Part 11 out of 15
first, to begin his mission, I believe, in 1822. The effort to set up a
mission there seemed as wild and hopeless, to common judgments, as it
would be to dig down the pyramids of the Nile with a pin. I defended its
course of proceedings from an unjust attack in the legislative council
of the territory, in 1830, having had extensive opportunities to scan
its principles and workings--which were only offensive to worldly men,
because, in upholding the Gospel banner, a shrewd knowledge of business
transactions was at the same time evinced. To be a fool in worldly
things is sometimes supposed, by the wits of the world, to be an
evidence of pious zeal.
_6th_. Being on my passage this day up the River St. Clair, in the
steamboat "Gen. Gratiot," in company with several others, I asked Capt.
Wm. Thorn several historical questions respecting the settlement of
Michilimackinack. The following memoranda embrace his replies: He is a
native of Newport, Rhode Island, although he was for many years engaged,
before the transfer of posts in 1796, in sailing British vessels on the
lakes, and therefore deemed, when he was taken prisoner during the late
war, to have been a British subject.
He says he began his voyages to old Mackinack seven years before the
removal of the post to the Island. This was, he says, in 1767. The post
was then in command of a Capt. Glazier, afterwards of De Peyster (who
subsequently commanded at Detroit), then of Patrick Sinclair (who had
previously built a fort at the mouth of Pine River--St. Clair Co. seat),
and then of Gov. Sinclair (so called). The Indians, at the massacre of
the garrison of old Mackinack, did not burn the fort. It was
re-occupied, and it was not till the breaking out of the revolutionary
war that the removal from the main to the island took place. It must
have been (if he is correct as to the period of seven years) in 1774,
and the occupancy of the island is, therefore, coincident with the
earliest period of the movement for Independence--fifty-nine years.
[Footnote 74: See _ante_.]
Previous to that era, Mackinack was the spot where the men stopped to
shave and dress preparatory to the traverse. About the time Capt. Thorn
first began sailing to old Mackinack, the Indians plundered a boat at
the island while the owner stopped to dress, in consequence of which
the interpreter at the old post (Hanson, I think) went over to demand
redress, and killed the depredator, an Indian.
My inquiries on this topic of old men, red and white, which were
commenced last spring, may here drop. It is now rendered certain that
the occupancy of old Mackinack--the Beekwutinong of the Indians--was
kept up by British troops till 1774; between that date and 1780 the flag
was transferred (the letters of the commanding officers to their
generals would alone give this date). The principal traders, probably,
went with it; the Indian intercourse likewise. Some residents lingered a
few years, but the place was finally abandoned, and the town site is now
covered with loose sand. The walls of the fort, which are of stone,
remain, and the whole site constitutes an interesting ruin. The post was
first founded by Marquette as a missionary station about 1668.
_11th_. Major Whiting, of Detroit, writes a letter of introduction in
the following terms:--
"Captain Tchehachoff, of the Russian Imperial Guards, is traveling
through our country with a view to see its extent and null--its
geographical and scenic varieties. As he proposes to visit
Michilimackinack, I wish him to become acquainted with you, who can give
him so much information relative to those portions of it which he may
not be able to visit. I have put into his hands some of your works,
which may have anticipated something you will have to say.
"He is, probably, the first Russian who has been on our N.W. interior
since the enterprising gentlemen who thought to speculate on the 'copper
rock.' But Capt. Tchehachoff has no other views than those of an
enlightened and disinterested observer. I am sure that it will give you
pleasure to show him all kindly attentions."
Capt. Tchehachoff visited the island during the month, and accepted an
invitation to spend a few days with me. He repaid me for this attention
with much agreeable conversation and many anecdotes of Russia, Germany
(where he was educated), and Poland. He possesses a character of extreme
interest to me, as being a Circassian, or descendant of that people, who
are the local representatives of the Circassian race. He was very fair
in complexion, and possessed a fine, manly, tall, and well-proportioned
figure, and a beautiful red and white countenance, with dark hair and
eyes. He spoke English very well, but with a broad Scottish, or rather
provincial accent, on some words, which he had evidently got from his
early teacher--whom he told me was a female--such as _ouwn_, for
He told me that, on Mr. Randolph's first presentation to the Russian
Empress, he kneeled, although he had been notified that such a ceremony
would not be expected of him. He told some very characteristic anecdotes
of the wild pranks of the German students at the university. He was, I
think, in some way related to descendants of Count Orloff, who was so
remarkably strong and compact of muscle that he could push an iron
spike, with his thumb, to its head in the sides or planking of a vessel.
Capt. Tchehachoff was certainly strong himself; he had a powerful
strength of hands and arms. He used great politeness, and was very
punctilious on entering the dining-room, &c. He interested himself in
the apparently tidal phenomena of strong currents setting through the
harbor and straits, which were in fine view from the piazza of my house,
and made some notes upon them. He asked me why I had not concentrated
and published my travels, and various works respecting the geology of
the Western country, and the history and philology of the aboriginal
tribes--subjects of such deep and general interest to the philosopher of
Europe. One morning early in October (9th), he bade us an affectionate
adieu, and embarked in a schooner for Chicago.
_Oct. 10th_. Chicago is now the centre of an intense and everyday
growing commercial excitement, and however the value of every foot of
ground and _water_ of its site is over-estimated, and its prospects
inflated, it is evidently the nucleus of a permanent city, destined to
be one of the great lake capitals.
The Rev. Jer. Porter, our former pastor at St. Mary's, who was the first
of his church order, I believe, to carry the Gospel there in 1833,
writes me, under this date, detailing his labors and prospects. These
are flattering, and go to prove that the religious element, if means be
used, is everywhere destined to attend the tread of the commercial and
political elements of power into the great area of the Valley of the
Mississippi. Chicago is, in fact, the first and great city of the
prairies, where the abundance of its products are destined to be
embarked to find a northern market by the way of the lakes, without the
risks of entering southern latitudes. This is an advantage which it will
ever possess. Nature has opened the way for a heavy tonnage by the lake
seas. Other modes of transportation may divert passengers and light
goods, but the staples must ever go in ships, propelled by wind or
steam, through the Straits of Mackinack.
Philology--Structure of the Indian languages--Letter from Mr.
Duponceau--Question of the philosophy of the Chippewa syntax--Letter
from a Russian officer on his travels in the West--Queries on the
physical history of the North--Leslie Duncan, a maniac--Arwin on the
force of dissipation--Missionary life on the sources of the
Mississippi--Letter from Mr. Boutwell--Theological Review--The Territory
of Michigan, tired of a long delay, determines to organize a State
1834. _Oct. 11th_. Mr. Peter S. Duponceau, of Philadelphia, addresses me
on the structure of the Indian languages, in terms which are very
complimentary, coming, as they do, as a voluntary tribute from a person
whom I never saw, and who has taken the lead in investigations on this
abtruse topic in America. "I have read," he remarks, "with very great
pleasure, your interesting narrative of the expedition to the sources of
the Mississippi, and particularly your lectures on the Chippewa
language, and the vocabulary which follows it. It is one of the most
philosophical works on the Indian languages I have ever read; it gives a
true view of their structure, without exaggeration or censure, and must
satisfy the mind of every rational man. It is a matter of sincere regret
that you have proceeded in your lectures no farther than the noun, and
your vocabulary no farther than the letter B. It is much to be hoped
that the work will be completed. I should hope that our government could
have no objection to printing it at its expense, as a national work,
indispensably necessary for the instruction of our agents and
interpreters, and even the military officers employed among the Indians."
[Footnote 75: This was begun thirteen years afterwards, when a general
investigation into the subject of the Indians generally, was directed by
Congress, and placed in my hands. _Vide_ Information respecting the
History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United
States. Part I. Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1851.]
"The Chippewa, like the Algonquin of old, is the common language of
business among the Indians, and is as necessary among them as the French
is in the courts of Europe. The object of this letter, sir, is to be
informed whether the remainder of the work is to be published. If
government will not do it, some of our learned societies might. At any
rate, sir, if my services can be of use to you for this object, I shall
be happy to do everything in my power to aid it."
[Footnote 76: The languages are, in fact, identical in structure; the
word Chippewa being a comparatively modern term, which was not used by
the old French writers of the missionary era.]
This testimony, from the first and most learned philologist in America,
gratified and agreeably surprised me. I had studied the Chippewa
language alone in the forest, without the aid of learned men, or books
to aid me. I addressed myself to it with ardor, it is true, and with the
very best oral helps, precisely as I would to investigate any moral or
physical truth. I found that nouns and verbs had a ground form, or root;
that this root carried its general and primary meaning into all words or
phrases of which it was a compound; and that every syllable or sound of
a letter, put before or behind it, conveyed a new and distinct meaning.
By keeping the purposes of a strict philological analysis before me, and
by preserving a record of my work, the language soon revealed its
principles. When I had attained a clear idea of these principles myself,
and had verified them by reference to, and discussion with, the best
native speakers, I could as clearly state them to another. This is what
Mr. Duponceau means by the term "most philosophical." The philosophy of
the syntax I did not in any respect overstate, but merely recognized or
In one respect it seemed to me a far more simple language than this
eminent writer had represented the Indian languages generally. And this
was in this very philosophy of its syntax. By synthesis I understand the
opposite of analysis--the one resolving into its elements what the other
compounds. If so, the synthesis of the Chippewa language is clearly, to
my mind, homogeneous and of a piece--a perfect unity, in fact It seems
to be, all along, the result of one kind of reasoning, or thinking, or
philosophizing. If, therefore, by the term "polysynthetic," which Mr.
Duponceau, in 1819, introduced for the class of Indian languages, it be
meant that its grammar consists of many syntheses, or plans of thought,
it did not appear to me that the Chippewa was polysynthetic. But this I
could not state to a man of his learning and standing with the literary
public, without incurring the imputation of rashness or assumption.
_15th_. P. de Tchehachoff, the Russian gentleman before named, writes to
me in the idiom of a foreigner, from Peoria, on his progress through the
western country. "I am anxious," he remarks, "to take advantage of the
first opportunity of writing to you from this remote western world,
where since seven days I did not meet with any other beings but wolves
and money-getting Yankees. I must acknowledge that one must have a large
lot of curiosity to visit these one-fourth civilized regions (that are
by far worse than any real wilderness), for, although they are getting
settled at an incredible speed, they don't offer to the mere lover of
the beauties of nature, or improvement of human civilization, any great
charm. Here nature is rich, but, _farmerly_ or _businessly_ speaking,
killingly prosaic--no romance--no Lake Superior water--no
scenery--nothing, finally, that could captivate a poetical glance.
"I am now writing these poor lines under a regular storm of
smoke-clouds, and chewing tobacco expectorations. I never experienced so
much the benefit of being brought up as a warlike soldier, to stand all
that. However, my courage is sinking down, and, therefore, I shoot ahead
to-morrow at day-break, as fast as possible, either by water or by land.
The coaches here are rather comfortable, but extremely slow.
"As I intend to make but a very short stay in St. Louis and Ohio, I'll
not be able to have the pleasure of writing to you again before reaching
New York or Havana; but, if you continue always to be, for me, as kind
as formerly, I hope you'll grant me the particular favor of writing to
me once in a while. This will be an impudent theft, on my part, of time
so usefully consecrated to scientific pursuits. Still I flatter myself
you'll pardon it, consequently founded on that (perhaps gratuitous)
supposition. I'll ask you to direct your letter to Charleston, South
Carolina (until called for), towards the middle of the next month, and,
if possible, answer me on the following queries: 1. What are the
inducements to imagine that any volcanic action exists in the Porcupine
Mountains, and mentioning, approximately, their distance from the
Ontonagon River; and their probable influence on the diffusion of the
copper ores and copper boulders on its shores? 2. What are the most
accurate or probable limits (by degrees) of the primitive region of
North America; and whether it forms any chain, or has any probable
communication with all its different branches, or the main ridges of the
Cordilleras or Andes? 3. Is there any remarkable evaporation, or any
other hygrometric phenomenon, or influence of currents that sustains the
level of Lakes Superior and Michigan, so diametrically opposite in their
geographical situation? 4. What constitutes, mainly, the predominating
geognostic features of Lake Superior, the Upper Mississippi, and the
Missouri? I shall be extremely happy to see these problems solved."
_17th_. This day terminated, at St. Mary's, the melancholy fate of poor
Leslie Duncan. Insanity is dreadful in all its phases. This man wrote to
me early in the spring for some favor, which I granted. He was a dealer
in merchandise, in a small way, at St. Mary's, where he was known as a
reputable, modest, and temperate man, who had been honorably discharged,
with some small means, from the army. He visited Detroit in May to renew
his stock. Symptoms of aberration there showed themselves, which became
very decided after his return. Utter madness supervened. It was
necessary to confine him in a separate building, and to chain him to a
post, where he passed five months as an appalling spectacle of a human
being, without memory, affection, or judgment, and perpetually goaded by
the most raving passion. It appeared that the piles--a disease under
which he had suffered for many years--had been cured by exsection or
scarifying, which healed the issue, but threw the blood upon his brain.
_23d_. A functionary of the general government at Washington writes me,
to bespeak my favorable interest for the wayward son of a friend. Arwin,
for I will call him by this name, was the son of a kind, intelligent,
and indulgent father, dwelling in the District of Columbia, who had
spared nothing to fit him for a useful and honorable life. The young man
also possessed a handsome person, and agreeable and engaging manners and
accomplishments. But his love for the coarser amusements of the world
and its dissipations, absorbed faculties that were suited for higher
objects. As a last, resort, he was commended to some adventurous
gentleman engaged in the fur trade on the higher Missouri; where, it was
hoped, the stern realities of life would arrest his mind, and fix it on
nobler pursuits. But a winter or two in those latitudes appeared to have
wrought little change. He came to Mackinack, on his way back to
civilized life, late in the fall of 1834, exhausted in means, poor and
shabby in his wardrobe, and evidently not a pilgrim from the "land of
I invited him to my house, in the hope of winning him over to the side
of morals, gave him a bed and plate, and treated him with courteous and
respectful attention. He was placed under restraint by these attentions,
but it was found to be restraint only. He was secretly engaged in
dissipations, which finally became so low, that I was compelled to leave
him to pursue his course, and thus to witness another example of the
application of that striking remark of Dr. Johnson, "that negligence and
irregularity, if long continued, will render knowledge useless, wit
ridiculous, and genius contemptible."
_Nov. 29th_. The rough scenes required by a missionary life on the
sources of the Mississippi, are depicted in a letter from the Rev. W.S.
Boutwell, who has just planted himself among the Pillagers at Leech
Lake. This is the same gentleman who accompanied me to Itasca Lake in
1835. "Your favors," he says, "of April 28th and July 26th, are before
me; and would that I could command time to compensate you for at least
half! But look at a man whose head and hands are full of cares and
duties. The only time I get to write is stolen, if I may so say, from
the hours of repose. October the ninth I arrived here. There was not a
sack of corn nor rice to be bought or sold. I had but two men, and with
these a house must be built and a winter's stock of fish laid up. What
must be done? I will briefly tell you what I did. Four days after my
arrival I sent my fisherman to Pelican Island, and pulled off my coat
and shouldered my axe, and led the other into the bush to make a house.
In about ten days, with the help of one man, I had the timber cut and on
the spot for a log-cottage twenty-two by twenty-four. Some part of this
I not only cut, but assisted in carrying on my own back. But for every
inch of over-exertion I got my pay at night, when I was sure to be
'double and twisted' with the rheumatism. I have located about two miles
east of the old fort, where you counseled with the Indians at this
place. As you cross the point of land upon which the old fort is built,
you fall on a beautiful bay, a mile and a half broad, on the east side
of which I have located, in the midst of a delightful grove of maples.
South-west, three-fourths of a mile, is the present trading house.
"When I arrived I had not sufficient corn to feed my men three days.
There was also at that time a great scarcity of fish. But the God of
Elijah did not forsake us. We soon were in the midst of plenty. On the
11th of the present instant my fisherman returned, having been absent
not quite four weeks, and with but four nets, yet I had nearly 6000
tulibees (this is a small species of whitefish) on my scaffold. My
house, in the meantime, was going forward, though rather tardily, with
but one man. In two days more I hope to quit my bark lodge for my log
and mud-walled cottage, though it has neither chair nor three-legged
stool, table nor bedstead. But all this does not frighten me. No, it is
good for a man sometimes to stand in need, that he may the better know
how to feel for his fellow-man.
"You mention the receipt of a letter from Mr. Greene, relative to the
field at Fond du Lac. I am happy to hear so full an expression of your
views in relation to that post. As the Board were unable to supply a
teacher, Mr. Hall, on visiting them in September, with myself and Mr.
Ely--we were all of the same opinion, that it must be occupied--and
finally, with the advice of Mr. Aitkin, concluded that it was best for
Mr. Ely to pass the winter there. Mr. Cote was also very desirous of a
school being opened. Sandy Lake, of course, is without a teacher this
winter. I was not a little disappointed, after the repeated assurances
and encouragements of the Board to expect aid, and after the provision I
had made for a fellow-laborer, to be directed to return and pass another
winter as I did the past. Suffice it to say, I have learned more of
Indian habits, customs, prejudices, &c., than I knew two years, or even
one year before.
"To pass my time in the family of the trader, I could not avoid giving
the impression that I was more interested in the trade than in their
temporal and spiritual welfare. To live alone I could not, and live
above their suspicion from the habits of single men who are engaged in
the trade. To live in the family with my hired man, would be quite as
bad. I, therefore, concluded that the time had now come when duty was
too imperious not to receive a hearing. A sense of duty, duty to God,
the cause of Christianity, myself and this people, therefore, led me to
change my condition.
"I am giving you no news (I presume), only the reasons which satisfy
myself, and that for an enlightened moral being is enough, at least it
is all I need or wish to meet friend or foe.
"The Indians now are all at their wintering grounds, and on good terms
with the Sioux, as I, this evening, learn from Mr. D., who has just
returned from an excursion among them. They have appeared quite as
friendly, and by far more civil, this fall than last."
_Dec. 8th_. Mr. Leonard Woods, and Dr. A.W. Ives, of New York, press me
to write for the pages of the _Theological Review_, a periodical of
great spirit and judgment in its department.
_31st_. The people of this territory have evinced, in various ways,
great uneasiness in not being admitted, by a preparatory act of
Congress, to the right of forming a state constitution, and admission
into the Union, agreeably to the Ordinance of 1787. The population has,
for some time, been more than sufficient to authorize one
representative. In some respects, the term of territorial probation and
privilege has been extraordinary, and bears a striking analogy to that
of a plant, thrice plucked up by the roots, and watered, and nourished,
and set out again. It has been _twenty-nine_ years a territory, having
been first organized, I believe, in 1805, For the first seven years it
was under the government of Gen. Hull, by whom it was lost, and fell
under foreign conquest. It then had about a year of military government
under Gen. Brock, and, after being re-conquered in 1814, lived on,
awhile, under the rule of our own commanding generals. Gen. Cass was, I
think, appointed by Mr. Monroe, late in 1814, and governed it for the
long period of eighteen years. Geo. B. Porter succeeded, and, since his
death, there has been a confused interregnum of secretaries.
"Thrice plucked up" was it, by the total destruction of Detroit (which
was in fact the territory) by fire in 1806, by the terrible Indian and
British war in 1812, and by the Indian war of the Black Hawk of 1832. It
has suffered in blood and toil more than any, or all the other
north-western territories together. It has been the entering point for
all hostilities from Canada; and, to symbolize its position, it has
been the anvil on which all the grand weapons of our Indian scath have
been hammered. Its old French and American families have been threshed
by the flail of war, like grain on a floor. And it is no wonder that the
people are tired of waiting for sovereignty, and think of taking the
remedy into their own hands. On the 9th of September, the Legislative
Council passed an act for taking the census. The result shows a
population of 85,856, in the fourteen lower counties, and the first
steps for a self-called convention are in progress.
Indications of a moral revolution in the place--Political movements at
Detroit--Review of the state of society at Michilimackinack, arising
from its being the great central power of the north-west fur trade--A
letter from Dr. Greene--Prerequisites of the missionary
function--Discouragements--The state of the Mackinack Mission--Problem
of employing native teachers and evangelists--Letter of Mr.
Duponceau--Ethnological gossip--Translation of the Bible into
Algonquin--Don M. Najera--Premium offered by the French
Institute--Persistent Satanic influence among the Indian
tribes--Boundary dispute with Ohio--Character of the State Convention.
1835. _Jan. 10th._ The year opened with some bright moral gleams. The
members of the church had, early in the autumn, felt the necessity of a
close union. Left by their esteemed pastor, who had been their "guide,
philosopher, and friend" for twelve years, and by some of its leading
members, they rested with more directness and simplicity of faith on
God. They ordained a fast. Evening and lecture meetings were observed to
be full of eager listeners. A marked attention was paid on the Sabbath
when Mr. J.D. Stevens, who had come into the harbor late in the fall,
bound westward, agreed to pass the winter and occupied Mr. Ferry's empty
desk. The Sabbath schools in the village and at the mission were
observed to be well attended. Indeed, it was not long in being noticed
that we were in the midst of a quiet and deeply-spread revival. Never,
it would seem, was there a truer exemplification of the maxim that "the
race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong," for we
had supposed ourselves to be shorn of all strength by the loss of our
pastor, by the failure of help from the Home Missionary Society, and by
the withdrawal from the island of some of our most efficient members.
This feeling of weakness and desertion was, in fact, the secret of our
strength, which laid in the church's humility. Ere we were aware of it,
a spirit of profound seriousness stole over the community like a soft
and gentle wind.
_28th_. Maj. Whiting writes, from Detroit: "There is nothing new in the
political world, excepting that Michigan has no governor yet, and that
the council has authorized a convention to form a State Government next
April. Some think the step premature; others that it is all a matter of
course. The cold has been excessive on the Atlantic seaboard--down to
about 40 deg. below zero in New England, and even 22 deg. below at Washington.
Here we have had it hardly down to 0."
_Feb. 3d_. Mr. Robert Stuart writes, from Brooklyn, in relation to the
revival in a portion of the inhabitants of this island, among whom he
has so long lived, in terms of Christian sympathy. Mackinack is a point
where, to amass "silver and gold," has been the great struggle of men
from the earliest days of our history. Few places on the continent have
been so celebrated a locality, for so long a period, of wild and
unlicensed enjoyment, for both _burgeois_ and _voyageur_ engaged in the
perilous and adventuresome business of the fur trade. Those who speak of
its history during the last half of the eighteenth and beginning of the
nineteenth century, depict the periods of the annual return of the
traders from their wintering stations in the great panorama of the
wilderness, east, west, north, and south, as a perfect carnival, in
which eating and drinking and wild carousals prevailed. The earnings of
a year were often spent in a week or a day. As to practical morality, it
was regarded by the higher order of "merchant-voyageurs" as something
spoken of in books, but not worth the while of a _bon vivant_. The
common hands, who paddled canoes and underwent the drudgery of the trade
(who were exclusively of the lower order of Canadian peasantry), squared
their moral accounts once a year with a well-conducted confessional
interview and a crown, and felt as happy as the "Christian Pilgrim" when
he had been relieved of his burden. It would, probably, be wrong to say
that the lordly Highlander, the impetuous son of Erin, or the proud and
independent Englishman, who vied with each other in feats of sumptuous
hospitality during these periods of relaxation, did much better on the
score of moral responsibilities. They broke, generally, nine out of the
ten commandments without a wince, but kept the other very scrupulously,
and would flash up and call their companions to a duel who doubted them
on that point. But of the practical things of religion, as they are
depicted by Paul and the Apostles, they lived in utter disregard; these
things were laid aside, like the heavier parts of Dr. Drowsy's sermon,
for "some more fitting opportunity," that is to say, till a fortune was
secured from the avails of "skins and peltries," and they returned
triumphantly to the precincts of civilized and Christian society. Of the
wild and picturesque Indian, who was ever a man most scrupulous of rites
and ceremonies, it was hardly deemed worth inquiry whether he had a
soul, or whether the deity of the elements, whom he worshiped under the
name of the Great Spirit, was not, in the language of the Universalist
Poet, "Jehovah, Jove, or Lord."
A society which, like that of Michilimackinack, was based on such a
state of affairs but a few years back, could hardly be regarded without
strong solicitude, for my correspondent had been a witness, in the first
revival under Mr. Ferry, in 1828, of which he was himself a subject,
that there is a "POWER that breaketh the flinty heart in pieces, who
also giveth freely and upbraideth not." Most, of the subjects of hope at
this time were, however, of a younger growth and a more recent type of
migration. "May the spirit of Lord Jesus Christ," is his pious remark,
"be with, and direct you all in the great work of leading souls into the
kingdom of his grace! It is a fearful responsibility, but if you look to
him, and him alone, for guidance, he will bless and prosper
_19th_. Rev. David Greene, Missionary Rooms, Boston, discusses in a
letter of this date, some questions respecting the policy and high
function of missionary labor--the present state of the Mackinack
mission; and the character and fitness of educated persons of the native
stocks for evangelists, which are of high importance. He remarks:--
"All you write respecting the impropriety of being disheartened--the
demand of the Indians on our church, and candidates for missionary
service--the necessity of withdrawing our dependence for success and the
work of converting men, from any particular human instruments, and
placing them on God alone; and the propriety of having missionaries
released from secular cares and labors, as far as practicable, accords
perfectly with my own views, and, so far as I know, with those
entertained by our committee.
"But the difficulty, after all, remains, of obtaining suitable persons
to carry forward our plans--of making our young men feel that they ought
to turn away from the millions, in the populous nations of Asia, and go
among our scattered tribes. Here is our whole ground of discouragement.
So far as conversions are concerned (and these are the great objects of
a missionary's labor), none of our missions have been more successful
than those among the Indians; and if we had a hundred men of the spirit
and activity of David Brainerd, or Eliot, I should have the strongest
expectations that all our Indian tribes would be converted without great
delay. But we have no prospect of obtaining them. I fear there are few
such in our churches.
"I think that the mission of Mackinack has been a very successful one,
especially in exerting an extensive religious influence, and being, as
you justly remark, 'the nucleus of Christianity in the north-west.' How
far the recent changes in the arrangements of the American Fur Company
are going to affect its importance in these respects and others, I
cannot say, but our Committee are by no means disposed to relinquish it,
while there is a hope of doing sufficient good there to justify the
keeping up of the requisite establishment. The farm we do not wish to
retain, if we can sell it at a reasonable price. All the secular affairs
we would be glad to reduce, and intend to do it as soon as it can be
done without too great sacrifice of property. The family, we know, is
too large, and we hope it may be reduced; but there are some impediments
in the way of doing it at once, especially as the females there have
been worn out in the service, and possess a genuine missionary spirit.
We desire to obtain a missionary, and have made many inquiries for one,
but hear of none with whom the church and other residents, together with
the visitors at Mackinack, would be satisfied.
"As to a school for evangelists and teachers. Do you think, dear sir,
that the persons of Indian descent could now be found, possessed of
piety, talents, good character, and a disposition to take this course of
life, in sufficient numbers to justify giving the school such a turn?
Or, are there youths sufficiently promising, though not pious, with
whose education you would think it advisable to proceed, hoping that, by
the blessings of God, they would be converted and made heralds of mercy
to their red brethren? I have supposed there were not, and that an
attempt of this kind would almost certainly prove abortive. A more
detailed knowledge of facts, which you are in a situation to possess,
might change my opinion. There is nothing we more desire and labor for,
at all our missions, than _good native helpers_. They are an invaluable
acquisition, but our experience teaches us that they are exceedingly
rare. Not one educated heathen youth in ten, even if pious when he
commences his studies, has been found fit for an office requiring
judgment, good common sense, and energy of character. Still we do not
think that this ought to deter us from attempts to raise up native
teachers and evangelists. Most of the work of converting the heathen
nations must unquestionably be performed by them. If the opening should
seem fair, we would try it at Mackinack."
_28th._ In a letter from Mr. Duponceau, respecting the publication of my
lectures on the grammatical structure of the Chippewa language, he
communicates the latest philological news in this and other parts of the
world, respecting the Indian languages.
"You will not be a little astonished that a translation of the _Bible_
is now making at Rome into the Algonquin (which I presume to be the
same, or nearly the same as the Chippewa) language, under the auspices
of the present Pope, Gregory XVI. The translator is a French missionary,
who has long resided among those Indians in Canada. He has written a
grammar and dictionary of that idiom, which he writes me he is shortly
going to put to press. It will be curious to compare that grammar and
that dictionary with your own, and to see how far the two languages, the
Algonquin and the Chippewa, agree with or differ from each other. When I
was in Canada I heard much of this Mr. Thavenet, the name of that
missionary. He enjoys a great reputation in this country, and it seems
he has obtained the favor of the Pope.
"We have in this city a Mexican gentleman, Don Manuel Najera, a man of
letters, well skilled in the Mexican and other Indian languages of that
country. He says they are all, as I call them, polysynthetic, and
resemble in that respect those of the Indians of the United States. One
only he excepts, the Othomi, and that, he says, is monosyllabic, like
the Chinese. He has translated into it, from the Greek, the eleventh Ode
of Anacreon, which I am going to present to the Philosophical Society.
He has added grammatical notes, which are extremely curious. He has also
written in Latin, several interesting dissertations on other Mexican
idioms, also for the society, which I expect will be published in their
transactions, either in the original or in a translation. He is greatly
pleased with your specimen of a Chippewa grammar. He understands English
very well, also French, Italian, and, of course, his native Spanish.
"The philosophy of our Indian languages has become very fashionable
among the learned in Europe. The Institute of France has offered a
premium of a gold medal, of the value of 1200 francs, for the best essay
on the grammatical construction of the family of North American
languages, of which the Chippewa, the Delaware and Mohegan are
considered the principal branches, of course including the Iroquois,
Wyandot, Naudowessie, &c. The premium is to be awarded on the 1st of May
next. I would have informed you of it at the time, if it had not been
made a _sine qua non_ that the memoirs should be written in Latin or
French. I have, therefore, ventured on sending one, in which I have
availed myself of your excellent grammar, giving credit for it, as in
duty bound. I have literally translated what you say at the beginning of
your first and of your second lecture, which will be found the best part
of my work, as it is impossible to describe the character of those
languages with more clearness and elegance."
_10th_. A young gentleman (Mr. W. Fred. Williams) spent a few days at my
house, at Michilimackinack, much to our gratification, and, it seems
from a kind letter of this date, written from Buffalo, also to his own.
He sends me a box of geological specimens, and a Chinese idol, and some
sticks of frankincense--just received by him from a relative, who is a
missionary in Canton, as an offering of remembrance. The heart is
gratified with friendly little interchanges of respect, and it is a
false sense of human dignity that prevents their instant acknowledgment.
We study, read, investigate, compare, experiment, judge as philosophers,
but we live as men--as common men. Facts move or startle the judgment;
but such little things as the gift of even an apple, or a smiling
friendly countenance, appeal to the heart.
_13th_. My article for the _Theological Review_ was well received. "It
was in time," says the editor, "for the March number, and you will
receive it in a few days. I read it, and so did the committee, with the
highest satisfaction. It contains much new information relating to the
superstitions of the Indians, and is well calculated to have the effect
you designed, of awakening the interest of the Christian community in
behalf of our aborigines. I was particularly gratified with the
coincidence of your judgment with the opinion I have entertained for
some years, respecting the _reality of Satanic influence at the present
time_. We intend shortly to publish on this point."
This is a point incidentally brought out, in the examination of the aged
converted _jossakeed_, or prophet of the Ottawa nation, called Chusco.
He insisted, and could not be made, to waver from the point, that
Satanic influences alone helped him to perform his tricks of jugglery,
particularly the often noted one of shaking and agitating the
tight-wound pyramidal, oracular lodge. No cross-questioning could make
him give up this explanation. He avowed, that, aside of his
incantations, he had no part in the matter, and never put his hands to
the poles. It resulted, as the only conclusion to be drawn from this
instance of his art, that the Satanic influence, although invisible, was
veritably present, adapting itself to the devices of the Indian
priesthood, for the purpose of deceiving the tribe. I reported this to
his pastor who had admitted his evidences of faith, who replied, on
reflection, that this was the Gospel doctrine, which was everywhere
disclosed by the New Testament, which depicts the "Prince of the Power
of the Air" as really present and free to act in the deception of men
and nations, the world over. If so, we should no longer wonder at human
crime and folly. Murders and robberies of the blackest dye become
intelligible. And every plan of false prophecy, from the Arabian, who
has enslaved half Asia, to the simple performer of forest juggling on
the banks of Lakes Huron and Michigan, is explained as with beams
_31st_. A Mr. H. Howe, of Worcester, Mass., writes, wishing to be
informed of same stream of the Upper Mississippi, having sufficient
water power, with pine timber, and means of ready issue into the
Mississippi, to furnish a suitable site for a saw-mill. The question is
readily answered: there are many such, but it is entirely Indian
country, and cannot be entered for such a purpose without violating the
Indian intercourse act, which it is a part of my duty, as an Indian
Agent, to enforce. It would be a trespass, subjecting him to a suit in
the U.S. District Court. I replied to him, stating these views.
_April 7th_. The dispute with Ohio, respecting our southern boundary,
grows warmer, and is fomented, on her part, by speculators in public
lands on the western shores of Maumee Bay. Otherwise it could be easily
settled. The mere historical and geographical question, as founded on
the language of the Ordinance of 1787, would appear to leave the right
with Michigan. Ohio legislation, or constitutional encroachment, could
not surely overrule an act of Congress. "The difficulty with Ohio," says
Major W., of Detroit, "is of a threatening character. It is not now,
perhaps, any nearer adjustment that at any previous stage, although
pacificators have been sent on by the President. But the 'million of
freemen' State does not think it comports with her dignity to desist, or
vacate Michigan, is prepared for war, and is determined to proceed to
blood if need be. Gov. Cass will be here, it is said on good authority,
in May or June. Political divisions here, unfortunately, run too high
for a proper convention. Party feeling has governed exclusively, in a
case where they, perhaps, can have no operation. Whoever goes into the
convention will probably have nearly the same views, and it would have
been well to have sent the best and most intelligent. But, on the whole,
probably three-fourths of the members will find it as new business as if
they were to undertake astronomy."
_14th_. Charles Fotheringay, of Toronto, U.C., issues and forwards a
circular headed "Lyceum of Natural History and the Fine Arts." The
object is to found, in that city, a cabinet which shall do justice to
the claims of science and philosophical learning on this subject.
Requirements of a missionary laborer--Otwin--American
quadrupeds--Geological question--Taste of an Indian chief for
horticulture--Swiss missionaries to the Indians--Secretary of War visits
the island--Frivolous literary, diurnal, and periodical press--Letter of
Dr. Ives on this topic--Lost boxes of minerals and fresh-water
shells--Geological visit of Mr. Featherstonehaugh and Lieut. Mather--Mr.
Hastings--A theological graduate.
_April 21st_. Missionary labor requires an energy and will that surmount
aft obstacles and brave all climates and all risks. A feeble
constitution, a liability to take colds on every slight change of
temperature, a sick wife who fears to put her feet on the ground, are
the very last things to bring on to the frontiers. The risks must be
run; the determined mind makes a way for everything. To ponder and doubt
on a thousand points which may occur on such a subject, is something in
effect like asking a bond of the Lord, in addition to his promises, that
he will preserve the man and his family in all scenes of sickness and
dangers, in the forest and out of the forest, scathless. Such a man has
no call clearly for the work; but he may yet labor efficiently at home.
There is a species of moral heroism required for the true missionary,
such as Brainerd and Henry Martin felt.
These feelings result from a letter of this date, written by a reverend
gentleman of Phillipsburg, N.Y., whose mind has been directed to the
Mackinack field. He puts too many questions respecting the phenomena of
temperature, the liability to colds, and the general diseases of the
country, for one who has fearlessly "put on the whole armor of God," to
invade the heathen wilderness. The truth is, in relation to this
position, the climate is generally dry, and has no causes of disease in
it. The air is a perfect restorative to invalids, and never fails to
provoke appetite and health. It is already a partial resort for persons
out of health, and cannot fail to be appreciated as a watering place in
the summer months as the country increases in population. To Chicago,
St. Louis, Natchez, and New Orleans, as well as Detroit, Cleveland,
Cincinnati, and Buffalo, I should suppose it to be a perfect Montpelier
in the summer season.
_May 6th_. In the scenes of domestic and social and moral significancy,
which have rendered the island a place of delight to many persons during
the seclusion of the winter, no one has entered with a more pleasing
zeal into the area than a young man whose birth, I think, was not far
from the Rock of Plymouth. I shall call him Otwin. I invited him to pass
the winter as a guest in my house, where his conversation, manners, and
deep enthusiastic and poetic feeling, and just discrimination of the
moral obligation in men, rendered him an agreeable inmate. He had a
saying and a text for almost everybody, but uttered all he said in such
a pleasing spirit as to give offence to none. He was ever in the midst
of those who came together to sing and pray, and was quite a favorite
with the soldiers of the garrison. He wrote during the season some
poetic sketches of Bible scenes, which he sent by a friend to New York
in the hope that they might merit publication. Dr. Ives, of N.Y., to
whom I wrote in relation to them, put the manuscript into the hands of
the Sabbath School Publishing Committee, which appeared to be a
judicious disposition. It was, probably, thought to require something
more than moral didactic dialogues to justify the experiment of printing
them. Otwin himself went into the missionary field of Lake Superior.
_10th_. The Indians have brought me at various times the skins of a
white deer, of an Arctic fox, of a wolverine, and some other species
which have either past out of their usual latitudes or assumed some new
trait. Elks' and deers' horns, the foot, horns, and skin of the cariboo,
which is the _C. Sylvestris_, are deposited in my cabinet, and are
mementos of their gifts from the forest. One of the questions hardest
for the Christian geologist to solve is--how the animals of our forests
got to America. For there is every evidence, both from the Sacred Record
and from the examination of the strata, that the ancient disruption was
universal, and destroyed the species and genera which could not exist in
water. One of two conditions of the globe seems necessary, on the basis
of the Pentateuch, to account for their migration--either that a
continental connection existed, or that the seas in northern latitudes
were frozen over. But, in the latter case, how did the tropical animals
_subsist_ and _exist?_ The Polar bear, the Arctic fox, and the musk ox
would do well enough; but how was the armadillo, the cougar, the lama,
and even the bison to fare?
This question is far more difficult to solve than that of the migration
of the aborigines, for they could cross in various ways; but quadrupeds
could not come in boats. Birds could fly from island to island, snakes
and dogs might swim, but how came the sloth and the other quadrupeds of
the torrid zone? Who can assert that there has not been a powerful
disruptive geological action in the now peaceable Pacific? It is replete
with volcanic powers.
_15th_. Chabowawa, an Indian chief, a Chippewa, called to get some slips
of the currant-bush from my garden, to take to his village. Although the
buds were too near the point of expansion, in the open and sunny parts
of the garden, some slips were found near the fences more backward, and
he was thus supplied.
_25th_. I have long deliberated what I should do with my materials,
denoting a kind of oral literature among the Chippewas and other tribes,
in the shape of legends and wild tales of the imagination. The
narrations themselves are often so incongruous, grotesque, and
fragmentary, as to require some hand better than mine, to put them in
shape. And yet, I feel that nearly all their value, as indices of Indian
imagination, must depend on preserving their original form. Some little
time since, I wrote to Washington Irving on the subject. In a response
of this date, he observes:--
"The little I have seen of our Indian tribes has awakened an earnest
anxiety to know more concerning them, and, if possible, to embody some
of their fast-fading characteristics and traditions in our popular
literature. My own personal opportunities of observing them must,
necessarily, be few and casual; but I would gladly avail myself of any
information derived from others who have been enabled to mingle among
them, and capacitated to perceive and appreciate their habits, customs,
and moral qualities. I know of no one to whom I would look with more
confidence, in these respects, than to yourself; and, I assure you, I
should receive as high and unexpected favors any communication of the
kind you suggest, that would aid me in furnishing biographies, tales or
sketches, illustrative of Indian life, Indian character, and Indian
mythology and superstitions."
I had never regarded these manuscripts, gleaned from the lodges with no
little pains-taking, as mere materials to be worked up by the literary
loom, although the work should be done by one of the most popular and
fascinating American pens. I feared that the roughness, which gave them
their characteristic originality and Doric truthfulness, would be
smoothed and polished off to assume the shape of a sort of Indo-American
series of tales; a cross between the Anglo-Saxon and the Algonquin.
_28th_. Switzerland enters the missionary field of America for the
purpose of improving the condition of the aborigines. This impressed me
as well. We leave the red man sitting in every want, at our doors, and
rush to India. It is true, that field counts its millions, where we can
thousands. But an appeal to the missionary record shows, if I am not
greatly mistaken, that the proportionate number of converts from an
Indian tribe is greater than that of the tribes of Asia, and that an
infinitely greater sum is expended by our churches for every convert to
Christianity made among the heathen of Asia than of America. The Rev.
Henry Olivier, from the Evangelical Society in Switzerland, visited me,
this day, with a companion in his labors. He detailed to me his plans.
It is his design to select the Dacotah tribe, on the Upper Mississippi,
as the object of his exertions.
_June 2d_. Commenced setting new pickets in front of the agency lot, and
removing the old ones of white cedar, which, tradition says, have stood
near half a century.
_15th_. The editors of the Knickerbocker Magazine (Clark and Edson)
solicit contributions to its pages. This periodical has always
maintained a respectable rank, and appears destined to hold on its
course. I am too far out of the world to judge well. The conflict of
periodicals appears to increase; but I do not think that the number of
sound readers, who seek useful knowledge, keeps pace with it. I think
not. We seem to be on the eve of a light and trifling kind of
literature, which is hashed up with condiments for weak stomachs.
_July 2d_. The weather, for the entire month of June, was most
delightful and charming. On one of the latter days of the month the
fine and large steamer "Michigan" came into the harbor, with a brilliant
throng of visitors, among the number the Secretary of War (Gen. Cass)
and his daughter. The arrival put joy and animation into every
countenance. The Secretary reviewed the troops, and visited the Agency,
and the workshops for the benefit of the Indians. He, and the gay and
brilliant throng, visited whatever was curious and interesting, and
embarked on their return to Detroit, after receiving the warm
congratulations of the citizens. I took the occasion to accompany the
party to Detroit.
_4th_. The debasing character of the light and popular literature which
is coming into vogue, is happily alluded to in a casual letter from Dr.
A.W. Ives, of New York. "I regret," he says, "that the well directed
labors of the excellent Otwin cannot be made available, but the truth
is, there is such an unspeakable mass of matter written for the press at
the present day, that all of it cannot be printed, much less be read. I
think it one of the great toils of the age. Indolence is a natural
attribute of man, and he dislikes intellectual even more than physical
toil. Most men read, therefore, only such things as require no thought,
and consequently there is a bounty offered for the most frivolous
"Your isolated position prevents your realizing, to its greatest extent,
the evil of this superfluity of books; but if you were constantly
receiving from thirty to forty daily, weekly, and monthly periodicals,
besides one or more ponderous volumes, every week, I cannot but think
that, with all your ambition and thirst for knowledge, you would wish
rather for an Alexandrian conflagration than an increase of books.
"Every man who thinks he has a new thought, or striking thought, thinks
himself justified in writing a volume. Of this I would not complain if
he would have the ingenuousness to inform the reader, in a _nota bene_,
on what page the new idea could be found, so that, if he paid for the
book, he should be spared the trouble of hunting for the kernel in the
bushel of compiled and often incongruous chaff, in which the author has
dexterously hid it.
"But the labor and expense of new publications are the least of their
evils. You cannot imagine what an influence is exerted, in this city, at
the present time, by 'penny newspapers.' There are from fifteen to
twenty, I believe, published daily, and not less on an average, I
presume, than 5000 copies of each. A number of them strike off from
10,000 to 20,000 every day. They have no regular subscribers, or at
least, they do not depend upon subscribers for a support. They are
hawked about the streets, the steamboats and taverns by boys, and are,
for the most part, extravagant stories, caricature descriptions, police
reports, infidel vulgarity and profanity, and, in short, of just such
matter as unprincipled, selfish, and bad men know to be best fitted to
pamper the appetites and passions of the populace, and so uproot and
destroy all that is valuable and sacred in our literary, civil, and
"A spirit of ultraism seems to pervade the whole community. The language
of Milton's archdevil 'Evil, be thou my good,' is the creed of modern
reformers, or, in other words--_anything for a change_. What is to come
of all this, I have not wisdom even to guess. It is an age of
_transition_, and whether you and I live to see the elements of the
moral and political world at rest, is, I think, extremely doubtful. But
our consolation should be that the Lord reigns--that he loves good order
and truth better than we do--and, blessed be his name, he is able to
establish and maintain them.
"This is the anniversary of our national independence, and ought to be
celebrated with thanksgiving and praise to God. Alas! how it is
_22d_. Mr. Green, of the Missionary Rooms, Boston, again writes about
the Mackinack Mission. "I believe that my views accord very nearly with
your own, as to what it would be desirable to do, provided the suitable
persons could be procured to perform the work. There is a great
deficiency in well qualified laborers. We can generally obtain persons
who will answer our purpose, if we will wait long enough, but it often
happens, in the mean time, that the circumstances so change that the
proposed plan becomes of doubtful expediency. We have been continually
on the lookout, since Mr. Ferry left Mackinack, for some one to fill his
place, but as yet have found no one, and have no one in view."
_28th_. Mr. W. Fred. Williams, of Buffalo, communicates information
respecting three boxes of specimens of natural history, which I lost in
the fall of 1821. "My conversation with you having made me acquainted
with the fact that you once lost two boxes of minerals and one of
shells, I have been rather on the lookout for information respecting
them, and am now able to inform you as to what became of them, and to
correct the statement which I made (as I said) on supposition of the
manner in which Edgerton became possessed of them.
"In the spring of 1832, a stranger from Troy or Albany came to Mr.
Edgerton, at Utica, and told him that he had two boxes of minerals which
he had received from Mr. Schoolcraft, and that if he (E.) would label
them, he (E.) might take what he wished to retain for his trouble. He
said, also, that he was about to establish a school at Lockport, but,
knowing nothing of mineralogy, he wished to get the specimens labeled.
Mr. Edgerton unpacked the boxes, took a few for himself, labeled and
repacked the rest, and returned them to the stranger.
"The box of shells was left at the tavern of Levi Cozzens, in Utica,
where they remained two years, waiting for some one to claim them; about
this time Mr. C., closing up his concern, opened the box and gave the
shells to his children for playthings, and sent the _mocock_ of sugar
(which had your name on or about it) to his mother. If the person who
had the minerals still remains at Lockport, perhaps they may be
recovered, but the shells are all destroyed."
The minerals referred to consisted of choice and large specimens of the
colored and crystaline fluates of lime from Illinois, and the attractive
species and varieties of sulphates of barytes, sulphurets of lead,
radiated quartz, &c. &c., from Missouri, which I had revisited in 1821.
They were fine cabinet specimens, but contained no new species or
varieties. Not so with the fresh-water shells. They embraced all the
species of the Wabash River, whose entire length I had traversed that
year, from its primary forks to its entrance into the Ohio. Among them
were some new things, which would, at that time, have proved a treat to
my conchological friends.
_8th_. Mukonsewyan, or the Little Bear Skin, visited the office, with a
retinue. He asked whether any Indians from the Fond du Lac, or Upper
Mississippi, had visited the office this season. I stated to him the
renewal of hostilities between the Sioux and Chippewas, as a probable
reason why they had not. He entered freely into conversation on the
history of the Sioux, and spoke of their perfidy to the Chippewas. I
asked him if they were as treacherous to the Americans as they had been
to the British--several of whose traders they had in former days killed.
He said he had seen the Sioux offenders of that day, encamped at
Mackinack, while the British held it, under the guns of the fort, and
all the Indians expected that they would have been seized. But they were
suffered to retire unmolested.
_14th_. I went to Round Island with Mr. Featherstonehaugh and Lieut.
Mather. Examined the ancient ossuaries and the scenery on that island.
Mr. F. is on his way to the Upper Mississippi as a geologist in the
service of the Topographical Bureau. He took a good deal of interest in
examining my cabinet, and proposed I should exchange the Lake Superior
minerals for the gold ores of Virginia, &c. He showed me his idea of the
geological column, and drew it out. I accompanied him around the island,
to view its reticulated and agaric filled limestone cliffs; but derived
no certain information from him of the position in the geological scale
of this very striking stratum. It is, manifestly, the magnesian
limestone of Conybeare and Phillips, or _muschelkalk_ of the Germans.
Lieut. Mather brought me a letter from Major Whiting, from which I learn
that he has been professor of mineralogy in the Military Academy at West
Point. I found him to be animated with a zeal for scientific discovery,
united with accurate and discriminating powers of observation.
Among my visitors about this time, none impressed me more pleasingly
than a young gentleman from Cincinnati--a graduate of Lane Seminary--a
Mr. Hastings, who brought me a letter from a friend at Detroit. He
appeared to be imbued with the true spirit of piety, to be learned in
his vocation without ostentation, and discriminating without ultraism.
And he left me, after a brief stay, with an impression that he was
destined to enter the field of moral instruction usefully to his
fellow-men, believing that it is far better to undertake to persuade
than to drive men by assault, as with cannon, from their strongholds
Rage for investment in western lands--Habits of the common
deer--Question of the punishment of Indian murders committed in the
Indian country--A chief calls to have his authority recognized on the
death of a predecessor--Dr. Julius, of Prussia--Gen. Robert
Patterson--Pressure of emigration--Otwin--Dr. Gilman and Mr.
Hoffman--Picturesque trip to Lake Superior--Indians desire to cede
territory--G.W. Featherstonehaugh--Sketch of his geological
reconnoisance of the St. Peter's River--Dr. Thomas H. Webb--Question of
inscriptions on American rocks--Antiquities--Embark for Washington, and
come down the lakes in the great tempest of 1835.
1835. _August_. The rage for investment in lands was now manifest in
every visitor that came from the East to the West. Everybody, more or
less, yielded to it. I saw that friends, in whose prudence and judgment
I had confided for years, were engaged in it. I doubted the soundness of
the ultra predictions which were based on every sort of investment of
this kind, whether of town property or farming land, and held quite
conservative opinions on the subject, but yielded partially, and in a
moderate way, to the general impulse, by making some investments in
Wisconsin. Among other plans, an opinion arose that Michilimackinack
must become a favorite watering place, or refuge for the opulent and
invalids during the summer; and lots were eagerly bought up from Detroit
_17th_. I embarked in a steamer for Green Bay--where I attended the
first land sales, and made several purchases. While there, I remarked
the curious fluctuations in the level of the waters at the mouth of Fox
River. The lake (Michigan) and the bay appear to hold the relation of
separate parts of a syphon. It was now fourteen years since I had first
noticed this phenomenon, as a member of the expedition to the sources of
the Mississippi. While at Green Bay I procured a young fawn, and carried
it to be a tenant of my garden and grounds. This animal grew to its
full size, and revealed many interesting traits. Its motions were most
graceful. It was perfectly tame. It would walk into the hall and
dining-room, when the door was open, and was once observed to step up,
gracefully, and take bread from the table. It perambulated the garden
walks. It would, when the back-gate was shut, jump over a six feet
picket fence, with the ease and lightness of a bird.
Some of its instincts were remarkable. At night it would choose its
place of lying down invariably to the leeward of an object which
sheltered it from the prevailing wind. One of its most remarkable
instincts was developed with respect to ladies. On one occasion, while
an unattended lady was walking up the avenue from my front gate to the
door, through the garden grounds, the animal approached from behind, in
the gentlest manner possible, and placed his fore feet on her shoulders.
This happened more than once. Its propensity to eat plum leaves at last
banished it from the garden. It was then allowed to visit distant parts
of the island, and, at length, some vicious person broke one of its
legs, from its propensity to browse on the young leaves of fruit trees.
This was fatal to it, and I was induced to allow its being shot, after
it had been an inmate of my grounds for about three years, where it was
familiarly known to all by the name of Nimmi.
Poor Nimmi, some are hanged for being thieves,
But thou, poor beast! wast killed for eating leaves.
_24th_. I received instructions from Washington respecting recent
murders of Chippewas by the Sioux. This is a constantly recurring topic
for the action of an Indian agent. Unfortunately, his powers in the
matter are only advisory. The intercourse act does not declare it a
crime for one Indian nation to make reprisals, club in hand, on another
Indian nation, on the area in which their sovereignty is acknowledged.
It only makes it a criminal offence to kill a white man in such a
position, for which his nation can be invaded, and the murderer seized
and delivered up to justice.
_28th_. Ottawance, chief of the Beaver Islands, died last summer (1834).
Kin-wa-be-kiz-ze, or Man of the Long Stone (noun inanimate), called to
day, and announced himself as the successor, and asked for the usual
present of tobacco, &c. By this recognition of the office, his authority
was sought to be confirmed.
_29th_. Dr. Julius, of Prussia, visited me, being on his return from
Chicago. He evinced a deep interest in the history of the Indian race.
He remarked the strong resemblance they bore in features and manners to
the Asiatics. He had remarked that the Potawattomies seem like dogs,
which he observed was also the custom of the Tartars; but that the eyes
of the latter were set diagonally, whereas the American Indians had
theirs parallel. In other respects, he saw great resemblances. He
expressed himself as greatly interested in the discovery of an oral
literature among the Indians, in the form of imaginative legends.
Gen. Robert Patterson, of Philadelphia, with his daughter and niece,
make a brief visit, on their way from Chicago and the West, and view the
curiosities of the island. These visits of gentlemen of wealth, to the
great area of the upper lakes, may be noticed as commencing with this
year. People seem to have suddenly waked up in the East, and are just
becoming aware that there _is a West_--to which they hie, in a measure,
as one who hunts for a pleasant land fancied in dreams. But the great
Mississippi Valley is a waking reality. Fifty years will tell her story
on the population and resources of the world.
_Sept. 12th_. Received instructions from the Department, to ascertain
whether the Indians north of Grand River would sell their lands, and on
what terms. The letter to which this was a reply was the first official
step in the causes which led to the treaty of March 28th, 1836. A
leading step in the policy of the Department respecting the tribes of
the Upper Lakes.
_15th_. The great lakes can no longer be regarded as solitary seas,
where the Indian war-whoop has alone for so many uncounted centuries
startled its echoes. The Eastern World seems to be alive, and roused up
to the value of the West. Every vessel, every steamboat, brings up
persons of all classes, whose countenances the desire of acquisition, or
some other motive, has rendered sharp, or imparted a fresh glow of hope
to their eyes. More persons, of some note or distinction, natives or
foreigners, have visited me, and brought me letters of introduction this
season, than during years before. Sitting on my piazza, in front of
which the great stream of ships and commerce passes, it is a spectacle
at once novel, and calculated to inspire high anticipations of the
future glory of the Mississippi Valley.
_Oct. 5th_. Washington Irving responds, in the kindest terms, to my
letter transmitting some manuscript materials relative to the
_12th_. Mr. Green, of Boston, wrote me on the 8th instant unfavorably to
the stability of the Christian character of my friend Otwin, whom I had
recommended to the Board for employment in the missionary field in Lake
Superior, in connection with the missionary family at La Pointe. Mr. S.
Hall, the head of that Mission, writes (Oct. 12th): "I am glad that the
providence of God directed (him) this way, and trust his coming into
this region will be for the interest of Zion's Kingdom here. He appears
to be a man of faith and prayer. I trust he will be the means of
stirring up to more diligence in the service of our Master." What
greater aid could be given to a lone far off Indian mission, than "a man
of faith and prayer." When an observer in the vast panorama of the West
and North has seen a poor missionary and his family, living five-hundred
miles from the nearest verge of civilization, solitary and desolate,
surrounded with heathen red men, and worse than heathen white men, with
none out of his little circle to honor God or appreciate his word, it is
presumable to him that any reinforcement of help must be hailed as cold
water to a parched tongue. Not that there is any supposed difference of
opinion on the main question, between the Head and the forest hands, so
to say, of the Board, but it is difficult, at Boston, to appreciate the
disheartening circumstances surrounding the missionary in the field. And
any youthful instability, or eccentricity of means in the way of
advancing the Gospel, should be forgiven, for the cause, after years of
experience, and not written against "a man of faith and prayer," as it
appears to have been by the pastor of Middleburgh, as with a pen
_14th_. Pendonwa, son of Wahazo, a brother of the Ottawa chief, Wing,
reports himself as electing to become "an American," and says he had so
declared himself to Col. Boyd, the former Indian agent.
_27th_. Dr. C.R. Gilman, of New York, having, with Major M. Hoffman, of
Wall Street, paid me a visit and made a picturesque "trip to the
Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior," writes me after his safe return to the
city, piquing himself on that adventure, after having exchanged
congratulations with his less enterprising cityloving friends. It was
certainly an event to be booked, that two civilians so soldered down to
the habits of city life in different lines as the Doctor and the Major,
should have extended their summer excursion as far as Michilimackinack.
But it was a farther evidence of enterprise, and the love of the
picturesque, that they should have taken an Indian canoe, and a crew of
engagees, at that point, and ventured to visit the Pictured Rocks in
Lake Superior. "Life on the Lakes" (the title of Dr. G.'s book) was
certainly a widely different affair to "Life in New York."
_31st_. Circumstances had now inclined the Chippewa and Ottawa tribes of
Indians to cede to the United States a portion of their extensive
territory. Game had failed in the greater part of it, and they had no
other method of raising funds to pay their large outstanding credits to
the class of traders, and to provide for an interval of transition,
which must indeed happen, in view of their future improvement, between
the hunter and agricultural state.
The Drummond Island band had, for a year or two, advocated a sale. The
Ottawas of the peninsula determined to send a delegation to Washington
on the subject. I could not hesitate as to the course which duty
proscribed to me, under these important circumstances, and determined to
proceed to Washington, although the Secretary and acting Governor of the
Territory, Mr. Horner, on being consulted by letter, refused his assent
to this step. His want of proper information on the subject, being but
recently come to the territory, did not appear to be such as to justify
me in remaining on the island, while the question had been carried by
the Indians themselves to, and was, probably, to be decided at
Washington before another season. I determined, therefore, to proceed to
Washington, taking one of the latest vessels for the season, on their
return from the ports on Lake Michigan.
_Nov. 2d_. Mr. Featherstonehaugh writes to me from Galena, on his return
from his geological reconnoisance in the north-west, sketching some of
the leading events of his progress:--
"Desirous of giving you a passing notice of my progress, I make time, a
few moments' leisure, to say that, when I had entered the Terre Bleu
River, which you remember is that tributary of the St. Peter's I was
anxious to visit, I found I could not penetrate to the Coteau de Prairie
from that quarter, and no resource was left to me but to return, or go
about three hundred miles higher up, where I was aware I should meet a
pretty insolent set of fellows amongst the Yanktons and Tetons. The
Sioux, who had committed pretty bad Indian murders amongst the
Chippewas, were in great numbers about Lac qui Parle, and there was no
avoiding them. However, it was in the line of the duty I had undertaken,
and I was willing to run some risks to see them. They were a precious
set when I got to them, but by prudence and presents I got along with
them, and, having began to sputter a little Sioux, I took courage, left
my canoe and men there, and took a guide and interpreter and pushed on
to Lac Traverse, and from thence to Coteau de Prairie, the head waters
of the St. Peter's, and to within four days' march of the Mandan
Village, Here I wheeled about back, afraid of winter. Indeed, on my
arrival at Lac Traverse, the weather was bitterly cold, and wood and
water were sometimes found with great difficulty, in the intermediate
prairies. The day I left Fort Snelling, the thermometer was very low,
the snow six or eight inches deep on the ground; in fact it was quite
winter, and all were of opinion, at the fort, that ice would form and
drive in a few days.
"I found Mr. Keating's account of the Mississippi, and especially of the
St. Peter's, most surprisingly erroneous, and old Jonathan Carver's
book, which he is constantly denouncing, _very accurate_.
"I ascertained, to my perfect satisfaction, the termination of the
horizontal beds of sandstone of carboniferous limestone formation, and
came upon the outcrop of the adjacent granite, just where I expected to
find the primary rocks."
"You will greatly oblige me by communicating to me your opinion,
approximatively, of the course held by the primary rocks south of Lake
Superior, as far as you are acquainted with it, or with the edges of the
secondary rocks, which have a junction line with, or near them. I found
no primary rocks on my way from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien. The rocks
in place at Fort Winnebago, are secondary sandstone of the
_2d_. The question of "inscriptions" on rocks by the aborigines has
recently attracted some attention. Dr. Thomas H. Webb, of Providence,
Rhode Island, in a letter of this date, notifying me of my election as
an honorary member of the Rhode Island Historical Society, calls my
attention to this subject. "In your last work," he remarks, "you allude
to some hieroglyphics on a tree. Have you particularly examined any on
rocks; and if so, were they mere paintings, or were they inscribed
thereon? If the latter, in what manner do they appear to have been
done--pecked in with a pointed instrument, or chizzled out? Are they
simply representations of men and animals, without method in their
arrangement, or combinations of these, with other characters bearing
evidence of greater design? Will you be kind enough to furnish me with
the locations of those with which you are acquainted? Is it possible for
me to procure drawings of them? Do you know any one living near such
rocks, whom I could hire to take copies of them, and upon the accuracy
of whose work reliance can be placed?
"I do not wish finished views--correct drawings of the _characters_ with
a pen will be amply sufficient for my purposes; although I should not
object to outlines of the rocks themselves. I would also ask if some of
the 'relics of things that have passed away,' which are found so
abundantly in the west, _e.g._, articles of pottery, iron and copper
implements, &c., can be procured by purchase, or in the way of exchange
for minerals, or in some other way?"
Imprimis--no "iron" implements have ever been found. Secondly, no
observations not made by an antiquarian can be relied on.
_9th_. I embarked for Detroit, on board a schooner under command of an
experienced navigator (Capt. Ward), just on the eve, unknown to us, of a
great tempest, which rendered that season memorable in the history of
wrecks on the great lakes. We had scarcely well cleared the light-house,
when the wind increased to a gale. We soon went on furiously. Sails were
reefed, and every preparation made to keep on our way, but the wind did
not admit of it. The captain made every effort to hug the shore, and
finally came to anchor in great peril, under the highlands of Sauble.
Here we pitched terribly, and were momently in peril of being cast on
shore. In the effort to work the ship, one of the men fell from the
bowsprit, and passed under the vessel, and was lost. It was thought that
our poor little craft must go to the bottom; it seemed like a chip on
the ocean contending against the powers of the Almighty. It seemed as
if, agreeably to Indian fable, Ishkwondameka himself was raising a
tempest mountain high for some sinister purposes of his own. But, owing
to the skill of the old lake mariner, we eventually triumphed. He never
faltered in the darkest exigency. For a day and night he struggled
against the elements, and finally entered the straits at Fort Gratiot,
and he brought us safely into the port of our destination.
On reaching Detroit, the lateness of the season admonished me to lose no
time in making my way over the stormy Erie to Buffalo, whence I pursued
my journey to New York. I reached the latter city the day prior to the
great fire, in December. I took lodgings at the Atlantic Hotel, which is
near the foot of Broadway, and immediately west of the great scene of
conflagration. The cold was so bitter while the fire raged that I could
not long endure the open air, which seemed to be surcharged with oxygen.
I reached Philadelphia the 19th, and Washington a day or two after.
Florida war--Startling news of the Massacre of Dade--Peoria on the
Illinois--Abanaki language--Oregon--Things shaping for a territorial
claim--Responsibility of claim in an enemy's country--A true
soldier--Southern Literary Messenger--Missionary cause--Resources of
Missouri--Indian portfolio of Lewis--Literary gossip--Sir Francis
Head--The Crane and Addik totem--Treaty of March 28th, 1836, with the
Ottawas and Chippewas--Treaty with the Saginaws of May 20th--Treaty with
the Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas of May 9th--Return to
Michilimackinack--Death of Charlotte, the daughter of Songageezhig.
1836. The year opened with the portentous news of Indian hostilities.
The massacre of Major Dade and his entire command on the waters of the
Wythlacootche River in Florida, and the prospect of an Indian war in
Florida, excited great sensation in all circles. I was at the Secretary
of War's domicil one evening, when he first received and read out the
shocking details. The same night troops were ordered to be put in motion
from every point in the Union, to be concentrated in that territory; and
the greatest activity pervaded the departments. Gen. Jackson expressed
himself with energy on the subject. He had formerly conducted a
successful campaign against the Seminoles, but he could not be persuaded
that there were more than five hundred of this tribe in the whole
territory. This led him to believe that the troops actually put in
motion for the field of action, were fully adequate to cope with the
enemy, and promptly to put them down.
_Jan. 4th_. The American Lyceum request me to prepare a paper for their
_6th_. I received a letter from my former pastor, Rev. J. Porter, at
Peoria, Ill., denoting him to be in a new field of ministerial labor.
"I bade adieu to my dear people at Chicago, on the second Sabbath in
November, and commenced my labors here on the fourth Sabbath of the
same month--just four years from the day I first preached at the Sault.
"The town is on the north bank of Lake Peoria, which is an expansion of
the Illinois. The site is one of the first in our land. The ground rises
with a delightful slope from the water's edge for the distance of half a
mile--then there is table land for another half mile back to a high
bluff. The town began to be built about two years since; it has now a
population of eight hundred and fifty."
A descendant of the great theologian Edwards, it is pleasing to note
that this gentleman is destined to be employed in various fields, in
diffusing Christianity through the great valley.
_8th_. Mr. Thomas L. Winthrop, of Boston, transmits me "the first volume
of a new series of the Transactions of the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences. This volume, amongst other valuable matter, contains a
Dictionary of the Abinaki Language of North America, by Father
_10th_. I addressed a memoir to the Secretary of War on the state of
Indian affairs in Oregon. My position at St. Mary's being on the great
line of communication between Montreal and the principal posts at
Vancouver, &c., north of the Columbia, has afforded me opportunities of
becoming familiar with the leading policy of the Hudson's Bay factors in
relation to that region. The means pursued are such as must influence
all the Indian tribes in that quarter strongly in favor of the political
power wielded by that company, and as strongly against the government of
the United States, which has not a shadow of a power of any kind on the
Pacific. Silently, but surely, a vast influence is being built up on
those coasts, adverse to our claims to the territory, and it cannot be
long till those intrepid factors, sustained by the government at home,
will assert it in a manner not easy to be resisted. I embodied these
ideas strongly in my paper. The Secretary was arrested by the justice of
my conclusions, and seemed disposed to do something, but the subject
was, apparently, weighed down and forgotten in the press of
_13th_. Hon. E. Whittlesey, Chairman of the Committee on Claims, House
of Representatives, remarks in effect, in a letter of this date, that to
create a just claim against the United States, it must be shown that
property and provisions taken by the troops, when operating in an
enemy's country, were applied to the subsistence or clothing of the
army or navy, although it was private property, and the orders of the
commandant were, in all cases, to respect "private property."
Consequently, that the disrespect of such orders might make the
commander or his troops _personally_ liable to amercement; but the
government is not justly liable. Certainly, that officer is to be pitied
whose sovereign will not stand by him in the execution of written
orders! Nor do I see how the strict legality and morality of the
question is to be got along with. May the government turn pirate with
impunity? Does it war against women and children, and the ordinary
private and domestic rights guaranteed to the citizen by the original
rights of society defined in Blackstone?
_14th_. A soldier, in garrison at Fort Mackinack, writes to me, wishing,
on the expiration of his term of enlistment, to become "a soldier of
Christ," and to enter the missionary field. That is a good thought,
Sergeant Humphrey Snow! Better to fight against human sins than to shoot
_18th_. Dr. C.R. Gilman inquires, "Is the rock at Gros Cap granite? Can
you give me particulars about the Indian fairies?"
_27th_. I am requested, from a high quarter, to furnish an article for
the _Southern Literary Messenger_. "You are in for a scrape," says a gay
note on the subject. "I have told Mr. White all about it. I am greatly
obliged to you for relieving me." Truth is, I have never regarded the
employment of literary time as thrown away. The discipline of the mind,
induced by composition, is something, and it is surprising what may be
done by a person who carefully "redeems" all his time. It does not, in
the least, incapacitate him for business. It rather quickens his
intellect for it.
_Feb. 1st_. My former agreeable guest at Mackinack (Rev. Geo. H.
Hastings) writes me from Walnut Hills, Ohio: "There is a missionary
spirit in our institution (Lane Seminary) that responds to the wants of
the world. The faculty have pressed upon the minds of us all the duty of
examining early the question, 'Ought I to be a missionary?'"
_16th_. My brother James writes from St. Mary's, foot of Lake Superior:
"The month has been remarkably cold, the thermometer having ranged from
13 deg..23 to 38 deg. below zero. Snow we have had in great abundance."
_17th_. Hon. Lewis F. Linn, U.S. Senator, writes respecting the
scientific character and resources of Missouri, in view of a project,
matured by him, for establishing a western armory: "Your intimate
knowledge of the Ozark Mountains, its streams descending north and
south, and those passing through to the east, with its unequaled mineral
resources, would be, to me, of infinite service, to accomplish the
purpose I have in view, should you be so kind as to communicate them, in
reference to this particular measure, and by so doing you would confer a
The resources of Missouri in iron, lead, and coal, to which I first
called attention in 1819, are of such a noble character as surely to
require no bolstering from the effects of particular measures.
_March 4th_. Mr. J.O. Lewis, of Philadelphia, furnishes me seven numbers
of his _Indian Portfolio_. Few artists have had his means of observation
of the aboriginal man, in the great panorama of the west, where he has
carried his easel. The results are given, in this work, with
biographical notices of the common events in the lives of the chiefs.
Altogether, it is to be regarded as a valuable contribution to this
species of knowledge. He has painted the Indian lineaments on the spot,
and is entitled to patronage--not as supplying all that is desirable, or
practicable, perhaps, but as a first and original effort. We should
cherish all such efforts.
_9th_. A shrewd and discriminating judge of literary things in New York,
writes: "Have you seen the last number of Hoffman's Magazine? There is a
pretty thing of his in it about Indian corn, and an Indian story by the
author of 'Tales in the North-west,' which I do not, think good. The
number generally is indifferent. Some one recently told me, that the
true orthography of Illinois is Illinwa, like Ottawa, &c. Do you think
that the fact? By the way, why have you, and all other Indian
travelers, used the French word 'lodge,' instead of the Indian wigwam?
Don't you think the latter the better term? I do, and if my book was to
print again, I would always use wigwam instead of _lodge_. We have so
few relics of the poor Indians, that I am unwilling to part with any
one, even so trifling as adopting the red man's name for the red
[Footnote 77: No.]
We have no news here. Paulding's book on slavery has been little
noticed. Dr. Hawk's 'History of Episcopacy in Virginia' is good--very
good, so they say, for I have not read it. Some Jerseyman has written a
bad novel called "Herbert--" something or other--I forget what. What do
they say at Washington, and what do you say about Gen. Macomb's
'Pontiac?' Is the Indian Prince, who was traveling in these parts a
while ago, one of the getters up of this affair? I suspect him. Does the
prince go to 'profane stageplays and such like vanities,' as the dear
old Puritans would say?
[Footnote 78: Fudge!]
"I hear nothing of Mr. Gallatin and his Indian languages. Do you? I see,
by the English magazines, that Willis and his 'pencilings' get little
quarter there; they deserve none. The book is not yet published here.
Walsh, they say, will kill it, unless it should chance to be still-born.
Hoffman is a friend of it, or rather he has made up his mind to join
hands with the 'Mirror' set. I think he has made a mistake. They will
sink him before he raises them. I suppose, however, if he will praise
them they will praise him, and praise is sweet, we all know."
_9th_. Rev. William McMurray writes, from the Canadian side of Sault St.
Marie: "Our excellent governor, Sir John Colbourne, has resigned his
situation, which is at present filled by Sir Francis Head, who has
recently arrived from England. As far as I can learn, he is rather a
literary character, and is the same person who, some years ago, visited
South America on a mining expedition. The most correct intelligence I
have received respecting him is by an express from Toronto. From it I
learn that he is disposed to be kind and good towards the poor Indians.
As an instance of which, he intends visiting every Indian mission next
summer, in order that he may see for himself their secret wants, and how
their condition may be best ameliorated."
My brother James gives a somewhat amusing account of Indian matters at
the Sault after the leaving of their delegates for Washington.
"Since Whaiskee's departure, the whole Sault has been troubled; I mean
the 'busy bodies,' and this, by the way, comprises nearly the whole
population. A council has accordingly been held before the Major-Agent,
in which the British chief, Gitshee Kawgaosh, appeared as orator. The
harangue from the sachem ran very much as follows:--"
'Father, _why_ and for what purpose has the man Whaiskee gone to the
home of our great father? _Why_ did he leave without notifying _me_, and
the other men of _influence_ of my tribe, of the nature of his mission?
Why should he, whose _totem-fathers_ live about Shaugawaumekong (La
Pointe), be, at his own will, made the representative of the ancient
band of the red men whose _totem_ is the lofty Crane? Say, father?
Father, we ask you to know; we ask of you to tell _why_ this strange man
has so strangely gone to smoke with the great chief of the "long
"Here the chief, drawing the folds of his blanket with perfect grace,
and extending his right arm with dignity to the agent, seated himself
again upon the floor, while, at the same time, a warrior of distinction,
whose eagle-plumed head spoke him the fiercest of his tribe, gave to the
sachem the lighted pipe. The eyes of the red men, like those of their
snowy chief, were now riveted to the floor."
'Sons of the forest,' answered the American agent, '_I_, like
yourselves, know nothing of this strange business! _I_, the father of
all the red men, have not been consulted in this man's going beyond the
lakes to "the great waters!" _I_ am the man through whom such messages
should come! _I_, the man who should hand the wampum, and _I_, the man
to whom the red men should look for redress! Friends, your speech shall
reach the ears of our great father, and then this strange man of the
far-off _totem_ of Addik shall know that the Crane _totem_ is protected
by me, the hero of the Southern clime! Men of the forest, I am done.'
"Tobacco was then distributed to the assembly, and, after many _hoghs_,
the red men dispersed."
_24th_. Mr. Bancroft, bringing a few lines from the Secretary of War,
came to see me to confer on the character of the Indians, which he is
about to handle in the next volume of his History. This care to assure
himself of the truth of the conclusions to be introduced in his work, is
calculated to inspire confidence in his mode of research.
_28th_. Washington. My reception here has been most cordial, and such
as to assure me in the propriety of the step I took, in resolving to
proceed to the capital, without the approval of the secretary and acting
governor (Horner), who was, indeed, from his recent arrival and little
experience in this matter, quite in the dark respecting the true
condition of Indian affairs in Michigan. The self-constituted Ottawa
delegation of chiefs from the lower peninsula had preceded me a few
days. After a conference between them and the Secretary of War, they
were referred to me, under authority from the President, communicated by
special appointment, as commissioner for treating with them. It was
found that the deputation was quite too local for the transaction of any
general business. The Ottawas, from the valley of Grand River, an
important section, were unrepresented. The various bands of Chippewas
living intercalated among them, on the lower peninsula, extending down
the Huron shore to Thunder Bay, were unapprized of the movement. The
Chippewas of the upper peninsula, north of Michilimackinack, were
entirely unrepresented. I immediately wrote, authorizing deputations to
be sent from each of the unrepresented districts, and transmitting funds
for the purpose. This authority to collect delegates from the two
nations, whose interests in the lands were held in common, was promptly
and efficiently carried out; and, when the chiefs and delegates arrived,
they were assembled in public council, at the Masonic Hall, corner of
4-1/2 street, and negotiations formally opened. These meetings were
continued from day to day, and resulted in an important cession of
territory, comprising all their lands lying in the lower peninsula of
Michigan, north of Grand River and west of Thunder Bay; and on the upper
peninsula, extending from Drummond Island and Detour, through the
Straits of St. Mary, west to Chocolate River, on Lake Superior, and
thence southerly to Green Bay. This cession was obtained on the
principle of making limited reserves for the principal villages, and
granting the mass of Indian population the right to live on and occupy
any portion of the lands until it is actually required for settlement.
The compensation, for all objects, was about two millions of dollars. It
had been arranged to close and sign the treaty on the 26th of March, but
some objections were made by the Ottawas to a matter of detail, which
led to a renewed discussion, and it was not until the 28th that the
treaty was signed. It did not occur to me, till afterwards, that this
was my birth-day. The Senate who, at the same time, had the important
Cherokee treaty of New Echota before them, did not give it their assent
till the 20th of May, and then ratified it with some essential
modifications, which have not had a wholly propitious tendency.
Liberal provisions were made for their education and instruction in
agriculture and the arts. Their outstanding debts to the merchants were
provided for, and such aid given them in the initial labor of subsisting
themselves, as were required by a gradual change from the life of
hunters to that of husbandmen. About twelve and a half cents per acre
was given for the entire area, which includes some secondary lands and
portions of muskeegs and waste grounds about the lakes--which it was,
however, thought ought, in justice to the Indians, to be included in the
cession. The whole area could not be certainly told, but was estimated
at about sixteen millions of acres.
About the beginning of May a delegation of Saginaws arrived, for the
purpose of ceding to the government the reservations in Michigan, made
under the treaty of 1819. This delegation was referred to me, with
instructions to form a treaty with them. The terms of it were agreed on
in several interviews, and the treaty was signed on the 20th of
A third delegation of Chippewas, from Michigan, having separate interest
in the regions of Swan Creek and Black River, presented themselves, with
the view of ceding the reservations made to them by a treaty concluded
by Gen. Hull, Nov. 17th, 1807. They were also referred to me to adjust
the terms of a sale of these reservations. The treaty was signed by
their chiefs on the 9th of May, 1836.
As soon as these several treaties were acted on by the Senate, I left
the city on my return. It was one of the last days of May when I left
Washington. A new era had now dawned in the upper lake country, and joy
and gladness sat in every face I met. The Indians rejoiced, because they
had accomplished their end and provided for their wants. The class of
merchants and inland traders rejoiced, because they would now be paid
the amount of their credits to the Indians. The class of metifs and
half-breeds were glad, because they had been remembered by the chiefs,
who set apart a fund for their benefit. The citizens generally
participated in these feelings, because the effect of the treaties
would be to elicit new means and sources of prosperity.
I reached Mackinack on the 15th of June, in the steamer "Columbia." I
found all my family well and ready to welcome me home, but
one--Charlotte, the daughter of Songageezhig, who had been brought up
from a child as one of my family. Her father, a Chippewa, had been
killed in an affray at the Sault St. Marie in 1822, leaving a wife and
three children. She had been adopted and carefully instructed in every
moral and religious duty. She could read her Bible well, and was a
member of the Church, in good standing at the time of her death. A rapid
consumption developed itself during the winter of my absence, which no
medical skill could arrest. She had attained about her fifteenth year,
and died leaving behind her a consecrated memory of pleasing piety and
A forest flower, but few so well could claim
A daughter's, sister's, and a Christian's name.
Home matters--Massachusetts Historical Society--Question of the U.S.
Senate's action on certain treaties of the Lake Indians--Hugh L.
White--Dr. Morton's Crania Americana--Letter from Mozojeed--State of the
pillagers--Visit of Dr. Follen and Miss Martineau--Treaty
movements--Young Lord Selkirk--Character and value of Upper
Michigan--Hon. John Norvell's letter--Literary Items--Execution of the
treaty of March 28th--Amount of money paid--Effects of the treaty--Baron
1836. _June 16th_. My winter in Washington had thrown my correspondence
sadly in the rear. Most of my letters had been addressed to me directly
at Mackinack, and they were first read several months after date. Whilst
at the seat of government my duties had been of an arduous character,
and left me but little time on my hands. And now, that I had got back to
my post in the interior, the duties growing out of the recent treaties
had been in no small degree multiplied. While preparing for the latter,
the former were not, however, to be wholly neglected, or left unnoticed.
I will revert to them.
_April 28th_. The Massachusetts Historical Society this day approved a
report from a committee charged with the subject--"That, in their
opinion, the dissertation on the Odjibwa language with a vocabulary of
the same, contemplated by Mr. Schoolcraft, would be a suitable and
valuable contribution to our collections, and that he be requested to
proceed and complete the work, and transmit it to the society for
publication." This was communicated to me by Hon. Thomas L. Winthrop,
their president, on the 2d of May, and opened an eligible way for my
bringing forward my investigations of this language, without expense to
myself. The difficulty now was, that the offer had come, at a time when
it was impossible to complete the paper. I was compelled to defer it
till the pressure of business, which now began to thicken on my hands,
should abate. It was in this manner, and in the hope that the next
season would afford me leisure, that the matter was put off, from time
to time, till it was in a measure cast behind and out of sight, and not
from a due appreciation of the offer.
_May 17th_ In the letter of appointment to me, of this date, from the
Secretary of War, to treat with the Saginaws, it is stated: "You are
authorized to offer them the proceeds which their lands may bring,
deducting such expenses as may be necessary for its survey, sale, &c.
You will take care that a sufficient fund is reserved to provide for
their removal, and such arrangements made for the security and
application of the residue as will be most beneficial to them." These
instructions were carried out, in articles of a compact, in which the
government furthermore agreed, in view of the lands not being
immediately brought into market, to make a reasonable advance to these
Indians. Yet the Senate rejected it, not, it would seem, for the
liberality of the offer of the nett proceeds of the lands, but for the
almost _per necessitate_ offer of a moderate advance, to enable the
people to turn themselves in straitened circumstances, which had been
the prime motive for selling.
The advance was, in fact, as I have reason to believe, a mere bagatelle,
but the chairman of the Indian Committee in the Senate was rather on the
lookout for something, or anything, to embarrass or disoblige General
Jackson and his agents, having fallen out with him, and being then,
indeed, a candidate for President of the U.S. himself, at the coming
election. If I had not heard the pointed expressions of Hon. Hugh L.
White, on more than one occasion, in which my three treaties were before
him, in relation to this matter of not affording the presidential
incumbent new sources of patronage, &c., I should not deem it just to
add the latter remark. He was a man of strong will and feelings, which
often betrayed themselves when subjects of public policy were the
topics. And, so far as he interfered with the principles of the treaties
which I had negotiated with the Lake Indians in 1836, he evinced an
utter ignorance of their history, character, and best interests. He
violated, in some respects, the very principle on which alone two of the
original cessions, namely, those of the Ottawas and Chippewas and of the
Saginaws, were obtained; and introduced features of discord, which
disturb the tribes, and some of which will long continue to be felt. And
the result is a severe caution against the Senate's ever putting
private reasons in the place of public, and interfering with matters
which they necessarily know but little about.
_16th_. Dr. Samuel George Morton, of Philadelphia, makes an appeal to
gentlemen interested in the philosophical and historical questions
connected with the Indians, to aid him in the collection of crania--to
be used in the comprehensive work which he is preparing on the subject.
_26th_. Hon. J. B. Sutherland expresses the wish to see an Indian
lexicography prepared under the auspices of the Indian Department, and
urges me to undertake it.
_30th_. Mozojeed, or the Moose's Tail, an Ojibwa chief of Ottawa Lake,
in the region at the source of Chippewa River of the Upper Mississippi,
dictates a letter to me. The following is an extract:--
"My Father--I have a few remarks to make. Every _morning of the year_ I
wish to come and see you. As soon as I take up my paddle I fall sick. It
is now two years since I began to be sick. Sometimes I am
better--sometimes worse. I am pained in mind that I am not to see you
"Since you gave me the shonea nahbekawahgun (silver medal) I think I
_have walked in your commands_. I have done all I could to have the
Indians sit still. Those that are far off I could not sway, but those
that are near have listened to me."
His influence to keep the Indians at peace, and the reasons which have
hindered the influence in part, are thus, partly by symbolic figures, as
well expressed as could be done by an educated mind. I have italicised
two sentences for their peculiarity of thought.
_31st_. Mr. Featherstonehaugh expresses a wish to have me point out the
best map extant of the eastern borders of the Upper Mississippi, above
the point visited by him in his recent reconnoissance, in order "to
avoid gross blunders--_all_ I do not expect to avoid!" Why undertake to
make a map of a part of the country which he did not see?
_31st_. Rev. Alvan Coe, of Vernon, O., expresses his interest in the
provisions of the late treaty with the Ottawas and Chippewas, which
regards their instruction.
_June 1st_. Mr. W. T. Boutwell, from Leech Lake, depicts the present
condition of the Odjibwas on the extreme sources of the Mississippi.
"There has been nothing, so far as I have discovered, or been informed,
like a disposition to go to war this spring. There is, evidently, a
growing desire on the part of not a few, to cultivate their gardens more
extensively and better. These are making gardens by the side of me. I
have furnished them with seed and lent them hoes, on condition that they
do not work on the Sabbath. From fifteen to twenty bushels of potatoes I
have given to one and another to plant.
"The Big Cloud has required his two children to attend regularly to
instruction; others occasionally. The Elder Brother has procured him a
comfortable log house to be built--bought a horse and cow. I have bought
a calf of Mr. A. for him.
"I am making the experiment whether I can keep cattle here. They have
wintered and passed the spring, and we are now favored with milk, which
is a rarity and luxury here.
"Mr. Aitkin is establishing a permanent post at Otter Tail Lake. G.
Bonga had gone with a small assortment of goods to build and pass the
summer there. The Indians are divided in opinion and feeling with regard
to the measure. Those who belong to this lake, or who make gardens in
this vicinity, are opposed to the measure. Those who pass the summer in
the deer country and make rice towards the height of land, are in its
favor. It is on the line dividing us and our enemies--some say, where we
do not wish to go. Whether he has consulted the agent on the subject,
I know not.
"The past winter has been severe--the depth of snow greater, by far,
than has fallen for several years. Feb. 1 the mercury fell to 40 deg. below
zero. This is the extreme. Graduated on the scale I have--it fell nearly
into the ball."
_9th_. The Secretary of War writes me a private letter, suggesting the
employment of Mr. Ryly, of Schenectady, in carrying out the large
deliveries of goods ($150,000) required by the late treaty, and speaking
most favorably of him, as a former resident of Michigan, and a patriotic
man in days when patriotism meant something.
_14th_. My brother James writes in his usual frank and above-board
manner: "If the Indians are to audit accounts against the Indians
(agreeably to the Senate's alteration of the treaty), there will be a
pretty humbug made of it; then he that has most _whisky_ will get
_July 5th_. Dr. Follen and lady, of Cambridge, Mass., accompanied by
Miss Martineau, of England, visited me in the morning, having landed in
the ship Milwaukee. They had, previously, visited the chief curiosities
and sights on the island. Miss Martineau expressed her gratification in
having visited the upper lakes and the island. She said she had, from
early childhood, felt an interest in them. I remarked, that I supposed
she had seen enough of America and the Americans, to have formed a
definite opinion, and asked her what she thought of them? She said she
had not asked herself that question. She had hardly made up an opinion,
and did not know what it might be, on getting back to England. She
thought society hardly formed here, that it was rather early to express
opinions; but she thought favorably of the elements of such a mixed
society, as suited to lead to the most liberal traits. She spoke highly
of Cincinnati, and some other places, and expressed an enthusiastic
admiration for the natural beauties of Michilimackinack. She said she
had been nearly two years in America, and was now going to the seaboard
to embark on her return to England.
_9th_. Instructions were issued at Washington for the execution of the
treaty, which had been ratified, with amendments, by the Senate.
_10th_. The admission of Michigan as one of the States, had left the
office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs, for the region, vacant. An
Act of Congress, passed near the close of the session, had devolved the
duties of this office on the agent at Michilimackinack. Instructions
were, this day, issued to carry this act into effect.
_12th_. The chiefs in general council assembled by special messengers at
the Agency at Mackinack, this day assented to the Senate's alterations
of the treaty. Its principles were freely and fully discussed.
_13th_ and _14th_. Signatures continue to be affixed to the articles of
_15th_. I notified the various bands of Indians to attend in mass, the
payments, which were appointed to commence on the 1st of September.
_27th_. A friend writes from Detroit: "Lord Selkirk, from Scotland,
is on his route to Lake Superior, and, as he passes through Mackinack, I
write to introduce him to you, as a gentleman with whom you would be
pleased to have more than a transient association. The name of his
father is connected with many north-western events of much interest and
notoriety, and a most agreeable recollection of his mother, Lady
Selkirk, has recommended him strongly to our kindness. I feel assured
you will befriend him, in the way of information, as to the best means
of getting on to the Sault St. Marie."
I found the bearer an easy, quiet, young gentleman, with not the least
air of pretence or superciliousness, and one of those men to whom
attentions ever become a pleasure.
_Aug. 2d_. Hon. John Norvell, U.S.S., calls my attention to the recent
annexation to Michigan of the vast region north of the Straits of
"Your personal knowledge," he observes, "of the country on Lake
Superior, which, by a late act of Congress has been annexed to, and made
a part of the State of Michigan, induces me respectfully to request of
you information concerning the nature and extent of the territory thus
attached to the State; the qualities of its various soils; the timber
and water-powers embraced in it; its minerals and their probable value;
the extent of lake-coast added to Michigan; the fisheries and their
probable value and duration; the capabilities and conveniences of Lake
Superior and the northern Michigan shores, and the cheapness and
facility with which a communication may be opened with the lower lakes;
together with such other information as it may be in your power to
furnish, and as may enable the people of Michigan duly to appreciate the
importance of the acquisition." _Vide_ Letters of Albion in reply.
_16th_. Mr. Daniel B. Woods, of New York, announces the project of the
publication of "a religious and missionary souvenir," and solicits my
aid in the preparation of an article.
_26th_. The citizens, merchants, and traders of the town agree not to
sell or furnish whisky or ardent spirits to the Indians during the
payments and preliminary examinations--a conclusive evidence this that,
where the _interests_ of the population combine to stop the traffic in
ardent spirits, it requires no Congressional or State laws.
_Sept. 26th_. John G. Palfrey, Esq., editor of the _North American
Review_, wishes me to review Mr. Gallatin's forthcoming paper on the
Indian languages, which is about to appear in the second volume of the
collections of the American Antiquarian Society.
_28th_. A busy business summer, replete with incident and excitement on
the island, closes this day by the termination of the several classes of
payments made under the treaty of March 28th, 1836. Upwards of four
thousand Indians have been encamped along the pebbly beaches and coves
of the island, and subsisted by the Indian Department for about a month.
To these an annuity of $42,000 has been paid _per capita_. Of these
there were 143 chiefs, namely, 25 of the first class, 51 of the second,
and 67 of the third class, who received an additional payment of
$30,000. In addition to the provisions consumed, two thousand dollars
worth of flour, pork, rice, and corn were delivered to the separate
villages in bulk prior to their departure, and one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars in the best quality of Indian goods and merchandise,
cutlery, and other articles of prime necessity, systematically divided
amongst the mass. The sum of two hundred and twenty thousand dollars has
been paid on accounts exhibited to the agent, and approved by the
creditors of the two tribes. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars have
also been paid to the half-breed relatives of the two tribes on
carefully prepared lists.
These several duties required care and involved responsibilities of no
ordinary character. They have been shared by Major H. Whiting, the
Paymaster of the Northern Department, by whom the funds were exclusively
paid, and John W. Edwards, Esq., of New York, who divided the half-breed
fund, to both of whom I am indebted for the diligence with which they
addressed themselves to the duty, and the kindness and urbanity of
So large an assemblage of red and white men probably never assembled
here before, and a greater degree of joy and satisfaction was never
evinced by the same number. The Indians went away with their canoes
literally loaded with all an Indian wants, from silver to a steel trap,
and a practical demonstration was given which will shut their mouths
forever with regard to the oft-repeated scandal of the stinginess and
injustice of the American government.
Not a man was left, of any caste or shade of nativity, to utter a word
to gainsay or cavil with the noble and high public manner in which
these proceedings were done. The blood-relatives of the Indian found
that the two nations, actuated by a sense of their kindness and real
friendship for years, had remembered them in the day of their
prosperity. The large number of Indian creditors, who had toiled and
suffered and lost property in a trade which is always hazardous, were
glad in seeing the ample provision for their payment.
The agents of the government also rejoiced in the happy termination of
their labors, and the drum, whose roll had carried away the troops who
had been present to preserve order, now converted to a symbol of peace,
was never more destined to be beaten to assemble white men to march in
hostility against these tribes. They were forever our friends. What war
had not accomplished, the arts of peace certainly had. Kindness,
justice, and liberality, like the "still small voice" at Sinai, had done
what the whirlwind and the tempest failed to do.
Fourteen years before, I had taken the management of these tribes in
hand, to conduct their intercourse and to mould and guide their
feelings, on the part of the government. They were then poor, in a
region denuded of game, and without one dollar in annuities. They were
yet smarting under the war of 1812, and all but one man, the noble Wing,
or Ningwegon, hostile to the American name. They were now at the acme of
Indian hunter prosperity, with every want supplied, and a futurity of
pleasing anticipation. They were friends of the American government. I
had allied myself to the race. I was earnest and sincere in desiring and
advancing their welfare. I was gratified with a result so auspicious to
every humane and exalted wish.
War, ye wild tribes, hath no rewards like this;
'tis peaceful labors that result in bliss.
_29th_. Baron de Behr, Minister of Belgium, presented himself at my
office. He was cordially received, although bringing me no letter to
apprize me of his official standing at Washington. He had been to the
Sault Ste. Marie, and visited the entrance into Lake Superior. He
presented me a petrifaction picked up on Drummond Island, and looked at
my cabinet with interest.
The troops under Major Hoffman embarked in a steamer for Detroit. Also
Major Whiting, the U.S. Paymaster, and Mr. Edmonds, my adjuncts in
_Oct. 17th._ Old friends from Middlebury, Vermont, came up in a steamer
bound to Green Bay, among whom I was happy to recognize Mrs. Henshaw,
mother of the bishop of that name of Rhode Island.
_18th_. Alfred Schoolcraft, who had commenced the study of ornithology
with decided ability, hands me the following list of birds, which have
been observed to extend their visits to this island and the basin of
| | | |
Common Name. | Order. | Family. | Genus. |
| | | |
Brown Thrush |Passeres |Canori |Turdus |T. Rufus.
Cedar Bird | " |Sericati |Bonelycilla|B. Carolinensis.
Canada Jay | " |Gregarii |Corvus |C. Canadensis.
Crow | " | " | " |C. Corone.
House Wren | " | " |Trylodites |T. Edom.
Blue Jay | " | " |Corvus |C. Vociferus.
Raven | " | " | " |C. Corax.
Snow Bird | " |Passerini |Fringilla |F. Hyemalis.
Sing Cicily | " | " | " |F. Melodia.
Robin | " |Canori |Turdus |T. Migratoria.
| " |Passerini |Loxia |L. Corvurostra.
Red Winged Starling| " |Gregarii |Icterus |I. Phoenicus.
Goldfinch | " |Passerini |Fringilla |F. Tristis.
Little Owl |Accipetres|Stapaces |Stryx |S.
Sparrow Hawk | " | " |Falco |F. Sparverius.
Golden Plover |Gralle |Pressirostre |Charadrus |C. Plurailis.
Woodcock | " |Semicole |Scolipax |S. Minor.
Green Winged Teal | |Lamelasodenta|Anas |Anas Crecca.
Wood Duck | | " | " |A. Sponsa.
Golden Eyed Duck | | " |Fatigula |F. Clengula.
Hooping Crane | |Herodii |Grus |G. Americana.
Kingfisher |Passeres |Augubrostres |Alcedo |A. Alcyon.
Loon | |Pygopodes |Colymbus |C. Glacialis.
Partridge | |Galinacia |Perdix |P. Virginiana.
Of their habits he appends the following remarks:--
"The Canada Jay (_C. Canadensis_) preys upon smaller birds of the
sparrow kind. This fact has been related to me by persons of undoubted