover, when I beheld in one of your public restaurants, exposed to view with the usual glitter of wine and whisky, the voluptuous painting of an undressed, a naked woman, reclining upon a couch, and in the stores and in the streets comely Indian girls arrayed in silks and finery, and read in the Sentinel weekly paraded before the people under the caption "A Great Blessing to Mankind" Dr. L. J. Czapkay's Prophilacticum, or self-disinfecting agent, which (the Dr. says) "every young man ought to have," and when I realized the appalling apathy that neither politician nor press nor priest offered rebuke to this ruinous licentiousness, and that virtue seemed driven from our midst, and moral principle and public honor seemed wasting away or merged in "the root of all evil," my soul was stirred from its depths, and before high Heaven I pledged myself to be true to my God, my conscience, and my country. Much rather would I that all this was hid in oblivion, and covered with impenetrable darkness, but as you have persisted in defense of wrong, and publicly aspersed my motive in its resistance, I am necessitated to unfold the secret cause of that course which you have (as I conceive) unjustly charged as being "the production of a low and depraved intellect."
Permit me, fellow citizens, to invite you to a calm review of some of the more prominent features of the past. In process of time, the evils to which I have above alluded produced their legitimate results. Mutual outrages and retaliatory murders between the races became frequent, and as the Indians were well supplied with ammunition and arms (the price of crime), excitement and panic seized the public mind, and what seemed to me the climax of wrong was meditated and finally determined, instead of a civil or legal process for mutual redress, it was assumed that the Indians were the only sinners, and they alone should suffer. Kill the savages, exterminate the race, became the one idea, the ruling sentiment. Accordingly, the arrangements being made, the work was to be begun on Monday at early dawn of October 8th, 1855. During the previous week an earnest appeal had been made to the Grand Jury to present the state of affairs before the Court, which was then sitting, for investigation, but they decided it was not in their place. On Sabbath, the 7th, there being a Methodist quarterly meeting within two hours' ride of the intended scene of massacre, I attended, and improved a general invitation to speak by expressing myself somewhat as follows:
"My friends, is it enough that we should be content with mere feelings of present comfort and hopes of future heaven, "to read our" (own) "title clear," then "wipe our weeping eyes"? Are there not those in our vicinity children of the same Father, heirs of the same immortality, entitled to the same enjoyments as ourselves, but doomed by our community to deprivation and death? Have we no sympathy, no fears, no effort in behalf of these our brethren? Could we not in some manner invoke the civil power, and prevent this contemplated wrong? My friends, if we allow these proceedings retribution will follow. As yet, our homes have not been molested, or our wives and children destroyed, but commence this wholesale slaughter, and some of us will become homeless, and some of our families be made desolate."
But no one making response, the meeting concluded as though there was nothing unusually wrong.
Three months afterward several gentlemen promised that if a meeting could be convened, they would attend and advocate measures of peace. I therefore caused a notice to be published, but the Sentinel proclaimed that there was not a man known in Jacksonville who desired such a meeting, but on the 22nd of January, 1856, by getting handbills and posting them round town myself (some of which were torn down before my face), a meeting was gathered in the Robinson House, but to my sorrow not one of my promised aides was present. I alone was left to declaim against the measures of war, and in favor of the practicability and necessity of peace. Several spoke in opposition. One said he was for treaty; he would invite all the Indians to sign it, and then take the opportunity to kill the whole. Another objected to that mode; he would rather continue the war until all were destroyed in honorable war. The Rev. Dr. K---- said he was going to leave the valley, but advised the destruction of all the "redskins." So the meeting broke up without anything being done, except the remonstrance of a single voice; but in coming away a gentleman suggested to me the writing out in speech form of the remarks which had been presented and sending to some eastern paper for publication.
And I am happy, fellow citizens, to perceive that though you were impervious and turned a deaf ear to a direct appeal, that you are nevertheless sensitive to its vibrations, since its echo has returned to you emphasized with a thousand sympathies from abroad.
Thus, gentlemen, you have not only allowed me to throw the first stone, but have left me alone to strain at the work. And now that our fellow citizens beyond the mountains are likely to overwhelm us with a shower, may we not hope that some chord will be struck, that the deep fountains of human sympathy may be broken up, and that the gushing and commingling streams will flow over the land as a wave of love and mercy, causing the evils we witness and lament to ultimate in blessings and the speedy advancement of that "good time coming," when "spears shall be beaten into pruning hooks, and swords into plowshares; when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and men shall learn war no more."
Fellow citizens, my interests and my home are in your pleasant valley. I appreciate your friendship, and mean to deserve your esteem, but I know that this can be only secured in the advocacy of "righteousness, which exalteth a nation," and I doubt not that when the causes of danger and excitement, which have induced some of you to err and others passively to acquiesce, shall subside, we shall approximate in our views, and be more firmly united to "do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God." And be assured, gentlemen, no one more deeply regrets than myself the unfavorable position in which circumstances have made you to appear, and if the sentiment of justice has prompted me to plead for the Indian, and to vindicate the course I have taken, that sentiment is no less potent in its regards for the happiness and welfare of those whom I now address, and whatever of influence or position I possess shall be strenuously used for the prompt relief of these embarrassments under which you suffer. I am deeply sensible that the causes from which past and present wrongs have arisen are deep, and broad, and high, and for the existence as well as for the removal of which others as well as the people of Oregon are responsible. It has been foreign to my feelings to mar the pecuniary interests or to throw an evil shade over the character of any. I have tried to modify rather than exaggerate, but justice required the facts, and I have intended to present nothing more. And since the indemnity will not be paid until the facts are analyzed which have occasioned the difference between the two Generals and the two Governors, you have nothing to hope for from secrecy, or blaming me for exposure. All would have been examined, even if I had not lived.
I wish also to correct a mistake which some have entertained, viz: that I have acted under the direction of Gen. Wool or Gen. Palmer. The truth is, I have received no communications whatever, directly or indirectly, from one or the other, except what I have read in the newspapers; neither have I from any other public officer, except a call at my house by Capt. Smith, of Fort Lane, in company with Dr. Ambrose. The life of the former was threatened, and from the extensive and deep feeling of disapprobation expressed against him, I had reason to believe he was in imminent danger, and simply because as a gentleman and soldier he declared his resolve to defend the defenseless who had fled to the Fort for protection. On Christmas I was impressed to write him a letter of sympathy. On the last of January he made the call as above, and stated that he had duly received the letter, but its contents being so novel and different from the general current, and not having previously heard the name of the writer, he concluded it was from an enemy and designed to mislead; but having heard of the effort for peace made in the Robinson House on the 22nd, he was satisfied of its genuineness, and had come in person to make the acknowledgment. In that interview there was no plan proposed or agreement made; in fact it was the first and last and only interchange of thought with public functionaries, except volunteers and editors, to the present time. My action has been the spontaneous prompting of the moment, and its operation intended directly upon the party addressed, but opposition has heightened zeal and enlarged the sphere. You have connected my name with circumstances upon which our countrymen form the center to the circumference of the land will look. I cannot hide if I would; so, my fellow citizens, I am resolved to stand with all of you who will "do good, love truth, be just and fair to ALL, exalt the RIGHT, though every ism fall."
And believe me your friend and well-wisher, JOHN BEESON
Oregon City, June 23, 1856.
Oregon Argus, Oregon City, June 28, 1856, page 1
SAN FRANCISCO, July 4, 1856.Editor of the Oregon Argus--SIR: As I sit musing in my quiet room, I hear the music and sounds of joy and gladness in the streets, commemorative of independence, for which our fathers fought. I am reminded of the fact that other nations, and people, and kindreds, and tongues desire independence, and I have thought, if so good for us, why not for others too?
In view of the fact that our people are rapidly taking possession of the beautiful valleys of the Pacific, and will soon occupy the choice regions of the interior and on the plains, thereby curtailing the red man's range, and forcing a closer proximity of the races, it is important that we should now consider well the causes which have heretofore resulted in the destruction of one and the detriment of the other.
It is not (as some suppose) a necessary consequence of contact; the history of Pennsylvania and the testimony of Dr. McLoughlin disprove it--for it is known that this gentleman has lived for more than half a century as a resident and trader with Indians, and for twenty-two years of that time he was Superintendent of the Hudson Bay Company, and yet he declares in all that time there was no wasting war. Both races dwelt together in harmony under the administration of impartial laws, and the Dr. declares his belief that if no injustice was allowed against the Indians there never would be war from them, because they know their interest, and feel proud of the white man's friendship. But yet the sentiment is common, and often expressed, that "the races can't live together." The proper answer would be, "Stay at home; if you cannot live amongst French, or Spanish, or Indians, why, they don't wish you. But surely you don't expect any people to leave their own country for your accommodation." The sentiment is not true, because in South America, the isles of the sea, and throughout the British dominion, they live together, and no cause of discord. The sentiment is not creditable to those who make it, because it is an acknowledgment that the people are so reckless they won't keep the peace, and the government so weak that it can't restrain them.
Let us now look at the circumstances in which we find the different tribes. As a general thing each occupies a certain prescribed district, over which a jealous control is held. This is necessary for their existence, because if driven from their own domain they are forced upon their neighbors, and war ensues. The white explorer comes along. The natives, at first awed by superior intellect, and attracted by the works of art, are pleased with their visitors, and for a time confidence exists, and mutual good will is exchanged, but no sooner do they perceive a design of permanent occupancy of their land than jealousy is excited, and a natural desire felt to get rid of the intruders. This desire is often aroused to hate and murder by contemptuous treatment and abuse of their females. But the natives, not being equal to an open attack, must use strategy, take by surprise, or cut off in detail. And then forthwith they are denounced as treacherous savages, unworthy to live.
Now, Mr. Editor, suppose a company of foreign travelers, with arms and equipments as much superior to yours as yours are to those of the Indians, should settle upon your farm, and subsist upon the products of your land; would that be any worse than our monopolizing the Indians' land, and annihilating his means of life? And suppose you had no extraneous aid, but a few immediate relatives, would you not use strategy or any means in your power to rid you of the intruders? Certainly you would, and not be a treacherous savage either. Well, then, let us allow our fellows to exercise the same impulse of our common humanity. For undoubtedly the Father of us all, who supplied these streams with fish, and raised these lofty hills, and made these valleys fertile, gave them as the inheritance of the red man's race. But as the reception of civilization and science would lessen their necessity for such large domains, we could purchase all we need by their importation. Yet to be just, we should not think of dollars and cents, because no amount of these, or of their material value, would be an equivalent in their circumstances. The compensation should be given in such a manner as to assure them of our sincerity as friends, and to such an extent as will ensure them facilities for a constant developing in the higher scale of being. In this way the Indians would become a trophy of our science, a living monument of our philanthropy and religion, and a valuable element of our national strength. And, Mr. Editor, who does not see how much better and cheaper and more honorable this would be than taking their domains for less than value, and then spending millions to allay their resentment for the cheat.
But there is a common notion that we must "whip them first," "chastise," "humble," &c. But the questions arise, what for? and what good would it do? If the strangers, whom we have supposed in possession of your farm, were to chastise or kill some of the members of your family, would that inspire you with esteem for their justice? No, it would be as a smoldering fire to consume your oppressors.
Those who entertain the above sentiment are not versed in human history, or they forget that it belongs to the ages of darkness, and is the language of tyrants who govern by terror and torture. Who, I ask, does not know that fear is repellent in its essence, whilst love is adhesive and permanent? The Indian appreciates our superior power; we have only to make him conscious that it will be uniformly exercised for his interest, and he will yield to our control as naturally as the rivers flow to the ocean.
There is only one principle or true basis for concord and happiness in human government, and that is impartial justice, a full practical acknowledgment of the rights of all, and it is a truism confirmed by the history of the world that where the just rights of any class are denied, other classes are not secure in theirs.
If then, Mr. Editor, a calm review of the incidents pertaining to the origin and progress of the disastrous difficulties which have distracted community should disclose the fact that we have not dealt with due consideration and forbearance towards a less fortunate race of our fellow men, it becomes us as a great and powerful and magnanimous people to make all the restitution in our power. It becomes us to be more earnest and exemplary by virtuous lives, purity, brotherly kindness and charity, to attract these poor savages to goodness and truth. And, in conclusion, permit me to ask, should we not be more than ever ready in the exercise of that mercy towards our fellows which we desire of the final Judge, who is no respecter of persons?
Respectfully yours,Oregon Argus, Oregon City, July 26, 1856, page 3
Fair Play.Newspaper clipping, NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency 1856, frame 19.
What Cheer House, San Francisco,
August 12, 1856.
Editors True Californian:
In reading the papers brought by the last steamer from Oregon, I could not but remark the great injustice done to two worthy officials of the general government, as well as to those of our citizens who sympathize with their views.
One paper declares that the dismission of Gen. Palmer from the Indian Superintendency is "good news to the people of Oregon, for he had done them more harm than the Indians, by his falsehoods and aspersions."
Another paper represents the people of Oregon as having been between two fires, "the Indians on one side and Gen. Wool on the other."
These are serious charges, and as there is not to my knowledge any writer in Oregon or California who has written a word in explanation or defense, and as I have lived in the midst of the scenes of war in Southern Oregon from its commencement, I desire to make the following statements. I make them as the result of earnest observation of the parties concerned, and of deep, deliberate conviction of their truth. I am prepared to say that the reports of Gen. Palmer, in regard to the origin of the war, are not falsehoods, are not aspersions, but true to the letter.
And, moreover, his action in collecting the scattered tribes upon the reserve, for which he was so bitterly opposed, was in accordance with honor, with the highest dictates of humanity and official duty. And as he performed this service under a high sense of conscious right and benevolent impulses in the face of popular prejudice, of threatening and danger, he deserves honor and esteem for his heroism and integrity, instead of dismission and calumny. And I am assured this assertion will be sustained by hundreds of intelligent citizens whose views he has carried out, but whose sentiments have not been abroad through the press.
And as to the veteran Major General Wool, what is his fault that there should be such torrents of denunciation and not a word from any quarter in his defense? The Legislative House of Oregon, and the Governors of two Territories have done their utmost to dishonor him before the nation, by representations of defective judgment, and inefficiency in the station he holds; a multitude of men whose pecuniary interests are at stake, headed by a press, united against him. Surely against such a power, and in the absence of any supporting aid, a man under ordinary circumstances would be crushed to death. But as the General is sustained apparently without help, I propose to show the reason. Doubtless his age, his patriotism, his tried skill and courage weighs well in his favor, but these altogether could not sustain him against the overwhelming force of numbers, provided they had sufficient reason for their charges. But the fact is, they have nothing to stand upon that will bear the light of reason and truth, and the Governors and others, who are justly responsible, may well tremble in view of what history may someday expose to public gaze in relation to the origin and conduct of the present war.
I do not wish, Messrs. Editors, to spin out a long letter of details; it is enough to say that intelligent men, whose knowledge of facts entitles their testimony to respect, declare the war to be unnecessary, and therefore unjust; that it was commenced by the cruel aggressions and robbery of the Indians by the same class of men who get into office by perjury and fraud, in order the more easily to rob their fellows. The Indians were treated in such a manner by these men, and having no press, no pleaders, and no "vigilance committees" to guard their interests, they had but one alternative, to combine for self-protection or be cut off like helpless brutes.
I speak more particularly of Southern Oregon, when I say that for months previous to the open outbreak, the chiefs had complained again and again of their grievances. They asked most piteously, "Why do the Bostons want to shoot us?" "We do not want war, but peace and protection." On one occasion, when assembled at Fort Lane, they desired the document upon which the treaty was written might be read aloud, and, as sentence after sentence was uttered, they appealed to those present, and earnestly asked, Have we not kept that--have we not kept that? and so on to the end of every article. At the same time, whites were shooting them with impunity whenever they had an opportunity. So many were cut off in this way, that old Chief John refused to make treaty, because (said he), "I had more men killed during peace than war"; and yet, when in retaliation, a white man was killed, it was published abroad as a savage outrage for which they ought to be exterminated. And scores of men, in the summer of '55, went from Northern California, declaring their intention to make war upon the Indian on their way to the new mines in Northern Oregon.
But the sub-agents and the civil authorities assumed as though the Indians only were guilty, and they alone should be "chastised" (i.e., killed), and the Governor forthwith called the people to arms, and thus the law and peace-loving citizens, being surrounded and overwhelmed with the horrors of war, were obliged to participate as a matter of self-defense.
Under these circumstances, is it any wonder that General Wool should demur at engaging the national forces in a war against a people pleading for mercy and protection in a war brought about by blacklegs and rowdies. For let it be known, there was no time during the winter but the Indians were anxious for peace, and could they have but assurance of protection, gladly would they have made treaty; but the volunteers threatened a general massacre if treaty were made; they protracted the war for months, on pretense that the Indians must be whipped.
It is morally certain that if Governor Curry (and I believe the same may be said of Gov. Stevens and the Northern war) had exercised his legitimate functions in the preservation of peace, instead of going out and beyond his sphere for other purposes, there would have been no Southern Oregon war, and all this misery, blood and treasure might have been saved.
The very idea of soldiers, who engage in warfare with honorable motives of patriotism and defense of country, to be degraded in the perpetration of a destructive war, without necessity; a war with no noble object in view; in which success was no profit, and victory no honor, is repulsive and humiliating in the extreme. And Gen. Wool deserves, and will ultimately receive, full credit for the manner in which he has at once maintained his own dignity and the national honor.
HE HAD BETTER PAY.--We notice John Beeson, a fanatical old man from Jackson County, Oregon, is filling the San Francisco papers with silly letters about the Oregon war. He has published one in the N.Y. Tribune, from which we make the following extract:
"The Statesman would only publish my account of the indignation meeting as an advertisement, for which it charged $12.--The Pacific Advocate promised to publish both statements, but did not print mine, and a short article which I wrote for its columns was refused admission. I called upon Mr. Adams of the Oregon Argus; he said he had advocated war through a misapprehension of facts, but since fuller information will freely print on both sides alike."
That is true. We told Mr. Beeson that his letter concerned nobody but himself, and we could only publish it as advertisement. He left it, and we charged him $12, which sum he promised to pay, but he went off without doing it.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, September 16, 1856, page 2
DIFFICULTIES IN OREGON.
To the Editor of the N.Y. Tribune.
Sir: Will you permit me to occupy a small portion of your columns with a brief personal narrative of occurrences growing out of the Oregon war. I belong to the small minority in Oregon who believe with Generals Wool and Palmer that the late war was unnecessary and cruel in the extreme, and that all the burning of property, the destruction of life and expenditure of public treasure, would have been saved if the civil authorities had administered equal justice instead of calling the people to arms. I have lived since the fall of 1853 in Rogue River Valley, Southern Oregon, situated between the headwaters of the Sacramento and the Willamette valleys, and have had an opportunity of knowing much of the Indian tribes, both on the plains as well as on the Pacific Coast. Notwithstanding the heart-rending statements of savage barbarity which the Oregon papers have constantly spread before the public, it is a fact there are far more murdered Indians than Indian murders, and when the whole truth is known, I believe it will appear that Indians are less savage than some who assume to be civilized.
Often as I have looked upon these people, dwelling in small communities in the shady grove or along the limpid stream, beautifully supplied with fish and roots and berries for subsistence, and apparently happy in the relationship of family and friends, the conviction was forced upon me that they were living as much in harmony with the beautiful surroundings as their more toiling and anxious brethren of another race. I could not perceive wherein they were not equally with us endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And after they were driven from their pleasant homes, and their domains usurped by invaders, I never saw anything in their condition or conduct but what aroused my deepest sympathy and commiseration. To have submitted to robbery and outrage of the gravest kind without resentment would be more than Christian; to have remained passive and indifferent would be less than Men.
I do not see under the circumstances how they could have done different or better than they have done, for practically they have only exclaimed with our own noble sires, "Give us liberty or give us death." And for this they have been denounced as not only savages, but as "varmints" and demons unfit to live, and the military force of two Territories has been drawn out to destroy them from the earth.
Under the deep conviction of duty, I never failed, from my arrival in to my departure from the valley, to declaim against the great wrong our people were doing. And, though many good citizens privately told me of similar convictions, yet I know of none in whom it was strong enough to prompt open expression. I write of this not with vain boast, but with the mingled feeling of deep regret and lively joy. Regret that so many of my neighbors and friends should cower in base subjection to speculators and rowdies, and yield their constitutional right to freedom of speech. Joy, because my life is spared, contrary to my own expectation and the predictions of my friends and foes, who said I should fall by an assassin.
All the papers in the Territory were closed against me, yet they were unsparing in denunciation, and letters which I sent to the post office for the California papers were not allowed to pass, but were opened in Jacksonville, so that when I arrived in San Francisco not one had been published. At length a letter, or the substance of one, which I had written appeared among them in the N.Y. Tribune of April 5. This brought matters to a climax. Indignation meetings were got up and the writer denounced in the strongest language, and not a tongue dare move in his defense. Having been privately informed of what was intended, I fled in the darkness of night to Fort Lane and was, by an escort of United States troops, conveyed beyond the scene of excitement. I arrived by the steamer Illinois last Saturday, and am pleased find myself, though among strangers, in your city.
JOHN BEESON.New York, Sept. 30, 1856.
Newspaper clipping, NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency 1856, frame 20.
N.Y. October 8, 1856.NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency 1856, frames 14-17.
I trust I shall not be deemed intrusive in addressing you. The peculiarity of my position is my apology. Having lived for the last three years in Rogue River Valley, Southern Oregon, and been familiar with much of the origin & history of the Indian war and knowing the great wrongs our people were doing, I fully sympathize with Generals Wool & Palmer. And failed not in my efforts to bring about a different course, but the public here & the press in the Territory were closed against reproof. And because I wrote letters to eastern papers stating acknowledged facts, hoping thereby to stay the outrages. Indignation meetings were got up and my life threatened.
I fled on the night of the 26th of last May to Fort Lane for safety, and was escorted by the U.S. troops
I also published an address to the citizens of Southern Oregon, as well as several letters in behalf of justice & mercy towards the Indians.
For the fact is, this war has grown out of the selfish propensities of the whites far more than the bad conduct of the Indians, and therefore my feelings of patriotism & convictions of right impelled me to sustain a moral war against moral wrongs. For we had abounding evidence that notwithstanding the excellent instructions furnished from the Commissioner of the Indian Department to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, they could not be properly carried out with a surrounding population wholly opposed. The consequence is embarrassment, loss & widespread misery.
To stop this mischief and to prevent similar recurrence, I have written many private letters and public appeals through the press, having obtained the use of one paper in the Willamette for which I paid a good riding horse & equipments and had extra copies circulated gratuitously. I also stayed in San Francisco several weeks purposely to enlist the influence of the press in behalf of justice & right.
I arrived in this city 27 of June with less than $10 in my pocket and a perfect stranger.
Having been thus forced by circumstance into public work to the great detriment of my domestic and pecuniary interests as well as prostration of health.
I respectfully submit whether I have not a claim for indemnity and support until I can safely return to my home, which will hardly be until the war claims are adjusted.
My course from the first was the spontaneous promptings of my own judgment and was intended as the most direct method to arrest evil. And I have the satisfaction of believing that much treasure and some lives were saved, and the war brought to a speedier close. I have no letters of introduction because I asked for none, but I have two letters of a personal & private nature from Gen. Wool and I believe the approbation of the moral sense of Oregon & California.
And I propose to furnish facts and incidents of Indian character and the power of kindness until public sentiment shall frown upon the multiplied wrongs to which the Indian tribes are subject.
If you should wish for further information, corroborative or illustrative, of the authorized reports in relation to the war or the wants and prospects of the tribes on the reserve or elsewhere, I think you could be furnished with the same, as besides myself there is now in this city a very intelligent man, long a resident upon the coast, and familiar with matters of interest in that quarter.
There is also a gentleman who aided Gen. Palmer in collecting the remnants and for two months taught the first school the poor children were ever in. His account of their progress is very interesting, and I think the information he could communicate to the Department would be useful as a basis for future action.
With this I send two or three scraps [transcribed above] from California papers merely as evidence of the kind of articles I have published. Also a N.Y. Tribune of September; in [it] is a brief statement of the circumstances which occasioned the murder of the lamented Whitman, missionary to the Indians, in '48. Please let me know whether the Department will require any further reference as to credibility or character. If so I will furnish any reasonable amount from LaSalle Co., Ill., where I lived on one farm 22 years, or to numbers in Oregon & California. I am now at a "water cure" in N.Y. incurring debt for which I have no means at command to pay.
Please addressTo Mr. Manypenny
Care of Fowler & Wells
308 Broadway N.Y.
And oblige your obedient servt.
of the Indian Department
Review of Agent Metcalfe's Letter of Detente.
Mr. Editor: In a late Oregon Statesman [letter of June 21, 1856], there is a letter from R. B. Metcalfe, whom the editor in a note informs us is a "gentleman of character and honor, kinsman of ex-Governor Metcalfe, of Kentucky, and Indian Agent for Southern Oregon."
The letter purports to be written in defense of the people against certain statements going the rounds to their prejudice, and is mainly occupied with proof to show that the Indians under the Old Chief "John" were the aggressors in the war.
I am somewhat acquainted with the circumstances, and believing that the Indians as well as the worthy citizens of Southern Oregon have been greatly injured by such a perversion of facts as Mr. Metcalfe's letter contains, I am induced to offer the following by way of correction.
I will not charge Mr. Metcalfe with falsehood, but for argument's sake, admit all that he has said about the chiefs urging the tribes to combine for war. Yet I must observe, and I believe every high-minded citizen will agree with me, how unfair to give such a one-sided account against a venerable chief, and against a people who could not write a refutation of falsehood.
Why did not Mr. Metcalfe, in his account of the origin of the war, tell of the doings of both parties--how a white wretch shot the husband of the chief's daughter, because he would not give her up to his lust? How his own son was kept in irons for weeks on a charge believed to be false, and, after a fair trial, was dismissed by the authorities, but taken by the lawless and cruelly put to death, and how that numbers of men made it a point for months previous to open war to shoot Indians wherever they could do it with safety to themselves; and that the chiefs made complaints again and again, but could get neither redress or protection; that not a house was burned, or a woman or child injured by Indians until after their homes were burnt and their families destroyed.
Why, I ask, does Mr. Metcalfe keep these facts out of sight, to the prejudice of those whose interests he is bound by office and honor to protect.
Mr. Metcalfe knows well that, before the Indians committed any of these outrages, an organized band of men made an attack with the avowed purpose of killing every Indian in the valley, regardless of age or sex; and that this murderous work was commenced in earnest on the morning of Oct. 8th, 1855, when three ranches were burnt over, and thirty of their inmates put to death, fourteen of whom were women and children--and this was done subsequent to an assurance (a day or two previous) of peace and protection, in order the more easily to effect their destruction. About the same time, many were killed in different parts of the valley, and Capt. Smith was threatened with an overwhelming assault by the volunteers if he opened the fort for their protection, so that the Indians had no alternative but to fight for life, or be killed like brutes.
But Mr. Metcalfe defends the killing of women and children, by saying, that, in battle, they crowd together, and it can't be helped. He forgets that, at first, it was deliberately intended to kill ALL. But suppose this was not the case: how will he explain the circumstances of those three Indian women, who had taken refuge on the top of Table Rock, being shot, and their bodies falling over the cragged rocks, down the steep precipice below. The sight of these mangled victims as they lay writhing in agony was so shocking that it was reported that they were scared and fell down; but Dr. Ambrose, who lived in the vicinity, informed me that they did not fall until they were fired upon.
And how will he explain the circumstance of Rice's company going to the relief of Bruce and capturing two women and an infant, who, as the volunteers report, were clubbed to death, the child's brains dashed out against a tree, in retaliation for which the papers state that the Indians put to death two white captive females.
If it had been true that the editor of the Statesman had not published the fact that Mr. Metcalfe has such high connections, and moreover is a "gentleman of honor and character," we, the citizens of Southern Oregon, should have some misgivings on that point, for everybody who has read the papers knows that it is not the custom of the women and children to crowd in conflict, but to fly for refuge. The warriors alone face their assailants, and moreover, from the mode of attack, generally adopted, of creeping in the dark, or, as at the meadows, approaching under cover of a dense cloud, and pouring their deadly fire on the unsuspecting families, the killing of women and children would be evidence of design, not chance.
I could write much more of these painful details, but enough is presented to show the wrong position which agent Metcalfe has assumed, and the injustice he has endeavored to inflict upon a people who, to say the least, are blamed and punished for more than they deserve.
I assure you, Mr. Editor, it is with disappointment and deep regret that I read Mr. Metcalfe's letter, and that I pen this review, for from his reputation as a gentleman, it was hoped the poor outcasts had in him a friend, not only because of his office, but because of his alliance by love and parentage, it was thought the tender associations of family and kin would secure from him a just regard for their rights, especially as it was generally reported that he is a kind man and an affectionate father, unlike those monsters who treat their Indian offspring like brutes. He acknowledges the relationship, and cares for their culture. Why does not Mr. Metcalfe use his official power in its application on behalf of the people of his charge? Why does he allow them to be deprived of these rights "without due process of law."
I suppose, Mr. Editor, you are ready to inquire, Are there no good citizens in Southern Oregon, no lovers of truth and justice? I answer yes; as many in proportion as you have in your city, but the press, and the power are in the hands of the enemy, and until the Indians have a "Vigilance Committee" to guard their interest, and honest thought a free expression, and good men rule the people, Oregon, like California, will groan under accumulated curses.
But there is hope; light is springing up, and the eyes of many are opening, and ere long we believe the sun of righteousness will shine over all the land.
JOHN BEESON.Letter to the Oregon Statesman of October 8, 1856, NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency 1856, frame 21.
THE INDIANS AND THE MURDERED
To the Editor of the N.Y. Tribune.
SIR: The fate of the lamented Whitman has been repeatedly brought up in the Oregon papers, in proof that the Indians have no gratitude, and when caprice or interest prompts, will kill, without discrimination, either friend or foe, and hence they justify the atrocious war of extermination.
Now, if this was even true of the Indians, it is certainly true of their white neighbors, for it has been notorious that for one white person killed a whole tribe has been put to death. And there are scores of men in Oregon who have made their boast of shooting Indians, not because of crime, but merely because they were Indians.
The old chief John objected to make treaty with the authorities, for, said he, "I had more men shot in the same time during peace than in war; then we were off our guard, but now we look out for enemies."
The writer of this was in the vicinity, and earnestly, both in public and in private, protested against the contemplated massacre of the Rogue River Indians for weeks before its attempted perpetration. Nevertheless, because some few had received a retaliatory shot, panic, passion and patriotism combined in an organization for their destruction. It was not even pretended that they were all guilty, but only suspected that some of a hostile tribe were among them, and for this scores, including men, women and children, were put to death, and but for the superior discretion and courage of the Indians over their assailants, the war would have been far more bloody and destructive than it was, for, after the first treacherous attack on the [8th] of October, upon a party who had just been assured of peace and protection, when thirty or forty were killed at once, they obtained the advantage over the volunteers, and could have sustained with them a war for years. Yet they were far from burning property and killing all that fell in their power. They studiously kept within the limits of retaliatory law--property for property and life for life. Hence it was often a subject of remark that fifty Indians could have destroyed in detail all the houses in the valley if they had been disposed. But the fact is, they did not consider themselves at war with the government or regular settlers, but only with the "Bostons," or volunteers. They even requested Capt. Smith of Fort Lane to prevent the atrocious cruelties in killing women and children for, said they, "We do not so in our wars, and shall not hurt yours if you let ours alone."
It is quite natural that the simple mind of the Indian should be credulous, and when deceived suspicious, particularly in regard to chemicals. On one occasion a speculator, during an epidemic, procured a number of bottles of water scented with peppermint, and assured them it was an infallible cure, and charged a horse for a bottle; he soon got a drove for California where they were worth $50 to $100 each. I have heard of quite a number being poisoned with strychnine mixed with sugar, and exposed in some situation where they would be tempted to steal. I lately had an interview with a gentleman connected with the Hudson Bay Fur Company, who was a neighbor and intimate friend of Dr. Whitman at the time of his lamented death.
From him I learned the following particulars: Dr. Whitman was a true philanthropist and Christian, generally esteemed by all classes, but he had some bitter enemies (as every good man has). These took advantage of a time when the measles were prevalent (and, notwithstanding the doctor's medicines, terribly fatal among the Indians) to insinuate that the doctor gave them poison. Some of the Indians applied to their chief to enforce their own law, which is to kill the medicine man when the patient dies. The chief firmly resisted, but an enemy proposed to convince the chief of the nature of the medicine by giving some to two HEALTHY INDIANS, when they both suddenly died. (It is believed strychnine was privately mixed.) Such a proof the chief could not resist; his religion and his law, like that of Moses, demanded blood for blood. Frenzied with grief and rage, one of their number, whose wife had just died, seized an ax, and with others hastened to commit the fatal deed. But afterward this man asserted he had killed his best friend, and to this day the tribe reveres the memory of their fallen friend and teacher.
In view of these facts, how manifestly unjust it is in those who allude to this as a justification, especially when those who do it have sanctioned wrongs of larger magnitude against the very people whom they so grossly accuse! In conclusion, I cannot but express my deep regret that while Gen. Wool is very properly sustained, Gen. Palmer is dishonored and dismissed for occupying precisely the same ground. Like a noble, true-hearted man, in the midst of defamation, rowdyism and wrong, he defended the rights of those whom the lawless squatter sovereigns sought to destroy.
B.New York Daily Tribune, October 10, 1856, page 6
THE OREGON INDIAN WAR.
To the Editor of the N.Y. Tribune.
SIR: Having been requested by several gentlemen to give a detailed statement of the border ruffianism in the Territory of Oregon, I submit the following for your columns.
A few months ago there was not a paper in Oregon which was not so far subservient to the slave power as to exclude a free expression upon that subject. At the same time it was secretly hoped, and by some openly advocated, that Oregon should be organized as a state under the well-known proclivities of its present representative in Washington. To resist such attempts and to maintain constitutional freedom, a Republican Party was formed in Southern Oregon; the writer of this was there nominated for the Legislature. When the open war commenced and extermination avowed, regardless of age or sex, of peaceful or warlike, and scenes of rapine and cruelty--disgraceful to any age or nation--were being enacted, I could not but apply the principles of the platform upon which I stood to the parties in conflict. I could not find any argument, in reason or nature, why the Indian, placed as he is by the Great Father of all, is not equally with us endowed with the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And yet our people were treating them on the principle that "might gives right." Men were all around boasting of shooting them, and avowing their intention to do so whenever they could with safety to themselves, and when a retaliatory shot was received, or a white man killed, the press teemed with exciting statements, and urgent for vengeance--the worst passions being then aroused and encouraged to outrage. The following are some among the many tragedies which occurred: On Rogue River, the Indians were assured by certain men of peace and protection, purposely to put them off their guard. These same men came into Jacksonville, reported how they had arranged with the Indians, then immediately organized companies with the intention of attacking different points by surprise, but the organization was not completed when an attack was made upon three ranches before daybreak, and thirty were killed, fourteen of whom were women and children. On another occasion a party of twenty Indians were invited to eat, on pretense of making a treaty of peace, and while doing so were surrounded and shot. Another time a wigwam was approached in the night; fire was put to its light material of bark and poles over its sleeping occupants, and as one after another--parents and children--scorched and terrified, fled for refuge, they were felled by the deadly rifle. A little boy, scarcely in his teens, was taken and hung. Another, employed as a muleteer, and highly esteemed by his employer, was shot at as a mark by a company while riding in his employer's service. Another peaceable Indian, anxious to improve, and an industrious laborer, was found in the street clubbed to death.
These, and hundreds of similar cases, were constantly coming to my care; besides, the gross outrages committed on the females were horrible in the extreme. Of course, the Indians were driven to desperation; they had no alternative but to fight. Destruction and not conquest was the object of the assailants, and the authorities made no effort in behalf of justice and peace. The good and peace-loving citizens were panic-stricken, while others who had influence sanctioned the wrong. A Methodist preacher, of the Church South, carried round a subscription paper, to solicit funds to pay $10 for each extra scalp, and with another reverend brother (forgetting their office as peace-makers) exhorted to war. With the deep convictions I felt, and the platform I espoused, necessity compelled me, though single-handed, to plead for the Indian as a fellow human and a brother man. In private and public I tried by argument and remonstrance to awaken a reaction in favor of peace (for the Indians were desirous of peace, could they have had protection). But the rowdy spirit prevailed, and men asserted that, treaty or no treaty, they would kill Indians, and "UNCLE SAM WOULD PAY FOR IT." Thus things progressed until every family became in some way, either by connection or pecuniary interest, implicated in the war, and it was deemed impolite, and even traitorous, to utter a word reflecting upon its justice, and thereby jeopardize indemnity.
Finding that nothing which I could say was of avail, I wrote a number of letters (detailing facts) to leading men, as well as to the press in the Territory. (The reader must bear in mind that the valley in which these scenes transpired is isolated, being two hundred miles from the Willamette Valley, thirty miles from Crescent City, on the coast, from which it is accessible only by mules, and separated from California by the Sierra Nevada range of mountains.) I also wrote several to the press in the States and to California, because I believed the papers in Oregon were misleading the people and the government--at the same time doing great injustice to the Indians, who could not write again[st] in self-defense. But I soon found that several of my letters were not received by the publishers. One was addressed to a paper in San Francisco in answer to Gov. Curry's proclamation, wherein he says that "the Indians commenced the war without cause," and that Gen. Wool was culpable for not prosecuting it as commenced by the volunteers. This was mailed the 1st of last May. Three weeks afterward two gentlemen called upon me with an invitation to attend a public meeting then gathering about a mile from my house. I went with them, they pretending not to know the subject of the meeting. I found a large assembly of volunteers--a reverend in the chair, reading a letter and editorial remarks on the Oregon war published in the N.Y. Tribune of April 5. After which Mr. T'Vault, a lawyer from Texas, and editor of the only paper in the valley, produced the manuscript letter I have just mentioned. It was opened in Jacksonville instead of being forwarded, and privately carried round to get up an excitement against the writer.
Denunciatory speeches were made by the reverend chairman and the editor. Capt. Smith, also from Kentucky (my successful opponent for the Legislature), attempted a most powerful speech, concluding with the hope that "a verdict would be rendered which would smell hot with pepper." Major Cranmer also called loudly for vengeance. A committee was appointed, and resolutions adopted to the effect that the published statements were the "emanations of a low and depraved intellect, and that it behooved every good citizen to take prompt measures to stop their circulation." I was forbidden by the chair to speak a word in defense, so I left for home, and the meeting adjourned to hear more Democratic speeches and devise further action.
Being apprised of what was intended, I fled to Fort Lane in the night, on the 26th of last May, and on the following day was guarded by an escort of United States dragoons forty or fifty miles--they staying with me one night--after which I traveled to the Willamette alone. I passed several encampments of volunteers, with whom the regulars had no more dealings than the ancient Jews and Samaritans with each other.
I saw the blackened ruins and the desolation for miles, but was informed that no warlike Indians had been there for several weeks. The second day, as I emerged from the dark solitude of the Ten-Mile Cañon, through which I had traveled alone, I met a drove of hogs (commissary stock, I suppose), attended by a good number of drivers, each with his revolver and dirk, beside an escort of well-armed mounted volunteers, whom I took to be a part of Gov. Curry's army. The following day I met a number of wagons, each drawn by four yoke of oxen. I inquired the loading, and was answered "Powder and medicine, going to Jacksonville."
The farcical nature of all this will appear when it is known that for months the Indians had been anxious for treaty, and the presence and interference of the volunteers was the only obstacle.
The Tribune, already mentioned, had been distributed through the Willamette but a few days before my arrival, and, not being known, I was often amused at the remarks. It seemed that the explosion of a bomb in their midst would hardly have produced a greater stir. But in no case did I hear the statements denied. Many took courage and affirmed them, while others regretted their publication so soon, because it would prevent Gen. Lane from fulfilling his promise, so often made in his electioneering campaign, "that in case of another Indian war he would secure every dollar claimed."
I have thus, Mr. Editor, given what I believe a truthful statement. Others can comment as they please, but my profound conviction is that a spurious Democracy victimized the Indians, purposely to make political and pecuniary capital, with which to perpetuate their rule, and extend slavery over all the Territories.
Respectfully yours, JOHN BEESON.New York Tribune, October 21, 1856, page 7
New York, Oct. 10, 1856.
A Plea for the Indians: With Facts and Features of the
Late War in Oregon. By John Beeson.
This little pamphlet volume should have a wide circulation among the intelligent people of this country. It is truly "A Plea for the Indians," and is honest and deserved. Mr. Beeson, the writer, publishes it himself, and would be glad to receive orders at 15 Laight Street, New York.
The National Era, Washington, D.C.., May 28, 1857, page 2
June 18, 1857.To the Editor of the National Era:
The "Plea for the Indians," which you favorably noticed a few weeks since, does not meet with the sale which the importance of the object encouraged me to hope for. The real condition of the Indian is but little known, and less cared for. And such is the apathy and prejudice towards these poor outcasts that not a publisher in this city would risk the publication of the Plea, and the bookstores won't have it for sale.
I have been an exile from my family and home (in Rogue River Valley, Oregon) for more than a year. I have devoted myself to writing and talking, in my humble way, in behalf of the Indians, and for the organization of a national association for their protection and elevation. I have got the Plea stereotyped, and the first edition mostly disposed of by gratuitous distribution, but few have been sold. The result has been a renewed effort by the Catholics and the Society of Friends in their mission establishments.
And for myself, about $30, towards $130, which I have incurred for board, printing &c. since my arrival in this city. I was desired by certain Friends to get the Plea printed, and they would aid in the expense and in the success of the enterprise, but because I have published my own free thoughts, my deepest convictions of truth, which happen not to accord with their orthodoxy, they have withdrawn their assistance, and left me to struggle alone against popular prejudice, and involved in debt.
With esteem, yours, JOHN BEESON.
National Era, Washington, D.C., June 25, 1857, page 3
'A PLEA FOR THE INDIANS.'
Westminster, June 22, 1857.Dear Friend Garrison:
With this I send a little work, entitled A Plea for the Indians, by John Beeson. I have had time to read only a small portion of the work, but from the little I have read, and what I know of the author, I have no doubt it will pay a perusal.
Mr. Beeson is a modest, unassuming man of worldwide philanthropy. The broad earth is his home, and his brethren "all mankind." In his love to the race, he knows no distinction of color, sex, sect or party. He is cool and discriminating in his judgment, clear and logical in his reasoning, and morally incapable of intentional deception. I say this from an acquaintance with the man rather than his book, which, as already stated, I have not read. Having lived for some time in Rogue River Valley, and seen the injustice done to the "red man," and feeling the deep damnation of this nation in its multiplied aggressions upon the weaker and defenseless races, he is now engaged in an effort to awaken sympathy and enlighten the public sentiment in relation to the "poor Indian," and see if something cannot be done to arouse this government to a sense of justice towards those it has ever despised and trampled upon. He is but little known in the world, and of very limited means. Thus far he has struggled alone against many discouragements. He has incurred a debt of some $200 in publishing his little book, which he has no means of meeting. Should you think favorably of the work, will you please give it a notice, and solicit orders therefor? Mr. Beeson's address is 15 Laight Street, New York. The price of the work is twenty-five cents, with the usual discount to the trade.
Fraternally yours, D. M. ALLEN.
The Liberator, Boston, Massachusetts, July 3, 1857, page 3
THE AMERICAN INDIAN AID ASSOCIATION.--This association held a public meeting on Monday evening, at Clinton Hall, Astor Place. Rather a small audience were in attendance, and they opened with the appointment of Dr. L. T. Warren chairman and R. W. Huntley secretary.
John Beeson, an elderly Englishman, who had spent twelve years in Oregon among the Indians, appealed to the audience for sympathy and aid in ameliorating their condition, giving numerous details relative to the impositions practiced upon them by many of the white settlers. Resolutions were afterward adopted, repudiating the views entertained by many of the manifest destiny of the Anglo-American race, which assume the necessity of a gradual extermination of the aboriginal tribes of this continent. The meeting also recommended the new society, "The American Indian Aid Association," to the confidence and support of the public.
New York Daily Tribune, October 14, 1857, page 7
For the Register.Mr. Editors:--In consequence of the numerous one-sided and exaggerated statements in regard to the wild and savage nature of the Indians, an idea has become prevalent that they cannot be civilized. And so deep is the conviction on the minds of some, that they really suppose that nothing can be done but to look on while the tribes perish by whiskey and war, or by a natural decay. To demonstrate that this is a mistake and that the affirmative of the above question is the truth, I append the following from the Reports of the Indian Department for 1857-8.
Can the Indians Be Civilized.
The Menominees of the Northern Superintendency cultivated last year 800 acres of grain and vegetables, and the agent says that they make as good farmers as the people of any other nation. They used up during the year 288,000 feet of lumber for the following purposes: for flooring &c., of 100 log houses, 13,000 feet; for building a church, 30,000; for coffins and graveyard fences, 1000; for fences on the central farm, 6000; for two stores, 25,000; for building houses for Stockbridge Indians, 21,000.
The above was done by Indians. Joseph Ostropb, the school teacher, reports that their children make good progress in writing and arithmetic, that many of them possess a good talent for music, and solve the notes as easily as they would say the ABC.
The agent of the Winnebagos reports that this tribe cultivated last year 200 acres of wheat; 150 acres of oats; 113 acres of corn; 103 acres of turnips; 6 acres of peas, beans and buckwheat, besides numerous gardens. They have also cut 200 tons of hay and made 200,000 brick for chimneys and ovens. In the school, forty girls made during the year 286 garments in addition to their studies. Fifty boys in the same school made 200 rods of fence, dug a well and cultivated three and a half acres in good order as a garden, besides cutting hay enough to winter a span of horses. If, Mr. Editor, it is borne in mind that these people have labored under discouraging circumstances, having been moved from four different states and even now not sure but they may be driven away again, I think it must be admitted that if they die out it will be because they are either starved or killed, and not because they are unable or unwilling to work for a subsistence.
There are several other tribes, as the Cherokees, Choctaws and Senecas, and some others who in regard to schools and public improvements and the acquisition of wealth are going ahead on (at least) a par with their palefaced neighbors..
Of the Pueblo Indians, the agent reports that they are too far advanced in civilization to be called Indians in the ordinary acceptation of that term.
The Pimas, another tribe who occupy in the Gila Valley, a district about 20 miles in length and four in breadth, live in villages and raise fine crops of corn, wheat, millet, melons and pumpkins, and also cotton of excellent quality, which they spin and weave into blankets of beautiful texture. They number almost three thousand souls.
The Shoshones, who occupy the Great Basin east of Utah, are a fine race, being industrious, temperate and cleanly in all their habits. They are estimated to number fifty thousand and as yet have no white men among them.
The Apache Indians on the Gadsden Purchase, about the savageness of whom so much has been written, expressed a willingness to cultivate the soil on the first request of the agent to do so, and with a little instruction soon had seventy-five acres prepared and planted with corn and pumpkins.
And even the wild Comanches and other tribes, which have been the terror of both Mexicans and Americans on the borders, are found to be docile and apt to learn when treated with humanity and justice; they are only hostile and revengeful because their domains are invaded and their game destroyed to such an extent that starvation often drives them to desperation. It is believed that there is not now a tribe within our territories but what would raise subsistence from the soil could they be protected from border ruffian outrages and have the necessary facilities in seeds and implements and instructors. But before they can be expected to conform to our habits and be firm in their allegiance to our government they must have full and impartial protection of our laws and a faithful appropriation of all which our treaty stipulations call for.
Unfortunately this is not the ease at present, as the following from the published Reports of Indian Agents too sadly prove. In the treaty with the Sioux, made in 1851, the most prominent stipulation was that schools were to be established, for which six thousand dollars annually was appropriated, but the agent affirms that up to this time they are without schools.
This neglect is a source of great disquiet among the leading men of this tribe who are earnestly desirous to improve, but they see the means denied them, while their children are growing up in ignorance and under the blighting influence of the worst examples of dissipation, and their own funds, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, withheld from their use.
The agent of the Miamis makes a similar statement in relation to that tribe. He says that ample provision was made in the treaty for the education of their children, but the funds are withheld, and consequently their children are neglected and some of them hopelessly ruined
The Indians of Southern Oregon made a treaty by compulsion, and gave up one of the most beautiful valleys on the continent, and removed to the Coast Range of the mountains, utterly uncongenial to their love of home and all the interests and associations of life, and the annual sum agreed to be paid for this beautiful valley of groves and meadows and gold mines and fertile land only amounts to $2.50 for each Indian, not enough for a pair of pants apiece, and even this amount is not paid as agreed. In the spring and the summer of 1855 a treaty was made with the following tribes in Northern Oregon and Washington Territory; Dwamish, Squamish, Mokahs, Skallams, Quinaults, Quitchutes, Flatheads, Kootenays, DesChutes, Wallawallas, Cayuses, Umatillas, Molalas, Yakamas, Palouse, Nez Perces. These Indians, numbering 15,507 souls, signed a treaty on the 11th of June, 1855, by which they ceded to the United States 62,415,380 acres of land, for which they were to receive in cash arrangement $2,032,000, besides sundry considerations to be in force for a term of twenty years. Yet, the writer adds, these treaties have all been neglected, while the white settlers have all been steadily taking possession of the Indian's land, thus annihilating their game and all their means of subsistence, without giving an equivalent.
The facts here presented are sufficient to show that if any people ever had cause to complain, the Indians have; consequently this sending [of] armies to conquer and destroy is a war against justice and every principle of humanity and right. But how can we prevent it? By contributing your means to the "Indian Aid Association" recently formed in New York, which has undertaken to revolutionize the whole system of the Indian treatment, by the employment of agents and the distribution of documents, and thus promote correct information and the high moral sentiment of the country, until as a nation we become in reality what we are by position, the guardians, protectors and educators of the weaker races of this continent, and thus reverse the atheistic and cruel notion that Indians are to be destroyed by the march of civilization. Such an assumption should be denounced as a relic of the dark ages utterly unworthy [of] the nation and age in which we live.
Here is a work which calls upon all to take hold, and in which earnest, practical Christians should especially take the lead. Let those who think that to be consistent in prayer and supplication is sufficient, read the 1st chapter of Isaiah from the 11th to the 17th verses inclusive, or indeed consider the whole letter and spirit of the religion of Jesus, and then these poor people, living as they do within arm's length of our influence, and subject to the laws and government which we sustain, will soon have cause to rejoice, and the gospel of peace and good will will echo through the land, making every heart glad and filling every mouth with songs of thanksgiving.
Remittances for documents, address JOHN BEESON, General Agent, 15 Laight St., N.Y. Donations to John Landon, Rutland, Vt., or to Charles Partridge, 125 Maiden Lane, N.Y.
Yours Respectfully, J.B.
Middlebury Register, Middlebury, Vermont, September 1, 1858, page 1
John Beeson, who figured extensively in Southern Oregon and elsewhere in connection with the late Indian war, was a prominent speaker at the recent Free Love Convention in Rutland, Vermont.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 7, 1858, page 2
No. 18 Lagrange Place BostonHon. Eli K. Price
October 28 1859
You will see by the enclosed that our movement in behalf of the Indians is making some headway, and I thought you would feel a pleasure to read as I do to communicate the knowledge of the fact.
I have had about the same process and nearly the same experience here as in Philadelphia, only I profited by what I learned in your city and was more cautious about allusion to Missouri and to pecuniary matters. But notwithstanding this the case is about the same, for a printed private circular was addressed to each of the 140 pastors of the city, inviting them specially to occupy the platform, as a public invitation to the same effect was given from the platform at the meeting, yet only one (a Unitarian) made his appearance, although there were quite a number in the gallery.
The circumstance was noticed by Wendell Phillips, who commenced his speech by saying that he appeared on the platform because he knew that the pastors would not and rather than a question of such magnitude should be left to be sustained by one alone he would do his part to help it onward. I have learned from several that they now regret their refusal to obey the invitation, as Phillips took the occasion to review missionary operations in general and denounced the whole as an insult to the common sense of the savage, affirming that the reason the Indians are not Christianized is because they are not depraved enough to accept it under the circumstances with which it is presented. So you see if I did not tell the whole truth it was told. And the Christians are now cowering under the rebuke. The result will be that when we call another mass meeting (as we shall do soon) the pastors will be on hand promptly in their place. One sign which is quite ominous is that Dr. Kirk, the president of the "American Tract Society," has asked me to prepare a tract in behalf of the Indian for the society to publish. (I shall do so next week.)
In regard to money I resolved to do as I did for the first two years after my leaving Oregon: Say little or nothing about it. The consequence is I am using up my own resources in paying for the use of halls and printing, distributing bills and books, traveling expenses, board and an extensive correspondence. Occasionally a small donation is given to me, but all that I have received since I have been in Boston during three months does not amount to more than one-fourth of what I have expended. I am now paying interest upon borrowed money. And the good people suppose that I am supported by the rich men of the Quaker City and of New York whose names are associated with me in this cause.
You are ready to say why don't you tell them the facts in the case? Because in the first place I am ashamed to tell the whole the very thought of a national association for an object so noble and so necessary and composed of the most influential men of two cities the most wealthy in the Union and this national association having but one agent actively employed and he living for the most part upon his own means, working for nothing in poverty and debt. I say all this is too humiliating for the public to know. And where I do tell it the feeling would be that the object is of no importance or if it was these wealthy and public-spirited gentlemen would give it a corresponding support.
I say I have profited by experience and rather than run the risk of offending my colleagues and fellow workmen here as I did in your city by telling them my necessities, I will suffer a little longer in silence. I know the time will come when that which is done shall be published from the housetop.
There is a society in Boston (composed for the most part of Unitarians) for the propagation of the Gospel among Indians and others I will meet next Thursday. I have placed in the hands of its secretary a written statement of my circumstances--places and prospects I have some hopes from the liberal and genial spirit which they have uniformly expressed towards me that some efficient aid will be given.
Believe me, dear sir, that I love my home and my family as much as others. I have not seen them for more than three years. This, as you know, is a sacrifice of some account to a man of sympathy, especially when I know that my grown-up son is uneducated and that the means which he had worked hard to accumulate for the purpose is now expended. But, serious as the consideration is, it weighs light against the retribution which I see impending upon the proprietors and silent approvers of the wrongs as indicated in the last news from California.
I shall be pleased to hear from your board and hope that it will determine to invite a national convention to be held in February 1860. I shall publish a first number at the convention as soon as I have $500 on hand and give the whole away in secret as specimen numbers.
Friends and relatives, the benevolent and energetic Father Beeson is still pursuing his labors for the Indian, and some glimmerings of success appear to dawn upon his efforts. An incident that occurred to him last week was so remarkable and pleasing an evidence of spirit-power that he desired me to communicate it to the Banner.
Some years ago he met in Boston with an Indian whose English name was Joseph; he was an intelligent Indian of the Flat Head tribe, was sick and destitute, almost in the last stage of consumption. Father Beeson took charge of him for weeks, and nursed him tenderly; he was then assisted by several persons, some of them Spiritualists, and when the poor Indian died, he was provided with decent burial. Through the mediumship of Mrs. Bonsal, of this city, the spirit of that Indian spoke to his venerable friend, mentioned the incidents of the past, and expressed his gratitude. The medium knew nothing of the occurrence, and Father Beeson was not thinking of the poor red man he had succored so opportunely. The unsought-for tests are among the very best and most convincing.
Cora Wilburn, "From Philadelphia," Banner of Light, Boston, February 15, 1862, page 6
For the Herald of Progress.On Friday, Dec. 5th, the following Resolution was offered by Mr. Maynard, of Tennessee, and passed by the House:
The Government and the Indians.
Resolved, That the Committee on Indian Affairs are directed to inquire into the causes of the recent outbreak among the Indian tribes of the Northwest; whether any emissaries have interfered to produce dissatisfaction and ill feeling among them either from any part of our own country or from abroad; whether the government or any of its agents have violated or failed to observe any treaty stipulation with them; and whether any encroachments have been made upon their lands, or their property has been despoiled, or any of their people injured by the settlers or others; with power to send for persons and papers, as well Indians as citizens, and have leave to report at any time.
I have ascertained, by frequent interviews with public men during the last ten days of my sojourn in Washington, that unless an outside demand is made in behalf of the Indians, the foregoing excellent Resolution, so timely and necessary, will not be carried out. There are three reasons for this assertion:
1. In addition to the usual public duties of Congressmen, they are now overburdened with private matters for their respective constituents. Some apply to them for their aid to get an office in the army; others, for their influence to get out of it. Some want them to visit their sick relatives in the hospitals, or to
send home their mortal remains to be buried, &c., &c. One member told me that he had received over eighty-eight letters of this character in one day, and was obliged to employ a secretary to answer them.
2. The Representatives and Senator from Minnesota are wholly one-sided in their presentations of the circumstances relative to the late Indian outbreak. Senator Wilkinson, of Minnesota, affirmed in a speech (Dec. 5th) in the Senate, that "the Indians had massacred over a thousand white persons, and had committed horrible outrages which could not be mentioned, and that the Indians
rose up simultaneously on their frontier line for a distance of 150 miles--suddenly, without any pretext, without any cause, and apparently without any motive," &c., &c. So far as I am able to judge, the representatives from the
same state, one of whom (Aldridge) is chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, are strenuously laboring to give the impression against the Indians which Mr. Wilkinson's statements, if unrefuted, will certainly make.
3. There is at the same time a combination of speculators, who, by exaggeration and falsehood, are prejudicing the public through the press, while they force measures through Congress that will in some way or other put them
in possession of the Indian's land in Minnesota and in Kansas.
In full confidence that, with a candid and truthful statement of both sides of this sad affair, the Indians will stand in an entirely different attitude before the world, and that national honor will be better sustained by a righteous adjustment than otherwise, I therefore hereby publicly invite all persons (especially Messrs. Wattles and Day) who have personal knowledge of facts comprehended in the foregoing resolution, to forward me their affidavits, properly authenticated, or
their address, so that I may present their names to the Committee on Indian Affairs. Will the papers generally give this an insertion?
JOHN BEESON.WASHINGTON, D. C., Jan. 24, 1863.
The Herald of Progress, New York, January 31, 1863, page 8
INDIAN LECTURE BY FATHER BEESON.--Pursuant to notice given, quite a large and intelligent audience assembled at the courthouse last Monday evening to hear Father Beeson, the Indian philanthropist, lecture. On motion, the Hon. A. M. Rosborough, County Judge, was chosen chairman, and S. M. Farren secretary. The president stated the object of the meeting and introduced to the audience the Rev. Father Beeson, who spoke for more than an hour in a feeling manner in regard to Indian affairs. At the conclusion of his remarks, on motion, the president appointed a committee of three, consisting of the Rev. Guido Matassi, Rev. W. H. Cain and Rev. A. C. McDougal to draft a memorial to Congress for the people to sign. On motion, the meeting adjourned. We publish the memorial in another place [below].
The Semi-Weekly Union, Yreka, California, January 28, 1865, page 3
To the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress Assembled:
Your memorialists respectfully represent that the following statements, relative to the condition and treatment of the Indians, are sustained by reliable testimony, and it is believed that this state of Indian affairs is by far more the rule than the exception upon all the reserves.
Says the Rev. Mr. Spalding, long a missionary in Oregon among the Nez Perces:
"For several years the Indian reservation has been completely overrun with the whites; several towns and mining camps have sprung upon the reservation, and many farms, hay and wood claims and liquor shops are also established upon the Indians' land."
A late report of the California Association of Congregationalist Pastors affirms: "That unprincipled white men are permitted to corrupt and plunder and to SHOOT the Indians at will, and that any attempt to Christianize them will prove a hopeless task so long as they are left by government in their present condition."
It is also affirmed by men of good repute that the practical working of the Indian Department "has been, and is now, a political machine by which a set of thieving politicians have plundered the government, plundered the Indians and plundered the white settlers, and in place of being the means of enabling the Indians to provide themselves with shelter and food during the winter season, it has been the means of starving hundreds. They have been made to work and raise crops of grain, which grain has been hauled to market and sold, the proceeds going into the pockets of thieving agents," and, in case the Indians retaliate on their oppressors, they are regarded as monsters of wickedness fit only to be exterminated. Your memorialists, therefore, pray that as the Indians have lost confidence in the power and in the wish of our government to protect them in the enjoyment of their just rights, that a proclamation of amnesty and protection may be immediately issued for all Indians who cease hostility against the people and government of the United States, and that the Indian Department be instructed to arrange for holding councils with the various tribes as early as possible in such locations as will be most convenient for their representatives to attend, and that three commissioners be appointed by the President of the United States, in company with such others as may be delegated and sustained by philanthropic parties, to attend for the purpose of restoring confidence in friendly intercourse with them.
The object of these councils should be to give the Indians an opportunity to tell their own story as to the nature and extent of their grievances, and also to ascertain from them how many of the tribe will agree to live together in neighborly contact upon four reserves, two east and two west of the Rocky Mountains, and to make and administer their own laws assisted by such well-selected white families as the Indians may approve and desire to reside among them, and to be subject to the government of the United States as friendly allies, until such time as they are prepared to become American citizens.
Your memorialists would further pray that as all plans hitherto adopted for the elevation and protection of the Indians have (as a general thing) been but experiments and failures, that the course indicated in this memorial may be carried out in a spirit of generous magnanimity worthy of our people and acceptable to the race which, with us, are the rightful sharers in a common heritage.
The Semi-Weekly Union, Yreka, California, January 28, 1865, page 2
THE INDIANS.I have just read in the Religio-Philosophical Journal of Dec. 22, 1866, a communication purporting to come from the spirit of H. A. Ackley, the tendency of which seems to endorse a false answer to the question which forms the caption of this article. He does not say, as many do, that the Indians will perish because of their being savages incapable of progress and essentially inferior to the white race. But because "they have fulfilled their mission in preparing the country for the white man's use," and he adds "I think it is not in the power of man to keep the Indian race in existence."
BY JOHN BEESON.
WHY SHOULD THE INDIANS, AS A RACE, PERISH FROM THE EARTH ?
Now if we were quite sure that Ackley spoke from a high spiritual standpoint, opposition would be out of place, but since he has expressed only a common thought, and to a large extent a common wish from the lowest plane of life, I feel no hesitancy to reverse the import of the sentence and to show why "it is not in the power of man" to prevent "the existence of the Indians as a race" upon this continent. Ackley admits that in spirit life the Indians are the "highest developed," and the most able and willing to render the white man the aid he needs, and that even on earth "the best specimens of physical manhood are raised by the absorption of Indian magnetism in neighborhoods which they have most recently occupied." The natural inference from such an acknowledgment is, that if Indian magnetism from the earth as well as from spirit life is so beneficent, the more of it the better it will be for all mankind, and it follows that those who, passively or otherwise, sanction their destruction act the part of those who kill the goose which lays the golden eggs, and thus perpetuate their own debasement.
The prevalent idea relative to the annihilation of the Indian race is based upon perversions and not upon principles of eternal justice and equity, and as the events of the age are rapidly urging forward the car of human progress, it does not follow that because the past has been a continuous scene of war and destruction, of race against race, that therefore the future will be the same, especially since our spirit friends are pressing the great fact upon the world that
the only way to attain personal and national peace and prosperity is to help our weaker neighbor to the enjoyment of the best things which we desire for ourselves. It is but a few short years since the popular thought favored the idea of slavery being a permanent institution, but we see that it is now driven away like chaff before the wind, and just so will be put away the causes of Indian destruction. Already there is a quickening undercurrent, which will soon swell to a mighty gushing stream of sympathy and aid for our long-wronged brother of the forest.
Every enlightened spirit, every philanthropist, together with the oppressed of all nations who are now in spirit life, are working with the mighty hosts in heaven and on the earth to bring about peace and good will among men.
But there are other reasons for believing that the Indians are no more doomed to annihilation than any other nation of mankind, for it is not true, as is generally supposed, that the Indian tribes are everywhere fading away. Credible persons affirm that in many portions of British and Russian America, they are on the increase, and that in the States of Central and South America, in Brazil and in Mexico, there is a strong probability of the ultimate ascendancy of the pure and mixed races of Indian blood, so that there is a physical as well as a moral argument for their perpetuity as one of the family among the nations of the earth.
In conclusion, let us consider that if the strongest and best race of humanity that ever lived were overwhelmed by numbers, wealth and power, and victimized by lust and avarice, and haughty contempt, to the extent to which the Indians have been, they also would fade away. It is therefore the duty of Spiritualists and all reformers to dwell more earnestly upon our nation's duty, and leave the Indian's destiny to the good providence of God, remembering that whatever may come, there is nothing under heaven that can absolve us from the responsibilities of good neighborship, or free us from the certainty of receiving the same measure which we mete to others, so that self-interest speaks to us from every page of human history, both of time and eternity, to do justly and deal mercifully with all men, the Indian included.
Wagner Creek, Jackson Co., Oregon.The Spiritual Republic, Chicago, June 1, 1867, pages 341-342
Col. Day, of the Indian Department
The monstrous and disgraceful purpose indicated in the resolves contained in the enclosed printed slip is my apology for writing to you.
It is precisely a similar case to that which started the Indian wars of Southern Oregon in 53-4-5 and which resulted in a long period of mutual massacre of both races and finally in a claim upon the government for six million one hundred thousand dollars. It has been my lot again and again to warn public officials of impending evil, and in every case where the warning has not been heeded the evil has come with a sorrow greater than was anticipated.
Now is it not possible for the Indian Department to stop these murderous propositions by a telegraphic proffer to investigate and punish the guilty but protect the innocent.
The frequent occurrence of suchlike scenes suggests the necessity of a radical change in existing conditions which shall make it impossible for them to occur, an outline of which I think I proposed to you in a former letter and need not now be repeated.
I am glad to be informed that some earnest measures in a right direction is being carried out on the Cherokee Reservation. How suchlike domains in suitable locations with a well-managed manual labor school and a community of interests with personal responsibility established upon them and such other aids as time and circumstances may indicate would doubtless be incalculably better than the present suicidal and disgraceful system.
The slip is cut from the Sacramento Union of August 31 [sic--actually August 24, 1867, page 2]. It suggested to me the propriety of writing a plea for the Indians, which I did, and carried the same to the editor of the Oregon Sentinel with an offer of ten dollars for its insertion, about a column and a half of matter. He answered, "No I have been denounced enough already for what I have published for Indians. I hate them; damn them; I wish that they were all dead, and I don't believe that there is ten men in the two counties (Jackson & Josephine) but what have the same feeling." I have reason to believe that this editor spoke as a representative for the great majority of people west of the Mississippi River. Well, this seems discouraging. But I believe notwithstanding there will be a better state of things as soon as the right plan is proposed and enforced by the proper authorities.
These difficulties do not arrive so much because the Indians are savages but because they are helpless and unprotected. Only secure thorough protection from insult and robbing, and at the same time provide them with means of self-sustainment thoroughly apart from the power of speculators, and I think the difficulty will end. It is my purpose to be in Washington early the coming winter, and if there is any business private or public in the service of the Indian Department on the Pacific Coast or more particularly in Oregon and Washington Territory I shall be happy to do it.
RespectfullyPhoenix Jackson Co. Oregon
Sep. 17th 1867
NARA Series M234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 615 Oregon Superintendency, 1866-1869, frames 378-381 The clipping referred to quotes a resolution by residents of Humboldt County, Nevada threatening extermination of local Indians in retaliation for the murder of a James A. Banks.
Chapinville, Litchfield Co., Conn.
Dec. 7--1872Hon. R. B. Cowen
I have just read in the New York Times the enclosed slip in regard to a war upon the Modoc Indians. Permit me to ask whether it would not be just and proper for government to stop that war until the facts in the case are fully known.
I ask this question because I have had much personal and painful experience with the class of men who get up Indian wars in that section of country. I located within three miles of "Ashland" (the place mentioned in the slip) in 1853 and soon became acquainted with the horrible cruelties practiced upon the Indians.
In 1855 three men came to my house with a paper for my signature to the effect that the Indians were robbing and murdering the settlers and appealing to the government to allow a volunteer company to be equipped for a campaign against them. I knew that the charges against the Indians was false, and I told the parties so; their answer was that "We can make more money by a war on the redskins than we can by digging for gold." So they got up a war and a subsequent claim on government for six million five hundred thousand dollars, which I believe has all been paid for carrying it on, although Gen. John E. Wool and Joel Palmer (Indian agent) allowed officially that it was got up by a class who were the disturbers of the peace and unworthy of the name of men.
From that time to the present I have good reason to believe that there are living plenty of people in California and Oregon who are ready to circulate the foulest falsehoods against the Indians merely to gratify their own depraved propensities.
I have no interest in writing this but a love of justice and a deep sympathy for the poor oppressed Indians, in proof of which I refer you to ex-Commissioner Dole of the Indian Department who allowed me an appointment which I then refused to accept because I knew that the Indian political ring was too strong for me to do any good except in an independent capacity. But relations are now changed, and as my name and position is known all over Oregon and generally throughout the country I believe that it would have a good moral effect upon all classes for me to be one of a commission to investigate the cause of this reported raid by the Indians in Oregon.
I can give you a long list of honorable names who have more or less sympathized with me in behalf of the Indians at different periods during the last eighteen years, among whom are
"The Indians should have his first attention and that he would not rest until I was satisfied with the justice that they should have."
Please send to my address at your earliest convenience the report of the Indian Department.
Yours respectfullyNARA Series M234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 617 Oregon Superintendency, 1872, frames 59-62
Its African Sympathy and Indian Indifference--
Mr. Beecher, Mr. Halliday and the Deacons Called to Account by Father Beeson.
Father Beeson's recent address in Plymouth lecture room and the circumstances in which it was delivered have already been referred to by the Eagle. Father Beeson seems to think he was not treated exactly right, while he is certain the Indians have been treated exactly wrong. He therefore, through the Eagle, addresses the following
OPEN LETTER TO THE PASTORChristian Friends: The force of circumstances which I will briefly state is my apology for this public address. Your fame for tact and talent in doing good is as wide as the world, and for efficiency in freeing the slave you stand high, if not the highest, of all the churches, and it is because of the vast power which you used in behalf of the negro, that the contrast of apathy in behalf of the Indians is so conspicuous and painful. I feel impelled to offer a few thoughts, not of censure, but (as Paul says) [to] "stir up your minds by way of remembrance." About fifteen years ago your correspondent gave an address in the Lecture Room of Plymouth Church, on the wrongs of the Indians. The venerable Lyman Beecher stood by his side and followed him with an earnest appeal in their behalf. A handsome collection was taken, and the next day the late Mr. Hall (then Mayor of Brooklyn) was so deeply interested that he got the substance of the address in print for circulation. A few days previous to Friday, the 25th of July, 1873, your correspondent had an interview with two of the leading Trustees of Plymouth Church, with whom it was agreed that he should occupy half an hour of the Friday's service by an address for the Indians. Accordingly he attended. Being delayed by an obstruction on the car track, it was near half-past eight o'clock before his arrival, but the introductory service was not over and he was in season for all the time allotted to him. But the Rev. Mr. Halliday failed to introduce him or to make any allusion whatever to the subject of the Indians. Self-introduction became a necessity, and though the great majority of the audience became interested and sympathetic, yet the deacons seemed to act as though the speaker and his subject were out of place. Quite a number felt the clashing elements and have since written to me words of sympathy and encouragement. The affair has also been noticed in the columns of the Brooklyn Eagle. The natural inference is that the leaders of Plymouth Church do not regard the wrongs of the Indian to be equal in importance with the wrongs of the negro, or else that they have a private instead of a public way of giving it expression. Permit me to say that in point of order the wrong done to the Indian has the precedence. Our fathers took their land without giving them a just equivalent. Then having committed this first great national sin they were prepared to steal the negro and make him work the stolen land without paying him for his toil. So that merely freeing the negro does not touch the original sin which caused his enslavement, and it is manifest that so long as we continue this sin its result will be monopoly and fraud in all the ramifications of the government, and commerce and social life as we see it is this day, because the national conscience has lots its nice perception and human rights and neighborly duties. And this dullness of moral sense will continue and increase as long as the school children know about the Indian wrongs and see no thorough effort to stop them, much less to make restitution for the accumulated wrongs of successive generations. Hence it is that every avenue of moral influence seems choked and obstructed. Periodic worship and started preaching are comparatively useless for good and ever will be while the first duty to our neighbor, whether Indian or others, is overlooked and forgotten.
AND MEMBERS OF PLYMOUTH CHURCH.
I address you not for personal reasons, but as an advocate for a wronged race toward which you have turned a cold shoulder. As you are eminently outspoken on the great questions of the day, your silence upon this oldest and greatest sin of our nation seems to sanction if not to justify the silence of all the churches in the land. And thus at different times during the last several years when the United States Indian Commission, under the auspices of Peter Cooper and Henry Berge and other philanthropists, have invited public meetings for the suppression of Indian wrongs, a slim audience and but few pastors have attended, and at the last public meeting held in Cooper Instittute on the 30th of June, 1873, not one pastor of the city of New York was present, though over three hundred printed invitations had been mailed to the address of each, many of whom are known to have been in the city at the time.
If as many believe this neglect is the result of your example your responsibility is tremendous beyond expression, for when those who are raised high shed no moral stimulus on those below, they stand in the way of human progress and become a curse instead of a blessing to the world.
The Rev. Mr. Halliday, your assistant pastor, like many others, can dwell with elegant pathos on the great cost and injustice of the Florida war and the capture of the brave Osceola, and he is almost tearful while talking about the cruelties which the Cherokees suffered forty years ago, but he utters scarcely a word of regret or rebuke for the barbarous treatment of the Indians continuously from that day to this, and there are many such like who are strong in their vindictive demand for the punishment of Captain Jack and his braves who seem to have no thought about the starved and murdered Indians whose suffering and death Captain Jack was impelled to avenge.
The sorrow of such men is as though "the Priest and Levite" could never allude to the robbed and bruised one whom they "passed by on the other side," without emotional tears of sorrow for the poor suffering fellow, forgetting that the good Samaritan had dressed his wounds and carried him to the inn and paid his bill until he could care for himself, and that Christ said "Go thou and do likewise."
It is but reasonable to infer that if H. W. Beecher and Plymouth Church had persistently kept up the influence and effort which the venerable Lyman Beecher helped to inaugurate your lecture room fifteen years ago, with the same amount of zeal for the Indians as you showed for the negro, Indian wars would long ago have ceased, and many millions of dollars and thousands of lives, including Canby and Thomas, would have been saved to the country, and his erroneous accumulation of national guilt would now be atoned for. The retribution is, in part, already upon us in the misrule and frauds which abound in our midst, and there are causes rapidly at work which, at no distant day, will as recklessly scatter the riches from the rich as they have scattered the Indians from their heritage. There is but one possible remedy, "Cease to do evil; learn to do well." To this end the subscriber proposes to inform and quicken the national conscience by travel and the free distribution of suitable documents, and he invokes the aid of everybody, by money or labor, in the work. What is given will be sacredly used. Address him at Cooper Institute, New York.
Respectfully, JOHN BEESON.Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 4, 1873, page 4
A MEETING was held in [the] Cooper Institute, New York City, on Tuesday evening last, for the purpose of devising ways and means to stop the frauds and warlike operations against the Indians yet remaining in the western portion of the country. The meeting was addressed by Father John Beeson, who stated that a catalogue of the outrages suffered by the Indians make a list so long that if one-third of them were heaped upon the whites as a people in any one section of the country it would call them to arms. The Indians are not so savage as generally thought to be. Their rights are ignored and their treaties violated.
After recapitulating further alleged wrongs suffered by the Indians, Father Beeson proposed the remedies. He would send a delegation of men and women to meet the Indian council now assembled in the Indian Territory and present them with an address of friendship, assuring them that at least some of the people of the country mean that they shall have justice. It is little use for politicians to try for the success of this plan, for they go to steal. It will be of little use for churches to try it; they will go for faith. The entire people must move in order that the Indians may have justice.
The speaker explained that in his missionary work among the Indians he had spent all his money, and had mortgaged his farm to carry on the good work. He now wanted funds, and appealed to the American people. He then offered a series of resolutions, providing--1st. That a delegation be sent to meet the Indians and confer with them as to the basis of settlement of existing difficulties; also, that an effort shall be made to establish manual labor schools. 2nd. That collections be taken up in all churches next Sunday to provide means for carrying this scheme into effect. 3rd. That money so collected be sent to John Beeson, care Peter Cooper, Cooper Institute, New York City, to be acknowledged through the public press during the month of January, 1875.
The resolutions were adopted, and the meeting adjourned to meet last evening in the church of the Rev. Dr. Porteous, in Brooklyn. We hope the movement now on foot for the settlement of the Indian question will prove effective, for the subject is one which demands attention, and the best efforts of the American people should be put forth for the protection of the original owners of the country from the wrongs under which they have suffered, and by which they have been goaded into the perpetration of outrages which have shocked the whole world. Some of the tribes have been civilized, and are now quietly engaged in the cultivation of their land, undisturbed by the tide of emigration and unmolested by the disturbing influences under which their western brethren worry and complain. That this is the case in one portion of the country proves that it might be so with all the tribes, and one constant source of trouble and expense to the government removed. Therefore we consider the object a worthy one, and hope the movement may be entirely successful.
Harrisburg Telegraph, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, November 12, 1874, page 1
FROM AN OLD PIONEER.EDITOR TIDINGS: I have received with agreeable surprise, two copies of your paper--of July 27, and Aug. 3. It is more than I expected to live to see--a newspaper, edited and printed so near to my former home. Be assured, sir, that the perusal of these papers, with the news of old friends of more than twenty years ago, gave me great pleasure, because I see the proof of thrift and progress. I remember taking a bag of corn to Ashland when the grist mill was a kind of pestle and mortar to pound the corn. Our wheat flour at that time came to the valley on pack mules; but now I see from your advertisements, of various factories, mills, stores and stage lines, that there is at Ashland everything which an enterprising people need. And that from a small beginning it has become quite a center of commerce. I am especially [omission] with your excellent heading, "Independent on all Subjects," which I understand to mean that you will not be the mere mouthpiece for sects or parties, as such, but for the highest truth and the most reliable and useful information from all quarters. With a faithful adherence to your chosen motto, it is morally certain that your paper will advance not only the "interests of Southern Oregon" but of all humanity wherever it is read.
You make allusion to the "Pioneers of Southern Oregon," and as I am one of them I can take a retrospect of those exciting times and of the events which have followed; from which I learn that the highest wisdom is obedience to the Golden Rule: "All things whatsoever that ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them; for on this hangs all the law and all the prophets."
Undated Ashland Tidings clipping, circa 1876
To the Editor of the Inter Ocean:
I notice that John Beeson has been giving addresses on the wrongs of the Indians. He is an aged man, and has spent his life in works of benevolence, and is now known as Father Beeson. Forty years ago I knew him as a prairie farmer on the Vermilion River, in LaSalle County, where he made the acquaintance of Benjamin Lundy, and became a zealous abolitionist.
I lost track of him until some years later, when I heard of him in the Far West residing among the Indians, and acting as their friend and adviser. He has made himself familiar with their history and the outrages that have been perpetrated upon them. He is now known as the pioneer in the cause of the wronged red man, as Benjamin Lundy was the pioneer in the cause of the enslaved black man. May the day of the triumph of his cause come, even more speedily than came to the world the cause for which Lundy spent his days. He has traveled over the country and spent years with the Indians, among their tribes, and at Washington, vainly endeavoring to get justice done them. Near the close of the war he had an interview with President Lincoln upon the subject of the wrongs inflicted upon the Indians, and Mr. Lincoln gave him this note:
"My aged friend, I have heard your statement, and have thought much and said little, but I assure you that as soon as the business of this war is settled, the Indians shall have my first attention, and I will not rest until they shall have justice with which both you and they will be satisfied."
ABRAHAM LINCOLN.This note was written but a few months before his assassination, and no President has yet followed him who could not rest until he had seen that justice was done the Indians. Let us do what we can to aid Father Beeson, my aged friend, and second the wishes of our dead President in securing justice, protection and satisfaction to the aborigines.
Z. EASTMAN.Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, September 27, 1879, page 7
FATHER BEESON, the Indian's friend, in a letter from Oregon, expressing his appreciation of our publications, writes: "I have spent twenty-five years and a fortune in behalf of justice for the Indians and have not yet got it. And if I had another fortune I would willingly spend it for the promotion of this prior object (referring to the education of the people in sexual subjects and heredity). I now see that the whites cannot be just toward the Indians until they learn to be just to themselves--their wives and children. I consider," says Father Beeson, "that right conception and right antenatal surroundings are the first necessities for true progress."
Evening Bulletin, Maysville, Kentucky, August 1, 1882, page 1
The Spirits Plead for the Reprieve of a Condemned Murderer.
Editor of Golden Gate:
Recently I heard the report that the jail in which O'Neil is imprisoned is haunted. The Sheriff changed the prisoner to another cell, then placed everything properly in the vacated cell, locked the door and kept the key in his pocket until the next morning, when, to his surprise, on opening the cell, he found everything in it out of place. Others besides the Sheriff and the prisoner heard and saw strange things which they could not account for except they were spooks.
On Wednesday, March 4th, I had a seance with Mrs. R., and heard three raps from a slate which we knew to be fresh cleaned, and at the time lay upon the shelf several feet from where we sat. I took it up and found the following written upon it, which was to the medium, and to myself, as much unexpected as this account is to any who may read it:
FATHER BEESON:--I cannot rest while that poor man is in bondage. You and I must do all that we can for him. I, and other spirits, have been with him a long time. The man who did the deed will confess sometime. He is very unhappy. O'Neil is innocent.
LEWIS MACDANIELS. [sic]On March 5th the following was written by the medium while in the unconscious trance:
DEAR FRIENDS OF JACKSON COUNTY:--I have come to tell you not to hang that man on suspicion. He is not guilty of murder. There are three persons concerned in it. Sheriff Jacobs is a man of truth. He must ask the spirits that come to the cell. They will tell him the circumstances of the murder.
LEWIS MACDANIELS.After a brief rest the medium wrote as follows:
FRIENDS:--Think if it were yourselves (who have dear children) to be led to the gallows while innocent. God help the poor man.
JUDGE EDMONDS.I asked and had the privilege to be locked up in the haunted cell for one night, but being disappointed in my anticipated interview with the spirited visitors, I again went to the medium and received the following answer:
We were with the Governor of Oregon last night trying to impress him to act right for the prisoner. The Governor is kind, but there were so many false oaths on the trial that it is hard for him to counteract them.
I then asked if I could do anything more in the case, and received the following answer from the spirit:
Write to the Governor.
So I wrote to Gov. Moody as follows:
Dear Sir:--The prisoner, O'Neil, is condemned by circumstantial evidence, and as there is a possibility that the witness, the jury and the judge may all have made a fatal mistake, which you alone can correct, I therefore respectfully ask that you will reprieve him, for one month, to test the truth of additional evidence, which can be given.
JOHN BEESON.After some delay at the Executive Office, and the exchange of several telegrams, it was decided "that the condemned man has had every opportunity to disprove his guilt which a fair and impartial trial by jury could afford; and that so far as it be possible to prove a deed by evidence, other than that by an actual witness, the condemned man has been proven guilty of a deliberately planned and intelligently executed murder--a murder which fills to the fullest extent the measure of crime, which under our laws demands the execution of the criminal."
TALENT, Oregon, March 15, '86.
DEATH OF JOHN BEESON.
John Beeson died at the home of his son, near Talent, Jackson County, Oregon, on Sunday, April 21, in the 86th year of this age. He was born in Nottinghamshire, England, Sept. 5, 1803, and came to the United States in 1830. In 1833 he and his wife moved to La Salle County, Illinois, and in 1853 they and their son Welborn Beeson came to Oregon, across the plains, and settled in Rogue River Valley. "Father Beeson," as he was familiarly known, was in many respects an exceptional character. He was a humanitarian in every respect, and was a worthy progenitor of Henry Bergh, and with the latter's vast wealth he would have anticipated him many years in his reforms among the lower animals. He, at an early time, took up the cause of the "wronged and oppressed" red men, and when the Indian war was raging in Eastern and Southern Oregon in 1855-6, such was the earnestness of his appeals in their behalf that he incurred the hostility of the settlers in his immediate neighborhood, who hardly dared to venture outside their dwellings without becoming targets for Indian rifles. To save his life he fled to the protection of the military, and under their charge he made his way down into the Willamette Valley, finally reaching Oregon City, where he found a refuge in the hospitable home of W. L. Adams, to whom he was a total stranger. Here he remained until he raised means to take him to Boston. In that city he fell into the midst of fellow philanthropists, men and women of a kindred feeling to his own. A paper devoted to the interests of the Indian race was started, and John Beeson was one of the principal contributors. His fertile brain and busy pen were devoted to showing up the wrongs suffered by the noble red men and advocating measures for the amelioration of their condition and for their civilization and education. Father Beeson was untiring in this direction, and there is no doubt that much of the progress made in advancing the educational interests of the Indians which we now witness under the charge of the national government is due mediately [sic] to the persistent efforts of this philanthropic gentleman. After some years spent at the East he returned to Oregon, to his former home, where he remained until his death. In 1856, he seemed to the writer a typical William Penn, with his long white hair, clear, glassy eye, and his Quaker appearance generally. He was a "reformer," but it was of the backwoods style, and he would have made his mark as a pioneer Methodist circuit rider. His ideas were crude and cast in a mould that lacked cultivation in youth; they frequently came out in a jumbled mass, and lacking proper coherence. In religious belief he was early a Methodist, then a Universalist, then a Spiritualist, and finally was afflicted with softening of the brain. As the Tidings says, he will be remembered by all who knew him as one of those who tried to live by the "golden rule," and who was always quick to respond to the appeals of the unfortunate or the afflicted.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, May 3, 1889, page 4
In the Days Long Agone.The Talent News don’t make much pretense at printing what is termed by the newspaper fraternity a "blanket sheet," but even though miniature in size it prints some very interesting reading matter. For instance the article on "Early Times" in the "new" days of Southern Oregon from the pen of Mr. Welborn Beeson, which appears below:
"There was no U.S. mail through this country for several years after the pioneers had formed quite a settlement. We obtained our communications as best we could. It generally occupied six months to receive answers to our letters written 'to the girls we left behind us.'
"In the spring of 1854 there was a total eclipse of the sun; but having received no almanacs for that year, we knew nothing about it. It took place about 10 o'clock in the morning of a bright May day. People were at their usual avocations when all at once it begun to grow dark and yet there were no clouds visible. It made a singular feeling come over us; and I do not wonder at the Indians being so easily frightened by Columbus, with the eclipse he told them about. The writer of this was at work with others building fence; we could with difficulty distinguish objects at a short distance. Capt. J. M. McCall. now of Ashland, came riding up and after consulting with him we came to the conclusion that it was an eclipse, which proved to be the case when our long-delayed almanacs arrived around Cape Horn via the Sandwich Islands, which we had ordered the fall before.
"Later on, C. C. Beekman, of Jacksonville, at the time [i.e., in February 1893] traveling with his family, began to carry express over the mountains, making connection with the outside world at Shasta City. The price we paid for a paper or book like Harper's Monthly was one dollar, and we were glad to get our letters at any price.
"It was dangerous crossing the mountains; there were lions, bears, Indians, and, worst of all, highwaymen that did not stop long before they fired if they thought their victim had money and would resist. Wm. Rockfellow soon had what was called a passenger pony express and made regular trips carrying passengers each way. It then became less dangerous for the hitherto lonely expressman.
"About this time, quite a number of our mining population, who had come alone and left their families behind, began to send for them, directing them to come by steamer via the Isthmus, thence up the Sacramento River to Shasta City, then take the mule or pony train for Rogue River. A number of the ladies of our valley could tell of their hairbreadth escapes and wonderful adventures while traveling the narrow trail over the mountains between here and Shasta City, where if anyone had said at that time that a railroad would be constructed. he would have been considered insane to think of such a thing."
Medford Mail, February 17, 1893, page 1
During the Rogue River war of 1855-6, a man named John Beeson attracted a good deal of attention by writing letters to the newspapers attacking the whites and defending the Indians.
Beeson was a foreigner by birth, but a naturalized citizen of the United States, who had in 1853 come from Illinois to the Rogue River Valley. He said in his letters that the Indians were a friendly, hospitable and generous race, and that the war of 1853 and the one then raging were justifiable on the part of the Indians and atrocious on the part of the whites--and he supported his views by quotations from United States officers and Dr. John McLoughlin.
He lampooned the Democratic Party of Oregon, was censorious toward Governor Curry and his advisers, and exceedingly unjust to the people of Southern Oregon. In short, he made himself hated by practically all the whites.
Beeson then began writing for the San Francisco Herald, and, the fact becoming known that he was aiding in the spread of the prejudice already created against the people of Oregon by the military reports of such men as General Wool and some of his subordinate officers, public meetings were held to express indignation.
Invited to one of them, in Southern Oregon, without notification of the purpose, Beeson had the mortification of having read one of his letters to the Herald, which had been intercepted for the purpose, together with an article in the New York Tribune supposed to emanate from him, and of listening to a series of resolutions severely condemnatory of him. He wrote of this meeting:
"Fearing violence, I fled to the fort (Fort Lane) for protection, and was escorted by the U.S. troops beyond the scene of excitement."
Beeson published a book of 143 pages in 1853, called "A Plea for the Indians," in which he boasted of the protection given him by the troops, "who," he said, "seemed to regard the volunteers with contempt."
Apparently finding his subject acceptable to some classes, he followed up the "Plea" with "A Sequel," containing an "Appeal in Behalf of the Indians; Correspondence with the British Aboriginal Aid Society; Letters to Rev. H. W. Beecher, in Which Objections Are Answered; Review of a Speech by the Rev. Theodore Parker; A Petition in Behalf of the Citizens of Oregon and Washington Territories for Indemnity on Account of Losses Through Indian Wars; An Address to the Women of America," etc.
In addition Beeson delivered lectures on the "Indians of Oregon" in Boston, where he advocated his peculiar views.
At one of these lectures he was confronted by a citizen of Washington Territory.
The Statesman of Dec. 23, 1853, contained an article to the effect that in a meeting addressed by Beeson at the Cooper Institute, New York, he was confronted and his assertions disputed by Captain Fellows of Oregon. This was Albert M. Fellows, one of the four organizers on July 4, 1852, of the First Congregational Church of Salem, who had been a member as first lieutenant of Company F, mounted volunteers, mostly from Marion County, in the Yakima War of 1855-6. When Bennett was killed in battle, Lieutenant Fellows was raised to the position of captain. Bennett, as most readers know, was one of the three Salem men who were the discoverers of gold in California; built the famous Bennett House, where the Masonic temple, Salem, now stands, was one of the earliest steamboatmen on the upper Willamette, and in other ways was a leader of affairs in early Oregon.
It was said that in 1860 Beeson was about to start a paper in New York City, to be called the Calumet.
In 1863 he endeavored to get an appointment in the Indian Department, but, being opposed by the Oregon senators, failed. He certainly would fail. B. F. Harding was at that time junior senator from Oregon, and had been the last territorial secretary of state; held the last-named office while the Yakima and Rogue River Indian wars were being fought, and of course knew what a fool, if not a scoundrel, Beeson was.
The senior U.S. Senator was J. W. Nesmith, who was colonel of volunteers in the Yakima War and a captain and interpreter in the 1853 Rogue River War, and had fought the Rogues before; and knew more about Indians by actual experiences than Beeson could have imagined in his wildest dreams; experiences dating back to the covered wagon train journey of 1843. Of course, with that opposition, Beeson failed ingloriously in getting the job he sought.
R. J. Hendricks, "Bits for Breakfast," Statesman Journal, Salem, January 13, 1934, page 4
Last revised June 8, 2019