A Plea for the Indians
John Beeson's 1857 book. You can read a facsimile of this edition here.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.IN accordance with the wishes of several friends, those portions of this work which relate to Therapeutics and Theology have been carefully revised, and so far modified as a strict sense of truth, and the right of individual judgment, would allow. It was not written to please the fancy, to gain honor or wealth, nor even merely to get up a benevolent effort in behalf of the Indians. The object was rather to speak from their standpoint, and to make public those hidden yet real reasons why they are perishing before (what is called) the march of civilization. As there are now clearer views of Religion--of human relations, needs and capacities, than were known when Railroads were not in use, and Telegraphs were unthought of, I had hoped to indicate measures more consonant with this age of progress, and by truthful adaptation to nature, at once [to] put a stop to Indian Massacres and Border Wars.
In regard to Therapeutics, it is demonstrable that, for practical purposes, the Indians have at least as good a system as we possess. So, kind Reader, I pray you to read this Book in the spirit of that charity which is spoken of as not being "easily provoked, but gentle, and easy to be entreated, enduring all things, and full of mercy and good works."
December 15, 1857.
A PLEA FOR THE INDIANS.HAVING been a three years' resident in the vicinity of that class of our fellow men, hundreds of thousands of whom are under the control of our Government, and yet have no voice in its administrations, and but little hold on the sympathy of our people, I would offer a few thoughts upon a subject which, as I conceive, has not heretofore received that just and impartial consideration which its importance demands.
FIRST SIGHT OF THE INDIANS.
In the Report, just published, of the Secretary of the Interior, it is declared that the object of the Government throughout has been "to do ample justice to the Indians, and to leave no room for complaint that they have been overreached by the White Man." The simple announcement of this object commends itself to every reflecting and benevolent mind; and yet it is to be lamented that many of our people, instead of realizing its justice, do so much to thwart its purpose.
With a view of awakening a truer appreciation of the Indians' rights, and a more thorough cooperation in the views of the Government for securing them, I would now lay before my fellow citizens such facts as have come before me, which, with their results, have an important bearing on these great questions. And I engage in this work the more earnestly, for the reason, that, while every other class of suffering humanity has its specific organizations for relief, we hear of nothing adequate to the necessities of that Race, which, from the very moment the White Man set his foot upon our shores, has been constantly the subject of monopoly and wrong, in every shape which the overbearing and all-engrossing spirit of our people could suggest or impose.
In the Report already alluded to, as well as in the excellent one of the Indian Department, the grievous injustice and abuse to which the tribes are subject are spoken of in strong and truthful language. And yet it must be observed that no general statement, however correct or impressive it may be, can present so graphic a picture of the reality as a detail of facts. I propose, therefore, to corroborate the statements in the above-mentioned Reports, by presenting to the public, so far as memory serves, a personal narrative of what I saw, and heard, and thought, in reference to this matter, during my sojourn in Oregon Territory.
I left Illinois in March, 1853, en route, across the plains, for Oregon; and, like many others, anticipated the pleasure of seeing Humanity in its various phases of savage, barbaric, and semi-civilized life.
We encamped at Havensville, on the Missouri, and waited several days, in order that the grass might afford sufficient feed before we ventured beyond the possibility of purchase. It was here that we had our first sight of the Indians; and truly our hearts sickened at the view. There were men and women, with naturally fine forms, and minds capable of development, yet evidently besotted, and sunk below their original barbarism. Tobacco and whisky, and the accumulation of civilized vices, had done their work. Some of them were begging for bread, apparently in great destitution; and surely it would be but a poor return for the lands of which we have deprived them, to devise, and put in operation, some means by which these poor outcasts may be saved from beggary and utter starvation.
At Fort Laramie, and for some miles around, we saw several hundreds of the Sioux tribe. They appeared to be a fine people; they were clad in dressed skins, profusely decorated with feathers, beads, and paint and most of them mounted on fair and well-fed ponies. They also appeared clean in their persons and dress; and the principal article they begged of the emigrants was soap. Here it may be suggested, that an article so conducive to cleanliness and self-respect, should be liberally supplied as a part of their annuity. From manythings that I saw of them, I could not resist the impression that a people so highly endowed with sublimity and ideality--a sense of the grand and beautiful--were naturally aspirants for refinement and the arts. If a portion of the money now spent in building forts, and supporting men and munitions of war, could be laid out in the means of civilization, we should soon need no warlike defenses to protect ourselves against them. Let them have proper articles of clothing, dressmakers and tailors, artistic musicians and painters, horticulturists and farmers--in short, everything of the useful and agreeable, which they are now prepared to accept from civilized life; and they would, by the upward tendency of human nature itself, inevitably be attracted to higher and truer conditions. In order to preserve and maintain these, they would soon have local homes, into which would ultimately flow all the varied currents of refinement and civilization. These means would be more economical to Government, and vastly more persuasive arguments in favor of Christianity and good citizenship, than ever yet spoke to them either from bowie knife, rifle, or patent revolver. They should, in fact, be protected from the worse than savage borderers, who practice the arts of civilization only to exhibit and extend its vices, its monopoly, and its crimes.
A day's journey from Fort Laramie we met a band of Indians, apparently of another tribe, not as good-looking as the last, but, nevertheless, quite passable in their appearance. Their pack horses were led by women, and were attached to a kind of sled, of very simple structure, but admirably adapted to a rough country, where there are no roads. It was formed of two poles of eighteen or, perhaps, twenty feet long, with a crosspiece so arranged as to resemble the letter A. The horse is attached inside the narrow end, with a breast strap and back band. The children, and the principal part of the load, are fastened to the crosspiece, two or three feet back of the horse. The poles, which are composed of light, tough, and springy materials, being very long and wide, opening gradually from the pointed fore end, to a wide angle in the rear, slide over the chaparral and hillocks, over holes and down steep precipices, without inconvenience to the rider or the load.
Soon after, we passed a large encampment of the same tribe, where a number of dogs, with poles proportioned to the size of the animal, were employed in hauling water from a distant spring. These Indians made no offer either to trade or beg, and seemed hardly to notice our numerous train of wagons and stock, although we passed close by their camp.
A disastrous occurrence took place soon after we passed by this spot. It has already been brought before the public; but as it illustrates how difficulties generally occur between the races, and, at the same time, how easily they might be avoided, if our people, especially Government Agents, were more fully imbued with the spirit of justice and magnanimity, I will, in this connection, repeat the account.
A company of emigrants having a sick cow, which was unable to travel further, abandoned the poor animal, and left her by the wayside. The Indians, seeing she was given up, killed her for their own use. The emigrants, hearing of this, reported at Fort Laramie that the Indians had stolen and killed some of their cattle, upon which an officer, with a detachment of thirty men, was sent to demand the thief. The Indians knowing the certainty and severity of impending punishment, for there was the hide, and even the beef, in visible possession, refused, or hesitated to give up any of their number as the criminal; for they well knew that nothing which they could plead would have the least weight with their accusers.
The military order was peremptorily insisted on; and to enforce obedience a volley was fired over their camp; and, either by design or accident, the chief fell dead in their midst. Nothing was more natural than that the Indians should, in their turn, attack the assailants. Every principle of right or honor recognized among them demanded this; and twenty-eight of the white men fell dead beneath the force of their justly excited resentment.
In consequence of this the Indians were charged with massacre, as well as robbery. War was declared, or supposed to exist; and the following year hundreds of thousands were expended in a campaign against them, although they had, in the interim, done all they could to express their desire for peace and friendship. General Harney, with a glittering array of armed men; both horse and foot, marched on to the Plains, and was met by the Chief, who nobly came forward in advance, and pled with the officer for peace and justice, in behalf of his people.
The General held him in parley, while, in accordance with a preconcerted arrangement, the Dragoons, by a circuitous route, got in the rear of the Indians, and, at the word of command, opened a promiscuous slaughter of these comparatively defenseless people. Is not such a procedure as this an outrage against every principle of humanity and justice? Is there anything, in all the usages and laws of war, recognized among civilized Nations, that could save that officer, and all who willingly assisted in the work, from the charge, and from the guilt, of wholesale murder? And yet, acts like this, involving a greater or less amount of wrong, are of almost daily occurrence, as I shall attempt to show. And yet, how easily all this horrible waste of life and treasure might have been avoided, if the representatives of our People and Government had pursued a different course. If the Emigrants had considered the destruction which is continually being made of the Buffalo and other game, and the scarcity and often suffering to which the Indians are often subject for want of food, they would have felt no reason for complaint, which came with a very ill grace under the circumstances. The cow was made capital only when it was to be turned against the outlawed Race, which we are steadily seeking to supplant and destroy. Or if the officer, instead of demanding an unconditional surrender, had gone, in the spirit of kindness, to invite an impartial investigation, there would have been no injustice and no bloodshed.
Can we, who claim the rights of Habeas Corpus and trial by our peers, set aside with impunity, observances which are sacred among the rudest tribes, and with the false plea of martial justice, which we have no right to assume, actually commit nameless atrocities, in direct violation of a flag of truce, or of an accepted parley? Shall we ever be able to lead our Neighbors out of their barbaric conditions by sinking ourselves below the pale of ordinary savageism? No; we can never extend civilization but by making it attractive, and worthy of acceptance. We must exhibit a character worthy of respect, before we can so far gain the confidence of the Red Man, as to be able to do him good. We must draw him outward; we must attract him upward; we must give him something better than his own barbarism, or we can never bring him into higher conditions.
Our military can never win honorable laurels in any contest with the Indians; for the world regards such warfare as they would a deadly strife between a giant and a dwarf. The strength is all on one side. But in the case mentioned, our action could not be justified by even the pretense of war. It was a deliberate massacre of supplicating dependents--murder in its most revolting and aggravated form.
CHAPTER II.AMONG the thousands who cross the Plains, there are many who have never been refined by either mental or moral culture. The sum total of their religious and political faith consists in Squatter Sovereignty--the right to do as they choose, regardless of all but selfish interests. When such as these get beyond the range of Law and Civilization, a slight cause often makes them reckless and abusive; and many are the cases of violence and murder, of which the world never hears; and as the Authorities at the Forts exercise neither civil nor military jurisdiction over the Emigrants, any outrage may be committed with comparative impunity.
But it is the Indians who are generally their most numerous victims. At first they find more excitement in shooting bears and buffaloes, than they did in the States in killing rabbits and deer. They grow ambitious, and begin to think it would be a great achievement to kill an Indian; and, as most of them are armed with rifles and revolvers, the desire becomes strong to slay one of those whom their own savageness has converted into an enemy. This desire is not only felt; but as the travelers proceed further and further into the interior, it finds open and frequent expression; and men are heard to declare their determination to shoot the first Indian they see. Almost daily, from leaving Fort Laramie, to arrival in Oregon, did I have occasion to remonstrate with some who entertain these unworthy views. So many Indians had been thus destroyed by previous emigration, that we saw very few on the route; those who did visit us were very shy, and fearful of approach. I could not regard them as enemies, and often, with pleasure, I watched them as they passed from tent to tent, and saw the grateful emotions play over their countenance, as one or another of the Emigrants would offer a few crackers, a piece of bread, or even a friendly smile. The promptness with which they reciprocated every overture of kindness made an indelible impression on my mind, that they richly deserve the sympathy and protection of our People and Government. I felt assured that if some efficient means were adopted to restrain the evil-disposed among us, it would be quite easy, and of vast advantage, to establish terms of peaceful intercourse with all the tribes along the whole route to the Pacific. A small annuity to the different tribes of clothing and implements adapted to their circumstances, would be but a fair acknowledgment for passing through their lands, and the use of their game, which we could well afford, and ought, in all honesty, to proffer them. And these pacific measures would also be the truest economy. By a mutual good understanding, we could dispense with the fatigue of constant watching, while, at the same time, we should be secured from the losses so often incurred by the Emigrants, and from those cruel retaliations which now so frequently are permitted to fall on the innocent. It would also be an initiatory step toward the civilization of all the Indians in our wide domain. Thus we, as a Nation, have the strongest possible motives, both of honor and interest, not only to love mercy, but to do justice by this long-abused people.
We took the route for Rogue River Valley, Southern Oregon, leaving the Humboldt eighty miles above the sink. After crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we passed by a lake of considerable size, and pitched our tents upon its eastern shore. Some of the company discovered among the rushes near the margin, an Indian canoe, containing long spears, headed with bone, and several other primitive implements for catching fish, with quite a pile of the game itself, freshly caught. The poor fishermen, alarmed at our approach, had concealed themselves. The persons who made the discovery took all the fish; and so far from leaving an equivalent, they were only, by considerable remonstrance, hindered from destroying the boat and implements, which would have been an incalculable loss to the tribe, as, with their rude instruments, it must have been an immense labor to make them; and want and starvation might have ensued, before they could have been supplied with others.
Happy should I be, if the memory of these scenes, and of that journey, did not remind me of so many circumstances which I would rather forget than repeat. But since whatever is done by the Indians, though in self-defense, is published all over the land as savage barbarity, for which nothing short of extermination is recommended and sought, it is but common justice to state a few things which have been done against them by those who claim to be so much their superiors.
The majority of the first Emigrations to Oregon were from Missouri, and among them it was customary to speak of the Indian man as a Buck; of the woman as a Squaw; until at length, in the general acceptance of these terms, they ceased to recognize the rights of Humanity in those to whom they were so applied. By a very natural and easy transition, from being spoken of as brutes, they came to be thought of as game to be shot, or as vermin to be destroyed. This shows the force of association, and the wrong of speaking in derogatory terms of those we regard as our inferiors. The same principle, in another direction, is illustrated by the liberality with which we bestow titles of office and dignity--even upon those to whom they do not belong. Who of us has not addressed his friend as Squire, or Captain, or Colonel, simply because we would impress upon others a feeling of respect for the person--showing that, though not filling the office, he is considered worthy of the honor; and thus men rise in public esteem. But, on the other hand, let a man be denounced by the popular voice as a thief, and he will be regarded as such whether he is or not. Thus the poor Indian, by being spoken of as a brute, is cast beyond the pale of a common humanity--where the killing of him ceases to be murder, and no atrocity is considered cruel or unjust.
A band of Emigrants, who went over the same route five or six weeks alter us, were attended by a company of Volunteers, sent by public expense from Oregon to aid and protect them on the way out. Of course these men must show their valor. On coming to the Lakes, an Indian man, with two women, was discovered catching fish; and forthwith preparation was made for an attack. Rifles were leveled; but the Indian, with only a bow and arrow, nobly stood his ground until he fell, riddled through and through by the bullets of his assailants. The terrified females were caught, and made to witness the cutting and slashing of the gory body of their murdered husband, father, son, or brother, by those who thus added brutal insult to their previous crime.
The above account was received from several different persons, in the same company; and they also informed me that a number of Traders from California, who had located themselves during the summer on the Humboldt, for the purpose of buying lame cattle and trading with the Emigrants, when they were ready to return, deliberately killed several Indians, and took possession of their horses. On a Sabbath day, during which the travelers camped near this trading post, they heard the firing of guns, and learned that a company of seven Indians were shot by the Traders as they were riding past, and the horses of the murdered men added to their own stock.
I would here suggest that it is the Indians whom our Government should be most solicitous to protect, not merely from a principle of magnanimity and justice toward them as the suffering and weaker Race, but also as a matter of self-interest and self-protection. So long as the Red man lives, every murdered Indian will be avenged; or, by all the power that is in him, he will ever seek to do this. It is not only a conventional obligation, but a part of his religion. Every succeeding Emigrant train will be watched with more than Argus eyes; and unsuspecting, and often innocent victims, will perish to pay the penalty. The public mind has long labored under a great mistake in supposing that the Indian is actuated chiefly by animal instinct, or that he does not possess, in a high degree, those faculties from which arise emotions of gratitude, a sense of right, and a love of justice. Nothing is more contemptible in the mind of an Indian than cowardly meanness, either toward an Enemy or Friend. Hence their revenge is a matter of conscience. They believe, as Moses taught, "Life for life;" "Blood for blood;" and in the way of this, peril is no hindrance, and death has no terror. We talk of Martyr courage, and Christian triumphs; but if the heroic sacrifices and noble deeds performed by Indians in defense of principle, were duly understood and chronicled, we should have a large addition to the calendar of Saints and faithful men, who have been an honor to the species. I do not make this assertion solely on the strength of my own observation, but it is confirmed by Traders and gentlemen intimately acquainted with Indian character.
In conversation with that renowned and venerable man, Dr. McLoughlin, who was for more than half a century an Indian Trader, and for twenty-two years Superintendent of the Hudson Bay Fur Company, he assured me that the Indians have a high sense of justice. They never allow, among themselves, advantage to be taken of the weaker party. Though jealous of their rights, they will never infringe on treaty stipulations, if constructed on principles of equity, and honorably observed by others. He further declared that, during all the long time he had been connected with them, although he, and those under him, had traded to the amount of many millions, dealing with all the tribes, from the headwaters of the Columbia and its tributaries, to the Pacific, and the intermediate country to the head of the Sacramento River, they had no wars, nor even any serious difficulty, and consequently no occasion for a standing army.
The testimony of Captain Smith, of Fort Lane, who was surrounded by Indians, and intimately acquainted with the origin and progress of the late Oregon war, is equally strong. In an interview with him, in company with Dr. Ambrose, during the early part of the difficulties, they united in the remark, that if there were any Christians in Rogue River Valley, they were to be found among the Indians.
The impolicy of protecting one Race and punishing the other is to be seen in the experience of nearly every campaign that is set on foot against the Indians. The substance of the following I have gathered from the late papers; and as it is a specimen of the generality of Indian wars, I will again call it up to view. The Mail Carrier from Fort Laramie was shot, as was supposed by an Indian. No sooner had the news reached the Fort than the soldiers were on their horses, and in hot pursuit. They overtook a party of Indians, killed eleven, captured twenty of their horses, burned their camp, and then returned to the Fort. The same night, the Indians who had escaped surprised a company of travelers, killed the men, took a white woman prisoner, and captured a number of animals, with a considerable [amount of] property. Now who does not see that it is time to put a stop to these suicidal proceedings; for so long as the Indians are exposed to such injustice, these and similar inflictions will inevitably visit our people. Investigation and justice would have ensured protection to the poor travelers; and until we extend to the Indians the common rights of humanity, we have no reason to expect them for ourselves.
CHAPTER III.I WILL now proceed with the narrative of events, as they fell under my own observation, or came to my knowledge through the testimony of others. Our Train arrived in Rogue River Valley, 28th of September, 1853, having been something more than six months on our journey. Only the upper, or southern part of this valley was occupied by a very sparse settlement of Whites, the Indians having collected on the lower but richer part. It is the main thoroughfare between the Willamette and Sacramento valleys, about two hundred miles from each, and eighty miles from Crescent City, on the coast, to which it is accessible only by pack mules. Some of the gulches that open into it are rich in gold. It has numerous mountain streams, and a considerable proportion of fertile land. Its width varies from one to several miles. The surrounding mountains are lofty; and some of them are capped with snow most of the year. There is a plenty of timber and water power, with a boundless range of pasturage for sheep and cattle. The scenery is varied and beautiful beyond description. The climate of this region is probably the most pure and bracing that can be found in any part of the Pacific, being considerably elevated above the ocean, and far removed from the inundated lands of the Columbia and Sacramento and their tributary streams. All these make it a desirable location for settlement.
OPENING OF WAR.
When first visited, in 1849 and 1850, it was found occupied by numerous small bands of Indians, united under one general Confederacy. These tribes were said to possess intellect and physical strength equal, if not superior, to any on the continent. They had abundance of food, in a great variety of berries and nutritious roots, which are found indigenous on all the bottom lands, and are propagated without culture; and to these were added the swarms of mountain trout and salmon which, in some seasons, abound in almost every creek.
It is impossible to describe the joyful sensations of our company, on entering this valley. We had been traveling months over mountain and desert. Our eyes had been strained upon objects varied by the novel, the grand, and sometimes by the most wild and awful aspects that nature could present; when suddenly, we beheld an enclosed field, with shocks of grain, a house surrounded by gardens, people, and appurtenances of civilization. Then it was that the long-absented thoughts of home and rest rushed over us; and as we looked on this lovely valley, we hoped for an end to the toils and perils of our long and wearisome journey. It was a picture varied with shadow and sunshine, lofty mountains and little hills, meadows, groves, and silvery streams, altogether more beautiful than a painter could portray, or even imagine.
But we were soon apprised of the existence of war with the Indians, and the death of several men, who had arrived in the Valley about two weeks previous. The Settlers were all crowded in three or four Forts, hastily put up for protection. They had captured a number of [Indian] women and children; and, aided by the first arrived Emigrants, were guarding them in a Fort, at the upper end of the Valley. They had kept them about ten days, when the husbands and fathers took the following plan to accomplish the desired liberation of their wives and children. Twenty-five or thirty active Indians traveled thirty or forty miles from below, keeping themselves out of sight of the Settlers. One morning, just at daybreak, when the men in the upper Fort had no thought of Indians being near, they were aroused by the blazing of stacks; and before they had time to rally to the rescue, the guardsmen were killed, and all the Indians, including their prisoners, were gone. To add to their chagrin, pursuit was impossible, for the Enemy had carried off all their animals.
A few days after our arrival, the Settlers, finding the war to be a losing business, made a treaty of peace, agreeing that there should be a reserve of land, within which the Indians should not be molested, and that all private grievances should be settled equally by the Authorities, and not by private revenge. The Settlers, as well as the new Emigrants, then went to work in good earnest. Farms were laid out, houses and mills raised, and fresh mines discovered. All might have been prosperous and happy; but, unfortunately, a great part of the population consisted of men from Missouri, and other parts where the great truths which our Fathers established, as the basis of Government, are not recognized. They claimed rights for themselves which they refused to others; for they denied to the poor Indian the common prerogative, peaceful enjoyment of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Hence treaties were disregarded; and peace became utterly impossible, as it always is, and must be, whenever the strong man removes the landmark of his weaker neighbor, and monopolizes according to his own pleasure. This fundamental principle being cast aside, there was no longer any restraining power; and supreme selfishness be came the rule, and a worse than naked brute force the accepted and only law of the land.
There were scores of men, assuming the prerogatives of sovereigns, who could not read, and yet made and executed laws, and whose only idea of the Constitution of the country is that it was made to keep down the "Niggers." Of course they understood it to have the same bearing upon Indians, and all others except "white male American citizens."
This cruel and fatal error was strengthened, rather than corrected, by the aspirants for office; and especially was this the case with the candidate for Representative at Washington. Indians were mentioned frequently in their speeches, but always in such a manner as to convey the impression that it was meritorious to destroy them; and one of the Candidates based his claims to the public suffrage on his superior tact or facility for securing the public funds as indemnity for Indian wars.
I have heard several of these public addresses; but in none of them was there one word calculated to awaken feelings of compassion, or a sense of humanity and justice toward that unfortunate Race whose homes had been usurped, or the necessity of honor and truth in the observance of treaties. The great theme of Dollars--Dollars--Dollars! and the facility with which they should be handed over to meet the claims of the war was the absorbing topic.
It is well known that the prospect of great gain had attracted the people to those parts; and as Indian wars promised a ready way to obtain it, we may easily see how, in this case, the love of money became the root of all evil, and how little effort there would be to avoid that which those high in position seemed to sanction. The peculiar nature of the climate, and the employment of the mining companies, had also considerable influence in bringing about hostilities. Owing to a scarcity of water during several months of the year, the Miners have no work. Their food, meanwhile, consists principally of fine bread and beef; and they generally use [an] abundance of tobacco and whisky. Thus the quality of the food, and the poisons, in connection with a stimulating atmosphere, excite their baser passions; and, in the absence of moral restraint and civil law, they seek indulgence by outrages on the persons of defenseless Indians. I forbear the recital of horrors. Any American father or mother can easily imagine what would be the fate of their daughters if, unprotected and isolated, in valleys and ravines, [they were] surrounded by hosts of men of the class and under the circumstances above described. It is no palliation to say that the females are willing victims; for it is notorious that their fathers and brothers are often shot in order to gain forcible possession. We should realize the magnitude of this wrong, if we consider what execration and punishment we inflict upon another Race for such violations of our own.
There were also men vile enough to take advantage of the necessities of the Indians, and tempt them to trade off their daughters for revolvers, rifles, and ammunition. And this shameful traffic was carried to such an extent that when open war commenced, the common lament was everywhere heard, that there were scarcely any arms in the Valley, for the Indians had them all. Jacksonville was left nearly unprotected.
The consequence of this amalgamation of drunkenness, filth, and vice, became manifest in disease, disgust, and mutual hate. During the years of 1855-6, as many as twenty murders were committed by the Indians; and several of them were prosecuted and hung according to law. But no account was kept of murdered Indians; and yet it was a matter of common talk, that they were shot whenever it could be done with safety to the shooter.
In the summer of 1855, great numbers of men went from Northern California and Southern Oregon to the newly discovered Mines, north of the Dalles, in the Indian country; and as I had frequent opportunities of conversation with them, I learned that it was the settled intention of most of them to make war in that section. Some of them told me that they should not be satisfied until every Indian was destroyed from the Coast to the Rocky Mountains; and I heard one company of men declare that they had adopted as a maxim, that if they saw a Buck (Indian) and a deer at the same time, they should shoot the Buck, and leave the deer to run. Nothing here needs to be said of the boasted Democracy under which we live; but should any civilized people sanction or overlook sentiments or actions like these? That they are exhibited with an impunity that continually gathers boldness shows the existence of something among us worse than barbarism--worse even than utter savageism; for it perverts its prerogative--it transmutes its own free conditions into the materials of a fiercer, and more relentless, cruel, and destructive despotism than could be concocted without those strong elements of license, miscalled freedom, which, in the presence of a weaker party, and the absence of all essential restraint, rouse the latent poison, and stimulate all the baser passions in the hearts of bad men. A great tyrant cannot be formed in the shadow of a Despotism, because there must be an ideal, and an atmosphere of freedom, which he can assume, and absorb, and concentrate in the Supreme Self, until it become the means and the material of inhuman wrongs, and the grand signet of unwarrantable power. To prove this, we need go no further than to the Yankee Slave Driver of our Southern Plantations, whose cruelty is in exact proportion to the strength of the forces that developed him. Great principles are always liable to abuse; and their capability of evil is in the precise measure of their power, as we daily see in Religion, and all other excitements that move and monopolize the heart of Mankind. Hence the peculiar dangers of Republican Institutions; for the more highly energized Selfishness, which they evolve and nourish, ever seeks to destroy and interrupt the great interests and aims of all true Government, by thrusting in at random its own petty but tenacious and persistent evils; and thus the permanent and the universal may be, for a time, actually supplanted by the transient and the partial.
CHAPTER IV.THE state of alarm and terror into which the Tribes, throughout the country, were thrown, may easily be conceived. The long period of years, during which they had traded with the Fur Company, had given them frequent opportunity to see the superior strength and vast resources of the White Race; and to many of the Tribes, who depended on their trade and friendship for supplies, peace was a matter of necessity, which might seem to involve almost their very existence itself. The Chiefs, especially those that lived in Rogue River Valley, called on the Authorities, again and again, to claim protection for their people. They earnestly asserted their disinclination for war; but at the same time declared their inability to prevent it, unless their rights were respected.
THE WAR SPIRIT.
But no efficient measures whatever being taken to redress those aggravated wrongs, the Indians had no alternative but to combine for mutual protection. They saw that nothing but slavery or death was to be gained by submission; yet they were far from being unanimous for war. They knew that General Palmer and many of the citizens sympathized in their grievances: but it was impossible, in the nature of things, that they should continue satisfied amid such perils, such intolerable indignities, and the constant wasting of their numbers. Some of them became desperate; and, against the wishes of their Chiefs, assumed the responsibility of severe and prompt retaliation; while others bade open defiance to their aggressors. Many of the Sub-Indian Agents, as well as the citizens generally, evinced great alarm at the prospect of a savage onslaught; but, strangely enough, they never seemed to think of the most appropriate means of preventing such an occurrence, but rather did all that could be done to confirm and hasten it.
Toward the last of the summer of 1855, a Letter signed "A Miner," and dated at Rogue River Valley, appeared in the [October 20] Oregon Statesman, in which the "Red Skins" were denounced, and the most savage massacres predicted that had ever filled the annals of Indian Warfare. Dr. H---- [Anson G. Henry], a prominent citizen, ascertaining that the signature was assumed, and that the writer was, in reality, none other than the Sub-Agent for Southern Oregon, thought it was of sufficient importance to present at a public meeting, convened in one of the principal towns in the Willamette Valley; and in a speech occupying several columns in the papers of the day, he urged, in earnest and graphic language, the necessity of mustering for active service three thousand troops. Some time afterward Governor Stevens, of Washington Territory, proclaimed that, but for his vigorous measures, there would have been a whirlwind of war. All the papers in the Territories, and in Northern California, were also urgent for war. Even the Christian Advocate gave its countenance; and such was the excitement and clamor against the Indians, that Governor Curry of Oregon Territory issued a proclamation of war, with a call for Volunteers to take the field immediately. [Beeson omits some important facts. the publication of A Miner's letter, the declaration of war and call for volunteers all followed the Lupton Massacre and the resulting Breakout.] The war spirit, in one form or another, took full possession of the minds of the people; and all were absorbed with anticipations of the terrors, the perils, and the excitements of savage warfare. When it was known that General Wool, commander of the Pacific forces, demurred, and even refused to participate, the most intense indignation was not only felt but generally expressed; while the more candid attributed his conduct to a loss of vigor and the imbecility of old age. No one seems to have been capable of perceiving such a thing as humanity in the case.
I am far from wishing to reflect unkindly upon my fellow citizens, or to asperse the motives of any. There was, undoubtedly, a cause for all which occurred. But as my acquaintance with the incipient steps, as well as with the progressive unfolding of these hostile movements, had inspired me with sentiments the reverse of those generally entertained, and essentially the same as those expressed by General Wool, and also by General Palmer, Superintendent of the Indian Department in Oregon, I felt that, as an American citizen, I had not only a right, but a duty, to use the freedom of speech and of the press for the utterance of my deep convictions. And when angry invective was everywhere heard against those functionaries, and each of the two Governors proclaimed bitter denunciations against them, and the Legislature of Oregon memorialized the President for their removal, I felt an imperative obligation to put forth my humble efforts in behalf, not only of those accused Officials, but of the injured Race for whom they so nobly pled.
Many of my fellow citizens, through a misapprehension of the motives by which I was actuated, believed, or affected to believe, that my efforts were traitorous, and inimical to public good. Hence, not one of the numerous Letters which I wrote, during the winter of 1855-6, for the Oregon and California papers, appeared in print. They were all either suppressed by the postal agents, or refused by the Editors.
In regard to the correspondence, as published in the papers, between Governors Stevens and Curry, and General Wool, as the great majority seems to side with the Governors, I propose to state the position of the parties, and try the correctness of the public sentiment in this most important case. It seems that the General regards this war as unnecessarily commenced, and having more of the character of a speculation to cheat the Government, than of a sanctioned and legalized conflict with a proper Enemy.
The two Governors, on the other hand, assume that war was unavoidable. They commenced an extensive campaign, exciting, driving, and destroying Indians in every direction; and because they occasionally received a retaliatory blow--a house or two was burned here, or a few lives taken there--they pointed to these, as proof certain, that war existed, and that the General was stupidly willful in not perceiving it at first.
I believe the story of the Three Boys and the Hornets offers a fair illustration of the above position. Finding a hornet's nest in the woods, Tom and Bill proposed throwing stones; "for," said they, "the Hornets will sting us;" but Harry preferred to pass along, and not molest them. The two young assailants commenced their work; but soon, with disfigured faces and swollen eyes, gave it up, reproaching their friend for not helping to kill the Hornets. Harry replied that, as the Hornets were living in the woods, at peace with all the world, he knew of no good reason for disturbing them--and that, too, to his own injury.
Let us examine and see if this view of the subject is not sustained. We assume it as a law that Governors have no right to resort to military force until civil process has been tried, and found inadequate for the maintenance of order. But what is the actual history of the case? Why, men are roaming all over the Indian country, abusing and killing the unprotected natives, until terror and natural instinct compel them to unite for mutual aid and protection. Certainly these are circumstances requiring the prompt interference of the Civil Power, first to investigate, then to redress the aggrieved, and restrain the aggressor. But instead of this, the Governor issues an exciting proclamation and call to arms, as if the country was actually invaded by an overwhelming force, giving as a reason for the necessity of this a letter, out of which he had managed to concoct his authority. This was from Mr. Olney, Indian Agent, dated Walla Walla, October 12, 1855, and Governor Curry gives the following quotation:
"The Indians, north and south of the Columbia, have either commenced open hostilities, or are concentrating for that purpose. The regular forces I do not consider sufficient for chastising the Indians. They must be taught our power. They must be humbled; and, in all conscience, send a force that can do it effectually, and that without delay."
Bear in mind, that for more than fifty years our people had traveled and trafficked all through the Indian country, and had met with general kindness and protection from the Natives. It was not until the Whites had become numerous, and grossly abusive, that the Indians, from necessity, resisted further aggressions; and for doing this, the Sub-Agent calls for troops to "chastise," which means to kill. Governor Curry, forgetting that he had Constables, and Sheriffs, and Citizens to enforce justice and preserve peace, forthwith summons the people to war; and for this effort to "humble" and make Indians "feel our power," millions of dollars are expected and claimed of the General Government.
There was no demur on the part of the Press, or Party Leaders, as to the propriety of an immediate campaign; but there was some dispute as to which party should have the honor of the enterprise. The Democrats were jealous lest some prominent Whigs should gain promotion and power; and so covetous were they of this "bad eminence," that they actually got up a petition, endorsed by numerous signatures, praying that the Governor should allow none but Democrats to hold office of command over the gathering hosts. This in itself is a remarkable feature, and one to which no thinking man can be indifferent, since it clearly exhibits the audacity of that usurping spirit, whose highest prerogative is brute force--a spirit which has trodden, sharp-shod, not only over humanity and natural right, but over the broadest principles of equity and common law.
Nor were the Whigs at all indifferent to their own claims in the case; while the Know-Nothings were alike envious and jealous of both. The latter, through their organ, The Oregonian, urged on a war of Death to Indians and Catholics; at the same time pouring out the most bitter invectives on those who were carrying it for ward. [The Oregonian was founded as a Whig paper, and later a Republican paper.]
But what will strike the mind of the true Patriot and Christian as the most lamentable feature, is the entire absence of the moral element as a remedial agent in these disturbances. This appears the more remarkable when it is known that the settlement of Oregon commenced with the erection of an establishment for Christian instruction, and that vast sums of money were sent from the States for the support of Missions, and for the establishment of Schools, Colleges, and Churches. In these important means of civilization Oregon is behind no country of its age; and yet, during the incipient and progressive stages of this war, no voice for mercy was heard; and a minister of the "Gospel of Peace" was hardly known in the land. In vain did I peruse the public papers, or listen to speeches, whether before promiscuous assemblies or in halls of legislation; nowhere could be seen or heard such appeals to the national honor as were based on principles of truth, and justice, and magnanimity. The fact of our superiority, as Christians, over heathen savages, was always assumed; but the purity and benevolence, characteristic of the Christian, were never either recognized by any practical theory, or exhibited in the tangible authority of action.
The following quotations may be taken as a specimen of the spirit in which the Indians were generally treated. They are from an Oregon paper of November 10th, 1855: "The Indians are ignorant, abject, and debased by nature," "whose minds are as incapable of instruction as their bodies are of labor." "They are heroes only when women and children are to be murdered." "They have nothing in common with Humanity but the form;" "and God has sent us to destroy them, as he did the Israelites of old to similar tribes." "There is no evidence of sympathy or favor for Indians in the people or authorities of Oregon, in the present emergency."
Here are six assertions; and as they embody the principles upon which hostilities are generally based, let us give them a brief review. First. They are called "ignorant, abject, and depraved." I admit the charge; but, at the same time, leave it for their accusers to demonstrate that the Indians, even under the debasing influence of their own treatment and example, are more depraved than themselves. There is one significant and well-known fact. The Border Indian is as far from filling the true measure of the Original Freeman of the Woods as his Hoosier tyrant is from representing the liberal and intelligent citizen, whose right to join in the government of others is based on his power to govern himself. Let him that is without sin among them cast the first stone; and the poor Indians would be safe and secure forever.
In refutation of the second charge, that they are only heroes when women and children are to be murdered, I am happy to present direct proof. At the first onslaught of the Whites upon the peaceable Indians in Rogue River Valley, they massacred fourteen women and children. Directly after this, the Chiefs applied to Captain Smith at Fort Lane, begging that their women and children might be spared; "for," said they, "we do not slay women and children in our wars; and we will not hurt your wives and little ones, if you do not kill ours." This was stated to me, both by the Captain, and Dr. Ambrose, then Resident Agent among them.
In regard to their alleged incapacity of instruction, the proof to the contrary is also ample and positive. I have been told, by several who have heard the declamation of their Chiefs, that for beautiful imagery, and glowing eloquence, their speeches were akin to those of Isaiah, and David, and Job. Their bows and arrows, their canoes and fishing implements, their decorations and their huts, which are all so admirably adapted to their circumstances, bear witness of their mechanical ingenuity and dexterous workmanship; and it is well-known that no foreigners so promptly learn, and so properly speak our language as do the Indians whenever they have a fair opportunity for its acquirement.
I have now before me several letters from friends in Oregon, from which I extract the following. "I should like," writes a merchant, "to raise an Indian girl, not having one of my own. I know of two or three Indian children that have been raised by families in this place, who give great satisfaction to their adopted parents."
A gentleman of Oregon City writes thus of two Indian children: "They can read, and write, and cipher, as well as I can, and I think understand the Bible much better. I am almost ashamed to say it, but so it is. They are very active and intelligent about [the] house, and the boy can work on the farm with any white man you will find. There is also in another family of this city an Indian boy, who works as steadily as any white boy in the vicinity. He is a Sunday school scholar, and was formerly in my class. He is a better scholar than any boy in the school. He can answer almost any question you like to ask. He really understands what he reads; and he frequently surprises his Teacher with his answers and remarks. Two years ago he could not write his name--in fact he did not know one letter from another."
I cut the following from a California paper, the Trinity Times.
"PITY THE POOR DIGGER INDIANS."A benevolent citizen of our town has rescued two of them from their wild haunts. The male, who is nearly grown, has intelligence and capacity equal to white striplings of his age, and has become an able assistant in the business of his excellent Guardian and Patron. The younger, a female, who is now an attendant at our village school, betrays an eagerness, alacrity, and power for scholastic acquirements that would do no discredit to her white playmates."
On the steamer, as we were coming from California last September, I became acquainted with Mr. J. Chamberlin, now of Rome, Macomb County, Michigan. He informed me that he had been employed by General Palmer to aid the Indians just removed from Rogue River, in the erection of a schoolhouse, and was engaged for two months as their first Teacher. He testifies that in three weeks they could master the alphabet. The boys made good progress in writing and figures, and the girls became excellent singers. "Never before," said he, "have I seen a more interesting and progressive company of scholars."
In Rogue River Valley lives a Mr. Thomas, who has taken an Indian boy, thirteen years old. On being sent to school, the very first day he learned and remembered every letter of the alphabet, besides spelling several words. The Teacher was so astonished that in the evening he walked over to the house of his Guardian to inquire if he had not previously given him instruction, and he then learned from Mr. Thomas himself, that what he had witnessed, incredible as it might seem, was really the boy's initial process in the art of reading.
Judge Thornton, of Albany, O.T., and author of an excellent work on Oregon and California, adds another to these high testimonies. During a pleasant visit which I had with him, he seemed never tired of speaking of an Indian boy and girl, who had been with them for several years. While walking with the Judge to his fine garden and nursery, I saw, in the distance, a youth busy cleaning and arranging the beds. "Yonder," said he, "is a faithful boy, the most faithful I ever had. I can always depend upon him whether at home or abroad."
Mrs. Thornton also informed me that the girl is a proficient in the common English branches of education.
I had also an introduction, and several pleasant visits, to the family of Dr. McLoughlin, of Oregon City, of whom I have already spoken. His lady is the daughter of an Indian Chief of the Snake Nation. They have a son, a fine, noble-looking man, several daughters, and a number of grandchildren. The young ladies are accomplished musicians, and on several occasions gratified me by their performance on the melodeon, accompanied by their sweet and silvery voices.
Now, in all seriousness, before God and before the world, I ask every parent, and every public officer--I ask the Congress and President--I ask every citizen of the land--would it not be murder to kill anyone of the children to whom the foregoing refers? Common conscience, and common sense, must answer, "Yes." Then is it not equally murder to kill their brothers and sisters, their fathers and mothers? Universal Humanity declares it; and, if there can be a difference in the crime, surely it is when we add meanness to wrong, by trampling on the weak and the defenseless.
That the Indians, with proper encouragement, have both a disposition and ability to work, is susceptible of abundant proof. Mr. Harvey, who was formerly an officer in the Hudson Bay Company, informed me that on one occasion he had a thousand acres of wheat, and only three white men. The labor of the harvest was all timely and well performed by Indians.
That they possess the social affections in a high degree, the following circumstance will illustrate. It was related to me by a friend in the Willamette.
"In the fall of 1853, about 100 Indians encamped near my house, for the purpose of catching fish. Perceiving a very aged pair among them, I made them a present of my tent, thinking to add to their comfort; but on revisiting them a few days afterward, and not seeing it, I inquired the reason, and found that they had taken it to their Chief, and he had appropriated it to the use of a widow among them, who had small children."
There are also living in the Valley, a White Lady and her daughter, who furnish a case in point. Having lost all their property in crossing the mountains, they afterward fell among the Indians, who fed and took care of them for weeks, with the utmost kindness.
The foregoing facts appeal to us in language which we cannot refuse to hear, and with a force which we must acknowledge. They are not isolated cases, but are positively characteristic of the people, wherever they have not been abused by deception and ill-treatment. How manifestly wrong, then it must be to speak of them as having "nothing of Humanity but the form." That there are many among them, who may be exceptions, is not denied; but let us remember how vast are the numbers--even among our own people--who despise labor, and indulge in conduct the reverse of religion, and even true civilization. Neither should it be forgotten that much of Indian depravity is the direct result of contact with those who should have taught them better; and that even in the very crimes for which they are condemned, others are the most guilty.
It is, I think, equally manifest, that the assertion, that we, like the Israelites, are sent to destroy, is a vain and wicked assumption. In the first place, it is not certain that, considering our advantages, we are any better than they; and, in the second place, no Nation or People, since the days of Christ, has received any Divine commission of a social bearing that could set aside the Gospel mandate to "Love one another." It follows that, for whatever we do toward them, either as a people or as individuals, contrary to the Golden Rule, we are responsible; and we can no more escape retribution, than if these acts were committed against the most enlightened people on the Earth.
Neither is it true, as some would have it, that there was no evidence of sympathy or favor for Indians by the Authorities and People of Oregon. Both General Palmer and General Wool, in their official capacities, did all that men could do to resist the torrent of wrong. There were also several clergymen, and many citizens, all over the Territory, whose hearts yearned within them at the shameful impositions and unmerited sufferings they were compelled to witness. And even among those who were actually engaged in hostile measures, there were men who refused to participate in the work of death. Some of them even fell down and wept at the sight of such barbarities. There were scores of men who enlisted under an idea of duty and patriotism, who became convinced of the injustice of the war, and left the service in disgust.
CHAPTER V.I WILL now resume the narrative of events, from the time of my arrival to that of my leaving Rogue River Valley. I wish it here to be understood that, as I kept no notes, and at the time of their occurrence had no thought of being in this manner connected with their publicity, I may not be perfectly exact in some trifling particulars. But every important occurrence of the times made too strong an impression ever to be forgotten; and in these, I can vouch for the correctness of whatever testimony I may be able to give.
WAR IN THE SOUTH.
I will here observe that the war in Southern Oregon, although originating in the same general causes, was, nevertheless, a distinct affair from that which was carried on five or six hundred miles to the North, and in reference to which the foregoing was chiefly written.
In the North the Indians were in large bodies, and chiefly in their own country, far away from the Whites; while in the South, their Reserve was surrounded, more or less, by White settlements. There were also numerous small bands, scattered among the mountains and gulches, and often in proximity to the Miners, who were working in the same.
Finding, on my entrance into the Valley, a condition of war, as already related, I earnestly sought to learn the cause, and found no lack of informants. Most of these narratives teemed with "Savage Outrages" and "Indian Barbarities;" but I met with some who spoke more considerately for the Red Man. Among these I would mention particularly the Messrs. Culver, who, I believe, came into the Valley in 1849, and for a long time lived nearly alone among the Natives. [The reference is apparently to Phoenix pioneer Samuel Colver, not Indian agent Samuel Henry Culver. A Wikipedia page distinguishes between the two.] These gentlemen informed me that the Indians were then quite friendly, though numerous; and they were easily controlled. For reasonable remuneration they would readily render assistance. They expressed great satisfaction at the erection of a log cabin, and were anxious for Mrs. Culver to come and live among them. As they [the Indians] were familiar around the cabin, it happened that, occasionally, a knife, a file, or some small thing that took their fancy, would be missing; yet, on information being given to their head men, the lost article was always promptly returned.
I also met a gentleman, apparently a candid and truthful man, who had come to California with the first military colonists, under Colonel Stevenson, and had traversed the country back and forth to Oregon, before the discovery of gold. When I asked how I should address him, he said he would give me facts, but it might be some risk to tell his name; "for," said he, "the first settlers of Oregon were a reckless set of men, who delighted in arbitrary power over the Indians, or any others who opposed their course."
Well," I replied, "give me, then, some of the facts, especially such as relate to the beginning of the Difficulties." And thus invited, he began, as follows:
"The first that I knew of the difficulties was in the Willamette Valley, and, I think, in 1848 or 1849. Previous to that time, the Indians lived and traded in confidence with the Fur Companies, and seemed to improve under the instruction of the missionaries. But in the year '49 a great emigration, principally from the Slave States, came in. They took immediate possession of all the choice lands, and passed a law, allowing to each man and wife a section of 640 acres. This included much of the bottom land, from which the Indians had been accustomed to derive a large amount of their subsistence, in seeds, roots, and berries. The following year these new Governors passed another law, offering premiums for the destruction of wolves, bears, and other vermin, but excluding Indians from the right of competition for the bounties. [The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 was a national statute, not a local one.]
"Being thus robbed of their lands, and treated in every respect so differently from what they had been accustomed to, it was natural for the Indians to become seriously dissatisfied. But the Settlers, instead of considering the unfortunate circumstances which they themselves had caused, only the more abused them for their discontent; and from despising, soon began to rank them among the vermin that should be destroyed.
"When gold was discovered in California, in 1850-51, large companies of men started from Willamette, through the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys, and all along the route to Sutter's Fort. Whenever they saw a straggling Indian, they made a point of shooting him.
"On one occasion they came to a high bluff, overhanging a running brook, and seeing an aged Indian and a boy catching fish, they fired, and the bleeding victims hid themselves in the brush. One of the men remonstrated, saying that men who could do so would not hesitate to shoot babies; upon which great anger was aroused, and the individual was threatened to be shot, if such a sentiment was repeated in their presence.
"On arriving at the Ravines, some of their horses were missing; and a party went in search of them. Coming across a band of Indians, they charged them with the theft; and without the least evidence, eleven of them were shot down on the spot. But as the animals were not found, some Indians, who had been at Sutter's Fort, were offered a large reward, on condition that they would return their horses, with the scalps of the thieves. The Indians, several in number, got on the trail, and afterward returned with the horses, and two scalps, reporting that the thieves were three White Men, one of whom made his escape. Upon inquiring, it was found that three White Men, answering to the descriptions, had left the neighborhood; but the promised reward was not given.
"On another occasion a White Man, being found dead, was supposed to have been killed by Indians. A company was made up forthwith, an Indian Ranch was surrounded, and all the inmates were put to death--about forty souls--including men, women, and children. The domineering spirit grew by what it fed on, until excited to madness by these oft-recurring scenes of blood, men became utterly regardless of justice, even toward those of their own Race. Whatever a man's private views might be, he was expected to go with the crowd, to the full extent of every enterprise, and the more questionable the object, the more did they insist that all should participate. Personal freedom was thus frequently invaded; and life itself was not secure. On one occasion, an aged White Man, who had persistently continued at his mining, and utterly refused to take part against the Indians, was visited by twenty men, and forced to mount his pony, and go in pursuit. After resting on the mountains, they shot him, cut off his head, leaving it on the limb of a tree, and divided his property among themselves."
Thus ended the Narrative, and perhaps a greater amount of wrong was never told in fewer words.
You who live surrounded by genial moral influences, and social order, will find it difficult to credit such statements as the foregoing; and I, for one, should be most happy if I could doubt their correctness. But alas! cruel and repulsive to Humanity as they are, my own experience and observation, as well as the testimony of others, only too truly confirm them.
Having located my family on one of the principal tributaries of Rogue River, which had been a favorite resort, or residence of the Natives, there were still remaining the excavations, the poles, bark, and coverings of their wigwams, and the fresh ashes of their fires. I was constantly reminded of being an interloper or usurper of homes which others ought to possess, or for which they ought to be paid. This feeling made me sensitive to the daily reports, and perhaps helped to give a bias to views not generally entertained, so that when I heard of hostilities and bloody strife, it was natural to attribute the whole to the aggressive spirit of our people. I mention this that others may form a candid judgment; for I should be sorry if, in the vindication of one Race, I should be led in any way wrongfully to asperse the character of another. My only object in making this appeal, is to present facts, in order to indicate the remedy.
I have already alluded to the traffic carried on with the Indians by base men, by which the former became possessed of arms and ammunition, and also to the immediate causes which led to mutual murders. I will now narrate some of the incidents which led to the Southern War.
A small valley in the mountain, not far from where I lived, was still occupied by a Tribe, over whom ruled a veteran old Chief, known as Tyee Jim. He was a brave, resolute man, determined not to be conquered, yet still desirous of honorable peace. When he found that his men were being shot off, the Chief became very cautious, only calling upon those in whom he had confidence. In doing so he had to pass a public road, and always on the full run. The Whites, also, were in an equal degree of fear, and during the summer of 1855, they dared not go in that direction after a stray beast, except with an armed company.
The Chief earnestly remonstrated against this state of things, and asked, "Why do the Bostons want to kill us? We do not wish to kill them."
At length another Tribe was encouraged to make war upon them. The Chief fell in the conflict, when the Whites, in their turn, fell upon the conquerors, and slaughtered many of them. The remnants of the two tribes, consisting of thirty or forty warriors, retired as far as they could from the White settlements, without infringing on the domains of the Modocs, and other Tribes, still further back.
Toward the latter end of September, these poor people, with their wives and little ones, came to within ten or twelve miles of the head of the Valley, to a favorite spot for gathering berries. Some of the settlers had ascertained their presence; and as a horse was missing, it was directly charged upon the Indians. A company of sixteen men, armed with rifles, traveled in the night, so that their approach might not be perceived; and on arriving, at early dawn, before the camp, and finding the occupants on the watch, they retreated a few rods. Meanwhile the women and children hid themselves in the brush. The assailants addressed the warriors with oaths and curses, and took hold of some of the camp furniture; upon which the Indians fired, killing one and wounding another. The Whites then fired and ran home for reinforcements. I have given you the most favorable version of this circumstance, because it was generally considered the beginning of the open war. And as the horse, on account of which the attack was made, came home with the rope and stake dragging, as is often the case, there were some who asserted that the Indians had never stolen him, and that the Whites discharged the first volley, and were in the act of destroying the camp when the Indians fired. There was also a dispute as to how many Indians were killed. Some said several; others said none were hurt, and on this ground assert that the Indians commenced the war in Rogue River Valley. But the objection is trivial; for the actual truth is that if war ever can be justified, the Indians might have commenced it with good and sufficient reason, almost every day of their lives at least after the in-pouring tide of slave-holding Emigration. The least attention to the main facts in the case will assure one of this. From my own knowledge of the character and disposition of the Indians at that time, I think there is good reason to believe that if a few citizens had gone in open day, in a friendly manner, they would have found a welcome and pleasant reception, and all the intelligence about the horse which the Indians could give. On returning with large additional forces for the slain, it was found that the Indians had moved away.
CHAPTER VI.A FEW weeks after the above occurrence, three young men, close neighbors of mine, each with four yoke of oxen, and wagons loaded with flour, started up the Valley intending to cross over the Siskiyou Mountains, for Yreka, in California. While on the steepest part of the mountains, cheerily driving along, without the least suspicion of present danger, they were fired upon by a hidden foe, and two of them killed; while the third, with Herculean efforts in running uphill, made his escape. Fourteen of the cattle were killed. This event struck terror in the minds of the Settlers; and, indeed, it was an awful sight to see those sprightly young men, who had so recently passed our doors, with all the warmth and buoyancy of youth, now brought back bloody and stiff in death.
No one seemed to think that the Indians had any cause for such an act, or that it was any harm to make them exiles in their own country, or to keep them in terror and peril, wherever they moved; but all realized that it was a dreadful thing to live in fear of Indians.
Now it was that a war of extermination began to be talked of; for everybody seemed to think of nothing less than a general conspiracy among the Tribes. Others, however, thought that the combinations were merely for self-protection, as was a natural result of the abuses to which they were subject.
As the season was dry, and water scarce, many men were out of employ, and had plenty of time to listen to, and repeat, exciting stories of Indian outrage, which were often manufactured from trifling occurrences. At one time a company of Surveyors were seen on the side of a mountain; and forthwith it was reported that the Indians were surrounding the Valley for a general slaughter. Then, again, a Settler, riding a little way from home, returned in great haste, saying that he had been fired upon by a band of about thirty Indians; but when the truth was afterward ascertained, this formidable host dwindled into three boys shooting at a target. Fires were sometimes set out, and the people were alarmed with a supposition that they were signal fires to call the Indians together for a general massacre. In some cases persons have absented themselves for a time, leaving others to report that the Indians had killed them.
This state of things continued until the people got into a perfect frenzy, and as a company who had been to retaliate upon those who had killed the Teamsters reported that they had found a trail leading from that point toward the Reserve at the lower end of the Valley, it was therefore concluded that the murderers had gone in that direction. It was said that those peace-pretending Indians had harbored the murderers; and upon the slight evidence of a trail, which might as well have been made by any others, they found sufficient authority to condemn to death all the Indians in the Valley.
On Monday, October 1st, 1855, Court week commenced at Jacksonville, the principal place in the Valley. People from all parts of the country had thus an opportunity to confer on the pending difficulties. Among others was a Mr. [John K.] Jones, who presented his case before several meetings of the citizens, and made the following statement:
"I live toward the lower end of the Valley, seven miles below the Indian Reserve, and below me, seven miles still lower down, there is a company of men who have repeatedly taken a number of the Indian females, and are holding them in restraint. The Indians have come from the Reserve to my place, and say they will not return until their wives and daughters are given up. Something must be done, for I cannot have them around me the whole time."
As no one appeared to be interested in the troubles of Mr. Jones or his Indian Neighbors, I felt a sympathy for them, and being aware that he had applied to the Grand Jury, and that they told him it was not their business, I thought this was a strange answer, because the forcible holding of these women was not only subversive of moral principle, but also against statute law and special treaty. I therefore proposed to him to apply to the Court, to the Sheriff, or to the Indian Agent, believing that some one of them might have power in the case.
About the middle of the week Major L. came into town and addressed the citizens, informing them that it was determined to organize several companies and attack the Indians at different points, so that none should escape. He also said that the Indians were in great commotion at seeing the Settlers driving their cattle and. moving their families away from their encampments. "I have been among them," added the Major, "and pacified them with the assurance that we were not going to war with them;" and he then coolly proposed to massacre them while off their guard.
An hour or two after hearing this, I again saw Mr. Jones, who communicated to me the following report:
"I have spoken to the Judge, and he said he did not know what to advise in the case. I have also seen the Sheriff, who says that he can take citizens, or, if necessary, soldiers, and arrest those men for transgression, if he receives orders from the Court, or the Indian Agent; but without orders he can do nothing. I have also been to the Agent, and he told me to order the Indians off, and if they would not go to shoot them."
I found that Mr. Jones was disposed to the shooting plan, for he had been with the Major, and had agreed to go down the Valley and help muster a company to act in concert for a general massacre.
I felt impelled to remonstrate against such injustice, and pointed out the probability of himself and some of his neighbors falling in such an encounter. I reminded him that the Indians were not only more numerous than ourselves, but that they occupied vantage ground; that when attacked above, they would naturally run down the Valley and kill all before them. I begged him to remember that it is not Indian nature, but Human nature, to make a desperate struggle, rather than give up life and home. But Mr. Jones mounted his horse, and rode away, apparently fixed in his determination for slaughter.
Having no further business in town I returned, twelve miles up the Valley, to my home, full of sad reflections.
"Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn;"and this thought came home to me more forcibly than ever, when I beheld, as in a mirror, the mischief and misery that would be necessary results of such a procedure as was then in contemplation. At the same time it was perfectly clear to me, that with only a reasonable share of magnanimity, justice, and kindness, there need be no shedding of blood. Amicable relations might be established, and the Races could dwell together in peaceful proximity, and to their mutual advantage. I was in strong hopes that sober second thought would have led others to similar reflection; but I was unfortunately mistaken; for, phrenologically speaking, it seemed that everybody's organs of Combativeness and Destructiveness had become excited and inflamed to such a degree, that Conscientiousness, Benevolence, Veneration, and all the higher faculties, had, for the time being, lost their dominion. In short, the Brute had taken the place of the Man; and brute force, with blood, and carnage, such as only the most savage brutes delight in, became more acceptable, to many, than the monitions of true Humanity, and the emotions of Christian Love.
I did not know what further measures had been taken until Sunday morning, when I was informed that a meeting of citizens had been held, that two Methodist Preachers, and other leading men, had made speeches, and that the unanimous feeling was in favor of the measures which have already been set forth. Monday morning, October 8th, 1855, was the time agreed on to commence the work.
As there was a Methodist Quarterly Meeting to assemble that day, within two hours' ride of the scene of the intended massacre, I hoped there would be heard in that religious assembly some expression of brotherly kindness, and charity for the poor doomed outcasts in their immediate vicinity. Full of this hope I attended the meeting; but the services progressed with the rehearsal of "Experiences" common on such occasions, until speakers became scarce, and the Presiding Elder exhorted all who had anything to say for the Lord, to improve the time.
I arose, and spoke with all the feeling, and all the power I had, in the behalf of the poor Indians. I entreated that Assembly, who had gathered themselves together in the name of Christ--whose whole life and ministry was a living Gospel of Love--to put on the spirit and the power of Christ. I begged them, by every principle of humanity and justice, to inflict no wrong upon the helpless. I drew in strong colors the scenes that would inevitably follow such an attack as was meditated. I thought if there was a soul, or a heart in them, I would find it, even if it could be reached through nothing but their own selfishness. I pictured our burning houses, our murdered wives and children, our silent and desolated homes, and all the wrongs that would inevitably flow into that crimson torrent they were about to open. In conclusion, I strongly urged them, as citizens and Christians, to raise a voice of remonstrance, or to call on the Authorities for the administration of justice, and thus avert the impending calamity.
No voice responded to the appeal, and the meeting closed; for no one had independence enough to speak his thoughts. But I afterward learned that there were members of that assembly who silently acknowledged its force; but the pressure of public opinion prevented open expression. I cannot resist the conviction that if the Presiding Elder, with his brethren of the Ministry, and leading members of the Church, had taken a firm, manly, and Christian position, as advocates of the Gospel of Peace, the horrors of that week, and of the subsequent war, might have been prevented. I am confirmed in this opinion by one who became penitent for the part he had taken in those atrocities. He solemnly declared that he was led into it by the Preachers.
It may be that on questions of mere speculation, or of Politics, that Ministers and leading religious men may justifiably keep silence; but for such to remain passive in the presence of murderous outrage upon dependent helplessness is a virtual approval, which common humanity and common sense must denounce as a monstrous inconsistency. The wrong and crime sanctioned and propagated by the silence and inaction of that Assembly can never be erased. It is to be hoped that they really were better than their actions would lead us to suppose. But if their moral courage and consciousness were really on so low a plane as appears to be the case, still these men must be subjects of a profound pity, rather than blame, to an enlightened and benevolent mind. They held an awful responsibility not merely the lives of unoffending and helpless fellow creatures, but the capability of development of Christianity of illimitable progress and happiness, which they might either give or withhold from benighted men and women, and innocent little children, all of whom would gladly have become the partakers of benediction; but they were false to their testimony; they violated their covenant, and put their Gospel to shame. Sooner or later they must come to know this; and I leave them to the certain and unerring retribution of their own waking.
CHAPTER VII.DURING the following week all was intense excitement through the length and breadth of the Valley; but the prevailing hope was that, as the work had commenced, it would be effectual, and soon accomplished. Numerous were the reports as to individual cases, as well as the general progress of the enterprise; and it was difficult to obtain the exact details. The following is as near the truth as I could ascertain.
ATROCITIES GET COMMONPLACE.
During the night of Sunday, the main body of the assailants approached as near to the Indians, on, or near the Reserve, as they could without being perceived. They were found in several Ranches on the banks of the River. Three companies crept on their hands and knees through the chaparral, so as to obtain advantageous positions. With the first early dawn of morning they poured the deadly contents of their rifles through the frail tenements, under which were sleeping helpless men and women, little children, and nursing infants. Let fathers and mothers fancy themselves and their sleeping babes thus assailed; and they will realize better than I can describe the horrors of that occasion.
Being thus unprepared for war, and taken by surprise, the Indians fled for shelter to the surrounding chaparral, while their assailants continued, with their revolvers, to dispatch all they could reach. They captured two or three Indian women alive; and when no man was in sight, it being something of a risk to creep after them in the brush, these women were compelled, under threats of instant death, to force out their husbands, and sons, and brothers, that they might be shot without danger to their destroyers. It was while thus employed that Major L., already spoken of, received an arrow from an unseen hand, which penetrated his lungs, and he fell. One of his companions was also mortally wounded by an arrow; and both of them died in the course of two or three days. Several others were slightly wounded, and thus their cowardly and outrageous proceedings were, for the time, suspended, if we except the amusement of stabbing and target-shooting at the bodies of the dead that were left on the ground.
I never ascertained how it was that on this occasion the Indians used only bows and arrows. It must have been that some strategy had been used to get possession of their guns; or else they had not time to load them; for in the various reports of this affair, firearms were not mentioned in my hearing.
Fort Lane, commanded by Captain Smith, was within a short distance. I cannot think of this officer but with feelings of profound respect. His proximity to the Indians, and frequent intercourse with their Chiefs, afforded him facilities for knowing the nature and extent of their grievances. With the heroism of a soldier, and the magnanimity of a true man, he steadily, and to the utmost of the means at his command, resisted the popular torrent, and nobly pledged his life in protection of the weak and the defenseless.
A detachment was sent from the Fort to bury the dead. They reported having found twenty-eight bodies, fourteen being those of women and children. But as many dead were undoubtedly left in the thickets, and no account was taken of the wounded, many of whom would die, or of the bodies that were afterward seen floating in the river, the above must be far short of the number actually killed.
Of those that escaped, eighty were received into the Fort; and had there been provision, and men enough for defense, more would have been admitted. For thus leaning favorably toward the poor fugitives from slaughter, the most bitter denunciations were poured upon the head of the Captain; and for many months his name was often coupled with the most ignominious and degrading epithets.
In another small valley, a few miles distant, there were a few Indians living on terms of intimacy with the Whites. These were assailed by surprise, and most of them put to death, according to previous arrangement. As might have been expected, the survivors who were not admitted into the Fort fled beyond the settlements toward the coast. In passing down the valley, early on the morning of the 9th, they set fire to thirteen houses, and put to death ten or twelve white persons, among whom was Mr. Jones, with his wife and family. It seems either that his heart had failed him, or for some other reason he had not organized a party, as arranged when he was in town a few days before.
Owing to the firm stand taken by Captain Smith, and his utter refusal to aid or countenance these self-styled volunteers, a temporary check was given to their proceedings; and the constrained pugilists occupied themselves for a time in taking care of their wounded, and sometimes in short excursions for the purpose of shooting game or Indians. A number of these unfortunate people were living as domestics in different families; but even this could not protect them. They were in continual danger, and could not go abroad without being liable to provoke that wanton spirit of destruction, whose uncounted victims were left either dead or dying, to the final destruction of birds and beasts less ferocious and less cruel than their savage assassins. Even the sick and the wounded found no mercy and no quarter. For them there opened no city of refuge. Among the cases of this kind of which I heard most frequent mention, I will relate the following, given to me by one who participated in the affair:
"We found," said my informant, "several sick and famished Indians, who begged hard for mercy and for food. It hurt my feelings; but the understanding was that all were to be killed. So we did the work:"
From another source I learned the following almost incredible atrocities: An Indian girl in the act of fetching water for her employers was shot, and her body thrown into the creek. An Indian boy, scarce in his teens, who was in the habit of visiting the shanty of some miners, with whom he was a great favorite, and always welcome, was taken and hung upon the limb of a tree. Another was caught and had his throat cut. Two women and a man who had taken refuge upon Table Rock, which is high and very precipitous, were pursued; and it was reported that they had killed themselves by jumping down its steep and craggy sides. But Dr. Ambrose, who lived in the vicinity, informed me that they fell because they were shot, and could not avoid it. Their mangled, but yet living forms, as they lay on the loose rocks below, were so revolting a sight, that many began to declaim against such proceedings; and several prominent citizens wrote to Governor Curry an account of what was doing, upon which the Governor issued a proclamation to the effect that the unauthorized companies who were committing outrages upon peaceable Indians, should immediately desist, as the Government would not sanction such proceedings.
How he came to this resolution against the very outrages which he had himself sanctioned and commissioned, it is difficult to surmise. [The murders took place before Curry's declaration of war and call for volunteers.] Possibly some latent principle of human kindness, which was drawn from his mother's milk, and nursed at his mother's knee, might just then have revived within him. It is evident that he had reason to be shocked at the brutal outrages, which on every hand stared him in the face. There were deeds done which ought to have startled the conscience of any man or magistrate, and even policy might seem to demand a hearing.
Nor is this all. Let us suppose ourselves treated as the Indians were--that our property was taken away, our families scattered and destroyed, our people wantonly murdered, and ourselves made outlaws in our own land--should we not think that justice required something more than to be informed that Government did not approve of it? Should not we want and claim indemnification and more secure protection? The fact of these being a poor people, and unable to enforce their own claims, is surely no sufficient reason why they should not be protected. Their very weakness is an appeal which a truly magnanimous people could not resist.
But unfortunately the Chief Magistrate did not view the matter in this light; for instead of legal proceedings against those who had committed the outrages, or of redress for the sufferers, Governor Curry soon grew ashamed of his amiable weakness. Humanity was out of fashion, and he had not manliness enough to wear its colors, for fear that some human adder, which he ought to have felt strong enough to set his foot upon, might thrust forth its venomous tongue and hiss at him. This weakness is pitiful; but there is much of it to be found in the world, especially in high places, and the reason is, that the character and power of the man are so often set aside in the function and prerogative of the officer. In his zeal for acting officially, he utterly forgets that he either can, or ought, to act humanly--that humanity is, in fact, under all true law, the very basis of his official power; and without it his commission itself is null and void. Thus, insofar as he is not humane, he is a usurper, invading, by assumed and arbitrary action, the very authority that clothes him with his power, since this is avowedly for the good of the governed. To say that this wrong is common, does not justify or excuse it at all. It is time the people knew that there is no such thing as divorcing humanity from a true and righteous official power. In other words, the responsibility, character, and action of the man cannot be separated from those of the officer. Whoever attempts to do this will entangle himself in an inextricable mesh of falsehoods and wrongs, and bring the blood of the guiltless upon his own head.
Soon after the proclamation already referred to Governor Curry issued another, authorizing the very men who had been denounced in the first to organize themselves in companies, elect officers, and prosecute the war against the Indians. We shall perceive the unfairness of these proceedings, if we compare them with what takes place between different Nations on occasions of disagreement. There is always investigation. Their respective claims are weighed; and war is not begun until every reasonable effort to avoid it has been tried and fails. In common law the accused is not condemned and punished without a hearing; and if any nation, or individual, who happened to be our superior in power, should treat us on principles the reverse of these, we should esteem it unjust and tyrannical.
In defense of the measures pursued, it was reported that the Indians were false--pretending to desire peace, but still thieving and killing. But it should be remembered that they were obliged to take whatever they could lay their hands on, for present subsistence. The necessity of mutual protection required them to keep in company, so that they could not disperse themselves to fish, hunt, and gather seeds and roots, widely enough to obtain the necessary supplies. They did, therefore, only what every other people would have to do under similar circumstances. This they must have felt, and justly too, was only levying contributions on the enemies who had impoverished them.
Some people were mean enough to falsify the facts concerning the burning of the houses and the killing of the Whites, reporting that it occurred on the 7th instead of the 9th of October; and the Pacific Christian Advocate took advantage of this quibble to blame the Indians as the first aggressors. It was for the purpose of preventing the odium of a wanton outrage on our part that the war was represented as a matter of necessity, and wholly defensive in its character. That the above-mentioned attack did not happen until the 9th--that it was then a simple act of retaliation and common justice, is susceptible of abundant and conclusive proof.
If at every point of this melancholy story I awake unfavorable reflections on the conduct of our fellow countrymen, it is not because I either will or wish it. Would to God that I had sufficient authority to do otherwise. But feeling, as I do, that the Indian, though of a different Race, is a brother of the same great family, I should not be true to our common nature were I to withhold a faithful statement of the wrongs I have witnessed. And that I am only giving in detail what has been sanctioned by the highest authorities, and spread before the Nation in general terms, the following extract from the last Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, will show.
"They (the Indians) have been left, heretofore, comparatively unprotected from violence and wrong inflicted by unprincipled White Men, under the influence of unbridled passion, or in pursuit of their own venal ends. By such men, unworthy of the name, they are often cruelly beaten when unprotected, and not unfrequently shot down in mere wantonness. The bloody revenge, that almost certainly follows, becomes the general theme, unaccompanied by the circumstances of cruel provocation which gave it birth. A border warfare springs up between the resident Tribes and the pioneer Settlers, who are really trespassers on their lands; and the strong arm of the Government being invoked for their protection, wars take place, which are carried on at great expense, and at the cost of many valuable lives, retarding the progress of our people by rendering the condition of the Settler insecure, and closing, perhaps, with the annihilation of almost entire tribes. This process, the destruction of a people of whom Providence has given us the guardianship, originating in such causes, is unworthy [of] the civilization of the age in which we live, and revolting to every sentiment of Humanity."
If our fellow citizens, generally, could realize the appreciative sentiments, so truthfully expressed by the authorities at Washington, surely this state of things could not long exist. The impulsive humanity of the Nation would rise against it. And, doubtless, the reason why there is so little done is, for the want of data, as to facts. The varied statements, almost all of them overcharged with a cruel and bitter prejudice against the Indians, who cannot write, or proclaim their own grievances by any competent mode of speech, and the fear of telling the truth in those who are most intimate with them, on account of the popular and pecuniary interests that are brought to bear on its suppression or misrepresentation, operate to annul and render abortive the humane provisions of the General Government, as well as the zealous efforts of philanthropic individuals. Because the majority of the people in the Territory do not approve of these beneficent measures, they are not carried out by those who should apply them. It is on this account that I shall endeavor to fill up the outlines, throw in the strong lights and shadows, and lay before the Nation a more striking and graphic picture.
We have seen, in, the preceding, some of the general causes of Indian wars; I will now give a brief narrative of some of the incidents in that of Oregon, which is scarcely yet over. And to show that the Indians are not, altogether, the savage demons they have been represented, I will note down a few circumstances which were not published in the papers, but which I nevertheless believe to be true.
When the Indians fled down the Valley, they overtook two White men, who had been working high up in a gulch, and did not know what was going on below. They kept them prisoners several hours, and had resolved to make special examples, and hang them, as the Whites had hung some of their people a few months previous. Ropes were already on their necks, and in a few minutes they would have been swinging, when two Indians came up and recognized one of them as a friend. They promptly represented the fact; and he was as promptly released from the impending doom. The White Man then begged for the life of his friend; and as all the circumstances went to show that he had not been their enemy, he was also reprieved; and both, on promising not to fight against the Indians, were allowed to go their way. But this high example of honor and generosity gave the Indians no advantage among the ruffians, who often represent us in border warfare. At another time the Chiefs called for the Treaty which had been made at the conclusion of the last war, and requested that it might be read. As article after article was heard, they appealed to the bystanders, asking, "Have we not kept this?" "In what have we transgressed?" This shows both a sense of intellectual appreciation and moral obligation. They understood the facts in the case; and they knew that they had been true to them.
On a previous occasion, when the Treaty was made, or some new arrangements proposed with them, before accepting it, they required of the Whites that they should raise their hands toward the Great Spirit, who, they said, lived above, to witness their declaration that the Treaty should be kept. This showed their religious sense, and their high idea of the solemnity and binding power of an oath, and also their shrewdness, in making the White Man appeal to his own God. They have, in short, not only the. character and attributes of men, but they represent a high and noble order of Humanity.
That the above is true can be shown by many noble instances. A few months previous to the war, there were among the Rogue River Indians a number of men who, for strong common sense, and even superior intellect, would have been conspicuous in any community. One of them, known as Tipsy, was distinguished for shrewdness. An other, called Elijah, was remarkable for his calm benignity, and his earnest efforts for peace. There were also two others, known to the Settlers as Joe and Sam, who were preeminent for their noble bearing, their statesmanship and eloquence. Many of these were killed in feuds, mostly got up for that purpose by unprincipled Whites. One of the two latter, when life was ebbing from a mortal wound, called his people round him, and with all the earnestness and affection of a father, urged them not to go to war; but at the same time, advising that if the "Bad Bostons" attacked them, they should not die like dogs, but manfully defend themselves, and then fly to the mountains for safety. He exhorted them not to use the firewater; for, said he, "that will make you as bad as they." The surviving Chiefs used to quote his dying words, and it helped to keep their people in subjection.
CHAPTER VIII.NO SOONER had the war been authorized by the Governor, and some of each political party had got appointments of office and prospective profit, than arrangements were made on the largest scale which the great number of unemployed men and speculators could afford. As the drought had been continued late into the Fall, there were scores of Miners who, being deprived of work for want of water, found an offer of employ, at such a time acceptable; and many, from every point, were flocking to enroll. And besides these, men who were well to do came out from almost every family to join the crusade; for it was considered unpatriotic not to do so. They also made a great speculation in mules and ponies, gathering up every creature of the kind, except such as were really good and valuable. The more of these animals a man could muster, the more fortunate he was considered; for they were appraised at various estimates, from $100 to $350. Many of these were not worth more than $30 or $40; but if any were lost or injured in war, the owners looked to Government for pay, to the full amount of the appraisal. Oats, barley, and wheat were bought up at high prices--several thousand bushels of the latter, some of which was black with smut, bringing $2 a bushel. Farmers, teamsters, and packers were all busy, hauling grain and provender a few miles down the Valley, or along the mountains. In some instances, the pack mules ate all they carried before they got to their journey's end, and had to go back for more: for they were hired by the day. This, as may well be surmised, was a thriving business; but it was often said that Uncle Sam could afford to keep fat horses.
BATTLES AND MURDERS.
The feed was crushed in the mill, and then fed on the ground so liberally that several men, on seeing the waste and extravagance, left the service, believing that Government would never pay such unnecessary expenses. On one occasion, as the Newspapers reported, out of over a hundred horses, only thirty were able to travel the second day, the rest all being badly foundered.
Everything was done on the assumption that all the settlements in the Valley were in danger from an invading foe; and every little shadow was made available by the Press and Propagandists, to keep up the excitement at home, and produce effect abroad. Several Forts were built, and crowded with families; and what was singular is, that in the thickest settlements, in the central part of the Valley, there were the most Forts, and the most terror, while others continued to occupy their houses, although situated at the outskirts, or near the base of mountains--the very place for Indians to attack, if so disposed. The latter doubtless believed the assertions of the Indians, who said that they did not consider themselves at war with the "good Americans," but only with the "Bostons." It may here pertinently be asked, if our people as generously made exceptions in favor of good Indians. The Volunteers, many of whom were from Pike County, Missouri, were, from this circumstance, known throughout Oregon and California as "Pikes" in addition to their more common sobriquet of "Bostons," which was solely applied to them by the Indians; though from what idea, or association, the latter name was derived, I have never been able to imagine, unless some villainous Yankee, from the City of Notions, earned for himself the questionable honor of establishing it. As the treatment which they have received from this class is so different from what they have been accustomed to have from the Fur Traders, they naturally enough entertain the idea that they are a different tribe both from the latter and the Government troops and Settlers, with all of whom they had long lived on friendly terms.
Had the Indians been disposed to destroy and slaughter all they could, there would hare been hardly a house left in the Valley; and it was often a subject of remark that they did so little damage. And so far as Volunteers and Forts were concerned, many thought that fifty determined Indians, bent on their object, could have overthrown and burned the whole in a week.
But the fact is, there were only a few Indians in a body. During the Fall and Winter, I made frequent inquiries of Volunteers, who had been in the service. Their estimates of those actually engaged in the Southern war were very indefinite, ranging from 150 to 400, including women and children. There were a few small, scattered bands, away in the mountains, who did all they could to keep out of the way, and after whom it was useless to follow.
The main body of the Indians evidently acted with the greatest discretion, keeping entirely on the defensive, so much so, that if details were given, the world might wonder how a professedly Christian people kept up for months the semblance of war, against a few poor, starving men, destitute of homes, or stores, or allies, who fought only for existence, and not for territory or conquest. And yet, against these were arrayed, for months together, from three to five hundred men. At one time there were seven hundred in the field, armed and equipped with all the tents, stores, munitions, and weapons of modern warfare.
For several weeks nothing in particular was done, except electing officers, collecting materials, and, in various ways, preparing for a comfortable winter's campaign. It was thought that, when the mountains were covered with snow, the Indians would be compelled to collect in the Valley for shelter and subsistence; and then it would be easy to kill them at a blow. Several small parties were cut off, while in search of food, and it is wonderful how so many human beings found subsistence for months, harassed and surrounded, as they were, by such powerful foes.
But the Newspapers contrived to keep up a kind of sickly interest; for there was no lack of communications from Colonels, or Captains, or Generals, in regard to the marches, countermarches, and maneuvers of the "Northern" or "Southern Battalion" of the "Army." Occasionally the interest was heightened by accounts under the caption of "Another Battle," which, no doubt, was highly appreciated east of the mountains; but we who heard the verbal statements of some who participated, or who witnessed these affairs, were impressed with the belief that "Another Massacre" would have been a more appropriate heading.
The following are specimens of Battles during the winter. The main body of the Indians had selected for their Head Quarters an angle in the Valley, known as the Meadows, having high, precipitous, and heavily timbered mountains on two sides, and the River in front, between them and their assailants. There was pasturage in this space for the few animals they owned; and as they could be approached only by crossing the River, it was considered too much of a Sebastopol for our Braves to effect an entrance, though canvas boats, and all the appurtenances for the operation, were conveyed to the spot; and great anticipations were entertained of an early termination of the war. But this project proved an entire failure. It was then resolved to keep quiet, and watch until the auspices were more favorable.
On one occasion, several Indians were discovered in three canoes, in the river above the Meadows. A volley was fired, killing all except two, who swam to the opposite side, and immediately shouted defiance, telling the Bostons to come to the Meadows and they would fight them. This affair was published under the flourish of a battle, in which our troops were victorious.
On several occasions parties of warriors found means to get round and waylay a train of pack mules, on which occurrence the muleteer and escort generally fled. By the time the Volunteers mustered to the rescue, the cargo was gone, and the Indians not to be found. These cases occurred so often, that the Volunteers became used to defeat, and seemed not to care, or calculate upon anything else; or, at least, they were very careful about risking anything to prevent it. Battles were to these doughty warriors sheer speculations; and the grand study was how they should be compassed with the least possible risk, and the greatest possible advantage to themselves. They seemed to have little or no sense of moral responsibility, either toward the enemy, or the authorities under whom they served. Patriotism was not only a thing they never saw, but it was what they were wholly incapable of seeing; for no person can cherish this ennobling sentiment in his own breast, at the same time that he is seeking to extinguish it in that of another. They would freely have spent the last dollar in the country, even though the metal it was made of could be transmuted into iron chains, to bind and enslave the Nation. The one purpose that was always kept steadily in view was greed, and that of the grossest character. The war was likely to be a profitable investment, with good pay, comfortable quarters, and easy work. To hurry matters, under such circumstances, would not be good policy. Like the wary doctor, they did not wish to kill the patient too soon. In short, they took special care of the Goose that laid the Golden Egg.
The Indians being so often successful, became aware of their advantage when in the Brush; and, on some occasions, they not only maintained their position, but actually gave pursuit to vastly superior numbers.
Among the scattering Tribes that were known to be on the Mountains was a small band, supposed to consist of fifty or sixty persons, who had not been seen or heard of for months. The Chief was known as Old John, an aged, but at the same time a very sagacious and energetic man. He was greatly esteemed by his people, and under ordinary circumstances would have commanded respect in any community. Numerous were the reports concerning his great age and wonderful exploits. Some supposed he was nearly a hundred years of age.
On a certain occasion, during the first war, he, with another Indian, had been taken by a fraudulent offer of friendship; but on finding themselves entrapped they broke from their captors; and though thirty rifles were fired after them, the venerable man made his escape, while his companion fell, mortally wounded. For months afterward he never slept in his tent, but always retired to some secret spot in the distance. He was faithful in the observance of the treaty, and often has lamented the necessity his people were under of retaliating upon the Whites.
The circumstances that caused him to leave the main body and fly to the mountains are peculiarly afflictive and aggravating. One of his daughters was taken possession of by a Squatter Sovereign; and when her husband went to the cabin to obtain her restoration, he was shot dead at the door. This occurred long before the war was thought of; and on account of the venerable age and noble bearing of the Chief, to whose tribe and family the murdered man belonged, considerable notice was taken of the circumstance; and some of the citizens proposed to subscribe ten dollars each, and raise a sufficient sum to indemnify the Sheriff against any loss he might incur by arresting the murderer. Upon hearing of this, a still greater number set the law at defiance, and declared he should not be punished; and afterward the murderer himself [Martin Angel?] was elected as a Captain of the Volunteers.
As the Chief perceived that this outrage was not approved by those holding authority, and as several of the most respectable citizens expressed sympathy, he rose above the brutishness that wronged him; and in the spirit of a true philosopher, sought to become reconciled to what he could not help.
But another circumstance, if possible still more outrageous, soon followed in the track of the first. His son, and another young man of his Tribe, were accused of a murder committed in California, and a number of Miners came over to the Reserve, to demand them for execution. Their relatives, as well as the officers of the Fort, having good reasons for believing them innocent, refused to give them up. Another party, of greater numbers, and well armed, next appeared, threatening to storm the Fort and kill the officers, rather than not have the accused; and it was fully believed that there would be a collision. Of all the numerous statements in reference to this matter, I did not hear one openly expressed but what was condemnatory of Captain Smith. He was denounced as a traitor--as one who was in league with the Indians, and who ought to be shot. I know that there were many who thought otherwise; but owing to the danger of opposing popular sentiment, they yielded their right and freedom of speech, and left the Captain and the Accused to whatever might befall them.
Nevertheless the brave Commander knew his duty; and nobly he discharged it, telling that infuriated and lawless band that they should not take those two accused Indians but over his own dead body. The firmness of Captain Smith on this occasion deserves commendation; for it was evidence of magnanimity and true heroism of the highest order. This truly grand position was not assumed in the midst of applauding multitudes, and under circumstances that would gratify his ambition and add to his fame. But it was taken in behalf of the poor and the despised, and in the presence of contempt and threatening from those who had usurped an almost irresponsible power. It was at the risk of life, with no prospect of future honor, or the world's applause; and but for this humble record, the noble deed might never have met the public eye until the great day when all secrets shall be made known, and all actions meet their reward.
It was finally arranged that the Accused should be given up to the Authorities of California, on a requisition from the Governor of that State; that they should have a just trial, and be fairly dealt with, Captain Smith engaging to keep them in custody until the requisition could be obtained. The Chief and his people were assured that the young men should be duly cared for, and, if acquitted, should be returned to their families.
In the course of six or eight weeks the requisition arrived; and by an escort of troops the prisoners were guarded seventy miles to the place of trial. They were acquitted, and duly dismissed. The soldiers took them in charge for their homeward journey, when they were set upon by their accusers, and cruelly put to death.
There is reason to believe that this charge of murder was only a pretense to gratify a cruel propensity. Against this dominating spirit neither innocence nor the laws could furnish a more efficient protection than a spider's web against the winter's storm.
When the aged Chief became acquainted with the fate of his son and his companion, he was astonished and outraged beyond the power of language to describe; for he had had full confidence in the sincerity and power of the Military to secure their present protection and ultimate justice. He had been impressed with the idea that our Great Father, the President, and all his men, the Soldiers, were the Red Man's friends; but, in the bitterness of grief, he saw that they were either unable or unwilling to save them from their enemies. He had long foreseen the gradual but certain destruction of his people; but he now saw that the great train of extermination was in rapid progress. Another conviction was also forced upon him. He saw that the "bad Bostons" were no more under the control of the Great Father than bad Indians were under his own. And, doubtless, the many cases of insult and wrong which he had borne and witnessed, and from a repetition of which he had no guarantee, crowded on his memory, inciting him to vengeance, and strengthening his resolution to be his own defender. Will anyone who believes that man has a right to defend himself say that the Chief had not the strongest and truest reason for war? Compared with his wrongs, the petty infringements of which our Fathers complained sink into insignificance, and become trivial.
Accordingly, he took his people and fled to the mountains. He knew the power and number of the Whites too well to think of sustaining a war with them; and, therefore, his chief object was to keep out of the way. But this was extremely difficult; for, during several months in the year, the mountains, being extremely bleak and covered with snow, offered nothing for subsistence. All the principal valleys, and many of the smaller ones, and even the mountain gulches, were occupied by Miners or Farmers; and he could not go far in any direction, without danger of being seen; and, moreover, such a number of persons, without stores of provision, could not long subsist in any given place away from their fishing grounds; for game was not plenty, and berries were scarce.
The fact that Old John and his men were still at large filled the Settlers with constant terror, for they were among the most skillful and courageous of all the Tribes. No one felt safe in traveling from home, while many were anticipating that at some evening twilight, or early dawn, the startling war whoop would be heard in the Valley, and the people would wake to be massacred in the light of their own burning dwellings; and they best knew what good reason they had to expect such treatment.
Numerous companies had been out in pursuit of Old John; and although no one knew that either he or his men had done a single hostile act during the several months of war, he was marked for destruction. No thought was taken of the wrongs he had suffered, or of the reason of his absence; but he was commonly spoken of as an implacable Savage, and the most dreaded of all the Enemy. It was often said: "If we could but kill Old John, all would be safe."
The following incident will show how near a considerable portion of his Tribe were to being taken. In the early part of January, 1856, a company of men went up the mountains in search of the Old Chief. They had made their encampment in a convenient place; and for several days sent out scouts, two or three in a company, in all directions. On one occasion, two of these scouts fell in with a fresh trail; and following it up, came to a cabin. Gladly would they have concealed themselves; but they were perceived by the occupants, and had no alternative but to assume courage, and make the best of their discovery. They found the tenement in the occupation of several Indian women and children. Therefore they pretended to be Miners in search of gold; and to ensure the confidence of the women, they made them an offer of the two mules, with their provisions. This liberality was induced by the fear that the Warriors, who could not be far off, might suddenly return and kill them, They persuaded the women to go with them to camp, promising to make a treaty of peace. They were soon met by the returning Warriors, and their lives were spared through the intercessions of the women.
They found that this cabin consisted of logs, and was also covered with the same, upon which were brush and earth. It was guarded by a deep ditch, with slanting cuts for the rifles, so that they could defend themselves, and be in tolerable safety from the shots of an Enemy.
On the report of the Scouts at their camp, it was resolved to get a reinforcement, and take the place by storm. This was undoubtedly for some special object rather than necessity, since the Indians were anxious for peace, and had spared those whom they had in power, on promise of a treaty being made. Accordingly, "a Battalion of the Army," "with a great number of spirited citizens from Jacksonville"--I quote from the papers of the day--"marched to the attack."
But upon approach, it was found that they could not get within the range of Rifles without danger; for you must know that these refined Warriors had an especial daintiness in regard to the manner of their being killed; and they themselves particularly disliked to be shot. This, in connection with their common treatment of the Indians, shows what respect they had for the Golden Rule, and why so many high Clerical and Canonical Functionaries should have patronized them,
But to return to the battle. As one of the besiegers fell dead, and others were wounded, without making any impression on the besieged, it was resolved to send to Fort Lane for a cannon, and blow them up with bombshells. Pursuant to this resolution, on the afternoon of the following day, the cannon was duly poised; and its awful echoes boomed over the mountains and ravines, rousing the terrified Indians, who had never heard the like before. But although the firing was continued until the curtain of Night fell and closed the scene, only one shell entered the cabin, killing two, and wounding others. The roar of battle then ceased, but only to be resumed, with greater vigor, in the morning; and the weary troops, some of whom had been on guard more or less for four days, once more slept upon their arms.
The number of the Besiegers was variously estimated at from 200 to 400, including the "spirited citizens;" that of the Besieged was about 30, including Women and Children.
The morning sun arose; and, lo! it was soon discovered that the Indians had retreated beyond the reach of bombshells, carrying along all their arms and ammunition, leaving only the deserted logs, instead of human bodies, for the balls and bombs to fall upon and scatter. This is conclusive proof of one thing, if not two. It shows either that the White Soldier-men slept very soundly, or that they winked at their escape.
As might be expected, there was a strong reaction among the "spirited citizens," at this general explosion of their brilliant achievements, past and prospective. They put a bombshell in their cannon, and it came out a bubble; and, to their dismay, they found that even women and little children were too wide awake for them. In short, they were quite mistaken when they thought that Indians had no more sagacity or self-respect than to lie still and sleep in the night, only to be bombarded and blown up in the morning. This state of things was particularly annoying, in view of the fact that the snow was melting from the mountains, and the Indians, who had been long confined in the Meadows, would soon be at large.
And what was still more alarming, the Indians had gained caution by suffering, skill by practice, and courage by success; and they were, in the beginning of 1856, after months of continuous war, better prepared for its prosecution than when it first commenced. They had intercepted several pack trains, from which they had obtained plentiful supplies of arms and ammunition. But what tended more than all other things to give them power was a sense of right. While, on the other hand, there was a great lack of the moral element, as a basis for the Volunteers to act upon. Many of them were far from being assured of the righteousness of their cause, and not a few who had at first sanctioned the war, and aided in its operations, became convinced that the Indians were in the right; and rather then stand in the wrong against them, they had left the ranks, and thereby forfeited their claims for previous service. It was owing to causes of this kind that so little was done during the winter, for notwithstanding the newspaper accounts of "victories gained and battles won," it was notorious that the Enemy were, in reality, the victors, and that the rifles' crack from a few Indians in ambush would cause large bodies of well-armed and mounted men to fly for safety. And the more candid and reflecting portion of the community could not avoid the conviction, that even the exploits, which had been so sonorously lauded in the papers, were, in view of the disparity of numbers and materials, as well as the objects held in view, anything but creditable to the victors. It is easily to be seen, that men who had sold themselves to the work of common assassins--who had engaged, for so much a month, to shoot down, or murder, as they might, a few poor, famished, and starving people, who were everywhere calling for peace and crying for mercy, must have been singularly deficient in that essential element of all true success--an invincible consciousness of Right.
It may well be questioned, whether there is to be found in the annals of civilized Nations, anything to compare with this page of our own history--that a war should be continued for months, against a handful of starving, suppliant people, who were constantly suing for peace; and, in return, demanding nothing but protection! What Savage ever did the like? None, but the White Savages of our Border Settlements.
That most of the Volunteers were on a low plane of development, with all the selfish or animal passions either highly active, or paramount, is the only excuse that can be offered; and this, humiliating as it may at first appear, when we look at it philosophically, offers a sufficient excuse for all bad actions. Men do not choose to have their lowest nature in the ascendant--they do not choose to do evil; but when they are incapable of perceiving good, how can they avoid it? An evil destiny is thrust upon them; and in fulfilling its laws, they must work out evil. Gradually to ameliorate, and finally to subdue these unfavorable conditions, that now enslave and deprave so large a portion of the Race, must henceforth be the work of an enlightened, liberal, and benevolent philosophy.
CHAPTER IX.DURING one period of the winter's campaign, the Volunteers were more dreaded by the Settlers than the Indians. Property was wantonly destroyed, cattle killed, and Jacksonville fired; and while the stores were burning the merchants were robbed. Yet those merchants dared not openly complain, partly through fear of private revenge, and partly lest any public exposition relative to the management of the war might jeopardize the profitable contracts in which they were all more or less concerned. That many of the Volunteers were both sorry and ashamed of the part which they took in these disgraceful proceedings is nothing more than true; and if they have been thus led from a low plane of thought and action into a higher, they may be able to retrieve the wrong they have either committed, or meditated, by a corresponding will to do good.
EFFORTS IN BEHALF OF PEACE.
The state of affairs referred to above induced the citizens living on Bear Creek to pass a unanimous resolve, calling for a meeting in Jacksonville, to be holden on the 22nd of January, 1856, to consider the propriety of negotiating for peace, and ending the war by treaty; and a committee was appointed to attend to the publication of the Call.
But the Editor of the Sentinel, a Southern Man, and wholly one-sided in his sympathies, published in connection with it a statement that he did not know of a man in Jacksonville who desired a meeting for such an object. As there was no other paper published in the Valley, the Sentinel was the only public mouthpiece; and hence its statements had great influence in determining public action.
Before proceeding further, it is proper to observe that, although in the succeeding pages of this Narrative the first person singular appears in frequent prominence, it is a subject of regret rather than egotism. The writer would have had far more pleasure in recording action in concert with his fellow citizens, than to stand alone against a multitude. And were it not for the hope that a detailed account of the course by which such disastrous results have been brought about would help to prevent their recurrence, silence and oblivion would have been my choice. But when I saw burning houses, and homeless families, and heard the cry of orphans whose parents' blood had unnecessarily moistened the earth--and all for want of honor and fairness toward a weaker race, both conscience and humanity impelled me to action. And when I considered that it is by a perverted use of our national strength, and the expenditure of millions of public treasure, by which a people are being destroyed whom interest and duty bind us to preserve, I was bound, not only by a sense of right, but by a feeling of patriotism, both as a man and a citizen, to enter my protest in the strongest terms.
Perceiving, as I did, that the Editorial already alluded to had disappointed the earnest desire for peace, which had been openly expressed by many Citizens, I visited and conversed with a number of different persons in various parts of the Valley, all of whom agreed with me, that the war, so far as Volunteers were concerned, was a mere farce, a boys' play, that ought to be stopped; but there were two circumstances that made it a difficult thing to bring about. The first of these was the pecuniary interests involved. There had not been for a long time a steady pursuit of any profitable objects of industry. Nearly all the labor, and produce, and capital of the country had been employed in the prosecution of the war; and to secure indemnity from the public treasure, it was necessary to be pretty unanimous in regard to the justness of their claims, which would rest directly on the righteousness of the war. Hence, to dispute these points at home would be to jeopardize their interests at Washington; and the disputant was sure of the ill will of those around him, and might reasonably calculate on something worse.
In the next place, a sense of shame and mortified pride, in those who had been so long active participants in the campaign, made them wish to retrieve their honor by some more successful experiments of bravery and generalship than they had yet exhibited. They felt how unfavorably they would appear before the country--after spending and losing so much, to be overcome by a few starving savages, whom they despised as being less than human. There was also another class of upright, worthy citizens who argued that "we must whip them first," in order that the Treaty might be kept. To my mind this last argument was inexpressibly abhorrent; and I regretted it the more because it came from those who were highly esteemed. Whipping, in this case, signified to kill so many that the survivors would become discouraged and helpless, and finally yield to their fate. I could not but regard this as adding cruelty to injustice, and, as the worst means that could be adopted toward a people who were already smarting under conscious wrongs.
It is obvious to all who reflect much on this subject that the only true way of living in amicable relations with the Indians is to elevate them--to cultivate their self-respect and inspire them with the love of truth and virtue. If we could impart to them a true civilization, and an acceptable religion, we should place the Indians in a condition in which they could perceive and choose judiciously for themselves; but to discourage and destroy surely will not do this!
Being deeply impressed with the truthfulness of these views, I felt anxious to have the public meeting, which many citizens had called for. I had been assured by several prominent men in the Valley that they would be present, and plead for peace.
Accordingly, on the morning of the 22nd of January, 1856, I rode down to Jacksonville, and found the town in the greatest commotion. News had just arrived that Captain [James] Bruce and company, in pursuing a party of Indians, had dismounted and entered the Timber on foot. The Indians had managed to surround the men, and get possession of their horses; and volunteers were now being mustered to go to the rescue. [See Oregon Argus article of February 2.]
This incident was, in the estimation of some, an additional reason why the meeting should be had; but others used it as an argument for no meeting. While these conflicting sentiments were being canvassed in the streets and stores, I engaged the largest room that could be found, and procured the printing of handbills, calling for a meeting at the Robinson House, at 2 o'clock, P.M. In posting them round town, such was the opposition that several were torn down before my face.
The meeting gathered slowly. It was not till after 3 o'clock that many were present; and I had to regret the absence of every one of those who had specially promised to attend. Several speeches were made in favor of war; and then I endeavored to give a brief account of its origin, its management, and its present and probable results; of the advantage of peace, and the ease with which it might be established.
A Reverend Doctor, from New Orleans, argued for continued war, and utter extermination; and another gentleman agreed to make a treaty, but only to massacre all the Indians as soon as they had signed it. My remarks, including several interruptions, occupied nearly two hours; and when the vote was taken, the party who were for war promptly spoke, while some of those who were on the opposite side refused to vote either way. So the meeting broke up, with but one voice raised in behalf of peace.
On leaving the house, a gentleman, who was to me a stranger, addressed me, saying, "You are the only man who dares speak his sentiments openly; if you will furnish me with a copy of your speech in writing, it shall be forwarded to the Indian Department, at Washington."
A few days afterward I met with two men returning from the Camp. They informed me that they had been with the company to relieve Captain Bruce. The Indians had made good their retreat, with the horses. In pursuing them they overtook two women, one of them having an infant. The officers commanded that they should not be hurt. Nevertheless they were clubbed to death; and the child was taken by the heels and had its brains dashed out against a tree. These men declare that they had left the service and would forfeit their claims for the time they had lost, rather than sanction such atrocities. It was afterward ascertained, that the Indians avenged themselves by hanging two white women, whom they held as prisoners. [This is a reference to Mrs. Haines and daughter, who more likely had already died of dysentery.]
This is another illustration of the suicidal character of war. Had those women been protected by such peaceful conditions as are founded upon a sense of equal justice, they might now have filled some useful sphere in our midst, with great comfort and joy to their respective families and friends; and if the spontaneous goodness that prompted those men to leave in disgust were properly exercised, and truly developed in all our private relations and public enactments, how soon would swords be beaten into plowshares, and our spears converted into pruning hooks; for then Nations would not rise against Nations, neither would they learn war any more.
CHAPTER X.TOWARD the latter end of February, the small bands of Indians who had been scattered among the mountains began to suffer extremely for want of food. The red-berries and acorns were exhausted; and the nutritious roots were not sufficiently grown to be of service. Many were worn out with fatigue, and severely frostbitten from unusual exposure. Hence they were under the necessity of congregating near the River, in order to obtain supplies of fish. Volunteers were stationed at different points, for the purpose of cutting off these bands; and the reports of "Battles," with varied success, became more frequent and exciting.
CONTINUED EFFORTS FOR PEACE.
Old John and his Tribe were now occasionally heard from especially in connection with a pack train, which, according to the reports, he had captured. Several Chinamen were also killed, in their different encampments, and robbed of their gathered gold. It was surmised by some, however, that much of this should be credited to the White Savages that infested the country, in the shape of freebooters, who regarded no class, and scrupled at no means, when plunder could be obtained.
It was known that there was a small band on Butte Creek, under the Chief, Jake; and a party was sent to hunt them out. They were found in a state of great destitution, having previously had all their winter provisions and camp utensils destroyed. They were taken prisoners; but the victors not agreeing how to dispose of them, they were allowed to go.
The same party found, in one place, evident signs of its having been the scene of an Indian battle. Among other things, they found two dead Indians, over whom was spread a wagon cover, known to have belonged to the Teamsters, who were killed in the Fall, as has been already related. It was afterward ascertained that the Tribe just liberated, hoping to conciliate the favor of the Whites, had made war, and killed all who had been engaged in that affair. It was said they were actually on their way to give themselves up, when they were met by the same company of Volunteers who had captured and released them a few days previous. As it had become unpopular to kill women, they ordered the females aside while they shot the men, numbering eighteen. This cruel and deliberate butchery occupied the space of two hours--a period of inconceivable horror and anguish both to the waiting victims and their friends who were kept within reach of their struggles and cries.
It being well known to General Wool that the Indians of Southern Oregon had not desired war, and were anxious for a treaty, provided they could have protection, he was not in haste to enlist the Regulars in its prosecution; neither could any treaty be made until the Volunteers were withdrawn; for the Indians held them in utter contempt, and, on several occasions, challenged them to a fight.
The Settlers, whose farming and other business operations were all suspended, were becoming seriously embarrassed, and anxious for a termination of hostilities. But there were other classes, such as Contractors, Speculators, and Volunteers, who were making large calculations upon General Lane's efforts in relation to the Public Purse. They presumed, on Governor Curry's assertion, that the war was just. It was, therefore, natural for such to think that all would be paid, and to be in no hurry about stopping the accumulation of these valuable claims. The Peace Party were, furthermore, discouraged, by being often told that no treaty should be regarded; that peace or no peace, Indians should be killed. Pursuant to these murderous resolutions, when General Palmer, early in the spring, arranged to have those who were in the protection of Fort Lane, removed to the Reserve on the coast, there was an open threat to massacre them on the way; and no sooner had they left the Fort than a man [Timoleon Love] rode up and fired among them, killing one of their number. It was found necessary not only to increase the strength of their guard, but to arm the Indians in self-defense.
At the time these Indians were removed, there were two other tribes, under the Chiefs Limpy and George, who were anxious to make treaty, and to be taken under Government protection. They begged earnestly, as fathers and husbands, for the safety of their wives and little ones--entreating that they might go on the Reserve. But the Officials, whose business it was to ratify their plea, yielded to the demands of those who were continually crying, "We must whip them first." So these poor people, with their sick, their wounded, their infants, and their aged, were left to be hunted for months longer, over mountains and valleys, by what General Palmer styled a set of "lawless vagabonds."
I was in hopes that remonstrance from abroad would command attention. For this purpose I wrote a number of Letters to persons in official stations, and to the Public Press, both in Oregon and the States. But as the sequel will show, there is some reason to believe that they were suppressed in the Post Office, and few of them reached their destination.
As the following, addressed to the Sentinel, was made one of the grounds of accusation by which I was condemned at a public meeting convened for the purpose, I will here present it entire:
"EDEN PRECINCT, Jackson Co., O.T."MR. EDITOR:
"In all cases of dispute, whether between Individuals or Communities, candor and justice demand that both sides should have a hearing. We are now not only in dispute, but in destructive war; and as only one party has yet been heard through the Newspapers of the Country, will you permit a friend, in behalf of the other side, to occupy your columns with a few thoughts on the relative position of the parties?
"The grand question is, Are we right in the origin, in the conduct, and in the object of this war?
"I will not undertake to answer either by direct argument or assertion, but by a few other questions, which every Reader in the Valley can answer for himself.
"1st. In regard to the homes we occupy, and the lands we claim, did the Indians make a voluntary surrender, and receive a fair equivalent?
"2nd. Were the Indians first in personal assault, and contemptuous treatment?
" 3rd. Were the Indians first in possessing themselves of wives and daughters not their own?
"4th. Were they first to induce and spread abroad a loathsome disease, afflicting numbers with misery and death?
"If the answer to these questions is to be drawn from past occurrences, and existing facts, it will be an emphatic No. And the unpleasant truth stares me in the face, that the guilt and shame of this war rest on others rather than the Indians.
"All will admit, that if the enormous wrongs which the preceding questions imply had been committed against us, we should deem it ample cause for hottest war.
"If, then, the Indians did actually combine for war, it is no sufficient reason for treating them as outlaws, worthy only of destruction; but rather, as the injured party, we should extend to them our sympathy and kind consideration. The position they have assumed is not one of exclusively savage, or Indian nature; but it can be maintained on the common ground of Humanity itself, and, as such, it should, at least, have our consideration and respect. Their proceedings are the result of natural instinct, not of choice, but of necessity. They fight for existence, not for conquest.
"Some of our people speak contemptuously, and not only call the Indian man a 'Buck,' but they hunt him as game, or destroy him as vermin. If, under such treatment, he should tamely submit, and cower like a conquered brute, or crouch like a miserable slave, we might have a pretense for disputing his kinship. But as a Man, of like passions and aspirations with ourselves, he spurns his oppressors; and by deeds of daring, he proclaims the sentiment of our own noble sires: 'Give me liberty or give me death.' He has not only sustained his part of this unhallowed war with courage and promptitude, but with discretion and prudence. If destruction and carnage had been his object, he could have burned our villages, laid waste our homes, and slaughtered our people, almost without limit. But he has refrained from provoking, unnecessarily, the spirit of revenge. He has done only just enough to show that he is a man, and will avenge his wrongs, so long as he has an arm to do it. Hence, every so-called Indian depredation is but the echo, the response, to one committed against him.
"It is a fact not to be disputed, that the Indians of this Valley, notwithstanding a long series of insults and murders, have adopted our dress, imitated our manners, learned our language, courted our friendship, and feel honored by our approbation.
"It is a fact, that they did not leave our families and settlements until repulsed by unkindness, and driven away by fear.
"It is a fact, that for months before the war, they applied again and again for justice and protection.
"It is a fact, that even after the first cruel onslaught of their assailants, in this war, numbers who were in their power were allowed to go unhurt.
"Let us now inquire who are the parties among us that sanction the war. We shall admit that many of the individuals may be good men and true; yet, from the nature of the case, their action is nevertheless sadly out of harmony with the honor and interests of all concerned. Our Government is based on principles of justice and equality; and its constituted Authorities are sworn to restrain the wicked, and protect the innocent. If honest patriots have joined this crusade, it must have been without due consideration; for it cannot be denied that, at its commencement, annihilation to the Red Man's Race was the firm resolve, and the ruling sentiment. Under this dire influence, the blood of the innocent has been made to flow like water. And not only has the warrior, tendering submission, and begging for quarter, been shot like a dog, but the wailing captive, the prostrate sick and wounded, the defenseless mother, and the tender babe, have alike fallen victims to the relentless rage.
"And what, it may well be asked, is all this for? Where is the necessity for such extreme measures? Who can point to a single crime of the Indians that has not been committed in a greater degree among ourselves? Why, then, this threat against 'Red Skins' that has grown so common among us? Surely the color of the skin is not a proof of crime, and therefore should not be made to incur a penalty.
"Neither are the Races constitutionally the enemies of each other. Numerous are the cases in which they are united by the tender ties of love and parentage; and many voices from their midst may address those among us by the endearing titles of the closest consanguinity; so that literally they are 'bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh;' and the Scripture is clearly illustrated that 'God hath made of one blood all Nations to dwell on the face of the whole Earth.'
"We have laws that are good enough, and officials in abundance; and the only reason I can imagine for their inefficiency is, the practical denial of the first and fundamental principle upon which our Government was originally based--'that all men have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Hence, when Lust, or Convenience, prompt the baser passions, these sacred rights are disregarded; and, in the name of Liberty, the worst form of despotism is seeking to crush the weaker Races of mankind. We need not wonder that the Indians are hostile, and resist this aggression. We may destroy, or drive them from their domains, but we cannot annihilate their Rights; and the attempt to do so may kindle a fire for our own destruction.
"But the argument of some is, We cannot live with Indians--the two Races cannot agree--and the like. To such I would say, Stay at home. The Indians did not send for you here. There is room enough in the world for all, and that without crowding. Go your ways.
"We think all the Colored Races our inferiors, and, possibly, they may entertain the same opinion of us. It is said that the Celestials call us 'Outside Barbarians;' and the Kamchatkans, in their houses of snow, think we are in a sad condition to require so many superfluities. But since the Creator gave us these varied predilections and differences, they surely should be no cause for contempt and mutual destruction.
"From whatever point of view we look at the lamentable difficulties in which we are at present involved, we can see but one true cure, and that is the spirit of the Golden Rule, embodied both in Law and Usage, and faithfully administered, irrespective of color or grade, otherwise than as they provide, that the ignorant and weak should have, on that account, a more special claim on the strong and the wise.
"The advantages of such a course over the present system of mutual murder are so great and palpable, that the slightest reflection should elicit earnest efforts for its immediate adoption. Only think, sir, how the evil passions would be curbed, and how all the social and domestic virtues that beautify and elevate society would thus be unfolded with a finer culture; and, instead of making the Indian an outcast and an object of hate, we should experience the richest pleasure in aiding the development of his highest nature, and literally realize that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive.'
"I trust, sir, that the importance of these considerations, at the present time, will be deemed sufficient apology for the desire I feel of having them presented to the public through the columns of the Sentinel.
"Respectfully yours,The above was read in the presence of the Editor, but he objected to publishing on the ground that none of the Papers of the Territory, and no respectable number of the Citizens would endorse such sentiments; and, moreover, he should be in danger of raising a mob around himself, if he did so. I offered to relieve him of the responsibility by procuring the signatures of two of the principal men in the Valley to a request for its publication. On these terms he agreed to publish; but two days afterward, on presenting the request, with the signatures, as agreed, he utterly refused, pretending to do so out of regard for my safety, observing, at the same time, that my life was in jeopardy--that many were the private threats against me, and that the publication of the letter would be like throwing a firebrand among dry stubble.
I had perceived, for a week or two, an unusual consternation and seriousness wherever I went. Even my friends appeared afraid of being friendly when I met them, giving me but a respectful, and sometimes distant recognition. I was not aware of the immediate cause, but supposed that, as I had been the previous year a Candidate on the Republican ticket for the Territorial Legislature, and had, on several public occasions, applied the principles of the Platform against Slavery and the war, and in behalf of Indians' and Negroes' rights, as well as our own, I had thereby caused great offense, and some threatening. I had also, at the late nominations, introduced a series of Resolutions in the same spirit as the foregoing letter. I knew that the introduction of these subjects before the public was especially obnoxious to the party in favor of Slavery, and to the Democratic Candidates, who were then stumping the country for votes; and even some who were with me in sentiment thought that it was indiscreet to speak against the war, and thereby invalidate the claims for indemnity. But my conscience told me otherwise. I felt that silence was consent, and that gold gained by war was the price of blood. I thought that if others had a right to the freedom of speech in favor of war, I had an equal right to the same freedom in behalf of peace. If, under the circumstances, I had failed to exercise that right, I should have lost my self-respect, and have been unworthy of the name and the privileges of a freeman. I do not wish to reflect on those of my fellow citizens who differed from me in opinion. I only deprecate the attempt of some to prevent freedom of expression, and the passive submission of others to such false assumptions. Had there been a free Press, and a free flow of honest thought, it is hardly possible that the war could have taken place.
As might be expected, the refusal of the Editor, and his remark about my life being in jeopardy, as well as the distant bearing and anxious look, so visible in the countenances of many friends, was not calculated to inspire me with over confident feelings of personal safety.
I had read the tract on the Murders Committed in California from 1851 to 1856, in which an extract from the District Attorney of San Francisco is quoted, wherein he says that for four years previous to '51, 1,200 murders had been committed in the city of San Francisco. And anyone familiar with the history of the great Pacific Emporium, since that time, will readily agree that crime has not diminished with the increase of population. It was stated by the public press at, or near the close of 1855, that 500 murders had been brought to their notice during the year just then past. The compiler of the work, from an examination of the papers, declared himself confident that "not less than 5,000 murders had been committed in California during the last six years." With such facts as these before the public, can anyone wonder at the great number of men that are missing of whom their friends never hear any account?
I knew that I wa surrounded by many in the Volunteer ranks who were from the same State, and in the same class, with the same cause for inflicting personal violence as those who had been so rampant in Kansas. I knew that the same spirit by which the lamented King, Editor of the San Francisco Bulletin, had been assassinated, and by which a Sumner in the Senate of the United States had been struck down, was the ruling genius of Southern Oregon. I knew that law had lost its supremacy, and human life its sacredness; and for weeks I never stepped from my door but I realized the probability of being saluted by the rifle's crack, and the bullet's whiz from the thick brush that fringed the creek, within a few rods of my house. Indians would have had the credit, or the blame; and my name, with my life, would have sunk in oblivion as a stone sinks in the mighty deep.
But I saw no ready means of escape. The only two ways out of the Valley, north and south, were narrow passes between lofty mountains and dense forests; and both, for many miles, were traversed by angry White Men and hostile Indians.
But God was my refuge. In him I trusted; and my wife and son, like true spirits, alive to probabilities, yet persistent in right, were prepared for results. I was, therefore, free from embarrassments, with nothing to deter me from present duty; and my only all-pervading, and ever-present fear, was that I should not perform it rightly.
Often, when alone, I felt the deepest anguish, and an expression of spirit that words cannot express. I did not fear death, for that would have been a relief; but when one or another of the neighbors would come in, as often happened, with fresh news of cruelties, I felt the wrongs in every fiber of my system, accompanied by a deep and thrilling conviction that they ought not and need not be. Then I thought of the generous sympathies of our people, with a strong conviction that these wrongs were only to be known, in order to be arrested and repaired. The question then was, "What shall I do?" The conditions demanded action; for I knew that such feelings could not have been given as a personal torture, only to consume me in silence and solitude.
CHAPTER XI.I DID not refrain from my usual habits of public intercourse; but I took the precaution to keep as much as possible on the main road. On one occasion, in riding to Jacksonville, I fell in company with a rough, savage-looking man, riding a jaded mule. He had in his belt a revolver and a large knife, and carried a rifle on his shoulder. In conversation he said he had shot many an Indian, and should not hesitate to shoot a White Man that would side with a Red Skin.
I reined up my beast, so as to keep by his side, resolving that if he shot me, it should not be in the back. But I have some reason to hope that, before we arrived in town, he indulged more kindly feelings.
As I have already stated, I wrote many letters, and had they been admitted by the papers to which they were addressed, the Public would long ago have been fully apprised of the principal incidents of the war; and, I think, it would have been much earlier closed, and thus many of its calamities avoided. It was for this end that I wished for the facts to be known. I could not keep quiet and see wrongs of such a magnitude perpetrated, and approved by high Officials; but it took three or four months to get letters to New York, and back again, so I wrote for a paper in San Francisco.
Toward the latter end of May, 1856, two gentlemen came to my house one afternoon and invited me to attend a public meeting, which they said was gathered in the neighborhood, but for what purpose they did not know. Without hesitation I went with them.
Upon arrival at the Meeting, the Chairman was reading from the New York Tribune the substance of a letter that I had sent in the Spring, after which, the Editor of the Sentinel said he had also a letter, in manuscript, by the same author; and, upon the reading of it, I perceived it was one I had sent to the Post Office on the 1st of May, for the San Francisco Herald. It contained a brief History of the war, and was written in answer to Governor Curry's Proclamation, in which he had said that, "the Indians commenced the war without just cause." The Editor made an effort at an effective speech; and to prove what an enemy the writer was to the interests of the community, he said that he had offered him, for publication, a Plea for the Indians.
Several others addressed the meeting, some of them in the most violent and denunciatory manner. A Captain Smith, who had been in the first open engagement, as described, page 42, undertook to show that the Indians began the war, yet he defeated his own purpose, in the most signal manner. He described the approach to the Fort, and how the women and children ran into the Brush. He told how he swore at the men, abusively charging upon them the theft of the horse, repeating, as he did so, the very oaths he had used. By his own account his party commenced the assault, by insults which no men, who believe in self-defense, could justify themselves in submitting to. In short, his whole account exhibited such a brutal, wanton spirit, that sober-minded citizens were disgusted and filled with horror, and even his own party were ashamed of him.
After the speeches, a Committee was appointed to draft Resolutions. At this point I arose and begged leave to speak in reply to what had been said; for I learned that the two who had given me the invitation were a Committee appointed for the purpose; and as all the speeches, and the only object of the meeting, had been to denounce my course, I felt that I had a right to speak. But the Chairman insisted that I was out of order--that the object of the Meeting was not to hear me speak, but to pronounce judgment on what I had written. I demanded that the Letter should be sent according to the address, and held myself responsible to law for the truth of its contents. The Meeting was numerously attended. I believe that all my immediate neighbors were present; but for the most part they were passive listeners. I knew that their private sentiments were with me; and, though silent, I felt assured that their moral influence would be used, in case of assault, to save me from personal injury; but they could not speak in defense of the right of free speech, or the integrity of the postal department. Pecuniary interests were at stake; and the credit of their claims demanded silence. Finding that I could not be heard, I left the Meeting.
The Committee presented a series of Resolutions, which the Sentinel said were unanimously adopted. The chief of them was to the effect that the article in the Tribune and the manuscript Letter were the products of a low and depraved intellect, and that it was the duty of every good citizen to stop their circulation. The Meeting adjourned, to assemble in another place the following day, to hear the Democratic Candidates, and to take further action on the same subject.
The following evening, a friend sent me word that the excitement was getting fearfully high. Several companies of Volunteers were discharged. They encamped near my house; and, as I was informed, some of the most reckless among them were determined on vengeance.
It had occurred to me, a few days previous, that I had a work to do in behalf of the Indians, and that my life would be spared to accomplish it. At the same time the idea came of going to Fort Lane for protection. Accordingly I made immediate preparation, by writing out my will; and before daylight passed away I went into the grove, and with something of a sad heart looked over lots and fences which, during the last three years, I had labored so hard to arrange, and to take a last look at my cows and cattle, and favorite mare, which had brought me from Illinois to Oregon, and ever since had served me so faithfully.
None but my wife and son knew of the project. We spent the evening in as pleasant and cheerful conversation as circumstances would admit. My affectionate dog, Towser, seemed to be possessed with a kind of instinctive sympathy in our feelings; for instead of lying in his usual place under the stoop, he was not satisfied but to be in the house, and by my side.
At eleven o'clock, in company with my son, I bade farewell to wife and home. The night was extremely dark. We arrived at the Fort just at daylight; and then I took leave of my son, now in his twentieth year, from whom I had scarcely been separated a day before since he was born.
Captain Underhill [Edmund Underwood] was somewhat aware of the state of affairs, and readily granted me an escort of Dragoons. After refreshment, and three or four hours' rest, I was again on horseback, with my Guards, and on the way for the Willamette Valley. We stayed the first night at Evans' Ferry. The house and premises were protected by log pickets; and. it was considered a strong Fort. We took an early start in the morning, past many Volunteers, who were encamped upon the road. The Regulars seemed to regard them with contempt, and avoided friendly recognition.
About noon I parted with my Guard, as I had got beyond the circle of excitement; and it was necessary for the soldiers to get back to Fort Lane to spend the night.
I traveled on alone for seven days, until I reached Salem, the capital of the Territory. I had many pleasant feelings, and occasionally some sad reflections. I asked myself, "What is my crime, that I should be a fugitive from home? Have I transgressed the Laws, or violated the Constitution? Have I done anything contrary to justice and Truth, or which the feelings of Humanity have not clearly indicated?" I reviewed my words and acts during my residence in Oregon; and my conscience bore witness that I had uniformly tried to do right. I might have done better, but not in a different direction from the one I had taken. I felt humbled at the thought that, with the clear light and strong impulses which had controlled my actions I had, nevertheless, failed to convince my fellow citizens of their correctness; and especially was I humbled at the thought of military protection against threatened violence.
But in the midst of these cogitations the thought occurred that, perhaps, all this will be for the best, and if my course is, indeed, in accordance with wisdom and truth, it will ultimately commend itself to the intellect and conscience, not only of the people of Oregon, but to the people of the whole country. And it may be that the mutual degradation of the Races, and the horrors resulting from war may become apparent to the view of all, until at length, by common consent, relations of peace and good will may be established, to be broken no more forever.
With these thoughts I took courage, and felt that there was an object worth living for, and that my special business now was to exalt and make manifest those principles of love and brotherhood, which are stronger than cannon, and more powerful than armies for the subjugation of savage nations, and for the elevation, not only of Indians, but of Americans, and all Humanity--yes, for all humanity. Love is a universal panacea for all the social wrongs that curse the world; and Reformers may devise, Religionists may preach, and Legislators may make laws; but until love, or a kind, considerate regard for the interests of every branch of the human family is the most prominent element of all their plans, their preaching and their laws, they will fail of success; for "love is the fulfilling of the law."
CHAPTER XII.PURSUANT to the great purposes of my life and destiny, a more determined idea of which had been evolved by my late misfortunes, I resolved to call on the different Editors, and upon the Governor, and other leading men in the Territory. Only in proportion as the fountain is pure can the waters it sends forth be healthful, and refresh and beautify the Earth; so only in proportion as the Public Press and Civil Functionaries are imbued with moral truth, can they promote social happiness and the public good.
RUNNING THE GANTLET WITH PATRIOTIC AND CHRISTIAN EDITORS.
With this in view, I called on a Religious man, from whom I had, some time previous, received a letter of sympathy and encouragement, in which he said he prayed three times a day for the Indians, and that war might cease.
As he was on terms of intimacy with Governor Curry and had known me for years, I solicited of him an introductory note to the Governor, which was promptly promised. But before morning, when I started, the good man's Caution overcame his Conscience; and so he expressed himself as feeling that I was right--that he prayed to the Lord for my success, but--but--BUT--he did not think a note would be of any service to me; and moreover it might be of prejudice to himself, and the Church of which he was a member; and therefore he begged to be excused.
I could not help smiling at the dilemma of my good friend; and yet I felt sorrow that so prayerful a Christian was not free, and had not courage to do what his conscience and judgment told him was right.
Upon my arrival, I learned that the Governor was not at the Capital, and that he was about to start by the first Steamer for the States. So I wrote him a letter, detailing facts in relation to the war, which for want of investigation I thought he was not acquainted with.
I also found that the Oregon Statesman, and the Pacific Christian Advocate, had each published the Sentinel's version of the Indignation Meeting, and the occasion for it, in Rogue River Valley. I therefore wrote a short but plain view from my own standpoint, of the same affair. Upon offering it to the Editor of the Statesman, he said he could not publish it, except as an advertisement, and that he should charge $12. I inquired of him if he had not received a letter from me, in reference to the war. He answered he did not know, but thought he had not.
I then took a similar article to the Advocate. The answer was, "I cannot publish it. The public mind is in a feverish excitement, and cannot hear anything on that side of the question."
On being asked, he admitted that he had received a Letter from me at the commencement of the war, entitled a "Plea for the Indians," but that having consulted certain Brethren, it was decided not to publish it, lest it should raise a mob about me, as well as themselves. I had several interviews with the then acting Editor, and I could not but appreciate his evident anxiety to appear to be right, even in my humble estimation. He suggested that if I could write an article very mild in its tone, so as to give no offense, he would publish it.
Accordingly, I tried my best to write a crisp statement, imbued with as much love and kindness as was compatible with truth; but it was not published in the succeeding issue; and I doubt if it was at all. In looking over the files of the Advocate printed the last year, and during the war, I find many articles in reference to this subject, which I think the Editors cannot review, and feel satisfied that they are characteristic of a Christian Advocate. And when they go abroad, and look over the remnants of the wasted Tribes, they can hardly have the satisfaction which Job experienced, when he said, "The blessing of them that were ready to perish came upon me."
Being a stranger at almost every place where I called, except in a very few instances, and not making myself known, I had many opportunities of learning what were the general sentiments in regard to the War and Slavery. I believe the mass of the people would deprecate both, if those who stood as their moral guides were more positive and truthful; but because they are so truckling and time serving, a few active speculators control the people, and incite war, or spread slavery at pleasure.
In Oregon City, I called on the Editor of the Oregonian, and having been told that he was, or had been, a minister, I hoped that by presenting the moral aspect of the war, he would at least modify his course. But he spoke as if moral principles were altogether a secondary consideration, and had nothing to do with Congress and with Politics. I left him to nurse and cherish his bitterness against Indians and the Catholics.
I also called on Mr. Adams of the Argus. After giving him the facts of the Rogue River war, he acknowledged that he had been misinformed, that he had thought the Indians had really commenced it. He wished to do justice, and manfully opened his columns. I availed myself of the opportunity, and promptly published through the Argus, an Address to the citizens of the Valley, and also several Letters, designed to illustrate the relative position of the Indians.
In the publications in the Argus and the Tribune, I stated nothing but what I personally knew to be true, or what was commonly reported to be so in the neighborhood where the occurrences were said to take place; and yet a late number of the Christian Advocate asserts that I have misrepresented the people of Southern Oregon, and it quotes from a Letter in which well-known facts are misrepresented, by a futile attempt to show that the Indians commenced the war. I should not allude to this but for the religious pretensions of the paper, and the wide influence it has among the numerous body of Christians to which it belongs. Any attempt, however indirect, from such a source, to cloak iniquity, and justify wrong, is nothing short of a public calamity. It stultifies moral principle; and while it hardens the Nation's heart against the death cries of a perishing people, it scatters broadcast a religion without love, and without power either to rebuke or control the worst passions that degrade the common character, and outrage the common rights of humanity itself.
While I was in Portland, the Steamer came up from Port Orford, with six hundred Indians, on their way to the Reserve. They consisted of men, women, and children, of all ages, and had been associated with the Rogue River Indians in the war. Many of them were nearly naked; but they appeared sprightly, and full of play, probably on account of their altered circumstances, being provided for, instead of being hunted and murdered. Many of the women, as well as the men, took the opportunity to bathe in the river. They are a strong, muscular people, and some of them had fine foreheads, indicative of good intellect; and doubtless, if provided with the means and motives, they would soon become as valuable citizens as the Dutch, Irish, or any other Emigrants that come to our shores.
I inquired of a gentleman in this vicinity in relation to the killing of the Chief, Peu-peu-mox-mox. He said that the Chief came over to the Whites under a flag of truce; but instead of being allowed to return, he was killed, and his body mutilated in the most horrid manner. The same gentleman informed me that there was a family, consisting of seven persons, parents and children, who did not wish to be with the war party, and they had put themselves under the protection of two white men, and were on their way to the Reserve, when they were met by a company of Volunteers, and put to death.
I also heard many particulars concerning the killing of Bolon, the Indian Agent. I will not dwell upon these points. It is enough to say that what I heard gave a very different impression from that given by Governor Stevens in his Letter and Proclamation, and quite the reverse of what the Oregon papers tried to establish.
CHAPTER XIII.I HAVE already alluded to the fact that Joel Palmer, Superintendent of the Indian Department in Oregon, took a position, in regard to the Indians, entirely opposed to that adopted by Governors Curry and Stevens; and when he desired to present his Plea in their behalf, the Legislature of Oregon not only passed a Resolution forbidding him the use of the house in order to present it before them, but sent a memorial to the President of the United States, praying for his removal from office.
DEPRAVED AND DEPRAVING CONDITIONS.
Gen. Palmer was formerly of Pennsylvania, a man of Quaker predilections, and a person of sound sense. He was loved and revered by the Indians, and by all who really knew him. Bold as a lion in the discharge of his duty, he stood alone against the highest officers and the most imposing bodies of men; and with the courage of a hero, and the zeal of a martyr, braved the popular rage in defense of a downtrodden people. For this he is turned from office, instead of being honored and approved. Yet there are those who know his worth; and they have expressed their estimation of the man in a series of Resolutions adopted in a public meeting assembled for the occasion.
But the most sorrowful, and, at the same time, most truthful expression, was given when Joel Palmer introduced his successor [Absalom F. Hedges] to the Indian Tribes. A gathering of the Chiefs and head men had been called for. These, with the Agents, were assembled under the shadow of some wide-spreading trees, as usual on such occasions; and they represented the five thousand, remnants of various tribes, who were then on the Reserve.
The pipe of peace passed round, and for a considerable time silence reigned. The dearest interests of all those people were, in a great measure, under the control of the Agent; but they had implicit confidence in him. They knew that others had held them in contempt, had sought to scatter and destroy them; but he had always been their friend, and, even at the risk of his life, had sought to gather and preserve them.
At length Mr. Palmer broke the silence, by informing them that it was the wish of the Great Father that he should cease to be their Agent. The announcement produced a shock not easily imagined, and which only those in similar circumstances can fully appreciate.
They had but recently been gathered on the Reserve, and owing to the peculiarities of the location, or change of diet, or from a reaction of excitement after the exertions and anxieties of war, scores had died of dysentery; and the impression had been to some extent prevalent that they had been poisoned by the Whites. They were not easily soothed, even by the kindness of Mr. Palmer; and, under the circumstances, a change of Agents was to them a subject of great alarm.
In introducing his successor, Mr. Palmer assured them that General H. would be to them a friend, and carry out the same measures for their improvement which he had commenced. The Chief, Old John, very significantly inquired, "if the same measures are to be carried out, why are you dismissed?"
The two Governors, as well as the Legislature of Oregon, also accused the good and brave General Wool of a lack of judgment and imbecility, because he would not sanction outrage and murder to a people who desired peace. This spirit is well shown in a scurrilous article which appeared in an Oregon paper, the Weekly Times, of September 20, 1856:
"GENERAL WOOL AND THE PEOPLE."The People of Oregon City, and other Points, had great rejoicings on the reception of the rumor that General Wool was to be superseded by General Harney [sic]. Cannons were fired, bonfires lighted, and a general rejoicing of the Citizens throughout the upper Willamette Valley. It is not certain that he has been superseded; but the expression of the People is conclusive evidence of their feelings of disgust for his career during this disastrous war. This feeling is general; it is confined to no party, sect, or condition. The women even partake of this spirit and feeling of disgust for his imbecile course in the war, and his unwarranted public abuse of our Citizens. We learn that the ladies contemplate making a silk petticoat and nightcap, trimmed with gold lace, to present him when he returns to Oregon."
I need not, and therefore shall not, attempt to offer a defense of General Wool. The pure nobleness of his character will do much to redeem from utter disgrace that page of our history which is foul with the shame of his traducers.
If what I have already presented is not sufficient to show the falsity of the assumption of the Oregon Christian Advocate, that I have misrepresented the people, let me lay before you a quotation from a Pacific paper, of an occurrence that took place since my leaving that coast.
The account relates to the Modocs, who occupy the country between the Humboldt and the headwaters of the Shasta and Rogue River valleys. They are outside the present settlements; and, if left undisturbed by Traders, Emigrants, and others, who go through their country, and, as already related, act the part of savages, they would never interfere with the Whites.
The Yreka Union (Northern California), says: "About thirty-five miles from this point, General Crosby, with Captain Williams in company, cut up a band of Indians, killing nine bucks, and capturing some thirty squaws and papooses, all of whom were liberated, except two squaws, who were brought to camp.
"On the 4th inst, General Crosby took Captain Martin's Company, with Adjutant General Templeton, Colonel Goodhue, and Major Walton, of his staff, and started on a scout. They returned yesterday to Head Quarters, having scoured some 150 miles of country. Several parties of Indians were seen, but they succeeded in getting off either on horseback or in boats, except one party whom we attacked in Tule Lake, by wading in the water, and holding up our rifles and revolvers. Most of them made their escape; but a strong wind blowing upon a lee shore enabled us to capture one boat, killing two bucks and a squaw, who fought with a bow and arrow. There are from six to eight hundred warriors out, who need to be cleared out the worst way."
I ask what enlightened American, who regards the honor of his name, does not feel an indignant throb at such a recital as the foregoing, even admitting that they had stolen beeves, as was alleged. Emigrants had previously destroyed their fish, stolen their horses, and murdered their people. Such communications offend both good feeling and good taste, alike by their revolting savageness and their weak and miserable vulgarity. Yet how many such spirits repose at home, unwhipped of justice, or walk abroad unscathed, and that in a land of Religion, Law, and civilization, in pious, Protestant, free, Democratic America. If there is any National character among us, what effect on will be produced by such habits as these?
Is it right to continue silent, and allow these marauders, under the high-sounding dignities of Generals, Majors, and Captains, to "scour" the country of these poor people, armed with rifles and revolvers, to plunder and murder a few disheartened men, who, with their helpless wives and little ones, have nothing but bows and arrows to defend themselves, and are struggling against wind and water only to get out of the way. Will this, and a thousand things like it, be honorable items for our future history? Mean and horrible as the account appears, it is in perfect keeping with nearly all [that] the Oregon papers have published on the subject since the commencement of the war. Such conduct is worthy only of the darkest ages, and the most miserable conditions. Bold, honest, self-relying Barbarism would despise it, and only the weakest and most contemptible savages could thus abuse and degrade themselves.
That such influences do deprave is seen everywhere in those regions where they occur. It is not the immediate results--the destruction of property and life, and the desolation of families, which are the greatest evils. There is a deep and widely spreading demoralization, which the exit of a generation can hardly erase. An anecdote which I remember will illustrate the truth of this. A few months ago I called on a neighbor in Oregon, and, upon asking a little boy for his father, he answered, "Pap's gone to kill Indians; and I am going to have a gun, and kill them, too, as soon 's I am big enough!"
Thus, tender little children are made inhuman; and, from disregarding the rights of Indians, they come, at length, to lose all sense of moral obligation in a highly energized selfishness that is far worse, and more revolting, than a spontaneous savageism or a natural brutality. I appeal, for the truth of this, to the people themselves--the daily details of the Pacific and California papers. Take the following, from one of the former, as a specimen:
"Society continues in a very disorganized state through out the Interior. The country journals are filled with accounts of numerous, daring robberies. From Mariposa to Yreka, the whole State is infested with gangs of footpads and mounted highwaymen. Few travelers can pass with out being attacked, or threatened, by these Desperadoes."
But the loss of moral principle is not only apparent in these outbreaks, but also in a general tendency to corruption. The election franchise is bought and sold; Patriotism is perverted; Justice and Truth are lost sight of; and only the spoils of Party decorate the goal, toward which the Candidates and their Supporters rush with infuriated haste, that sweeps down, and tramples under foot, the unprotected Public Good, while private emolument becomes the object of highest ambition. And think not, because the subject we have been discussing, relates directly to the people beyond the Rocky Mountains, that, therefore, they only are to blame; or that they have, abstractly, less regard for social order and social law than their brethren in the States. This is not so; but just in proportion as principles of injustice or inhumanity are patronized by public sentiment, the individuals who compose the elements of that community must become inhuman and depraved. Have not the friends of Right and Good Order something to consider in this significant fact something to look after, and to question, if, peradventure, the leaven be not found working in their midst? Every departure from fundamental principles of Right must influence, with more or less direct power, all human society. Central America and the Isles of the sea are made to feel it; and the massacre in Panama, and the war in Oregon, are some of its legitimate results.
The Negroes of the South are not the only victims of Slavery. The Indians also are, more or less, victims of the slave spirit that has crept into our national councils, and controls all the machinery of our Government. This is the mote that blinds the clear eye: this is the wrong that palsies the strong hand; this is the Hydra that despoils us of our own rights--that tramples Humanity under foot, and leads Justice away captive. And it is precisely because our consciousness is thus perverted, that we cannot see the great wrong we are doing to the Indians. We are not merely encroaching on their territory, driving them from their homes, and destroying them by repeated violations of all natural and national law; but we are murdering their reputation. We are, by every means, degrading them, and thus crushing out the self-respect, and blasting the honor, which, to a true Indian, is always precious.
Even their religious teachers are not altogether exempt from this wrong. Though many of them are zealous and devoted in their labors of reform, yet results show that there is a fatal mistake somewhere, that serves to neutralize the best intentions and the most earnest efforts. Arduous have been the labors and great the privations of many who have consecrated themselves; and yet, if we take their own testimony, the measure of success is not commensurate with the sacrifices incurred.
Of all the Churches, I believe the Methodists have had the longest and most extensive experience in Missionary labors among the Indians. Their Report, presented at the last Annual Conference by the Committee on Missions, is conclusive on this subject, as the following extracts will show:
"So far as the moral condition of the Indians is concerned, it will answer our present purpose to say that they are wretched heathen, in the lowest depths of moral degradation.
"But it is also true that there remains to be seen among them but slight traces of the moral benefit which, it was hoped, these astonishing sacrifices and labors would confer. They are almost, if not quite, as degraded and destitute of everything embraced in morality, civilization, and religion, as they were when the first Missionary to this land found them in their nakedness, their ignorance, and their pollution."
And this is a Report of that Civilization that has depraved them with its vices, and maddened them with its crimes--that has without warrant invaded their dominions, robbed them of their lands, made them outlaws in their own country, hunted them in their own woods, murdered them on their own hearthstones, violated their homes, and thrust the plow into their sepulchers, until its very corn becomes a vampire, and sucks up the sacred ashes of their Fathers' Graves!
And have we not done, or sanctioned the doing, of all this, and more than could be here repeated? Who can wonder, then, that they are as bad, or even worse, than they were before they became involved in all these false relations. That they are, as a general thing, more degraded than they were in their original barbarism, is, I believe, admitted by all intelligent observers; and that, too, after millions of money have been squandered, according to the Missionaries' own statement, only to harden and debase them.
There must then be some radical error in their treatment; and this becomes the more certain when we consider that simple moral means, combined with the arts and graces of a true Christian life, under ordinary circumstances, never fail to develop and refine them. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, I would respectfully suggest a thorough reorganization, and entire change of forces. Let them, at least, have a religion that will not insult their common sense, by presenting itself with Whisky and Creeds in one hand, and Bibles and Bowie knives in the other.
CHAPTER XIV.I TOOK passage on board the Columbia, from Portland to San Francisco. There were on board two young Indian men, who had been up, with their fellows, to act as interpreters for General Palmer, and were returning to the Coast to accompany others who were preparing to come on the Reserve.
AFFAIRS AND ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA.
As they slept in berths not far from the one I occupied, I had a good opportunity to notice their demeanor; and I was pleased to see how careful they were to observe all the proprieties of civilized life. They were very decently clothed, and regular in morning ablutions, as carefully arranging their toilet before the glass as the most refined among us. They were reserved, or I should rather say dignified in their manners, never obtrusive, but at the same time ready to communicate with those who addressed them; yet they were haughtily and contemptuously treated by some on board, and were even excluded from the table. This was with a very ill judgment, as it seemed to me, for the grossest and lowest Hoosiers were admitted; and even common decency was, in many cases, quite disregarded, while, on the other hand, the manners of those young men really would not disgrace a court. I particularly noticed one drunken man, who seemed to regard them with a supreme contempt, as he vociferated; "I am from the best blood in Virginia!" A look at this lofty sprig of humanity presented a striking contrast to his words; for he appeared a living mass of corruption, with a rum nose, bleared eyes, and tobacco juice dribbling from each corner of his mouth. He was the greatest point against himself that I ever saw in my life, and would be worth a score of stump lecturers against the special claims of a hereditary nobility. But there are many such, especially in the South and Southwest. They have but to announce themselves, and the illustration which they present is irresistible.
On arriving in San Francisco I found the whole city in commotion. The Vigilance Committee had just put down the constituted Authorities. They had taken possession of a block of buildings as their Head Quarters; and on two streets leading to it had raised a bulwark of sandbags, well mounted with cannon. Several notorious assassins had been hung; others were imprisoned, and many reckless men were banished from the country. These measures were considered necessary, on account of the general corruption and frauds of those in office.
I called on the Editor, to whom I had written from Rogue River Valley; but he said he had received no letters with my signature. I then visited several of the principal Editors, and endeavored to present the claims of the Indians; but owing to the difficulties in which their City and State were involved, as well as the fact that the Oregon papers had been so unanimous in their one-sided statement, all of them were utterly averse to admit anything on the subject. It seemed to be taken for granted that the war was right, and that although General Wool was held in high esteem, he might have been mistaken in his views.
I was much pained to find such a state of affairs; for my great hope of stopping the mutual murders, and inaugurating a happier influence, was through the California Press. My funds being exhausted, I was under the necessity of staying in San Francisco two months before I could procure the means for further travel. During that time, I learned much of the condition of the Indians in various parts of the country. I often inquired of Miners, and others whom I met with in the city, in regard to their treatment, and means of subsistence. The sum total of their testimony was to the effect that remnants of once powerful tribes are, with few exceptions, greatly abused, being in the condition of a disinherited family of children, treated as unwelcome strangers in the place that gave them birth, and punished as transgressors on their paternal domains. They are thus reduced to beggary, and yet despised for being poor. They are forced or seduced into the lowest depths of civilized vice, and then punished for their depravity. With no encouragement to improve, and no means of self-elevation, they are accused of being indolent, and reported as incapable of progress. Every item I heard or read, in relation to public wrongs, kept my sympathies alive, and sometimes wounded to the quick. My soul yearned; and I wondered how it was that the deplorable condition of the Aborigines could neither be seen nor felt by the Philanthropists and Reformers of the land.
With this feeling largely predominant, I wrote an Appeal to the Press of California, and urged upon that body, by every consideration of humanity and religion, that they should take up the subject, and write in behalf of justice and mercy for the poor Indians. The article was taken to the most religious and influential paper in the State, the California Christian Advocate. Three days afterward I was informed that it was not admissible in their columns.
Cast down, but not discouraged, I wrote different Articles, and took them respectively to the Chronicle and Town Talk. These expressed some good feeling, but thought that the subject was foreign, and not of sufficient interest for their papers. The Bulletin Editors spoke kindly, as did also those of the True Californian, and promised to interest themselves in the cause, as soon as the more pressing difficulties in which their city was involved should subside.
Having a copy of the Oregon Argus, containing the "Address to Citizens of Rogue River Valley," I gave it to the Editor of the Western Standard, in which paper it was republished, as well as several other articles relative to the same subject.
I was among strangers, and had as yet met with none who seemed fully to appreciate the peculiarities of my position, or who were disposed to aid the great object which circumstances had called upon me to advance. In taking a walk one evening, and in deep thought as to what course I should pursue, I noticed an assembly in the basement of the "Pilgrims' Church," and, with others, I entered to spend an hour. Years had intervened since I was in a meeting where the harmonious song of praise, and the soul-inspiring prayer were so grateful as on that occasion. The Minister, Rev. Mr. [Edward Silas] Lacy, seemed a genial spirit; and I also was impelled to give utterance to my feelings.
After this, many friends expressed sympathy; and through the kindness of Mr. Lacy, I was introduced to the Rev. Mr. Brady [I. H. Brayton], Editor and Proprietor of two papers, The Pacific, and The Evening Post. This gentleman, with the full, comprehensive benevolence of a Christian Philanthropist, grasped the subject; and by publishing Articles and Editorials did much, with other papers that also opened their columns, to arouse public benevolence in a right direction.
I also met with several merchants, and other prominent citizens from Rogue River Valley, some of whom had been my opponents, and were deeply involved in war indemnities. Nevertheless, without exception, they each expressed toward me hearty kindness, and were earnest in solicitation for my return to the Valley, assuring me of safety and protection.
I felt when they spoke how pleasant it would be again to dwell in my own domicile, to sit by my own hearthstone, in company with wife, and son, and friends, and to rest from strife and oppression; for I had learned from experience, that to wage a warfare at one's own expense, in behalf of a despised Race, and against popular prejudice, was hard work sailing against wind and tide. But I had counted the cost, and thus was prepared to stand by what ever results were to be obtained.
CHAPTER XV.ON THE 5th of September, 1856, I took leave of my good friends in California, and especially the Rev. Messrs. Lacy and Brayton, Mr. Woodward of the What Cheer House, the Proprietors of the Hilliard Temperance House, and other gentlemen, by whose liberality I was furnished with Free Tickets to New York, worth two hundred dollars.
VARIOUS OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.
Having heard of the disturbance in which several lives were lost at Panama, I was interested to learn upon the spot the cause of the difficulty; but upon arriving there, we were no sooner landed than the cars were ready, leaving me no resource but to look at the huts, the people, and the tropical scenery, with short and rapid flights of thought and fancy, as we glanced along.
During the journey we made one or two halts, when I noticed that the Natives were generally of good size, with rather pleasant-looking features, and apparently well-fed though not corpulent. They were cheerful and disposed to trade, having a variety of ornaments and eatables for sale. We saw no cultivated fields, and scarcely the appearance of a garden, but abundance of tropical fruits, such as the yam, the date, and coconut, which form their chief subsistence. Since I have heard that our Government demands indemnity of this people, on account of the disturbance, I have wondered what conditions could have induced Yam and Coconuts to challenge a fight with Pork and Beans.
In Aspinwall the people are mostly from the Island of Jamaica; and they appeared to me more shrewd and capable of making headway than the colored people of the States. At least I never saw so many of this class together before. They are all independent traders, and seem determined to make a living in their vocation.
I arrived in New York on the 27th of September; and as the vessel touched the pier I was reminded of my varied experience, since I first stepped on shore from Liverpool, 26 years ago. On that occasion I had spent only part of a day in the city, and had never been in it since; and now, though a stranger amid its busy throngs, I felt comparatively at home, and familiar with the general history, the stirring questions, and the names and positions of public men, and a lively interest in the success of its free Institutions, and its beneficent measures. In short, I now felt more sensibly, by contrast, the true spirit and power of adoption; for on my first arrival in the country, I knew nothing of this great fraternizing sense of community in what I saw; but everything was new, and strange, and blank.
But in the main object of my visit I was again doomed to disappointment. The Papers and the People were all filled up and absorbed by the affairs of Kansas and the Presidential Election; and there seemed no use in any attempt to invoke attention and sympathy for a people beyond the Mountains.
For several weeks I attended various churches on the Sabbath, and many political meetings of different parties on the week days, from all of which I received a deep impression that there is, generally, an earnest desire that Justice should rule the Nation. Human Brotherhood was a favorite topic with some, while others, who differ both in politics and religion, were, nevertheless, advocating Human Rights,.and devising plans for broad benevolence. I could see all around me the struggling effort for a better condition; but the main difficulty appeared to be the best means for its attainment. Philanthropy seemed active in response to every call. In the rostrum and the pulpit, the claims of various departments of humanitary effort were set forth in vivid colors, and before assembled multitudes; while the Press teemed with arguments for efficient application. The various political parties, and social reformers, had each their Organizations. Societies and periodicals were in operation for the benefit of the colored population. Women, also, had their conventions, and the Poor of every grade, their friends. My heart sympathized with all these; but my joy was marred by the consideration, that there was a whole Race, natives of our soil, in circumstances demanding deep commiseration; and yet not one word or whisper could I hear in their behalf.
Various objections were made; but the chief one was this, that the Races cannot live together--that even if the Indians scrupulously observed treaty stipulations, others would not; and consequently war and enmity must continue.
Such a sentiment we should blush to hear, and scorn to encourage. Is it not a virtual acknowledgment that our People are more trifling and faithless than savages, that our Government has less power to restrain transgression than theirs? and that, as a Nation, we are so destitute both of moral principle and power, that we can maintain our integrity only with Peoples that are strong enough to enforce observance at our hands? If such a sentiment were to obtain general acceptance, the Nations of the Earth would be inclined to hold our Republican forms in low esteem; while the weaker communities of Mankind would think of us as bullies and cowards, possessing but little magnanimity, and no religion.
And yet, mortifying as this acknowledgment is, it is not only made on the Frontiers, but assented to, to a lamentable extent. The great idea, or rather fact, of popular sovereignty, has been perverted by sectional portions of our country, for practices completely subversive of the principles by which the whole people have engaged to be governed. And this is why I address, and urge this Appeal to the Nation at large. The question comes home to every man's conscience. Shall we be silent or indifferent, while a fractional portion of the community, in the name, and with the means of the whole, persistently compromises and tramples on the National honor and good faith, by multiplied aggressions, and determined destruction, toward a people whom we are bound, by every principle of even common justice, to cherish and protect? Let the emphatic NO sound long and loud, until the WILL of a mighty People shall dare assert itself to be known and felt throughout the length and breadth of our vast domain.
The false relations which have given birth to such deplorable results, as are seen everywhere west of the Mountains, mainly grow out of false views of the moral and intellectual nature of Man. The grand mistake is that brute force, which is addressed to the lower faculties, is everywhere recognized as the basis, not only of law and legal action, but of social and civil institutions, instead of such means as will rouse and call forth the higher powers. But all experience proves that one good action will do more toward the amelioration of a savage people, than the combined force of all the armies in Christendom. I will relate an anecdote in point..
Some years ago, a small Tribe of Indians, being passengers on board one of our Lake Steamers, one of the number, a woman, fell overboard, and would have been drowned, but for the Mate of the Vessel, who risked his own life to save her. The generous act had a salutary effect on the Tribe, and was warmly applauded by all the leading papers in the country. It is only low and groveling minds that cannot appreciate the act as the promptings of a noble and generous nature, akin to his who "went about doing good."
No doubt that worthy man enjoyed a full reward, in seeing the grateful emotions of these poor people, for the restoration of a wife or mother to her family and friends; but this was only a small part of the good performed, and the happiness enjoyed. It was a good to all who heard or read of the circumstance, because it was an appeal to the higher faculties, and by sympathy imparted strengthening and pleasurable exercise to what constitutes the purest joy and glory of man.
And O, what an amount of peace, and good will, and general happiness, and national elevation we might attain, if all were imbued with a similar spirit; while, on the other hand, for the want of it, we may justly attribute the necessity of standing armies, and the occurrence of wars, with all their miseries, together with the culture and predominance of the Animal instead of the true Human Nature.
Again, there is a prevalent belief that the Indians are doomed to fall away and perish from the track of Civilization--that it is in the order of Nature; and, therefore, it is not worthwhile to attempt to save them. But let us inquire what destiny or law of Nature can exist for such a purpose. The approach of Civilization does not annihilate or poison the natural elements. Earth, air, and water continue the same; and therefore altered nature does not destroy. And even if civilization was forced upon them, so as to bring them at once under its conventionalities and restraints, even this change, great as it would be, could not, in my humble opinion, cause their destruction. It is a well-known fact that animals become acclimated and live in extremely unnatural conditions; while it is admitted on all hands that Man has the power of acclimation, and adaptation to ungenial circumstances, in a far greater degree than any of the inferior animals. I will, then, venture the assertion that it is not Civilization that destroys, but the more highly energized Savageism that creeps under its mantle, usurps its prerogative, and does unspeakable wrongs and mischiefs in its name. In short, it is that same spirit, that has no independent absolute integrity, but, by its own confession, disregards treaties, and tramples them under foot, whenever it can do so with impunity. Let us look at the plain facts, and see if this is not so. We have robbed them of their lands; we have invaded their homes; and while we have refused them sufficient protection from our own, we have withheld from them the right of Self-Government. We have appropriated every choice spot west of the Mountains for our own use, and, in many instances, have put them under the control of Agents whose acts declare them the enemies of the Race. Let me illustrate this by an anecdote. I inquired of a gentleman in relation to the Reserve, on which they were collecting the Indians; and he answered that it was "only fit for a Reserve." By this I inferred that the country was of such a character as neither Whites nor Indians would choose to live upon. Need we wonder that the Indian Tribes pine away and die, when we see them crowded together in a small compass, consisting chiefly of hills and ravines unfit for culture, and therefore alike ungenial to the Savage and the Civilized?
Let us imagine what would be the chance for longevity, if the inhabitants of any of our cities were compelled to move, en masse, and take up their abode within some circumscribed limits of our mountain ranges, which are not yet occupied by man, and where the passes are all guarded by Forts, and armed by hostile soldiers, to prevent escape. Let us fancy them cut off from all the world, deprived of their liberty, and though supplied with food, yet of a different and less congenial quality than their accustomed diet. Let us think of them thus confined, without local attraction, without occupation, without motive for exertion or encouragement to improve, and all these evils enhanced by the oppressive and debasing consciousness of being hated and despised by the whole world.
And for the sake of the argument, setting aside all extra acts of oppression, robbery, and murder, whether single or wholesale, who does not see that a people thus placed, without commerce and without hope, would soon deteriorate, and under the influence of wasting diseases forced upon them from without, would gradually perish from the Earth? Yet these circumstances certainly are not the essential attributes or adjuncts of Civilization, but absolutely the reverse. In all these facts, and many more like them, there is direct proof, that whenever a savage Tribe declines and subsides from the path of a more highly advanced people, it is not owing to the Civilization, but because of the more strongly armed selfishness which it organizes, and carries along with it. To this, then, the remedy should be applied; and being so, it would be felt to the very heart's core of our own People.
The Indians also labor under another difficulty, not less formidable than the last mentioned, and that is, the cold indifference that is felt toward them, on the ground of their obstinate unbelief. Knowing this, as I do, I should not be just were I to omit a plea for them in this particular.
Let us for a moment consider, that, although the Indians may not have a Bible, or a knowledge of the Written Word, it by no means follows that they are destitute of divine inspiration and of religious principle; for we should bear in mind that they who wrote our own Bible, had, previously, none to read. And yet we learn that Enoch walked with God, that Abraham was the friend of God, that Moses observed the Law before it was written, and that men of old were moved by the Holy Ghost, before Prophets spoke. Thus we have the strongest proof from the Bible itself, that inspiration, and the knowledge of God, are not derived from it alone.
Moreover, the Scriptures plainly declare that there is "a light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world," and that "God is no respecter of persons." What presumption, then, it must be, to suppose that the Indians are purely savage, and to treat them without any regard to their religion, their conscience, or their sense of moral right.
It is true that their creed is not written in a book; neither have they temples built with hands, nor any idea of a Triune God, or of a Mediator through whom to approach and conciliate the Majesty on High. But they have, on their own mountains and valleys, the same Presence that dwelt with Moses, and Daniel, and the Prophets on the mountains and valleys of Palestine. The bright sun, and the fertilizing rain, are, to their simple minds, ministers of blessing. They look up to the blue canopy and meditate on the starry heavens; they bask on the sunny hillside, or recline under the spreading trees; they retire into the deep aisles of the forest, and find there God's solemn temples, where the babbling brook, the sighing zephyr, and singing birds, all have ministries of love and worship; and with them they unite, in adoration of the Great Spirit, whose informing presence animates the whole, and in whom the Indian, as well as the Christian, lives, and moves, and has his being.
They have, then, a faith, and a creed, and the book of God, as revealed in Nature, always open before them. They read, and reflect, and have imbibed a Theology, that is not only sacred to them, but has also that vital element which we suppose belongs exclusively to religious faith; for it is a source of hope in trouble, of courage in conflict, and of triumph in death.
In short, for many reasons, our religion is to them not only incomprehensible, but revolting and absurd; and not merely this is true, but the conduct of those who offer it, in many cases, affords the strongest arguments against it. Indians are quick to perceive that the White Man's Book will be of no benefit to them, since, with the Sacred Volume in their houses, and its precepts in their mouths, they are despoiled of their possessions, and driven from their homes. They cannot perceive the superiority of a religion whose professors are not only robbing and murdering, but destroying them with debauchery and drunkenness. How should they--how could they--if they have any sense of right or truth in them, turn from the religion of their Fathers, and from the hope of their whole lives, for a system that is incomprehensible to their intellect, subversive of their interests, and, to the last degree, odious and revolting to their moral consciousness and native nobility of soul?
We shall be better able to appreciate the force of their objections, if we only think how we ourselves should feel, if a more powerful people should take possession of our country, spread themselves in overwhelming numbers over our cities and villages, devouring our substance and treating us with contempt, and at the same time requiring us to forsake our religion, demolish our churches, tear down our schoolhouses, and adopt a faith which we could not comprehend, and ceremonies and habits which we could not approve. Would not all this be to us what it has heretofore been to the Natives of this continent, as well as to the Islanders of the Pacific, a violence, a sacrilege, and a death blow?
Now as there is a certain correspondence and relationship in all things naturally associated, it follows that human beings must be somewhat in accordance with the surroundings of their nativity and growth. Hence, geographical characteristics make an impress upon the inhabitants of every clime. It is, therefore, not possible, that the Indians, inhaling as they do an atmosphere of resplendent purity, and surrounded by objects of loveliness, of which they are close and attentive observers, can be without high aspirations, and the elements of intellectual and moral power considerably developed. When first visited by the Whites, they were a numerous, but healthy and happy people, divided into Tribes, each held within its own acknowledged limits, but all united for general defense and common national interests. They had their laws and officials, and a government adapted to their circumstances. They were credulous, hopeful, and anxious for improvement. So much, indeed, did they desire this that, years ago, the Churches were electrified by the news that a Delegation of Indians from West of the Rocky Mountains had come to the States for Religious Teachers. Who can conceive the extent of that sacrilege, when vice and depravity, in all their horrid forms, stalked forth into such a country, and among such a people!
Happy should I be if I could leave this topic without another thought; but having witnessed the dire effects of error, and the cruel crushings of prejudice, I feel that a necessity is laid upon me for their exposure. It seems strange, but, nevertheless, it is true, that in this age of light, and in this land of liberty, men have spoken and written, have preached and prayed for the extermination of the Indians, because, forsooth, they are Pagans and we are Christians! The absurdity of this will appear, if those who are thus engaged would consider how few real Christians there are, even among those who call themselves by that name; and how monstrous it would appear were they to pray for their removal from the Earth on that account!
The Indians have their own myths, it is true; but they are eminently spiritual; and we should not condemn them because they are so constituted as to demand rational solutions of whatever is presented to them as truth. They read intelligently the writing of the Great Spirit in all exterior nature, as well as in the human soul. The tints of the flower, the cells and fibers of the leaf, the granules of the rock, and the veins of the wood, are poems--hymns--sermons--not of unmeaning and lifeless words, that fall coldly on the ear, like flakes of spring snow, only to dissolve and pass away, but living utterances of that great Interior Life, which, in all they see, and hear, and know, they recognize, and honor, and adore. This great sentiment of veneration, which is, in itself, a fountain of love and praise, pervades the whole character of the true Indian. It informs, it inspires, it exalts him. Think, then, how impossible it must be for him to exchange this august worship, that has grown with his growth, and strengthened with his strength, for any of those dogmas, which are so far from satisfying Christianity itself, that they have cut into the very heart of the Church, dividing it into hostile factions, armed with deadly hatred against each other, until its history, in almost every age, has been dyed crimson with the blood of the Faithful.
Let us, then, first seek to conciliate each other, that WE may meet on some common ground of toleration and good fellowship before we dare to brand the Indian as a heathen, because he questions any or all of those dogmas that are bandied about from sect to sect, and made brands of contention throughout all Christendom.
I do not wish to be understood as holding up the religious creed of the Indians as being superior to Christianity, but only to show the abundant reason there is for liberality toward them, and at the same time a candid consideration of our own belief; for while many of the testimonies which we accept without a question as valid and sole evidences were derived from circumstances and documents originating thousands of years ago, and transmitted through many changing and dubious channels, the Indian gets the elements of his faith fresh from the handwriting of his Maker. It is presented to him in the ever-open book of Nature. It is renewed with every returning spring; and comes forth clear and bright in the light of every morning sun.
CHAPTER XVI.I SHOULD not do justice were I to pass unnoticed another item in the Report of the Methodist Committee on Missions, to which I have already given some attention. It is as follows: "For them a Whitman and his devoted wife laid down their lives, receiving the death blow from the murderous hands of those who were the objects of their sincerest benefactions."
DRUGS, AND DRUG TREATMENT.
In the connection in which this paragraph stands in the Report, it would seem to indicate that the Indians are not only ungrateful, but almost fiend-like in their wanton and malignant cruelty. This fact is made one of the strongest points against them, by their enemies, everywhere. Without saying one word, at present, concerning the superior privileges which we, as a civilized and Christian people, enjoy, of killing Indians with impunity, and at pleasure, or of the provocation, real or supposed, which moved them to this act, it will be only necessary to glance at the history of all Nations, to find that this is not a signal instance. We read of Prophets being slain, and Benefactors and Reformers of every age being put to death. There is hardly a Christian sect--at least of the old orthodox school--but has had its victims and its martyrs; and if the robes of the Church are not crimson altogether, it is only because the blood stains have faded away in the darkness of remote time.
I have even now before me in papers of the latest dates, accounts of men, both black and white, being whipped to death--not killed by a sudden outbreak of impetuous passion, but by repeated acts of deliberate torture. And this cruel outrage was not inflicted as a punishment for crimes but for the exercise of the noblest virtues--worthy even of Lafayette, and other patriots who aided our Fathers, and whom we still delight to honor--for they sought to lift up and reenfranchise the plundered bondman. But should we not consider it unjust if other nations should be continually proclaiming that we, as a whole people, are guilty of these shameful and cowardly deeds?
In the case of Whitman, the murderers suffered the penalty of the law, the Chiefs exerting themselves for their arrest, and the whole public sentiment among them deploring the apparent act of ingratitude toward those whose memory they still cherish among their dearest benefactors. It is, therefore, not only unjust, but cruel and ungenerous to stereotype and spread abroad this story, especially as the people to whose prejudice it is related are already undeservedly low in public estimation, and have no means of refuting the slander, with its tacit falsehood, so as to place themselves in a true position before the public mind.
It would have been more noble, more generous, and every way more worthy of a true "Christian Advocate," to keep entire silence, not only about the Whitman murder, but in regard to everything about the Indians, unless it would give the palliating as well as the aggravating causes of their acts, and of their present condition.
Since the story of a murdered missionary is so calculated to induce hardness, and justify apathy against those who are supposed to be so desperately depraved and ungrateful, it is worthwhile to dwell a little on this part of the subject. I believe that no circumstance in the history of our Indian Relations has been more misunderstood and perverted than the case to which I allude.
As a preliminary, I will observe that by the administration of poisons, and various nostrums under the name of medicine, which have no congeniality with life and health--a vast, and even incalculable amount of misery is wrought in the world; and, taking the authority of some who stand among the highest of the Medical Profession, we may fairly believe that, as a general thing, they do more harm than good.
We shall now see how it was that, through the lamentable error of this practice, the good Dr. Whitman lost his life. He had assiduously devoted himself to the improvement of the Indians, not only in Literature and Religion, but also in the culture of grains, roots, and fruits, and in various mechanic arts. They, on the other hand, justly regarded him with love and veneration, as their best friend; and though, as a general thing, they object to medicine, yet such was their confidence that they occasionally took it from his hands.
At length the measles became prevalent among them; and, as usual with malignant types under drug treatment, the disease was very fatal, and great numbers of them died. They had sometimes been imposed upon by unprincipled men, and this fact kept their suspicions on the alert. At one time, during the prevalence of the smallpox, they were provided with bottles of water flavored with peppermint, and assured of its efficiency to cure, for which they were defrauded of quite a number of horses; but they had too much sagacity and fineness of observation, not to perceive the imposition very soon, and too strong a sense of injustice not to treasure up the circumstance in the chronicles of their unfailing memory. On several occasions they have been purposely poisoned with strychnine; and now that they saw Death in their midst, their little children and their strong men alike perishing before their eyes, it was a time of great affliction and alarm.
Dr. Whitman, though well beloved, had, nevertheless, outside enemies, some of whom went among the Tribes and insinuated that his medicines poisoned them, offering to demonstrate the fact. A portion of something, said to be from the Doctor, was given to a healthy person; and in a few minutes he was dead.
The proof was, to them, indisputable; but still the Chiefs demurred, hesitating to enforce the law under which their own Medicine Men, in every case where there is the least suspicion of a failure through inefficiency in the practitioner, are put to death. But just at this time the wife of one of their headmen died. Frantic with grief and excitement, the bereaved husband seized an axe, and with others ran to the mission house and committed the fatal deed. But afterward they mourned the death of those whom they had so much revered; and to this day the name of Whitman is cherished with affectionate remembrance by the Tribes for whom he labored.
It must be acknowledged that this was a lamentable affair, for which the Indians were made to suffer severely. But taking all the circumstances into consideration, there are some palliations. It could not, at the worst, have been considered murder in the first degree, nor would it have been so decided by an impartial Judge in any Civil Court. In the second place, it was only an outburst of popular excitement, the like of which often occurs in the States, and was especially frequent during the last year in Kansas, and south of the Ohio River.
But there is another consideration of still greater weight, and that is the almost certainty that the Doctor did give drugs of a poisonous nature, in consequence of which his patients died. Far be it from me to reflect on the memory of the Blessed in an unbecoming manner; but for the benefit of the Living the actions of the Departed, especially when they touch upon any great and important questions, may be properly and fairly canvassed, whether they appear right or wrong.
Everyone knows, or should know, that the Measles is a disease that shows itself upon the skin, and is simply a healthy effort of the life principle to cast off the impurity, and thus restore the body to health. If the patient is in the exercise, or under the direction of common sense, he generally gets well in a few days, and is really better for the process. The skin should be kept clean and comfortable, by frequent and thorough ablutions, with abstinence in diet, and a plentiful supply of drink, such as catnip tea, thin gruel, or pure water, whichever is most agreeable; and with this simple treatment there seldom occurs either danger or delay.
The usual course of Drug treatment consists of nitre, or sulphur, sometimes drastic purges, with a blister on the side, the lance in the arm, or leeches on the temples, a little morphine, now and then, to allay the pain, and secure sleep, and afterward a dose of calomel and jalap to move the bowels, with occasional doses of castor oil to regulate the same; nor is it to be wondered at that by this mode the patient is always injured and sometimes killed outright. Thus Dr. Whitman, with hosts of other learned Doctors, with the best intentions toward the human family, has yet unwittingly cursed it with a medical practice by which thousands are annually sent to untimely graves, while the minds of the living are beclouded with error.
In proof that this is not a mere assertion, I appeal to the Law and to the Testimony. Here we shall find that Moses prescribed nothing more than wholesome diet, fresh air, and frequent ablutions, with a few simple observances designed to aid the faith of the sufferer. Even that terrible scourge, the leprosy, to which the Jews had been subject, was effectually subdued by these means. The Assyrian Captain was directed to wash in Jordan, and was made whole.
And of all the cures that took place under the ministrations of the Apostles, or of Christ, no prescriptions of drugs were given, and nothing but faith in the recuperative power of Nature, under proper influences, was required. It is true that on one occasion Jesus spat on clay, and anointed the eyes of a blind man; and doubtless in the absence of a pocket handkerchief, or napkin dipped in water, a little cold, moistened clay was the most natural means for the cure of inflamed eyes. But even here faith was a prerequisite; and hence the question, "Dost Thou believe I can do this?"
I would observe here that anciently, both among Jews and Gentiles, the healing art was associated with the Priesthood. Jesus also inculcated the same thing; and hence, when he gave his last solemn commission to his successors, he coupled "healing the sick" with "preaching the Gospel." Both were commanded in the same breath, the one just as much as the other.
There is reason to believe that the healing of the sick was an important part of the Gospel dispensation, and while I am writing this, I am impressed with the thought that the amelioration of man's physical condition, was the first object aimed at both in the mission and the command of Jesus Christ. Of course intellectual elevation and spiritual life were contemplated as ulterior and necessary results When John wished to know whether Jesus was the Christ, the proofs given in answer were, that the Deaf heard, the Lame walked, the Blind saw, and the Poor had the Gospel preached to them.
It is evident from this, that the true Gospel was originally supposed to consist in works of active goodness in physical, as well as spiritual renovation. Unfortunately, this fact seems to be almost wholly lost sight of by modern Teachers, who would find, by experiment, that the use of soap and water, with a competent knowledge of the simplest laws of life and health, would be powerful adjuncts to their Creeds and Catechisms, and should, in fact, precede them, since, in the true order of development, the man must be unfolded before the Christian. Otherwise, the natural law of growth is subverted; and foliage, flowers, and fruit are unseasonably expected, before the root and trunk have had time to grow.
We read of the Prophets, and especially Moses, who wrote the Law, and fixed the penalties. In his earnestness to secure obedience, he brought to bear all the social and natural evils that imagination could conceive of; and yet he never seems to have thought of anything farther than those just retributions, which are the fruit of wrong. Sin brings its own punishment. The penalty cannot be escaped; and is not this simple truth better calculated to inspire sentiments of justice, and respect for the Divine Government, than all the exaggerations that language can express of an angry God, and endless torture? It is, therefore, but reasonable to infer, that the figurative language of Scripture has been perverted, in the dark ages, by those who were too ignorant and selfish to apply the Gospel for the benefit of the people at large, particularly the poor and the suffering, to whom it was especially sent; and, as aside from this, there was no apparent object for which it need be preached, one was invented for the occasion. On the low plane of thought and feeling to which it was addressed, combining the darkness and violence of the feudal character, with the revengeful spirit of Heathen Myths out of which the human mind had, as yet, hardly grown, this revolting idea was but too well received.
We have already seen that the Indians have a creed and a faith which should command respect, and that no substitute which Sectarians has presented could be of benefit to them. We have also seen that the medical practice, as exhibited by Dr. Whitman, was followed by the most disastrous results, and that it was contrary both to Moses and Christ. The following quotation, which I take from a medical work now before me, will show that the Indians are more true to nature in the treatment of disease, and therefore more successful than some of their White Instructors.
Dr. Gilbert B. Champlin, formerly of the United States Army, says: "In the year 1813, while the army lay near to Buffalo, a body of friendly Indians were encamped at no great distance from the main army. Information was received that the smallpox had broken out among them, and that three or four of the surgeons, or mates, were to be detached to go and attend upon them. The order soon came, and I chanced to be one of the number. We repaired with promptness to the Indian camp, and commenced our medical treatment, according to the Books; for at that time I knew nothing but what I learned from recognized authorities. Cathartics, febrifuges, diaphoretics, etc., etc., were given, in hopes to allay the violence of the virus. But we soon found ourselves in trouble, from a new and unexpected circumstance.
"In spite of all our exertions, some of the Indians would go and plunge head foremost into a neighboring creek of cold water, in some instances when the eruption was at its height. We remonstrated with the Chiefs of the Tribes. We begged and entreated them to prevent such awful practices. We told them they would surely die, but all such persuasions proved of no avail. They continued the bath daily in spite of us.
"It was finally arranged that I should be dispatched to the Surgeon General, to lay our grievances before him, and obtain his instructions on the matter. I accordingly waited upon him, and told him that nearly half our patients were plunging into cold water, once or twice daily. He agreed with me that they would stand a great chance to die, saying, at the same time, 'They are an untamable set of creatures. You must go back, sir, and do with them the best you can.' I immediately returned, and continued treatment according to the Books. But in spite of our learning, power, and skill, a number that we treated died. But to the astonishment of us all, every one of them that plunged into cold water recovered! Their skin was less pitted, and they came up strong and well."
I knew of a Tribe in '52, among whom the venereal disease was prevalent. The males refused to take medicine, but bathed frequently and got well; while the females took medicine. Many of them died, and none got really well.
I was also informed that after the Indians were collected upon the Reserve in the Willamette last summer, '56, Dysentery, in its worst form, became very prevalent, and more than one hundred died. Dr. H. prescribed the usual medicines, but with no benefit, and at length ceased to give any. It was then found that the chance for recovery was better without medicine than with.
But as this unhappy affair, the putting to death of Dr. Whitman and his lady has been so often published, and always with a one-sided view, let us now look at the other side; and in this view we vindicate the avengers; for we see that the Doctor's practice was what one eminent Physician pronounces "A system of guesswork and Murder," of which another says: "Under it Diseases have multiplied, and become more incurable;" and still another affirms "that if all the Drug Doctors, and all the Drugs on the Globe were annihilated, mankind would have less disease and fewer premature deaths."
With such testimony, is it not fair to presume that the Indians were impelled to the act by the dictates of conscience, as well as by the first great law of self-preservation? They saw their fellows dying all around, without any palpable cause, except what emanated from the Mission House. It would be quite natural for them to conclude that they had a right to save themselves from destruction by destroying their Destroyer. It was not a savage outrage in their view, but the execution of just law--a law which would have been put in force, for less occasion, upon one of their own Physicians.
And let us bear in mind that the Indians feel their right, as an independent people, to Self-Government, and that the power assumed over them by others is only that of might, and therefore not acknowledged as right. And, after all, what did they do in the case, except in the manner of its execution, more than what we should do? Let us suppose a foreign Doctor should come into our midst, and with a great show of learning gain the public confidence, and, under pretense of healing their maladies, kill them by dozens, should we not have him arrested so soon as found out? and if it was proven that he administered nostrums, which his own countrymen avowed were the occasion of diseases and death, even though given for remedial use, should we not hang him? especially if the articles were such as are not found in our Medical Books. Indeed, it is probable that if such a case should occur in some parts of our country, a doom more terrible, perhaps whipping, or burning to death, would be his fate.
It is proper, in this connection, to notice another of the fruits of bigotry, in the bitter and cruel aspersions that have been, through these relations, cast on the Catholic Priesthood, who were, in some instances, almost as great sufferers as the Indians themselves. This is particularly true of Father Pandosy, a most worthy man and devoted minister, who, like a good shepherd, followed his flock after their dispersion. For this very reason he was persecuted by those who were seeking only to destroy; and on the petty pretense that he was in league with the Enemy, because [gun]powder was found in the Mission House after they had left, he was denounced as a traitor; and could he have been caught, would have received the summary treatment of one so defined. But through great suffering he escaped; and since, I have been informed by a respectable Trader, that no more powder was found among the Catholics than had often been sold to other missionary stations, in similar circumstances, where a quantity is always necessary, to aid the Indians in procuring a subsistence.
CHAPTER XVII.HAVING presented some of the more prominent causes of Indian difficulties, let us now see what can be done to prevent their recurrence. The short answer would be "to do justly." This would include every possible facility for their improvement, as an equivalent for what we have taken from them.
REMEDIAL MEASURES PROPOSED.
First, there should be appropriated to them a sufficient portion of suitable land, adapted to their highest progress in agriculture, and all the arts of civilization. There should be means provided for the improvement of their respective Reserves, in such a manner as not only to furnish ample support in all the necessaries of life, and the best stimulants to useful occupation, but power to attain the luxurious and the beautiful, at least so far as abundant fruits, science, and artistic skill in agriculture and horticulture, could enrich and embellish their country. This policy would have a twofold advantage; it would make home attractive, and thereby dispense with the necessity of armed troops and forts to keep them together, while, at the same time, it would cultivate their higher faculties, and afford a happier and easier transit from the savage to the civilized condition.
To do all this properly, it is obvious that a sufficient number, and the right kind of men, should be employed. This is a consideration of vital importance; for if the officials have not the requisite qualities, natural and acquired, for taking the lead in such a work, as well as ability to impart instruction both in Science and Government, any amount of expenditure must result in utter failure. Hence the Agencies should not be mere sinecures, as at present, and there should be no occasion of public complaints like the following, which I take from the Western Standard, published at San Francisco, November 15, 1856:
"The poor Indians of this region are in a really suffering state; and humanity demands that something should be done to ameliorate their condition, and save them, not only from being decimated by disease, but from final extinction.
"We have an Indian Reserve in the State, and an Indian Agent employed by the United States Government, to look after the remnant of the Aborigines of our country. Why is it that no attention is paid to those hereabouts by F. J. Henley Esq. [Thomas Jefferson Henley], the Indian Agent for the General Government? We beg to call his attention to the sufferings of the poor Digger Indians in this part of the country. Many of their children are sprightly, and as susceptible of mental culture as our own. What is wanted is to have the fostering arm of the Government thrown around them."
The Agents should have a sympathetic feeling for the objects of their care, and a nice sense of justice, which, of itself, could prompt them to the full discharge of all the duties required at their hands. And, as they are so far from the appointing power and the center of responsibility, with the interests of so many depending on their faithfulness, the utmost means that experience and science can devise should be combined, to ensure the appointment of men who are both able and honest.
If the science of Phrenology does, indeed, indicate and explain character, then every person employed in offices of trust, should first be approved by a qualified Professor; and if none were employed, but such as have the requisite amount of benevolence, conscientiousness and intellect, combined with experience, there would be no misapplication of means, and no cause of complaint.
The Agencies should not consist of men alone, but also of women and children--whole families--such as practically understand physiological and social law, with warm hearts and benevolent impulses. Such as these would become angels of love and power. They would feel a sacred joy in becoming the centers of domestic virtues, around which latent faculties would be called forth, to expand and multiply, to enrich and beautify the whole. And as the choicest gems are found amid roughest rocks, so harmony and grace, intelligence and power, would shine forth from these, as yet, undeveloped minds.
For this purpose all the best means of elevation and refinement should be amply furnished, and all that could incite and draw out the intellect to its highest effort, brought within the scope of the recognized and normal plan of operations.
These people are naturally dignified, with self-esteem well developed. This should be truly directed, and through it cherished the native honor of the Indian, which, even in his primitive state, scorns to do a meanness. Under wise and loving influences it would expand into nobleness that would make his character an archetype of manhood. But degrade and destroy this feeling, and the consequent reaction carries him as far below; and he drops into a miserable, groveling wretch, who yet cannot assimilate with the slave; for the most degraded Indian seems to have an everlasting sense of what he once was.
Both the fine and useful arts should be encouraged, and cultivated among them, and especially such as create a sense of personal improvement and advantage. For this reason good Dressmakers and Tailors should be employed as missionaries, to assist them in the art of self-culture. This would furnish agreeable employment, gratify their natural taste, and do more to advance their civilization than all the catechisms in Christendom.
The magnificent scenery of their varied hills and valleys, their majestic mountains and forests, their silvery streams, their verdant groves and meadows, have naturally inspired them with a love of the beautiful; hence they should be taught the art of Painting. This would refine, by deepening the impressions of external beauty, and thus lead them
"To look through Nature up to Nature's God."Again, the Indians have a great deal of invention, and skill in handcraft; and to make capital of this, there should be Mechanics to instruct them in every species of useful labor, so introduced and arranged as to make it pleasant; for we should no more expect them at once, and willingly, to subject themselves to dry and severe toil and drudgery than we would those of our fellow citizens of the South, whose hands have never been hardened by toil. In short, I see no reason why they should not be directly taught all the higher branches of science, but especially the different departments of Natural History, which would be peculiarly attractive and congenial to their habits and character. If they have minds capable of grasping the alphabet, and that, too, with a power which some of them have already shown, they would be able to attain every thing attainable by us--to unlock all mental treasures of which that alphabet is the key.
They should be invested with the highest possible degree of freedom; and while they are protected by our Authorities, they should be encouraged and incited to emulation in the manly and human ideal of Self-Government. They should be instructed in proper forms, with full liberty to establish their own institutions, and elect their own officers.
I would recommend that all mysticism in Theology should be kept entirely away from them, and that they be taught only plain, practical, Christian truth. Let us give them, not only in words, but in all our actions, the spirit of the Golden Rule. This they can easily appreciate, and will be ready to accept, because its law is not one-sided, but mutual; for in requiring me to be just and kind to all, it equally requires that every human being should be just and kind to me. If this teaching had no direct practical advantage, it would yet be of inestimable value, as a means of unfolding the higher faculties; and opening fountains of pure and exalted pleasure, it would at once develop and satiate with its own proper enjoyments the true nature of man. I submit that if this Rule should be taught, not only to the Indians, but to other people, as a cardinal doctrine, instead of some others which are considered as such, it would be a vast benefit to all mankind.
Setting aside all special applications of faith in creeds, we believe and know that our great Teacher and Exemplar went about doing good, not only rebuking sin in high places, but healing the sick and binding up the brokenhearted. He preached "deliverance to the captive, and the opening of the prison doors to them that were bound," and finally laid down his life to confirm and seal his doctrines, thus literally becoming the Saviour of men. And if those who profess to be his followers had gone up and down the valleys of Oregon, imbued with a spirit akin to that which he manifested in traversing the mountains and valleys of Judea, what different results should we now have realized! But so far were many of his representatives from exhibiting his spirit, that if he could have appeared there bodily, with his own Gospel, just as he taught it eighteen hundred years ago, they would have been among the foremost to urge a second crucifixion; for by generally taking part against every principle of humanity, they have virtually confirmed this declaration. Christ, himself, declares thus concerning similar circumstances, "Inasmuch as ye have done wrong unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me." I cannot, therefore, do otherwise than repeat my solemn conviction, that the pure Gospel has been but partially preached, and that the Indians have never had anything worthy of its name.
To assure any candid mind of this, we need only refer to the Reports of the Missionaries themselves, some extracts from which have already been given in this work. The general spirit that pervades them is remarkable for want of faith in their own ministry. A truly appreciating kindness, the most powerful means of persuasion, is set aside. In some of these documents the Indians are represented, not only as low, brutish, unreclaimable heathen, but as the most diabolic and ungrateful of mortals. Nevertheless, I believe that every person who has tried the power of kindness, and recognized them humanly, could furnish abundant testimony that all these conclusions are false to the spirit of our religion, as they are cruel and unjust to the Indians.
In our dealing with them, it is very important to discourage, as far as possible, not only the use of Tobacco and Alcoholic Drinks, but Drug Medicine. The use of the latter is a fruitful source of evil among them; and thousands yearly fall victims to this infatuation, which not only destroys great numbers, but vitiates the constitutions, and depraves the minds of those that are left behind. The culture of fruits, and the use of vegetable food, with unbolted wheat, should be encouraged among them, while their own simple remedial processes should be improved by the use of all hygienic agencies.
In looking over the history of mankind, we see that public evils have only been checked by decided characters, as in the case of Noah, Lot, Moses, and Daniel, each of whom was distinguished, chiefly, because his compeers failed to do their duty. If it were not for ignorance and cruelty, there would be no occasion for martyrs and reformers. But so long as those who should be the lights of the world, and the salt of the earth, hide their light, and lose their savor, reformers will be in demand, and martyrs will not cease.
I will neither judge nor condemn anyone for a difference of opinion; but when I know that there is scarcely a man, whether east or west of the Mountains, but, when free from the influence of fear and interest, will acknowledge that we are doing great injustice to the Indians, I ask, Why we do it; or why should we allow others to do it, and not rebuke them?
I have thus far considered the subject in its prejudicial bearing upon the Indians; but it has another aspect, which we must not pass unnoticed. Wrongs of such a nature and magnitude as those we have been discussing, imply the existence and culture of corresponding propensities; and as these are selfish and destructive in their nature, gratification being the primary object, victims must be had. The thirst for blood, and the desire for rapine, may be indulged until they become the ruling passion. Hence, all wars, and even rumors of wars, are so many lessons and schools, in which the minds of men are incited to violence.
But not only is the loss of moral principle apparent in these open outbreaks, but also in a general tendency to corruption. The elective franchise is bought and sold, and the public trust perverted for private emolument; and instead of truth and justice being the glory of the people, the spoils of party become, to a great extent, the objects of their highest ambition. In pursuance of this idea, I dare affirm that if the people of Oregon had openly avowed their absolute moral convictions, there would have been no war, and mutual murders would have been few and far between. Let us suppose that the individual fortunes of the citizens had depended on the perpetuity of peace and the preservation of the Indians, and we cannot but see, through all that they have done under other circumstances, that they would, at least on the outside of things, have rivaled William Penn and the early Quakers in their sanative and beneficent schemes. If fortunes had been pledged to them, as a result of pacific measures, almost every man west of the Rocky Mountains would have ventured all he was, and all he had, for their support and preservation. Of those who have passively continued this war, multitudes must have known that the desire of gain lay at the bottom. There were, doubtless, feelings of patriotism, and a desire of self-preservation, operating to a certain extent; but they must have been sadly shorn of their luster, in the relationships with every species of wrong that were forced upon them.
And now the question presents itself before us in a more general sense. Why is it that our Government, so young and vigorous as it is, based upon eternal truth, and capable of such vast expansion and unqualified greatness, should so soon show symptoms of declining strength; and, like many Nations and perished Empires that have gone before, already anticipate its own dissolution?
Think not, because the subject we have been discussing relates directly to the people west of the Rocky Mountains, that, therefore, they alone are at fault, or that they have inherently less regard for the social law and moral rectitude than their brethren in the States, The evil is, I apprehend, of general prevalence, and has only been more apparent beyond the Plains, on account of special conditions. Our Government, which was established by its founders to secure liberty and justice for all under its control, has been perverted from its true and primal purpose, so that not only Indians, but millions of other natives of the soil, have been robbed of their birthright. Our Fathers were great and good. They espoused true principles, aiming a death blow at a great evil. But having failed to quite kill it, the roots have spread, and their ramifications absorb the nurture, and sap the vitality of our whole social system. It has become a deadly Upas, overshadowing the whole Land; and though one section tries to cut it down, it is, nevertheless, cultivated in another. It blooms in our Legislative Halls; it has an offset in Kansas, and bears fruit in Oregon. It has afflicted our people with moral obtuseness, so that they stumble over lines which the Creator has established between man and man, and claim extension of privilege for themselves, by infringing on the rights of their fellows.
In some sections of our wide domain, the Declarations of our Fathers are disgraced and falsified; and professed Republicans have resolved themselves into a many-headed monster, crushing the weaker Races, and enacting the petty despotism of home tyrants. The common bonds of fellowship and good faith are thus destroyed, so that every man is afraid of his neighbor. Freedom of Speech and of the Press is but a name--a something that has almost forgotten that it WAS, so thoroughly is it rooted out, while, at the same time, moral cowardice is gloried in, as if it were a virtue; and he who dares to utter his convictions for Truth and Humanity is punished as one who commits a breach of the peace. What else but this departure from fundamental principles incites to aggression and all inhuman violence? Central America and the Isles of the Sea are made to feel it, while the massacre in Panama and the war in Oregon are its results. And so long as our people deny, to any class or color, the common rights of mankind, human sympathy and the full protection of Government, neither peace nor prosperity can be made permanent; and our own rights will not be secure.
Millions upon millions have been spent in war, where a few thousands, rightly employed, would have preserved peace; and millions more will be thrown away, unless different counsels prevail. This subject appeals to the Nation for a higher level of public sentiment. It tells us that no mere local measures will prevent a continued recurrence of social wrongs. Nothing less than a National reaffirmation of the equal rights of ALL, and the administration of impartial laws to sustain them, can inspire a reasonable hope of permanent peace.
And, finally, let us listen to a voice from fallen victims, from bereaved families, and blackened ruins, and be warned! All these things are significant. If we are wise we shall take note of them. Let us heed the dumb remonstrances that come to us, the avowed defenders of Human Rights, from all the oppressed Races of Mankind, and learn conciliation and justice.
Although in the Narrative I have given the picture appears gloomy, yet there is a bright side to every cloud, and a peaceful calm after every storm. Deplorable as has been the detail of wrongs, we know that they have not been done for the sake of the wrongs, but rather in consequence of unfortunate conditions, and a misapprehension of the necessities of the case. As soon as our people calmly consider the matter, and in their quiet moments review what has passed, their generous emotions will burst forth; and as with the voice of one man, we shall all exclaim, "Those evils shall be repressed; there must and will be expiation for these wrongs, and redemption for this long-suffering and oppressed, but still NOT exterminated people."
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR.
15 LAIGHT STREET, NEW YORK, April 20, 1857.DEAR MADAM:
The many excellent thoughts to which your tongue and pen have given utterance, together with the experience you have had in Frontier Life, prompt me to ask your views in regard to the most appropriate means for the prevention of Indian hostilities, and of elevating both Races above the love, or occasion of war. An answer at your earliest convenience will oblige,
Yours sincerely,To Eliza W. Farnham.
----Mr. JOHN BEESON,
SIR:--Your note of April 20th reached me yesterday; and in compliance with the request it contains, I hasten to put in writing a few thoughts on the question it relates to. I have always felt a deep interest in the Indian Race, and as an American woman have lamented the wrongs my country has inflicted on those people. And there is no work to which patriotism and national pride, as well as humanity, would more warmly prompt me, than that which should be undertaken with the objects you set forth.
That the Indians are capable of being raised from the Savage state, and developed to a condition which would place them within the pale of Civilization, and give them the blessing of mental and spiritual growth, I have not, for many years, doubted. They are a people of strong character, and, in their natural conditions, possessed of noble physical endowments. There is not a better nature on the globe, in many respects, than our Red Man possesses. How rarely, until mean and selfish Whites compel him, does he debase himself by the indulgence of low appetites! How little gluttony, sensuality, or meanness of any sort, apart from his war acts, and the treacheries they call for, does he ever exhibit in his uncorrupted state!
The few attempts which have been systematically made to elevate and improve these people, have, with all their imperfections of method, and narrowness of purpose, been attended with sufficient success, I think, to warrant the belief that broader and more enlightened views, faithfully reduced to practice, would be attended with results of which we might be proud. We have taken the Indian's patrimony and home. We are better tenants of the earth than he was; and our titles ought to be paramount to his, because the great purposes of God are better served by us than by him. But the right to dispossess him is ours by virtue of our superiority; and this ought to be his perfect guarantee against wrong from us. Has it been so? Has the one Democratic Government on the globe--the example to all nations--cared for, or oppressed and destroyed its dependent tribes? Alas! History answers this question too mournfully to every human soul!
Our Indians are now dwindled down to mere handfuls of scattered men, and women, and children, who have neither the grandeur of the Savage, nor a semblance of the power of the civilized human being. The labor that has been done among them, for the most part confined to religious teaching of opinions and Faith, has been very nearly, if not quite, counterbalanced by the evils which have followed close upon the advent of the Missionary. He has often, by the operation of causes beyond his control, been made the involuntary instrument of opening the way for the mercenary Trader, with all his prolific train of vices. In this respect I cannot withhold the expression of my admiration for the superior wisdom, or power, or faithfulness of the Romish Church, which has indisputably succeeded in a much greater measure in protecting its converted tribes from these dreadful evils. You and I, who have seen the Indians of the Pacific Slope of our continent, know from personal observation how the tribes which were Christianized by those noble old Jesuit Priests, though often far inferior to our Eastern Indians, were, as long as they remained under the rule of that Church, generally unvitiated. Perhaps one reason for this superior result might be found in the fact that Civilization travels less with the Romish than the Protestant Missionary; but I think another would also be seen in the fact that the latter, with equal faithfulness and earnestness, works more purely on the Intellectual and Spiritual plan. He labors to instill his faith and implant ideas, to the total neglect often of training the desires and appetites to Civilized wants, and thereby securing a willing devotion in some degree at least to manual labor, which would supply them.
This, which was a part of both the Philosophy and Religion of the Jesuit, we, I think, should adopt fully into our system of treatment; and then, with our progressive, intellectual, and moral views, our improved means of training and educating, our juster perception of the Indian character and its attributes, we should reap rewards worthy [of] the consideration of the Christian and Philanthropist.
The women of America could put their hands to a very humane task in reforming the treatment of the Indian, and thereby redeeming the Nation from the shame and disgrace of a wrong pursued to the extermination of its victims. If some widely concerted plan of action could be adopted throughout our country, and means be raised, whereby humane and intelligent persons could be secured to cooperate with a National Association for the purpose of improving and elevating the Indian, what a noble work might thus be done! I speak of my own sex particularly, because it is taking its position in organized philanthropies more broadly and generally in this day than ever before, and because I fully believe that the world is to receive its highest and purest service of this sort from us. The heart of woman is the purest fountain of human love and charity on earth, and could we but rightly appeal to the American Women in behalf of the Indian--could we bring before them the wretchedness and degradation of these unfortunates, whom their charities could relieve--could we make them see the Indian mother and her children in their houses of poverty and misery, robbed of the joys and satisfactions of savage life, with nothing in their place but sin and desolation--I am sure their hearts would not be cold to the appeal so made. There is benevolence enough among us to answer these calls, could it but be moved to an appreciation of their reality and its own power of relief. And as it is in all senses more blessed to give than to receive, the Indian would not be the only recipient of benefit. All good work blesses the doer as well as the receiver; and if our women, young and old, would take earnest hold on this pure and noble charity, they would themselves become pure and noble in doing it. It could provoke no partisan warfare, and might in that respect commend itself to every class and all sections of our country. North and South, East and West might join, and work harmoniously together, in caring for those whom North and South, East and West, have equally depraved and wronged. And the page of American History would brighten from the day when such a movement should become efficient among us. There would be one National sin replaced by a substantial and noble National Charity.
I know it is common to deny the capacities of the Indian. People who know little or nothing of them, who sit at home and hear of the wars they wage, and of the destitution and carelessness in which they live, are apt to fancy that there is nothing to be done for or with them, but to help them die out as quickly as possible. But those who know the Indian, or have sought him for any but base and mercenary purposes, think very differently. And the testimony of one humane man, who has lived among them, to do them good; to call out and prove their better capacities, is worth that of a regiment of mere Adventurers or Traders, who have sought only pleasure or profit among them. Many of these men bear high testimony to the Indian character and ability. I met during the last winter, in Iowa, with Colonel Vaughan, our Indian Agent in Nebraska. This gentleman has spent seventeen years among the Aborigines, mostly those of the Northwest, and he fully confirms the most favorable reports of other persons, as to the capacity of these people to be improved, and educated to virtuous and useful lives. He said that among his Tribes there was as much mechanical talent as among an equal number of Whites who were as little instructed; and that he had a piece of carving, the work of one of his Indians, that was matchless in beauty and perfection of finish, and this skill he assured me was by no means so uncommon among them as we are apt to suppose it, but he added, "We lack all means of educating it. There is now nothing to be done with our Tribes up there, but to look mournfully on from year to year, while, for want of some right help, they waste themselves and their poor resources. In ten or fifteen, at most, without some new provision for them, they must be destitute and starving."
It is from such a condition and such an impending fate, if I understand your benevolent purpose, that you ask aid in saving the American Indian. I trust and pray, dear sir, you may be met with a hearty response by my countrymen and women.
Yours truly,NEW YORK, May 5th, 1857.
E. W. FARNHAM.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR.
15 LAIGHT STREET, NEW YORK, April 2nd, 1857.DEAR MADAM:
I have read with admiration your noble poem of Nanuntenoo, and knowing the deep sympathy you have so often and so beautifully expressed in behalf of the Indian Race, I submit for your perusal the accompanying manuscript, hoping that the knowledge of additional facts--or at least a word of good cheer--may be evolved from your gifted mind, with some new and soul-stirring inspirations in their behalf. It was my intention to have sketched an ideal of Government, which I have for some time past been revolving in my own mind; but having, in the order of Providence, had an opportunity of perusing a book recently published, entitled "Shahmah in Pursuit of Freedom," consisting of a series of Letters on the most prominent features of Life and Policy in this country, I find my thought not only anticipated, but invested with a more complete and satisfactory expression than I could have given it, at least in the small compass to which I have confined myself. I can, therefore, cheerfully recommend all who may open these desultory sketches, to read this book. I believe this work to be such a one as the highest wants of the age both suggest and demand. The "signs of promise" are continually multiplying and brightening around us; and I, for one, can see that they are truly leading us out into new eras of Progression and Beauty--into new Gospels of Love, and Harmony, and Happiness.
Yours with esteem,To Frances H. Green, Jersey City.
JERSEY CITY, April 12th, 1957.DEAR SIR:
I have read your papers with mingled emotions of horror and thankfulness--horror at their almost incredible disclosures, and gratitude that the testimony which you have so truly--so nobly borne--was to you an inspiration of personal safety, and brought you. out of Sodom to declare it before the world. Good Angels led you forth; and they will NOT forsake you. The Future is full of promise. The coming Harvest is rich; and when it is gathered in, will not the Lord of the Harvest remember the most faithful of his laborers?
I agree with you perfectly, that there is neither good feeling, nor good sense, in that common sentiment, that affects to foreshadow the total extinction of the Indian Tribes. The more closely I study, and the more intimately I know them, the more I am persuaded that, in the natural order of things, this is impossible.
It seems to be a law, that the more highly individualized every type of being becomes, the more persistent will be the race it represents, because in the more positive conditions which it unfolds, there is a greater tenacity of life and power. I have never seen, in any people, a more decided individuality than among the Indians. The grand outline of the character is similar; but the shades are strongly defined, and laid on with varied and graphic touches. There are several reasons for this. They not only develop naturally, but under the strongest and most inspiring stimuli. In their education there is nothing of the petty commonplace that almost inevitably creeps into the more artificial systems; but they have instead, untranslated, and untranslatable Readings of Life; and of these they become close and loving students. Midnight darkness, noonday light, clouds and stars, running water, curling smoke, the great blue above, the green earth below, birds and flowers, rivers and mountains, all the far away and massive, all the fine and delicate, all the shadowy vague and obscure, are full of those mystic utterances which are to them, more than to any other people, the vernacular language of the soul, and thus their spiritual faculties are continually nourished; and by their inflective turn of thought and character these impressions are continually deepened.
There is no law in Nature that requires the destruction of such a people. The prophecy is impious. The fact that millions of them have been swept away by a rapacious and all-engrossing Selfishness, does not affect the question in the least; for the Indian cannot live with a bullet in his brain, or a slip of cold steel in his heart, any better than the White Man. Let no one believe that in practically carrying out this barbarous idea, he is fulfilling an ordinance of Heaven; but rather let him beware how he even tacitly sanctions this murderous sentiment, lest, by a double wrong, he bring on his own head the blood of the Guiltless.
The Future of the Indians is to me inexpressibly beautiful. I wish you could see it as I do I wish they could. The wand of the Inspiring Angel has touched me. The great cloud-curtain seems drawn away from the distant horizon. I see them everywhere rousing from their supine indifference to the joy of healthful and genial occupation. Their great mechanical ingenuity opens ways and means, and finds scope and direction, for itself. They emulate each other, unfolding higher excellence in workmanship and superior inventive power. Their condition does not consist entirely of the prosy round of common working-day affairs; but they inhale the aroma, they absorb the beauty, they develop the poetry of life. Occupation is relieved by healthful and pleasurable exercises, and occasionally brightened by refining and elevating amusements.
Their reflective turn of mind--but especially their habits of correct observation and fine discrimination, in which last they excel all other people, must, under true conditions, unfold into the traits of philosophers and naturalists, as certainly as the germ of the acorn, by its own inherent power, rises into the lineaments and stature of an Oak.
Their fine sense of the beautiful, and their feeling for Nature in all her moods, will as truly call forth and cultivate the various interpretations of their Written Word--which we have named the Fine, or liberal Arts. And I see that these strong determinations will have development. Their Muses will find speech, and by turns inspire and refine them. I see all these noble powers, under the influence of a truer culture, bringing forth their legitimate fruits.
Thus, from the well-balanced, intelligent, and self-governed Individual man, will radiate a power, which in the State will again converge into an archetype of Human Government, based on the broadest principles of justice, and created and controlled only by those who understand its authority and can direct its application. The whole character of the Indian--his strong sense of justice--his great magnanimity--his utter contempt of falsehood and meanness--all mark and determine it--that through him may be called forth that Great Ideal of a True Democracy, which, as yet, has been unfolded only to manifest some inherent and fatal imperfection. And if we, as a whole people, do not return to the platform of 1776, and the political Faith of our Fathers, we may have the mortification of seeing this poor and despised Race assume the position which we, of right, should occupy as the Teachers of Nations. Yes, the Indian, whom we have only degraded, is soon to unfold the highest social and civil conditions; and Ministers from Legislative bodies, that convene in haughtier halls, will sit at his feet to drink of the pure and simple wisdom that flows out from his council fires.
I cannot forbear saying, because I know it will please you and other friends of the Red Man, that I have opened a mine of wealth in the Traditions of several once-powerful Tribes, which I propose soon to write, arrange, and publish--not as a collection of dry Histories, but in the form of stories, which come to me invested with all the enchantments of romance, beauty, grandeur, and immortal life-interest.
My heart goes along with the picture I have drawn. My restless hand is reaching out for its work. I devote and consecrate myself anew. God and Angels helping me, I will do what I may to make the good prophecy present and real.
FRANCES H. GREEN.
----But little remains to be said; for, from the whole weight of these testimonies, it is easy to see that not only the honor, but the safety of our own people is involved in these disturbances. For this reason, the question assumes a National aspect; and protection of the Indians is but another name for the common welfare. Urged by these reflections, we are about forming a National Association for the Protection and Elevation of the Aborigines of this country, composed of such as will help us to inaugurate and sustain a truer condition of things.
In this movement the most cheering demonstrations of sympathy, with promised support and cooperation, have already visited me. Almost every mail brings letters to this effect.
I would here especially invite the cooperation of all who are willing to assist us. If they do not choose to identify themselves with the Association, they may still lend both their exertions and their means. There will be openings on every hand for work, that will not only aid, but encourage and cheer us on to final victory.
Certain it is that whatever we do, cannot be done too soon; for with the latest news from Oregon, I hear that the Indians are becoming greatly dissatisfied at being driven from their own good and fertile lands in Rogue River Valley, into the wild and untenantable mountain passes. So great, indeed, is the disturbance among them, that the White Settlers are in a constant dread of a revolt and renewal of war.
Thus we see that Humanity and Patriotism both require and demand immediate and energetic action. Let all, then, who cherish these noble and ennobling virtues, rally round the standard of the suffering Red man, until the tramp of gathering millions shall shake the land to its center; and in the thunderous volume of concentrated power, send forth the truest expression of a great People's Will. And this will be nothing less than an act of self-preservation; for, in restoring freedom to others, we shall forever consecrate and protect our own.
TO THE READER.IF the perusal of this Volume has awakened in your mind a deeper sympathy for the Red Man's Race, and a more earnest desire for the highest good of our common country, the Author would invite your hearty cooperation, by contributing for its wide circulation throughout every State, Territory, City, and Town of our vast domain. The profits will be appropriated to beneficent purposes of universal good.
Price, 25 cents, single copy. For $1 four copies will be sent to any desired address, postpaid. The usual discount to Agents and the Trade.
"THE LIBERAL SOUL DEVISETH LIBERAL THINGS:" to such the Author recommends the Book and the People for whom it is written.
Address, JOHN BEESON,
15 LAIGHT ST., NEW YORK.