Lost History Native American American Indian as Secessionist, The

American Indian as Secessionist, The

American Indian as Secessionist, The
Catalog # SKU3711
Publisher Texas National Press
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Annie Heloise Abel
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


The American Indian
as Secessionist

An Omitted Chapter In
The Diplomatic History Of The
Southern Confederacy

Annie Heloise Abel

This book has been purposely given a sub-title, in order that the peculiar position of the Indian, in 1861, may be brought out in strong relief. He was enough inside the American Union to have something to say about secession and enough outside of it to be approached diplomatically. It is well to note, indeed, that Albert Pike negotiated the several Indian treaties that bound the Indian nations in an alliance with the seceded states, under the authority of the Confederate State Department

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Veterans of the Confederate service who saw action along the Missouri-Arkansas frontier have frequently complained, in recent years, that military operations in and around Virginia during the War between the States receive historically so much attention that, as a consequence, the steady, stubborn fighting west of the Mississippi River is either totally ignored or, at best, cast into dim obscurity. There is much of truth in the criticism but it applies in fullest measure only when the Indians are taken into account; for no accredited history of the American Civil War that has yet appeared has adequately recognized certain rather interesting facts connected with that period of frontier development; viz., that Indians fought on both sides in the great sectional struggle, that they were moved to fight, not by instincts of savagery, but by identically the same motives and impulses as the white men, and that, in the final outcome, they suffered even more terribly than did the whites. Moreover, the Indians fought as solicited allies, some as nations, diplomatically approached. Treaties were made with them as with foreign powers and not in the farcical, fraudulent way that had been customary in times past.

They promised alliance and were given in return political position-a fair exchange. The southern white man, embarrassed, conceded much, far more than he really believed in, more than he ever could or would have conceded, had he not himself been so fearfully hard pressed. His own predicament, the exigencies of the moment, made him give to the Indian a justice, the like of which neither one of them had dared even to dream. It was quite otherwise with the northern white man, however; for he, self-confident and self-reliant, negotiated with the Indian in the traditional way, took base advantage of the straits in which he found him, asked him to help him fight his battles, and, in the selfsame moment, plotted to dispossess him of his lands, the very lands that had, less than five and twenty years before, been pledged as an Indian possession "as long as the grass should grow and the waters run."

From what has just been said, it can be easily inferred that two distinct groups of Indians will have to be dealt with, a northern and a southern; but, for the present, it will be best to take them all together. Collectively, they occupied a vast extent of country in the so-called great American desert. Their situation was peculiar. Their participation in the war, in some capacity, was absolutely inevitable; but, preparatory to any right understanding of the reasons, geographical, institutional, political, financial, and military, that made it so, a rapid survey of conditions ante-dating the war must be considered.

It will be remembered that for some time prior to 1860 the policy of the United States government had been to relieve the eastern states of their Indian inhabitants and that this it had done, since the first years of Andrew Jackson's presidency, by a more or less compulsory removal to the country lying immediately west of Arkansas and Missouri. As a result, the situation there created was as follows: In the territory comprehended in the present state of Kansas, alongside of indigenous tribes, like the Kansa and the Osage, had been placed various tribes or portions of tribes from the old Northwest-the Shawnees and Munsees from Ohio, the Delawares, Kickapoos, Potawatomies, and Miamies from Indiana, the Ottawas and Chippewas from Michigan, the Wyandots from Ohio and Michigan, the Weas, Peorias, Kaskaskias, and Piankashaws from Illinois, and a few New York Indians from Wisconsin. To the southward of all of those northern tribal immigrants and chiefly beyond the later Kansas boundary, or in the present state of Oklahoma, had been similarly placed the great tribes from the South-the Creeks from Georgia and Alabama, the Cherokees from Tennessee and Georgia, the Seminoles from Florida, and the Choctaws and Chickasaws from Alabama and Mississippi. The population of the whole country thus colonized and, in a sense, reduced to the reservation system, amounted approximately to seventy-four thousand souls, less than seven thousand of whom were north of the Missouri-Compromise line. The others were all south of it and, therefore, within a possible slave belt.

This circumstance is not without significance; for it is the colonized, or reservation, Indians exclusively that are to figure in these pages and, since this story is a chapter in the struggle between the North and the South, the proportion of southerners to northerners among the Indian immigrants must, in the very nature of things, have weight. The relative location of northern and southern tribes seems to have been determined with a very careful regard to the restrictions of the Missouri Compromise and the interdicted line of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes was pretty nearly the boundary between them. That it was so by accident may or may not be subject for conjecture. Fortunately for the disinterested motives of politicians but most unfortunately for the defenceless Indians, the Cherokee land obtruded itself just a little above the thirty-seventh parallel and formed a "Cherokee Strip" eagerly coveted by Kansans in later days. One objection, be it remembered, that had been offered to the original plan of removal was that, unless the slaveholding southern Indians were moved directly westward along parallel lines of latitude, northern rights under the Missouri Compromise would be encroached upon.

Yet slavery was not conscientiously excluded from Kansas in the days antecedent to its organization as a territory. Within the Indian country, and it was all Indian country then, slavery was allowed, at least on sufferance, both north and south of the interdicted line. It was even encouraged by many white men who made their homes or their living there, by interlopers, licensed traders, and missionaries; but it flourished as a legitimate institution only among the great tribes planted south of the line. With them it had been a familiar institution long before the time of their exile. In their native haunts they had had negro slaves as had had the whites and removal had made no difference to them in that particular. Since the beginning of the century refuge to fugitives and confusion of ownership had been occasions for frequent quarrel between them and the citizens of the Southern States.

Later, when questions came up touching the status of slavery on strictly federal soil, the Indian country and the District of Columbia often found themselves listed together. Moreover, after 1850, it became a matter of serious import whether or no the Fugitive Slave Law was operative within the Indian country; and, when influenced apparently by Jefferson Davis, Attorney-general Cushing gave as his opinion that it was, new controversies arose. Slaves belonging to the Indians were often enticed away by the abolitionists and still more often were seized by southern men under pretense of their being fugitives. In cases of the latter sort, the Indian owners had little or no redress in the federal courts of law.

404 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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