W. and S. B. Ives, Washington Street.
Printed at the Salem Observer Office
In making this compilation it has been my earnest wish to engage the sympathy of the youth of our country in favour of our Aborigines, in the hope that by being made acquainted with their character and unmerited sufferings, an interest would be excited which might rescue from utter ruin this persecuted and ill fated race. The digressions were principally made with a view to prove that colour or climate have no influence over the mind, and (in conformity with Scripture) to show that the Almighty is without any variableness or shadow of turning. The same yesterday, to day, and forever, and that His tender mercies are over all His works. Could these impressions be firmly implanted in the mind, we, who bear the name of Christians, should be freed from those narrow prejudices, and supercilious feelings, which lead us vainly to imagine ourselves to be the peculiar favourites of heaven; and thus to foster our pride by the notice that, notwithstanding our multiplied offences, we are still superiour to all who have existed before our era, and to most of the present inhabitants of the earth.—Whilst we fondly cling to these unworthy prejudices it appears to me obvious, that we shall be wanting in a stimulous to improvement, or to reform abuses.4 A2v iv
I have also endeavored to show that the light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world, is all sufficient, if rightly improved, to secure his present and eternal happiness; and that it is the same true and divine light which the ever blessed Jesus was sent to restore and confirm; but which had been greatly obscured by the indulgence of corrupt propensities and passions.
It is a solemn truth, which cannot be too strongly impressed on the mind, that nations, like individuals, have their periods of growth, maturity and decline; like them enjoy happiness and prosperity, or decay and adversity, in proportion as they improve or abuse the gifts of heaven.
From the impartial investigations of some of the best and most intelligent men, we find that in all the great nations who have passed away, the arts and sciences have been cultivated with success, and philosophical investigations pursued with nearly the same results as at the present period. Above all, One Supreme Father of the Universe has ever received the true adoration and gratitude of mankind, however varied may have been their forms of worship. It is however painful and humiliating to find that, notwithstanding much superstition and ignorance prevailed in former ages, and prevails at present in heathen countries, respecting the moral attributes of God, nothing is found so truly debasing and derogatory to the character of the Universal Parent, as the dogmas maintained by the great portion of nominal christians, at the present period.
Notwithstanding the strong desire manifested by many to support the superiority of the moderns, over the ancient5 A3r v cient inhabitants of the earth, it is demonstrable from the works which still remain, to attest their wonderful ingenuity and perseverance both in sculpture and architecture, that in these we are greatly their inferiors. If in some instances we have carried to greater perfection some of the arts, they may serve as a counterpoise to those in which the ancients excelled; and the progress made by the Hindoos, and others, in the science of astronomy, proves beyond doubt that their knowledge, however obtained, produced the same results, as the most approved methods or systems of the moderns.
In closing this brief analysis I ask, are we better than those nations who have been doomed to destruction for their cruelty, their stupid bigotry, and overweening pride? Has there ever been in former ages any system of servitude so truly shocking to humanity, as the slavery to which we have subjected the natives of Africa? Is not the land perpetually moistened with the blood of its native children, and do we not with the most persevering barbarity persist in forcing them from every place where they have found rest, and pertinaciously insist that they are incapable of civilization; whilst we compel them to quit their cultivated fields, and the beloved homes of their fathers, and banish them to a wilderness, to which they have expressed a decided aversion, to gratify an insatiable cupidity. Influenced by the same spirit, our Aborigines are represented as heathen, who are unable to comprehend the sublime doctrines of Christianity, because they cannot bend their reason to embrace the debasing superstitions which have been presented to them, and how before the idols we have set up. Can we then hope A2 6 A3v vi to escape the fate of those nations who founded their empire in blood and perfidy. The agonized cries and groans, of the miserable victims we hold in bondage, will call down the vengeance of heaven on our blood stained country, and the burning tears which furrow the manly cheeks of our indignant Indians, exasperated almost to frenzy by their wrongs, will rise up as a memorial against us before the Throne of God.
The hour of retribution must arrive, and will not long be delayed, unless we allow the divine influences of our benign religion to direct our ways, and lying aside all unhallowed prejudices, and the sins which most easily beset us, unite as christians, to undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free. We need not search out the dark corners of the earth to reform abuses, or to overcome superstition, too much is required at home, and nothing would, in my apprehension, so greatly facilitate our success abroad, as the glorious example we have it in our power to exhibit, and thus should we fulfil the divine behest, and let our light so shine before men, that they seeing our good works may glorify our heavenly Father.
Eliza. What is meant Mother by the controversy between Georgia and the Creeks, of which so much is said in the papers, and who are the Creeks?
Mother. The Creeks were once a powerful people who possessed a large tract of country in Georgia. In a late number of the New York Review there is an article, entitled an examination of the controversy between Georgia and the Creeks, which states that shortly after the accession of the patriotic and venerable Washington to the chief magistracy of the republic, a treaty was concluded at New York in his very presence with the Creek Nation. These particulars are mentioned, that the sanction of that great and good man to the humane policy of the government may have its due weight with all who respect the purity and sagacity of the father 8 A4v 8 of his country. By this treaty the United States took the Creeks under their protection, guaranteed to the tribes their land within specific limits; settled the manner in which offenders should be punished; and in order to lead them to a greater degree of civilization, instead of remaining in the state of hunters, the United States agreed to furnish, gratuitously, the Creeks, from time to time, with useful domestic animals, and implements of husbandry. This treaty bears date 1790-08-07August 7th, 1790. Thus it appears that the United States at that time offered inducements to the Creeks to become cultivators of the soil, and to appropriate it for the purposes of civilized life, instead of using it as mere hunting ground. If they yielded to these inducements, the public faith is pledged to sustain them in that course. Our government is bound, our national character plighted, to encourage them in the wise resolution they have taken, to become civilized men, and to preserve the remnant of their tribe under the protection of this republic.
Caroline. Have the Creeks yielded to the proposal of our government, and are they now civilized?9 A5r 9
Mother. The writer of this article proceeds to say, the pledge has been accepted, and on our part it only remains to fulfil it. In 17961796, another treaty was concluded between the United States and the Creeks, and they bargained for blacksmiths and strikers to be furnished by the United States; thus plainly showing their intention to accept the humane offer of civilization from our hands. I will, my dear girls, hereafter give you some accounts of the Creeks, from the very interesting travels of Bartram, who visited this people on his tour through that part of the country they inhabit, and gives a most pleasing picture of the rural simplicity, and hospitality which prevails in the Creek Nation. You will then be able to judge how far they have complied with the requisition made them by the United States; but I must now proceed as briefly as I may to state the grounds of the controversy. With these obligations subsisting on the part of the United States, an agreement was entered into with Georgia in 18021802, by which the United States agreed to extinguish at their expense, for the use of Georgia, the Indian title to all the lands within the limits of the State, as early as the same could be peaceably obtained on reasonable 10 A5v 10 terms. The consideration given by Georgia, on her part, was the relinquishment of all claims to the vacant territory in the West, included within her boundary.
Eliza. Why did the United States agree to extinguish the Indian title to these lands? Did they suppose the Creeks would ever part with their native country voluntarily?
Mother. It was certainly wrong to make such a compromise with the Georgians, as the strong attachment of the Indians for their native soil was well known; but since we have become powerful, little attention has been given to the rights of the Indians; the Georgians in particular, appear wholly insensible to the claims of justice or humanity, and evince a determination at all events to drive the natives from the small portion of territory they still possess, though the Creeks with the expectation of being suffered to remain in their country, have at different periods ceded to the United States 15,000,000 of acres which have been vested in Georgia, which State has also received 1,250,000 dollars as an equivalent for the lands ceded to the United States by it. During the last war a portion of the Creeks, instigated by hostile emissaries, and influenced11 A6r 11 fluenced by misrepresentations as to the intentions of the United States with regard to the Indians, took up arms against the whites, and were severely chastised by the army under Gen. Jackson. In 18141814, articles of agreement were concluded with the whole nation, including the hostile party, by which peace was restored, a certain portion of Indian territory ceded, and in the second article the United States guaranty the integrity of all the Creek territory not ceded in the first article. This treaty or agreement, the Creeks considered as definitive, and as settling the boundaries within which they were to reside as a civilized people, according to the promises of our government. In conformity with that sentiment, shortly after that treaty, they passed laws constituting it a capital crime to propose any further alienation of their land.
Caroline. In what manner were these unfortunate Indians chastised?
Mother. An account is given of this bloody transaction in a beautifully written article, on traits of Indian character, which appeared in the Analectic Magazine during the late war. The punishment of the Creeks has been pitiless and terrible, says this humane and truly philosophic 12 A6v 12 writer, vengeance has gone like a devouring fire through their country—the smoke of their villages yet rises to heaven, and the blood of the slaughtered Indians yet reeks upon the earth. Of this merciless ravage an idea may be formed by a single exploit, boastfully set forth in an official letter that has darkened our public journals. Letter of Gen. Coffee. A detachment of soldiery had been sent under the command of one Gen. Coffee to destroy the Tallushatches towns, where the hostile Creeks had assembled. The enterprise was executed, as the commander in chief expresses it, in style— but in the name of heaven what style! The towns were surrounded before the break of day. The inhabitants starting from their sleep flew to arms, with beat of drums, and hideous cries. The soldiery pressed upon them on every side, and met with a desperate resistance—but what was savage valour against the array and discipline of scientific warfare? The Creeks made gallant charges, but were beaten back by overwhelming numbers. Hemmed in like savage beasts surrounded by the hunters, wherever they turned they met a foe, and in every foe they found a butcher. The enemy retired firing, says Coffee13 B1r 13 fee in his letter, until they got around, and in their buildings, where they made all the resistance that an overpowered soldiery could do; they fought as long as one existed, but their destruction was very soon completed; our men rushed up to the doors of the houses, and in a few minutes killed the last warrior of them; the enemy fought with savage fury, and met death with all its horrors, without shrinking or complaining; not one asked to be spared, but fought so long as they could stand or sit. In consequence of their flying to their houses, and mixing with their families, our men in killing the males, without intention killed and wounded a few of the squaws and children. So unsparing was the carnage of the sword, that not one of the warriors escaped to carry the heart-breaking tidings to the remainder of the tribe. Such is what is termed executing hostilities in style! Let those who exclaim with abhorrence against Indian inroads—those who are so eloquent about the bitterness of Indian recrimination—let them turn to the horrible victory of Gen. Coffee, and be silent.
Elizabeth. I thought mother that christians were not so cruel as Indians, but I hope none of B 14 B1v 14 our countrymen, beside this Gen. Coffee, could have acted so barbarously and so basely?
Mother. It would indeed be highly consolatory to be assured of this, but though the details of our warfare against the unfortunate Creeks appear to have been studiously concealed from the public eye, we know that a similar outrage was perpetrated by Gen. Jackson, who, in 18181818, destroyed the Chehaw villages, when for the space of three days the country was ravaged, the houses burned, the provisions destroyed, the men slaughtered, and the women made captives.
Elizabeth. Was it not Gen. Jackson who so bravely defended the country when invaded by the Britons?
Mother. Yes he did so, and gained great applause, but his conduct subsequently has proved that he was influenced more by passion, and hatred, than by principle or patriotism. In his campaign against the Creeks he evinced a total disregard for justice or humanity—by his own authority, and in defiance of the award of a Court Martial, he condemned to an ignominious death two Englishmen, who had resided for sometime in the Creek country as traders, on the pretext of their having incited the Creeks to resent the 15 B2r 15 injuries they had sustained; and a venerable Indian sage, whom they called the prophet, was put to death for a like offence, with barbarous exultation. That Gen. Jackson only wanted power to become a second Robespiere, we are assured from his own declaration. Writing to a friend he hesitates not to declare, that he would without scruple have hanged a number of our best, and most intelligent citizens, who during the late war convened at Hartford to consult on the best means of defence, and for the restoration of peace on just and honorable terms.
Caroline. What objection could Gen. Jackson have to this meeting at Hartford?
Mother. None I believe, except his desire to prolong the horrours of war, which it appears was the sphere of action best suited to his feelings and interest. I have been told he possesses a large and valuable tract of land which he has wrested from the Indians. In destroying the Chehaw villages, which were beautifully situated in the vale of the Flint river, another considerable portion of Indian territory was ceded to the United States, as I have before mentioned, and the Creeks vainly hoped they should be permitted to occupy as a civilized people, (relying 16 B2v 16 on the faith of our Government,) the little that remained of their extensive domain. Under these circumstances Troup became Governor of Georgia by a very small majority of votes, and in order, it is presumed, to secure his future election, he determined at any rate to get possession of the lands which remained in the posession of the Creeks, for the purpose of distributing them by a land lottery, that he might thus have an opportunity of presenting his adherents with each a ticket. Gov. Troup, influenced by this desire, sought to drive the government of the United States into a hostile attitude towards the Creeks, by insisting on the right of Georgia to their lands. The general government, in compliance with its agreement with that State, endeavoured to persuade the Indians to cede their land or a portion of it, and appropriations were made to oaffect that object. The Creeks, by their acknowledged representatives, declared their determination not to sell another acre. At the conference in 1824-11November, Col’s. Campbell and Merriwether, the Creek chieftains, declared, that in conformity with our recommendations, they had undertaken to cultivate the soil, and to breed cattle; that they had no more 17 B3r 17 land than was sufficient for their purpose; and that upon no consideration, would they part with another acre. These Georgia commissioners, acting no doubt with the advice and knowledge of the Governor, then proceeded to Washington, where they arrived in 1824-12December, and represented the inclinations of the Creeks to sell to favourably, as to procure a farther appropriation for that purpose, carefully suppressing their declared resolution not to part with another acre. This was the commencement of a system of fraud and misrepresentation highly discreditable to all concerned in it. Gen. William M‘Intosh, a known and steady friend of Georgia, was inclined to yield to the wishes of the State government. He was the head chief of the Coweta tribe, and the State authorities, together with the commissioners, determined to use him and his partizans to defraud the nation of its territory. In order to secure the influence of M‘Intosh, he was appointed agent for the lands which were to be transferred, and by a separate or additional article of this treaty, it was stipulated to give 25,000 dollars for a piece of land belonging to him, called the Indian Spring Reservation—a price, which to say the least, was very liberal. A summonsB2 18 B3v 18 mons was then issued to the Creeks, calling a meeting at these very springs, M‘Intosh not daring to trust himself in the midst of the nation, as he knew he was answerable to the law, making it a capital offence to propose a further aleniienation of lands. This law was proposed at Broken Arrow, shortly after Jackson’s treaty in 18111811, by M‘Intosh himself, and formally re-enacted at a meeting of the Creeks at Polecat Springs in 18241824, in order to put a stop to the negotiations concerning their lands. As the Indian Springs were at a distance from a majority of the tribes, and the notice to attend was given but a few days before the time of the meeting, only a few of the chieftains met the commissioners, and of these, only two signed the treaty, one of whom, it is asserted by one of the United States agents, is not a head chief, or representative of any Indian town. The other chiefs, four in number, upon being informed that the object of the meeting was to purchase their land, refused to give their consent, and left the council. The negociation was however continued by the commissioners, with M‘Intosh and his party, and a treaty concluded by which all the Creek lands in the State of Georgia were ceded to the United States. 19 B4r 19 This treaty was signed by M‘Intosh and one more chief, the other Indian signers not being chiefs nor representatives of towns, and having no legal right to sign the treaty on behalf of the Creeks, which they did at the instigation of M‘Intosh. It is a strong argument against its validity, that with the exception of M‘Intosh, and Etomine Tustunnuggee, none of the Creek chieftains with whom the Creek treaties have been usually concluded, appear to have signed or sanctioned this treaty, so vitally important to their welfare.
Eliza. What a base transaction, but I trust our government will not suffer the Creeks to be driven from their pleasant homes, which they so highly value?
Mother. The writer from whom I have extracted the circumstances I have related to you, after narrating many other facts in proof of the fraud and corruption of Troup and his partizans, all of which, he says, is openly, and unblushingly defended by the executive of Georgia, the indecorous style of whose notes to the late President of the United States, and the Secretary of War, would be unworthy of observation, did they not evince the character of the person at 20 B4v 20 the head of that unfortunate State. They prove him, (he continues,) to be entirely regardless of public opinion and public faith, and show a necessity of energetic measures on the part of the constitutional authorities, to preserve the quiet and the character of the country. At the close of this article the writer proceeds to say, that in order to prevent any examination of these disgraceful transactions by the National government, this treaty was sent to Washington with the greatest despatch, on the nineteenth day after it had been concluded in the western wilderness of Georgia; it was laid before the Senate of the United States at Washington, the very last day of its session. The treaty was concluded on the 1825-02-1212th of February last, and was transmitted to Mr. Calhoun, and by him handed to the then President on the 1825-03-022d of March, with his advice of course for its ratification, as it was fair upon its face, and accomplished an object which the United States felt desirous of effecting when it could properly be done. The next day, having been approved of by the President, it was sent to the Senate, and thus committed to that body before the inauguration of Mr. Adams, who received it after his accession to the Presidency from 21 B5r 21 the Senate, for his signature, that body having ratified it. It thus appears, that the managers of this business transmitted the treaty from the western part of Georgia with such despatch, as to prevent those Indians who might be opposed to the sale of the lands, from being heard at Washington before its ratification. It is moreover asserted by Mr. Compere, the resident missionary in the Creek nation, that the Creeks, confiding in the benevolence and justice of our government, were persuaded that the government would not regard this as a treaty, because it was not made with the consent of the nation. If this be the case, and there is no reason to doubt it, a fraud has been practised upon the Indians, which it concerns the character of the country to disclaim.
Eliza. But mother our government would not assuredly consent to ratify such a treaty, and allow the Creeks to be driven from their country by these rapacious Georgians?
Mother. The President with dignified firmness disannuled the treaty, when informed of the fraudulent manner by which it was obtained, and insisted that the Georgians should discontinue the survey of the land which they had already 22 B5v 22 begun, and an armed force was commanded to see the order carried into execution. Nevertheless the menaces and insults of Gov. Troup appears to have silenced the spirit of indignant rebuke, and chastisement, which was at first called forth to defend the rights of the Indians, and thus maintain the honor and integrity of the country; but amid the commotions of faction, and desire of popularity, our government now appears willing to aid the Georgians in their nefarious bargain, and we are told that the Creeks have consented to sell their country and depart to a land which has little to recommend it, except its being so undesirable, that the Indians may remain there unmolested. Here however they will come in contact with hostile tribes, and be moreover subjected to an uncontroled military force, which under various pretences may perpetually harass, and finally destroy them—nor do I hazard any thing by these suggestions, as the numerous tribes who have thus miserably perished attest they are not the idle anticipations of fancy. I have here the talk of an aged Indian chief, of the Creek nation, to Gen. Jackson, which is expressive of the strong sense the Indians have of their wrongs, and their attachment to 23 B6r 23 their country:—Brother! the Red people were very numerous. They covered the land like the trees of the forest, from the big waters of the east to the great sea, where rests the setting sun. The white people come—they drove them from forest to forest, from river to river— the bones of our fathers strewed the path of their wandering. Brother, you are now strong: we melt away like the snow of spring before the rising sun. Wither must we now go? Must we leave the home of our fathers, and go to a strange land beyond the great river of the West? That land is dark and desolate—we shall have no pleasure in it. Pleasant are the fields of our youth—We love the woods where our fathers, led us to the chase—Their bones lie by the running stream, where we sported in the days of our childhood—When we are gone, strangers will dig them up—The Great Spirit made us all— you have land enough—Leave us then the fields of our youth, and the woods where our fathers led us to the chase—Permit us to remain in peace under the shade of our own trees—Let us watch over the graves of our fathers, by the streams of our childhood—May the Great Spirit move the heart of our father, the President, that 24 B6v 24 he may open his ear to the voice of his children, for they are sorrowful.
Caroline. Oh mother, if Washington had been President, the Creeks would not have intreated for justice in vain, he would have been the friend and protector of the Indians.
Mother. Washington was truly great and magnanimous, he was ever guided by wisdom and an intuitive sense of justice, which prompted him to disdain artifice or collusion, (the steady purposes of his soul were unchanged by the commotions of faction or the workings of ambition,) and the defenceless state of the Indians would unquestionably have engaged his sympathy and protection; yet with avaricious and unprincipled men, the weakness of the Indians is a powerful incentive to take advantage of their inability to resist their unjust demands. Men, like Washington, seldom appear to bless mankind, they are found like, angels visits, few and far between; nevertheless, we might surely expect that those who have filled his exalted station, would emulate those high endowments which have made Washington the benefactor of his country and insured for him immortal renown.
Eliza. But why have the Creeks consented 25 C1r 25 to sell their land, after having so repeatedly declared their resolution not to part with another acre?
Mother. If it be true, it is doubtless in consequence of their having been made sensible that they will no longer be protected by the government; we were informed by the public journals, some time since, that the troops stationed for their defence, were ordered to remove, and the Creeks well knew what to expect from neighbours like the Georgians. The Creeks may plant, but will not be allowed to gather the increase—they may raise cattle, but the Georgians will appropriate them to their own use—and should any resistance be made, it will be a signal for hostile incursions into the territory of the Creeks, which would without doubt involve in ruin the whole nation—similar to that, which on a like occasion, not long since, swept with destructive violence over the Ricaree Villages, and blotted them from the face of the earth. Such too has been the fate of many other tribes, which might here be mentioned.
Caroline. You remember Eliza, when we looked at that map the other day, what a long way the whole nation would be obliged to travel, C 26 C1v 26 and you fancied that you heard the lamentations of the Creek women.
Elizabeth. Oh yes, I pictured to myself their sufferings, and their despair on leaving their habitations,—their fruitful orchards, and delightful country, to encounter a journey so long and fatiguing, so replete with hardships—I thought how many of the aged and infirm would droop and die in the wilderness, and what would become of the little children who, unused to hardships, had passed their days sporting on the green turf before the doors of their rural habitations. I reflected how comfortless would be the place assigned them for their abode, when those who survived the perilous journey had reached their destined home, surrounded by hostile tribes, with no friendly eye to greet them, and I fancied I heard them indignantly exclaim, after so many promises broken, what new pledges can you give us that we will not again be exiled, when it is your wish to possess these lands. But mother, when I speak of this to some they smile, and appear to think me an enthusiast.
Mother. Unfortunately there are many who appear to think it vain to oppose the doom of extermination, which they contend has gone out 27 C2r 27 against our Aborigines, and which threatens to leave us at no distant day, without a living proof of Indian sufferings, from the Atlantic to the immense desert, which sweeps along the base of the Rocky Mountains. These therefore behold unmoved, and without an effort to saye, the accumulated suffering of these unhappy Natives; and there are others, from whom better things might be expected, who coolly tell us, that in the order of things it is right for civilized christian men, to take place of the wretched and barbarous natives, and they affect to sneer at those who compassionate the Indians, and strive to excite feelings for their misfortunes, and prevent their final extinction, by exhibiting those high qualities which formed prominent traits in the character of those children of nature, before they were contaminated by the vices of civilization—Yet we are compelled to pity those cold and arid minds, who have no relish for those primitive virtues so honourable to human nature, and who can so readily sacrifice justice to the base calculations of self interest. Ridicule rises in importance, in proportion as its influence is felt; but when from conscious superiority it is 28 C2v 28 treated with merited contempt, it recoils on its author.
Caroline. Is it consistent with the precepts of Christianity to take their land from the Indians?—has not Christ said, whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them?
Mother.Christianity appears to have exercised but little power over the evil passions of men—Not assuredly because it is not intrinsically pure, and designed to prepare us for a state of felicity by enabling us to subdue our wayward passions, and to be pure and peaceable and full of mercy and good fruit. That it has failed of producing this effect, results doubtless from its unnatural mixture with the history and the institutions of the Jews. It has been the fate of all religious systems, however good and holy, in the beginning, to be perverted and associated with evil practices, which furnish a pretext, and give scope to the designs of wicked men, who are thus enabled to shelter themselves under the broad mantle of superstition. Nothing can be so important, as pure and elevated conceptions of the character and attributes of the Supreme Being; these will lead us to reject all that can defile29 C3r 29 file or lower the standard of perfection which we strive to obtain, and thus we shall perceive that men can at no time be cruel or unjust, without incurring the divine displeasure; that tribulation and anguish, are denounced against every soul that doeth evil; and glory, honour, and immortality are promised to those who persevere in well doing. Children are frequently at a loss to comprehend the reason why they are denied indulgences, which they think are essential to their happiness, though as they advance in life they become sensible, that the restraint to which they unwillingly submitted, was productive of much good. In like manner, the wisest are unable to perceive in many events, traces of that benignity and justice, which form the essential attributes of Him, whose tender mercies are over all His works. Nevertheless, we feel assured, from the entire confidence we have of the wisdom, and paternal goodness of God, that when the future is unveiled to our view, we shall perceive with exultation that all is essentially right.—The minds of Children should be early imbued with pure and undefiled christianity, unmingled with aught that could lead them astray. This can only be effected by enlightened mothers, who C2 30 C3v 30 themselves give an example of disinterested benevolence and pure devotion. Children will thus be formed to virtue, and made to feel the pleasure of doing good; they will be made happy, and their homes will be the centre of attraction. To render this order of things complete, attention should be given to the comfort and convenience of the domestics, whose rights should never be infringed—nor should any creature be injured; more especially, that class of animals who labour for our benefit, should receive kind treatment, and never be forced to work beyond their strength. There are many who ride very fast, because the motion gives them pleasure, and who perpetually urge on their horses to their full speed, without regarding the pain they inflict— this abuse of the power delegated to us by God, is highly reprehensible. The belief of the Hindoos in the transmigration of souls, is very favourable to animals, whom they fear to injure, lest they should be condemned to expiate their offences, in the form of the creature they have in this life abused.
Eliza. Do you mother think the Hindoos are right in believing in the transmigration of souls?31 C4r 31
Mother. I do not pretend to determine in what manner people who are unmerciful will be punished, though I doubt not they will be made to suffer,—you know that Christ has said, blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy, and you should strive to gain this divine benediction by cultivating feelings of compassion for every living thing; even those troublesome insects who annoy us should be destroyed with as little pain as possible—the great law of love which binds us to the whole creation, will thus be fulfilled. Nevertheless, we should not suffer any advantage to be taken of this kindness of disposition, or submit to any imposition; this would be encouraging acts of injustice; for the being who can tamely yield to injustice or arrogance, will soon lose that self respect which is essential to rectitude, and true delicacy of mind. A fine trait in the character of our Aborigines, is the kindness and urbanity which prevails in their domestic intercourse; no harshness is ever allowed, which corrodes affection, and destroys confidence; but when they think wrong has been done, they testify their feelings by coldness and inattention. This has been too often noticed, both by early and late writers, to admit of 32 C4v 32 dispute. One of the missionary ladies, in a letter to a friend, says, you can scarcely imagine how kindly the Indian girls, who are in our school, treat our children; we can trust them to their care with the utmost confidence, very different from that which is felt when we commit our children to domestics, even when we rely on their good disposition.
Caroline. How is it that the Indian children are so good?
Eliza. I suppose it is in consequence of their being so kindly treated and so seldom reproved.
Caroline. It must be so Elizabeth, the Indian children are not obliged to con over lessons when they wish to recreate themselves, and they do not fear to soil or injure their dress.
Mother. You are unquestionably right, my children, the primitive simplicity to which our Indians are accustomed, affords ample scope for the developement of those high endowments which the Great Author of life has bestowed on the creatures of His power, and those impressions have not been paralized by the forms of civilized society. Yet civilization has enabled man to penetrate into the secrets of nature, and to make discoveries which exalt our conceptions of the wisdom,33 C5r 33 dom, and power, and goodness, of God; and some great and good men have attained a superiority, which has forcibly pointed out the high culture of which the human mind is susceptible, and the glorious destination that awaits them in the life to come; where they will enjoy that felicity, for which they are capacitated; but which in this feverish state of existence has ever eluded their pursuit. Charlevoix says: the Indians were perhaps the only happy mortals on the face of the earth before they were acquainted with those objects which seduce and pervert us. The observations of Charlevoix, I have often repeated, as he had the fairest opportunities of making himself acquainted with the customs of the North American Indians, and his remarks so well accord with those, who before and since his time, have written on this subject, in the spirit of truth and impartiality. I will now proceed with some of Charlevoix’s remarks. The beauty of their imagination, says this intelligent writer, equals its vivacity which appears in all their discourse; they are quick at repartees, and their harangues are full of shining passages, which would have been applauded at Rome and Athens. Their eloquence has a 34 C5v 34 strength, nature and pathos, which no art can give. They have a clear and solid judgment and come at once to the point. Most of them have a nobleness of soul, and constancy of mind, at which we rarely arrive, with all the assistance of philosophy and religion. They moreover treat one another with a gentleness and respect, unknown to the common people in the most polite nations. Their care of orphans, widows, and infirm persons, and the hospitality which they exercise is admirable. Nothing can exceed the care which mothers take of their children when in the cradle. Nothing can be neater than these cradles in which the child lies as commodiously as possible. Every one has a friend nearly the same age with himself, to whom he attaches himself by the most indissoluble bonds. Two persons thus united by one common interest are capable of undertaking and hazarding every thing, in order to aid and mutually succour each other: death itself, according to their belief, can only separate them for a time: they are well assured of meeting again in the other world never to part. At first view one would imagine them without any form of government; they notwithstanding enjoy all the advantages35 C6r 35 tages which the best regulated authority is capable of procuring in the most enlightened Nations. They have a natural repugnance to restraint of every sort, but reason alone is capable of retaining them in a kind of subordination, not less effectual, for being entirely voluntary.—This remark is confirmed and illustrated by a late writer, on the North American Indians, in the North American Review for 1826-01January, 1826. We say the Indians have no government. And they have none whose operation is felt either in rewards or punishments. And yet their lives and property are protected, and their political relations among themselves, and with other tribes, are duly preserved. Have they then no passions to excite them to deeds of violence, or have they discovered and reduced to practice, some unknown principle of action in human nature, equally efficacious and with the two great motives of hope and fear, upon which all other governments have heretofore rested? Why does an Indian, who has been guilty of murder, tranquilly fold his blanket about his head, and seating himself upon the ground await the retributive stroke from the relation of the deceased. Within the last year, we ourselves, (continues 36 C6v 36 this writer,) far in the interior of the country, while surveying the initiatory ceremonies of the Indian Mealay, one of their mystical societies, saw a Chippewa, whose grave and serious demeanor attracted our observation. His appearance led to the inquiry, whether any peculiarity in his situation impressed upon his deportment the air of seriousness, which was too evident to be mistaken. It was ascertained that he had killed a Potawatamie Indian, during the preceding season, and that the Potawatamies had made the usual demand for his surrender. On a representation, however, that he was deeply in debt, and that his immediate death would cause much injustice to some of the traders, the injured tribe at length agreed to postpone his execution, till another season, that the produce of his winter’s hunt might be applied to the discharge of his debts. He had been successful in his exertions, and had paid the claims against him. He was now about to leave his friends, and to receive with the fortitude of a warrior the doom which awaited him. He was now for the last time, enjoying the society of all who were dear to him. No one doubted his resolution, and no one doubted his fate. Instructions however were 37 D1r 37 given, to redeem his life at the expense of the United States.
Eliza. Do the laws of the Indians allow a compensation to be given as the price of blood?
Mother. They do so, but, its acceptance, or rejection, is purely voluntary on the part of the friends of the person murdered, who are supposed to be the best judges whether malice or accident caused the murder.
Caroline. But, mother, is it not strange to find a sense of justice so much stronger in the breasts of the uncivilized Indians, than in civilized christian men?
Mother. I have before observed to you, my dearest girls, that the primitive simplicity which prevails among our Indians, is highly favourable to the developement of those lofty sentiments, and pure notions of justice and kindness, which are the gifts of God to man, and the competitions of interest and ambition which pervert and paralize these gifts, in a state of civilization, are felt in a slight degree, where so much liberty and equality prevails.
Eliza. But, mother, are not the Indian women obliged to do almost all the labour? do not they cultivate the ground and raise corn and other D 38 D1v 39 vegetables, for the supply of their families, while the men are idle.
Mother. The labour required to supply a family with grain and vegetables is not burdensome, when we reflect how slight is their task within their dwellings, when compared with the labours of women in our lower classes of society. We learn from the Rev. Mr. Heckewelder, whose veracity is undoubted, that in hunting, the men encounter much greater hardships, than any which fall to the share of the women. The old men frequently assist the women in their work, and the young men, when not engaged in hunting, labour, to recommend themselves to her whom they love, and to find an opportunity of communicating their secret wishes to the object of their affections.
Caroline. If we may confide in Mr. Heckewelder, why are we so often told that Indian women are mere slaves?
Mother. Many mistakes are made by people who are unaccustomed to reflect, and compare, and when they observe customs which vary from such as are familiar to them, they are led to imagine something monstrous and unnatural, and inveigh against them with great bitterness; without perceiving any good which may overbalance 39 D2r 39 the evil: this reflection will, I trust, admonish you to attend, and compare one thing, or custom, with another, and determine with impartiality the results.
Thus, notwithstanding so many are ready to point out what appears degrading in the condition of the Indian women, there are few who have borne testimony to the superior privileges they enjoy. Charlevoix says, the women have the chief authority amongst all the nations of the Illuron language; if we except the Irequois canton of Onneyouth, in which it is both sexes alternately. I have been assured that the women always deliberate first on whatever is proposed in council, and they always give the result of their deliberations to the chiefs, who make the report of it to the general council, composed of the elders. Charlevoix adds; but in all probability this is done only for forms sake. Be this is as it may, it evinces a degree of respect and attention, which we should in vain seek to find in nations who are styled civilized. Unquestionably different customs prevail in different tribes, but we have abundant proof that in all, women have a voice in the public deliberations, and their consent is deemed essential in the ratification of treaties. Our much respected friend, 40 D2v 40 Col. P., who some years since was deputed with several others, to settle the terms of a treaty with the neighbouring Indians, informed me, that after waiting some days at the place appointed, the Indians at length arrived, with the celebrated chief Red Jacket at their head, who bore on his back his child, to relieve his wife from the burden. The Comissioners, impatient of delay, asked why it was thought necessary for the whole tribe to accompany the chiefs? One of the chiefs in reply, assured the commissioners, that it was deemed essential to the validity of a treaty, that not only the chief and warriors should be present, but that the women of the tribe should testify their approbation by presenting a string of wampom. The Colonel assured me that the Indian women, particularly those who are young, were remarkable for their modesty, and sweetness of voice and manner. Their chief, Red Jacket, addressed the commissioners in a style of lofty eloquence, and impressive gesture, quite equal to what our venerable friend has heard of Indian oratory.
When this country was first settled, many queens, or squaw-sachems, as they were styled, were found, possessing equal authority with the male sachems. We have no means of ascertaining their laws of succession, as the numerous tribes 41 D3r 41 in New England were so speedily swept away by the settlers, who appear to have given themselves little time or trouble in ascertaining the laws or customs of the natives, except such as would assist them in supplanting, or reducing them to a state of subjugation. Wetamoe, the squaw sachem of Pocasset, appears to have been most active in defending the country from the usurpations, of the whites, and was, we are told, next to Philip in respect to the mischief that had been done, and the blood that had been shed in this war. She joined her kinsman Philip, and was found dead near Taunton river, which it was supposed she had attempted to cross on a raft. Her head was cut off, and set upon a pole in Taunton, when the Indians who were prisoners there knew it presently, and made a most horrid and diabolical lamentation, crying out that it was their queen’s head. The writer Hubbard. proceeds to observe, that God himself by his own hand brought this enemy to destruction. For in that place, where the last year, she furnished Philip with canoes for his men, she could not meet with a canoe to save herself.
Elizabeth. But was not Wetamoe right in aiding Philip, and endeavouring to preserve D2 42 D3v 42 the liberty, and independence of her country? Instead of being treated so barbarously, she should I think have been honoured as a heroine.
Mother. Unhappily the first settlers of this country were unable or unwilling to appreciate in the Indians, those feelings of independence, and attachment to their early religious opinions, which constituted their own peculiar merit. When the Indians assembled to worship the Great Spirit, or to deprecate his anger; they were supposed by the whites to be employed in magical incantations, to appease the evil spirit, and dispose him to entangle and destroy the white people. Did the Indians practice the healing art, and by their knowledge of simples relieve pain, and restore the sick, as it was ascribed to the power of that same evil being, whom they delighted to worship and obey. Any attempts on the part of the Indians to resist the encroachments or usurpations of the whites, were construed as evincing hostile designs, and were followed by the most severe and cruel treatment. The courtesy and hospitable manner with which the pilgrims had been received and cherished, when they were strangers and had none to help them, had no power to mollify them, when by continual additions to their numbers, and by their knowledge43 D4r 43 edge of the arts, they acquired sufficient strength to subdue their generous entertainers.
Caroline. Were not the Indians extremely vindictive, and cruel? I have often heard of their bloody deeds, Mother.
Mother. The Indians, Caroline, were long ago made sensible that not only their safety, but their existence depended on their expelling the invaders of their country. They have been roused to vengeance, by the injuries, injustice, and insults of the whites, who have thus been subjected to a fearful retribution; yet in my estimation the cruelties of the Indians were tender mercies when compared with those which they have suffered from the whites. Even the horrid death by torture, can bear no comparison with the protracted and hopeless misery to which so many Indians were doomed, who were transported to the Islands and sold for slaves. Neither rank or sex could claim exemption, and the wife of the heroic Philip, and the young prince his son, were sentenced to endure this appalling servitude, and thus forever exiled from their beloved country. The greater part of the Indian prisoners were put to death, and many noble chieftains, after the strife of the battle had ceased, were ignominiously hanged publicly in Boston. 44 D4v 44 We are nevertheless assured that a few only of the white people who fell into the hands of the Indians suffered death or torture but most of them were ransomed, or returned unhurt to their friends, having encountered only such hardships as were incident to the wandering life and precarious subsistence to which they were compelled to submit. The honourable treatment which female captives received from these untutored children of nature, should cause the civilized man to feel with deep humiliation 6-8 lettersflawed-reproduction inferiority.
Eliza. You say, mother, that it is the duty of all to seek truth, but I must confess I am mortified to find our pilgrim fathers who are so much extolled, guilty of deeds socriminal; what are we to think when such men are praised for their piety and christian virtue?
Mother. You must recollect, that christianity has been very imperfectly comprehended by the mass of mankind; a better state of things is dawning upon us, I trust, and pure and undefiled religion, as it was taught and exemplified by our divine teacher, will be restored apart from those corrupt doctrines, which have so long marred its splendour, and retarded its efficacy. You must also remember that the descendants of the pilgrims45 D5r 45 grims have received from them this goodly land, and that the fortitude which led them to brave so many dangers, and endure so many privations in support of freedom, and what they believed to be truth, has made them to be viewed through the medium of prejudice, and invested them with a lustre, which will fade before the perfect light of truth. The God of purity and love, as he is presented to us by Christ; whose tender mercies are over all His works; who is the same yesterday, to day and forever, cannot surely be the same being whom Moses, and many other writers represent as partial, revengeful, and unjust; and I should feel myself highly culpable should I suffer you to believe that men who have allowed themselves to be rapacious, and cruel, could have acted thus in conformity with the high behest of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Caroline. I can never read those parts of the Old Testament which relate to the treatment of the Canaanites without feeling great compassion for that people, and disgust and indignation toward the Israelites for their wicked and abominable conduct; and I shall rejoice to find they were not authorized to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan, for were it true, we should be unable to 46 D5v 46 distinguish good from evil—but how came this to be believed, mother?
Mother. Among all ancient nations it was common to indulge in a style of writing highly figurative, more especially when they desired to veil in obscurity, transactions which would not bear the light; nevertheless, all nations, however varied were their forms of belief, acknowledged and adored one Supreme Ruler of the Universe, by whose sovereign will and pleasure all the events of this life were ordained, none having power to alter, or withstand His decrees. Their ideas were extremely confused, like many of the present day, as they perceived both from the light of nature, and of revelation, that except freedom of will be allowed to man, he of course ceases to be an accountable creature; they nevertheless represented him as bound in the adamantine chains of fate, thus making God the author of evil, and themselves the instruments of His will, to whom sin was not imputed. Unhappily our ancestors believed that the Israelites, in conformity with their own hyperbolic representations, were a people chosen by God, to execute his vengeance on the Canaanites, whom they were commanded to exterminate, and possess their heritage; therefore, as the odious transactions 47 D6r 47 of the Israelites, have been associated with Christianity, though nothing can be more adverse to the spirit of our holy religion, they readily adopted the notion, that they also were favourites of heaven, and privileged like the Israelites to destroy the native inhabitants of this land, and convert it to their own use. Impressed with these convictions, they appear to have lost sight of the benign precepts of Jesus, and identified themselves with the Israelites. Yet I would not have you imagine that this people were ignorant of the essential attributes of the high and lofty one who inhabiteth eternity. David, in his ascriptions of praise, gives the most vivid and exalted views of the One only God, and bows before the most High, confessing His justice and mercy, in having afflicted him for his manifold transgressions, and thus afforded him opportunity, and space for repentance. Throughout the Scriptures we find the most sublime and beautiful representations of the Deity, which fully attest that the unworthy views I have before noticed, must be deemed altogether hyperbolical, and calculated to blind the judgment, and stifle the voice of nature.
Elizabeth. I suppose the Iliad of Homer 48 D6v 48 which we are now reading at school, must be written in the figurative style you describe?
Mother. You will find the same inconsistencies in Homer, who is supposed to have been contemporary with Solomon, and the extravagant notions which some have entertained of the religion of the Heathen, would be justified, could we imagine that Homer in reality, designed to convey the idea, that gods, and goddesses, were personally engaged in the strife of mortal men. Homer, who has been the wonder and delight of ages, who has, under various forms, conveyed the most impressive, religious, and moral instruction, was unquestionably influenced by the conviction, that every good, and every perfect gift came from God; he therefore represented, wisdom, and valour, &c. as personified in his heroes, and thus designed to impress the belief of the overruling power, and attributes of the Olympian Jove. Of this, all must be convinced, who attend to the noble description given by Homer, of the power and supremacy of the Father of gods and men, in the eighth Book of the Iliad. Here also you will acquaint yourselves with the manners and feelings, of many of the celebrated men of antiquity, and will be assured that they possessed in a high degree 49 E1r 49 all those sentiments and feelings, which superficial observers imagine are peculiarly our own. It would, I apprehend, be difficult to produce any character more perfect than that of Hector, in all the relations of life. It is in my opinion impossible to find any scene more highly descriptive of refined sensibility and noble feeling, than is the interview between Hector and Andromache. Every circumstance conspires to render this parting unequalled. When Hector relates the prophetical denunciation of the fall of imperial Troy, when her glories shall be blended with the dust, and his kindred and people slain, yet declares, although oppressed, with this weight of woe, that no sorrow so wounds his mind, as the sad presage, of the grief and degradation which awaits Andromache. When to relieve the fears of his child, Hector unbinds the beaming helmet from his brows, and places it on the ground, then lifts him high in air, whilst he feverently supplicates Him, whose glories fill the ethereal throne, to protect and bless his son, and grant that he may guard the Trojans and defend the crown, when he shall be no more; I am compelled to acknowledge that this scene surpasses all I have ever known. Nor must we pass over in silence the part of Andromache, who in truth E 50 E1v 50 appears worthy of such a husband, in her fulness of affection, and tender solicitude; and though oppressed with sorrow, the voice of loud lament was not heard, nor efforts made to detain Hector from the embattled plain.
It must be confessed, that in the days of Homer, all the endearing charities of life were cherished in their fairest forms, and produced the purest results; nor will unprejudiced observers, contend that women are indebted for the estimation in which they are now held, to the generosity, and superior refinement of modern nations; as it is manifest that not only did they receive those delicate and affectionate attentions, now deemed essential, but were invested with the sacred office of priestesses, and officiated publicly in the temples and in solemn processions, in honour of the gods. The testimony of Homer is corroborated by other writers, both sacred and profane, of which I could cite abundant proof, but I will mention one only, which is the authority Sarah exercised over Abraham, in regard to Hagar and her son, though she has been extolled for her submission in calling Abraham lord. You know too well my sentiments to imagine I would recommend the example of Sarah; it is only noticed here to show the prevailing 51 E2r 51 manners of that early period; you cannot too conscientiously guard against all desires that are unjust or unreasonable, and you should be equally regardful to receive no wrong treatment from others, if it be in your power to prevent it. I can with confidence affirm, that no one will engage respect or esteem who willingly submits to impositions. Yet frail beings, conscious of their own defects, should be kind and forbearing, and not provoke strife, or aversion, by their perversity, or unaccommodating temper.
Caroline. I wish to know how it happened, mother, that Hector was so confident that Troy must fall?
Mother. Hector was conscious that the Trojans merited severe retributions, for having received Helen, in compliance with the wishes of Paris, and in refusing to restore her and her treasures, to her lawful lord. You will call to mind the challenge of Paris, and its acceptance by the Spartan king, on the condition, that should he prove victorious in the strife, the beauteous queen should be his, with the treasure she brought, and differing nations should part in leagues of peace. These solemn engagements, made under the most imposing sanctions, by sacrifices, prayers, and imprecations: was most 52 E2v 52 shamefully violated by the Trojans; Hector was therefore convinced, that his people had forfeited all right to the protection, and favour of heaven, though he strove to procrastinate their doom. The character of Hector is always well supported. Conscious of his own integrity, his confidence in the Almighty never forsakes him, and though we find him complying with the religious rites and ceremonies, common to his country, he refuses with disdain to follow the advice of Polydamas, who endeavoured to prevent him from his intended attack on the Grecian fleet, as the omens were unpropitious. The reply of Hector is full of dignity, and indicates a firm reliance on what he believes to be the will of heaven, unmoved by inferior auguries. Homer’s descriptions are truly admirable, and impress the mind with lofty images, and sublime conceptions of moral grandeur and beauty. The more you attend to history, the firmer will be your conviction of the universal belief of one Supreme Ruler of the Universe, who rewards the good, and punishes evil doers, without respect of persons. The inhabitants of Canaan, among whom the Israelites sojourned, all appealed to the same Almighty power to witness their engagements, to whom also they offered sacrifices and oblations,53 E3r 53 tions, and addressed their fervent prayers; and we should rejoice to find the virtues of generosity, hospitality and good faith, held in the highest estimation, however blended with vice, or deformed by sensuality.
I trust, my dear children, you will not be wearied with this long digression, as it appears to me to be altogether essential to give you just, and comprehensive views of the never failing goodness, and essential perfections of that Almighty Being, who we are assured hath never left himself without a witness—for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. These assurances will prevent you from indulging those supercilious feelings, which lead many to imagine themselves to be the only people who are truly enlightened, and favoured by the most High. Our blessed master, came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil. He came to illustrate, improve and confirm, all those impressions which are written in divine characters on the heart, and to exemplify in the most perfect form the doctrines he taught. These views will silence those, who affirm that if these doctrines had been essential for our salvation and happiness,E2 54 E3v 54 ness, God would not so long have delayed to communicate them to the creatures whom He formed. You will also be assured that such as love not their brethren, but destroy and persecute them, and bind on them heavy burdens, are unworthy the name of Christians.
I will now close what I have further to relate of the Creeks, with a description of the character, customs and persons of the Cherokees, Muscogulges, Siminoles, Chickasaws, Chacktaws, and confederate tribes of the Creeks; from Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws; by William Bartram, in 17731773. Mr. Bartram was a botanist, and a great admirer of natural scenery, which led him to be somewhat enthusiastic in his descriptions, yet his integrity is undoubted. The fervour of his religious feelings led him to express without reserve his admiration of the works of God, in His gifts to man, and to all created intelligences, without any desire to limit His benevolence. This world, he says, as a glorious apartment of the boundless palace of the sovereign Creator, is furnished with an infinite variety of animated 55 E4r 55 scenes, inexpressibly beautiful and pleasing, equally free to the inspection and enjoyment of all his creatures.The males of the Muscogulges, Cherokees, and confederate tribes of the Creeks, are tall, erect and moderately robust; their limbs well shaped, so as generally to form a perfect human figure; their features regular, and countenance open, dignified and placid; yet the forehead and brow so formed, as to strike you instantly with heroism and bravery; the eye, though rather small, yet active and full of fire, the iris always black; and the nose inclining to the aquiline. Their countenance and actions exhibit an air of magnanimity, superiority, and independence. Their complexion of a reddish brown or copper colour, their hair long, lank, coarse, and black as a raven, and reflecting the like lustre at different exposures to the light. The women of the Cherokees are tall, slender, erect and of a delicate frame; their features formed with perfect symmetry; their countenances cheerful, and friendly; and they move with a becoming grace. This description of the Cherokee women, will with some variations, apply equally well to the females of the other tribes. The Cherokees are taller and more robust than 56 E4v 56 the Muscogulges, and by far the largest race of men I have seen, with some few exceptions; their complexions brighter, and somewhat of the olive cast, especially the adults; and some of their young women are nearly as fair, and blooming, as European women.
Eliza. I recollect in the account given of Catharine Brown, the Cherokee convert, it was said, that she was distinguished from the ladies belonging to the missionary family, only by her superior beauty and modest deportment, and that some gentlemen who accidentally saw her, doubted not her being white.
Mother. I remember that she was represented to be a most amiable and interesting young woman; her patience, fortitude, (and the extreme anxiety for the sorrow and privations of her people, whose ruin she foresaw,) during a long and severe illness, which terminated her life, made a deep impression on all who knew her.The Cherokees, in their dispositions and manners are grave and steady; dignified and circumspect in their deportment, yet frank, cheerful, and humane; tenacious of the liberties and natural rights of men; secret, deliberate and determined in their councils; honest, just 57 E5r 57 and liberal, and ready always to sacrifice every pleasure and gratification, even life itself, to defend their territories, and maintain their rights. The national character of the Muscogulges, when considered in a political view, exhibits a portraiture of a great and illustrious hero. A proud, haughty, arrogant race of men, they are valiant in war, ambitious of conquest, restless and perpetually exercising their arms, yet magnanimous and merciful to a vanquished enemy, when he submits and seeks their friendship and protection: always uniting the vanquished tribes in confederacy with them; when they immediately enjoy, unexceptionably, every right of free citizens, and are from that moment united in one common band of brotherhood. They were never known to exterminate a tribe, except the Yamasees, who would never submit, but fought it out to the last, only about forty or fifty of them escaping at the last decisive battle. If we consider them with respect to their private character, or in a moral view, they must I think claim our approbation, if we divest ourselves of prejudice and think freely. As moral men, they certainly stand in no need of European civilization. They are just, honest, liberal and hospitable to strangers; considerate, loving and affectionate58 E5v 58 tionate to their wives and relations; fond of their children, industrious, frugal, temperate and forbearing. I have been weeks and months amongst them and in their towns, and never observed the least sign of contention: never saw an instance of an Indian beating his wife, or even reproving her in anger. In this case, they stand as examples of reproof to the most civilized nations, as not being defective in justice, gratitude, and good understanding; for indeed their wives merit their esteem, and the most gentle treatment, they being industrious, frugal, loving and affectionate. The Muscogulges are more volatile, and talkative, than their Northern neighbours, the Cherokees; and though far more distant from the white settlement than any nation East of the Mississippi or Ohio, appear evidently to have made greater advances towards the refinements of true civilization, which cannot in the least degree be attributed to the good example of the white people. Their internal police and family economy, at once engage the notice of European travellers, and incontrovertibly place these people in an illustrious point of view: their liberality, intimacy, and friendly intercourse one with another, without any restraint of ceremonious formality, 59 E6r 59 as if they were even insensible of the use or necessity of associating the passions or affections of avarice or ambition. A man goes forth on his business or avocations, he calls in at another town if he wants food, rest or social conversation; he confidently approaches the door of the first house he chooses, saying, I am come; the good man or woman replies, you are, it is well. Immediately victuals and drink are ready; he eats and drinks a little, then smokes, and converses either of private matters, or news of the town. He rises and says I go, the other answers, you do. He then proceeds again, and stops in at the next habitation he likes, or repairs to the public square, where are people always conversing by day, or dancing at night, or to some more private assembly, as he likes; he needs no one to introduce him, any more than the black-bird or thrush, when he repairs to the fruitful groves to regale on their luxuries. It is astonishing, though a fact, as well as a sharp reproof to the white people, if they will allow themselves to reflect and form a just estimate, and I must own elevates those people to the first rank amongst mankind, that they have been able to resist the continual efforts of the complicated host of vices, that have for ages over-run 60 E6v 60 the nations of the old world, and so contaminated their morals, yet more so, since such vast armies of these evil spirits have invaded this continent, and invested them on all sides. Astonishing indeed! when we behold the immoral conduct of too many white people, who reside amongst them; notwithstanding which, it seems natural, eligible, and even easy, for these simple, illiterate people to put in practice those beautiful lectures delivered to us by the ancient sages and philosophers, and recorded for our instruction. I saw a young Indian in the nation, who when present and beholding the scenes of mad intemperance and folly, acted by the whites in the town, pressed his hand to his breast, and with a smile looked aloft as if struck with astonishment, and wrapt in love and adoration to the Diety; as who should say, Oh thou Great and Good Spirit! we are indeed sensible of thy benignity and favour to us red men, in denying us the knowledge of white men,—We did not know before they came amongst us that mankind could become so base, and fall so below the dignity of their nature.—Defend us from their manners, laws and power. The Muscogulges with their confederates, eminently deserve the encomium of all nations, for their wisdom 61 F1r 61 and virtue, in resisting, and even repelling the greatest and common enemy of mankind, at least, of most of the European nations; I mean spirituous liquors. The first and most cogent article in all their treaties with the white people, is, that there shall not be any kind of spirituous liquors sold or brought into their towns; and the traders are allowed but five gallons each, wich is supposed to be sufficient for a company, to serve them on the road, and if any of this remains on their approaching the town, they must spill it on the ground, or secrete it on the road, for it must not come into the town. How are we to account for their excellent policy in civil government; it cannot derive its influence from coercive laws, for they have no such artificial system. Divine wisdom dictates and they obey. We see and know full well the direful effects of this torrent of evil, which has its source in hell, and we know surely, as well as these savages, how to divert its course and suppress its inundations. Do we want wisdom and virtue? let our youth then repair to the venerable councils of the Muscogulges. The Indians are by no means idolators, unless their puffing the tobacco smoke towards the sun, and rejoicing at the appearance of the new F 62 F1v 62 moon, may be termed so. So far from idolatry are they, that they have no images among them, nor any religious rite or ceremony that I could perceive; but adore the Great Spirit, the giver and taker away of the breath of life, with the most profound and respectful homage. They believe in a future state where the spirit exists, which they call the world of spirits, where they enjoy different degrees of tranquility or comfort, agreeably to their life spent here: a person who in his life has been an industrious hunter, provided well for his family; an intrepid active warrior, just, upright, and done all the good he could, will, they say, in the world of spirits, live in a warm, pleasant country, where are expansive, green, flowery savannas, and high forests, watered with rivers of pure waters, replenished with every species of game, a serene, unclouded sky; in short, where there is a fulness of pleasure. These people, like all other nations, are fond of music and dancing: their music is both vocal and instrumental; but of the latter they have scarcely any thing worth the name; the tambour, rattle-gourd, and a kind of flute, made of the joint of reed; on this instrument they perform badly, it is only young fellows who amuse themselves on this howling instrument; but the tambour63 F2r 63 bour and rattle, accompanied with their sweet low voices, produce a pathetic harmony, keeping exact time together, and the countenance of the musician at proper times seems to express the solemn elevated state of the mind; at that time there appears not only a harmony between him and his instrument, but it instantly touches the feelings of the attentive audience, as the influence of an active and powerful spirit; there is then an united, universal sensation, and peaceful union of souls throughout the assembly. Their music, vocal and instrumental, keeps exact time with the performers or dancers.
Caroline. What can be the reason that the Indians feel the force of music more powerfully than we do?
Mother. They have fewer objects to divert their attention, and being much abroad in the open air, have many opportunities of becoming acquainted with the wonders of nature, and are thus strongly impressed with the all pervading presence, and goodness of God—hence their sensibility is deeply excited. In the early ages, music was held in the highest estimation, and exerted great power over the human mind. You know that Bards, at public festivals, sang the deeds of their heroes and great men, and it is 64 F2v 64 thus that in many instances historical facts have been transmitted from one generation to another. But I will proceed with Mr. Bartram’s description of their dancing.They have an endless variety of steps, but the most common and most admired and practised amongst themselves, is a slow shuffling alternate step, both feet move forward, one after the other, first the right foot foremost, and next the left, moving one after the other in opposite circles, first a circle of young men, and within a circle of young women, moving together opposite ways, the men with the course of the sun, and the females contrary to it; the men strike their arm with their open hand, and the girls clap hands and raise their shrill sweet voices, answering an elevated shout of the men, at stated times of termination of the stanzas, and the girls perform an interlude or chorus separately. To accompany their dances, they have songs of different classes, some are of a moral character, and seem to be the most esteemed and practised, and answer to the purpose of religious lectures. Some of their most favourite songs and dances, they have from the Chactaws, for it appears that these people are very eminent for poetry and music; every town amongst them strive to excel 65 F3r 65 each other in composing new songs for dances, and by a custom amongst them they must at least have one new song, for exhibition, at every annual busk. Their doleful moral songs or elegies, have a quick and sensible effect on their passions; their countenances now dejected, again by an easy transition, become gently elevated, as if in solemn address or supplication, accompanied with a tremulous, sweet lamentable voice. A stranger is for a moment lost to himself as it were, or his mind associated with the person immediately affected, is in danger of revealing his own distress unawares. They have a variety of games for exercise and pastimes: some particular to the male, some to the female sex; and others wherein both sexes are engaged. The ball play is esteemed the most noble and manly exercise. This game is exhibited in an extensive level plain, usually contiguous to the town: the inhabitants of one town play against another, in consequence of a challenge, when the youth of both sexes are often engaged, and sometimes stake their whole substance. Here they perform amazing feats of strength and agility. The game principally consists in taking and carrying off the ball from the opposite party, after being hurled into the air, F2 66 F3v 66 midway between two high pillars, which are the goals, and the party who bears off the ball to their pillar, wins the game; each person has a racquet or hurl, which is an instrument of a very curious construction, somewhat resembling a ladle or little hoop-net. The foot ball is likewise a favourite, manly diversion with them. Feasting and dancing in the square at evening, ends all their games. They have, besides, feasts or festivals, almost for every month in the year, which are chiefly dedicated to hunting and agriculture. The busk, or feast of first fruits, is their principal festival; this seems to end the last, and begin the new year. It commences in August, when their new crops of corn are arrived at maturity; and every town celebrates the busk separately, when their own harvest is ready. If they have any religious rite or ceremony, this festival is its most solemn celebration. When a town celebrates the busk, having previously provided themselves with new clothes, household utensils, and furniture, they collect all their worn-out clothes, and other despicable things, sweep and cleanse their houses, squares, and the whole town, and all the remaining grain, and other old provisions, they cast into one common heap, and consume it with fire. After having 67 F4r 67 taken medicine, and fasted for three days, all the fire in the town is extinguished. During this fast they abstain from the gratification of every appetite and passion whatever. A general amnesty is proclaimed; all malefactors may return to their town, and are absolved from their crimes, which are now forgotten. On the fourth morning the high priest, by rubbing dry wood together, produces new fire in the public square, from whence every habitation in the town is supplied with the new and pure flame. Then the women go forth to the harvest field and bring from thence new corn and fruits, which being prepared in the best manner, in various dishes, and drink withal, is brought with solemnity to the square, where the people are assembled, appareled in their new clothes and decorations. The men having regaled themselves, the remainder is carried off and distributed among the families of the town. The women and children solace themselves in their families, and in the evening repair to the public square, where they dance, sing and rejoice, during the whole night, observing a proper and exemplary decorum. This continues three days, and the four following days they receive visits and rejoice with their 68 F4v 68 friends from the neighbouring towns, who have purified and prepared themselves.
Elizabeth. This manner of celebrating their thanksgiving appears to me very delightful; but their fasts have more solemnity and devotedness than ours—why should Mr. Bartram be in doubt of this annual festival, being a religious rite? I can perceive no other motive which could induce the Indians to observe a fast, which requires so many sacrifices and privations.
Mother. There can be no doubt of their fast being commemorated with a view to make atonement for sin, and in the hope of propitiating the Deity, and they thus attest their humility and sorrow for past offences. They after, testify their gratitude to the great Creator, by enjoying His bounties with gladness and rejoicing, and in mutual reciprocations of kindness.
Other writers have noticed these ancient customs of the Aborigines. The Rev. Dr. Morse, who performed a tour in the summer of 18201820, under a commission from the President of the U. States, for the purpose of ascertaining for the government, the actual state of the Indian tribes in our country, says,—The Indians have two sacrifices in each year. The principal festival is celebrated in the month of August. The precise time is 69 F5r 69 fixed by the head chief counsellors of the town, and takes place, sooner or later, as the state of the affairs of the town, or forwardness of the corn will admit. It is called the green corn dance, or more properly speaking, the ceremony of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the earth. It lasts from four to twelve days, and in some places resembles a large camp meeting. The Indians attend from all quarters, with their families, their tents and provisions, encamping around the council house, or house of worship. The animals killed for the sacrifice are cleansed, the heads, horns, &c. are suspended on a large white pole, with a forked top, which extends over the roof of the house. The women having prepared the new corn and provisions for the feast, the men take some of the new corn and rub it between their hands, then on their faces and breasts: They then feast, the great chief having first addressed the crowd, thanking the Great Spirit, for the return of the season, and giving such moral instruction to the people, as he thinks proper. On these occasions the Indians are dressed in their best manner, and the whole nation attend from the greatest to the smallest.— The quality of provisions is immense, every one bringing, in proportion to his ability. The 70 F5v 70 whole is cast into one pile, and distributed during the continuance of the feast, among the multitude, by leaders appointed for the purpose.—In former times this festival was held in the highest veneration, and was a general amnesty, which not only absolved the Indians from all punishments for crimes, (murder only excepted,) but seemed to bury guilt itself in oblivion. There are no people more frequent or fervent in their acknolegments of gratitude to God. Their belief in Him is universal, and their confidence astonishingly strong.
Religious festivals, such as are here described, were common among all nations; a considerable resemblance has been remarked between many customs of the Jews and the Aborigines of this country, which has induced some, to imagine our Indians to be the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.
Caroline. The description you have last mentioned, differs somewhat from that given by Bartram.
Mother. Though these sacrifices and feasts, were celebrated amongs most of the various tribes of Indians, we find some variation in the forms observed; yet they are all allowed to bear the same sacred character.—I will now give you 71 F6r 71 Bartram’s account of the Creeks, or Muscogulges, who are under a more strict government, or regular civilization, than the Indians in general.Their country having a vast frontier, naturally accesible and open to the incursions of their enemies, they find themselves under the necessity of associating in large populous towns, as near together as convenient, that they may be enabled to succour and defend one another in case of sudden invasion. This, consequently, occasions deer and bear to be scarce, and difficult to procure, which obliges them to be vigilant and industrious; this naturally begets care and serious attention, which we may suppose in some degree forms their natural disposition and manners; and gives them that air of dignified gravity, so strikingly characteristic in their aged people; and that steadiness, just and cheerful reverence, in the middle-aged and youth, which sits so easy upon them, and appears so natural. For however strange it may appear to us, the same moral duties, which with us form the amiable, virtuous character, so difficult to maintain, there, without compulsion or visible restraint, operate like instinct, with a surprising harmony and natural ease, insomuch that it seems impossible72 F6v 72 ble for them to act out of the common high road to virtue. We will now take a view of the lower Creeks or Seminoles, and the natural disposition which characterizes this people; whom, from the striking contrast, the philosopher may approve or disapprove, as he thinks proper, from the judgment and opinion given by different men. The Seminoles are but a weak people with respect to numbers, yet they enjoy a superabundance of the necessaries of life, with the security of person and property. The hides of deer, bears, &c. together with honey, wax, and other productions of the country, purchase their clothing, equipage and domestic utensils, from the whites. They seem to be free from want or desires. No cruel enemy to dread; nothing to give them disquietude, but the gradual encroachments of the white people. Thus contented and undisturbed, they appear as blythe and free as the birds of the air, and like them as volatile and active, tuneful and vociferous. The visage, action and deportment of the Seminoles, form the most striking picture of happiness in this life; joy, contentment, love and friendship, seem inherent in them, or predominant in their vital principle, for it leaves them but with the last 73 G1r 73 breath. It even seems imposing a constraint upon their ancient chiefs and senators, to maintain a necessary decorum and solemnity, in their public councils; not even the debility of extreme old age, is sufficient to erase from their visages, this joyous simplicity; but, like the gray eve of a serene and calm day, a gladdening cheering blush remains on the western horizon after the sun is set. I doubt not but some of my countrymen, who may read these accounts of the Indians, which I have endeavoured to relate according to truth, at least as they appeared to me, will charge me with partiality or prejudice in their favour.
I will now, (proceeds Bartram,) endeavour to exhibit their vices and immoralities, from my own observations, and knowledge, as well as accounts from the white traders who reside amongst them.
The Indians make war against, kill and destroy their species, and their motives spring from the same erroneous source as they do in all other nations of mankind; that is, the ambition of exhibiting to their fellows a superior character of national and personal valour; and thereby immortalizing themselves, by transmitting their names with honour and lustre to posterity; or G 74 G1v 74 revenge of their enemy, for public or personal insults; or lastly to extend the boundaries of their territories. But I cannot find, upon the strictest enquiry, that their bloody contests at this day are marked with deeper stains of inhumanity or savage cruelty, than may be observed amongst the most civilized nations: they do indeed scalp their slain enemy, but they do not kill the females or children of either sex: the most ancient traders, both in the upper and lower Creeks, assured me they never saw an instance of either burning or tormenting their captives; though it is said they used to do it formerly. I saw in every town in the nation of Seminoles, that I visited, more or less male captives, some extremely aged, who were free and in as good circumstances, as their masters; and all slaves have their freedom when they marry, which is permitted and encouraged; when, they and their offspring are every way upon an equality with their conquerors. They punish adulterers with great severity, male and female equally alike, by taking off their ears. Infamy and disgrace is supposed to be a sufficient punishment for crimes of less magnitude. They are fond of games and gambling, and amuse themselves like children, in relating extravagant stories, to cause surprise and mirth.75 G2r 75
In giving a summary view of the character of a people, the result of the writer’s conclusions are frequently at variance with what he has himself previously stated; hence in estimating the qualities of the people described, the only criterion by which we are enabled to form a just judgment, is by attending to transactions which came within the scope of the writer’s own observation. The opinion given by our author in reference to the habits and dispositions of the Indians, is abundantly confirmed in the details he has made relative to his reception and entertainment by these natives. The situation of their towns, manner of building, with their agricultural products, afford a most pleasing picture of rural happiness and independence. The country is beautiful and fertile in a high degree. Oranges, peaches, grapes, with almost every variety of fruits, are spontaneously produced; and vegetables of the finest flavour, particularly melons; and lastly, they have horses, and every species of game, in great abundance. Orange groves, intermixed with the most beautiful flowering trees and shrubs, in many instances, nearly surround their towns and villages, forming a cool and fragrant shade.
I will give you, in the words of Mr. Bartram, 76 G2v 76 a description of the town of Cuscowilla, and its environs, which may give you an idea of many others, visited by him during this tour.After crossing over the point or branch of the marshes, we entered a noble forest, the land level and the soil fertile; the forest consisted of orange groves, overtopped by grand magnolias, palms, &c., with various kinds of shrubs and herbaceous plants. We were cheerfully received in this hospitable shade by various tribes of birds, their sprightly songs seemed a prelude to the vicinity of human habitations. This magnificent grove was a wing of the vast forests lying upon the coast of the great and beautiful lake of Cuscowilla, at no great distance from us. Continuing eight or nine miles through this sublime forest, we entered an open forest of lofty pines and oaks, on gently swelling sand hills, and presently saw the lake, its waters sparkling through the open groves. Near the path was a large artifical mound of earth, on a charming high situation, supposed to be the work of the ancient Floridians or Yamazees, with other traces of an Indian town. Here were three or four Indian habitations; the women and children saluted us with cheerfulness and complaisance. After riding near a mile farther we arrived77 G3r 77 rived at Cuscowilla, near the banks; a pretty brook of water ran through the town, and entered the lake just by. We were welcomed to the town, and conducted by the young men and maidens to the chief’s house, which stood on an eminence, and was distinguished from the rest by its superior magnitude, and a large flag being hoisted on a high staff at one corner. We immediately alighted; the chief, attended by several ancient men, came to us, and in a very free and sociable manner shook our hands, saying at the same time, you are come. We followed him to an apartment prepared for the reception of their guests. The pipe being filled, was handed around; after which a large bowl, with what they call their drink, was brought in and set down on a small low table. In this bowl is a great wooden ladle: each person takes up as much as he pleases, and after drinking, returns it again into the bowl, with the handle towards the next person in the circle, and so it goes round. After the usual compliments and inquiries, the chief trader informed the chief, in the presence of his council or attendants, the purport of our business, with which he expressed his satisfaction. He was then informed what the natureG2 78 G3v 78 ture of my errand was, and he received me with complaisance, giving me unlimited permission to travel over the country for the purpose of collecting flowers, medicinal plants, &c. saluting me by the name of Pue Puggy, or the flower hunter, recommending me to the friendship and protection of his people. The next day was agreed on to hold a council and transact the business of our embassy; soon after a considerable number of Indians assembled around their chief, when the conversation turned to common and familiar topics. The chief is a tall well made man, very affable and cheerful, about sixty years of age, his eyes lively and full of fire, his countenance manly and placid, yet ferocious, or what we call savage, his nose aquiline, his dress extremely simple, but his head trimmed and ornamented in the true Creek mode. The repast was now brought in, consisting of venison stewed with bear’s oil, fresh corn cakes, milk and homeny; and our drink, honey and water, very cool and agreeable. After partaking of this banquet, we took leave and departed for the great savanna.
Eliza. How beautiful must be this country inhabited by the Creeks, I do not wonder to find they are so unwilling to leave it; neither can I perceive any thing barbarous in their manners, 79 G4r 79 or customs, but on the contrary there is much urbanity, and politeness in their behaviour; this doubtless induced the Chief to grant permission to Mr. Bartram, in a manner so pleasing, to travel over the country, as they were so much in fear of the encroachments of the white people.
Mother. Their willingness to shew courtesy to strangers, was unquestionably the reason of their allowing Bartram to explore the country, as the accounts given by travellers of the Indian territory, has uniformly incited the desire of our people to possess their lands. Bartram’s descriptions are of a nature to create this desire, in the breasts of unprincipled men; he gives here a most magnificent view of the extensive Alachua savanna, which he says, is a level green plain, above fifty miles in circumference, and scarcely a tree or bush to be seen on it. It is encircled with high, sloping hills, covered with waving forests and fragrant Orange groves, rising from an exhuberantly fertile soil. The towering magnolia, grandiflora and transcendent Palm, stand conspicuous amonst them. At the same time are seen innumerable droves of cattle, herds of deer, squadrons of the beautiful fleet Seminole horse, flocks of turkeys, civilized communities of the 80 G4v 80 sonorous watchful crane, mixing together, happy in the enjoyment of nature’s bounties.
Soon after sun-rise a party of Indians appeared upon the savanna to collect together several herds of cattle, which they drove along near our camp towards the town. One of the party came up, and informed us that the cattle belonged to the chief of Cuscowilla, that he had ordered some of the best steers to be slaughtered for a general feast for the whole town, in compliment of our arrival, and pacific negotiations. We soon followed them to town, in order to be at the council at the hour appointed. Upon our arrival we repaired to the public square or council-house, where the chiefs and senators were already convened; the warriors and young men assembled soon after, the business being transacted in public, which was soon terminated to the satisfaction of both parties. The banquet succeeded; the ribs and choisest fat pieces of the bullocks, excellently well barbecued, were brought into the apartment of the public square, constructed and appointed for feasting; bowls and kettles of stewed flesh and broth were brought in for the next course.
Caroline. Why mother I had no idea that entertainments were given by the Indians in this 81 G5r 81 style; they must have had spacious apartments, to accommodate so large a party.
Mother. In this place Bartram does not mention the size of the council house, or mode of its construction; yet shortly after he describes one in the town of Cowe, belonging to the Cherokees, which would furnish ample accommodation for a numerous assembly, to which this undoubtedly bore a strong resemblance.But I will now proceed to furnish the description of the town of Cuscowilla, which is the capital of the Alachua tribe, and contains about thirty habitations, each of which consists of two houses of nearly the same size, about thirty feet in length, twelve feet wide, and about the same in height. The door is placed midway on one side or in the front. This house is divided into two apartments, one of which is the cook room and common hall, and the other the lodging room. The other house is nearly of the same dimensions, standing about twenty yards from the dwelling house, its end fronting the door. The building is two stories high, and constructed in a different manner. It is divided transversely, as the other, but the end next the dwelling house is open on three sides, supported by posts or pillars. It has an open loft or platform, the ascent 82 G5v 82 to which, is by a portable stair or ladder; this is a pleasant, airy, cool situation, and here the master or chief of a family retires to repose in the hot seasons, or receives his guests or visitors. The other half of this building is closed on all sides, the lowest or ground part is a potatoe house, and the upper story over it a granary for corn and other provisions. Their houses are constructed of a kind of frame. In the first place strong corner pillars are fixed in the ground, with others somewhat less, ranging on a line between; these are strengthened by cross pieces of timber, and the whole with the roof is covered close with the bark of the Cypress tree. The dwelling stands near the middle of a square yard, encompassed by a low bank, which is always carefully swept. Their towns are clean, the inhabitants being particular in laying all their filth at a proper distance from their dwellings, which undoubtedly contributes to the healthiness of their habitations. The town stands on the most pleasant situation that could be well imagined, in an inland country; upon a high swelling ridge of sand hills, within three or four hundred yards of a large and beautiful lake, the circular shore of which continually washes a sandy beach, under 83 G6r 83 a moderately high sloping bank, terminated on one side by extensive forests, consisting of orange groves, overtopped with grand Magnolias, palms, poplar, and others already noticed, and the opposite point of the crescent, gradually retires with hommochy projecting points indenting the grassy marshes, and lastly terminates in infinite green plains and meadows, united with the skies and waters of the lake; at present the ground betwixt the town and the lake is adorned by an open grove of tall pine trees, which, standing at a considerable distance from each other, admit a delightful prospect of the sparkling waters. The lake abounds with various excellent fish, and wild fowl: there are incredible numbers of the latter, especially in the winter season.
Elizabeth. It appears very strange that the Indians should be represented by some, as having no permanent dwelling places, but perpetually roaming in search of a precarious subsistence; occupying miserable huts, scarcely capable of affording shelter, or convenience of any sort; when Mr. Bartram, and many others, so deserving of confidence, describe their situation so pleasant, and desirable.
Mother. This is easily explained; people of contracted and sordid minds, from having been 84 G6v 84 early instructed to limit the goodness of God to a small portion of the human race, embracing those only who belong to their sect or party, imagine that all who are removed from their own narrow circle must be ignorant and vile. Influenced by these impressions, they perversely misrepresent and distort the gifts and high endowments which the beneficent Father of the Universe hath so abundantly bestowed on His children, without partiality, and thus by these delusive expedients they persuade themselves that it is not criminal to wrest from those, whom they call heathen, their possessions and all they hold most dear; hence, having forced the Indians to become vagrants, by depriving them of the means of subsistence, and reducing them to a state of desperation; they are stimulated to conceal their guilty deeds by representing the Indians as unworthy, and incapable of enjoying or improving the bounties of nature. Policy, also influences many to acquiesce in these misrepresentations, who are desirous of enjoying spoil thus acquired without disturbance, or feeling their responsibility to vindicate or relieve the oppressed Indians. It is generally maintained that the male Indians are too indolent to bestow any attention on agriculture, and that a small 85 H1r 85 quantity of corn is produced by the labour of the women only, as the men feel it to be derogatory to lend them any assistance; little attention therefore is bestowed on the rising plants, and of course they frequently are in great want of this necessary article of food. It is however only necessary to refer to the first settlement of the country, to be assured that corn was raised in abundance by the natives, who frequently relieved the settlers from much suffering by their liberal supplies.
Bartram gives a distinct account of their husbandry, in closing his description of Cuscowilla. They plant (says this writer,) but little here about the town; only a small garden at each habitation, consisting of corn, beans, citruls, &c. Their plantation, which supplies them with the chief of their vegetable provisions, lies on the rich, prolific lands bordering on the great Alachua savanna, about two miles distance. This plantation is one common enclosure, and is worked and tended by the whole community; yet every family has its particular part, according to its own appointment, marked off when planted; and this portion receives the common labour until ripe, when each family gathers and deposits in its granary its own proper share, setting apart a H 86 H1v 86 small gift or contribution for the public granary, which stands in the centre of the plantation. The youth, under the supervisal of some of their ancient people are, daily stationed in the fields, and are continually whooping and halooing to chase away crows, black-birds, and such predatory animals; and the lads are armed with bows and arrows, and being trained up to it from their early youth, are sure at a mark, and in the course of the day load themselves with squirrels, birds, &c. The men in their turn parole the cornfields at night to protect them from the depredations of bears, raccoons, &c.
Elizabeth. Do you suppose, mother, that all the natives of this country were as attentive to the cultivation of their lands, as were those of Cuscowilla?
Mother. Unquestionably those were whom Mr. Bartram visited, as he constantly speaks of the abundance which prevailed, and the fine plantations which every where met his view, in, or near, their settlements; nor can we doubt of the attention paid to agriculture at the period when this country was first discovered. Mr. Bartram says, that in the old Spanish highway across the isthmus of Florida to Saint Marks, in the bay of Apalache, they passed through a great extent 87 H2r 87 of ancient Indian fields, now grown over with forests of stately trees, orange groves, and luxuriant herbage, the old trader, his associate, informed him it was the ancient Alachua, the capital of that famous and powerful tribe, who peopled the hills surrounding the savanna, when in days of old, they could assemble by thousands at ball play, and other juvenile diversions and athletic exercises, over those then happy fields and green plains. And there is no reason to doubt of his account being true, as almost every step we take over those fertile heights, discovers remains and traces of human habitations and cultivation.
Caroline. By what people were those Indians destroyed who were so numerous and happy?
Mother. I believe both the French and Spaniards made settlements in this part of the country, who, like all other nominal christian settlers, disregarded the ties of gratitude, and humanity, and sacrificed with merciless barbarity, the natives by whose kindness, and generous hospitality, they had been preserved from famine and disease.
Some years past, in a work entitled Sketches historical and descriptive of Louisiana, by Major Stoddard, member of the New York Historical 88 H2v 88 Society, &c. who was appointed to take possession of Upper Lousiana under the treaty of session, the writer says, the records and other public documents were open to my inspection, and as it was my fortune to be stationed about five years on various parts of the lower Mississippi, and nearly six months on Red River, my enquiries gradually extended to Louisiana in general.
The author bestows ample praises on the Natches, as a comparatively polished and civiized tribe. They had an established religion among them, in many particulars rational and consistent, as likewise regular orders of priesthood. They had a temple to the Great Spirit, in which they preserved the eternal fire.
The civil policy of the Natches partook of the refinements of a people, in some degree learned and scientific; it exhibited penetration and wisdom, and was calculated to make them happy. They had kings or chiefs, invested with absolute power, as likewise a kind of subordinate nobility, among them. It is added, they were just, generous and humane, and never failed to extend relief to objects of distress. They were well acquainted with the properties of medicinal plants, and the cures they performed, particularly89 H3r 89 ticularly among the French, appear almost incredible. What is much more to their praise, they never deemed it glorious to destroy the human species, and for this reason seldom waged any other than defensive war.
The Natches had received favourably the French adventurers; had supplied them with provisions, assisted them in their tillage, and in building their houses; had saved them from famine and death; and continued to possess the strongest disposition to oblige; and would still have been eminently useful to them, had they not been treated with indignity and injustice, by the commandant of a French fort. They began to take as might be expected a severe revenge, but were induced to stop short of its complete execution, and a treaty of peace restored confidence, apparently on both sides, and in reality on the side of the Natches. But the civilized party, the Christians, were meditating a plan of extermination. A very strong military body, concealed its movements so well as to be enabled to fall suddenly on the habitations of the Indians, of whom a large proportion perished in a slaughter prolonged for several days, and not terminated till the surrender, at the requisition of the French, of the head of a peculiarly H2 90 H3v 90 obnoxious chief. The remainder of the nation, still considerable, continued to be treated with the most galling injustice, and about six years afterwards were suddenly ordered to clear away their huts, for the establishing a French settlement. Stimulated to madness by this outrage, they endeavoured to destroy the settlements. This was revenged by measures which compelled the Indians to retire precipitately into a distant part of the wilderness. Thither they were followed, and their most desperate efforts could not avert their fate. A few escaped and incorporated themselves with other tribes; while the remainder of those that survived the carnage were taken, enslaved, and at last transported to St. Domingo.
Caroline. Did the Natches resemble the Creek Indians?
Mother. It is probable there was not any great dissimilarity between them, as they were continguous to each other, and the natives of our Southern clime bear a strong resemblance in their habits and dispositions, with the difference only, which is found between those who dwell in populous towns, where a degree of refinement prevails, and the people of the country; yet we find that all of them had a common object of worship, and that adoration was paid to the 91 H4r 91 Great Spirit, in singleness of beast.—Fire also appears to have been held in veneration as a sacred element, and an emblem of purity, as we find it to have been both by the Persians and Hindoos, and other Pagan nations.
From the writings of Stoddard, we learn, that both the Spaniards and French strove to exceed each other in acts of barbarity, which no ordinary improvement in depravity could rival. The wretched policy and want of principle, in the European adventurers, in destroying the natives, was soon followed by that retributive justice, which is not long delayed. Their cupidity incited them so powerfully to possess lands in the new world, that they were impelled to practice on each other, enormities too disgusting to bear repetition; and thus they alternately were driven out or exterminated. A just and liberal policy, in the first settlers, would doubtless have secured the confidence and affection with their new friends, and secured to them a peaceful and happy country. What I have related to you of the Natches, is taken from the Analectic Magazine, where Major Stoddard’s work is handsomely spoken of; and I promise myself much pleasure in perusing the volume at some future 92 H4v 92 period, as he had testified his aversion to acts of injustice and barbarity, in strong terms, and considers the Indians as a part of the human race, not unworthy respect and commisseration. His morality is not of that acommodating kind, which some have the hardiness to maintain, who boldly assert that our obligations to act with justice and honesty in our dealings, may be dispensed with in treaties with our defenceless Indians.
Eliza. Are we not bound to treat the unfortunate and helpless with more kindness and attention, than is due to the prosperous and happy? and does it not discover a base and sordid spirit, to take advantage of the weak and defenceless?
Mother. You are right, my dear girl, and we certainly have reason to conclude that those who advance such sentiments, do right only when they fear to do wrong; but when measures are adopted by a government, which accord with these base and sordid views, and set at defiance the eternal laws of justice and mercy, the whole nation is implicated who do not raise their voices, in contemning this violation of the moral principle. I have much yet to tell you of the Creek Indians, but must defer what I have further to say until another opportunity is afforded us.
Caroline. Pray, mother, allow me to ask, if 93 H5r 93 it be not extraordinary that so little interest is shown for our suffering natives, when so much excitement is manifested for the GCreeks?
Mother. We can have small confidence in the benevolence of those who profess so much sensibility for the unfortunate Greeks, yet notwithstanding this display of sympathy, make no effort to save those Indians whom we have so deeply injured. We appear desirous of having it believed, that we would willingly put a stop to the abominable traffic in slaves, but cannot without the cooperation of other nations; yet the annual amount of the sums employed in foreign missions, which must at best be deemed a very uncertain good, would go far, it is believed, to liberate those whom we so unjustly hold in bondage; but no pretext can excuse our want of exertion in favour of our unhappy Indians, who are altogether dependent on us for safety and protection, as to us alone must be imputed the guilt of their cruel persecution. I must own that I am filled with mingled emotions of shame and regret, when I reflect on the appearance it must have, in the opinion of foreigners, that whilst we busy ourselves in futile attempts to remedy the evils which exist in distant lands, we should allow of such enormous abuses in our own country; and 94 H5v 94 that whilst we boast of our freedom, and our liberal institutions, and boldly assert, that the rights of men are better understood and acted on in this country, than in any other, we should evince our entire disregard of justice and mercy, in our treatment of our fellow men, whom we have so unworthily subjected.
Eliza. Shall you have leisure this afternoon, mother, to give us a further account of the Indians?
Mother. Mr. Bartram’s description of the beautiful vale of Keowe, which he says is perhaps as celebrated for fertility, fruitfulness, and fine prospects, as the fields of Pharsalia, or the vale of Tempe, will give you a high idea of this enchanting spot.
We now saw the town of Cowe, the elevated peaks of the Jore mountains, at a distance, the Jore village in a beautiful lawn, lifted up many thousands feet higher than our present situation, besides many other villages and settlements, on the sides of the mountains, at various distances and elevations; the silver rivulets gliding by them, and snow-white cataracts glimmering on the sides of the lofty hills, and the bold promontories of the Jore mountain stepping in to the Tanase river, whilst his foaming waters 95 H6r 95 rushed between them. Proceeding on our return to Cowe, we continued through part of the high forests skirting on the meadows; and began to ascend the hills of a ridge, which we were under the necessity of crossing and having gained its summit, enjoyed a most enchanting view; a vast expanse of green meadows and strawberry fields; a meadering river, flowing through swelling green knowls, embellished with flowers and fruitful strawberry beds; flocks of turkies strolling about them; herds of deer bounding over the hills; companies of young innocent Cherokee virgins, some busy gathering the rich fruit, others, having already filled their baskets, lay reclined under the shade of native bowers of magnolias, &c. bathing in the cool streams; whilst others, more gay, were yet collecting strawberries, or chasing their companions, and staining their lips and cheeks with the rich fruit. We cautiously made our approaches undiscovered, almost to the joyous scene of action, when some matrons espying us, gave the alarm, time enough for the nymphs to assemble together. We however pursued and gained ground on a group of them, who had incautiously strolled to a greater distance from their guardian, and finding their retreat now like to be cut off, took 96 H6v 96 shelter under cover of a little grove; but on perceiving themselves to be discovered by us, confidently and decently advanced to meet us, half unveiling their faces, and with native innocence and cheerfulness, presented their little baskets, telling us their fruit was ripe and good. We accepted a basket, sat down and regaled ourselves on the delicious fruit, encircled by the whole assembly of these innocent, jocose, sylvan nymphs; by this time the several parties, under the conduct of the elder matrons, had disposed themselves in companies on the green banks. My young companion, the trader, by concessions and suitable apologies for the bold intrusion, engaged them to bring their collections to his house; we parted friendly.
In relating the scenes described by Mr. Bartram, I omit much which is merely expressive of admiration, as my design is to give as plain a detail as I apprehend to be consistent with truth, and of course my narrative in many instances is abruptly introduced. This writer appears enchanted with the beauties of nature, and the simplicity of rural life, and describes in glowing language the appearance of the country previous to his arrival in Cowe.This town consists of about one hundred 97 I1r 97 dwellings, near the banks of the Tanase, on both sides of the river. The Cherokees construct their habitations, on a different plan from the Creeks, that is one oblong square building, of one story high; the materials consisting of logs or trunks of trees stripped of their bark, notched at their ends, fixed one upon another, and afterward plastered well, both inside and out, with clay well tempered with dry grass, and the whole covered or roofed with the bark of the chesnut tree, or long broad shingles. This building is however, partitioned transversely, forming three apartments, which communicate with each other by inside doors; each house has besides a little conical house, covered with dirt, called the winter or hot house; this stands a few yards distant from the mansion house, opposite the front door. The council or town house is a large rotunda, capable of accommodating several hundred people: it stands on the top of an ancient artificial mount of earth, of about twenty feet perpendicular, and the rotunda on the top of it being above thirty feet more, gives the whole fabric an elevation of near sixty feet from the common surface of the ground. But it may be proper to observe, that this mount on which the rotunda I 98 I1v 98 stands, is of a more ancient date than the building, and perhaps was raised for another purpose. The Cherokees themselves are ignorant by what people, or for what purpose, these artificial hills were raised; they have various stories concerning them, which amount to no more than mere conjecture; but they have a tradition common with other nations of Indians, that they found them in much the same condition as they now appear, when their ancestors arrived from the West, and possessed themselves of the country, after vanquishing the nations of red men who then inhabited it, who themselves found these mounts, when they took possession of the country; the former possessors delivering the same story concerning them; perhaps they were designed and appropriated by the people, who constructed them, to some religious purpose, as great altars and temples, similar to the high places and sacred groves, anciently amongst the Canaanites, and other nations of Palestine and Judea.—The rotunda is constructed after the following manner: they first fix in the ground a circular range of posts or trunks of trees, about six feet high, at equal distance, which are notched at top, to receive into them, from one to another, a range of beams or wall plates; within 99 I2r 99 this is another circular order of very large and strong pillars, above twelve feet high, notched in like manner at top, to receive another range of wall plates; and within this is yet another or third range of stronger and higher pillars, but fewer in number, and standing at a greater distance from each other; and lastly, in the centre stands a very strong pillar which forms the pinnacle of the building, and to which the rafters centre at the top; these rafters are strengthened and bound together by cross beams or laths, which sustain the roof, which is a layer of bark neatly placed and tight enough to exclude the rain, and sometimes they cast a thin superficies of earth over all. There is but one large door, which serves at the same time to admit light from without, and for the smoke to escape when a fire is kindled; but as there is but a small fire kept sufficient to give light at night, and that fed with dry, small, round wood, divested of its bark, there is but little smoke. All around the inside of the building, betwixt the second range of pillars and the wall, is a range of cabins or sofas, consisting of two or three steps, one above or behind the other, in theatrical order, where the assembly sit or lean down; these sofas are covered with mats or carpets, very curiously100 I2v 100 riously made of thin splints of ash or oak, woven or platted together: near the great pillar in the centre the fire is kindled for light, near which the musicians seat themselves, and round about the performers exhibit their dances and other shows at public festivals, which happen almost every night throughout the year. About the close of the evening, I accompnied Mr. Galahan and other white traders to the rotunda, where was a great festival, music and dancing. This assembly was held principally to rehearse the ball-play dance, this town being challenged to play against another the next day. The people being assembled and seated in order, and the musicians having taken their station, the ball opens, first with a long harangue or oration, spoken by an aged chief, in commendation of the manly exercise of the ball-play, recounting the many brilliant victories which the town of Cowe had gained over the other towns in the nation, not neglecting to recite his own exploits, together with other aged men now present, coadjutors in the performance of these athletic games in their youthful days. The oration was delivered with great spirit and eloquence, and was designed to influence the passions of the young men present, excite them to emulation, and inspire101 I3r 101 spire them with ambition. This prologue being ended, the musicians began, both vocal and instrumental; when presently a company of girls, hand in hand, dressed in clean white robes, and ornamented with beads, bracelets, and a profusion of gay ribbons, entering the door, immediately began to sing their responses in a gentle low and sweet voice, and formed themselves in a semicircular file or line, in two ranks, back to back, facing the spectators and musicians, moving round and round. This continued about a quarter of an hour, when we were surprised by a sudden loud and shrill whoop, uttered at once by a company of young fellows, who came in briskly after one another, with rackets or hurls in one hand. These champions were well dressed, painted, and ornamented with moccasins, silver bracelets, gorgets, and wampum, with high waving plumes in their diadems; they immediately formed themselves in a semicircular rank also, in front of the girls, when these changed their order, and formed a single rank, parallel to the men, raising their voices in responses to the tunes of the young champions, the semicircles continually moving round. There was something singular and diverting in their step and motions, and I imagine not to be learned to exactness,I2 102 I3v 102 actness, but with great attention and perseverance; they at the same time, and in the same motion, moved on obliquely, or sideways; so that the circle performed a double complex motion in its progression, and at stated times exhibited a grand or universal movement, instantly and unexpectedly to the spectators, by each rank turning to right and left, and taking each others places: the movements were managed with inconceivable alertness and address, and accompanied with an instantaneous and universal elevation of the voice. The Cherokees, besides the ball-play dance, have a variety of others equally entertaining. The men especially exercise themselves with a variety of gesticulations, and capers; some of them are ludicrous and diverting enough; and they have others, which are of a martial order, and others of the chase; these seem to be somewhat of a tragical nature, wherein they exhibit astonishing feats of military prowess, masculine strength and activity. Indeed all their dances and musical entertainments seem to be theatrical exhibitions or plays, varied with comic interludes. The women however conduct themselves with becoming grace and dignity.
Caroline. Is it not wonderful that the Indians103 I4r 103 dians should have such a variety of amusements, and that they should observe so much order, and propriety in their entertainments?
Mother. The beneficent Creator of the Universe hath implanted in the human breast a love of order and a strong desire for happiness; and when this desire of enjoyment interferes not with the serious duties of life, these social meetings for entertainment harmonize the spirits, and are productive of friendship and cordiality towards each other, and we thus testify our gratitude by enjoying with innocence and simplicity the gifts of heaven. No people in the state of nature are without harmless amusements; the natives of the new discovered Islands, in their public exhibitions, display great prowess and skill, accompanied with much order and regularity; the famous navigator, Cook, says, their movements and dexterity, are much superior to what is found among Europeans. Dancing is common to all nations, and is by some consecrated, by devotional exercises, expressive of gratitude; it was so considered by the Israelites when they rejoiced before the Lord for their deliverance from the Egyptians, and Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with 104 I4v 104 timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.
Our puritan ancestors denounced all amusements, however innocent; their extreme scrupulosity, in this respect, made them view with a jealous and suspicious eye the joyous disposition of the Indians; and they were much disturbed and alarmed on being told, that some whom they had put in confinement, (from the apprehension that they might be induced to join their countrymen in defence of their rights,) had endeavoured to beguile the tedious days of their captivity, by resorting to some of their wonted sports. A military guard was sent to silence and prevent them from dancing, or pleasing themselves with music, as such amusements were deemed to indicate a hostile intention, though these natives had ever manifested the most friendly feelings toward the settlers. The great attention given to things, wholly unimportant in themselves, and having no connection with the doctrines or precepts of Christ, which they professed to follow, led our ancestors most frequently to neglect the weightier matters of the law. Some allowance should however be made for the austerity of the settlers, when we 105 I5r 105 call to mind the disgust they had justly entertained for the revelry, and criminal indulgence, of the courtiers in the mother country, whose revenues were exhausted in furnishing entertainment for the sovereign and his parasites, which should have been employed in defence of the kingdom, and in promoting the happiness of the people.
Elizabeth. I hope, mother, you have more to tell us from Mr. Bartram; I should think that those who read his accounts of the Indians, would be convinced how much we have wronged them?
Mother. It is difficult to convince those who have an interest in being deceived, and the pride of opinion operates very powerfully on common minds. Mr. Bartram describes very many towns, similar to those I have already related; one village in which they were received and entertained, in somewhat different style is worth noticing.
The chief of the village (says Bartram,) conducted us to a grand airy pavilion in the centre. It was a square: a range of pillars or posts on each side supporting a canopy composed of palmetto leaves, woven or thatched together, which shaded a level platform in the centre, that was ascended to from each side by 106 I5v 106 two steps or flights, each about twelve inches high, and seven or eight feet in breadth, all covered with carpets or mats, curiously woven, of split canes dyed of various colours. Here being seated or reclining ourselves, after smoking tobacco, baskets of the choisest fruits were brought and set before us.—The fields, surrounding the towns and groves, were plentifully stored with corn, citrals, pumpkins, squashes, beans, peas, potatoes, peaches, figs, oranges, &c.
The Muscogulges are said to be ingenious, sensible and virtuous men, bold and intrepid, yet quiet and peaceaable. They are supposed to be most ingenious and industrious husbandmen, having large plantations, or country farms, where they employ much of their time in agricultural improvements, after the manner of the white people; by which means their territories are more generally cultivated, and better inhabited, than any other Indian republic that we know of. It appeared to me, from observation, and what information I could get, that the Indians have rational notions of the soul’s immortality, and of a future state of social existence; and in order to inculcate morality, and promote human happiness, they applaud and praise worthy actions as commendable, and necessary for the support 107 I6r 107 of civil society, and maintaining the dignity and strength of their nation or tribe, as well as securing an excellent and tranquil state and degree in the world of spirits, after their decease. And they say the Great Spirit favours all good and brave men.
Our brave author enumerates fifty-five towns, besides many villages, which constitute the powerful confederacy of the Creeks or Muscogulges, surrounded by fertility and beauty.
Caroline. Are these the Indians who were so inhumanly destroyed by Gen. Jackson?
Mother. Multitudes of the Seminoles were slain by this general, on the pretext of their having committed some depredations, (though as in most instances we are not informed what provoked the aggression,) whilst these Indians were under the government of Spain, and included in their territory; and those who escaped slaughter were driven from their fertile fields and pleasant homes, by an act of our government, to a sterile part of the country, where numbers have miserably perished by famine, and the insalubrity of the climate, arising from the swampy, boggy land they have been compelled to occupy. Their sufferings have been so great, that our government have been induced to furnish them with 108 I6v 108 some present support to prevent them from perishing. Many of the Creeks, alarmed by the fate of the Seminoles, endeavoured to prevent the ruin which threatened to overwhelm them, (as it was confidently affirmed, that Gen. Jackson had avowed his intention to exterminate their whole nation,) and assembled in some of their towns, in a hostile attitude, when they were attacked and all destroyed, by this sanguinary chieftan, as I have before related.
Eliza. Is this the Gen. Jackson who is proposed for our President?
Mother. I cannot, without mingled feeliings of shame and indignation, confess even to you, that many among us desire to have this man to rule over them.
Caroline. What reason can be given, mother, for their preference of such a man?
Mother. In most, it unquestionably springs from a desire to participate in the arbitrary and unjust rule, which they believe he will exercise over the better part of the community. These people are blinded (by avarice and ambition,) to their own interest, as well as to the honour and prosperity of their country. They have not imbibed lessons of wisdom, from the appalling sufferings of the French, under their military despots109 K1r 109 pots and assassins; nor do they perceive the facility afforded, under such sanguinary and unprincipled rulers, for different parties to supplant and destroy each other.
Eliza. Was it not inconsistent with the justice and honour of our government, to force these Indians to quit their native country, where they might have remained contented and happy, and drive them to a land sterile and unhealthful?
Mother. It appears indeed wonderful that it should not have been deemed important, by our government, to protect the people whom we have so greatly injured, when so fair an opportunity was presented. Had the Indians been suffered to retain this portion of their territory, under the protection of the United States, they would have felt bound to defend it against an invading foe, and would have relieved them from the burthen of defending a part of the country so much exposed. Moreover, as it is acknowledged, that as no people are more susceptible of gratitude than our natives, they would have become our firm friends and allies, had they received just and generous treatment from the United States, and would thus have greatly diminished the expenditures, which in war would be found essential for its preservation. Could the Indians have K 110 K1v 110 relied with confidence on our government, it would have afforded an assylum for others, who have been obliged to quit their homes, and thus have relieved our country from the odium which is accumulating on us, by our treatment of this people. We might have expected this justice toward our Indians, as at the time when Florida was ceded to the United States, no claim to any part of it could be urged by any of the states; and had the natives of our country been allowed to retain the lands they occupied under the government of Spain, the difficulties which have arisen, in attempts to settle the country, would not have existed. We learn that the board of commissioners, in East-Florida, after a session of three years and a half, have transacted very little business; and what they have gone through, is said to be very imperfectly done. They have cost the United States about 70,000 dollars, being far more than the lands are worth to the nation. N. A.North American Review
In addition to this, immense number of gross frauds are said to have been practised. This might have been expected from agents who are employed to perpetrate acts of violence and injustice. I recollect to have read in a newspaper, published in Tallahassee, which is now the metropolis111 K2r 111 tropolis of West-Florida, the following article on the growth of American cities.
It was in the month of 1824-04April, 1824, that the first wagon was seen wending its devious way through that part of the wilds of Florida, which now constitutes the middle Judicial District; the sons of the forest were often arrested in pursuit of their game, to gaze with wonder at the strange phenomenon; for there was not a being among them, within whose knowledge so strange a vehicle was ever seen to disturb the repose of their retirement; nor were they sensible that this was the day star which warned them to leave the land of their fathers, whose bones for centuries had mingled with the very soil from which they raised their bread. The weary party at length arrived by the way of a gentle rise, upon the summit of a bold commanding eminence, at whose eastern and southern base, a beautiful rivulet meandered its course through a rich hammock. Our party was not long in selecting a camping ground, and pitching their tents about midway of the southern slope, which might well be taken for the land of the fairies: to the southward and westward, the country opened to their view like a magnificent park, gently undulated and studded with beautiful basons112 K2v 112 sons of limpid water; at their feet a crystal fountain, gushing from the declivity of the hill; to the eastward, the view was more confined by the thick foliage of the undergrowth, which served to screen the view, though not the sound of a beautiful cascade, which was formed by the rivulet above described, falling over a ledge of rocks into a deep glen, which forms almost a circle of about seventy yards in diameter, and didsappears at the bottom of the same ledge of rocks, very near the cascade. In the afternoon, our silvan party commenced building, and in two days were enabled to secure themselves from the weather, in the first house ever built in Tallahassee. Many obstacles occured to prevent improvement for some time; among others, the great difficulty of removing the Indians from their country; so firmly were they attached to their native soil, that they would make the most frivolous excuses for procrastinating their departure, and nothing but the peculiarly firm and resolute, yet mild and persuasive measures, adopted by the Executive, could have removed them without resorting to military force.
Caroline. Oh, mother, it makes me feel very sorrowful to hear of the sad reverses which the Indians are forced to endure, obliged to leave a 113 K3r 113 land so delightful, and to which they were so strongly attached, and driven to one so sterile and unpleasant.
Mother. No one, whose feelings have not been paralyzed by selfish and sordid considerations, would have the affrontery to advocate a system so repugnant to mercy and justice. Yet a writer in the American Quarterly Review, to which I have before referred, censures the government for issuing rations to those Indians, who were so cruelly deprived of their territory, as, he affirms, they would sooner have been driven into their reserve, where, he says, they might have found great numbers of small hummocks, good enough for their purposes, though it was of comparatively small value to the United States, as it would not be suitable for planters. In what way the Indians were to have subsisted, till they could have raised corn from these hummocks, he has not troubled himself to specify. This writer, in reviewing the works of those who have written on Florida, though he allows that some of them have given correct views of the country, and that the travels of William Bartram are especially deserving of attention, as they contain a great number of most interesting facts and observations, and will always be referredK2 114 K3v red to as conveying a good general idea of the countries through which he passed, yet he boldly affirms, that the notice which some of them have taken of the Indians is mere romance, than whom, he says, a more miserable and pitiable race can scarcely be imagined.
It appears somewhat unaccountable that so many good and intelligent men, who could have no interest in giving false impressions in regard to the Indians, should have so well agreed in their representations of these people, from the first settlement of the country to the present day, and it requires stronger evidence than mere assertion, to disprove the favourable accounts, so repeatedly given. We are then authorized to conclude that the author of this article, like many of the same class, has founded his opinion of the Indians, from the miserable vagrants who loiter about our settlements, having no abiding place, and who, wearied with contumely and oppression, and unprovided with food or shelter, seek to drown their sorrows, and steep their senses in forgetfulness by intoxicating draughts. The false impressions which it appears the writer of this article endeavours to produce, respecting the Indians, was doubtless meant to suppress all sympathy for this unfortunate race of men; 115 K4r 115 but we must be convinced that little confidence can be had in one, who openly advocates the most oppressive and iniquitous measures. I quote the following sentence, with a view to confirm the remarks I have made.
It certainly appears preposterous to ask the consent of the Indians, after it is determined to force them into measures, how much soever they may object. As to the justice and honesty of the policy, that is a very different question. Under ordinary circumstancses, it would be considered ridiculous to enquire whether a company or an individual might not be forced to dispose of goods, provided a stonger party chose to purchase, or desired to possess them. But history and experience teach us that in relation to the Indians, we have changed all that.
Eliza. Then in conformity with these sentiments, we may dispense with what is just and honest, in our dealings with those who are unable to resist us.
Mother. This is the only construction which can be made consistently with the general current of his arguments, we are bound to do justice toward those only whom we fear to offend, least they should make reprisals and punish us for our guilty deeds; sentiments like these, level 116 K4v 116 man with the brute creation, for such as advocate them can have no rational belief in a just and perfect Being, who has commanded us, to do justice and love mercy. I extremely regret that a review of transactions so base, accompanied with arguments so devoid of integrity and benevolence, qualities essential to the dignity of human nature, and which can alone exalt man in the scale of being, should have been permitted to stain the pages of a Journal, by which its general merit must be worthy the attention, not only of our own citizens, but of foreign nations: who will thus be incited to scoff at our boasted institutions, and declarations of the liberty and protection, afforded by our government to all men, whom we have solemnly pronounced to be by nature free and equal.
Caroline. I trust that no other person has written in this style, mother?
Mother. Not exactly in the same spirit, though many have attempted to excuse or extenuate our treatment of the Indians. A writer in the North American, in reviewing the histories and notices of the North American Indians, whose main design is to exonerate his countrymen from the odium which rests upon them for their exterminating warfare against the Aborigines117 K5r 117 gines, has endeavoured to discredit those writers, who have given the most favourable accounts of them, and is moreover anxious to prove that they have overrated the amount of the Aboriginal population at the era of the discovery of this country. With this view he disregards the accounts, given by worthy and intelligent men, who by early and familiar intercourse with the natives, were well qualified to give correct statements of their habits and situation, and contends, that their own ceaseless hostilities, more than any other cause, has led to their melancholy depopulation. Had this writer given any attention to the well authenticated histories of our early warfare with the natives, he would not have asserted, that the statements made upon this subject were made in a spirit of exaggeration. Had he learnt, that multitudes of hapless victims were perpetually sacrificed to interest and ambition, during a protracted and merciless war, and that in the space of forty years, three important kingdoms were subverted, and the inhabitants were all destroyed, or transported and sold for slaves in a foreign clime, in addition to some smaller tribes, all in this vicinity; or had he hmade any estimate of the numbers who dwelt on the shores of the Atlantic, within our 118 K5v 118 present domain, who, within a short time, were forcibly swept from the face of the earth, he would not have ventured to impose on his readers conclusions, hastily made from present appearances and casual observations. To corroborate the facts here given, no place is selected, either for the establishment of cities, towns or villages, but what was previously occupied by the Indians, who have left numerous memorials of themselves in every part of the country. In the same spirit, the reviewer endeavours to destroy our confidence in those, who influenced by humane and generous sympathy for the sufferings of our Aborigines, have endeavoured to mollify the prejudices, unjustly fostered against them, by displaying their noble and good qualities, and representing the injurious treatment to which they are subjected; though truth compels him to confess, that many fine traits of character have arrested his attention, and engaged his admiration; and notwithstanding the sarcasm he has levelled against the admirers of the Indian language, his own convictions appear to have the same results, as he owns that, what has been called the richness of their grammatical forms, cannot be accounted for, but by supposing them to be the wrecks of more polished tongues, acquired 119 K6r 119 in far different circumstances, and almost lost in the lapse of ages. Nevertheless, though this reviewer has sacrificed much in support of his theory, he has not been insensible to the feelings of compassion, nor deaf to the voice of conscience, and I quote with pleasure some of the sentiments with which he has closed his discussion.But after all, neither the government nor the people of the United States, have any wish to conceal from themselves, nor from the world, that there is upon their frontiers a wretched and forlorn people, looking to them for support and protection, and possessing strong claims upon their justice and humanity. These people received our forefathers in a spirit of friendship, aided them to endure privations and sufferings, and taught them how to provide for many of the wants with which they were surrounded. The Indians were then strong, and we were weak; and without looking at the change which has occurred in any spirit of morbid affectation, but with the feelings of an age accustomed to observe great mutations in the fortunes of nations and of individuals, we may express our regret, that they have lost so much of what we have gained. The prominent points of their history 120 K6v 120 are before the world, and will go down unchanged to posterity. In the revolution of a few ages, this fair portion of the continent, which was theirs, has passed into our possession. The forests, which afforded them food and security, where were their cradles, their homes, and their graves, have disappeared or are disappearing, before the progress of civilization. We have extinguished their council fires, and ploughed up the bones of their fathers. Their population has diminished with lamentable rapidity. Those tribes that remain, like the lone column of a fallen temple, exhibit but the sad relics of their former strength; and many others live only in the names which have reached us through the earlier accounts of travellers and historians. The causes which have produced this moral desolation, are yet in constant and active operation, and threaten to leave us, at no distant day, without a living proof of Indian suffering, from the Atlantic to the immense desert, which sweeps along the base of the Rocky Mountains. Nor can we console ourselves with the reflection, that their physical declension has been counter-ballanced, by any melioration in their moral condition. We have taught them neither how to live, nor how to die. 121 L1r 121
Eliza. I am pleased to find the reviewer expresses so much sensibility for the sufferings of the Indians, and that he acknowledges the strong claims they possess upon our justice and humanity; but it is strange, I think, that he should insist, that their own hostilities, more than any other cause, has led to their depopulation, when he tells us, that we have deprived them of their lands and their forests, so essential to their existence, and have introduced so much evil and disorder among them.
Mother. We all know that the Indians are frequently engaged in bloody conflicts with each other, though it would, in my apprehension, be difficult to prove that they are more disposed to war than other nations. I cannot recollect a period of any duration, when hostilities have ceased among the potentates of Europe, and during the revolution in France, torrents of blood were shed, both in the field and on the scaffold and whilst that unfortunate country was under the dominion of Bonaparte, millions were sacrificed to gratify the insatiable ambition of this usurper. France at this period exhibited a scene of desolation truly appalling, and it seemed to distant observers that ages would be required to restore its population; nevertheless, we are assuredL 122 L1v 122 sured that her numbers have since greatly increased.
Caroline. You recollect, Elizabeth, that Mr. ―― told us, the other day, that the Creeks deserved to loose their land, because they had obtained it by conquest.
Mother. However the Creeks may merit punishment, it does not become us to be their avengers, unless we be prepared to submit in our turn to retributive justice; you would not, my dear girls, deem one guiltless who took and converted to his own use what had been unjustly obtained by another; I do not however admit that any excuse can be given for a people, who forcibly wrest from its native possessors the territory bestowed upon them by the beneficent Parent of the Universe, unless indeed we may believe they had themselves been compelled to yield their country to a nation more powerful and could obtain otherwise no abiding place; yet as these Indians, after their conquest, incorporated the people whom they had subdued with themselves, it is assuredly no small extenuation of their guilt.
Mr. Bartram describes many wonderful remains, which attest the ingenuity and improvement of the native or former possessors. Not 123 L2r 123 far from Little River, a branch of the Savanna, in a beautiful situation, from an eminence overlooking the low grounds of the river, we discovered, says he—
Many very magnificent monuments of the power and industry of the ancient inhabitants of these lands. I observed a stupendous conical pyramid, or artificial mound of earth, vast tetragon terraces, and a large sunken area, of a cubical form, encompassed with banks of earth; and certain traces of a larger Indian town, the work of a powerful nation, whose period of grandeur perhaps long preceded the discovery of the continent.
I made a little excursion up the Savanna river, four or five miles above fort James, with the surgeon of the garrison, who was so polite as to attend me to show me some remarkable Indian monuments, which are worthy of every traveller’s notice. These wonderful labors of the ancients stand in a level plain, very near the banks of the river. They consist of conical mounts of earth, and four square terraces, &c. The great mount is in the form of a cone, about forty or fifty feet high, and the circumference of its base two or three hundred yards, entirely composed of the loamy rich earth of the low 124 L2v 124 grounds; the top or apex is flat; a spiral path or track leading from the low grounds to the top is still visible, where now grows a large and beautiful spreading red cedar: there appears four niches excavated out of the sides of this mount, at different heights from the base, fronting the four cardinal points; these niches are entered into town from the winding path, and seem to have been meant for the resting places or look outs. The circumjacent level grounds are now cleared and planted with Indian corn; and I think the proprietor of these lands, who accompanied us to this place, said, that the mount itself yielded above one hundred bushels in one season: the land hereabouts is indeed exceeding fertile and productive. Some imagine these tumuli were constructed for look-out towers. It is reasonable to suppose, however, that they were to serve some important purpose, as they were public works, and would have required the united labour and attention of a whole nation, circumstanced as they were, to have constructed one of them almost in an age. There are several smaller ones, round about the great one, with some very large tetragon terraces, on each side, near one hundred yards in length, and their surface, 125 L3r 125 four, six, eight and ten feet above the ground on which they stand.
In another place the author speaks of having enjoyed a most enchanting prospect of the great Lake George. At about fifty yards distance from the landing place stands a magnificent Indian mount. About fifteen years ago I visited this place, at which time there were no settlements of white people, but all appeared wild and savage; yet in that uncultivated state it possessed an almost inexpressible air of grandeur, which was now entirely changed. At that time there was a very considerable extent of old fields round about the mount; there was also a large orange grove, together with palms and live oaks, extending from near the mount, along the banks downwards; all of which has been since cleared away to make room for planting ground. But what greatly contributed towards completing the magnificence of the scene, was a noble Indian highway, which led from the great mount on a straight line, three quarters of a mile, first through a point or wing of the orange grove, and continuing through a stately forest of live oaks, it was terminated by palms and laurel magnolias, on the verge of an oblong artificial lake, which was on the edge of an extensive green level savanna.L2 126 L3v 126 vanna. This grand highway was about fifty yards wide, sunk a little below the common level, and the earth thrown up on each side, making a bank of about two feet high. Neither nature nor art could any where present a more striking contrast, as you approached this savanna. The glittering water pond played on the sight through the dark grove like a brilliant diamond, on the bosom of the illuminated savanna, bordered with various flowery shrubs and plants; and as we advanced into the plain the sight was agreeably relieved by a distant view of the forest, which partly environed the green expanse on the left hand, whilst the imagination was still flattered and entertained by the distant misty points of the surrounding forests, which projected into the plain, alternately appearing and disappearing, making a grand sweep round on the right, to the distant banks of the great lake. All has been cleared away and planted with indigo, corn and cotton, but since deserted; there was now scarcely five acres of ground under fence. It appeared like a desert to a great extent, and terminated on the land side, by frightful thickets, and open pine forests. It appears, however, that the late proprietor had some taste, as he has preserved the 127 L4r 127 mount, and the little adjoining grove inviolate. The prospect from this station comprises at one view the whole of the sublime and pleasing.
Caroline. How much taste and power these people must have possessed, and the little attention which has been given to the preservation of these ancient structures, reminds one of the destruction of the noble edifices of Rome by the Goths and Vandals.
Mother. These northern invaders were influenced by their contempt of the Roman people, who at the period of their final conquest were in the lowest state of national degeneracy. We learn from the history of modern Europe, that
Many of the northern leaders were men of great abilities, and several of them were acquainted both with the policy and literature of the Romans; but they were justly afraid of the contagious influence of Roman example; and therefore avoided every thing allied to that name, whether hurtful or otherwise. They erected a cottage in the neighbourhood of a palace, breaking down the stately building, and burying in its ruins the finest works of human invention; they ate out of vessels of wood, and made the vanquished to be served in vessels of silver; they hunted the boar on the voluptuous parterre, the 128 L4v 128 trim garden, and expensive pleasure-ground, where effeminacy was wont to saunter, or indolence to loll; and they pastured their herds where they might have raised a luxurious harvest.
Now I cannot admit that the vices of our Indians was the cause of their being treated with injustice or contempt, as history has faithfully recorded their noble qualities; avarice has been the fatal source of our criminal disregard of their rights, and has also induced us to destroy those monuments which attest the power and ingenuity of the people who erected them. Our Aborigines resembled in many respects the barbarians, as they were called, who subverted the empire of the Romans, they were, like them, simple in their manners, and unacquainted with the word luxury—though free and independent, they were firmly attached to their leaders, because they followed them from choice, not from constraint, the most gallant being always dignified with the command—Nor were these their only virtues—They were remarkable for their generous hospitality; for their detestation of treachery, and falsehood: they possessed many maxims of civil wisdom, and wanted only 129 L5r 129 the culture of reason to conduct them to the true principles of social life.
These primitive virtues are found to prevail among every nation, who have not departed much from the original state in which they were placed by nature; yet we have stigmatised our Indians, as ignorant and barbarous, and incapable of civilizaton, because they refused to substitute for their own pure and rational religion, the discordant and profane dogmas of their conquerors, or be willing to submit to their tyranny and usurpation.
Elizabeth. But must not those who raised these interesting monuments, have possessed more skill and better implements, than the present Aborigines?
Mother. Bartram gives it as his opinion, that none of them he has seen, discover the least sign of the arts, sciences, or architecture of the Europeans, or other inhabitants of the old world, yet evidently betray every sign or mark of the most distant antiquity. Nevertheless, we are told that—
When the Spaniards entered the city of Mexico, the natives were refined in their manners, intelligent, and in some degree learned. Like the ancient Egyptians, they knew with precision130 L5v 130 cision the annual revolution of the sun; they fixed the year at three hundred and sixty-five days, nearly, and divided it into eighteen parts. Their constitution was founded on the broad basis of religion and law. Their cities displayed magnificence in architecture, and opulence in their decorations. The palace of Montezuma had thirty gates, which communicated with as many streets. The front was composed of red, black and white stone, beautifully polished; and in a large shield over the gate were represented the arms of Montezuma—a Griffin with expanded wings, holding a Tyger in its talons.
Caroline. These mounts appear to resemble the pyramids of Egypt in their exterior form, perhaps they were erected with the same design.
Mother. All nations have testified a desire to honour the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, by raising stately edifices consecrated to His service. The Egyptian pyramids were doubtless intended for places of worship, where men would be perpetually reminded of the power, wisdom, and goodness of the most High, by a nearer view of the starry heavens, which were seen in all their grandeur and beauty through a serene and pure atmosphere; hence the Egyptians obtained a knowledge of the periods and 131 L6r 131 revolutions of the heavenly bodies, which made them to be renowned for their wisdom. Here too they doubtless deposited the remains of their illustrious dead, and they were thus associated with all that was most dear and sacred. The Indians who constructed works of such magnitude and regularity, must unquestionably have possessed no inconsiderable knowledge of mathematical science; mounts, such as have been described, afforded them facilities for observing the rising and setting of the planets, by which they measured time; and the beauty and sublimity of these objects, would naturally raise and elevate their ideas of that Being, whom they venerated and adored. These impressions would lead them to deposit the ashes of their departed friends, in places rendered so sacred and venerable. That these mounts were designed in part for mausoleums cannot be doubted, as we learn that human bones, and skeletons entire, have been discovered in some of them, accompanied with emblems of respect and affection.
Eliza. As the Mexicans were so ingenious, and so polished and improved, why may not the people who constructed these works have come from the vicinity of Mexico, and brought with them some knowledge of their arts?132 L6v 132
Mother. This is I think the most natural supposition, especially as we learn they are found in certain districts, and do not appear to have been common with all the inhabitants. Our author says,
About seventy or eighty miles above the confluence of the Oakmulge and Ocone rivers, the trading path, from Augusta to the Creek nation, crosses these fine rivers which are there forty miles apart. On the east banks of the Oakmulge this trading road runs nearly two miles through ancient Indian fields, which are called the Oakmulge fields: they are the rich low lands of the river. On the heights of these low grounds are yet visible monuments, or traces of an ancient town, such as artificial mounts or terraces, squares and banks, encircling considerable areas. Their old fields and planting land extend up and down the river, fifteen or twenty miles from this site.—In concluding this subject, Bartram says,The pyramidal or artificial mounts, and highways, or avenues, leading from them to artificial lakes, or ponds, vast tetragon terraces, church yards, (a term given by the white traders, to the oblong square yards, adjoining the high mounts, and rotundas of the modern Indians133 M1r 133 dians and obelisks or pillars of wood, are the only monuments of labour, ingenuity and magnificence, that I have seen worthy of notice. The region lying between Savanna river, and Oakmulge, East and West, and from the sea coast to the Cherokee or Apalachean mountain, North and South, is the most remarkable for these high conical hills, tetragon terraces, and church yards. This region was possessed by the Cherokees since the arrival of Europeans, but they were afterwards dispossessed by the Muscogulges, and all that country was, probably many ages preceding the Cherokee invasion, inhabited by one nation or confederacy, who were ruled by one system of laws, but so ancient that the Cherokees, Creeks, or the nations they conquered, could render no account for what purpose these monuments were raised. The mounts or cubical yards adjoining them, seem to have been raised in part for ornament and recreation, and likewise to serve some other public purpose since they were always so situated as to command the most extensive prospects over the town and country adjacent. The tetragon terraces seem to be the foundation of a fortress; and perhaps the great pyramidal mounts, served for the purpose of lookout towers, and high places M 134 M1v 134 for sacrifices. The sunken areas adjoining the mounts are surrounded by a bank, and sometimes two of them, one behind and above another and served as seats. From the river St. Juan’s, southerly, to the point of the peninsula of Florida, are to be seen high pyramidal mounts, with spacious and extensive avenues, leading from them out of the town, to an artificial lake or pond of water; these were evidently designed in part for ornament or monuments of magnificence, to perpetuate the power and grandeur of the nation, and not inconsiderable neither, for they exhibit scenes of power and grandeur, and must have been public edifices.
Many other mounts, highways, and artificial lakes up St. Juan’s on the east shore, are mentioned by our author; but as they all have a strong resemblance to those already noticed, a farther description is unnecessary; but there is every indication that they were all designed for the purposes I have before suggested. It was common with the people of old to choose the high places of the earth, to offer up their praise and adoration to that exalted Being, to whom they owed their life, and health, and every other blessing; and by being thus elevated above earthly objects, they doubtless facied themselves135 M2r 135 selves more immediately in His presence. When Moses ascended mount Sinai, to hold communion with God, he gave strict command to the people to remain below, and set bounds about the mount lest they should break through; in this, Moses unquestionably followed the example of the priests of Egypt, whose mystical rites were veiled from all but the initiated. We learn that Moses was skilled in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was of course aware, that the natural phenomena exhibited in these elevated regions, were calculated to inspire the multitude with awe and veneration. The Rev. Mr. Heckewelder says, An old Indian told me, about fifty years ago, that when he was young he still followed the custom of his fathers and ancestors, of climbing upon a high mountain to thank the Great Spirit, for His benefits bestowed, and to entreat a continuance of His favour; and that they were sure that their prayers were heard, and acceptable to the Great Spirit, though he did not himself appear to them. In plains where no high hills were found, artificial mounts, such as have been described, were designed principally, as were the pyramids of Egypt, for places of worship, and the sunken areas contiguous to the mounts, were unquestionably intended 136 M2v 136 for the worshippers below. Judging from the natural propensities of the human race, this is in my opinion the most rational conclusion, and as these mounts are always continguous to rivers and lakes, it is a strong confirmation of their having been consecrated to the worship of the most High; the peculiar efficacy of water, has ever engaged the veneration and gratitude of mankind.
Caroline. I do not wonder that mountains should have been chosen and consecrated to the worship of God, as the delightful serenity and purity of the air would inspire devotional feelings, but I did not imagine that this practise was common to our Aborigines?
Mother. It cannot I think be doubted, that the religion of our Aborigines was less contaminated by superstition, and they had deviated less from those innate impressions, which are written in divine characters on the heart, than any other people. Their disposition to war, and cruel treatment of those captives who are doomed to die, appears to be the only criminal deviations from the great law of kindness, which constitutes the basis of true religion; yet it is no small extenuation of their guilt, that no inspired teacher has been sent to them with messages of grace, to 137 M3r 137 renew and improve those innate convictions, so graciously bestowed by the beneficent Parent of the Universe, to guide us in the way of truth, that by this divine light we might be able to perceive and embrace all that is right, and good, and congenial to these impressions.
Caroline. Have the Indians never been instructed in the divine precepts of Christianity?
Mother. The orthodox have sent many Missionaries among the Indians of our country, and much praise is due to the Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, who has devoted himself with the most disinterested zeal to convert and improve our western Aborigines, and his labours have been crowned with more than common success, notwithstanding the disgust and aversion manifested by our Indians in general, for the discordant and irreverent dogmas of Calvinism, which are made still more offensive by the bigotry and intolerance of common missionaries. The main inducement of most of those who are employed in this service, is to receive a competent support, unincumbered by labour or anxiety, and of course they have little interest in the welfare of the peopple to whom they are sent. Missionaries of this class are incapable of liberal and comprehensive views on subjects of religion and morals, as they M2 138 M3v 138 have enjoyed few advantages in early life, being in most instances taken from laborious occupations, for the express purpose of propagating among the Heathen, incomprehensible doctrines and formulas, which though they do not understand, they are pledged to support and defend. These have confirmed the bad impressions which the Indians have received of Christianity, by the unjust and cruel treatment they have experienced, from a people who bear this sacred name.
Eliza. But why do not Unitarians send Missionaries to our Indians, mother?
Mother. I have before remarked to you the coldness and indifference which prevails in regard to this people; yet it appears to me to be an imperative and indispensible duty, that the ministers of Christ should exert the most strenuous endeavours to create an interest in the peopple, to rescue, and save from utter ruin, the remnant of this persecuted race. But how can pure Christianity be inculcated, and its benign influence pervade the heart, where no interest is felt in freeing the oppressed people, from whom we have wrested this goodly land. Nevertheless, I rejoice to find that all are not thus indifferent; but that many intelligent men have just and comprehensive views on this subject, in all its 139 M4r 139 bearings. Uninfluenced by the contracted and selfish policy of narrow minded, unprincipled men, they earnestly insist that the Indians should be secured and protected, and allowed to possess in peace their lands, and that those who have been deprived of their possessions should have lands assigned them, where they will be freed from injury and intrusion, and that this should be done, not only as an act of justice due to the Indians, but as essential to the honour and dignity of the United States. I fear, however, that the Indians will not be relieved from persecution unless they be received into the Union, and become citizens of our country; and they have been encouraged to expect this, (after being duly prepared,) and some of them have declared that nothing shall be wanting on their part.
No great or good man would, I presume, object to meet an Indian representative on the floor of Congress, but would rather esteem his country honoured by this act of justice and liberality; though to soothe the pride of little men, a proposal has been made to substitute a white representative of their election, who shall reside among them.
Elizabeth. I should imagine the Indians, whom Bartram visited, were as far advanced in 140 M4v 140 civilization as are our farmers; they cultivate almost every species of vegetables, raise cattle, and poultry, have peach and apple orchards, and many other fruits in abundance?
Mother. True, Elizabeth, Bartram says, a canoe ladened with melons and oranges came to the trading house to be disposed of to the traders, the day preceding his arrival in Florida, which proves they grew more than was wanted for their own use, and the courtesy and urbanity of their manners, are superior to what is commonly found in civilized society. I will give you an extract of a letter from Mr. David Brown, an interesting young Cherokee Indian, who some years since gave us much pleasure by delivering a very appropriate address in this town. This letter is dated Willstown, Cherokee Nation, 1825-09Sept., 1825.I have made a hasty translation of the four Gospels, which will require a close criticism. On my arrival at Dwight, I shall pursue the delightful work, and hope that the day is not very distant when the Cherokees, my brethren and kindred, according to the flesh, shall read the words of eternal life in their own tongue. I will here give you a faint picture of the Cherokee Nation, and its inhabitants. In the mean time, however, it must be borne in mind, that it is the 141 M5r 141 mass and common people that form the character of a Nation, and not officers of government, nor the lowest grade of peasantry. The Cherokee nation, you know, is in about 35 degrees north latitude. The precise quantity of land over which the Cherokees claim sovreignty is not yet ascertained, and consequently I cannot say; but this I can readily say, they have no more to spare. This country is well watered; abundant springs of pure water are found in every part. A range of majestic and lofty mountains stretch themselves across the nation. The northern part is hilly and mountainous. In the southern and western parts there are extensive fertile plains, covered partly with tall trees, through which beautiful streams of water glide. These plains furnish immense pasturage, and numberless herds of cattle are dispersed over them. Horses are plenty, and are used for servile purposes. Numerous flocks of sheep, goats and swine, cover the valleys and hills. On Tennessee, Ustanala, and Ganasagi rivers, Cherokee commerce floats. The climate is delicious and healthy; the winters are mild. The spring clothes the ground with its richest scenery. Cherokee flowers, of exquisite beauty and variegated hues, meet and fascinate the eye 142 M5v 142 in every direction. In the plains and valleys, the soil is generally rich, producing Indian corn, sweet and Irish potatoes, cotton, tobacco, wheat, oats, indigo. The natives carry on considerable trade with the adjoining states; and some of them export cotton in boats down the Tennessee to the Mississippi, and down that river to New- Orleans. Apple and peach orchards are quite common; and gardens are cultivated with much attention. Butter and cheese are seen on Cherokee tables. There are many public roads in the Nation, and houses of entertainment kept by natives. Numerous and flourishing villages are seen in every section of the country. Cotton and woolen cloths are manufactured here. Blankets of various dimensions, manufactured by Cherokee hands, are very common. Almost every family in the nation grows cotton for its own consumption. Industry and commercial enterprise are extendng themselves in every part. Nearly all the merchants in the nation are native Cherokees. Agricultural pursuits, the most solid foundation of our national prosperity, engage the chief attention of the people. Different branches of mechanics are pursued. The population is rapidly increasing. How vain then to talk of Cherokee deterioration. 143 M6r 143 White men in the nation enjoy all the immunities and privileges of the Cherokee people; except that they are not eligible to public offices. National pride, patriotism, and a spirit of independence, mark the Cherokee character. The Christian religion is the religion of the nation. Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and Moravians, are the most numerous sects. Some of the most influential are members of the church, and live consistently with their profession. The whole nation is penetrated with gratitude for the aid it has received from the United States government, and from different religious societies. Schools are increasing every year; learning is encouraged and rewarded. The younger class acquire the English, and those of mature age the Cherokee system of learning. The female character is elevated and duly respected. Indolence is discountenanced. Our native language, in its philosohpy, genius and symphony, is inferior to few, if any in the world. Our relations with all nations, savage or civilized, are of the most friendly character. We are out of debt, and our public revenue is in a flourishing condition. Beside the amount arising from imports, a perpetual annuity is due from the United States, in consideration of lands ceded 144 M6v 144 in former periods. Our system of government, founded on republican principles, by which justice is equally distributed, secures the respect of the people. Newtown, pleasantly situated in the centre of the nation, and at the junction of Ganasagi and Gusuwati, two beautiful streams, is the seat of government. The legislative power is vested in what is denominated, in the native dialect, Tsalagi and Tinilawiga, consisting of a national committee and council. Members of both branches are chosen by and from the people for a limited period. In Newtown, a printing press is soon to be established; also a national library, and a museum. Immense concourse of people frequent the seat of government, when Tsalagi and Timilawiga is in session, which takes place once a year. Nothing has excited so much interest for many years past, as the unhappy fate of our friends and allies the Creeks; and the whole nation deeply sympathizes with them. The news of McIntosh’s death gave universal satisfaction to the nation. I say satisfaction, the same that is felt when a dangerous rattlesnake is killed. McIntosh was a notorious traitor, and made great efforts to overthrow our happy domains. His character was well known here; treacherous deeds marked his 145 N1r 145 steps. His intrigues and efforts, to blast our dearest hopes and interests, in a disgraceful manner, will not soon be forgotten. His name will long live in the annals of Cherokee history, not as an honourable and patriotic statesman, but as a traitor to his country, the most despicable Creek that ever lived. This is the language of every Cherokee, and I am persuaded of every honourable man in the United States. Indeed none can forbear to eye his character with contempt, and who is there in the whole Cherokee nation to mourn his tragical end! Not one. But I have done, and have only room to promise you a letter from the banks of the Arkansas, and respectfully bid you farewell.
Caroline. How extremely wicked and barbarous it would be, to force a people, like the Cherokees, to quit a beloved and delightful country, endeared to them by every fond recollection, and consign them to a dreary wilderness, where every valuable improvement will be lost.
Eliza. It will not assuredly be contended that the Cherokees are not sufficiently improved in the arts of civilization, to entitle them to be admitted into the Union; yet it was asserted, that the Georgians, not satisfied with receiving the valuable territories of the Creeks, had now N 146 N1v 146 brought forward a claim to the lands of the Cherokees.
Mother. This might have been forseen; when a government for a temporary expedient, or to gratify the clamorous rapacity of any portion of the community, violates what justice and honour demands, and good faith requires, its integrity and dignity is prostrated, and new concessions will perpetually be required, and yielded to, as the ability to resist is enfeebled by every concession. Like the debased and degenerate Romans, who by their want of unity and patriotism, became unable to defend their country’s rights, and were compelled to substitute bribes as an expedient to relieve themselves from the invasion of the Goths and Vandals, whom they dared not resist, and who thus emboldened perpetually returned with new demands, till Rome was drained of her treasure, and was completely subjugated, and eventually destroyed.
Caroline. But the Goths and Vandals, mother, were not subjects of the Empire?
Mother. True they were not, but when a government meanly stoops to concessions which are incompatible with justice and honour, and through imbecility or wickedness, sacrifices the rights of its country, or suffers the weak to become147 N2r 147 come the prey of unprincipled usurpers, whoever they be, nothing but the most disastrous results can be anticipated. The system of bribery and corruption had long existed among the degenerate Romans, hence good and patriotic men, who disdained to connive at aught that was servile and base to promote the designs of a party, were excluded from all places of honour or profit, and those only admitted to participate in the government who were ready to sacrifice the public good by promoting to the highest offices the unworthy and the profligate.
Elizabeth. It would, I think, be vain to expect justice from a government so sordid, unless indeed fear should induce them to do right. It is however evident, let what will be said, that the Cherokees have made great improvement of late, and I should like to know if they still adhere to the law of not allowing any spirituous liquors to be carried into the nation.
Mother. I doubt not that this law is still in force, as it was asserted in proof of the Georgians having designed to gain by bribery the title to the land of the Creeks, that a quantity of spirit and specie had been secretly conveyed into their territory, by the emissaries of the Georgians. Happy would it be if all our Aborigines, as well 147 N2v 148 as the people of the United States, had the virtue and firmness to prohibit the use of ardent spirits, so truly pernicious and destructive to human happiness. Here however we can claim no superiority over those miserable degraded Indians, who are located in the vicinity of our settlements and fortresses, and have thus become the victims of intemperance and misery; nor can we boast of any legislative interference to save from ruin and degradation those wretched families, whose parents daily exhibit the most disgusting and riotous conduct in the presence of their young offspring, and deliberately consign them to ruin and infamy. There can be no suffering more extreme than that which a wife and mother is doomed to bear, who is daily compelled to endure the insults of a husband abandoned to intemperance, in which every vice is included, and sees the property which should support her children consumed, without any means of redress, or hope of relief, till death closes the scene, and her family are reduced to want and infamy. In this instance we might profit by the wisdom of our red brethren on our southern borders, and confess, notwithstanding our boasted advantages, their laws greatly superior to our own.
Caroline. We should, I think, refrain from 149 N3r 149 censuring so severely those who have copied from us this odious vice, if we cannot be induced to institute laws similar to those of the southern Indians, to restrain its baleful influence.
Mother. I will close what I have to say of the Creek Indians, by giving you an extract from Mr. Le Vasseur’s Journal of Lafayette’s Tour among the Creek Indians, copied from a new periodical work, recently established in Paris, devoted to intelligence relating to this country.Macon, a pretty little town, which is now tolerably well peopled, was not in existence eighteen months ago; it seems to have arisen from the forests as by enchantment. It is a civilized spot, lost amid the still immense domains of the first children of America. About a league thence we are in the bosom of virgin forests, and the tops of trees, which seem as old as the world, hang over our heads. The winds sounded through them by turns, grave and shrill, which M. de Chauteaubriand calls the voice of the desert. Our road was a sort of trench, at the bottom of which the carriage of the general rolled with difficulty, and was often in danger of breaking. We followed on horseback, and thus arrived at the Indian Agency. This is situated in the midst of the forests, constructed for the convenienceN2 150 N3v 150 venience of the Indian Chiefs, and Agents of the United States, who hold their conferences here. It was here that the treaty was formed, after which the Indian tribes, still inhabitants of the left branch of the Missouri, I apprehend the writer has mistaken the name of the river. consented for a considerable sum, to retire to the right. The year 18271827 was assigned for their evacuation, and it is not without pain the Indians see this conclusion of their ancient possessions approach. They quit with regret the neighbourhood of civilized men, notwithstanding they dislike them. They accuse their Chiefs of having betrayed them in making this cession, and we are assured that it has already cost the life of M‘Intosh, one of the signers of the treaty. We passed the night at the Indian agency; for fifty years the name of Gen. Lafayette had lived among them by tradition, and an hundred Indians had waited to receive us, but the delays we experienced during our journey, having tired their patience, they had gone elsewhere to prepare a reception. We had to travel thirty-two miles the next day, by a route still less practable. Such a storm as we have never seen in England, assailed and dispersed us during some 151 N4r 151 hours. The end of the storm permitted us to meet again, and to begin our route. We arrived at a habitation little bigger than that of the watch. It was a group of cabins, constructed with the bodies of trees placed over each other and stripped of their bark. At our arrival we found two Indians seated before the door, one young, the other a grown up man, and both of them of remarkable form and beauty. They were clothed with a short tunic of light and finged stuff, fastened round their body with a girdle, embroidered with small beads of a thousand colours. A shawl of lively colour was rolled round their heads with much elegance. Their trowsers of sheep skin reached down to their knees. They arose at the approach of the General, saluted him, and the youngest, to our great astonishment, complimented him in very good English. We soon learned that he had passed his youth in college in the United States, but that he had stolen away many years ago from a benefactor, to return to his brother’s, whose life he preferred to that of civilized men. The General put many questions to him upon the existence of the Indian colony. He replied to them with much sense and precision. When he was questioned as to the last treaty 152 N4v 152 concluded with the United States, his countenance darkened, he struck his foot on the ground, and laying hold of the handle of his knife, he mentioned the name of M‘Intosh, in a manner that made us shudder at the danger of this chief. As we appeared astonished, M‘Intosh, cried he, has sold the land of his fathers—he has sacrificed us all to his avarice—it is impossible to break the treaty which he has formed; but the scoundrel! He stopped after this violent exclamation, and a little while after took up quietly some other subject of conversation. Hamly, (that was the name of the young Indian,) when he saw us a little rested, engaged us to visit his habitation, which we perceived on the brow of a hill at a little distance. Two of the General’s aid de camps, and myself, accepted the invitation, and we followed the Indians. Going along he showed us an enclosure surrounded by palisades, filled with stags, mastiffs, and greyhounds, which they called their reserve, and which supplied them when the chase proved unfavourable. Hamly’s cabin bordered upon this enclosure. We entered it. There was a great fire in the fire place, the day was declining, and the spacious habitation was lighted by the flame of a fir tree. The furniture was composed of a 153 N5r 153 table, two beds, some large chairs, ozier baskets, fire-arms, bows and arrows, were hung upon the wall, and also a violin. The arrangement of all indicated the presence of a half civilized man. Two Indian women approached the habitation, whilst it resounded with the sports of Hamly and his applauses, but they did not enter; I alone perceived them. They had the beauty peculiar to their race; their vestment was composed of a long white tunic; of a scarlet drapery thrown over their shoulders; their long hair floated at liberty; they wore upon their necks a collar of five rings of pearls, and in their ears large pendants of silver, which are the principal ornaments of Indian women. I would willingly have made myself the b2 lettersflawed-reproductionning companion and messmate of Hamly for some days; but it was necessary to continue our journey. We retired, and the next day recommenced our route. In proportion as we advanced into the woody country, the appearance of Indian land, desrtroyed in our minds that prejudice which induces civilized nations to desire to introduce their state of society among people who have not changed their primitive mode of life; and to consider as a lawful conquest, the usurpation of places in which this pretended barbarity 154 N5v 154 reigns; but no one can help taking interest in the fate of the Indians, meeting at every step the bark hut of a wandering hunter, who inhabits it in security, and in the simple virtues of ignorance, we cannot think without sorrow that they will soon be overturned and replaced by an American cultivated farm. It was near a rapid creek, the borders of which were steep, that we saw for the first time the Indians united in a body to receive the General. A great number of women and young boys, broke through the trees on the opposite border of the river, and upon seeing us, they raised cries of joy. Some warriors descended the brow of a hill at a little distance, and ran to a spot on the river where the boat was, in which we were to land. The variety and singular richness of their costumes offered a most picturesque view. M. George Lafayette sprang first upon land, and in a moment was surrounded by men, women and children, who moved round him, danced about him, touched his hands and his garments with an air of surprise and delight, which caused him almost as much embarrassment as emotion. Suddenly, as if they wished to give a more dignified and solemn expression to their joy, they retired behind the men ranged in front. He, 155 N6r 155 who appeared to be the chief of the tribe, by a shrill and prolonged cry, gave the signal for a sort of salute, which was repeated by the whole troop; then they again rushed toward the boat. Immediately upon the General’s descending, some of the strongest brought a low chair, which we had with us, and obliged him to mount it, not wishing, they said, that their father should put his foot on the damp earth. The General was thus carried as in a palanquin to a certain distance from the river side, then he, whom I have already distinguished as the chief of the tribe, approached and told him in English, that all his brothers were happy at being visited by him, who in his affection for the inhabitants of America, had never distinguished blood or colour; who was the cherished father of men who inhabited the continent. After the Chief had spoken, the other Indians came to press the hand of the General, and to place it on their head. They would not abandon the carriage but dragging it themselves, mounted by short steps to the hill from which we had seen them descend, and on which was situated one of their largest hamlets. Whilst we walked we approached the Indian chief; and thought that since he spoke English, he had been brought up like Hamly in 156 N6v 156 the United States, and so I was informed. He was about 28 years of age, of middle size, his limbs were perfectly formed, his physiognomy noble, and his air sorrowful. When he did not speak, he cast down his large black eyes, which were covered with thick eye lashes; when he told me he was the eldest son of M‘Intosh, I could not recal, without pain, the imprecations that I had heard from the watch, against the chief of the Muscogulges. It was this undoubtedly, which gave the young man the air of dejection and meditation. In the mean time, we arrived at the top of the hill—there we saw helmets, swords and horsemen, ranged along the road: they were not Indians, but civilized men sent from the state of Alabama, to meet the General. The singular triumphant march to which he had been obliged to submit, then ceased. The Indians could not see without jealousy the American escort place themselves around him; but we approached their village, and they hastened to reach it before us. There, at our arrival, we found them met together, having thrown aside their garments, and prepared to exhibit before us their warlike games. We reached a vast plain, about which was scattered a hundred Indian habitations, improved by the 157 O1r 157 verdure of the thick groves. We noticed a house larger than the others, it was that of the American resident; he at the same time kept an inn, and his wife had the direction of a school, in which they attempted to instruct the children of the Indians. All the men were assembled in this place, having thrown aside part of their vestments; their faces painted with colours fantastically mixed, and some wearing, by way of distinction, plumes in their hair. They told us they were going to play in honour of their white father. And we really saw them separate into two armies, form two camps, in the two extremities of the place, name two chiefs, and provoke each other to combat. The cry which was raised by each of the two divisions, and which they told us was the war cry of the Indian tribes, is perhaps the strangest modulation of the human voice that it is possible to hear, and the effect it produced upon the warriors, young and old, is more extraordinary still. They commenced— they explained to us that the game was for two parties to throw a ball, something like that of our scholars, to a certain mark, and that he who struck this mark seven times, should be victorious. We in reality saw the combatants, each armed with two long and heavy ; rackets precipitateO 158 O1v 158 tate themselves with a light movement, leap one over the other in order to seize it in the air, with unprecedented skill, and send it to the mark. When the ball was missed by a player it rolled on the ground. Then they all lowered their heads, struck each other, and it was often only after a long struggle that any of them raised it. In the midst of one of these long contests, whilst the players with their backs bent pressed in a circle round the ball, an Indian separated from the group, went a little distance, came again running, rushed forward, after having turned himself round several times, fell upon the robust shoulders of the others without bending them; leaped into the middle of the circle, seized the ball, and for seven times threw it at the mark. This was M‘Intosh. The camp of which he was chief was victorious—he came to receive our congratulations, in the midst of the acclamations of a party of Indian women, whilst the wives of the vanquished seemed to address them in words of consolation. The General, after this feat, which amused us very much, went to visit the interior of some of their habitations, and some of the Indian schools. When we were ready to begin our route, young M‘Intosh reappeared in a European habit. He asked the General’s permission159 O2r 159 sion to accompany him to Montgomery, where he was going to conduct his brother, a boy of ten years old, willing to trust his education to an American. The General consented to it, and we all departed together for the Uchee Creek, an American Inn situated on the borders of a torrent which bears that name. We arrived early at this station, and were able to visit the environs, which are delightful. Accompanied by M‘Intosh, I soon made acquaintance with the Indians of this country: we found some of them drawing the bow. I wished to try my strength like the rest. M‘Intosh also armed himself with a bow; he has the arm, and the eye sight of William Tell. Some of the trials of skill which he exhibited, if told, would scarcely be believed. I particularly admired the dexterity with which, while lying on the green plat, he threw an arrow, which striking the earth a little distance, rose with a light bound, and flew to a prodigious distance. It is a way which the Indians employ to throw far, without being seen by the enemy. I tried in vain this singular feat; each time my arrow instead of rebounding sank in the earth. We returned to Uchee Creek, where we had a meeting with an Indian chief who kept an Inn. Some steps from the house the chief alighted, 160 O2v 160 went to salute the General, and made a few purchases. The women in the mean time took care of the horse, and led him back, and when he set out again put on the bridle and saddle, and sprang up behind him. I asked my travelling companions, if this was the condition of the women of this nation. They answered that in general they lived with their husbands in this kind of servitude, that in the agricultural countries, they cultivated the field, laboured, sowed and reaped. In the walks, which I afterwards took in the environs of Uchee Creek, their fate never appeared so bad, as these statements made them. I saw women ranged in a circle before almost all the habitations, occupied in weaving mats and panniers, and amusing themselves with games and exercises of the body, in which the young men joined before them; and I did not mark any trait of severity on the part of the men, or servile dependence on that of the women. I had been so well received in all these Indian habitations, near Uchee Creek, and all the countries watered by the streams were so beautiful, that it still seems one of the most delightful places I have met with. From the Uchee Creek to the hamlet of the Big Warrior, the nearest halt is about a day’s 161 O3r 161 journey. It led us through a country peopled by Indians. We often met them assembled on our route, and were assisted by them to cross the dangerous passages: for the storms had filled the roads, and swelled the torrents. In one of these situations the General received a very touching proof of the veneration which these simple men have for him. One of the torrents which he had to cross ran over a wooden bridge without a railing, and over which the General must pass. What was our astonishment, on arriving at the river side, to find a hundred Indians, who taking each other by the hand, and up to their breasts in water, formed a double guard, in the direction of the bridge! We were very glad to have this assistance, and the Indians for their recompense, only wished the favour of kissing the hand of the General whom they called their white father, the ambassador of the Great Spirit, the French warrior who formerly came to deliver them from the tyranny of the English. M‘Intosh, who translated their discourse to us, explained to them the wishes of the General, and the rest of us. The Hamlet of the Big Warrior, was so called on account of the extraordinary courage and high stature of its Chief. We arrived there too late; the chief had been dead O2 162 O3v 162 for some time: the council of the old men had been assembled to give a successor, and had chosen one of his sons, as remarkable for strength of body as his father. We passed a night with the family of the Big Warrior. The next day we arrived at Line Creek, on the frontiers of the Indian country. We were received there by an American, who had married the daughter of a Creek chief, and who lived the life of an Indian. He was a Captain Lewis, an old officer in the army of the United States. His house was commodious and elegant for an Indian hut. He was a man distinguished for his knowledge and character, and appeared to us to exercise great influence over the Indians. He had brought together a number of them on horseback and armed for war to form an escort for the General. His discourse, which appeared studied, was translated to us by the interpreter. He began by praising the skill and courage that the General had shown against the English. The most brilliant circumstances of this war were recalled and related in a language not unpoetical. The Indian chief concluded by nearly these words. Father, they will tell for a long time among us, that you returned to visit our forests and huts; you whom 163 O4r 163 the Great Spirit formerly sent from the other side of the great lake to drive away those enemies of men, the English, as usual stained with blood. The youngest among us will tell their grand children that they have touched your hand and seen your person.—They will see you again perhaps, for you are the favourite of the Great Spirit, and you cannot grow old; you will be able still to defend us, when we are threatened. The General answered by the help of the interpreter the farewell of the Indians. He gave them counsels of wisdom and temperance, recommended to them to live always on good terms with the Americans, and to regard them always as friends and brothers. He told them he would think of them, and pray for the prosperity of their huts, and the glory of their warriors.
Elizabeth. How well these observations agree with the accounts given by Mr. Bartram, and others, of the character and manners of the Indians. What was told him of their treatment of their women, is the same as we have often heard repeated whenever we speak favourably of the Indians.
Mother. It is pleasant to find a writer, who cannot be suspected of prejudice, confirming statements which have so repeatedly been given. 164 O4v 164 Such information as was given by the companions of Le Vasseur, is generally received as true by superficial observers, who give themselves little trouble to compare the manners of strangers with those to which they have been accustomed. Were an Indian to witness the accumulated labours of women in the common classes of civilized society, especially could he be made acquainted with the condition of the wives and daughters of our common farmers, whose toil is incessant, and find that notwithstanding all they do and suffer, they are treated as mere dependents to whom no civility or courtesy is due, he would doubtless be shocked at their servile condition, and exult in the comparative leisure and importance of the women of his own nation. Were I inclined to extend my remarks on this subject, it would be easy to adduce other instances of the servile dependence of women in the higher classes of society, and the arrogant assumption of all right to the disposal of property by the other sex, even of that which was exclusively possessed by women previous to marriage.
To illustrate some of my observations, I will give you some remarks of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan, in his book of travels through Asia, Africa and 165 O5r 165 Europe, which we are told possesses the strongest claim to attention, as the work was ushered into notice under circumstances which leave no doubt of its authenticity. The work is concluded by an appendix, containing a curious tract on the treatment of women in Asia; a subject which was suggested to Abu Taleb, by the notion prevalent in Europe, that the fair sex in the East live in a state of thraldom. The observations are curious, chiefly as communicating the reasons which strike the imagination of an Orientalist as productive of differences in national habits.
The Asiatic women appear to have the greater liberty of the two; possessing, he says, more authority over the property of their husbands, and over their servants, as well as over the education, the religion, and the marriages of their children. At the same time the Asiatic ladies have no trouble in entertaining the guests, or attending to the business of the husband. If a divorce happens to take place in India, a mother does not, as in Europe, relinquish all her children to her husband, but carries away her daughters, and her property; a step, indeed, which she will have little hesitation in taking on the occurrence of a quarrel of less consequence than those which lead to a permanent separation. 166 O5v 166 Polygamy does not exist in India, in the manner commonly imagined; the first wife being the only one who is considered as on a footing of equality with the husband. Women, submitting to become the wives of married men, are not admitted into the society of ladies, but have either a separate dwelling, or occupy a subordinate station in the house of the equal wife. The truth indeed is, that polygamy is very rare, and generally carries its cure along with it; for from what I know, says Abu Taleb, it is easier to live with two tigresses than with two wives. This emphatic assertion he confirms by adducing various points in which a lady makes no scruple of teasing her husband; such as keeping dinner waiting for her coming to the table; visiting her own friends frequently, and remaining day after day under their roof, though repeatedly intreated by her husband to return; all of which, it seems, are put in practice for the sake of keeping a hold on the husband’s affection. Another assertion of Abu Taleb, and one which we confess, rather startled us, is, that the Asiatics appear by their manners to place a greater reliance on a wife’s discretion than the Europeans. Here, he says, custom prevents a married lady from going abroad without the company of 167 O6r 167 a friend, and to sleep from home would be at variance with all rule; whereas in the East a wife will go unattended to the house of a lady of her acquaintance, though their husbands are strangers, and will remain there a week without its being thought unusual. Next as to the custom in Asia, of ladies not entering into the society of gentlemen, and not even seeing them, the motive, says Abu Taleb, is choice, not compulsion; because in the East, the house-doors being kept open all the day, the females could not without such a precaution, be free from incessant interruption, or find leisure for domestic employments.
This account, which I have taken from the Analectic Magazine, for 1814-01January, 1814, The travels of Abu Taleb were written by himself in the Persian language, and translated by Charles Stewart, Esq. M. A. S. Professor of Oriental languages, in the Honorable East India Company’s College, Herts. comes directly in point, and proves the truth of the position I have advanced, respecting the erroneous opinions, and false views taken by superficial observers, more especially such as are accustomed to think that nothing good can be found, but in the country or society to which they belong. Great advantage is taken of the ignorance and vanity, so prevalent among the common classes 168 O6v 168 of society, by designing men, and the success in gaining subscriptions for missionary purposes, may be traced to the false impressions given of the slavery and superstition to which females are subjected in heathen countries, without the slightest allusion to the privileges they enjoy. Nothing is better calculated to suppress the puerile conceit of our own superiority, than the knowledge of the contempt and derision excited in the minds of the Hindoos, by the arrogant assumption of our missionaries, of being the only truly enlightened and favoured people in the world, notwithstanding their profane and discordant dogmas, prove how small is their title to respect or attention.
Caroline. You told us, mother, that the burthens which fell to the lot of the Indian women, were not so laborious or injurious as were the hardships endured by the men in hunting, to supply their families with food and clothing.
Mother. We learn from Mr. Heckewelder, that women receive much attention from their husbands, who invariably give up to their disposal, when they return from their hunts, all the skins they have taken, that they may barter them with the traders for such articles as they choose, and that the women are sure to purchase something169 P1r 169 thing which they know will please the husband first. On the other hand, if the wife raise more corn and vegetables than will supply her family, the husband is at liberty to make presents of the surplus to his friends. This mutual confidence, and reciprocation of good offices, greatly tends to cement affection and respect.
Elizabeth. I rejoice that our excellent Lafayette gratified and cheered the Creeks by visiting them in their adversity; but it is what might have been expected from one so noble and disinterested.
Mother. This is indeed true;—Lafayette is superior to all that is sordid or unworthy; his benevolence and patriotism would naturally inspire him with feelings of deep sorrow and compassion for a people who had suffered so greatly, and were bereft of those natural rights which he had devoted himself to maintain, undismayed by danger and suffering. Lafayette is the friend of the whole human race; in him we discover no inconsistency—he would not, whilst defending the rights of one set of men, doom to exile and misery any portion of his fellow beings, that he might riot on their spoils. To sum up all I have to say of this extraordrinary man, he approximates more, than any one of whom we have knowledge,P 170 P1v 170 edge, to the character of our beloved and venerated Washington.
I have thus, my dear girls, endeavoured to correct the erroneous opinions entertained of our superiority, and to vindicate the characters of our Aborigines, from the gross calumnies and vulgar prejudices of their enemies. I trust you will accustom yourselves to investigate and compare, without partiality, the laws and customs which influence the character of men, before you decide on their merits, and above all, you will defend and plead the cause of our much injured Aborigines, whose impending fate I ardently desire to avert.
The courteous manner in which the natives of this country received and entertained the first English adventurers, who visited them, is well known; but I have lately met in Smith’s Virginia, a more particular account of their reception in that part of the country, than is found elsewhere:—which I will now relate, though I intended not to have taxed your patience farther at present.
Having arrived on the coast, which is described as very beautiful, abounding in a great variety of the goodliest trees and shrubs, with abundance of game—Grapes (we are told) were found 171 P2r 171 very plentiful in all places, both on the sand, the green soil and hills, and in the plains as well as on every little shrub, as also climbing towards the top of high cedars, that they did think in the world were not the like abundance.Till the third day, says the writer, we saw not any of the people; then in a little boat three of them appeared; one of them went on shore, to whom we rowed, and he attended us without any sign of fear, after he had spoken much, though we understood not a word, of his own accord he came boldly aboard us, we gave him a shirt, a hat, wine and meat, which he liked very well and after he had well viewed us he went away in his own boat, and within a quarter of a mile of us in half an hour he had loaden his boat with fish, with which he came again to the point of land, and there divided it in two parts, pointing one part to the ship, the other to the pinnace, and so departed. The next day campe divers boats, and in one of them the king’s brother, with forty or fifty men, proper people, and in their behaviour very civil; his name was Granganameo, the king is called Winginia, the country Wingandocoa; leaving his boats a little from our ships, he came with his train to the point; where spreading a mat he sat down; though we 172 P2v 172 came to him well armed, he made signs to us to sit down without any show of fear, stroking his head and breast, and also ours, to express his love. After he had made a long speech to us, we presented him with divers toys, which he kindly accepted.Not long after Granganameo brought his wife and children, they were but of mean stature but well favoured, and very bashful; she had a long coat of leather, and about her forehead a band of white coral, and so had her husband; in her ears were bracelets of pearl of the bigness of peas; (the rest of the women had pendants of copper, and the noblemen five or six in an ear:) his apparel was like his wives, only the women wear their hair long on both sides, and the men but one. After these women had been with us, there came down from all parts great store of people, with leather, coral and divers kinds of dyes, but when Granganameo was present none durst trade but himself, and those who wore red copper on their heads, as he did. Whenever he came he would signify by so many fires, he came with so many boats, that we might know his strength. For an armour he would have engaged us a bag of pearl, but we refused, as not regarding it, 173 P3r 173 that we might the better learn where it grew. He was very just in his promise, for oft we trusted him, and he would come within his day to keep his word. He sent us commonly every day a brace of bucks, conies, hares, and fish, sometimes melons, walnuts, cucumbers, peas, and divers roots. After this acquaintance, myself with seven more went twenty miles into the river Oecum, that runneth toward the city Shiconck, and the evening following we came to an Isle called Roanoak, from the harbour where we entered seven leagues; at the North end were nine houses, builded with cedar, fortified round with sharp trees, and the entrance like a turnpike. When we came towards it, the wife of Granganameo came running out to meet us, (her husband was absent) commanding her people to draw our boat ashore from beating on the billows; others she appointed to carry us on their backs to land; others to bring our oars into the house, &c. When we came into the other room, (for there were five in the house,) she caused us to sit down by a great fire, and after took off our clothes and washed them, and some of our stockings, and some of our feet in warm water, and P2 174 P3v 174 she herself took much pains to see all things well ordered, and to provide us victuals. After we had dryed ourselves, she brought us into an inner room, where she set on the board standing along the house, somewhat like frumentie, sodden, venison and roasted fish; in like manner, mellons, boiled roots, and fruits of divers kinds. Their drink is commonly water boiled with ginger, or sassafras, and wholesome herbs, but whilst the grape lasteth they drink wine. More love she could not express to entertain us. When we were at meat, two or three of her men came amongst us with their bows and arrows, which caused us to take our arms in hand. She perceiving this our distrust, caused their bows and arrows to be broken, and they driven out of the gate: but evening approaching we returned to our boat, whereat she was much grieved, and brought us our supper half boiled, pots and all; but when she saw us put our boat a little off from the shore and lie at anchor, she sent divers men and women, to sit all night on the shore side against us, and sent us fine mats to cover us from the rain, doing all she could to persuade us to her house. Though there was no cause of doubt, we would not adventure; for on our safety depended175 P4r 175 pended the voiage; but a more loving kind people cannot be.
Elizabeth. How antiquated is the style, mother, in which this is written, but do you suppose that the wife of Granganameo herself washed their clothes and feet?
Mother. From the manner in which this is related, and the circumstance of her having so many attendants, we must conclude that these things were done in obedience to her commands, as it is added that she herself took much pains to see all things well ordered. I have elsewhere stated to you that the wives of chiefs were, like ladies of high rank among us, exempted from servile occupations.
Caroline. How delightful it is to find so much kindness shown to strangers; this account affords ample proof that the Indians improved the soil to great advantage, as they enjoyed such abundance and variety; notwithstanding so many have insisted that they cultivate nothing but corn, and even that so negligently as scarcely to supply their immediate necessities.
Mother. Those who represent the Indians as barbarians, roving through interminable forests, and having no permanent place of abode, must of course fill up the outline, with such unfounded 176 P4v 176 assertions, which are in full keeping with what is said of their miserable habitations, and scanty clothing. Nevertheless, the spacious dwelling to which our adventurers were invited and the entertainments given them, proves how well they understood, all that can make life agreeable and pleasant.
Elizabeth. Do you really think, mother, that the Indians were acquainted with the method of making wine?
Mother. They unquestionably knew how to express the juice of the grape, which according to the opinion of some celebrated medical men, is not only extremely grateful to the taste, but highly nutritious, previous to its undergoing the vinous fermentation, when it becomes extremely deliterious in its effects. It has been constantly asserted, by the first Europeans who came to this country, that the Indians knew not the use of any liquor which possessed the quality of intoxication. Yet, since we have introduced the use of ardent spirits among these unfortunate people, it has proved most destructive in its effects: as those who have commerce with white people, appear but little able to resist its allurements; except indeed some of the southern nations177 P5r 177 tions who, as I have informed you, have shown a superior degree of firmness.
The first adventurers to this country were uniformly treated with kindness by the natives, who willingly administered to their wants, till they were fatally convinced that their own existence depended on expelling the intruders. Those who landed on the coast of Virginia, at first directed all their efforts to procure gold, and thus neglected to provide for their own subsistence, by cultivating the soil. They insisted that the natives should supply them with corn on their own terms, and when the Indians protested that they had parted with all they could spare, and were even in want themselves, the settlers sent armed parties to compel them to comply with their demands; and when any resistance was made they deemed themselves at liberty to burn the villages and towns of the natives, and to kill and make captives all who could not escape. Nay, in many instances, the principal chiefs and sovereigns were enticed into the fortified places of the whites, and there detained till such a ransom was given as they chose to demand, and the most exorbitant conditions complied with. In one instance they burned the wife and children of a prince, because he 178 P5v 178 would not yield up all his property and rights to the invaders of his country.
One of the adventurers, writing to a friend, says—Though we have not yet discovered mines of gold, as the more fortunate Spaniards have done in the New World, or destroyed so many of the natives, yet we have found a country abounding in all the necessaries and luxuries of life, and it has been our policy in many instances to preserve the lives of the natives, that we may thus enjoy the fruits of their industry, as we find it almost impossible to make our own people attend to the arts of husbandry.
I have found the account of these base transactions in Smith’s Virginia, which I have abridged as much as possible, consistently with the sense of what is related. The same insidious policy, though not so openly avowed, appears to have been adopted by all the settlers of this country. Nevertheless, we are assured by some grave divines, that the prophecy shall be fulfilled, and all nations pay homage to the prince of peace; and although, they say, the red men have refused to become converts to our faith, we know they are fast disappearing from the face of the earth, while civilized christian men are occupying the goodly heritage they once 179 P6r 179 possessed, in peace and security. Is this a cause of exultation to the followers of the pure and holy Jesus? Surely it savours more of Mahometanism than Christianity.
School Books and Stationary
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