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Drake, Benjamin / Life of Tecumseh, and of His Brother the Prophet With a Historical Sketch of the Shawanoe Indians
E-text prepared by Wallace McLean, Leonard Johnson, and the Project
Online Distributed Proofreading Team ()


With a Historical Sketch of the Shawanoe Indians



Author of _The Life of Black Hawk_, _Tales from the Queen City_, &c. &c.

Printed and Published by E. Morgan & Co.
Stereotyped by J.A. James,



Many years have elapsed since the author of this volume determined to
write the life of TECUMSEH and of his brother the PROPHET, and actually
commenced the collection of the materials for its accomplishment. From
various causes, the completion of the task has been postponed until the
present time. This delay, however, has probably proved beneficial to
the work, as many interesting incidents in the lives of these
individuals are now embraced in its pages, which could not have been
included had it been put to press at an earlier period.

In the preparation of this volume, the author's attention was drawn, to
some extent, to the history of the Shawanoe tribe of Indians: and he
has accordingly prefixed to the main work, a brief historical narrative
of this wandering and warlike nation, with biographical sketches of
several of its most distinguished chiefs.

The author is under lasting obligations to a number of gentlemen
residing in different sections of the country, for the substantial
assistance which they have kindly afforded him in the collection of the
matter embraced in this volume. Other sources of information have not,
however, been neglected. All the histories, magazines and journals
within the reach of the author, containing notices of the subjects of
this memoir, have been carefully consulted. By application at the
proper department at Washington, copies of the numerous letters written
by general Harrison to the Secretary of War in the years 1808, '9, '10,
'11, '12 and '13, were obtained, and have been found of much value in
the preparation of this work. As governor of Indiana territory,
superintendant of Indian affairs, and afterwards commander-in-chief of
the north-western army, the writer of those letters possessed
opportunities of knowing Tecumseh and the Prophet enjoyed by no other

In addition to these several sources of information, the author has
personally, at different times, visited the frontiers of Ohio and
Indiana, for the purpose of conversing with the Indians and the
pioneers of that region, who happened to be acquainted with Tecumseh
and his brother; and by these visits, has been enabled to enrich his
narrative with some amusing and valuable anecdotes.

In the general accuracy of his work the author feels considerable
confidence: in its merit, as a literary production, very little. Every
line of it having been written while suffering under the depressing
influence of ill health, he has only aimed at a simple narrative style,
without any reference to the graces of a polished composition. B.D.

Cincinnati, 1841.








Parentage of Tecumseh--his sister Tecumapease--his brother Cheeseekan,
Sauweeseekau, Nehasseemo, Tenskwautawa or the Prophet, and


Birth place of Tecumseh--destruction of the Piqua village--early habits
of Tecumseh--his first battle--effort to abolish the burning of
prisoners--visits the Cherokees in the south--engages in several
battles--returns to Ohio in the autumn of 1790


Tecumseh attacked near Big Rock by some whites under Robert
M'Clelland--severe battle with some Kentuckians on the East Fork of the
Little Miami--attack upon Tecumseh in 1793, on the waters of Paint
creek--Tecumseh present at the attack on fort Recovery in
1794--participates in the battle of the Rapids of the Maumee, in


Tecumseh's skill as a hunter--declines attending the treaty of
Greenville in 1796--in 1796 removed to Great Miami--in 1798 joined a
party of Delawares on White river, Indiana--in 1799 attended a council
between the whites and Indians near Urbana--another at Chillicothe in
1803--makes an able speech--removes with the Prophet to Greenville, in
1805--the latter commences prophecying--causes the death of Teteboxti,
Patterson, Coltos, and Joshua--governor Harrison's speech to the
Prophet to arrest these murderers--effort of Wells the U.S. Indian
agent to prevent Tecumseh and the Prophet from assembling the Indians
at Greenville--Tecumseh's speech in reply--he attends a council at
Chillicothe--speech on that occasion--council at Springfield--Tecumseh
principal speaker and actor


Governor Harrison's address to the Shawanoe chiefs at Greenville--the
Prophet's reply--his influence felt among the remote tribes--he is
visited in 1808 by great numbers of Indians--Tecumseh and the Prophet
remove to Tippecanoe--the latter sends a speech to governor
Harrison--makes him a visit at Vincennes


Tecumseh visits the Wyandots--governor Harrison's letter about the
Prophet to the Secretary of War--British influence over the
Indians--Tecumseh burns governor Harrison's letter to the chiefs--great
alarm in Indiana, in consequence of the assemblage of the Indians at
Tippecanoe--death of Leatherlips, a Wyandot chief, on a charge of


Governor Harrison makes another effort to ascertain the designs of
Tecumseh and the Prophet--Tecumseh visits the governor at Vincennes,
attended by four hundred warriors--a council is held--Tecumseh becomes
deeply excited, and charges governor Harrison with falsehood--council
broken up in disorder--renewed the next day


Alarm on the frontier continues--a Muskoe Indian killed at
Vincennes--governor Harrison sends a pacific speech to Tecumseh and the
Prophet--the former replies to it--in July Tecumseh visits governor
Harrison at Vincennes--disavows any intention of making war upon the
whites--explains his object in forming a union among the
tribes--governor Harrison's opinion of Tecumseh and the Prophet--murder
of the Deaf Chief--Tecumseh visits the southern Indians


Governor Harrison applies to the War Department for troops to maintain
peace on the frontiers--battle of Tippecanoe on the 7th of
November--its influence on the Prophet and his followers


Tecumseh returns from the south--proposes to visit the President, but
declines, because not permitted to go to Washington at the head of a
party--attends a council at fort Wayne--proceeds to Malden and joins
the British--governor Harrison's letter to the War Department relative
to the north-west tribes


Tecumseh participates in the battle of Brownstown--commands the Indians
in the action near Maguaga--present at Hull's surrender--general Brock
presents him his military sash--attack on Chicago brought about by


Siege of fort Meigs--Tecumseh commands the Indians--acts with
intrepidity--rescues the American prisoners from the tomahawk and
scalping knife, after Dudley's defeat--reported agreement between
Proctor and Tecumseh, that general Harrison, if taken prisoner, should
be delivered to the latter to be burned


Tecumseh present at the second attack on fort Meigs--his stratagem of a
sham-battle to draw out general Clay--is posted in the Black Swamp with
two thousand warriors at the time of the attack on fort
Stephenson--from thence passes by land to Malden--compels general
Proctor to release an American prisoner--threatens to desert the
British cause--urges an attack upon the American fleet--opposes
Proctor's retreat from Malden--delivers a speech to him on that


Retreat of the combined British and Indian army to the river
Thames--skirmish at Chatham with the troops under general
Harrison--Tecumseh slightly wounded in the arm--battle on the Thames on
the 5th of October--Tecumseh's death


Critical examination of the question "who killed Tecumseh?"--colonel
R.M. Johnson's claim considered


Mr. Jefferson's opinion of the Prophet--brief sketch of his
character--anecdotes of Tecumseh--a review of the great principles of
his plan of union among the tribes--general summary of his life and




There is a tradition among the Shawanoes, in regard to their origin,
which is said to be peculiar to that tribe. While most of the
aborigines of this country believe that their respective races came out
of holes in the earth at different places on this continent, the
Shawanoes alone claim, that their ancestors once inhabited a foreign
land; but having determined to leave it, they assembled their people
and marched to the sea shore. Here, under the guidance of a leader of
the Turtle tribe, one of their twelve original subdivisions, they
walked into the sea, the waters of which immediately parted, and they
passed in safety along the bottom of the ocean, until they reached this

[Footnote A: History of the Indian Tribes of North America, by James
Hall and J. L. McKinney, a valuable work, containing one hundred and
twenty richly colored portraits of Indian chiefs.]

The Shawanoes have been known by different names. The Iroquois,
according to Colden's history of the "Five Nations," gave them the
appellation of Satanas. The Delawares, says Gallatin, in his synopsis
of the Indian tribes, call them Shawaneu, which means _southern_. The
French writers mention them under the name of Chaouanons; and
occasionally they are denominated Massawomees.

The orthography of the word by which they are generally designated, is
not very well settled. It has been written Shawanos, Sawanos, Shawaneu,
Shawnees and Shawanoes, which last method of spelling the word, will be
followed in the pages of this work.

The original seats of the Shawanoes have been placed in different
sections of the country. This has doubtless been owing to their very
erratic disposition. Of their history, prior to the year 1680, but
little is known. The earliest mention of them by any writer whose work
has fallen under our observation, was in the beginning of the
seventeenth century. Mr. Jefferson, in his "Notes on Virginia," says
that when captain John Smith first arrived in America a fierce war was
raging against the allied Mohicans, residing on Long Island, and the
Shawanoes on the Susquehanna, and to the westward of that river, by the
Iroquois. Captain Smith first landed on this continent in April, 1607.
In the following year, 1608, he penetrated down the Susquehanna to the
mouth of it, where he met six or seven of their canoes, filled with
warriors, about to attack their enemy in the rear. De Laet, in 1632, in
his enumeration of the different tribes, on either side of the Delaware
river, mentions the Shawanoes.--Charlevoix speaks of them under the
name of Chaouanons, as neighbors and allies in 1672, of the Andastes,
an Iroquois tribe, living south of the Senecas. Whether any of the
Shawanoes were present at the treaty[A] made in 1682, under the
celebrated Kensington elm, between William Penn and the Indians, does
not positively appear from any authorities before us; that such,
however, was the fact, may be fairly inferred, from the circumstance
that at a conference between the Indians and governor Keith, in 1722,
the Shawanoes exhibited a copy of this treaty written on parchment.

[Footnote A: "This treaty," says Voltaire, "was the first made between
those people (the Indians) and the Christians, that was not ratified
with an oath, and that was never broken."]

To the succeeding one made at Philadelphia, in February, 1701, the
Shawanoes were parties, being represented on that occasion, by their
chiefs, Wopatha, Lemoytungh and Pemoyajagh.[A] More than fifty years
afterward, a manuscript copy of this treaty of commerce and friendship,
was in the possession of the Shawanoes of Ohio, and was exhibited by
them. In 1684, the Iroquois, when complained of by the French for
having attacked the Miamis, justified their conduct on the-ground, that
they had invited the Santanas (Shawanoes) into the country, for the
purpose of making war upon them.[B] The Sauks and Foxes, whose
residence was originally on the St. Lawrence, claim the Shawanoes as
belonging to the same stock with themselves, and retain traditional
accounts of their emigration to the south.[C] In the "History of the
Indian Tribes of North America," when speaking of the Shawanoes, the
authors say, "their manners, customs and language indicate a northern
origin; and, upwards of two centuries ago, they held the country south
of Lake Erie. They were the first tribe which felt the force and
yielded to the superiority of the Iroquois. Conquered by these, they
migrated to the south, and from fear or favor, were allowed to take
possession of a region upon the Savannah river; but what part of that
stream, whether in Georgia or Florida, is not known; it is presumed the
former." Mr. Gallatin speaks of the final defeat of the Shawanoes and
their allies, in a war with the Five Nations, as having taken place in
the year 1672. This same writer, who has carefully studied the language
of the aborigines, considers the Shawanoes as belonging to the Lenape
tribes of the north. From these various authorities, it is apparent
that the Shawanoes belonged originally to the Algonkin-Lenape nation;
and that during the three first quarters of the seventeenth century,
they were found in eastern Pennsylvania, on the St. Lawrence, and the
southern shore of Lake Erie; and generally at war with some of the
neighboring tribes. Whether their dispersion, which is supposed to have
taken place about the year 1672, drove them all to the south side of
the Ohio, does not very satisfactorily appear.

[Footnote A: Proud's History of Pennsylvania.]

[Footnote B: Colden.]

[Footnote C: Morse's Report.]

Subsequently to this period, the Shawanoes were found on the Ohio river
below the Wabash, in Kentucky, Georgia and the Carolinas. Lawson, in
his history of Carolina in 1708, speaks of the Savanoes, removing from
the Mississippi to one of the rivers of South Carolina. Gallatin quotes
an authority which sustains Lawson, and which establishes the fact that
at a very early period in the history of the south, there was a
Shawanoe settlement on the head waters of the Catawba or Santee, and
probably of the Yadkin. From another authority it appears, that for a
time the Shawanoes had a station on the Savannah river, above Augusta;
and Adair, who refers to the war between the Shawanoes and Cherokees,
saw a body of the former in the wilderness, who, after having wandered
for some time in the woods, were then returning to the Creek country.
According to John Johnston,[A] a large party of the Shawanoes, who
originally lived north of the Ohio, had for some cause emigrated as far
south as the Suwanoe river, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico. From
thence they returned, under the direction of a chief named Black Hoof,
about the middle of the last century, to Ohio. It is supposed that this
tribe gave name to the Suwanoe river, in 1750, by which name the
Cumberland was also known, when Doctor Walker, (of Virginia) visited

[Footnote A: I Vol. Trans. Amer. Antiquarian Society.]

Of the causes which led the Shawanoes to abandon the south, but little
is known beyond what may be gleaned from their traditions. Heckewelder,
in his contributions to the American Philosophical Society, says, "they
were a restless people, delighting in wars, in which they were
constantly engaged with some of the surrounding nations. At last their
neighbors, tired of being continually harassed by them, formed a league
for their destruction. The Shawanoes finding themselves thus
dangerously situated, asked to be permitted to leave the country, which
was granted to them; and they immediately removed to the Ohio. Here
their main body settled, and then sent messengers to their elder
brother,[A] the Mohicans, requesting them to intercede for them with
their grandfather, the Lenni Lenape, to take them under his protection.
This the Mohicans willingly did, and even sent a body of their own
people to conduct their younger brother into the country of the
Delawares. The Shawanoes finding themselves safe under the protection
of their grandfather, did not choose to proceed to the eastward, but
many of them remained on the Ohio, some of whom settled as far up that
river as the long island, above which the French afterwards built fort
Duquesne, on the spot where Pittsburg now stands. Those who proceeded
farther, were accompanied by their chief, named Gachgawatschiqua, and
settled principally at and about the forks of the Delaware, between
that and the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill; and some, even
on the spot where Philadelphia now stands; others were conducted by the
Mohicans into their own country, where they intermarried with them and
became one people. When those settled near the Delaware had multiplied,
they returned to Wyoming on the Susquehannah, where they resided for a
great number of years."

[Footnote A: The Shawanoes call the Mohicans their _elder brother_, and
the Delawares their _grandfather_.]

Chapman, in his history of Wyoming, states, that after the Shawanoes
were driven from Georgia and Florida, they built a town at the mouth of
the Wabash, and established themselves in it. They then applied to the
Delawares for some territory on which to reside. When granted, a
council was held to consider the propriety of accepting the offer of
the Delawares. On this question the Shawanoes divided--part of them
remained on the Wabash,--the others, composing chiefly the Piqua tribe,
formed a settlement in the forks of the Delaware. Alter a time, a
disagreement arose between them and the Delawares, which induced the
former to remove to the valley of the Wyoming, on the Susquehannah, on
the west bank of which they built a town, and lived in repose many
years. Subsequently to the treaty held at Philadelphia, in 1742,
between the governor and the Six Nations, the Delawares were driven
from that part of Pennsylvania; and a portion of them also removed to
the Wyoming valley, then in possession of the Shawanoes, and secured
the quiet occupancy of a part of it; built a town on the east bank of
the river, which they called Waughwauwame, where they lived for some
time, on terms of amity with their new neighbors.

During the summer of 1742, count Zinzendorf of Saxony, came to America
on a religious mission, connected with the ancient church of the United
Brethren. Having heard of the Shawanoes at Wyoming, he determined to
make an effort to introduce Christianity among them. He accordingly
made them a visit, but did not meet with a cordial reception. The
Shawanoes supposed that the missionary was in pursuit of their lands;
and a party of them determined to assassinate him privately, for fear
of exciting other Indians to hostility. The attempt upon his life was
made, but strangely defeated. Chapman relates the manner of it, which
he obtained from a companion of the count, who did not publish it in
his memoirs, lest the United Brethren might suppose that the subsequent
conversion of the Shawanoes was the result of their superstition. It is
as follows:

"Zinzendorf was alone in his tent, seated upon a bundle of dry weeds,
which composed his bed, and engaged in writing, when the assassins
approached to execute their bloody commission. It was night, and the
cool air of September had rendered a small fire necessary for his
comfort and convenience. A curtain, formed of a blanket, and hung upon
pins, was the only guard to his tent. The heat of this small fire had
aroused a large rattlesnake, which lay in the weeds not far from it;
and the reptile, to enjoy it the more effectually, had crawled slowly
into the tent, and passed over one of his legs, undiscovered. Without,
all was still and quiet, except the gentle murmur of the river, at the
rapids about a mile below. At this moment, the Indians softly
approached the door of his tent and slightly removing the curtain,
contemplated the venerable man, too deeply engaged in the subject of
his thoughts to notice either their approach, or the snake which lay
before him. At a sight like this, even the heart of the savages shrunk
from the idea of committing so horrid an act; and, quitting the spot,
they hastily returned to the town, and informed their companions, that
the Great Spirit protected the white man, for they had found him with
no door but a blanket, and had seen a large rattlesnake crawl over his
legs without attempting to injure him. This circumstance, together with
the arrival soon afterwards of Conrad Weizer, the interpreter, procured
the count the friendship of the Indians, and probably induced some of
them to embrace Christianity."

When the war between the French and the English occurred in 1754, the
Shawanoes on the Ohio took sides with the former; but the appeal to
those residing at Wyoming to do the same, was ineffectual. The
influence of the count's missionary efforts had made them averse to
war. But an event which happened soon afterward, disturbed the peace of
their settlement, and finally led to their removal from the valley.
Occasional difficulties of a transient nature, had arisen between the
Delawares and the Shawanoes at Wyoming. An unkind feeling, produced by
trifling local causes, had grown up between the two tribes. At length a
childish dispute about the possession of a harmless grasshopper,
brought on a bloody battle; and a final separation of the two parties
soon followed. One day, while most of the Delaware men were absent on a
hunting excursion, the women of that tribe went out to gather wild
fruits on the margin of the river, below their village. Here they met a
number of Shawanoe women and their children, who had crossed the stream
in their canoes, and were similarly engaged. One of the Shawanoe
children having caught a large grasshopper, a dispute arose with some
of the Delaware children, in regard to the possession of it. In this
quarrel, as was natural, the mothers soon became involved. The Delaware
women contended for the possession of the grasshopper on the ground
that the Shawanoes possessed no privileges on that side of the river. A
resort to violence ensued, and the Shawanoe women being in the
minority, were speedily driven to their canoes, and compelled to seek
safety by flight to their own bank of the stream. Here the matter
rested until the return of the hunters, when the Shawanoes, in order to
avenge the indignity offered to their women, armed themselves for
battle. When they attempted to cross the river, they found the
Delawares duly prepared to receive them and oppose their landing. The
battle commenced while the Shawanoes were still in their canoes, but
they at length effected a landing, which was followed by a general and
destructive engagement. The Shawanoes having lost a number of their
warriors before reaching the shore, were too much weakened to sustain
the battle for any length of time. After the loss of nearly one half
their party, they were compelled to fly to their own side of the river.
Many of the Delawares were killed. Shortly after this disastrous
contest, the Shawanoes quietly abandoned their village, and removed
westward to the banks of the Ohio.[A]

[Footnote A: Chapman]

After the Shawanoes of Pennsylvania had fallen back upon the waters of
the Ohio, they spread themselves from the Alleghenies as far westward
as the Big Miami. One of their villages was seventeen miles below
Pittsburg: it was called Log's Town, and was visited by Croghan, in
1765. Another, named Lowertown, also visited by the same traveler,
stood just below the mouth of the Scioto. It was subsequently carried
away by a great flood in that river, which overflowed the site of the
town, and compelled the Indians to escape in their canoes. They
afterwards built a new town on the opposite side of the river, but soon
abandoned it, and removed to the plains of the Scioto and Paint creek,
where they established themselves, on the north fork of the latter
stream. They had also several other villages of considerable size in
the Miami valley. One was "Chillicothe," standing near the mouth of
Massie's creek, three miles north of Xenia. Another, called Piqua, and
memorable as the birth place of TECUMSEH, the subject of our present
narrative, stands upon the north-west side of Mad river, about seven
miles below Springfield, in Clark county. Both of these villages were
destroyed in 1780, by an expedition from Kentucky, under the command of
general George Rogers Clark.

After the peace of 1763, the Miamis having removed from the Big Miami
river, a body of Shawanoes established themselves at Lower and Upper
Piqua, in Miami county, which places, being near together, became their
great head-quarters in Ohio. Here they remained until driven off by the
Kentuckians; when they crossed over to the St. Mary's and to
Wapakanotta. The Upper Piqua is said to have contained, at one period,
near four thousand Shawanoes.[A]

[Footnote A: John Johnston.]

From the geographical location of the Shawanoes, it will be perceived
that they were placed under circumstances which enabled them, with
great facility, to annoy the early settlements in Kentucky; and to
attack the emigrants descending the Ohio. In this fierce border war,
which was waged upon the whites for a number of years, and oftentimes
with extreme cruelty, the Delawares, Wyandots, Mingoes and Miamis,
united: the Shawanoes, however, were by far the most warlike and

The Shawanoes were originally divided into twelve tribes or bands, each
of which was sub-divided into families, known as the Eagle, the Turtle,
the Panther, &c., these animals constituting their _totems_. Of these
twelve, the names of but four tribes are preserved, the rest having
become extinct, or incorporated with them. They are, 1st. the
Mequachake,--2d. the Chillicothe,--3d. the Kiskapocoke,--4th. the
Piqua. When in council, one of these tribes is assigned to each of the
four sides of the council-house, and during the continuance of the
deliberations, the tribes retain their respective places. They claim to
have the power of distinguishing, at sight, to which tribe an
individual belongs; but to the casual observer, there are no visible
shades of difference. In each of the four tribes, except the
Mequachake, the chiefs owe their authority to merit, but in the last
named, the office is hereditary. Of the origin of the Piqua tribe, the
following tradition has been recited:[A] "In ancient times, the
Shawanoes had occasion to build a large fire, and after it was burned
down, a great puffing and blowing was heard, when up rose a man from
the ashes!--hence the name Piqua, which means a man coming out of the
ashes." Mequachake, signifies a perfect man. To this tribe the
priesthood is confided. The members, or rather certain individuals of
it, are alone permitted to perform the sacrifices and other religious
ceremonies of the tribe.[B] The division of the tribe into bands or
totems, is not peculiar to the Shawanoes, but is common to several
other nations. One of the leading causes of its institution, was the
prohibition of marriage between those related in a remote degree of
consanguinity. Individuals are not at liberty to change their totems,
or disregard the restraint imposed by it on intermarriages. It is
stated in Tanner's narrative, that the Indians hold it to be criminal
for a man to marry a woman whose totem is the same as his own; and they
relate instances where young men, for a violation of this rule, have
been put to death by their nearest relatives. Loskiel, in his history
of the Moravian missions, says, the Delawares and Iroquois never marry
near relatives. According to their own account, the Indian nations were
divided into tribes for the sole purpose, that no one might, either
through temptation or mistake, marry a near relation, which is now
scarcely possible, for whoever intends to marry must take a person of a
different totem. Another reason for the institution of these totems,
may be found in their influence on the social relations of the tribe,
in softening private revenge, and preserving peace. Gallatin, on the
information derived from a former Indian agent[C] among the Creeks,
says, "according to the ancient custom, if an offence was committed by
one or another member of the same clan, the compensation to be made, on
account of the injury, was regulated in an amicable way by the other
members of the clan. Murder was rarely expiated in any other way than
by the death of the murderer; the nearest male relative of the deceased
was the executioner; but this being done, as under the authority of the
clan, there was no further retaliation. If the injury was committed by
some one of another clan, it was not the injured party, but the clan to
which he belonged, that asked for reparation. This was rarely refused
by the clan of the offender; but in case of refusal, the injured clan
had a right to do itself justice, either by killing the offender, in
case of murder, or inflicting some other punishment for lesser
offences. This species of private war, was, by the Creeks, called, 'to
take up the sticks;' because, the punishment generally consisted in
beating the offender. At the time of the annual corn-feast, the sticks
were laid down, and could not be again taken up for the same offence.
But it seems that originally there had been a superiority among some of
the clans. That of the Wind, had the right to take up the sticks four
times, that of the Bear twice, for the same offence; whilst those of
the Tiger, of the Wolf, of the Bird, of the Root, and of two more whose
names I do not know, could raise them but once. It is obvious that the
object of the unknown legislation, was to prevent or soften the effects
of private revenge, by transferring the power and duty from the blood
relatives to a more impartial body. The father and his brothers, by the
same mother, never could belong to the same clan, as their son or
nephew, whilst the perpetual changes, arising from intermarriages with
women of a different clan, prevented their degenerating into distinct
tribes; and checked the natural tendency towards a subdivision of the
nation into independent communities. The institution may be considered
as the foundation of the internal policy, and the basis of the social
state of the Indians."

[Footnote A: Stephen Ruddell's manuscript account of the Shawanoes, in
possession of the author.]

[Footnote B: John Johnston.]

[Footnote C: Mitchell.]

One mode of ascertaining the origin of the Indian tribes, and of
determining their relation to each other, as well as to other races of
mankind, is the study of their language. This has, at different times,
engaged the attention of several able philologists, who have done much
to analyze the Indian languages, and to arrange in systematic order,
the numerous dialects of this erratic people. The results of the
investigation of one[A] of the most learned and profound of these
individuals, may be summed up in the three following propositions:

1. "That the American languages in general, are rich in words and in
grammatical forms, and that in their complicated construction, the
greatest order, method and regularity prevail.

2. "That these complicated forms, which I call _poly synthetic,_ appear
to exist in all those languages, from Greenland to Cape Horn.

3. "That these forms appear to differ essentially from those of the
ancient and modern languages of the old hemisphere."

[Footnote A: Mr. Duponceau.]

In a late learned dissertation[A] on this subject, it is stated that in
nearly the whole territory contained in the United States, and in
British and Russian America, there are only eight great families, each
speaking a distinct language, subdivided in many instances, into a
number of dialects belonging to the same stock. These are the Eskimaux,
the Athapascas (or Cheppeyans,) the Black Feet, the Sioux, the
Algonkin-Lenape, the Iroquois, the Cherokee, and the Mobilian or
Chahta-Muskhog. The Shawanoes belong to the Algonkin-Lenape family, and
speak a dialect of that language. It bears a strong affinity to the
Mohican and the Chippeway, but more especially the Kickapoo. Valuable
vocabularies of the Shawanoe language have been given by Johnston and
by Gallatin in their contributions to the American Antiquarian Society,
which may be consulted by those disposed to prosecute the study of this

[Footnote A: Mr. Gallatin.]

The Shawanoes have been known since the first discovery of this
country, as a restless, wandering people, averse to the pursuits of
agriculture, prone to war and the chase. They have, within that period,
successively occupied the southern shore of lake Erie, the banks of the
Ohio and Mississippi, portions of Georgia, Florida, Tennessee,
Kentucky, and eastern Pennsylvania; then again the plains of Ohio, and
now the small remnant of them that remains, are established west of
Missouri and Arkansas. They have been involved in numerous bloody wars
with other tribes; and for near half a century, resisted with a bold,
ferocious spirit, and an indomitable hatred, the progress of the white
settlements in Pennsylvania, western Virginia, and especially Kentucky.
The Shawanoes have declined more rapidly in numbers[A] than any other
tribe of Indians known to the whites. This has been, and we suppose
justly, attributed to their wandering habits and their continual wars.
Although one of their villages is said once to have contained four
thousand souls, their present number does not exceed eighteen hundred.
They have ever been considered a courageous, powerful and faithless
race; who hare claimed for themselves a pre-eminence not only over
other tribes, but also over the whites.[B] Their views in regard to
this superiority were briefly set forth by one of their chiefs at a
convention held at fort Wayne, in 1803.

[Footnote A: John Johnston.]

[Footnote B: General Harrison considers the Shawanoes, Delawares and
Miamis, as much superior to the other tribes of the west.]

"The Master of Life," said he, "who was himself an Indian, made the
Shawanoes before any other of the human race; and they sprang from his
brain: he gave them all the knowledge he himself possessed, and placed
them upon the great island, and all the other red people are descended
from the Shawanoes. After he had made the Shawanoes, he made the French
and English out of his breast, the Dutch out of his feet, and the
long-knives out of his hands. All these inferior races of men he made
white and placed them beyond the stinking lake.[A]

"The Shawanoes for many ages continued to be masters of the continent,
using the knowledge they had received from the Great Spirit in such a
manner as to be pleasing to him, and to secure their own happiness. In
a great length of time, however, they became corrupt, and the Master of
Life told them that he would take away from them the knowledge which
they possessed, and give it to the white people, to be restored, when
by a return to good principles they would deserve it. Many ages after
that, they saw something white approaching their shores; at first they
took it for a great bird, but they soon found it to be a monstrous
canoe filled with the very people who had got the knowledge which
belonged to the Shawanoes. After these white people landed, they were
not content with having the knowledge which belonged to the Shawanoes,
but they usurped their lands also; they pretended, indeed, to have
purchased these lands; but the very goods they gave for them, were more
the property of the Indians than the white people, because the
knowledge which enabled them to manufacture these goods actually
belonged to the Shawanoes: but these things will soon have an end. The
Master of Life is about to restore to the Shawanoes both their
knowledge and their rights, and he will trample the long knives under
his feet."

[Footnote A: Atlantic Ocean.]

It has been already stated that, for a series of years, the several
tribes of Indians residing in the territory now forming the state of
Ohio, made violent opposition to the settlement of the whites, west of
the Alleghanies. Among the most formidable of these were the Shawanoes.
The emigrants, whether male or female, old or young, were every where
met by the torch, the tomahawk and the scalping-knife. The war-cry of
the savage was echoed from shore to shore of the beautiful Ohio, whose
waters were but too often reddened with the blood of women and
children. Many of those who escaped the perils of the river, and had
reared their log-cabins amid the cane-brakes of Kentucky, were doomed
to encounter the same ruthless foe, and fell victims to the same
unrelenting cruelty. While the feelings are shocked at these dreadful
scenes of blood and carnage, and the Indian character rises in hideous
deformity before the mind, it is not to be forgotten that there are
many mitigating circumstances to be pleaded in behalf of the
aborigines. They were an ignorant people, educated alone for war,
without the lights of civilization, without the attributes of mercy
shed abroad by the spirit of christianity. They were contending for
their homes and their hunting grounds--the tombs of their
forefathers--the graves of their children. They saw the gradual, but
certain, encroachments of the whites upon their lands; and they had the
sagacity to perceive, that unless this mighty wave of emigration was
arrested, it would overwhelm them. They fought as savage nature will
fight, with unflinching courage and unrelenting cruelty. But it was not
alone this encroachment upon their lands, which roused their savage
passions. The wanton aggressions of the whites oftentimes provoked the
fearful retaliation of the red-man. The policy of the United States
towards the Indians has generally been of a pacific and benevolent
character; but, in carrying out that policy, there have been many
signal and inexcusable failures. The laws enacted by congress for the
protection of the rights of the Indians, and to promote their comfort
and civilization, have, in a great variety of cases, remained a dead
letter upon the statute book. The agents of the government have often
proved unfaithful, and have looked much more to their own pecuniary
interests, than to the honest execution of the public trusts confided
to them. Nor is this all. There has ever been found upon the western
frontiers, a band of unprincipled men who have set at defiance the laws
of the United States, debauched the Indians with ardent spirits,
cheated them of their property, and then committed upon them
aggressions marked with all the cruelty and wanton bloodshed which have
distinguished the career of the savage. The history of these
aggressions would fill a volume. It is only necessary to recall to the
mind of the reader, the horrible murder of the Conestoga Indians, in
December 1763, by some Pennsylvanians; the dark tragedy enacted on the
banks of he Muskingum, at a later period, when the Moravian Indians, at
the three villages of Schoenbrun, Salem, and Gnadenhuetten, were first
disarmed and then deliberately tomahawked by Williamson and his
associates; the unprovoked murder of the family of Logan; the
assassination of Bald Eagle, of the gallant and high-souled Cornstalk,
and his son Elinipsico: we need but recall these, from the long
catalogue of similar cases, to satisfy every candid mind, that rapine,
cruelty and a thirst for human blood are not peculiarly the attributes
of the American Indian.

But there are still other causes which have aroused and kept in
activity, the warlike passions of the Indians. They have been
successively subjected to English, Dutch, French and Spanish influence.
The agents of these different powers, as well as the emigrants from
them, either from interest or a spirit of mischievous hostility, have
repeatedly prompted the Indians to arm themselves against the United
States. The great principle of the Indian wars, for the last seventy
years, has been the preservation of their lands.

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Main -> Drake, Benjamin -> Life of Tecumseh, and of His Brother the Prophet With a Historical Sketch of the Shawanoe Indians