Browsing "Lincoln and the Indians"

Lincoln’s Pecuniary Interests at Council Bluffs

Though popular histories portray Lincoln as a simple and self-educated man who rose from a lowly background to become president, he was in reality a shrewd politician and wealthy corporate attorney. His clients before 1860 included the Illinois Central Railroad, then the largest railroad in the world, and an annual income of about $5000, more than triple that of the Illinois governor. After the War, Lincoln’s heavy-handed policy of military might was continued by his generals sent to eradicate the Plains Indians in the way of government-subsidized transcontinental railroads.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Pecuniary Interests at Council Bluffs

“A year prior to his nomination to the presidency — to be exact, in August, 1859 — he had visited Council Bluffs, Iowa, to look after his real estate holdings there and incidentally see the country.

A contemplated railroad to extend westward from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast was a live, but no new topic. For years such a possibility had been discussed, and in the first national campaign conducted by the Republican Party in 1856, a Pacific railroad was made a rather prominent issue. Shortly before his trip to Council Bluffs, Abraham Lincoln had purchased several town lots from his fellow [Illinois Central] railroad attorney, Norman B. Judd, who had acquired them from the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad. Council Bluffs at this time was a frontier town, containing about fifteen hundred people.

General [Grenville] Dodge . . . relates that “during Lincoln’s visit, some of the citizens of Council Bluffs took him to a high bluff known as Cemetery Hill, just north of the town. He was greatly impressed with the outlook; and the bluff from that time has been known as Lincoln’s Hill . . .

From here he looked down upon the place, where by his order, four years later, the terminus of the first trans-continental railway was established.”

The platform of the Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for president in May 1860 at Chicago, declared in the sixteenth plank:  “That a railroad to the Pacific Ocean is imperatively demanded by the interests of the whole country; that the Federal Government ought to render immediate and efficient aid in its construction . . . ”

General Dodge [said]: “There is great competition from all the towns on both sides of the Missouri River for fifty miles above and below Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the distinction of being selected as [the] initial point. President Lincoln, after going over all the facts that could be presented to him, and from his own knowledge, finally fixed the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad where our surveys determined the practical locality — at Council Bluffs, Iowa.”

(Lincoln and the Railroads, John W. Starr, Jr., Arno Press, 1981 (original 1927), excerpts, pp. 196-202)

 

Sep 23, 2016 - Indians and the West, Lincoln and the Indians, Myth of Saving the Union, Race and the South    Comments Off on Indians of the Confederacy

Indians of the Confederacy

In early 1861, over four thousand slaves lived in the Southern Indian nations west of the Mississippi, with many found among the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Choctaws. In late February 1861, James E. Harrison, James Bourland and Charles A. Hamilton of Texas were appointed commissioners and instructed “to proceed to [the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw Creek and Seminole Nations of Indians] and invite their prompt cooperation in the formation of a Southern Confederacy.” Excerpts of his April 23, 1861 report follows.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Indians of the Southern Confederacy

“. . . [Governor Sam] Houston gave as one good and sufficient reason for not withdrawing from the Union, the fear that should the Union be dissolved the wild tribes, who were now, in a measure, restrained from committing depredations and enormities by the very nature of their treaty guarantees, would be literally let loose upon Texas.

As far as the civilized tribes were concerned, all were of one mind and that took the form of the conviction that so great was the necessity of gaining and holding the confidence of the Indians, that Texas should not procrastinate in joining her fortunes with those of her sister States in the Confederacy.

James E. Harrison and his colleagues [found that the] “. . . Choctaws and Chickasaws are entirely Southern and are determined to adhere to the fortunes of the South. [They visited Gov. John Ross of] the Cherokee Nation . . . [whose] position is the same as that held by Mr. Lincoln in his inaugural . . .

The Creeks are Southern and sound to a man, and when desired will show their devotion to our cause by acts. They meet in council on the 1st of May, when they will probably send delegates to Montgomery to arrange with the Southern Government.

These nations are in a rapid state of improvement. Pure slate granite, sandstone, blue limestone, and marble are found in abundance. All this they regard as inviting Northern aggression, and they are without arms, to any extent, or munitions of war.

They declare themselves Southerners by geographical position, by a common interest, by their social system, and by blood, for they are rapidly becoming a nation of whites. They have written constitutions, laws, etc., modelled after those of the Southern States.

They can raise 20,000 good fighting men, leaving enough at home to attend to domestic affairs, and under the direction of an officer from the Southern Government would deal destruction to an approaching army from that direction, and in the language of one of their principal men:

“Lincoln may haul his big guns about our prairies in the daytime, but we will swoop down upon him at night from our mountains and forests, dealing death and destruction to his army.”

(The Indian and Slaveholder and Secessionist, Annie Heloise Abel, University of Nebraska Press, 1992 (original 1915), excerpts, pp. 90-95)

 

Lincoln's Indian Affairs

William P. Dole was Lincoln’s hand-picked Commissioner of Indian Affairs, appointed to office on March 8, 1861. Dole “had made the necessary bargains that swung the votes of the Pennsylvania and Indiana delegations to Lincoln,” and thus won the new president’s first federal appointment. As Republican party railroad support and homesteading policy was attracting white settlers to the West, many tribal lands and previous Indian treaties got in the way of progress.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Indian Affairs

“Dole began working closely with [Wisconsin Republican] Senator James R. Doolittle, chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, to conclude treaties with all Indian tribes not yet covered by binding agreements. Nearly every treaty contained the Indian Bureau’s careful description of tribal lands, along with an equally careful disclaimer inserted by senators to eliminate any possibility that the treaty might be interpreted as a recognition of Indian title to the land.

When a few Southern tribes joined the Confederacy, Dole began to press for confiscation of their lands in present Oklahoma so that other tribes might be settled on them after the war. This idea had a great deal of appeal, since it seemed to solve the problem of where to put the Indians of Kansas and Nebraska whose land was coveted by white settlers and speculators.

[Episcopal] Bishop Henry B. Whipple had called for an end to whiskey smuggling on the reservation . . . [and] During the fall of 1862. Bishop Whipple visited Lincoln to plead for mercy for the 303 Indian warriors sentenced to death by [General John Pope’s] military court for their part in the Sioux uprising.

Dole interpreted Pope’s [draconian resettlement] proposal to mean that the general wanted to herd all Indians together in one vast reserve where white civilization could not intrude. He . . . wondered just how Pope proposed to bring hostile warriors onto his reservation without involving the nation in a bloody Indian war.

Something very much like Pope’s policy was being tried in New Mexico with disastrous results. During 1862 and 1863, the army moved several thousand Navajos and Mescalero Apaches onto a reservation . . . both groups rebelled at the harsh surroundings and the strict control imposed by the military. Indians fled from the reservation faster than troops could find them and return them to captivity.

[It was] a military operation that brought Dole’s tenure to an end. Colonel John M. Chivington and his volunteer militiamen massacred a sleeping camp of Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians at Sand Creek, Colorado Territory, in late November 1864.   An outraged Congress immediately demanded the removal of the army officers, Indian agents and politicians who were in any way involved in the events leading up to the episode.

Lincoln tried to save the career of old his friend from Illinois, but a few weeks after Lincoln’s assassination President Andrew Johnson removed Dole without much ceremony.”

(The Commissioners of Indian Affairs, 1824-1977, Kvasnicka & Viola, editors, University of Nebraska Press, 1979, pp. 91-95)