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Title: History of the Indians, of North and South America

Author: Samuel G. Goodrich

Release date: March 1, 2017 [eBook #54266]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Cindy Horton, WebRover, Adrian Mastronardi, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive (



E-text prepared by
Cindy Horton, WebRover, Adrian Mastronardi,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive



Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See
















Entered according to Act of Congress,
in the year 1844,


In the Clerk’s Office of the District
Court of Massachusetts.


12 Water Street.



Origin of the Aborigines10
Classification of the Indians16
The Aborigines of the West Indies22
The Caribs34
Early Mexican History41
Mexico, from the Arrival of Cortés54
The Empire of the Incas80
The Araucanians98
Southern Indians of South America112
Indians of Brazil121
The Indians of Florida129
The Indians of Virginia147
The Southern Indians160
Indians of New England170
The Five Nations, &c.192
[iv]The Six Nations205
Western Indians east of the Mississippi219
Western and Southern Indians233
Various Tribes of Northern and Western Indians241
The Indians west of the Mississippi256
Present Condition of the Western Indians in The United States287
The Prospects of the Western Tribes297






When America was first discovered, it was found to be inhabited by a race of men different from any already known. They were called Indians, from the West Indies, where they were first seen, and which Columbus, according to the common opinion of that age, supposed to be a part of the East Indies. On exploring the coasts and the interior of the vast continent, the same singular people, in different varieties, were everywhere discovered. Their general conformation and features, character, habits, and customs were too evidently alike not to render it proper to class them under the same common name; and yet there were sufficient diversities, in these respects, to allow of grouping them in minor divisions, as families or tribes. These frequently took their names from the parts of the country where they lived.

The differences just mentioned were, indeed, no greater than might have been expected from the varieties of climate, modes of life, and degree of improvement[6] which existed among them. Sometimes the Indians were found gathered in large numbers along the banks of rivers or lakes, or in the dense forest, their hunting-grounds; and not unfrequently also, scattered in little collections over the extended face of the country. As they were often engaged in wars with each other, a powerful tribe would occasionally subject to its sway numerous other lesser ones, whom it held as its vassals.

No accurate account can be given of their numbers. Some have estimated the whole amount in North and South America, at the time of the discovery of the continent, even as high as one hundred or one hundred and fifty millions. This estimate is unquestionably much too large. A more probable one would be from fifteen or twenty to twenty-five millions. But they have greatly diminished, and of all the ancient race not more than four or five millions, if so many, now remain. Pestilence, wars, hardships, and sufferings of various kinds have been their lot for nearly four hundred years; and they have melted away at the approach of the white man; so that even a lone Indian is now scarcely found beside the grave of his fathers, where once the war-whoop might have called a thousand or more valiant men to go forth to engage in the deadly fray. With them have perished, in many instances, their ancient traditions; and as they had no other means of handing down the records of their deeds, their history is lost, except here and there a fragment, which has been treasured up by some white man more curious than his fellows, in studying their present or former fates. Monuments, indeed,[7] exist, widely scattered over the countries they once occupied; some rude and inartificial, marked by no skill or taste; and others evidently reared at not a little expense of time and labor, and characterized by all the indications of a people far in advance of their neighbours in the arts and in civilization.

By whom were these reared, when, and for what cause? How long have they been thus reposing in their undisturbed quiet, and crumbling in silent ruin? are questions that force themselves on the mind of the reflective traveller, as he stands beside or amid their strange forms, and pores over what seem the sepulchres of buried ages. But the tongue of history is mute, and they who could have answered his inquiries have long since passed away.

To give, therefore, a historical account of the American Indians is a task beset with not a few difficulties. The sources of information must be almost wholly derived from their conquerors and foes; and though the incidents related may be in the main correct, and the causes that lie on the surface be easily known, yet the more hidden ones, the secret springs of action, are beyond our reach. We have not the Indian himself recording for us the motives that have prompted his stern spirit, carefully veiling his designs from all around, nourishing the dark purpose, and maturing his plans. We are not admitted to the council of the warriors or wise men, and allowed to listen to their relation of the wrongs, real or fancied, they have suffered, or to see how one after another of the chiefs or counsellors utters his opinions, and the deep plot is laid which is to issue in wreaking a dire revenge, even to extermination, on the hated intruders.


All these various incentives to action, are nearly or quite beyond our inspection. Yet it is in the contemplation of such only, that Indian history can be truly estimated; for all these particulars throw their lights and shades across and into the portraiture of this most singular people. It could hardly be expected, that they, who suffered from the fearful revenge of the red man, who saw, as it were, the scalping-knife gleaming around the head of a beloved wife, or child, or friend, or who felt the arrow quivering in their own flesh, or who heard the war-whoop ringing terrifically on the domestic quiet of their habitation,—it could hardly, indeed, be expected, that such persons should be as truthful or impartial as if they had been called to record scenes of a more peaceful and grateful kind. Without, therefore, doing the early writers the injustice of supposing that they mean to misrepresent facts,—yet, in glancing over their descriptions of perfidy, plots, murders, cruelties, and revenge, we must remember that the red man had no one of his race to record for him his history, and be candid and just in our judgments, where there may often be not a little to extenuate, if not wholly to excuse from blame.

Let us also bear in mind one remarkable fact, that, in their first intercourse, the reception extended to the Europeans by the Americans was confiding and hospitable, and that this confidence and hospitality were generally repaid with treachery, rapine, and murder. This was the history of events for the first century, till at last the red men, over the whole continent, learned to regard the Europeans as their enemies, the plunderers of their wealth, the spoilers of their villages, the[9] greedy usurpers of their liberty and lands. We are told of tribes of birds, in the interior of Africa, which at first permitted travellers to approach them, not having yet learned the lesson of fear; but after the fowler had scattered death among them, they discovered that man was a being to be dreaded, and fled at his approach. The natives of America had a similar lesson to learn; and though they did not always fly from the approach of their European enemy, it was not because they expected mercy at his hands.




The origin of the aborigines of America is involved in mystery. Many have been the speculations indulged and the volumes written by learned and able men to establish, each one, his favorite theory. Conjecture, by a train of ingenious reasonings and comparisons, has grown into probability, and finally almost settled down into certainty. For a time, as in the case of the celebrated “Letters of Junius,” the question has seemed decided; so plausible have appeared the proofs, that it would have been deemed almost like incredulity to gainsay them. But another supposition, more likely, has been started, and has supplanted the former; each, in its turn, has passed away, and we are perhaps no nearer the truth than before. We will notice a few of the most prominent of these opinions.

1. The Indians have been supposed, by certain writers, to be of Jewish origin; either descended from a portion of the ten tribes, or from the Jews of a later date. This view has been maintained by Boudinot and many others; and Catlin, in his “Letters,” has recently advocated it, especially with respect to the Indians west of the Mississippi. In proof of this opinion,[11] reference is made to similarities, more or less striking, in many of their customs, rites, and ceremonies, sacrifices, and traditions. Thus, he has found many of their modes of worship exceedingly like those of the Mosaic institutions. He mentions a variety of particulars respecting separation, purification, feasts, and fastings, which seem to him very decisive. “These,” he says, “carry in my mind conclusive proof, that these people are tinctured with Jewish blood.” Efforts have also been made, but with little success, to detect a resemblance of words in their language to the Hebrew, and some very able writers have adopted the opinion, that this fact is established. That there may be such resemblances as are supposed is very probable, yet they are perhaps accidental, or such only as are to be found among all languages. Besides, allowance must be made for the state of the observer’s mind, and his desire to find analogies, as also for his ignorance of the Indian language in its roots, and his liability to confound their traditions with his own fancies. Many of these similarities, moreover, belong rather to the general characteristics of the Patriarchal age, than to the peculiarities of the Jewish economy. Even admitting the analogies in manners and customs mentioned by Catlin and others, they are not so striking as are those of the Greeks, as depicted by Homer, to those of the Jews, as portrayed in the Bible. There are striking resemblances between the ideas and practices of our American Indians, and those of many Eastern nations, which show them to be of Asiatic origin, but yet they do not identify them more with the Jews than with the Tartars, or Egyptians, or even the Persians.


2. Some have supposed that the ancient Phœnicians, or the Carthaginians, in their navigation of the ocean, penetrated to this Western Continent, and founded colonies. As this is mere conjecture, and is sustained by no proof in history, though here also fancied resemblances have been detected in language and some minor things, it may be dismissed as unworthy of serious consideration.

3. Others again have imagined that the Eastern and Western Continents were once united by land occupying the space which is now filled by the Atlantic Ocean; and that previous to the great disruption an emigration took place. With respect to this view, it is embarrassed by greater difficulties than the former. There is not the remotest trace of such an event recorded in history. It is only, therefore, entitled to be considered as a possible mode by which the Western Continent might have been peopled.

4. The pretensions of the Welsh have been put forth with not a little zeal, and have been considered by some as having more plausibility. They assert, that, about the year 1170, on the death of Owen Gwyneth, a strife for the succession arose among his sons; that one of them, disgusted with the quarrel, embarked in ten ships with a number of people, and sailed westward till he discovered an unknown land; that, leaving part of his people as a colony, he returned to Wales, and after a time again sailed with new recruits, and was never heard of afterwards. Southey has built on this tradition his beautiful poem of “Madoc,” the name of the fancied chieftain who was at the head of the enterprise. The writer, by whom the story was first[13] published, is said, however, to have lived at least 400 years after the events, and discredit is thus thrown over the whole. Mr. Catlin, in the appendix to his second volume, forgetful, apparently, that he had already attributed certain rites and ceremonies of the same people to Jewish origin, seems to suppose that the Mandans are undoubted descendants of Madoc and his Welshmen, who, he thinks, entered the Gulf of Mexico, and sailed up the Mississippi even to the Ohio River, whence they afterwards emigrated to the Far West. He furnishes some words of the Mandan language, which he compares with the Welsh, and which must be allowed to have considerable resemblance to each other, for the same ideas. Still, the theory must be regarded as wholly fanciful.

5. A supposition more plausible than any other is, that America was peopled from the northeastern part of Asia. This seems to correspond with the general view of the Indians themselves, who represent their ancestors as having been formerly residents in Northwestern America. It corresponds also with history in another respect. By successive emigrations, Asia furnished Europe and Africa with their population, and why not America? If it could supply other quarters of the globe with millions, and these of various physical and moral characteristics, why not also supply America with its first inhabitants? The identity of the aborigines with the nations of Northeastern Asia cannot, indeed, be fully established; but, while many causes may have contributed to destroy this resemblance, enough is shown, with other facts, to make this theory preponderate over all others.


If this supposition be true, it is not to be imagined that the emigration to this continent all took place at once. There were doubtless successive arrivals of persons from various parts of Asia; and thus the Indian traditions, which refer to the Northwest as the country of their ancestors, and to periods and intervals separating them, in which people of various character made their appearance, one after another, and left some traces of their residence, may be accounted for.



North American Indians in Council.



In respect to the general resemblance of the Indians, an able writer of a recent date, treating of this question, says,—“The testimony of all travellers goes to prove that the native Americans are possessed of certain physical characteristics which serve to identify them in places the most remote, while they assimilate not less in their moral character. There are also, in their multitudinous languages, some traces of a common origin; and it may be assumed as a fact, that no other race of men maintains so striking an analogy through all its subdivisions, and amidst all its varieties of physical circumstances,—while, at the same time, it is distinguished from all the other races by external peculiarities of form, but still more by the internal qualities of mind and intellect.”

M. Bory de St. Vincent attempted to show that the American race includes four species besides the Esquimaux; but he appears to have failed in establishing his theory.

Dr. Morton has paid great attention to the subject. He conducted his investigations by comparisons of the skulls of a vast number of different tribes, the results of which he has given to the public in his “Crania[17] Americana.” He considers the most natural division to be into the Toltecan and American; the former being half-civilized, and including the Peruvians and Mexicans; the latter embracing all the barbarous nations except the Esquimaux, whom he regards as of Mongolian origin.

He divides each of these into subordinate groups, those of the American class being called the Appalachian, Brazilian, Patagonian, and Fuegian.

The Appalachian includes all those of North America except the Mexicans, together with those of South America north of the Amazon and east of the Andes. They are described thus. “The head is rounded, the nose large, salient, and aquiline, the eyes dark-brown, with little or no obliquity of position, the mouth large and straight, the teeth nearly vertical, and the whole face triangular. The neck is long, the chest broad, but rarely deep, the body and limbs muscular, seldom disposed to fatness.” In character, they “are warlike cruel, and unforgiving,” averse to the restraints of civilized life, and “have made but little progress in mental culture or the mechanic arts.”

Of the Brazilian it is said, that they are spread over a great part of South America east of the Andes, including the whole of Brazil and Paraguay between the River Amazon and 35 degrees of south latitude. In physical characteristics, they resemble the Appalachian; their nose is larger and more expanded, their mouth and lips also large. Their eyes are small, more or less oblique, and farther apart, the neck short and thick, body and limbs stout and full, to clumsiness. In mental character, it is said, that none of the American[18] race are less susceptible of civilization, and what they are taught by compulsion seldom exceeds the humblest elements of knowledge.

The Patagonian branch comprises the nations south of the River La Plata to the Straits of Magellan, and also the mountain tribes of Chili. They are chiefly distinguished by their tall stature, handsome forms, and unconquerable courage.

The Fuegians, who call themselves Yacannacunnee, rove over the sterile wastes of Terra del Fuego. Their numbers are computed by Forster to be only about 2,000. Their physical aspect is most repulsive. They are of low stature, with large heads, broad faces, and small eyes, full chests, clumsy bodies, large knees, and ill-shaped legs. Their hair is lank, black, and coarse, and their complexion a decided brown, like that of the more northern tribes. They have a vacant expression of face, and are most stupid and slow in their mental operations, destitute of curiosity, and caring for little that does not minister to their present wants.

Long, black hair, indeed, is common to all the American tribes. Their real color is not copper, but brown, most resembling cinnamon. Dr. Morton and Dr. McCulloh agree, that no epithet is so proper as the brown race.

The diversity of complexion cannot be accounted for mainly by climate; for many near the equator are not darker than those in the mountainous parts of temperate regions. The Puelches, and other Magellanic tribes beyond 35 degrees south latitude, are darker than others many degrees nearer the equator; the Botecudos, but a little distance from the tropics, are nearly white;[19] the Guayacas, under the line, are fair, while the Charruas, at 50 degrees south latitude, are almost black, and the Californians, at 25 degrees north latitude, are almost white.

The color seems also not to depend on local situation, and in the same individual the covered parts are not fairer than those exposed to the heat and moisture. Where the differences are slight, the cause may possibly be found in partial emigrations from other countries. The characteristic brown tint is said to be occasioned by a pigment beneath the lower skin, peculiar to them with the African family, but wanting in the European.

Another division of the American race has been suggested, into three great classes, according to the pursuits on which they depend for subsistence, namely, hunting, fishing, and agriculture. The American race are further said to be intellectually inferior to the Caucasian and Mongolian races. They seem incapable of a continued process of reasoning on abstract subjects. They seize easily and eagerly on simple truths, but reject those which require analysis or investigation. Their inventive faculties are small, and they generally have but little taste for the arts and sciences. A most remarkable defect is the difficulty they have of comprehending the relations of numbers. Mr. Schoolcraft assured Dr. Morton, that this was the cause of most of the misunderstandings in respect to treaties between the English and the native tribes.

The Toltecan family are considered as embracing all the semi-civilized nations of Mexico, Peru, and Bogota, reaching from the Rio Gila, in 33 degrees of north[20] latitude, along the western shore of the continent, to the frontiers of Chili, and on the eastern coast along the Gulf of Mexico. In South America, however, they chiefly occupied a narrow strip of land between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. The Bogotese in New Grenada were, in civilization, between the Peruvians and the Mexicans. The Toltecans were not the sole possessors of these regions, but the dominant race, while the American race composed the mass of the people.

The great difference between the Toltecan and the American races consisted in the intellectual faculties, as shown in their arts and sciences, architectural remains, pyramids, temples, grottos, bass-reliefs, and arabesques; their roads, aqueducts, fortifications, and mining operations.

With respect to the American languages, there is said to exist a remarkable similarity among them. From Cape Horn to the Arctic Sea, all the nations have languages which possess a distinctive character, but still apparently differing from all those of the Old World. This resemblance, too, is said not to be of an indefinite kind. It generally consists in the peculiar modes of conjugating the verbs by inserting syllables. Vater, a distinguished German writer on this subject, says, that this wonderful uniformity favors, in a singular manner, the supposition of a primitive people which formed the common stock of the American indigenous nations. According to M. Balbi, there are more than 438 different languages, embracing upwards of 2,000 dialects. He estimates the Indians of the brown race at 10,000,000, and the races produced by the intermixture of the pure races at 7,000,000.


We have thus given a general classification of the great American family, and the main points respecting the question of their origin. We must confess our inability wholly to lift the veil of obscurity in which their early history is involved, or answer, conclusively, the inquiry, whence they came, or when America was first peopled. We can only offer what we have already stated as the most plausible theory, that, ages ago, a great nation of Asia passed, at different times, by way of Behring’s Straits, into the American Continent, and in the course of centuries spread themselves over its surface. Here we suppose them to have become divided by the slow influences of climate, and other circumstances, into the several varieties which they display.




The authentic history of this remarkable and peculiar race of men opens with the morning of the 12th of October, 1492. Columbus, the discoverer of the New World, at that memorable date, landed upon the American soil, and, as if his first action was to be a type of the consequences about to follow in respect to the wondering natives who beheld him and his companions, he landed with a drawn sword in his hand. If the philanthropic spirit of the great discoverer could have shaped events, the fate of the aborigines of the new continent had been widely different; but who, that reads their history, can fail to see that the Christians of the Eastern Hemisphere have brought but the sword to the American race?

Nor were the first actions of the natives, upon beholding this advent of beings that seemed to them of heavenly birth, hardly less significant of their character and doom. They were at first filled with wonder and awe, and then, in conformity with their confiding nature, came forward and timidly welcomed the strangers. The following is Irving’s picturesque description of the scene.


“The natives of the island, when at the dawn of day they had beheld the ships hovering on the coast, had supposed them some monsters, which had issued from the deep during the night. When they beheld the boats approach the shore, and a number of strange beings, clad in glittering steel, or raiment of various colors, landing upon the beach, they fled in affright to the woods.

“Finding, however, that there was no attempt to pursue or molest them, they gradually recovered from their terror, and approached the Spaniards with great awe, frequently prostrating themselves, and making signs of adoration. During the ceremony of taking possession, they remained gazing, in timid admiration, at the complexion, the beards, the shining armor, and splendid dress of the Spaniards.

“The admiral particularly attracted their attention, from his commanding height, his air of authority, his scarlet dress, and the deference paid him by his companions; all which pointed him out to be the commander.

“When they had still further recovered from their fears, they approached the Spaniards, touched their beards, and examined their hands and faces, admiring their whiteness. Columbus was pleased with their simplicity, their gentleness, and the confidence they reposed in beings who must have appeared so strange and formidable, and he submitted to their scrutiny with perfect acquiescence.

“The wondering savages were won by this benignity. They now supposed that the ships had sailed out of the crystal firmament which bounded their horizon,[24] or that they had descended from above on their ample wings, and that these marvellous beings were inhabitants of the skies.

“The natives of the island were no less objects of curiosity to the Spaniards, differing, as they did, from any race of men they had seen. They were entirely naked, and painted with a variety of colors and devices, so as to give them a wild and fantastic appearance. Their natural complexion was of a tawny or copper hue, and they had no beards. Their hair was straight and coarse; their features, though disfigured by paint, were agreeable; they had lofty foreheads, and remarkably fine eyes.

“They were of moderate stature, and well shaped. They appeared to be a simple and artless people, and of gentle and friendly dispositions. Their only arms were lances, hardened at the end by fire, or pointed with a flint or the bone of a fish. There was no iron among them, nor did they know its properties; for, when a drawn sword was presented to them, they unguardedly took it by the edge.

“Columbus distributed among them colored caps, glass beads, hawk’s bells, and other trifles, which they received as inestimable gifts, and, decorating themselves with them, were wonderfully delighted with their finery. In return, they brought cakes of a kind of bread called cassava, made from the yuca root, which constituted a principal part of their food.”

Thus kindly began the intercourse between the Old World and the New; but the demon of avarice soon disturbed their peace. The Spaniards perceived small ornaments of gold in the noses of some of the natives.[25] On being asked where this precious metal was procured, they answered by signs, pointing to the south, and Columbus understood them to say, that a king resided in that quarter, of such wealth that he was served in great vessels of gold.

Columbus took seven of the Indians with him, to serve as interpreters and guides, and set sail to find the country of gold. He cruised among the beautiful islands, and stopped at three of them. These were green, fertile, and abounding with species and odoriferous trees. The inhabitants everywhere appeared the same,—simple, harmless, and happy, and totally unacquainted with civilized man.

Columbus was disappointed in his hopes of finding gold or spices in these islands; but the natives continued to point to the south, and then spoke of an island in that direction called Cuba, which the Spaniards understood them to say abounded in gold, pearls, and spices. People often believe what they earnestly wish; and Columbus sailed in search of Cuba, fully confident that he should find the land of riches. He arrived in sight of it on the 28th of October, 1492.

Here he found a most lovely country, and the houses of the Indians, neatly built of the branches of palm-trees, in the shape of pavilions, were scattered under the trees, like tents in a camp. But hearing of a province in the centre of the island, where, as he understood the Indians to say, a great prince ruled, Columbus determined to send a present to him, and one of his letters of recommendation from the king and queen of Spain.

For this purpose he chose two Spaniards, one of[26] whom was a converted Jew, and knew Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Arabic. Columbus thought the prince must understand one or the other of these languages. Two Indians were sent with them as guides. They were furnished with strings of beads, and various trinkets, for their travelling expenses; and they were enjoined to ascertain the situation of the provinces and rivers of Asia,—for Columbus thought the West Indies were a part of the Eastern Continent.

The Jew found his Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Arabic of no avail, and the Indian interpreter was obliged to be the orator. He made a regular speech after the Indian manner, extolling the power, wealth, and generosity of the white men. When he had finished, the Indians crowded round the Spaniards, touched and examined their skin and raiment, and kissed their hands and feet in token of adoration. But they had no gold to give them.

It was here that tobacco was first discovered. When the envoys were on their return, they saw several of the natives going about with firebrands in their hands, and certain dried herbs which they rolled up in a leaf, and, lighting one end, put the other into their mouths, and continued inhaling and puffing out the smoke. A roll of this kind they called tobacco. The Spaniards were struck with astonishment at this smoking.

When Columbus became convinced that there was no gold of consequence to be found in Cuba, he sailed in quest of some richer lands, and soon discovered the island of Hispaniola, or Hayti. It was a beautiful island. The high mountains swept down into luxuriant plains and green savannas, while the appearance[27] of cultivated fields, with the numerous fires at night, and the volumes of smoke which rose in various parts by day, all showed it to be populous. Columbus immediately stood in towards the land, to the great consternation of his Indian guides, who assured him by signs that the inhabitants had but one eye, and were fierce and cruel cannibals.

Columbus entered a harbour at the western end of the island of Hayti, on the evening of the 6th of December. He gave to the harbour the name of St. Nicholas, which it bears to this day. The inhabitants were frightened at the approach of the ships, and they all fled to the mountains. It was some time before any of the natives could be found. At last three sailors succeeded in overtaking a young and beautiful female, whom they carried to the ships.

She was treated with the greatest kindness, and dismissed finely clothed, and loaded with presents of beads, hawk’s bells, and other pretty bawbles. Columbus hoped by this conduct to conciliate the Indians; and he succeeded. The next day, when the Spaniards landed, the natives permitted them to enter their houses, and set before them bread, fish, roots, and fruits of various kinds, in the most kind and hospitable manner.

Columbus sailed along the coast, continuing his intercourse with the natives, some of whom had ornaments of gold, which they readily exchanged for the merest trifle of European manufacture. These poor, simple people little thought that to obtain gold these Christians would destroy all the Indians in the islands. No,—they believed the Spaniards were more than mortal,[28] and that the country from which they came must exist somewhere in the skies.

The generous and kind feelings of the natives were shown to great advantage when Columbus was distressed by the loss of his ship. He was sailing to visit a grand cacique or chieftain named Guacanagari, who resided on the coast to the eastward, when his ship ran aground, and, the breakers beating against her, she was entirely wrecked. He immediately sent messengers to inform Guacanagari of this misfortune.

When the cacique heard of the distress of his guest, he was so much afflicted as to shed tears; and never in any civilized country were the vaunted rites of hospitality more scrupulously observed than by this uncultivated savage. He assembled his people and sent off all his canoes to the assistance of Columbus, assuring him, at the same time, that every thing he possessed was at his service. The effects were landed from the wreck and deposited near the dwelling of the cacique, and a guard set over them, until houses could be prepared, in which they could be stored.

There seemed, however, no disposition among the natives to take advantage of the misfortune of the strangers, or to plunder the treasures thus cast upon their shores, though they must have been inestimable in their eyes. On the contrary, they manifested as deep a concern at the disaster of the Spaniards as if it had happened to themselves, and their only study was, how they could administer relief and consolation.

Columbus was greatly affected by this unexpected goodness. “These people,” said he in his journal, “love their neighbours as themselves; their discourse[29] is ever sweet and gentle, and accompanied by a smile. There is not in the world a better nation or a better land.”

When the cacique first met Columbus, the latter appeared dejected; and the good Indian, much moved, again offered Columbus every thing he possessed that could be of service to him. He invited him on shore, where a banquet was prepared for his entertainment, consisting of various kinds of fish and fruit. After the feast, Columbus was conducted to the beautiful groves which surrounded the dwelling of the cacique, where upwards of a thousand of the natives were assembled, all perfectly naked, who performed several of their national games and dances.

Thus did this generous Indian try, by every means in his power, to cheer the melancholy of his guest, showing a warmth of sympathy, a delicacy of attention, and an innate dignity and refinement, which could not have been expected from one in his savage state. He was treated with great deference by his subjects, and conducted himself towards them with a gracious and prince-like majesty.

Three houses were given to the shipwrecked crew for their residence. Here, living on shore, and mingling freely with the natives, they became fascinated by their easy and idle mode of life. They were governed by the caciques with an absolute, but patriarchal and easy rule, and existed in that state of primitive and savage simplicity which some philosophers have fondly pictured as the most enviable on earth.

The following is the opinion of old Peter Martyr: “It is certain that the land among these people (the[30] Indians) is as common as the sun and water, and that ‘mine and thine,’ the seeds of all mischief, have no place with them. They are content with so little, that, in so large a country, they have rather superfluity than scarceness; so that they seem to live in a golden world, without toil, in open gardens, neither intrenched nor shut up by walls or hedges. They deal truly with one another, without laws, or books, or judges.”

In fact, these Indians seemed to be perfectly contented; their few fields, cultivated almost without labor, furnished roots and vegetables; their groves were laden with delicious fruit; and the coast and rivers abounded with fish. Softened by the indulgence of nature, a great part of the day was passed by them in indolent repose. In the evening they danced in their fragrant groves to their national songs, or the rude sound of their silver drums.

Such was the character of the natives of many of the West India islands, when first discovered. Simple and ignorant they were, and indolent also, but then they were kind-hearted, generous, and happy. And their sense of justice, and of the obligations of man to do right, are beautifully set forth in the following story.

It was a custom with Columbus to erect crosses in all remarkable places, to denote the discovery of the country, and its subjugation to the Catholic faith. He once performed this ceremony on the banks of a river in Cuba. It was on a Sunday morning. The cacique attended, and also a favorite of his, a venerable Indian, fourscore years of age.

While mass was performed in a stately grove, the[31] natives looked on with awe and reverence. When it was ended, the old man made a speech to Columbus in the Indian manner. “I am told,” said he, “that thou hast lately come to these lands with a mighty force, and hast subdued many countries, spreading great fear among the people; but be not vainglorious.

“According to our belief, the souls of men have two journeys to perform, after they have departed from the body: one to a place dismal, foul, and covered with darkness, prepared for such men as have been unjust and cruel to their fellow-men; the other full of delight, for such as have promoted peace on earth. If, then, thou art mortal, and dost expect to die, beware that thou hurt no man wrongfully, neither do harm to those who have done no harm to thee.”

When this speech was explained to Columbus by his interpreter, he was greatly moved, and rejoiced to hear this doctrine of the future state of the soul, having supposed that no belief of the kind existed among the inhabitants of these countries. He assured the old man that he had been sent by his sovereigns, to teach them the true religion, to protect them from harm, and to subdue their enemies, the Caribs.

Alas for the simple Indians who believed such professions! Columbus, no doubt, was sincere; but the adventurers who accompanied him, and the tyrants who followed him, cared only for riches for themselves. They ground down the poor, harmless red men beneath a harsh system of labor, obliging them to furnish, month by month, so much gold. This gold was found in fine grains, and it was a severe task to[32] search the mountain-pebbles and the sands of the plains for the shining dust.

Then the islands, after they were seized upon by the Christians, were parcelled out among the leaders, and the Indians were compelled to be their slaves. No wonder deep despair fell upon the natives. Weak and indolent by nature, and brought up in the untasked idleness of their soft climate and their fruitful groves, death itself seemed preferable to a life of toil and anxiety.

The pleasant life of the island was at an end: the dream in the shade by day; the slumber during the noontide heat by the fountain, or under the spreading palm; and the song, and the dance, and the game in the mellow evening, when summoned to their simple amusements by the rude Indian drum. They spoke of the times that were past, before the white men had introduced sorrow, and slavery, and weary labor among them; and their songs were mournful, and their dances slow.

They had flattered themselves, for a time, that the visit of the strangers would be but temporary, and that, spreading their ample sails, their ships would waft them back to their home in the sky. In their simplicity, they had frequently inquired of the Spaniards when they intended to return to Turey, or the heavens. But when all such hope was at an end, they became desperate, and resorted to a forlorn and terrible alternative.

They knew the Spaniards depended chiefly on the supplies raised in the islands for a subsistence; and these poor Indians endeavoured to produce a famine.[33] For this purpose they destroyed their fields of maize, stripped the trees of their fruit, pulled up the yuca and other roots, and then fled to the mountains.

The Spaniards were reduced to much distress, but were partially relieved by supplies from Spain. To revenge themselves on the Indians, they pursued them to their mountain retreats, hunted them from one dreary fastness to another, like wild beasts, until thousands perished in dens and caverns, of famine and sickness, and the survivors, yielding themselves up in despair, submitted to the yoke of slavery. But they did not long bear the burden of life under their civilized masters. In 1504, only twelve years after the discovery of Hayti, when Columbus visited it, (under the administration of Ovando,) he thus wrote to his sovereigns: “Since I left the island, six parts out of seven of the natives are dead, all through ill-treatment and inhumanity; some by the sword, others by blows and cruel usage, or by hunger.”

No wonder these oppressed Indians considered the Christians the incarnation of all evil. Their feelings were often expressed in a manner that must have touched the heart of a real Christian, if there was such a one among their oppressors.

When Velasquez set out to conquer Cuba, he had only three hundred men; and these were thought sufficient to subdue an island above seven hundred miles in length, and filled with inhabitants. From this circumstance we may understand how naturally mild and unwarlike was the character of the Indians. Indeed, they offered no opposition to the Spaniards, except in one district. Hatuey, a cacique who had fled from[34] Hayti, had taken possession of the eastern extremity of Cuba. He stood upon the defensive, and endeavoured to drive the Spaniards back to their ships. He was soon defeated and taken prisoner.

Velasquez considered him as a slave who had taken arms against his master, and condemned him to the flames. When Hatuey was tied to the stake, a friar came forward, and told him that if he would embrace the Christian faith, he should be immediately, on his death, admitted into heaven.

“Are there any Spaniards,” says Hatuey, after some pause, “in that region of bliss you describe?”

“Yes,” replied the monk, “but only such as are worthy and good.”

“The best of them,” returned the indignant Indian, “have neither worth nor goodness; I will not go to a place where I may meet with one of that cruel race.”


Columbus discovered the islands of the Caribs or Charibs, now called the Caribbees, during his second voyage to America, in 1493. The first island he saw he named Dominica, because he discovered it on Sunday. As the ships gently moved onward, other islands rose to sight, one after another, covered with forests, and enlivened with flocks of parrots and other tropical birds, while the whole air was sweetened by the fragrance of the breezes which passed over them.


This beautiful cluster of islands is called the Antilles. They extend from the eastern end of Porto Rico to the coast of Paria on the southern continent, forming a kind of barrier between the main ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Here was the country of the Caribs.

Columbus had heard of the Caribs during his stay at Hayti and Cuba, at the time of his first voyage. The timid and indolent race of Indians in those pleasant islands were afraid of the Caribs, and had repeatedly besought Columbus to assist them in overcoming these their ferocious enemies. The Caribs were represented as terrible warriors, and cruel cannibals, who roasted and ate their captives. This the gentle Haytians thought, truly enough, was a good pretext for warning the Christians against such foes. Columbus did not at first imagine that the beautiful paradise he saw, as he sailed onward among these green and spicy islands, could be the residence of cruel men; but on landing at Guadaloupe, he soon became convinced he was truly in a Golgotha, a place of skulls. He there saw human limbs hanging in the houses, as if curing for provisions, and some even roasting at the fire for food. He knew then that he was in the country of the Caribs.

On touching at the island of Montserrat, Columbus was informed that the Caribs had eaten up all the inhabitants. If that had been true, it seems strange how he obtained his information.

It is probable many of these stories were exaggerations. The Caribs were a warlike people, in many respects essentially differing in character from the natives of the other West India islands. They were enterprising as well as ferocious, and frequently made[36] roving expeditions in their canoes to the distance of one hundred and fifty leagues, invading the islands, ravaging the villages, making slaves of the youngest and handsomest females, and carrying off the men to be killed and eaten.

These things were bad enough, and it is not strange report should make them more terrible than the reality. The Caribs also gave the Spaniards more trouble than did the effeminate natives of the other islands. They fought their invaders desperately. In some cases the women showed as much bravery as the men. At Santa Cruz the females plied their bows with such vigor, that one of them sent an arrow through a Spanish buckler, and wounded the soldier who bore it.

There have been many speculations respecting the origin of the Caribs. That they were a different race from the inhabitants of the other islands is generally acknowledged. They also differed from the Indians of Mexico and Peru; though some writers think they were culprits banished either from the continent or the large islands, and thus a difference of situation might have produced a difference of manners. Others think they were descended from some civilized people of Europe or Africa, and imagine that there is no difficulty attending the belief, that a Carthaginian or Phœnician vessel might have been overtaken by a storm, and blown about by the gales, till it entered the current of the trade-winds, when it would have been easily carried to the West Indies.

The Caribs possessed as many of the arts as were necessary to live at ease in that luxurious climate. Some of these have excited the admiration of Europeans.[37][1] In their subsequent intercourse with the Europeans, they have, in some instances, proved faithless and treacherous. In 1708, the English entered into an agreement with the Caribs in St. Vincent to attack the French colonies in Martinico. The French governor heard of the treaty, and sent Major Coullet, who was a great favorite with the savages, to persuade them to break the treaty. Coullet took with him a number of officers and servants, and a good store of provisions and liquors. He reached St. Vincent, gave a grand entertainment to the principal Caribs, and, after circulating the brandy freely, he got himself painted red, and made them a flaming speech. He urged them to break their connection with the English. How could they refuse a man who gave them brandy, and who was red as themselves? They abandoned their English friends, and burned all the timber the English had cut on the island, and butchered the first Englishmen who arrived. But their crimes were no worse than those of their Christian advisers, who, on both sides, were inciting these savages to war.

But the Caribs are all gone, perished from the earth. Their race is no more, and their name is only a remembrance. The English and the French, chiefly the latter, have destroyed them. There is, however, one pleasant reflection attending their fate. Though destroyed, they were never enslaved. None of their conquerors could compel them to labor. Even those who have attempted to hire Caribs for servants have[38] found it impossible to derive any benefit or profit from them; they would not be commanded or reprimanded.

This independence was called pride, indolence, and stubbornness, by their conquerors. If the Caribs had had historians to record their wrongs, and their resistance to an overwhelming tyranny, they would have set the matter in a very different light. They would have expressed the sentiment which the conduct of their countrymen so steadily exemplified,—that it was better to die free than to live slaves.

So determined was their resistance to all kinds of authority, that it became a proverb among the Europeans, that to show displeasure to a Carib was the same as beating him, and to beat him was the same as to kill him. If they did any thing, it was only what they chose, how they chose, and when they chose; and when they were most wanted, it often happened that they would not do what was required, nor any thing else.

The French missionaries made many attempts to convert the Caribs to Christianity, but without success. It is true that some were apparently converted; they learned the catechism and prayers, and were baptized; but they always returned to their old habits.

A man of family and fortune, named Chateau Dubois, settled in Guadaloupe, and devoted a great part of his life to the conversion of the Caribs, particularly those of Dominica. He constantly entertained a number of them, and taught them himself. He died in the exercise of these pious and charitable offices, without the consolation of having made one single convert.

As we have said, several had been baptized, and,[39] as he hoped, they were well instructed, and apparently well grounded in the Christian religion; but after they returned to their own people, they soon resumed all the Indian customs, and their natural indifference to all religion.

Some years after the death of Dubois, one of these Carib apostates was at Martinico. He spoke French correctly, could read and write, had been baptized, and was then upwards of fifty years old. When reminded of the truths he had been taught, and reproached for his apostasy, he replied, “that if he had been born of Christian parents, or if he had continued to live among the French, he would still have professed Christianity; but that, having returned to his own country and his own people, he could not resolve to live in a manner differing from their way of life, and by so doing expose himself to the hatred and contempt of his relations.” Alas! it is small matter of wonder that the Carib thought the Christian religion was only a profession. Had those who bore that name always been Christians in reality, and treated the poor ignorant savages with the justice, truth, and mercy which the gospel enjoins, what a different tale the settlement of the New World would have furnished!

The Caribs, who spread themselves over the main land contiguous to their islands, were similar in characteristics to those of the West Indies, of whom they are supposed to have been the original stock. They formed an alliance with the English under Sir Walter Raleigh, in one of his romantic expeditions on that coast, in 1595, and for a long time preserved the English[40] colors which were presented to them on that occasion. The Caribs of the continent are said to have been divided into the Maritimos and the Mediterraneos. The former lived in plains, and upon the coast of the Atlantic, and are said to have been the most hostile of any of the Indians who infest the settlements of the missions of the River Orinoco, and have been sometimes called the Galibis. The Mediterraneos inhabited the south side of the source of the River Caroni, and are described as of a more pacific nature, and began to receive the Jesuit missionaries and embrace the Christian faith in 1738.




According to the annals preserved by the Mexicans, the country embraced in the vale of Mexico was formerly called Anahuac. The rest of the territory contained the kingdoms of Mexico, Acolhuacan, Tlacopan, Michuacan, and the republics of Tlaxcallan or Tlascala, Cholollan, and Huexotzinco. The people who settled the country came from the north. The first inhabitants were called Toltecs or Toltecas, who came from a distant country at the northwest in the year 472. They migrated slowly, cultivating and settling as they proceeded, so that it was 104 years before they reached a place fifty miles east of the situation where Mexico was afterwards built; there they remained for twenty years, and built a city called Tollantzinco. Thence they removed forty miles to the westward, and built another city called Tollan or Tula.

When they first commenced their migration, they had a number of chiefs, who, by the time they reached Tollantzinco, were reduced to seven. This form of government was afterwards changed to a monarchy; why, we know not, but probably some one of the chiefs was more valiant or cunning than his associates,[42] and supplanted them. This monarchy began A. D. 607, and lasted 384 years, in which time they are said to have had only eight princes. This fact, however, is accounted for by the custom which prevailed, of keeping up the name of each king for fifty-two years.

They remained prosperous for 400 years, when a famine succeeded, occasioned by a severe drought, which was followed by a pestilence that destroyed many of them. Tradition says, that a demon appeared once at a festival ball, and with giant arms embraced the people, and suffocated them; that he appeared again as a child with a putrid head, and brought the plague; and that, by his persuasion, they abandoned Tula, and scattered themselves among various nations, by whom they were well received.

A hundred years afterwards, succeeded a more barbarous people from Amaquemecan. Who or what they were is not known, as there is no trace of them among the American nations; nor is there any reason given why they left their own country. They are said to have been eight months on their way, led by a son of their monarch, called Xolotl, who sent his son to survey the country, which he took possession of by shooting four arrows to the four winds. He chose for his capital Tenayuca, six miles north of the site of Mexico; in which direction most of the people settled. It is asserted that their numbers amounted to 1,000,000; as ascertained by twelve piles of stones which were thrown up at a review of the people; but this is probably an exaggeration.

This barbarous people formed alliances with the relics of the Toltecan race, and their prince, Nopaltzin, married[43] a descendant of the Toltecan royal family. The effect of these intermarriages on them was a happy one, as they were civilized by the Toltecas, who were much their superiors in a knowledge of the arts. Heretofore they had subsisted only on roots and fruits, and by hunting; sucking the blood of the animals they killed, and taking their skins for clothing; but now they began to dig up and sow the ground, to work metals, and attempt other useful arts. About eighteen years after their arrival, six persons made their appearance as an embassy from a people living near Amaquemecan; a place was assigned them, and in a few years three princes came with a large army of Acolhuans, who received three princesses in marriage. The two nations gradually coalesced in one, and took the name of the new comers; the name Chechemecas being left to the ruder and more barbarous tribes who lived by hunting and on roots. These latter joined the Otomies, a barbarous people who lived farther north, in the mountains.

Xolotl divided his dominions into three states, namely, Azcapozalco, eighteen miles west of Tezcuco, Xaltocan, and Coatlichan, which he conferred, in fief, on his three sons-in-law. As was natural, various civil wars afterwards occurred during the reigns of the sovereigns who succeeded Xolotl. Nopaltzin reigned thirty-two years, and is said to have died at the advanced age of ninety-two. After him came Tlotzin, who reigned thirty-six years, and was a good prince. He was succeeded by Quinatzin, a luxurious tyrant, who, on the removal of his court from Tenayuca to Tezcuco, caused himself to be borne thither in a litter by four lords, while a fifth held an umbrella over him to keep off the[44] sun; he is said to have reigned sixty years. In his reign, there were many rebellions, and on his death he was succeeded by a prince named Techotlala.

In the year 1160, the Mexicans, Aztecas, or Aztecs made their appearance. They are said to have come from the region north of the Gulf of California, and were induced to migrate from the country where they lived by the persuasion of Huitziton, a man of great influence among them. He is said to have observed a little singing-bird, whose notes sounded like Tihui, which in their language meant, Let us go. He led another person, also a man of influence, to observe this, and they persuaded the people to obey the suggestion, as they said, of the secret divinity. This was no difficult matter in a partially civilized and superstitious community. They proceeded, as their tradition relates, to the River Gila, where they stopped for a time, and where, it is affirmed, remains have been found at a somewhat recent date.

They then removed to a place about 250 miles from Chihuahua, toward the north-northwest, now called in Spanish Casas Grandes, on account of a large building found there, on the plan of those in New Mexico, having three floors with a terrace above them, the door for entrance opening on the second floor, to which the ascent was by a ladder. Other remains, also, of a fortress, and various utensils, have been found there. From this spot they proceeded southward, crossed the mountains, and stopped at Culiacan, a place on the Gulf of California in Lat. 24° N. Here they made a wooden image, called Huitzilopochtli, which they carried on a chair of reeds, and appointed priests for its service. When they[45] left their country, on their migration, they consisted of seven different tribes; but here the Mexicans were left with their god by the others, called the Xochimilcas, Tepanecas, Chalchese, Colhuas, Tlahuicas, and Tlascalans, who proceeded onwards. The reason of this separation is not mentioned, except that it was at the command of the god, from which it may be conjectured that some quarrel had arisen with respect to his worship.

On their way to Tula, the Mexicans became divided into two factions; yet they kept together, for the sake of the god, while they built altars, and left their sick in different places. They remained in Tula nine years, and spent eleven more in the countries adjoining. In 1216, they reached Tzompanco, a city in the vale of Mexico, and were hospitably received by the lord of the district; his son, named Ilhuitcatl, married among them. From him have descended all the Mexican monarchs. The people continued to migrate along the Lake Tezcuco during the reign of Xolotl, but in the reign of Nopaltzin they were persecuted, and obliged, in 1245, to go to Chapoltepec, a mountain two miles from Mexico. They then took refuge in the small islands Acocolco, at the southern extremity of the Lake of Mexico. Here they lived miserably for 52 years, till the year 1314, when they were reduced to slavery by a petty king of Colhuacan, by whom they were treacherously entrapped and cruelly oppressed.

Some years after, on the occasion of a war between the Colhuas and the Xochimilcas, in which the latter were victorious, the Colhuas were obliged to release their slaves, who fought with great bravery, cutting[46] off the ears of the enemies they had killed, which they produced on being reproached with cowardice. The effect of this was to excite such a detestation of them, that they were desired to leave the country. They did so, and went north till they came to a place called Acatzitzintlan, and afterwards Mexicaltzinco; but not liking this, they went on to Iztacalco, still nearer to the site of Mexico. Here they remained two years, and then went to a place on the lake, where they found the nopal growing on a stone, and over it the foot of an eagle; this was the place marked out by the oracle. Here they ended their wanderings, and erected an altar to their god; one of them went for a victim, and found a Colhuan, whom they killed, and offered as a sacrifice to the idol. Here, too, they built their rush huts, and formed a city, which was called Tenochtitlan, and afterwards Mexico, or the place of Mexitli, their god of war.

This was in 1325; the city was situated on a small island in the middle of a great lake, without ground sufficient for cultivation, or even to build upon. It was necessary, therefore, to enlarge it; and for this purpose they drove down piles and palisades, and with stones, turf, &c., thus united the other small islands to the larger one. To procure stone and wood, they exchanged fish and water-fowl with some other nations, and made, with incredible industry, floating gardens, on which they raised vegetable products. They here remained thirteen years at peace, but afterwards quarrels ensued, and the factions separated; one of them went to a small island a little northward, named Xaltilolco, afterwards Tlatelolco.


These divided their city into four parts, each quarter having its tutelar deity. In the midst of the city, Mexitli was worshipped with horrible rites, and the sacrifice of prisoners. Under pretence of consecrating her to be the mother of their god, they sought the presence of a Colhuan princess at their rites; and when the request was granted, they put her to death, flayed her body, and dressed one of their brave men in her skin. The father was invited to be present and officiate as the priest. All was darkness, till, on lighting the copal in his censer to begin the rites of worship, he saw the horrible spectacle of his immolated daughter.

In 1352, the Mexicans changed their aristocracy of twenty lords for a monarchy, and elected as their king Acamapitzin, who married a daughter of the lord of Coatlichan. The Tlatelolcos also chose a king, who was a son of the king of the Tepanecas. The king of the Tepanecas was persuaded by them to double the tributes of the Mexicans, and oppress them. They were commanded to transport to his capital, Azcapozalco, a great floating garden, producing every kind of vegetable known in Anahuac; when this was done, the next year, another garden was required, with a duck and a swan in it sitting on their eggs, ready to hatch on arriving at Azcapozalco; and then again, a garden was exacted from them having a live stag, which they were obliged to hunt in the mountains, among their enemies.

Acamapitzin, the king of Mexico, reigned thirty-seven years, and died in 1389, and, after an interregnum of four months, his son Huitzilihuitl succeeded[48] him. He requested, for a wife, one of the daughters of the king of Azcapozalco, on which occasion the ambassadors are said to have made the following speech: “We beseech you, with the most profound respect, to take compassion on our master and your servant, Huitzilihuitl. He is without a wife, and we are without a queen. Vouchsafe, Sire, to part with one of your jewels or most precious feathers. Give us one of your daughters, who may come and reign over us in a country which belongs to you.” This request was granted.

It will be recollected that the Acolhuans were under the government of Techotlala, son of Quinatzin. After a thirty years’ peace, a revolt was begun by a prince called Tzompan, a descendant of one of the three original Acolhuan princes. The rebel was defeated and put to death. The Mexicans, in this war, were the allies of Techotlala, and showed great valor.

The son of the king of the Tepanecas, Maxtlaton, fearing that his sister’s son by the Mexican king might obtain the Tepanecan crown, began to oppress the Mexicans, and sent assassins to murder his nephew. The Mexicans, however, were too weak to resent this baseness.

The rival Mexicans and Tlatelolcos advanced together in wealth and power. Techotlala, the Acolhuan king, was succeeded by Ixtlilxochitl in 1406. The king of Azcapozalco, his vassal, sought to stir up rebellion, but he was defeated, and compelled to sue for peace. The same year in which this occurred, the Mexican king died, and his son, Chimalpopoca, was chosen his successor.


The king of the Acolhuans, mentioned above, was driven from his kingdom, and both he and one of his grandsons were cut off by the treachery of the Tepanecas. The rebels, led on by their king, Tezozomoc, poured in, and conquered Acolhuacan. Tezozomoc then gave Tezcuco to the Mexican king, Chimalpopoca, and other portions to the king of Tlatelolco, and proclaimed his own capital, Azcapozalco, the metropolis of all the kingdoms of Acolhuacan. He was a great tyrant, and was tormented with dreams, that the son of the murdered king of the Acolhuans, Nezahualcoyotl, transformed into an eagle, had eaten out his heart, or, in the shape of a lion, had sucked his blood. He enjoined it, therefore, on his sons, to put the prince, of whom he had dreamed, to death. He survived his dreams but a year, and died in 1422.

He was succeeded by his son Tajatzin, but the throne was at once usurped by another son, Maxtlaton, and Tajatzin took refuge with Chimalpopoca, who advised him to invite his brother to a feast, and murder him. This being overheard and told to Maxtlaton, he pretended not to believe it, but took the same means to get rid of Tajatzin. The king of Mexico declined the invitation, and escaped for a time; but his wife having been ravished by Maxtlaton, he resolved not to survive his dishonor, but to offer himself in sacrifice to his god, Huitzilopochtli. In the midst of the ceremonies, Maxtlaton burst in, took him, carried him off, and caged him like a criminal.

This success excited afresh in the mind of Maxtlaton the desire to get the Acolhuan prince, Nezahualcoyotl, into his power. He, discovering the designs[50] of the tyrant, went boldly to him and told him he had heard that he wished his life also, and he had therefore come to offer it. Maxtlaton, struck by his conduct, assured him he had no designs against him, nor was it his purpose to put the king of Mexico to death. He then gave orders that he should be hospitably entertained, and even allowed him to visit Chimalpopoca in prison. The Mexican king, however, soon after, hanged himself with his girdle; and Nezahualcoyotl, suspecting the sincerity of Maxtlaton’s professions, left the court. After wandering about for some time, exposed to various dangers from his inveterate foe, he finally took refuge among the Cholulans, who agreed to assist him with an army for the purpose of overthrowing Maxtlaton, and restoring him to the throne, which had been usurped by the father of the tyrant.

On the death of their king, the Mexicans raised to the throne Itzcoatl, a son of their first monarch, Acamapitzin, a brave, prudent, and just prince. This choice was offensive to Maxtlaton,—but to Nezahualcoyotl, on the contrary, it afforded the highest satisfaction. The new monarch, immediately on his elevation to the throne, resolved to unite all his forces with this prince against the tyrant Maxtlaton. On a certain occasion, he sent an ambassador to Nezahualcoyotl, named Montezuma, who, with another nobleman, was taken captive on the way, and carried to Chalco. They were then sent to the Huexotzincas to be sacrificed. This people, however, spurned the barbarous proposal. Maxtlaton was then informed of their capture; but he commanded the lord of Chalco, whom he called a double-minded traitor, to set them both at liberty.[51] Before this, however, they had escaped, by the connivance of the man to whom they had been intrusted, and returned to Mexico. Maxtlaton then made war against Mexico. Montezuma offered to challenge him, which he did by presenting to him certain defensive weapons, anointing his head, and fixing feathers on it. Maxtlaton, in turn, commissioned him in like manner to bear a challenge from himself to the king of Mexico. A terrible battle ensued; the tyrant was defeated, his city taken, and himself killed, being beaten to death while attempting to escape. His people, the Tepanecas, were entirely subdued.

The Mexican king now replaced the Acolhuan prince on the throne of his ancestors, and carried on his conquests by his general, Montezuma. On his death in 1436, he was succeeded by Montezuma the First. This monarch was the greatest that ever sat on the throne of Mexico. He engaged in a war with Chalco, the king of which city had taken three Mexican lords, and two sons of the king of Tezcuco, put them to death, salted and dried their bodies, and placed them in his hall as supporters to torches! Montezuma took the city, and executed vengeance on the barbarous people. He then reduced Tlatelolco, whose king had conspired against the late king of Mexico. He also subdued the Mixtecas, and thus enlarged his dominions.

In 1457, he sent an expedition against the Cotastese, and took 6,200 prisoners, whom he sacrificed to his god. He also took signal vengeance again on the Chalchese, who had rebelled, and had sought to make one of his brothers king in his stead. The brother pretended to comply; but mounting a scaffold which[52] he ordered to be erected, and taking a bunch of flowers in his hand, then urging his attendant Mexicans to be faithful to their king, he threw himself from the scaffold. This enraged the Chalchese so much that they put the Mexicans to death, for which Montezuma made war against them till he had almost exterminated them. He finally, however, proclaimed a general amnesty. He constructed a dike, nine miles long and eleven cubits broad, to prevent the recurrence of an inundation which had happened, and which was followed by a famine. He died in 1464.

Montezuma the First was succeeded by Axayacatl, who pursued the conquests so successfully begun by the late king. A war broke out between the Mexicans and Tlatelolcos, which ended in the final subjection of the latter. Their king was killed, and carried to the Mexican monarch, who, with his own hand, cut open his breast, and tore out his heart. He also fought the Otomies, and gained a complete victory, making 11,060 prisoners, among whom were three chiefs. He died in 1477, and was succeeded by his oldest brother, Tizoc, who was probably cut off by poison. Tizoc was succeeded by another brother, named Ahuitzotl, who finished the great temple begun by his predecessor, and, having reserved the prisoners taken in his wars for this purpose, he sacrificed, at its dedication, as Torquemada asserts, 72,344; others say, 64,060. This was in the year 1486. He carried on his conquests even as far as Guatemala, 900 miles south of Mexico. He was only once defeated; this was in 1496, by Toltecatl, a Huexotzincan chief. He died in 1502, in consequence of striking his head against a door. Two years previous to his death there[53] was an inundation, which was followed by a famine, proceeding, it is said, from the decay of the grain.

Ahuitzotl was succeeded by Montezuma the Second, a man of great bravery, and also a priest, but excessively haughty. His coronation was attended with the greatest display and pomp. He lived in exceeding splendor; lords were his servants, and no one was permitted to enter his palace without putting off his shoes and stockings. Even the meanest utensils of his service were of gold plate and sea-shell. His dinner was carried in by 300 or 400 of his young nobles, and he pointed with a rod to such dishes as he chose. He was served with water for washing by four of his most beautiful women. The vast expenses necessary to support such luxury displeased his subjects. He was, however, munificent in rewarding his generals, by which means he retained their services, and still further secured the soldiery by appointing a hospital for invalids. Unsuccessful for a time in a war with the Tlascalans, he finally took captive a brave Tlascalan general, named Tlahuicol, and put him into a cage. When, however, he gave him his liberty to return home, Tlahuicol wished to sacrifice himself, and perished in a gladiatorial combat, after having killed eight men, and wounded twenty more.

In his reign, the conquest of Mexico was effected by Cortés. Previous to the arrival of the Spaniards, a vague apprehension seems to have troubled the minds of Montezuma and his people, respecting the downfall of their empire, an event which was supposed likewise to be portended by a comet. But the history of this catastrophe must be reserved for another chapter.



Mexico was first discovered by Juan de Grijalva. He, however, seems to have made no attempt to penetrate into the interior from the sea-coast. In 1518, when its conquest was undertaken by Cortés, the Mexican empire is said to have extended 230 leagues from east to west, and 140 from north to south. After arranging his expedition, on the 10th of February, 1519, Cortés set sail from Havana, in Cuba, and landed at the island of Cozumel, on the coast of Yucatan. His whole army consisted of but 553 soldiers, 16 horsemen, and 110 mechanics, pilots, and mariners. Having released some Spanish captives whom he found there, he proceeded to Tabasco. Here he was attacked by the natives, but defeated them, and then pursued his course north-west to San Juan de Ulua, where he arrived on the 20th of April.

Hardly had the Spaniards cast anchor, when they saw two canoes, filled with Indians, put off from the shore, and steer directly for the general’s ship. Cortés received his visiters courteously, and, in exchange for the presents of fruit, flowers, and little ornaments of gold which they brought, gave them a few trinkets, of[55] European fabric, with which they seemed to be greatly pleased. Through the medium of an interpreter, whom he chanced to have on board, a Mexican female slave, the celebrated Marina, he learned from the Indians that they belonged to a neighbouring province which was subject to the emperor of Mexico, a mighty monarch who lived far in the interior, called Montezuma; and that they had been sent to ascertain who the strangers were, and what they wanted. Cortés replied, that he had come only with the most friendly purposes, and expressed a desire for an interview with the governor of their province. Their inquiries being satisfied, his guests shortly afterwards took their leave, and returned to the shore.

The next morning, Cortés landed with all his troops and munitions of war, and immediately set to work, with the assistance of the natives, in erecting barracks. One can scarcely help being reminded, on reading the account of the readiness with which the simple Indians engaged in this object, of the fatal alacrity with which the Trojans are said to have received within their walls the wooden horse that was so soon to prove their ruin.

Once on shore, Cortés informed the governor, Teuhtlile, that he must go to the capital. He said that he came as the ambassador of a great monarch, and must see Montezuma himself. To this the governor replied, that he would send couriers to the capital, to convey his request to the emperor, and so soon as he had learned Montezuma’s will he would communicate it to him. He then ordered his attendants to bring forward some presents which he had prepared, the richness[56] and splendor of which only confirmed Cortés in the determination to prosecute his schemes. In the mean while, some Mexican painters who accompanied the governor were employed in depicting the appearance of the Spaniards, their ships and horses; and Cortés, to render the intelligence to be thus conveyed to the emperor more striking, arrayed his horsemen, commanded his trumpets to sound, and the guns to be fired, by which display the Mexicans were deeply impressed with the idea of the greatness of the Spaniards.

Couriers, stationed in relays along the whole line of the distance, in a day or two informed Montezuma of these things, though it was 180 miles to the capital. The monarch, who, in the midst of his fears, seems to have summoned somewhat more resolution, commanded Cortés to leave his dominions. He likewise sent him more presents; fine cotton stuffs resembling silk, pictures, gold and silver plates representing the sun and moon, bracelets, and other costly things. Cortés, however, still persisted in his purpose; on hearing which, the Mexican ambassadors turned away with surprise and resentment, and all the natives deserted the camp of the Spaniards, nor came any more to trade with them. Cortés, already threatened with a mutiny among his soldiers, evidently felt his situation to be critical, but he nevertheless went on to found a city, and establish a government for his colony.

In this juncture of his affairs, he was visited by some people from Cempoalla and Chiahuitztla, two small cities or villages tributary to Montezuma. With the caciques of these places he formed a treaty of alliance, and agreed to protect them against Montezuma.[57] Encouraged by his promises, they went so far as to insult the Mexican power, of which they had before stood in the greatest dread. Having secured their submission, Cortés, to take away all hope of a return to Cuba, and inspire his soldiers with a desperate courage, burned his fleet; and, leaving a garrison in his new city, called Vera Cruz, he set out for the capital of the Mexican empire with 400 infantry, 15 horsemen, and seven field-pieces, having also been furnished by the Cempoallans with 1300 warriors and 1000 tamanes, or men of burden, to carry the baggage.

On the route to Mexico lay the little republic of Tlascala, and between these two powers there had existed for a long period an inextinguishable feud. On arriving near the confines of the republic, therefore, Cortés sent forward an embassy of Cempoallans inviting the Tlascalans to an alliance, and requesting, that, at least, he might be allowed to pass through their territories. The senate was immediately convened to decide upon this application. Maxicatzin, one of the oldest of the senators, alluded to a tradition respecting the coming of white men, and favored the request. He was opposed by Xicotencatl, who sought to prove that the Spaniards were magicians, and asserted, as they had pulled down the images in Cempoalla, that the gods would be against them. They resolved therefore on war; seized the ambassadors, and placed them in confinement.

Their plans were well laid. They prepared an ambush, allowed Cortés to pass the frontier, and then, after a little skirmishing, suddenly fell upon him with an overwhelming force, which to the astonished view of[58] the Spaniards appeared to number 100,000 men. Notwithstanding the immense odds opposed to them, the Spaniards bravely maintained their ground; and at length, after a desperate conflict, the Tlascalans, daunted by the horses and the fire-arms of the Spaniards, to which they were unaccustomed, and disheartened by the havoc they sustained in this to them novel species of warfare, retreated. Among the slain were eight of their principal chiefs. On the side of the Spaniards the loss was inconsiderable.

Thinking that this experience of the prowess of the Spaniards might have wrought a change in the disposition of the Tlascalans towards him, Cortés now determined to send an embassy to their camp with overtures of peace. The proposals were promptly rejected, and a message of defiance was returned from the Tlascalan general. The next day another battle followed, the odds being even greater than in the former engagement; but Spanish prowess, aided by dissensions in the Tlascalan camp, again proved victorious.

The Tlascalans, thus repulsed, were assured by their priests, that their enemies, being children of the sun, received strength from his beams by day, and therefore must be attacked in the night; and that, being withdrawn from his rays, their vigor declined, and they faded and became like other men. A renewed trial, however, proved the falsity of this assertion, and, after desperate efforts against the invading foe, the Tlascalans were compelled to sue for peace. A treaty of alliance was formed for mutual protection, and Cortés and his troops were received, as beings of a superior order, into the city of Tlascala.


After recruiting himself for twenty days at Tlascala, during which time Cortés sought to gain all the information he could respecting the condition of the Mexican empire, he prepared to resume his march. During his stay, the Tlascalans yielded readily to all his requests and commands, except the one by which they were required to dethrone their own gods, and substitute the objects of the Spaniards’ worship. Cortés, indignant at their refusal, was going to effect his object by force, had he not been restrained by the prudence of his chaplain, Olmedo, who represented to him the danger of such an attempt. The Tlascalans, therefore, were left to their own religious rites and objects of worship.

Cortés, accompanied by 6,000 of them, now directed his course towards Cholula. This place was only six leagues distant from Tlascala, was formerly an independent state, and had been but lately subjected to the Mexican empire. It was considered by all the people around as a peculiarly holy place, the sanctuary or principal seat of their gods, to which pilgrimages were made, and in whose temple even more human victims were sacrificed than in that of Mexico. Montezuma professed now to be willing to receive Cortés in his capital. He had, however, laid a deep plot for the extermination of his enemies. They were to be received into Cholula under the mask of friendship, and, when not expecting it, a vigorous onset was to be made on them from every quarter, while, by means of pits dug, and barricades erected, and large collections of stones on the tops of the temples, their retreat would be cut off, and their ruin completed. Cortés was forewarned of the treachery, and took decisive measures to defeat the project.[60] He arrested some of their chief priests, and thus obtained a confession of the meditated crime, drew up his troops, seized the magistrates and chief citizens, and, on a preconcerted signal, both the Spaniards and Tlascalans poured upon the multitude, who were so amazed, that they were unable to offer any resistance. The streets were filled with blood and carnage. The temples were set on fire, and many of the priests and chiefs perished in the flames. More than 6,000 Cholulans are said to have fallen in the massacre, without the loss of a single Spaniard. The magistrates were then released, and commanded to recall the people, who had, in the mean time, fled in every direction. After so terrible a lesson, they dared not disobey the command of one who seemed to them of a character something more than human, and the city was soon filled again with those who yielded their service to the very men who had so mercilessly butchered their friends and relatives.

Cholula was but twenty leagues from Mexico, and Cortés, on his march, was everywhere hailed as a deliverer, who came to free the people from the oppression of the Mexican yoke. Complaints were made of Montezuma and his governors, and Cortés was encouraged in the belief of the ultimate success of his enterprise against so mighty a monarchy. Without entering into the details of his march, it is enough to say, that, on crossing the Sierra of Ahualco, the valley of Mexico lay outstretched below, and the city, the object of his schemes, with its temples, and walls, and palaces, was in full view before him.

While the Spanish adventurer became more bold as[61] he proceeded, the Mexican monarch, on the other hand, seems to have grown more irresolute and timid. The rapid march of the new enemy, the success which had crowned his arms, his sagacity in detecting the plans for his defeat,—all these things, combined with the traditions to which allusion has been made, seem to have withheld Montezuma from that wise and valiant course which might have been expected from the descendant of a long line of brave men. Had Montezuma the First been in his place, as the adversary with whom Cortés was to contend, the result might have been different.

As the Spaniards approached Mexico, they were met by 1,000 persons of high rank adorned with plumes and clothed in fine cotton mantles. These saluted Cortés after the manner of their country, and announced the approach of Montezuma. Next came two hundred persons dressed alike, with large plumes, marching two and two, in deep silence, and barefooted, with their eyes fixed on the ground. Then came a company of still higher rank in their most costly and splendid attire, in the midst of whom was Montezuma, borne on the shoulders of four of his principal favorites, while others supported a canopy of curious workmanship above his head. Before him marched three officers, bearing rods of gold, which they lifted up on high at certain intervals, as a signal for the people to bow and hide their faces, as unworthy to look on so glorious a monarch. As he drew near, Cortés dismounted, and respectfully advanced to meet him. Montezuma likewise alighted, the ground being covered with cotton cloths, and, leaning on the arm of an attendant, proceeded[62]
at a slow pace. For the first time, the invader and the monarch stood face to face. They made their salutations, Cortés after the European fashion, and the Mexican by touching the earth with his hand, and kissing it. This condescension in so mighty a monarch only tended to confirm his people in their belief, that the Spaniards belonged to a superior race; and, as they passed along, these latter heard themselves often called Teules, or gods.


This interview had no decisive results. Montezuma conducted Cortés to the quarters he had prepared for him, being a palace built by his father; he then left him, saying, “You are now with your brothers, in your own house; refresh yourself after your fatigue, and be happy till I return.” In the evening he returned, loaded with rich presents to all. Cortés was now informed that the Mexicans were convinced, from what they had seen and heard, that the Spaniards were the very persons predicted by the Mexican traditions, and therefore they were received, not as strangers, but as relations of the same blood and parentage. Montezuma also recognized him as entitled to command, and assured him that he and his subjects would be ready to comply with his will and to anticipate his wishes. This impression Cortés sought to confirm still more, while at the same time he treated him with the respect due to the dignity of the sovereign. He had also a public audience with the monarch, and then spent three days in viewing the city.

The city of Mexico was situated on a large plain surrounded by mountains, the moisture of which collected in several lakes. The two largest of these were[64] sixty or seventy miles in circuit, and communicated with each other. Mexico was built, as has been before said, on some small islands in one of these lakes. The access to it was by causeways or dikes of stone and earth, forty feet broad. As the water overflowed the flat country, these causeways were somewhat long. That of Tacuba, on the west, extended a mile and a half; that of Tepejacac, on the north, three miles; and that of Iztapalapan on the south, seven miles. The east side of the city could only be approached by canoes. Each causeway had openings for the passage of the water, over which were thrown bridges of timber and earth. Many of the buildings, as the temples, palaces, and houses of the rich and the nobles, were large; but there was also a great number of poor huts. The great square, or market of Tlatelolco, was of vast extent, and would hold 40,000 or 50,000 persons. The city contained 300,000 inhabitants, at least, and some writers assert that there were many more.

The Spaniards soon began to feel uneasy, and to expect treachery on the part of Montezuma; which suspicions seemed to be confirmed by the information, that two soldiers belonging to the garrison at Vera Cruz had been treacherously murdered by Quauhpopoca, a Mexican chief, governor of a neighbouring province, instigated, it was believed, by Montezuma; and that, in an expedition subsequently undertaken by the commandant of the garrison for the purpose of avenging this act, this officer, with seven or eight soldiers, had been slain. One Spaniard had also been taken prisoner, and his head cut off and carried in triumph through different cities, to show that the invaders were[65] not invincible. The charm was now broken, and Cortés felt that nothing but the most desperate measures would save his enterprise from ruin. He therefore seized Montezuma in his palace, and hurried him away to the Spanish quarters.

The manner in which this was effected shows the power he had gained over the monarch and his people. Admitted to his presence, the Mexicans having retired from respect, Cortés reproached the monarch with the conduct of Quauhpopoca, and demanded that Montezuma himself should become a hostage for the fulfilment of an order for his arrest. The haughty Mexican, surprised as he was, indignantly replied, that this was contrary to all custom, and that his subjects would never suffer such an affront to be offered to their sovereign; but, seized with dread at the threatening language and gestures of one of the cavaliers who attended Cortés, he finally yielded to the daring invader of his kingdom and authority. Conducted to the Spanish quarters, he received his officers, and issued his orders, as usual, but was carefully watched by the Spaniards.

Quauhpopoca, his son, and fifteen of his principal officers, were brought to the capital and delivered up to the Spaniards, and, not denying their guilt, they were condemned to be burnt alive. The Mexicans gazed in silence on these insults offered their monarch, who is said to have been even put in fetters by Cortés, as a punishment for his treachery. The daring adventurer had now so quelled the spirit of Montezuma, that he became himself the virtual sovereign of the realm. He displaced and appointed officers as he chose; sent out Spaniards to survey the[66] country, and selected stations for colonies, and by various means sought to prepare the minds of this unfortunate people for the Spanish yoke.

To secure the command of the lake, he excited the curiosity of Montezuma to see some of those moving palaces which could pass through the water without oars. Naval equipments were brought from Vera Cruz by the aid of the Mexicans, and others of them were employed in cutting down timber for the construction of two brigantines. Cortés still further urged on Montezuma to own himself the vassal of the king of Castile, and to pay him an annual tribute. With tears and groans, broken in spirit, the Mexican monarch obeyed the humiliating requisition, while the indignant people by their murmurs showed how deeply they felt the degradation inflicted on the empire. Immense treasures were lavished on the Spaniards, and, when Montezuma refused utterly to change his religion, they became at last so daring, as to attempt to throw down the idols by force from the great temple. The priests then rallying to defend them, Cortés prudently desisted from his undertaking.

This insult to their deities roused at last the spirit of the people, who had hitherto submitted to the exactions of their conquerors and the indignities heaped on themselves and their monarch. They determined either to expel or destroy the Spaniards, and nothing but the captive condition of their monarch, and his danger, prevented an outbreak. After many consultations between Montezuma and his priests and officers, Cortés was decidedly told, that, as he had finished his embassy, the gods had signified it as their desire, that he[67] and his band should leave the realm, or sudden destruction would fall on them. Temporizing and affecting to comply, the wily Spaniard informed Montezuma that he must have time to rebuild his vessels. To so reasonable a request no objection could be urged; and Mexicans were sent to Vera Cruz to aid in the prosecution of this labor, while the Spanish carpenters were to superintend the work.

In consequence of the arrival of an armament from Cuba against him, Cortés was forced to leave an officer with 150 men at Mexico, and hasten towards Vera Cruz. He met the advancing foe and defeated them, received the soldiery thus conquered into his own ranks, and hurried back again to the Mexican capital. During his absence, infuriated by a wanton massacre committed upon their nobles by the Spanish commandant, Alvarado, the Mexicans had risen, attacked the garrison, killed and wounded some of the men, and burned the brigantines, so that the Spaniards, now closely invested in their own quarters, were threatened with famine or by the fury of the people, by whom they were continually attacked. On his return, Cortés found that the disaffection was widely spread, and he was welcomed by none of the towns on his route, except Tlascala.

On his arrival in Mexico, Montezuma, who still remained a prisoner in the Spanish quarters, came to welcome him; but Cortés received him so coldly that the emperor soon retired. Earnestly desirous, however, of vindicating himself from the imputation of having been accessory to the assault on the garrison, he soon after sent some of his attendants to solicit an[68] interview with the Spanish general. Irritated by the continued demonstrations of hostility on the part of the people, Cortés now threw off all restraint, and treated the message with the utmost contumely, exclaiming, “What have I to do with this dog of a king?” The nobles, swelling with indignation, withdrew.

Meanwhile the people of the city were busily engaged in preparing for a vigorous assault on the Spanish quarters. Cortés had just despatched a messenger to Vera Cruz, to announce his safe arrival in the capital, and his confident expectation of a speedy submission on the part of the rebels, as he termed them, when suddenly the din of war rose on the air, and his messenger, who had been gone scarcely half an hour, returned in breathless haste with the intelligence that the city was all in arms. The appalling tidings were speedily confirmed, by the appearance of the furious populace rushing on through every avenue towards the fortress, as if determined to carry it by storm. The conflict was fierce and obstinate. Nothing daunted by the storm of iron hail poured in upon their defenceless bodies from the Spanish ordnance, which stretched them on the ground by hundreds, they pressed on up to the very muzzles of the guns. Repulsed on one quarter, they turned with undiminished fury to another,—striving, now, to scale the parapet, now to force the gates, and now to undermine or open a breach in the walls,—and finally endeavouring to fire the edifice by shooting burning arrows into it. In this last they were partially successful; but the approach of night at length caused them to retire.

On the following day the Mexicans prepared to renew[69] the attack; but Cortés resolved to anticipate it by a sortie. Accordingly he sallied out at the head of his cavalry, supported by the infantry and his Tlascalan allies. The Mexicans fled in disorder; but soon rallying behind a barricade which they had thrown up across the street, they began to pour in volleys of missiles upon the Spaniards, which served in a degree to check their career. With the aid of his field pieces, however, Cortés speedily cleared away the barricade, when the Mexicans again turned and fled. But now, as the Spaniards continued to advance, the enemy had recourse to a new mode of annoyance. Mounting to the roofs of the houses, they hurled down large stones upon the heads of the cavaliers with a force which would often tumble them from their saddles. Unable to protect themselves against this species of missiles, Cortés ordered the buildings to be set on fire, and in this manner several hundred houses were destroyed. The Spaniards were now victorious at every point; at length, sated with slaughter, and perceiving that the day was beginning to decline, Cortés withdrew his troops to their quarters.

The Mexicans, however, were determined to allow the hated strangers no rest. Although, conformably to the usage of their nation, they made no attempt to renew the combat during the night, they nevertheless bivouacked around the fortress, and disturbed the slumbers of their enemy by insulting taunts and menaces, which indicated but too clearly that their ferocity was in no degree subdued by the terrible havoc dealt out to them during the two preceding days.

In the hope of influencing the Mexicans, Cortés now[70] brought out Montezuma to command them to cease from hostilities. At the sight of their venerated sovereign in his royal robes, they dropped their weapons, and silently bowed their heads in prostration to the ground. Obeying Cortés’s directions, he addressed them, and plied them with arguments to urge them to peace. When he ceased, sullen murmurs and indignant reproaches ran through the ranks, and, in a rage, deeming their sovereign only the supple instrument of their foe, flights of arrows and volleys of stones were poured forth on the ramparts where he stood, so that, before he could be protected, Montezuma fell, wounded by the hand of one of his own subjects. Horror-struck, the Mexicans fled; while Montezuma, disdaining to live after this degradation, died in the Spanish quarters.

Cortés, knowing that affairs had arrived at the greatest extremity, now prepared for his retreat, which he was not, however, suffered to effect, till after long and bloody conflicts, in one of which his own life was endangered by the devotion of two young Mexicans, who seized on him and hurried him to the edge of the platform of the temple, intending to cast him and themselves down, that they all might be dashed in pieces. Many of his soldiers were driven into the lake, and there perished; others were killed, and others still were taken prisoners. He lost, it is said, more than half his army, escaping with only about 400 foot soldiers and twenty horsemen, with which force he broke through the multitudes by whom he was everywhere hemmed in. He lost also his artillery, baggage, and ammunition; besides 4,000 Tlascalans who were killed and taken prisoners, which latter the Mexicans sacrificed to their gods.


The retreat continued for six days, during which time Cortés and his soldiers were forced to feed on berries, roots, and stalks of green maize. On the seventh day, they reached Otumba, on the route from Mexico to Tlascala, the point towards which he was directing his course. The Mexicans, as he advanced, hung on his rear, exclaiming, exultingly, “Go on, robbers! go where you shall quickly meet the vengeance due to your crimes!” On reaching the summit of the mountain range, they understood too well the meaning of this threat; for the whole wide plain below them in front was covered with a vast army, drawn up in battle array. The Mexicans, leaving the smaller portion of their force to pursue the flying enemy on one side of the lake, had gathered the main body of their army on the other side, and, marching forward, posted it in the plain of Otumba.

Cortés, without a moment’s hesitation, lest the sight of such vast numbers might strike his troops with dismay, led them on to the charge; and, notwithstanding the fortitude of the Mexicans, succeeded in penetrating their dense battalions. But, as one quarter gave way, the Mexicans rallied on another, and continued to pour upon the foe in such numbers, that, but for a fortunate event which turned the tide of battle, the Spaniards must have been overpowered from exhaustion. Cortés, availing himself of the knowledge which his stay at Mexico had enabled him to gain, directed his efforts against the quarter where the standard was carried before the Mexican general, assured, that, by the capture of this, he could throw the whole Mexican army into confusion.


The event justified his expectation; for when, in spite of the resistance of the nobles, he killed the Mexican general, and seized on the standard, the whole Mexican army, panic-struck, threw down their weapons and fled to the mountains. The spoils of the field in some degree compensated the Spaniards for the losses they had sustained in their retreat from the capital. Pursuing their march without further molestation from the enemy, they shortly afterwards reached Tlascala, where they were received with the greatest kindness by their faithful allies. Here Cortés remained, raising recruits, and forming new plans for the subjugation of the empire.

The Mexicans, on the death of Montezuma, had raised to the throne his brother, Cuitlahua, who showed himself worthy of the choice. After expelling Cortés from the capital, he repaired the fortifications, provided magazines, caused long spears to be made, headed with the swords and daggers taken from the Spaniards, gathered the people from the provinces, and exhorted them to prove faithful. He also sent embassies to Tlascala, to persuade that people to break off their alliance with men who were the avowed enemies of the gods, and who would assuredly impose on them the yoke of bondage. It was no easy matter for Cortés to withstand the influence of such reasonable suggestions on the minds of the Tlascalans; and had he not been on the spot, their fidelity might perhaps have wavered.

But, while Cuitlahua was thus planning the defence of his kingdom, and performing the part of a wise and valiant prince, he was attacked by the small-pox,[73] a disease introduced, it is said, by the Spaniards, and fell a victim to this scourge of the natives of the New World. He was succeeded by his nephew, Guatemozin, a young man of great ability and valor.

In the mean time, Cortés was busily employed in making arrangements for the renewal of operations against Mexico. Reinforcements of troops, arms, and ammunition came in from various quarters. The strongholds on the Mexican frontier were reduced, and the people of the surrounding country, who had made demonstrations of hostility, were summarily chastised and subdued. Cortés likewise gave orders for the construction of thirteen brigantines at Tlascala, which, when finished, might be taken to pieces and transported to Mexico, to be employed in the siege of the city.

His arrangements being now completed, on the 24th of December, 1520, Cortés set forward on his march. On reëntering the Mexican territories, he found that various preparations had been made to oppose him. He, however, forced his way, and took possession of Tezcuco, the second city of the empire, situated on the lake about twenty miles from Mexico. Fixing his head-quarters here, he now occupied himself in the subjugation of the towns around bordering on the lake. By treating the inhabitants kindly, he won them to himself, and, as they had been originally independent, and were reduced by the Mexican power, he promised them a restoration to their former privileges, subject only to the sway of the king of Castile. In this manner, the Mexican monarch and those who remained faithful to him became more and more limited in their resources, while Cortés was gaining additional strength.


Having finally completed the preparation of the materials for his brigantines, he sent a strong convoy to transport them to Tezcuco. The Tlascalans furnished him 8,000 tamanes, or carriers, and appointed 15,000 warriors to accompany the Spanish troops. The materials were carried sixty miles across the mountains, and finally reached Tezcuco in safety.

A new reinforcement of soldiers, with horses, battering cannon, and ammunition, now also joined him from Hispaniola, whither he had sent to raise recruits. The brigantines were soon finished; for the purpose of floating them into the lake, a canal, two miles long, was made by deepening a small rivulet, and amid shouts, firing of cannon, and religious ceremonies, they were launched.

The force, destined for this final attack on Mexico, amounted to 86 horsemen and 818 foot-soldiers, of whom 118 were armed with muskets or crossbows; a train of artillery of three battering cannon, and fifteen field pieces. Each brigantine was manned by twenty-five Spaniards, and bore one of the small cannon. These Cortés commanded in person. The points selected for the attack were, from Tepejacac on the north side of the lake, from Tacuba on the west, and Cojohuacan towards the south, corresponding to the causeways which have been heretofore mentioned. By cutting off the aqueducts, the inhabitants were reduced to great distress; and the efforts of the Mexicans to destroy the fleet were entirely unsuccessful.

Cortés, now master of the lake, pushed on his attack from all points, broke down the barricades, forced his way over the trenches, and sought to penetrate into[75] the heart of the city. The Mexicans, though losing ground every day, repaired the breaches by night, laboring with incredible effort to recover their posts. With his small force, the Spaniard dared not attempt a lodgment where he might be hemmed in by numbers, and thus defeated. Finally, however, his troops, by the most desperate assaults, penetrated into the city; a success which was shortly turned into a disastrous and nearly fatal defeat, in consequence of the commander of one of the divisions, Juan de Alderete, neglecting his instructions to fill up the canals and gaps in the causeways, as he proceeded, in order to secure the means of retreat.

Guatemozin, hearing of this, with great presence of mind, directed the Mexicans to retire, thus drawing forward the unwary Spaniards; while chosen bodies of troops were judiciously posted in various places to act when needed. The Spaniards eagerly pressed on, till, at the signal, a stroke of the great drum in the temple of the war-god, the Mexicans poured upon them with the utmost fury, and driving them on to the causeway, horsemen, foot, and Tlascalans plunged into the gap, and Cortés was unable to rally them. The rout became general, and he himself was wounded, and with difficulty saved from being led off captive by the Mexicans. Besides those who perished in the conflict, above sixty Spaniards fell into the hands of the victors. These, as night drew on, illuminated their city, and compelled their captives to dance before the image of the war-god. They then sacrificed them, their shrieks reaching the ears of their companions, who were unable to render them any assistance.


The priests now declared their god to be so propitiated by the sacrifices which had been offered upon his altar, that in eight days their enemies should be destroyed, and peace and prosperity restored. The effect of this confident prediction was such, that the Indian allies of Cortés abandoned him, and even the Tlascalans, hitherto faithful, also deserted him.

In this trying emergency, the Spaniards remained true to their commander. At length, the eight days, prescribed by the priests, having expired, and their prediction proving false, the superstitious allies of Cortés, believing that the gods, who had deceived the Mexicans, had abandoned them, returned. Cortés now prosecuted the siege with renewed vigor. The Mexicans, as before, disputed every inch of ground with incredible bravery. Still Cortés gradually advanced his lines in various quarters, and, giving up his former cherished purpose of sparing the city, as fast as any portion was gained, it was levelled to the ground, and the materials were used for filling up the canals.

This course hemmed in the Mexicans more and more closely. Famine and disease, too, made their appearance in the devoted city. Their provisions were exhausted, and their supplies of water were cut off. Still, Guatemozin remained firm, rejecting all the overtures of Cortés, and determined to die rather than to yield to the oppressors of his country. At length the Spaniards penetrated to the great square in the centre of the city. Three quarters of the whole place were now in ruins: and the remainder was so closely invested, that it could not long hold out.

The Mexicans finally prevailed upon Guatemozin to[77] attempt an escape to the remoter provinces, where he might still be able to carry on a struggle with the invaders. To deceive Cortés, they proposed terms of submission. The general, however, became aware of their object, and gave strict injunctions to his officers to watch every motion of the enemy. The commander of one of the brigantines, perceiving at one time several canoes rowing across the lake with the greatest rapidity, gave the signal to make chase. On being overtaken, and seeing preparations making to fire on one of the canoes, all the rowers dropped their oars, threw down their arms, and besought the officer commanding the brigantine not to fire, as their king was among them.

Guatemozin immediately gave himself up, only requesting that no insult might be offered to his wife and children. When brought before Cortés, the Mexican chief, with great dignity, said: “I have done what became a monarch. I have defended my people to the last. I have nothing now to do but to die. Take this dagger,” laying his hand on one worn by Cortés, “plant it in my breast, and put an end to a life which can no longer be useful.”

As soon as the capture of Guatemozin was known, all resistance ceased, and the city, as much of it as remained, was taken possession of by the Spaniards. The Mexicans had endured the siege for nearly three months, during most of which time, attack and defence were carried on with almost uninterrupted effort. The fatal mistake of the Mexicans was in allowing Cortés a second time to enter their city, when the officer he had left in charge was so hemmed in, that he and his[78] troops must soon have perished by famine. Still, the final conquest is, no doubt, in a great degree to be attributed to the great disparity of arms, and the wisdom of Cortés in enlisting the superstition of the Tlascalans and their enmity to the Mexicans on his side, and thus securing them as allies.

Guatemozin, while a captive, bore his sufferings with dignity, and when subjected with one of his ministers to torture, to make him reveal the place where his treasures were concealed, he said to his fellow-sufferer, who, overcome by anguish, was groaning aloud,—“Am I, then, taking my pleasure, or enjoying a bath?” The favorite, stung by the reproach, suffered in silence till he expired. The royal victim was taken by Cortés from this scene of torture and indignity only to be subjected to further sufferings.

The extensive provinces of the empire readily submitted, on learning the fall of the capital. Still, the Spaniards did not maintain their sway without effort. The Mexicans, from time to time, sought to assert their rights; and their oppressors, considering them as slaves, punished them in the most ignominious and cruel manner. In Panuco, a part of the ancient empire, 400 nobles, who were concerned in an insurrection, were burned to death. On the mere suspicion of a design to shake off the yoke and excite his former subjects to revolt, Cortés ordered Guatemozin to be hung, together with the cacique of Tacuba. The poor inhabitants were everywhere reduced to bondage, and forced to live under the galling yoke of their oppressors. The Spaniards revelled in the luxuries and splendors of this ancient empire, while the descendants[79] of kings and caciques were their vassals and slaves.

The hardships the people endured, while following their conquerors in their various military expeditions, the attacks of disease, and other causes, swept off numbers of the original population. After mining was introduced, they were driven to the mines to procure treasures for their oppressors. Some of them have since intermarried with the whites, and thus a mixed race has been introduced. A portion have embraced the Roman Catholic religion, and have been indebted to the ecclesiastics for some amelioration of their sufferings.

At present, it is computed that of about 8,000,000 of inhabitants, of which the republic of Mexico is composed, nearly two fifths are of pure native blood. They are said to be grave and melancholy, having a taste for music, great talent for drawing, being skilful in modelling in wood or wax, and having a great passion for flowers. As a class, though gentle, they are poor and miserable, yet live to a great age, sometimes even to a hundred years. They are still much oppressed, and, though having the nominal rights of citizens, they are often kept as laborers for years against their will. By tempting their appetite, they are brought in debt, and then, when they have nothing to pay the creditor, he assumes the right of a master. They are allowed magistrates of their own race, but their caciques, degraded themselves, take every opportunity of oppressing those beneath them.



Not many years after the conquest of Mexico, a similar enterprise was undertaken, which resulted in the overthrow and subjugation of a people resembling the Mexicans, in their comparative advancement in civilization, and in the extent and riches of their empire. Peru is situated on the western coast of South America, and the empire of its sovereigns then extended, from north to south, above 1,500 miles on the Pacific Ocean. Its breadth was limited by the range of the mighty Andes, and therefore varied in different parts of its extent. This vast territory was originally peopled by independent tribes, characterized by different manners and forms of policy. According to the Peruvian traditions, their modes of life were not superior to those of the most uncivilized savages. They roamed naked through the forests, without any fixed habitations, living more like wild beasts than men.

For several ages, the tradition declares that they made little or no advances towards improvement, enduring hardships and privations of all kinds, till there suddenly appeared, on the banks of the Lake Titicaca, a man and woman of majestic form, and clothed in[81] decent garments. These persons called themselves Children of the Sun, and asserted that they were sent by that benignant deity to instruct those who were the objects of his pity, and thus to improve their condition and render them happier. The names of these persons, as given, were Manco Capac and Mama Oello. The motives they addressed to the poor savages, to induce them to quit their barbarous mode of life, seem to have been effectual, and, by their persuasions, these scattered people were some of them united together, and obeying the supposed divine mandate, they followed the strangers to Cuzco, where they settled, and commenced the building of a city.

These extraordinary individuals thus laid the foundation of the great empire, over which their descendants afterwards reigned for several generations. Manco Capac taught the men how to till the ground, and various arts by which their comforts might be increased, while Mama Oello, at the same time, showed the women how to weave and spin. Having thus convinced them of their interest in their welfare, and provided them with food, clothing, and suitable abodes, Manco Capac enacted various laws, and introduced different institutions, by which the people might be cemented together as a nation of established character. He prescribed to them such regulations as might govern them both in public and private life; defined the relations of all, and constituted such offices, and appointed such persons to fill them, as comported with his design of founding a perpetual and well governed state.

This new kingdom was called the Empire of the Incas. At first, the territory of Manco Capac did not[82] extend more than twenty or thirty miles round Cuzco. He exercised, however, absolute authority, to which the people rendered a willing obedience. His memory was not merely cherished in after ages as the founder of their nation, but as a true benefactor. If this tradition be admitted to be founded on the truth, it forms an interesting subject of inquiry, who these extraordinary personages were, and from what part of the world they probably came.[2]

The successors of Manco Capac followed his example, gradually extending their dominions, and, with this enlargement of territory, rendering their authority yet more and more absolute. In time, they were regarded, not only as sovereigns and descendants of the founder of the empire, but they were adored as divinities. Their blood was considered sacred, and by forbidding their posterity to intermarry with the people they continued to preserve their own race and rank pure from all others. This peculiar family, thus set apart as a royal or noble race, were also distinguished from all the rest of the nation by a certain garb and ornaments, which it was unlawful for any of the lower ranks to assume. The monarch himself appeared with the ensigns which he alone might wear, and was ever received by his subjects with a deferential homage scarcely short of adoration.

The character of the people was very different from[83] that of the Mexicans, for while these latter, as we have seen, were warlike and ferocious, engaged almost constantly in bloody wars, and preserving cruel rites, the Peruvians or Quichuas, as they were also termed, were united in a peaceful subjection to a milder superstition. The Mexicans pushed forward their conquests by their valor, and, by force of arms, subdued those who opposed them; but the Peruvian Incas, in the capacity of legislators and benefactors, extended their sway, and induced numerous tribes to submit to them, and learn the arts and comforts of peace and good government. Not one, it is said, out of twelve monarchs, descendants of Manco Capac, varied from this character.

The empire, by degrees, became one of great extent, comprehending not only all that which is now called Peru, but also Ecuador, which is still covered with the monuments of the Incas. In this vast region, the most perfect order reigned; the fields were tilled; the rivers were employed in irrigating the soil; mountains were formed into terraces; canals were prepared, means being taken to preserve the water in its passage; and many large tracts, before mere deserts, were thus rendered productive, if not fertile. As a means of communication for the convenience of the people, a national road was constructed, with great labor, from Quito to Cuzco, 1,500 miles in length. This was a surprising work of art. It was not designed, indeed, for carriages, for no such vehicles were in use among the Peruvians, but for a great thoroughfare from one end of the empire to the other. Numerous flying bridges were thrown across the deep ravines, which often interposed obstacles to the progress of the work that required skill and patient industry to overcome.


The structures, too, of stone, either temples or palaces, were composed of immense blocks, inclosing vast spaces, and divided into numerous apartments, one of which at Caxamalca is said to have been capable of containing 5,000 men. Instead of the hieroglyphics, by which the Mexicans preserved the records of their nation, and conveyed from one to another the knowledge of passing events, the Peruvians used the quipos, or strings, which, by their colors, knots, &c., represented different parts of the record they wished to preserve. Vast treasures were accumulated by the Incas, from the rich silver mines in their dominions, and when they died, many of their vessels and other portions of their wealth were buried in the grave with them.

When the Spaniards first visited Peru, in 1526, the twelfth monarch, named Huayna Capac, was on the throne. He is said to have been a great prince, as much distinguished by his wisdom and benevolence as for his martial talents. He subdued Quito, and thus added to his dominions a country nearly as large in extent and resources as his own. This city became another capital of his realm, and here he often resided. Contrary to the law, which forbade the intermarriage of the Incas with others than their own race, he wedded a daughter of the King of Quito. He died in the year 1529, leaving Atahualpa, his son by the princess of Quito, heir to that kingdom. The rest of his dominions he left to Huascar, his eldest son by another wife of the race of the Incas.

This procedure was so contrary to all the laws and usages of the empire, that the Peruvians, though they revered in the highest degree their deceased monarch,[85] who had added such lustre to his reign, could not contentedly submit to the division of the empire. They urged on Huascar, therefore, to require his brother to renounce his claim to the government of Quito, and acknowledge him as his liege lord. Atahualpa, however, had already gained a large body of Peruvian troops, who had followed his father to Quito, and who were the best portion of the army. He therefore not only refused to comply with his brother’s demand, but marched against him with a chosen army. A civil war ensued. Atahualpa, being superior in force, triumphed over Huascar, the rightful monarch; and, conscious that he was only partially descended from the Incas, he sought to confirm himself by utterly exterminating all the children of the sun, or the descendants of Manco Capac. To establish yet further his own authority, he kept his brother alive, in whose name he issued his own orders to the various parts of the empire.

The effect of this civil war was most disastrous to this hitherto prosperous empire. It rent it asunder at the very time when a crafty foe was preparing its subjugation, and when the force of united counsels and efforts were needed for the safety of the nation. Had the Spaniards entered Peru under the reign of Huayna Capac, they would have found a far different state of things, and possibly Peru might, for many succeeding years, have enjoyed prosperity under the sway of her own beneficent monarchs, instead of being trampled under the foot of a foreign invader.

When Pizarro, with Almagro and De Luque, first established a colony at the mouth of the River Piura, in 1532, he had already acquired some knowledge of the[86] unnatural contest in which the brothers had been engaged. He had been advancing gradually, for three or four years, from Panama, till he had gained the very heart of the empire, without the contending parties apparently being aware that the common enemy was on his march for their ruin. Huascar, having finally learned of this event, sent messengers to Pizarro to entreat his aid against his usurping brother. The wily Spaniard at once saw the advantage he might derive from the intestine divisions of the empire, and hastened forward without waiting for the reinforcements he was expecting from Panama. He began his march from his new colony, called St. Michael, where he left a garrison, with only sixty-two horsemen and one hundred and two foot soldiers, of whom twenty were armed with cross-bows, and three with muskets. He marched for Caxamalca, a small town at the distance of twelve days’ march from St. Michael. Here Atahualpa was encamped with a considerable number of troops. While Pizarro was on his way, a messenger met him from that prince, offering his alliance, and an assurance of his friendly reception at Caxamalca. Pizarro, seizing upon the occasion, returned answer that he came from a powerful monarch, with the design of offering his aid to Atahualpa to sustain him against those who disputed his right to the throne.

The Peruvians were utterly at a loss how to account for the sudden appearance of the Spaniards. They viewed them as superior beings, but, as was the case with the inhabitants of Cholula, in respect to Cortés, they could not decide whether they were to be regarded as possessed of beneficent or cruel intentions. The[87] conduct of the Spaniards did not apparently agree with their professions; for while they declared that their object was to enlighten the natives in the truth, and render them more happy, they were often guilty of flagrant outrage and cruelty. The Inca, however, satisfied by the message of Pizarro, was prepared to repose unbounded confidence in his expected visiter. The Spaniards were allowed to cross the desert, where they might have been easily checked on their march, and to pass in safety through the defiles of the mountains, which were so narrow and difficult of entrance, that a few men might have maintained their ground against a large force. They also took possession of a fortress erected there for the defence of the country, and then advanced to Caxamalca.

As they approached, Atahualpa sent them messengers with more costly presents than before. Pizarro entered the city with his troops, and took possession of a large court, having on one side of it the palace of the Inca, and on the other a temple of the sun. Around the whole was a strong rampart, or wall of earth. Atahualpa was in his camp about three miles from the city. Messengers, therefore, were despatched immediately to him by Pizarro, with the same declarations and assurances as before, to request an interview, that he might in person more fully inform him respecting his design in visiting his empire.

These messengers were astonished at the appearance of order and decency which reigned at the Peruvian court, and still more at the display of gold and silver which everywhere met their view. They were received with the utmost cordiality, and hospitably entertained.[88] On their return to Pizarro, the account they gave of the splendor with which their eyes had been dazzled, led him to form the perfidious resolution of seizing the monarch, as Cortés had done Montezuma, in the very heart of his empire. He deliberately formed his plan, regardless of the character of ambassador which he had assumed, or of the confidence that Atahualpa reposed in his promises, and made all the requisite preparations for executing it at once. Dividing his horsemen into three small squadrons or companies, he selected from his infantry twenty men of the most tried courage, whom he retained as his body-guard and to aid him in his attempt, while he posted his artillery and cross-bowmen opposite the avenue by which Atahualpa was to make his approach.

Early on the morning of the 16th of November, Atahualpa made preparations for visiting the new comers. Desirous to impress on his visitors the strongest sense of his greatness and splendor, the day was far advanced before the procession began its march, and so slow was its progress, that Pizarro finally became apprehensive lest the monarch had penetrated his treacherous designs, and determined not to place himself within his reach. To quiet such fears, if any existed, the Spaniard sent him still another embassy to assure him of his friendship and kind intentions. Finally the Inca made his appearance with the pomp of a mighty monarch. He was preceded by 400 men in a uniform dress, to prepare his way, and sitting on a throne adorned with beautiful plumes, almost covered with plates of gold and silver, and enriched with precious stones, he was borne on the shoulders of a number[89] of his principal attendants. After him followed his chief officers, carried in a similar manner; bands of singers and dancers also mingling in the procession, and troops to the number, it is said, of 30,000 men.

The Spanish priest, Valverde, met him, on his approach to Pizarro, with a crucifix in his hand, and, discoursing to him on various doctrines of the Catholic faith, demanded of him an acknowledgment of the Pope and the monarch of Castile as his spiritual and temporal liege lords, on penalty of war and vengeance. Atahualpa, even with the aid of interpretation, was unable to comprehend this harangue so entirely unexpected to himself, and when made acquainted with a portion of it, was most indignant at such an attack on his rights as an independent ruler of his realm. He calmly replied, however, that he was possessed of his dominions by hereditary succession; that no pope or priest could grant his realm to another without his consent; that he had no wish to renounce the worship of his country’s god, the sun, to embrace that of the Spaniards. As for what the priest had assured him of, he desired to know where these extraordinary matters were to be found.

“In this book,” replied Valverde, reaching out his breviary. The Inca, opening it, and turning over its leaves, applied it to his ear. “This,” said he, “is silent, it tells me nothing,” and threw it contemptuously to the ground. The monk, roused to the utmost pitch of indignation, ran towards the Spaniards, crying out, “To arms, to arms, Christians, the word of God is insulted; avenge the profanation of these impious heathen dogs.” Pizarro, who had hitherto restrained[90] his soldiery, though inflamed with the desire of plundering the wealth which met their view, now gave the signal of assault. The sound of the martial music, the roar of the cannon and musketry, with the charge of horse, and the impetuosity of the attack, all combined at once, threw the Peruvians into confusion. They fled in dismay, without the slightest attempt at defence, while Pizarro, with his chosen band, at once pressed forward to the royal seat, and piercing the crowd of devoted nobles, who sacrificed themselves to protect him, seized on the Inca, dragged him to the ground, and led him off prisoner to the Spanish quarters. The flying troops were pursued with the most unrelenting fury, and they continued to fall victims to their merciless invaders till the day closed. More than 4,000 Peruvians are said to have perished; not a single Spaniard was killed, and but one was wounded.

The captive Inca was miserably dejected in spirit, though Pizarro affected to treat him with kindness and respect. Gradually becoming acquainted with the ruling passion of the invaders, he offered, on condition of his being liberated, to fill the room in which he was confined, which was twenty-two feet long and sixteen broad, with vessels of gold, as high as he could reach. Pizarro agreed to the proposal, and marked out the requisite height by a line on the walls. The Inca, accordingly, sent out orders for the ransom to be gathered from Quito and Cuzco, where the greatest quantities of gold and silver were amassed in the temples. The commands of the monarch were respected and obeyed, and persons were instantly employed in bringing together the needed treasure.[91] While this was going on, Pizarro received information of the approach of a reinforcement. This was a new source of alarm to the captive sovereign, especially as he also learned that some Spaniards had visited his brother Huascar in his prison, who had promised them, if they would take his part, far greater wealth than Atahualpa had done. To prevent this, he determined to have his brother put to death, and his commands to that effect were executed accordingly.

The promised treasure was now collected, but Pizarro, with unexampled treachery, not only refused to release his prisoner, but determined to put him to death. To this he was instigated not only by the newly arrived Spaniards, but by an Indian, his interpreter, whom he had carried off some years before from beyond Panama, and who had conceived a passion for one of the wives of Atahualpa. He also alarmed the Spaniard with accounts of forces assembling in various parts of the empire, and imputed these preparations for war, to the commands of the captive monarch. Atahualpa himself, by his own imprudence, brought about the fatal result. Attaching himself especially to Ferdinand Pizarro and De Soto, persons superior, both in birth and education, to Pizarro himself, and who treated him with kindness and attention, he began gradually to regard Pizarro with contempt. He appears to have been a prince of no mean talents, and, observing the mode by which the Spaniards communicated their thoughts to each other by writing, he greatly admired the art, but was at a loss to determine whether it was a natural or an acquired one.

To satisfy himself on this point, he requested one[92] of the soldiers to write the name of God on the nail of his thumb. This he showed to numbers of the Spaniards, asking its meaning, and, to his astonishment, they all told him the same thing. At length, when Pizarro came, he put the question to him, and the illiterate adventurer, blushing with shame, was compelled to acknowledge his ignorance. Ever after this, Atahualpa regarded the Spanish commander with a degree of contempt, and the consciousness of this fact, rankling in the breast of Pizarro, fixed his purpose of putting his royal captive to death.

To give some color to his injustice, a species of trial was instituted. The monarch was arraigned on the charges of usurping the throne, of putting his brother and sovereign to death, of having commanded human sacrifices, of maintaining many concubines or wives, and having wasted treasures since his captivity which belonged to the Spaniards. Beside all these charges, he was accused of having excited his subjects to rebellion against his conquerors. On such accusations as these, before the self-constituted tribunal who had already doomed their victim, the wretched Atahualpa was found guilty and condemned to be burned alive. He besought Pizarro to send him to Spain to be tried, and condemned, if he must be so, by a king. But this was not part of Pizarro’s plan, and he gave orders for his immediate execution. To save himself from the cruel death which was prepared for him, the miserable victim of perfidy and cruelty asked to be baptized; in consideration of which he was strangled at the stake, instead of being burned alive.

A son of the murdered Inca was then proclaimed by[93] Pizarro as monarch of Peru, in the hope that he might thus control the empire as he pleased. But the people of Cuzco and the country in that vicinity chose Manco Capac, a brother of Huascar, as the Inca, and rightful successor to the supreme authority. Civil wars at once followed, and the government was rent in pieces. Usurpers and aspirants sprung up in various parts of the realm, claiming independent power; the general of the late sovereign at Quito, seized the brother and children of his master, put them to death, and claimed the throne for himself.

These intestine divisions, as they weakened the Peruvian power, prepared the way for Pizarro to advance to Cuzco. Several battles were fought, but the city was finally reached and taken without resistance. The son of Atahualpa died on the march, and the Peruvians seem generally to have admitted the claim of Manco Capac to the vacant throne. Quito also soon fell into the hands of another band of invaders, who were led on by the officer whom Pizarro had left as governor of St. Michael. The Spaniards, however, found to their disappointment, that the city was stripped of its treasures, the people having carried them away.

Once in possession of Peru, Pizarro devoted himself to the arranging of its districts, to the appointment of officers, the establishing of regulations for the administration of justice, the collection of revenue, and the working of the mines. Here the Peruvians, the former masters, were driven as slaves to toil for their oppressors. Multitudes of adventurers from Spain now flocked to the conquered country, and forming themselves into various small bands, each led by some adventurous officer,[94] they set forth for the invasion of different provinces of the empire, which were yet unsubdued.

Manco Capac was not a listless observer of these proceedings. Perceiving that but a few troops remained in Cuzco, where he resided, jealously watched by the Spaniards, he secretly issued his commands for his subjects to assemble at a short distance from the capital, where he obtained leave to go to attend a solemn festival. As soon as he appeared, the banner was unfurled, and the war began. All the warriors were gathered, and the whole country from Quito to Chili was soon in arms. Many of the Spaniards, scattered over the country, and not expecting such an attack, were cut off. An army, according to the Spanish writers, of 200,000 men assaulted Cuzco, which was defended by only 170 Spaniards. At the same time, Pizarro’s new city of Lima was besieged, while he was obliged to remain within. All communication between the two cities was cut off; and the besieged in either place were in utter ignorance of the fate of each other.

The Inca commanded in person at Cuzco, and here it was that the Peruvians made their greatest efforts. For nine whole months, they carried on the siege, displaying great skill, and profiting by their observations on the discipline of their enemies. To render their efforts yet more successful, they armed some of their most valiant men with the swords, spears, and bucklers which they had taken from the Spaniards whom they had put to death throughout the country. Some even made trial of the Spanish muskets, and charged their foe, mounted on horses, and led by the Inca in person. In spite of the most active defence, Manco Capac[95] gained possession of one half of his capital, and probably nothing but the sudden appearance of Almagro’s troops saved the dispirited Spaniards from quitting Cuzco, or perishing in battle.

The force of Almagro was regarded by both parties as the umpire of the contest, and both sought his aid. He and the Pizarros had been at variance, as the Peruvians knew, and Manco Capac at first sought his friendship; but at length, despairing of success in this way, he attacked him by surprise. This decided the question. The Peruvians unable to effect their purpose, were defeated with great slaughter, and their army was mostly dispersed.

Soon after this, Pizarro, having dispersed the Peruvians, who had held him shut up in Lima, and having received also reinforcements from Spain, advanced towards Cuzco. After fruitless negotiations, a terrible battle was fought between himself and his brothers, and Almagro, in which the latter was defeated and put to death. The Peruvians who seem at first to have resolved to profit by the divisions of the Spaniards, instead of falling on the exhausted troops of the victors, as they should have done, retired quietly after the battle, perhaps more than ever impressed with a sense of the superiority of their discipline. This bloody engagement took place on the 26th of April, 1538.

In the following ten or twelve years, there were a succession of contests for power between different parties of the Spaniards, during which time we lose sight of Manco Capac and the Peruvians, except that we know that these people, pressed by hard service, were rapidly wasting away. The representations of the benevolent[96] Las Casas at length reached the Spanish monarch, and influenced him to avert some of the evils with which the natives were threatened, by the establishment of a more firm and equitable government. This was finally accomplished by the wisdom of the viceroy, Pedro de la Gasca, after the entire defeat and death of the last of the Pizarros, who had rebelled against the king’s appointment, in 1549. This officer made regulations concerning the treatment of the Indians, by which they might be protected from oppression, and be instructed in the principles of religion. Still they were obliged to labor for the Spaniards, being attached to the land itself, and apportioned out to the various persons who owned the estates.

Like almost all conquered and enslaved people, their numbers have lessened, while they have been subjected to the fluctuations of ages. They are now said to be feeble and depressed beyond any people of America, seeming scarcely capable of bold and manly exertion. Some whole districts, especially in the ancient kingdom of Quito, have continued to be occupied almost entirely by the Indians. In some places they exercise the mechanic arts, and belong to the lower class of the population. Some of them have become converts to the Roman Catholic priests; while some still remember and reverence the institutions of their fathers, and sometimes secretly assemble and engage in ancient idolatrous rites.

Robertson computed the number of native Indians in Peru at the time he wrote to be 2,449,120. They are said to have “small features, little feet, sleek, coarse, black hair, and scarcely any beard.” They have been[97] represented as sunk in apathy and insensibility, but the shy, reserved, and gloomy, though tame aspect which they present, is the fruit of long oppression, and accumulated wrongs. They still retain the deepest and most mournful recollections of the Inca, and celebrate his death by a sort of rude drama, accompanied by the most melting strains of music.




The Araucanians inhabit the southern part of Chili, and derive their name from the province of Arauco. They are a nation enthusiastically attached to freedom, and pride themselves in the appellation of Auca, which signifies free. They are muscular, robust, of great strength of constitution, and often attain the age of 90 or 100 years. They are bold and warlike, and have ever been most determined foes to all the Spanish invaders of their native country; and, by their warlike disposition and fiery courage, have occasioned great trouble to the Spaniards ever since they became acquainted with them. All attempts to subjugate them to the sway of the Europeans have been unsuccessful.

Their military system is greatly superior to that of the surrounding nations, and the degree of discipline they had gained enabled them to carry on long and bloody wars with the Spaniards who overrun Chili, in the early part of the sixteenth century. Their state was divided into four nearly equal portions, to which they gave the name of the maritime country, the plain country, the country at the foot of the Andes, and that of the Andes. Each of these great divisions was also[99] subdivided into five smaller ones, and each of these in turn into nine still less. These divisions of Araucania were existing previous to the arrival of the Spaniards.

The government, which is aristocratic, is said to be a sort of state, in which there are three orders of nobility, with gradations of rank, called the toquis, the asse-ulmenes, and the ulmenes, all of whom have their vassals. Each order has its badge, and the triple power that constitutes the sovereign authority is vested in a general diet, or grand council, which is usually held in some large plain, where they feast and deliberate. The grand council elect a commander-in-chief to lead them in war, who may belong to the inferior ranks, if he is thought of greater ability than any one in the superior ranks. The Puelches, a hardy race of mountaineers, formerly a distinct people, have been united with the Araucanians, under the same government, and this part of the nation are considered entitled to have the vice-toqui chosen from among them.

The first account we have, which may properly be called the history of this people, is at the beginning of their wars with the Spaniards, in 1550. Their toqui was named Aillavila, and the Europeans having invaded the inhabitants of Penco, the Araucanians ordered that officer to march to their assistance at the head of 4,000 men. He accordingly crossed the great River Biobio, the northern boundary of Araucania, and boldly offered battle to the Spaniards. Unlike the other Indians, with whom the Spaniards had been engaged, the Araucanians were not disconcerted or terrified by the discharge of fire-arms, but fell at once on the front and flanks of the enemy who were thrown into confusion.[100] Valdivia, their general, had his horse killed under him, and was exposed to great danger, when the toqui received a mortal wound, in consequence of which the Indians drew off in good order and unpursued by the Europeans. Valdivia, who had been in many battles both in Europe and America, declared that his life had never been in such great hazard in any of them as in this engagement.

The next year, the Araucanians were again led on by their new toqui, Lincoyan, and the Spaniards, remembering the former engagement, were inspired with such terror, that after confessing themselves, and receiving the sacrament, they took shelter under the cannon of their fortifications. In his first attack on these, Lincoyan was unsuccessful, and obliged to retreat, which the Spaniards ascribed to the immediate interposition of St. James, their patron saint, who they affirmed was seen riding on a white horse, armed with a flaming sword, and striking terror into their enemies. The governor having received some reinforcements from Peru, after a year elapsed, resolved to attack them; and, unopposed by Lincoyan, he penetrated to the Cauten, by which Araucania is divided into two equal parts. Here he built a city which he called Imperial, and also despatched one of his officers to found another, called Villarica, on the Lauquen.

Proceeding on, he traversed the whole of Araucania, from north to south, with but small loss, and finally arrived at the territory of the Cunches. Here he found a valiant nation, allies of the Araucanians, who were prepared to oppose his passage of the Calacalla. The Cunchese general, however, was induced to permit the[101] invaders to pass unmolested. Valdivia here founded another city, to which he gave his own name, and then, satisfied with his conquests, prepared to return, building fortresses and founding cities in various parts. Ercilla says that the Spaniards in this expedition had to fight many battles, but the details are not given.

To Lincoyan, succeeded Caupolican, an account of whose exploits has been already given in another volume of this Library. He was a brave warrior, and drove the Spaniards from several of the towns and fortresses which Valdivia had established. But these successes were succeeded by a severe reverse, and he was on the point of being defeated, when Lautaro, incited by patriotism, broke forth from the Spanish ranks, and led on his countrymen to victory. The whole Spanish army was destroyed except a few prisoners, and two Promaucians, their Indian allies.

After the death of Valdivia, who was put to death while pleading for his life, the Spaniards evacuated all the cities which the Spanish governor had founded, except two. These were immediately besieged by Caupolican, while Lautaro, now appointed lieutenant-general, or vice-toqui, fortified himself for the defence of the frontiers on the lofty mountains of Mariguena. The mountain being full of precipices and clefts, and covered on one side by impenetrable thickets, presented only a single winding by-path, which led to the top of the mountain. Villagran, the successor of Valdivia, engaged in battle with the young Lautaro, but, after a desperate fight, he was worsted, and compelled to retire. Believing it impossible to defend the city of Concepcion, he embarked a portion of the inhabitants,[102] consisting of old men, women, and children, on board of two ships, then in the harbour, while he led the remainder to Santiago.

Lautaro entered the deserted city, where he found a great booty, and after having plundered it, burned the houses, and razed the citadel to the ground, and returned in triumph to Arauco. Caupolican, however, was forced to raise the siege of Imperial and Valdivia, in consequence of the strong reinforcements which had been thrown into them by Villagran. While he was engaged in ravaging the country around Imperial, the small-pox, that destructive scourge of the natives, made its appearance, probably communicated by some Spanish soldiers, and made terrible havoc, so that there were some districts almost depopulated. In one of these containing 12,000 inhabitants, it is asserted that not more than 100 persons escaped death.

Villagran, availing himself of these circumstances, rebuilt Concepcion, which however was no sooner done than Lautaro recrossed the Biobio, and attacking the Spaniards whom he found in the open plain, put them to flight. He then entered the fort, killed great numbers of the citizens, and once more plundered and burnt the city. Emboldened by this success, he resolved to carry the war still farther into the enemy’s country, and marched the distance of 500 miles, to Santiago, near which he encamped with his forces. The Spanish general here surprised and fell upon them, and cut them all to pieces, including the brave Lautaro, who fell in the outset.

The Araucanians fought with the most determined bravery to the very last, despising every offer of quarter;[103] thus the victory was dearly earned, with a great loss both of officers and men. This battle took place in the year 1556, and Lautaro, at his death, was only nineteen years of age. Probably, had he lived, the Spaniards might have been eventually driven, not only from Chili, but a large portion of Peru. His name is said to be still celebrated in their heroic songs, and his actions proposed as the most glorious example to their youth. The result of this disaster was, that Caupolican quitted the siege of Imperial, and returned to his own country.

A succession of battles followed, in which the Araucanians were generally defeated, and Caupolican himself, being taken prisoner, was put to a cruel death by impalement. The Spanish general now advanced into the country, and reached the place where Valdivia, as related above, had been defeated and taken prisoner. Here he built a city, in contempt of the Araucanians, which he called Canete; and, considering the war now terminated, he gave orders for once more rebuilding Concepcion.

In the year 1558, he marched against the Cunches. When this people first heard of the arrival of the strangers, they met to deliberate as to the best course for them to take in this emergency; whether to submit or attempt resistance to an enemy flushed with victory. An Araucanian, present in their council, being invited to give his opinion, replied in the following language: “Be cautious how you adopt either of these measures; as vassals, you will be despised and compelled to labor; as enemies, you will be exterminated. If you wish to free yourselves from these dangerous visiters, make[104] them believe you are miserably poor; hide your property, particularly your gold; they will not remain where they have no expectation of obtaining that sole object of their wishes; send them such a present as will impress them with an idea of your poverty; in the mean time, retire to the woods.”

This advice was approved, and the Araucanian and nine of their own people were commissioned by the Cunches to carry the present recommended to the Spanish general. Accordingly, they clothed themselves in rags, and, counterfeiting fear, appeared before the Spaniard, and, after a rude address, presented him with a basket containing some roasted lizards and wild fruits. The Spanish soldiery could not refrain from laughter at the ridiculous appearance of these ambassadors, and begged their commander to go no farther; but he exhorted them to proceed, assuring them that he had heard of a country beyond, which abounded with metals. The wily Araucanian, being requested to furnish a guide, gave him one, who, by his direction, led the invaders by the most rugged and difficult roads of the coast.

The year 1559 was signalized by numerous battles fought between the two armies. The Araucanians were led by Caupolican the Second, the son of the former toqui of that name, whom he succeeded. He was, like his father, a man of distinguished talents, but was not equally prosperous in his early efforts in defending his country. At the battle of Quipeo, he lost nearly all his valiant officers, and, being pursued by a detachment of Spaniards, slew himself, to avoid being taken prisoner, as his father had been.


The Araucanians were not, however, utterly disheartened; but the few ulmenes who had escaped the defeat of Quipeo met in a wood, and elected as toqui an officer of inferior rank, named Antiguenu, who had distinguished himself in that battle.

He, with a few soldiers, retired to the inaccessible marshes of Lumaco, where he caused high scaffolds to be erected to secure his men from the extreme moisture of the gloomy retreat he had chosen. The youth, who were from time to time enlisted, went there to be instructed, and the Araucanians still considered themselves free and independent.

Antiguenu began soon to make incursions into the Spanish territory, to practise his troops, and feed them at the enemy’s expense. Grown bolder, he came to an engagement with a son of Villagran, whom he defeated, and then marched against Canete; but Villagran, feeling that its defence was impracticable, withdrew the inhabitants to Concepcion and Imperial. The Araucanians, finding the town deserted, set fire to it, and utterly consumed it. Villagran, affected by this loss, and worn down by care and anxiety, soon after died; and Antiguenu, learning the fact, and having raised 4,000 men, divided them into two parties; with one of these he directed the vice-toqui to lay siege to Concepcion, while he marched with the other against Arauco. The siege was protracted, and the commanders decided upon settling the affair by single combat. After having fought two hours, they were separated by their men.

The garrison, however, were at last compelled by famine to abandon the place, the houses were burned, and the walls demolished. In attempting the conquest[106] of another place, called Angol, Antiguenu, after the most brilliant feats of valor and courage, was forced along with a crowd of retreating soldiers, and falling from a high bank into the river, was drowned.

His successor was Paillataru, the brother or cousin of Lautaro. In the year 1665, the fort of Arauco and the city of Canete were rebuilt by the Spanish commander. The history of this remarkable people is henceforward a series of battles; and, though they fought with various success, they never lost their indomitable spirit, or their determination not to be brought into subjection to the Europeans. Observing the advantage obtained by cavalry, they early organized a body of horsemen, and in seventeen years after their first encounters with the Spaniards, were able to oppose them with cavalry on the field of battle.

In 1589, while Guanoalca was toqui, the Spanish governor, believing that it would be impossible for him to defend the forts of Purea, Trinidad, and Espiritu Santo, which had been established, evacuated them; and the war is said to have been reduced to the construction and demolition of fortifications.

During the toquiate of Guanoalca, and his successors, Quintuguenu and Paillaeco, the Araucanians suffered a number of severe defeats. After the one last mentioned, the Araucanians, unsubdued in courage, appointed to the chief command a man named Paillamachu, the hereditary toqui of the second district; who, though advanced in years, is said to have been a person of wonderful activity. The tide of fortune seemed to turn at once in his favor, and his success was so great, that he is declared to have surpassed all his predecessors[107] in military glory, and was enabled to restore his country again to her full independence.

In 1598, owing to his victories, not only the Araucanian provinces, but those of the Cunches and the Huilliches, were in arms, comprising the whole country to the Archipelago of Chiloe. Every Spaniard found without the garrisons was put to death, and the cities of Osorno, Valdivia, Villarica, Imperial, Arauco, Canete, Angol, and Caya, were all closely besieged at one and the same time. Paillamachu also crossed the Biobio, burned Concepcion and Chillan, laid waste the provinces dependent on them, and returned laden with spoils. He also forced the Spaniards to evacuate the fort and city of Arauco, and obliged the inhabitants to retire to Concepcion.

In the month of November, 1599, he caused his army to cross the broad river Valdivia, by swimming, stormed the city, burned the houses, and killed a great number of inhabitants. He attacked the vessels that lay at anchor, which only escaped by immediately setting sail, and then returned in triumph to the guard he had stationed on the Biobio, with a spoil of 2,000,000 of dollars, all the cannon, and upwards of 400 prisoners.

Villarica also, after a siege of two years and eleven months, fell into the hands of the Araucanians in the year 1602, and the city of Imperial shared the same fate. Indeed, all the Spanish settlements in the country were destroyed, which Valdivia and his successors had established, and preserved at the expense of so much toil and blood, and they remained unbuilt, scarcely a vestige of their ruins being left.


The prisoners were numerous; the unmarried females were taken into the seraglios of their conquerors, while the unmarried men were allowed to espouse the women of the country. From these mixed marriages, it is said, have proceeded the Mestizos, who became, in subsequent wars, the most terrible enemies of the Spanish name. Some of the prisoners were ransomed by their friends or exchanged; though many were induced, from love to their children, to remain with their captors.

Paillamachu died soon after, at the close of the year 1603, and was succeeded by Hunecura. The disasters experienced by the Spaniards were severely felt, and the court of Spain gave orders that there should be constantly maintained a body of 2,000 regular troops on the Araucanian frontier, for whose support the sum of 292,279 dollars was annually drawn from the treasury of Peru.

A jesuit, named Luis Valdivia, desirous of preaching to the Araucanians, and perceiving how utterly impossible any such attempt would be while war was carried on, went to Spain, and represented to the then reigning king, Philip the Third, the great injury done to the cause of religion by these continued wars. The prince listened to his representations, and directed that the River Biobio should be fixed as the boundary line between the contending parties. The articles of peace had been discussed and agreed upon, when the whole was frustrated by an untoward event. The toqui, whose name was Ancanamon, had espoused a Spanish woman, who, taking advantage of his absence, fled for refuge to the governor, accompanied by her children and four[109] other women, whom she had likewise persuaded to become Christians; two of these were the wives, and two the daughters of her husband. The toqui, exasperated to the highest degree, met the missionaries who were sent to the Araucanians, and put them all to death.

The Spanish provinces were incessantly harassed, and in 1617, the war is said to have commenced with redoubled fury. During the period which intervened from this to 1637, the toquis Leintor and Putapichion also held sway, and engaged in enterprises against the Spaniards. Affairs, however, were not materially changed; the Araucanians still retaining their territory and independence. In the year 1638, the Dutch attempted to form an alliance with the Araucanians, with a view to the conquest of Chili; but their fleet being dispersed by a storm, only one or two of their boats were able to make the land. Being well manned and armed, the Araucanians supposed them to have come with hostile intentions; they therefore attacked them and destroyed the crews. In 1640, the war was brought to a close, and in 1641, the articles of peace were agreed upon, and the day of ratification appointed; the place of meeting was the village of Quillan, in the province of Purea.

The Spanish governor, the Marquis de Baydes, appeared at the specified time with a retinue of 10,000 persons from all parts of the kingdom. Lincopichion, the toqui, at the head of the four hereditary toquis, and a great number of ulmenes, and other natives, opened the conference with an eloquent speech. He then, according to the Chilian custom, killed a llama, and, sprinkling some of the blood on a bunch of cinnamon,[110] presented it, in token of amity, to the governor. The articles of peace were then proposed and ratified. The Araucanians, in one of these, agreed that they would not permit the landing of any strangers on the coast, or furnish any foreign nation with supplies. The war of ninety years’ duration was thus brought to a close; twenty-eight llamas were sacrificed, and the whole was concluded by an eloquent harangue from Antiguenu, chief of the district, in which he dwelt on the advantages that both nations would derive from the peace.

In the year 1643, the Dutch made a second attempt on Chili, and had they been seconded by the Araucanians, whose alliance they sought, they would undoubtedly have succeeded; but these brave defenders of their country were faithful to their pledges, and refused the overtures of the Dutch. They also advised the Cunches to take the same course. The Dutch, therefore, were forced to retire unsuccessful.

The peace continued for a number of years; a war broke out in 1653, the cause of which is not assigned. The Araucanians elected as their commander the toqui Eleutaru, who in his first campaign totally defeated the Spaniards, and continued for ten years to harass them, when a peace was again concluded, which proved more lasting than the former. In 1686, however, a Spanish governor came near breaking it by removing the inhabitants of the island of Mocha to the northern shore of the Biobio, in order to cut off all communication with foreign enemies.

Missionaries in the mean time were introduced among the Araucanians, accompanied by a species of force[111] called the Captains of the friends, as a pretended guard. These having become insolent, the Araucanians determined to create a toqui, and resort to arms. War therefore ensued, but after a succession of little skirmishes, the peace of Negrete terminated it. In this, the treaty of Quillan was confirmed, and the odious title of Captains of the friends was abolished.

The next occasion of war was caused by the endeavour of the Spanish governor, Gonzaga, to compel the Araucanians to live in cities. At this time also, the Pehuenches, who at the commencement of the war were allies of the Spaniards, having been defeated by the Araucanians, resolved to change sides, and have ever since been firmly allied with this brave people. Various battles were fought, and among others, a bloody one in the beginning of the year 1773. The same year, however, peace was agreed upon, and the Araucanians were allowed to have a minister resident in the city of St. Jago. The treaties of Quillan and Negrete were revived, and, under the wise administration of the Spanish viceroys, Jauqui and Benavides, the country for a long time enjoyed the blessings of unbroken tranquillity.

The Araucanians have thus by their courage and perseverance been enabled to maintain their liberties against some of the best disciplined troops of Spain, even those who had served in the Low Countries during the reigns of Charles the Fifth and Philip the Second, and who were armed with weapons before unknown and calculated to strike terror into all the native tribes. They remain still secure in their mountain fastnesses, enjoying the blessings of liberty, and determined as ever never to be subjugated by any foreign foe.



The whole interior of the southern portion of South America, from Terra del Fuego up to Paraguay, was long occupied by numerous savage tribes of Indians. Of these little was known till long after the occupation of portions of the country by the Spaniards. They soon obtained horses, and were divided by the Europeans into equestrian and pedestrian tribes. They were generally ferocious in their character, and engaged in almost perpetual wars with each other. The equestrian tribes, especially, were accustomed to make long excursions for the purpose of plunder or revenge. Many of these nations have since been swept off by that dreadful scourge of the Indian race, the small-pox, and many have been driven still farther back by the Europeans.

Our knowledge of their history, which is, indeed, but scanty, is derived from the accounts furnished by the Catholic missionaries, who labored long and with some degree of success among them.[3] The views they give[113] of their manners and customs is often most interesting, and will be treated of in our sketch of the manners and customs of the American Indians. The vast plains, or pampas, as they are called, which lie southwest of Buenos Ayres, were inhabited by the equestrian savages, who, with the Araucanians, and other tribes which dwelt in the mountains, were termed by the Peruvians, Aucas, or rebels, probably from some event in their former history. It would seem, indeed, that several of the tribes originally came from the Northwest, and perhaps there gained the knowledge of horsemanship, in which they are so expert, from the earlier European invaders.

Similar groups of Indians were found through all that vast tract of land east of the Andes, and reaching up from Buenos Ayres to Brazil. Of these, perhaps, the most distinguished were the Abipones and Guaranies, who inhabited what formerly bore the name of Paraguay,—now Paraguay and Uruguay. Dobrizhoffer, a German Catholic priest, who resided many years among them, has given a full description of the most remarkable events of their history which occurred while he was with them, from which we extract a few scattered notices, adding some facts gathered from other sources.

Formerly these tribes seem to have been numerous, but now they are dwindled away to a small remnant. Some idea may be formed of their decrease, when it is stated that the Guaranies, who in 1752 numbered 141,252, lost 30,000 soon after by the small-pox, and afterwards, 11,000 more. In 1767, there were only about 100,000 left. They suffered great oppression from the Spaniards, and, though they fought bravely to[114] avoid expulsion from their native land, they were finally driven out. Thirty thousand, it is said, were expelled by the Spaniards from seven towns.

The zealous missionaries penetrated the forests, and visited the most barbarous tribes. They were often unexpectedly received with kindness and hospitality, where they least had reason to hope for it. In one of these visits, when one of the missionaries, or fathers, went among them, and had gained their favor, the old cacique said that he had a daughter, the prettiest girl in the world, and was resolved to marry her to the father, that he might always stay in the family. On being informed that the fathers never married, the old man was thunderstruck, and, with his tobacco reed suspended in the air, he exclaimed, “What strange thing is this you tell me?”

The Indians watched, with great jealousy, the intrusion of the Spaniards on their territory. Some of them, on a certain occasion, having sent out men into the forest to gather maté, or Paraguay tea, by some misfortune their hut caught fire, and eighteen of them perished in the flames. The Indians beheld the conflagration at a distance; finally, one of them, armed with arrows and a club, stole into the only remaining Spanish hut, where a single man had taken refuge. “So,” said the savage, with a stern aspect, “you have dared to enter these woods which were never yours. Know you not this is our soil, left us by our fathers? Are you not content with having usurped immense tracts and innumerable woods, in spite of the opposition of our fathers? Should any one of us invade your domains, would he return alive? No; and we will[115] imitate your example. If, then, you are wise, if life is dear to you, haste away, and advise your countrymen carefully to shun our woods, unless they would be the cause of their own death.” The Spaniard, to save his life, offered knives, axes, garments, and other trifles; pacified by these gifts, the savage returned to his comrades. The former, deeming any further stay perilous, ran off, leaving many thousand pounds of the maté which had been gathered.

The Guaycuras or Albayas were very expert horsemen, and were in the highest degree hostile to the Spaniards; they were brave, and exceedingly skilful in the use of their arms. The Calchaquis, also, were formerly famous for their military ferocity, and their irreconcilable enmity to the Europeans. A branch of the Guaranies were said to wander over the remote forests, on the banks of one of the rivers of the interior, and leap from tree to tree like monkeys, in search of honey and little birds. The Guaranies were noted for their voracity. After fasting a few hours, it is said that one of them would devour a young calf. These Indians were accustomed, before they lay down to sleep, to place a piece of meat before the fire, that it might be ready for them to eat immediately upon waking.

The havoc made by the Europeans among this tribe, as well as other Indians, especially those near Brazil, is almost incredible. It is supposed, that, in 130 years, 2,000,000 Indians were slain, or carried into captivity; and it is stated, that, in five years, 300,000 Paraguayans were carried off to Brazil; and that more than 1,000 leagues of country, extending as far as the River Amazon, were stripped of their inhabitants.[116] In the years 1628-1630, 600,000 Indians were sold as slaves at Rio Janeiro. Upwards of 400 Indian towns were utterly destroyed, and such was the devastation, that King Joseph was obliged to make a decree, on the 6th of July, 1755, forbidding further ravages. This, however, is but a small part of the evils which the Spaniards and Portuguese inflicted on those unhappy regions.

Among the equestrian tribes, the horse was the great dependence of the Indians for various comforts. He supplied them with food, clothes, lodging, bed, arms, medicine, and thread. Of the hides they made their couch, clothing, boots, tents, saddles, and thongs which served for bridle and weapons. The sinews they used for thread. They drank melted horse-fat, washed their heads with the blood, and afterwards with water, to strengthen them; and twisted the hair into ropes. They were almost constantly on horseback, and their highest delight was to display their peculiar ability to manage the most spirited animals.

The Abipones, especially, were an extraordinary people, and almost realized in themselves the fabulous centaurs,—so completely did they seem identified with the horses they bestrode. No account of them is given in history before they settled in the province of Chaco in the sixteenth century. In the year 1641, they possessed horses, and had become formidable to the Spaniards, with whom they carried on long and bloody wars. They first obtained horses, it is said, by stealing them from Santa Fe, and in the space of fifty years they carried off 100,000 of these animals from the estates of the Spaniards. Sometimes not less than 4,000 were[117] taken in a single assault. They settled on the territory formerly possessed by the Calchaquis, who had fallen victims to the small-pox. Here they formed alliances with other equestrian nations, especially the Mocobios and Tobos, savage tribes, formidable on account of their numbers and bravery. The confederates harassed the province of Asuncion for a long time, and also the colonies of St. Jago del Estero and Cordoba. Various expeditions were planned against them with various results; but still they continued their incursions for plunder or revenge. Many battles and heroic actions are narrated by Dobrizhoffer, who describes some of their caciques as men of uncommon bravery, and as having manifested great ability in leading their people to war.

The Abipones were divided into three classes, the Rickahes, who inhabited extensive plains, the Nakaigetergehes, who were fond of the lurking-places in the woods, and the Yaaucanigas, who were formerly a distinct nation, and used a separate language. The Spaniards almost destroyed them, and the few who survived fled to the Abipones, with whom they became incorporated. The Abipones, as also the other equestrian tribes of Chaco, boast themselves to be grandsons of the evil spirit. Their language and that of the Tobos and Mocobios, likewise equestrian Indians, is said to have a similarity that betrays a common origin; the same appears to be the case with that of the Guaranies and Chiriguanas, though 500 miles apart from each other.

Many fruitless efforts were for a long time made by the Jesuits to reduce the Abipones to submission to the king of Spain, and to convert them to the Catholic[118] religion. But they prized their independence, and their own wild way of living, too much to be willing to renounce them for the benefits which were promised in agricultural pursuits. At last, however, a colony was founded for the Mocobios, the allies of the Abipones; finally, the latter were induced to follow their example, and colonies were likewise established among them. The first of these was founded for the Abipones Rickahes. All the tribes, however, did not readily come into the project. A portion of them preferred to remain as they were. This brought on long and bloody contests among them. Those who remained wild in the woods often attacked the colonies, and carried off their cattle and other plunder. The Jesuits were also exposed to no little danger in some of these invasions. The Spaniards joined the Abipones, and finally subdued the Charruas, a fierce equestrian nation, whom they instructed and converted. The Jesuits carried on their labors for a long time among the colonies, whither they had induced the Abipones to remove, and many instances of strong attachment towards them were exhibited by the caciques or chiefs, whom they had instructed and baptized. Their efforts, however, were terminated by the breaking out of a war between the Spaniards and the Guaranies, in which the Abipones finally became engaged. The result of this was to disperse them again from their settlements, and many of them relapsed from their more civilized habits into those of savage life.

It is a remarkable fact in the history of the Abipones, that they should have first learned the use of the horse from the Europeans, and afterwards have[119] become so dexterous in its management. They still exist, it is said, in South America, but whether they are a distinct people, and addicted as before to their wild forest-life, or whether they have mingled with the nations which have sprung up from the Spanish settlements, and bear a Christian name, we have no means of determining. Some curious practices among them will be related hereafter, in describing the manners, customs, and antiquities of the Indian tribes of this part of South America.

A remarkable incident, respecting an Indian chief of a powerful tribe near Buenos Ayres, is related to have occurred in the year 1745. Orellana, as he is named in the account, with ten of his followers, having been taken captive by the Spaniards, was placed on board a Spanish ship of 66 guns and 500 men, and there treated with great cruelty. Finding means to communicate his plan to his men, they watched their time, and when a favorable opportunity occurred, they suddenly rose, armed with thongs of leather loaded with double-headed shot, prepared beforehand, and drove the Spaniards below. They then killed forty of them, and kept possession of the ship for two hours, in spite of all the efforts of the Spaniards to regain it; but Orellana being at last wounded by a random shot through the cabin doors, and seeing the Spaniards on the point of success, he, with his brave men, leaped overboard, and they were all drowned.

Of the several Indian tribes that inhabit that large tract of territory known by the name of Patagonia, and which terminates in the cold and desolate regions of Terra del Fuego, we can give no history. They are[120] now, as when first discovered, mere savages, and have continued to occupy the soil with little disturbance from Europeans. Their country is too poor and repulsive to tempt the cupidity of civilized man, hence it has remained in the possession of its original masters. As they have no history worthy of remembrance, so they have no means of preserving the memory of events; and thus, like the leaves of the forest, they live, pass away, and then slumber in oblivion for ever. Their manners and customs alone are worthy of record, and these will be given in their proper place.




Brazil was discovered in 1500. The first Spaniard who ventured to cross the equator was Vincent Pinzon. He landed at a point on the coast of Brazil, about twenty miles south of Pernambuco. A fleet was soon after sent out from Portugal, in which sailed that fortunate adventurer, Americus Vespucius, who has given his name to the New World.

The Indians of Brazil were real savages, perfidious, cruel, and cannibals, and appear to have had scarcely a single noble or generous trait in their characters. The dreadful depravity of these tribes seems to have infused the spirit of furies into the hearts of the females; and when the women of a people are rendered ferocious, there is little, if any, chance, that the nation will ever, by its own efforts, become civilized. The following account of the first interview between the Portuguese and the Brazilian Indians is sufficient to show the character of the latter.

When the ships arrived on the coast, in Lat. 5° S., a party of natives was discovered on a hill near the seaside. Two sailors volunteered to go ashore,[122] and several days passed without their return. At length the Portuguese landed, sent a young man to meet the savages, and returned to their boats. Some women came forward to meet him, apparently as negotiators. They surrounded him, and seemed to be examining him with curiosity and wonder. Presently another woman came down from the hill, having a stake in her hand, with which she got behind him, and dealt him a blow that brought him to the ground. Immediately the others seized him by the feet, and dragged him away, and then the Indian men, rushing to the shore, discharged their arrows at the boats.

The sailors finally escaped, but they had to witness the horrid spectacle of their poor comrade destroyed by the ruthless savages. The women cut the body in pieces, and held up the mutilated limbs in mockery; then, broiling them over a huge fire, which had been prepared, as it seemed, for that purpose, they devoured them, with loud rejoicings, in presence of the Portuguese. The Indians also made signs that they had eaten the other two sailors!

It will be neither pleasant nor useful to give any more minute accounts of the practice of cannibalism. It is sufficient to say, that the tribes inhabiting the eastern part of South America appear to have been sunk in the grossest ignorance and most deplorable state of vice and misery to which human beings can be reduced. They were more like tigers and serpents than men; for they used poisoned arrows, deadly as the “serpent’s tooth,” in battle; and they tore and devoured their enemies with the voracity of beasts of prey.

The Europeans, who first settled in Brazil, had to[123] gain all their possessions by the sword; and few would go voluntarily to such a place; the Portuguese settlers being mostly convicts, banished for their crimes. As might be expected, this class of men, rendered desperate by their situation, and often hardened in crime, were not very merciful to the natives, who, in turn, showed them no mercy. The bloody conflicts and the atrocities on both sides were awful; yet we can hardly feel the same sympathy for the cannibal Indian as for the gentle Peruvian, when his country is laid waste by the invader.

It was about fifty years from the time of the first landing of the Portuguese, before a regular administration was established and a governor appointed by the king of Portugal. The Jesuits then settled in Brazil, and began their labor of Christianizing the savages. Several tribes had entered into alliance with the colonists, and these Indians were forbidden, by the governor, to eat human flesh. To conquer this propensity was the great aim of the Jesuits; but finding that they could not reclaim those who had grown old in this vice, they set themselves to instructing the children.

One gentle propensity these Brazilian savages showed, which seems hardly compatible with their cruel and vindictive characters,—they were passionately fond of music,—so fond, that one Jesuit thought he could succeed in Christianizing them by means of songs. He taught the children to sing; and when he went on his preaching excursions, he usually took a number of these little choristers with him, and on approaching an inhabited place, one child carried the crucifix before them, and the others followed, singing[124] the litany. The savages, like serpents, were won by the voice of the charmer, and received the Jesuit joyfully. He set the catechism, creed, and ordinary prayers, to sol fa; and the pleasure of learning to sing was such a temptation, that the children frequently ran away from their parents to put themselves under the care of the Jesuits.

These priests labored with devoted zeal to convert the natives. Their exertions were productive of great effect; a change has been gradually wrought, and the cannibal propensities, among those tribes that still remain independent, are no longer indulged.

Many missions, as they are called, that is, villages, where a priest resides and instructs the Indians in agriculture and the most essential arts of civilized life, as well as in their Catholic duties, were established by the Jesuits, and are still continued. One very unfortunate circumstance has done much to alienate the independent tribes from their white neighbours. It was thought best to make slaves of the savages, in order to civilize them. Walsh thus describes the decree and its effect.

“The Indians were, as late as 1798, the occupants of the woods, and were generally found resident on the banks of the rivers and streams which intersected the country. An elderly gentleman, who was secretary to the undertaking, informed me that it was necessary for the commissioners and workmen to go constantly armed, to be protected against their hostility. The Puvis lay on the River Parahiba, and others on the streams which fall into it.

“By a mistaken humanity, however, permission was[125] afterwards given to the Brazilians to convert their neighbours to Christianity; and for this laudable object, they were allowed to retain them in a state of bondage for ten years, and then dismiss them free, when instructed in the arts of civilized life, and the more important knowledge of Christianity. This permission, as was to be expected, produced the very opposite effects.

“A decree for the purpose was issued so late as the year 1808, by Don John, and it was one of the measures which he thought best to reclaim the aborigines, who had just before committed some ravages. He directed that the Indians, who were conquered, should be distributed among the agriculturists, who should support, clothe, civilize, and instruct them in the principles of our holy religion, but should be allowed to use the services of the same Indians for a certain number of years, in compensation for the expense of their instruction and management.

“This unfortunate permission at once destroyed all intercourse between the natives and the Brazilians. The Indians were everywhere hunted down for the sake of their salvation; wars were excited among the tribes, for the laudable purpose of bringing in each other as captives, to be converted to Christianity; and the most sacred objects were prostituted to the base cupidity of man, by even this humane and limited permission of reducing his fellow-creatures to slavery.

“In the distant provinces, particularly on the banks of the Maranhāo, it is still practised, and white men set out for the woods to seek their fortunes; that is, to hunt Indians and return with slaves. The consequence[126] was, that all who could escape retired to the remotest forests; and there is not one to be now found in a state of nature in all the wooded region.

“It frequently happened, as we passed along, that dark wreaths of what appeared like smoke arose from among distant trees on the sides of the mountains, and they seemed to us to be decisive marks of Indian wigwams; but we found them to be nothing more than misty exhalations, which shot up in thin, circumscribed columns, exactly resembling smoke issuing from the aperture of a chimney.

“We met, however, one, in the woods, with a copper-colored face, high cheek-bones, small dark eyes approaching each other, a vacant, stupid cast of countenance, and long, lank, black hair hanging on his shoulders. He had on him some approximation to a Portuguese dress, and belonged to one of the aldêas formed in this region; but he had probably once wandered about these woods in a state of nature, where he was now going peaceably along on a European road.

“We had passed, in going through Valença, one of these aldêas of the Indians of the valley of Parahiba, Christianized and instructed in the arts of civilized life. Another, called the Aldêa da Pedra, is situated on the river, nearer to its mouth, where the people still retain their erratic habits, though apparently conforming to our usages.

“They live in huts, thatched with palm-leaves; and when not engaged in hunting and fishing, which is their chief and favorite employment, they gather ipecacuanha, and fell timber. They are docile and pacific, having no cruel propensities, but are disposed[127] to be hospitable to strangers. Their family attachments are not very strong, either for their wives or children, as they readily dispose of both to a traveller for a small compensation.”

One of the most ferocious tribes of Brazil was the Botocudos, thought to be the remains of a powerful and most cruel race, which the early settlers called Aymores. This tribe disfigured themselves by making a large hole in the under-lip, and wearing therein a piece of white wood, or some ornament. They also cut large holes in their ears, and stuck feathers in the aperture for ornaments. They used to go entirely naked, and, brown as the beasts of the forest, were frightful objects to behold.

“The Brazilian government,” says Mr. Walsh, “deserves credit for the manner in which it has managed these Indians. They lived on the Rio Doce, and laid waste every settlement attempted in that beautiful and fertile region. In 1809, a party of Europeans were sent up the river, and they found one hundred and fifty farms in ruins, whose proprietors had either perished or fled. Detachments were accordingly ordered in all directions, to restrain the inroads of the savages, and to punish their aggressions; and every encouragement was held out, to establish new settlements and civilize them.

“Every village consisting of twelve huts of Indians and ten of whites was to be considered a villa, with all its benefits and privileges; and sesmarios, or grants of land, were made to such as would become cultivators, giving all the privileges and advantages of original donotorios. New roads were then opened to form a more easy communication, and considerable effect was produced[128] on these intractable natives. The Puvis, a neighbouring tribe, to the number of one thousand, were located in villages, called aldêas; and the arts and industry of civilized life made more progress among them, in a few years from this period, than they had before done in so many centuries.”




The peninsula of Florida was discovered and named by a Spanish adventurer, called Ponce de Leon, who, on his second voyage, was mortally wounded in a conflict with the natives. A few years after this, a small vessel was driven on the coast by severe weather, and a traffic commenced with the natives for silver and gold. Other adventurers began to turn their attention to this supposed land of wealth, and Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon fitted out two vessels to cruise among the islands, and kidnap the Indians for laborers in the mines. The ships were driven to the shore, near a cape, which was named St. Helena. When the natives of the country, which bore the name of Chicorea, first saw the vessels, they fancied them to be huge sea-monsters; but when they saw white, bearded men, clad in armor, come forth from them, they were so terrified that they ran away. Their fears, however, were soon dispelled, and a trade was begun, in which they received trinkets in exchange for pearls, skins, gold, and silver.

When, at length, the Spaniards were ready for sailing, the Indians were invited on board of the ships; and while many of them crowded the vessels, gazing[130] in wonder at all they saw, the adventurers treacherously closed the hatches on those who were below, and set sail for St. Domingo. The natives, thus entrapped, remained sullen and gloomy, and refused to partake of food, so that most of them perished on their voyage.

Ayllon now determined to make an expedition to Florida in person, and fitted out three large vessels, taking with him a former adventurer as a guide. The latter, however, was unable to find the place sought for, and they finally landed near Chicorea, where they were so well received that the chief allowed two hundred of the men to visit his principal village, three leagues in the interior. The natives feasted them for three days, and having thus thrown them off their guard, rose upon them by night, and massacred the whole. After this, they repaired, early in the morning, to the harbour, where they surprised Ayllon and his guards. The few who survived speedily got on board the vessel, and hastened back to St. Domingo.

In 1628, Panfilo Narvaez reached the coast of Florida with a squadron of four barks and a brigantine. He landed four hundred men and fifty horses, and took possession of the country in the name of the king of Spain, unopposed by the natives. On penetrating into the interior, in search of gold, he and his men found the principal village deserted; and not only were they disappointed of finding the chief object of their wishes, but the warlike natives harassed them on their march through swamps filled with decayed trees, where they had often to wade in the water up to their breasts. The Indians seemed of giant height; they had enormous[131] bows, and discharged their arrows with such prodigious force as to penetrate steel armor at the distance of two hundred yards. After a most disastrous march, the greater part of the Spaniards finally reached the shore, and embarked, but they were lost at sea. Five of the party, who had set out in another direction, crossed Northern Florida, the Mississippi, the desert and mountains beyond, and, after some years, succeeded in reaching the Spanish settlements in Mexico.

But the most important exploration of Florida, and the territory north and west, was made at an early period by Hernando de Soto and his band. He left Cuba on the 12th of May, 1539, with a squadron of eight large vessels, a caravel, and two brigantines; his armament, besides the ships’ crews, consisting of not less than one thousand men and three hundred and fifty horses. On the thirteenth day, he arrived in the bay which he called Espiritu Santo. The natives, alarmed at the sight of such an invading force, immediately kindled fires all along the coast, to summon their warriors. The troops, on landing, the last day of the month, did not encounter a single Indian, and they remained all night on shore in a state of careless security.

At break of day, however, a sudden onset was made upon them by a vast army of the Indians. Several of the troops were wounded, others were panic-struck, and retreated to the shore. Relief was sent from the ships, and the Indians were finally put to flight. Landing the remainder of his forces, De Soto found the villages deserted, and learned, from some prisoners he took, that the hostility he had encountered was occasioned[132] by outrages committed by Narvaez on a cacique of the village, called Hivrihigua. Having gained his friendship, and formed a treaty with him, the treacherous Spaniard, in a fit of passion, ordered the cacique’s nose to be cut off, and his mother to be torn in pieces by dogs. De Soto endeavoured, by sending presents to the mutilated chief, to gain his favor; but he indignantly replied to the messages, “I want none of their speeches and promises; bring me their heads, and I will joyfully receive them.”

Juan Ortiz, a follower of Narvaez, who had been captured by Hivrihigua, was obtained as an interpreter. This man was one of four on whom the cacique had determined to wreak his vengeance, on account of the treatment he had received. The others were stripped naked, led out into the public square, and set at liberty, to be shot to death by arrows. To prolong their torture, only one Indian was allowed to shoot at a time, and in this manner they were all killed, with the exception of Juan Ortiz. This was a youth hardly eighteen years old, and his appearance, as he was led forth to execution, so touched the hearts of the wife and daughters of the cacique, that, at their intercession, he was spared. He was, however, reduced to a state of slavery, made to bear burdens, and be the object of barbarous amusements. At one time, he was bound down on a wooden frame, over a bed of live coals, to be roasted alive. Again his pitying protectors came to his relief, and, by their entreaties, he was once more spared.

After various adventures, he was committed to a neighbouring cacique, by the daughter of Hivrihigua, and remained there till sent for by De Soto to act as[133] an interpreter. The cacique under whose protection he had been, named Mucozo, also came to the Spanish camp with his warriors, and, in reply to the assurances of De Soto that he should be kindly treated, he magnanimously said, “What I have done to Ortiz is but little; he came commended to me, and threw himself on my protection. There is a law of our tribe which forbids our betraying a fugitive who asks of us an asylum. But his own virtue and dauntless courage entitled him to all the respect which was shown him. That I have pleased your people, I rejoice exceedingly, and by devoting myself henceforth to their service, I hope to merit their esteem.”

The mother of Mucozo, distressed with fears for her son, also came, and begged De Soto to deliver him up. “He is young,” said she; “only give him his liberty, and take me, who am a poor old woman, and do with me as you please. I will bear any punishment for both.” Though treated with kindness, she still continued anxious and suspicious. She would eat nothing at the governor’s table till Ortiz had first tasted it; and when asked how it happened that she, who so feared death, should offer to die for her son, she replied, “I love life as others do, but I would willingly lose it to save a son who is far dearer to me than life itself.” Though assured by her son that he was entirely at liberty, she returned home in sorrow.

By means of kindness to some of his captives, whom he allowed to go home loaded with presents, De Soto tried to soften the stern cacique, Hivrihigua. His reply was, “The memory of my injuries forbids my sending a kind answer, and a harsh one your courtesy[134] will not allow me to return.” Learning that Hivrihigua was concealed in a forest not far from the camp, one of De Soto’s followers undertook to capture him. He had not gone far, before he met a messenger from the cacique, who begged him, in the name of his master, not to proceed any further, as the old cacique was secure in his fortress, and he could not reach him, while he would be exposed to great danger in the morasses and forests which lay in his way. The event proved according to the warning; for, notwithstanding repeated messages to the same effect, the foolhardy cavalier persisted, and was finally compelled to return home without having accomplished his purpose.

As the Spaniards advanced into the interior of the country, they found warlike Indians hanging about their path, and harassing them at every step. The savages assailed their enemy with great fury, and fought bravely; but they were no match for horsemen so armed at all points that the arrows could make no impression on them. On the approach of De Soto, the caciques fled into the woods, and prepared for resistance. One of these, named Acuera, being invited to a peaceable interview, replied, “Others of your accursed race have, in years past, poisoned our peaceful shores. They have taught me what you are. What is your employment? To wander about, like vagabonds, from land to land; to rob the poor; to betray the confiding; to murder, in cold blood, the defenceless. No; with such a people I want no peace, no friendship. War, never-ending, exterminating war, is all that I ask. You boast yourselves valiant, and so you may be; but my faithful warriors are not less[135] brave, and this, too, you shall one day know; for I have sworn to maintain an unsparing hostility, while one white man remains in my borders. Not openly in the battle,—though even thus we fear not to meet you,—but by stratagem, and ambush, and midnight surprisal, shall you be met.”

To the demand of obedience to the emperor of Spain, the Indian replied, “I am king in my own land, and will never become the vassal of a mortal like myself. Vile and pusillanimous is he who will submit to the yoke of another, when he may be free. As for me and my people, we choose death, yes, a hundred deaths, before the loss of our liberty, and the subjugation of our country.”

De Soto sent out persons in every quarter to explore the country, but the Indians lurked in ambush, and cut off every Spaniard who strayed from the camp; and though De Soto caused the bodies to be buried, yet the Indians always returned in the night, dug them up, cut them in pieces, and hung them on the trees. Fourteen Europeans thus perished, and many more were wounded. In this manner the natives fulfilled their threats. “Keep on, robbers and traitors,” said they; “in Acuera and Apalachee, we will treat you as you deserve. Every captive will we quarter and hang up on the highest trees along the road.”

As De Soto advanced still further, he was attacked by some of the subjects of the cacique, Ocali. The adventures of the Spaniards with Vitachuco were remarkable, but we cannot detail them here.[4] In the fierce[136] battles fought, with De Soto, the Indian warriors showed great bravery, but they were finally defeated, and nearly exterminated. The same determined spirit of resistance was manifested by almost every tribe of the Florida Indians.

After many battles and skirmishes, the Spaniards approached a village called Anhayea. The Indians had fled, but it was found to contain two hundred and fifty large and commodious houses; besides which, there were said to be many others in the province, consisting of from fifty to a hundred houses. There were, also, many dwellings scattered about the country. De Soto, to relieve himself from the harassing attacks of the Indians in this quarter, formed a plan to get possession of the cacique, Capafi. This person was so fat and unwieldy, that he could neither walk nor stand. When he went about his dwelling, he was obliged to move on his hands and knees, and in going from place to place was borne in a litter on the shoulders of his subjects. Learning that he was in the midst of a dense and vast forest, about eight leagues off, fortified in the strongest manner known to this people, and garrisoned by a band of his bravest and choicest warriors, so that he felt himself to be impregnable, De Soto determined to attack him.

The Spaniards met with a strong resistance at the entrance of the defile which led to the open place where the cacique had taken up his abode. It was so narrow that but two could go in abreast. The palisades were, however, gained in succession, and the place of the cacique’s refuge finally reached. Here a desperate conflict took place. Perceiving the danger[137] of their chief, the Indians threw themselves on the swords and spears of the Spaniards. Many were the valiant feats performed on both sides; but as the Indians were without defensive armor, most of them were at last cut down, and the cacique, knowing that further resistance was vain, called on the survivors to surrender. They therefore threw themselves before the Spanish leader, and offered their own lives, but besought him to spare that of their cacique.

De Soto assured them of pardon, and that he would henceforth consider them as his friends. Capafi, unable to walk, was taken up on the arms of his attendants to kiss De Soto’s hands, who treated him with urbanity and kindness. The wily chief, however, on the return to the village of Anhayea, found means to escape. This was effected in the following manner. The Indians, notwithstanding the captivity of their chief, did not cease their efforts to annoy the Spaniards. De Soto reproached the cacique with ingratitude, and threatened a war of extermination. The cacique expressed his grief, and said, that as the chief assailants were concealed in a thick forest, five or six leagues off, he would go there under guard of some Spaniards, and persuade them to submit.

De Soto sent him, attended by a company of horse and foot, who were ordered to watch him closely, and not allow him to escape. On reaching the forest, at sunset, the cacique sent some Indians to the warriors who were there concealed, with orders to assemble before him the next morning. The Spaniards, satisfied that the orders of the cacique would be obeyed, betook themselves to rest, having stationed their sentinels,[138] and placed a guard over the chief; but, owing to the fatigue of their long march, they all fell asleep. Perceiving this, the cacique watched his opportunity, crawled on his hands and knees through the camp, and soon fell in with a party of his warriors, who took him on their shoulders and carried him away. The Spaniards, mortified with the result of their expedition, returned, and on their march were taunted by the Indians for the failure of their schemes. They pretended to De Soto that they had lost their captive by some art of necromancy, and he, though aware of the truth, apparently yielded to the story, saying, that the Indians were such wonderful necromancers that they might have performed still greater feats of skill.

In an attempt made by a garrison left behind at Hivrihigua to reach De Soto, a terrible battle ensued in a morass, which came near proving fatal to the whole party. Nothing but the fall of the Indian chief who led the onset saved them from destruction. The battle took place in the water, and the Indians rushed with wild yells from behind bushes, brakes, and the trunks of trees, discharging showers of arrows at their enemy. The horses, being wounded, became furious, and threw off the foot-soldiers, who were mounted behind the horsemen. They were thus exposed to the arrows of the enemy, who perceived their fall, and rushed forward to despatch them.

In front of the assailants was an Indian entirely naked, bold and fearless, with a large plume of feathers on his head. He sought to gain the shelter of a great tree which lay between him and the Spaniards. One of these, bearing a crossbow, sent an arrow with[139] so true an aim, that it pierced him through the breast. He staggered forward a few paces, crying out to his followers, “These traitors have slain me!” His comrades then rushed to his aid, received him in their arms, and, passing him on from one to another, carried him away.

In another part of the morass, the battle was not less bloody, and the Spaniards were losing ground, when, at the most critical moment, the news came to the Indians that their chief was mortally wounded; this checked their ardor, and they began to retreat. The Spaniards halted for the night, and it is said that scarcely a man among them had escaped without a wound.

On resuming their march, every inch of ground was disputed by the enemy, till the adventurers came to an open plain, where the cavalry could act with effect. The Indians then departed, but, when night came, they hovered round the camp with dreadful yells and howlings, taunting their foes, and launching against them clouds of arrows, thus forcing them to keep in perpetual motion. Frequently, the Spaniards were obliged to remove barriers and palisades which obstructed their march, and to cut their way through the tangled thicket; while the Indians, from their ambush, cried out, “Where are you going, robbers? We have already killed your chief and all his warriors!”

The Spaniards having spent the winter of 1539 in Apalachee, where they were perpetually annoyed by the bold and warlike savages, resumed their march on the arrival of spring. As they advanced, they came to the deserted village of Achese, where they made[140] prisoners of two warriors, who, being brought before De Soto, demanded, in a bold and fearless manner, “What seek you in our land, peace or war?” De Soto replied, “We seek not war with any one; but our wish is to cultivate peace and friendship. We are in search of a distant province, and all we ask is food by the road.” The warriors promised to supply all necessary food, and an embassy being sent to the cacique of Cofa, he returned a deputation of two thousand Indians, with a present of rabbits, partridges, and maize, and a great number of dogs. The cacique also gave the Spaniards a generous welcome, and set apart his own dwelling for De Soto, providing, likewise, quarters for the army. The province is said to have been very extensive, fertile, and populous. The natives were peaceful, domestic, and affable, treating the strangers with great kindness.

De Soto, who had brought with him a piece of ordnance, showed its power by prostrating, with ten shots, a large oak-tree. The cacique and his people manifested great amazement as well as pleasure; and when the Spaniards departed, the chief sent messengers to his brother Cofaqui, the cacique of an adjoining province, still more opulent and powerful than his own, begging him to receive the strangers kindly. He likewise, in company with his warriors, escorted the army one day’s march, and, having bidden them farewell, charged some of his people to go on further, and do all in their power to serve them.

The cacique Cofaqui, on receiving his brother’s message, sent four chiefs, with a train of Indians, to welcome De Soto and his band. As they drew near,[141] he went out, richly decorated, to receive them; taking with him a company of warriors who carried their bows and arrows in their hands, and wore tall plumes on their heads, with rich mantles of martin-skin, finely dressed, over their shoulders. Four thousand warriors were appointed to escort the strangers, with an equal number of retainers to carry supplies and clothing. These Indians depended on the chase for animal food; but their principal articles of provision were maize, dried plums, grapes, walnuts, and acorns.

A short time before the Spaniards departed, the cacique called his chief warrior to him in the public square, and there, in the presence of De Soto and his officers, said, “You well know that a perpetual enmity has existed between our fathers and the Indians of Cofachiqui. That bitter hatred, you are aware, has not abated in the least; the deep wrongs, the notorious injuries, we have suffered from that vile tribe, still rankle in our hearts, unrevenged! The present opportunity must not be lost! You, the leader of my warriors, must accompany this chief and his braves, and under their protection wreak vengeance on our enemies! I need say no more to you; I leave our cause and our honor in your hands.”

The Indian chief, to whom this message was addressed, was called Patofa; he had a graceful form and striking features, with a noble expression of countenance; and his whole demeanour showed that he was worthy of the trust confided in him. Rising up, he threw off his mantle of skin, seized a broadsword of palm-wood, and performed an exercise with it which excited the admiration of even the Spanish cavaliers.[142] After many singular evolutions, he stopped before the cacique, and, with a profound reverence, said, “I pledge my word to fulfil your commands, so far as I am able; and, by the favor of these strangers, I promise to revenge the insults, the deaths, and losses that our fathers have sustained from the people of Cofachiqui. My vengeance shall be such that the memory of your past evils shall be for ever wiped away. My daring again to appear in your presence will be a token that your commands have been executed. For if the fates deny my hopes, never again shall you behold me, never again shall the sun shine upon me. If the enemy deny me death, my own hand will find it. I will inflict upon myself the punishment my cowardice or evil fortune will merit.”

The cacique rose up and embraced him, and, taking from his own shoulders a beautiful mantle of martin-skins, placed it on Patofa’s shoulders, and said, “I consider that what you have promised is as certain as if it were already done; therefore do I reward you as for services already rendered.”

The march now commenced, and soon after an Indian deserted. Patofa sent some men in pursuit of him, and he was brought back in fetters. The chief ordered him to be led to the banks of a small stream, where he was stripped, thrown on the ground, and commanded to drink the streamlet dry. The culprit drank till he could swallow no more; but the moment he raised his head from the water, five Indians, who were stationed near, belabored him with their clubs till he began again. Some of his comrades hurried to De Soto, and begged his interposition; and he[143] was accordingly released, though half dead with the water he had swallowed.

The army, as they advanced on the high road, at length came to a dense forest, and, as the Indians professed to be as ignorant of the way as the Spaniards, De Soto suspected treachery, and called upon Patofa to explain how it was, that, of his eight thousand men, not one knew the way to Cofachiqui, with the people of which they had been so often engaged in war? Patofa declared his ignorance of the place, saying, that the wars referred to had been carried on solely by skirmishes; and as the natives of Cofachiqui were the most powerful and had been most frequently victorious, his people were afraid to pass beyond their own frontiers. “But,” said he, “do you suspect that I have led your army into these deserts to perish? If so, take what hostages you please. If my head will suffice, take it; if not, you may behead every individual of my band, as they will obey me even to the death.”

At length, they came in sight of a country studded with numerous villages. Here Patofa and his men stole out of the camp by night, assaulted a temple, and massacred every Indian in it, taking their scalps as trophies, to be carried to their cacique, Cofaqui. After laying waste the country for many leagues, slaying and scalping every man, woman, and child, sacking and pillaging villages and temples, and even breaking into the sepulchres,—Patofa and his followers returned home, laden with spoils, and pleased with having fulfilled the promise made to the cacique.

De Soto had now reached the dominions of the kind princess Cofachiqui, which doubtless formed a part[144] of the present State of Georgia;[5] but as the Indians here, and even farther on, belonged to the Florida tribes, and as the country itself constituted a portion of the territory originally called Florida, it will be proper to give some account of them in this connection. We therefore pursue the narrative of De Soto’s march through this region.

The next place mentioned in the story of the adventurers is the province of Achalaque, said, by the narrator, to be the most wretched in all Florida. The inhabitants were a feeble, peaceful race, nearly naked, living chiefly on herbs, roots, and wild fowl. Beyond this, was a province called Xuala. Crossing a chain of low mountains which were uninhabited, the Spaniards next reached the province of Guaxule. When within a league of the principal town, they were met by the cacique, with 500 warriors richly dressed in mantles of various kinds of skins, and adorned with gay feathers. His village consisted of about 300 houses. His own dwelling, into which he received De Soto, stood on a mound, and was encircled by a terrace wide enough for six men to walk upon it abreast.

Still farther on, after passing through a desert country, they came to a village named Ichiaha, standing at the extremity of an island more than five leagues in length, the cacique of which gave them a polite and friendly welcome. After another day’s march, they came to a village called Acoste, the cacique of which was a fierce warrior. He placed himself in[145] battle array at the head of 1,500 of his men, who were decorated with war plumes, and equipped with arms. After some difficulties, a good understanding was established, and the Spaniards were received with hospitality. Continuing their march, they met with numerous tribes, and encountered a great variety of adventures. From the giant chieftain, Tuscaloosa,[6] they received the fiercest resistance; and the Chickasaws, who were a brave and numerous people, assailed them with desperate resolution. As they proceeded, new enemies sprang up to meet them, who either gave them open battle, or hung upon their skirts, and harassed them with perpetual attacks. At one time, they came in sight of a fortress, garrisoned by Indians, whose bodies were painted in stripes of white, black, and red, and their faces blackened, with red circles about their eyes. Some of them wore feathers, and some horns on their heads, so that they looked more like devils than men. Having kindled a fire in front of their fort, they pretended to knock one of their companions on the head with a club, and then swung him by the feet and shoulders, as if they were throwing him into the flames; thus intimating to the Spaniards the kind of treatment they might expect if any of them fell into their hands. The fortress was, however, stormed and carried after a desperate fight, and a fearful scene of blood and carnage ensued, in which multitudes of the Indians were slaughtered.

It is unnecessary to give further details respecting[146] the adventures of De Soto and his companions. We need only say, that, having proceeded westward till he had crossed the Mississippi, this daring leader was seized with fever, of which he died after an illness of seven days. His band of followers, after experiencing great vicissitudes, succeeded in descending the Mississippi, amid hosts of enemies, and, though greatly reduced in numbers, they at length reached the Gulf of Mexico in 1543. Thus terminated this celebrated expedition, which occupied four years, and in which the troops are said to have marched between four and five thousand miles.

The subsequent history of the original Indian tribes of Florida affords nothing of interest. Under the oppression of the Spanish dominion, many of them were destroyed, and others driven off, so that but few remained. Most of them seem to have been conquered, incorporated with the later Seminoles, and intermingled with fugitive negroes. The recent painful history of these we shall hereafter notice. The greater part have been removed across the Mississippi, by the United States government, and only a remnant are left to occupy what is now the Territory of Florida.



When the Europeans began their settlements in what is now the territory of the United States, the whole country was occupied by a great number of separate and independent tribes. Upon the investigation of their languages, it has been found that they consisted of a few great families, or nations, which have been thus distributed by learned writers.

The Algonquins, or Chippewas, were spread over the entire continent east of the Mississippi and north of Cape Hatteras, with the exception of the regions inhabited by the Esquimaux, far to the north, and the territory claimed by the Hurons, or Wyandots. This latter family, which included the Iroquois, or Six Nations, spread themselves over the space now occupied by New York, a part of Ohio, and the whole of Upper Canada. The Mobilian, or Florida nations, included the tribes south of Cape Fear and west of the Mississippi, excepting the Natchez, inhabiting the country around the modern city of that name, and the Uchees, who held the country contiguous to the present town of Augusta, in Georgia. The Cherokees, Tuscaroras, and Catawbas, three considerable nations, occupied the territory of the[148] Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee. The Sioux, or Dahcotahs, dwelt along the western borders of the Mississippi.

These families, or nations, as we have already said, were broken into a multitude of distinct tribes, each having, for the most part, its particular dialect, and carrying on war against every other tribe. In some instances, several tribes were confederated together, either for the purposes of defence or aggression. Their whole number has been variously estimated, but it probably did not exceed 500,000 at the time of the settlement at Jamestown, in 1607.

When our ancestors came to these shores, they found the Indians thinly scattered over the country, though occasionally gathered in considerable groups in the more fertile valleys, and along the banks of rivers, lakes, and bays. They were in the rudest state of society, without science, without arts, without any metallic instruments, without domestic animals. They raised a little corn, which the women cultivated with a clam-shell, or the shoulder-blade of the buffalo. Devouring this with savage improvidence, they obtained a precarious supply for the rest of the year by gathering nuts and roots, or by hunting and fishing. Half clad in skins, or entirely naked, they roamed from place to place, passing their lives, alternately, in stupid idleness, and the fiercest excitements of war and the chase. Ignorant of the past, and improvident of the future, most of these tribes were sunk in the lowest depths of human degradation.

Such were the occupants of the soil, when the European settlers came to establish themselves here.[149] Throughout the continent, the Indians appear to have been at first disposed to give a hospitable reception to the strangers who visited their shores; but they were soon taught to dread, and then to hate, a people, who shot them down, subjected them to slavery, and robbed them of their property and lands, without mercy or scruple. When the settlements began along our Atlantic coast, more than a century had passed since the discovery of the continent by Columbus, and ample time had elapsed for many of the tribes to experience, and all to know, the oppressive and formidable character of these European invaders.

Though the number of the Indians in this quarter was not great, yet their skill in war, and the deep-seated jealousy and hatred of the white race, which had grown up with them, rendered them a fearful foe to feeble colonies, separated by a wide ocean from the protection and succour of their native land. The contests of our forefathers with the Indians, therefore, were full of the deepest interest to them, and abound in incidents which cannot fail to arrest the attention of every reader.

When the Europeans first planted themselves at Jamestown, according to Captain Smith’s account, the country, from the sea-coast to the mountains, was inhabited by forty-three different tribes. Thirty of these spread over the tract of country south of the Potomac, within a space of about 8,000 square miles. Within sixty miles of Jamestown, it is said, there were 5,000 of these natives. There were several confederacies among them, the chief of which were the Powhatan confederacy, the confederacy of the Mannahoacks, and[150] that of the Monacans. These last two were united in a grand alliance against the Powhatan league. Long and bloody wars were maintained between these rival sovereignties. The Mannahoack confederacy embraced thirteen tribes, eight of whom were under the Mannahoacks, and five under the Monacans. Besides these, there were also the independent tribes of the Nottoways, Meherriks, Tuteloes, and various others.

These tribes, especially the Powhatan confederacy, were not disposed to allow the English to settle down among them unmolested. Though at times preserving a show of peace, feelings of hostility rankled in their hearts, and the colonists were obliged to be always on their guard. Nor can we blame the Indians that they felt inimical to the settlers. Hitherto, they had remained sole lords and proprietors of the vast territory over which they roamed, undisturbed except by the wars which they carried on with each other. To break in upon this supremacy, and to appropriate their lands, the white man came and planted himself down, not only assuming a superiority of intelligence and power, but of right. The means of communication with distant tribes were evidently greater than has sometimes been imagined, and doubtless the story of Cortés, De Soto, and other invaders, had reached the ears of these savages. We shall not be surprised, therefore, to find that Powhatan, the chief of the tribe of that name, soon began to grow hostile to his new neighbours at Jamestown, after their settlement in 1607. The enemy he had to oppose, however, was the undaunted and chivalrous Captain Smith, whose earlier history seems almost like a romance, appropriately followed out by[151] the strange incidents of his residence in the colony.[7]

The Indians, in the course of numerous attacks and skirmishes, learned to regard Smith as a foe by no means to be despised; and when, in one of his expeditions, he was taken captive, their joy knew no bounds. After being led from one chief to another, Captain Smith was finally presented to Powhatan himself. Opechancanough, who was his successor, seems to have cherished strong feelings of dislike to Smith, and had Powhatan felt disposed to spare him, he would have found himself opposed by his chief warriors. Finally, when he had been seen by all the Indians, and experiments had been tried on his courage, it was determined, in a council of chiefs, that he should have his brains beaten out with a club.

The appointed day arrived. Powhatan and his warriors were present, exulting in the scene. The captive was brought forth; two large stones were placed in a suitable position, and he was laid upon them. At this moment, the compassionate Pocahontas, the darling daughter of Powhatan, sprang forward, and, clasping Smith in her arms, shielded his head with her person, and declared that he should not be killed, unless she, too, fell beneath the same blow. So strange an event appears to have made a deep impression on the father. His daughter persisting in her determination to die with the captive, the chief yielded, Smith[152] was saved, and sent home to Jamestown. This striking event took place in 1607.

Still, Powhatan, for a considerable time, remained the foe of the whites, and at various times designed evil against the colony; but his schemes were frustrated by the vigilance of Smith, aided by the cautions of Pocahontas, who proved herself, on many occasions, his friend. The heroic girl herself was afterwards taken prisoner, and during her residence at Jamestown was married to Mr. Rolfe, a gentleman of great respectability. Powhatan was then induced to relinquish his hostility, and become the friend of the whites. His daughter and her husband went to England, where she was admitted to see the queen, but she died as she was about to return.

Opechancanough, the successor of Powhatan, was said to be originally from the south, and some have conjectured that he was of Mexican descent, as his appearance is described to have differed from that of the other Indians of the Powhatan confederacy. He was a man of more than ordinary abilities, and burned with a desire to rid his country of those whom he viewed as invaders of her soil. In 1622, he concerted a plan for a general massacre, hoping even to effect the entire extermination of the colony. The plot was deeply laid, and planned with great skill. All the members of the confederacy had their several parts assigned them. At the time the plot was formed, many of the Indians mingled with the whites for the purpose of ascertaining the avenues by which to gain access to the town, and the means of striking the blow with most effect.


On the appointed day, the 22d of March, about noon, while the people were at work, and mostly unarmed, the Indians rushed upon them, and at once massacred three hundred and forty-seven men, women, and children. So well devised was the plan, that, but for its being betrayed, the whole colony, including Jamestown, must have been cut off at a blow. A Christian Indian, who had been solicited by his brother to kill a Mr. Pace, with whom he then lived, informed him of the plot, and, though not in season to save hundreds from falling victims to the savage enemy, yet intelligence was sent to Jamestown, and the people, in many instances, were seasonably put upon their guard. The Indians, finding they were betrayed, did not attempt an attack upon the town, but plundered and burned the undefended houses, the mills and iron works, and whatever else came in their way.

The next autumn, the Virginians, in their turn, attacked the Indians, burned several of their towns, and took many thousand bushels of corn, which they found stored up for the winter. The consequence of this was, that the Indians were greatly distressed, and suffered much for want of food and the necessaries of life. The succeeding July, the war was carried on with still more vigor; four or five separate parties were appointed to attack the Indians at different points, and many were slain, among whom were some of their kings and war-captains. These disasters at once disheartened and weakened them. Still, they continued to seize upon every advantage that offered, and, in 1630, Opechancanough, observing that the colony was in a state of disunion and anarchy, formed a plan for another surprise and massacre.


The experience they had so dearly bought should have made the colonists vigilant, and put them upon their guard at all times. But they seem, at this period, to have relapsed into a state of fatal confidence or indifference. The Indians fell upon the settlers, principally on the south side of James River, and at the head of York River, and so carefully had they concealed their design, so well was it arranged, and so resolutely executed, that they cut off five hundred of the colonists at a blow. This was a dreadful event to the infant settlement, and seems, at first, to have almost entirely disheartened the survivors. A long and bloody war followed, with various results, till, finally, the Indians being defeated, and tired of the strife, a peace was once more made, which continued unbroken for many years. The death of Opechancanough, the master spirit of the savages, and the implacable foe of the colony, doubtless contributed to this end. Every contest also taught the Indians the power of European discipline, and they at last learned that the field of battle was the grave of their warriors, and that even a successful war always resulted in a diminution of their strength.

No very striking event succeeded, in the history of the Virginia colony, till the year 1675, when the Indians again began to rob and murder the colonists. Intestine divisions raged, and they seemed, in their broils, to forget that an enemy lurked around them, who might take fatal advantage of their unguarded and feeble condition. Although the Indians dared not appear, as they had formerly done, in the very heart of the settlements,—for these had increased, and the tribes[155] had been driven back into the interior,—yet they attacked those who dwelt on the frontiers, wasted their fields, burned their houses, and committed other ravages. The colonists were in no condition to avenge themselves of these outrages. Had the Indians, indeed, known the full extent of their weakness, they might have been emboldened to still more daring invasions; but, being successfully attacked by the whites, after a brief conflict, they were glad to accept of peace. The ascendency of the English being once established, the tribes gradually wasted away, and it would now be difficult to find a remnant of the once powerful people by which the eastern portion of Virginia was formerly inhabited.

The tract of country first called Virginia embraced more than is now comprised in the limits of the State; and as a part of North Carolina was included in its boundaries, it may be proper, in this connection, to notice the history of the Indians who occupied this region.

North Carolina was first discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh, in 1584. In the account given by him, it seems the Indian name of this region was Wingandacoa, the king being called Wingina. His chief town was six days’ journey from Wococon. His brother, Ganganameo, resided at a village on the Roanoke. The third day after the English arrived, some natives appeared, and one of them went on board of the ships. The English gave him a shirt, some wine, and plenty to eat. He paddled away, and, having laden his boat with fish, returned, and divided them into two parts, meaning one portion for one ship, and the rest for the other. The next day Ganganameo came to see them,[156] with fifty men, spread out his mat on the point, without any apparent fear, and, sitting down, made signs to the English to sit down with him. He then stroked his head and breast, and theirs also in a gentler manner, thus signifying, that, henceforth, their heads and hearts should be one. He made a long speech, and they presented him with some toys, which greatly pleased him. They then opened a trade, and he gave them twenty deer-skins for a pewter basin; a sample of the dealings between the English and natives. The chief made a hole through the basin, and hung it about his neck for a breastplate. He also gave fifty more skins for a copper kettle.

Some days after this interview, Ganganameo came again with his wife and children. They were of a low stature, but quite handsome. His wife wore a coat and short apron of leather, and a band of white coral about her forehead, with ear-rings of pearls as large as peas, and hanging down to her waist. He was himself dressed in the same manner, except that his hair was long on one side, and cut short on the other. The English, in return, went to see him; but, as the chief was absent, his wife ran to meet them, and, as they approached the shore, ordered her people to take them on their backs to the land. The season being rainy, she had their boat drawn up on the bank. Her visiters were then taken into her house, where she washed their clothes and feet. After they had warmed and dried themselves by a fire, she took them into another room, where a dinner was prepared, consisting of various dishes,—boiled venison, roots, melons, and other fruits. When they returned to their boats, she[157] gave them mats to shield them from the rain. Well might these voyagers say, as they did, “A more kind and loving people cannot be.”

Notwithstanding this favorable view, it appears, that, subsequently, the North Carolina Indians were more or less enlisted in the various enterprises of the natives against the colony of Virginia, of which an account has already been given, and, to some extent, shared the fortunes of their countrymen. In 1712, a part of them, the Corees, Tuscaroras, and others, formed a league for the purpose of expelling the colonists, who had now encroached upon their territories. Their plan was arranged with great secrecy and cunning. To secure their own families, they surrounded their principal town with a breastwork. Here the warriors of the different tribes met, to the number of twelve hundred bowmen. The plan was matured, and the time fixed for the massacre. When the fatal night came, small parties went out by different roads, and, under the mask of friendship, were admitted to the houses of the colonists. Rising at a preconcerted signal, they slaughtered men, women, and children, without distinction. To prevent discovery or alarm, they ran as speedily as possible from house to house, hastening the bloody work.

In the vicinity of Roanoke, they thus butchered one hundred and thirty-seven persons in a single night. A few escaped and gave the alarm, by which means the settlements were preserved from extinction. Nearly one thousand troops were immediately raised in South Carolina, by whom the Indians were pursued. On coming up with them, a severe battle was fought, in which three hundred Indians were slain, and one hundred[158] taken prisoners. It was supposed that nearly one thousand of the Indians were finally killed, wounded, and captured. After this event, the remnant of the Tuscaroras fled to the Five Nations, with whom they became incorporated. From this period, the northern confederacy assumed the title of the Six Nations.

In Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and the part of New York below the Highlands, there were likewise numerous tribes of Indians. It is said that there were not less than thirty kings within these limits, and the whole number of Indians is computed by Dr. Trumbull to have been about 10,000, and the warriors 2,000. The principal tribes were the Manhattans and the Delawares, or, as they are often termed, the Lenni Lenape. The peaceful policy of William Penn prevented any Indian wars in the early settlement of Pennsylvania, though another cause doubtless contributed to this result. The Five Nations had subdued the Lenni Lenape, obliged them to put themselves under their protection, deprived them of the power of making war, and confined them to the raising of corn, hunting, and fishing. To use the Indian phrase, they had been thus reduced to the state of women. The interior portion of Virginia had also been subjected to the same sway.

Many of the Indians of whom we are now speaking were greatly benefited by the missionary labors of David Brainerd, who instructed them in Christianity. Numbers became professors of religion, and were bright examples of the power of the gospel even over the savage heart. The Moravians, also, at a still later[159] date, were not less successful, and the account of their residence among the Indians, as related by Heckewelder and others, deserves a careful perusal. The history of these Indians, however, is similar to that of the tribes in other quarters, when brought in contact with the whites. They wasted away in the competition with a master race, and not a vestige of them is left upon their original domains.




The Southern Indians, in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, were composed of many different tribes. Of these, the most distinguished were the Catawbas, Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks. In 1671, the Cherokees in South Carolina were estimated at 6,000 bowmen. It is thought that the Corees, Stonoes, Westoes, Savannas, Yamassees, Catawbas, and Congarees could not have been less numerous, and that, in this colony alone, there were as many as 35 or 36,000 Indians, including 12,000 warriors. The Creeks numbered about 25,000. The Chickasaws, Alabamas, and Natchez were computed at 10,476 fighting men, and the whole population at 31,128 souls. The Natchez were once a great nation, and were able, at one time, to raise not less than 4,000 warriors.

These Indians, as well as the others, viewed with jealousy the settlements of the whites, and were, from time to time, more or less engaged in attacks upon the colonists, whom they greatly annoyed in their infant state. They also carried on war with the Five Nations, and many remarkable feats of their valor are related. One of these deserves to be mentioned. A[161] party of Senecas, in an excursion far south, near the territories of the Catawbas, discovered a young hunter in a light summer dress. They intercepted him, and he ran towards a hollow for the purpose of concealing himself. He was swift of foot, and so skilful in archery, that he shot down seven of his pursuers before they were able to capture him. They then took him to their own country, and there he was condemned, in a council of warriors, to die by torture.

On being led out to the stake where he was to be burned alive, he suddenly collected his strength, dashed down his nearest enemies, sprang to the waters of a neighbouring stream, plunged in, and swam underneath, rising only at intervals to take breath, till he reached the shore. The Senecas followed him through the water, and fired their guns, but they were at such a distance they could not reach him. He stopped for a moment or two, contemptuously set them at defiance, and then fled into the forest. Closely pursued, he ran on till midnight, and then lay by among the bushes, hiding himself under some logs.

Five of his enemies came near, and, kindling their fire, lay down to sleep. He watched them earnestly, till they were all in a sound slumber. He then silently crawled to the place, seized a tomahawk, and, by a sudden attack, killed them, and scalped them. He then clothed himself in the dress of one of them, took their guns, ammunition, and provisions, and pursued his way. Still he was not satisfied with his revenge, but went directly to the spot where he had killed the seven Senecas, dug up the bodies from their graves, scalped them, burned them to ashes, and went home in triumph.[162] Another party of the Senecas afterwards came up, but finding the five warriors whom he had killed and scalped, they gave up the pursuit. A war-council was called, and it was determined, that a man who could do such things must be a wizard, whom it was vain to pursue or oppose.

In 1715, there was a general conspiracy and rising of the Southern Indians, especially those in South Carolina. The league comprised the Yamassees, a powerful tribe, the Creeks, Cherokees, Appalachians, Catawbas, Congarees, and all the Indians from Florida to Cape Fear River. The object of this extensive conspiracy was the total destruction of the Carolinians. The 15th of April was the day fixed upon for its execution. The whole plot was managed with such secrecy and under such a guise of friendship, that the English had not the least suspicion of treachery. Even traders among them slept the very night before with the king and his war-captains, in the chief town of the Yamassees.

All was peace and silence until the morning. They then burst forth, fell on the traders, and killed them all at a single volley, except one man and a boy. The nation immediately rose in arms, and proclaimed their designs of vengeance. The chiefs stimulated the young warriors, who caught their spirit, and poured forth like a torrent on the unsuspecting settlers. In a few hours they massacred a hundred men in the town of Pocataligo and the neighbouring plantations. The man and boy, who were not killed at the first fire, made their escape to Port Royal, and the inhabitants generally fled on board a ship for Charleston. Some other families, who were unable to escape, were murdered.


While the Yamassees were thus desolating the southern frontiers, the Congarees, Catawbas, and Cherokees came down in great force on the north. The southern division of the Indians in this war was computed at 6,000 bowmen, and the northern at 600 or 1,000. A company, which was sent against the northern division, was betrayed by the treachery of an Indian; the captain was slain, and his party defeated. In one place, seventy whites and about forty negroes, having bravely defended their post against the northern division, capitulated, and, after their surrender are said to have been perfidiously massacred. Flushed with their success, the Indians went on burning, murdering, and plundering. They were soon, however, met by a band of militia, raised on the emergency, and totally defeated.

The governor of South Carolina advanced with an army, and, at a place called Saltcalches, a bloody battle was fought. The Indians, uttering fearful war-cries and yells, sometimes retired behind the bushes, and then, when the English were beginning to be encouraged with the hope of success, they returned to the fight with redoubled fury. They were, however, at last wholly defeated, and driven across the Savannah River. The Yamassees, despairing of being able to expel or exterminate the whites, and cherishing a spirit of bold independence, fled to Florida, where they were afterwards troublesome to the settlements in that vicinity.

In April, 1730, a commissioner was sent to treat with the Cherokees. A general assembly of the chiefs was thereupon summoned, who swore allegiance to King George. A treaty was made, which was kept inviolate[164] by the Indians for thirty years. In 1760, they again made war on the English. Parties of them had assisted in the expedition against Fort du Quesne. In that enterprise they were treated with coldness and neglect, and felt themselves insulted. Returning home, as many of the warriors had lost their horses, they caught and appropriated such as they found loose in the woods. The Virginians, roused by these aggressions, fell on them, killed twelve or fifteen, and took several prisoners.

The Cherokees were at once kindled into rage; they went home, and told their wrongs to their nation. The relatives of those who were slain breathed nothing but revenge. The French emissaries secretly fanned the flame, and added fresh fuel to their angry passions. The young warriors rushed down on the frontier settlements, and committed ravages on the defenceless inhabitants. They attacked the troops stationed at Fort Loudon, a portion of whom were killed, and the remainder confined within the fort. Still, the nation generally were averse to war, particularly as they heard that the English were making great preparations to attack them. They therefore sent thirty-two of their chief men to settle the difficulties in an amicable manner. The governor of North Carolina received them haughtily, and overwhelmed them with reproaches. Ouconnostota, who was considered a great warrior in the Cherokee nation, began to reply, but the governor would not hear him. This treatment greatly exasperated the Indians, who had now a new insult added to their other wrongs. The governor soon after marched for the country of the Congarees, 140 miles[165] from Charleston, taking with him the Cherokee sachems, who were detained as prisoners, a guard being set over them. On reaching Fort George, they were shut up in a hut scarcely fit to accommodate a dozen soldiers, and were not allowed to see their friends, or even enjoy the light of day.

Here the governor opened a conference with the Indians, who had been assembled for the purpose. He had sent, among others, for Attakullakulla, or Little Carpenter, who was esteemed the wisest man in the nation, and the most attached of all to the English. By his request, Ouconnostota and two more of the chiefs were set free. Two others, who were delivered up as hostages, being put in irons, the Cherokees were alarmed and fled. Attakullakulla returned home to await the result. He was, however, soon summoned back, and finally a treaty was signed by the governor, and the head men of the Cherokees. Still, the remembrance of the treatment they had received lay deeply buried in the breasts of the Indians; and Attakullakulla, on account of his known attachment to the English, had little influence with them.

Ouconnostota, under a sense of his wrongs, was implacable and vindictive. He collected his warriors, made a fierce attack on the whites, killed fourteen men near Fort George, and besieged the garrison. He also contrived a stratagem to surprise the fort. He sent two Indian women, who were always welcome there, to decoy out the garrison; the lieutenant went forth to inquire the news, when Ouconnostota joined them, saying that he wished to see the commanding officer on important business. Accordingly, the captain, lieutenant, and ensign went out to meet him. The chief[166] said he was going to Charleston to procure a release of prisoners, and wished a white man for a safeguard.

The request seemed reasonable, and the captain told him he should have one. No sooner was the answer returned, than Ouconnostota gave the signal agreed on, and nearly thirty guns were at once discharged on the English. The captain was killed, and the lieutenant and ensign were wounded. This treachery so exasperated the garrison, that the hostages in the fort were immediately put to death. In the evening, the Indians approached the fort, and, after firing their guns, and crying out in the Cherokee language, “Fight manfully and you shall be assisted,” they made a most furious attack, which they kept up all night. But they were so well met by the fire of the troops within the fort, that they were obliged to retire.

Disappointed in this project, they turned their rage upon the Indian traders, and massacred them. The war now became general; large parties of warriors fell on the defenceless frontiers, and cut off many families. About 200 of them attacked the fort at Ninety-Six, but were obliged to retire with loss. In the mean time an expedition was planned against the Indians; and presents were given to such Creeks, Chickasaws, and Catawbas, as joined in the war against the Cherokees. Their towns in the lower settlement were attacked and destroyed, and many of the natives slain. After this, a message was sent to Fort Loudon, requesting the commanding officers to use their best endeavours to obtain peace with the Cherokees of the upper towns. But they were unsuccessful, and an attack on the middle settlements was therefore resolved upon.


On the third day, as the army were advancing, the Cherokees made a most furious assault upon them. A long and obstinate fight ensued, but, finally, the Indians gave way, and fled. The army immediately pressed forward to Etchowa, but the Indians had removed their property, and forsaken the town. Again an attack was made, and the English, after a severe contest, though claiming the victory, found themselves forced to retreat. Soon after this, Fort Loudon surrendered, and the Indians fell upon the garrison as they were marching homeward. All were slain except Captain Stewart, whom Attakullakulla ransomed and sent home, at the price of nearly all he possessed. The conduct of the chief, in this case, forms a bright and beautiful passage in Indian history.

The war with the Cherokees still continued, and the French sought with all their art to engage the Creeks and Choctaws against the English. A force of Scotch Highlanders, and a provincial regiment, with numbers of Chickasaws and Catawbas, who had been induced, by presents, to engage in the service,—the whole consisting of 2,600 men,—were now sent forward to Fort Prince George. Here Attakullakulla met them, and besought the commander to proceed no farther till he had used his endeavours to bring about a peace with his countrymen. But his entreaties were vain. The officer proceeded, and the troops were attacked by the Cherokees, who rushed down from the high grounds with great fury. The battle was long and dubious; the Indians, when repulsed at one point, assailed another, and the fight was maintained from nine to eleven o’clock, when the Cherokees, overpowered by superior discipline, fled, and were pursued till two o’clock.[168] Etchowa, and fourteen other towns of the middle settlements, were now utterly destroyed, together with several magazines of corn, and 1,400 acres of cornfields. After ravaging the country, far and wide, the English returned to Fort Prince George.

Soon after this, Attakullakulla and several chiefs went to the camp and expressed earnest wishes for peace. Articles were drawn up and interpreted, and Attakullakulla agreed to accept all but one, which he had no power from his nation to grant. This was, that four Cherokees should be delivered up, and put to death in front of the army. As they could not accede to this cruel demand, the chiefs were sent to Charleston to confer with the governor. He met them at Ashley Ferry, and gave them a welcome. The fire was kindled, and the pipe of peace was lighted and smoked, in silence and great solemnity. Then Attakullakulla rose up and made an eloquent and manly speech, saying, “that he came as a messenger of peace; that his people were in great distress; that, though the English were their superiors, and lived in light, while they were in darkness, yet that one God was the Father of both; that they lived in one country, and that he wished what had happened might now be forgotten, and that they might be as one people.”

A peace was thereupon established, and both parties expressed their wish that it might last as long as the rivers should run, or the sun shine. This was at the close of the year 1761.

The Natchez were a powerful tribe of Indians, who inhabited that part of our country now called Louisiana. They differed, in many respects, from the rest of the Southern Indians, and many of their customs[169] were singular. In their worship of the sun, they bore a strong resemblance to the ancient Peruvians, and may, perhaps, have had a common ancestry with them. But they were much more warlike, and occasioned great trouble to the French settlements in that vicinity. On one occasion, they formed a deep plan for the extermination of every Frenchman among them. A considerable time was taken in maturing it, and it was so complete in its details, that nothing but its discovery by a female, who was attached to the French, could probably have defeated its execution.

A day was fixed upon, when the savages were to rise simultaneously and massacre the whites. Those who planned the enterprise, in order to insure unity of action, furnished a number of rods to each tribe; one rod was to be taken from the collection every day, till there remained but one, and this was to indicate the time for the massacre. The woman, to whom we have alluded, in order to defeat the scheme of her people, took away one of these rods, and, as the Indians never counted them, a part of the Natchez began the massacre one day too soon. The French were thus apprized of the hostile design, and took measures to defeat it. Still, many of them fell victims to the fury of the Indians. In revenge, the whites attacked them, and, in the end, this powerful tribe were nearly all destroyed, and their habitations reduced to ashes. These events took place in 1729.

The settlements of the French on the Yazoo and Washita rivers were subjected to an attack similar to that just related, and with the like result. The Natchez, who survived the French retaliation of their massacres, fled to the Chickasaws.



The tract of country known by the name of New England was formerly inhabited by numerous bands of Indians, though none of them equalled the more southern tribes. They were, however, warlike, and were led by chiefs of great ability. Dr. Trumbull computes the New England Indians as, at one time, amounting to 123,000. In the winter of 1617, the plague, or some other mortal disease, broke out among them, and almost depopulated the country.

When the English first landed at Plymouth, they saw few indications of inhabitants. Yet the number of Indians in Massachusetts was probably not less than 10,000 or 12,000, and in Rhode Island not less than 8,000. The Pequods and Mohegans, in Connecticut, had about 1,000 warriors; these, with others, made the Indian population there equal to about 12,000. In New Hampshire, there were probably about 4,000. The whole number of warriors in New England might be estimated at 12,000, upon the arrival of our ancestors at Plymouth. Had these been all united in hostility against the strangers, they must have proved formidable enemies, indeed, to the little company landing on the coast in the bleak month of December.


The Pequods were the most warlike of all the Indians in New England. More than twenty kings were their tributaries. It was fortunate for the colonies that this tribe was not in the immediate vicinity of Plymouth. Their chief seat was in Connecticut.

The Indians in the western part of this region were so often exposed to the incursions of the Mohawks, that they were not only weakened, but they lived in constant dread of their fierce and savage foe. This terrible enemy was wont to burst suddenly and unexpectedly into their country, and, as they rushed upon their victims, they yelled in their ears, “Hadree, hadree succomce, succomce,” We come, we come to suck your blood! The cry of “The Mohawks! the Mohawks!” was the most appalling sound that could assail the ears of these people.

The Indians of Massachusetts were greatly exasperated by the conduct of a Captain Hunt, previous to the arrival of the pilgrims. He had enticed twenty-seven Indians on board of his ship, carried them off, and sold them as slaves. After they heard of the arrival of the colonists, they meditated their extermination, and held a powow, or council, in a swamp, where, for three days, they deliberated as to what they should do. According to their usage, they cursed the white men; but, not being aware of their weak condition, they did not venture to attack them. An overruling hand withheld them, and a voice spoke to them, though they knew not whence it came, “Touch not my people, and do my servants no harm!”

The landing at Plymouth took place on the 22d of December, 1620. On the 16th of March, 1621, Samoset—one[172] of the Indians who had been kidnapped by the English, and found his way back to his people, and who had acquired some knowledge of our language—came to Plymouth, and saluted the colonists with the agreeable words, “Welcome, Englishmen!” We may imagine how joyfully they listened to his story, as he portrayed to them the kindly character of Massasoit, the sachem who bore rule in that vicinity. For days exposed to cold, hunger, and sickness, they had waited the opening of spring, doubtless with many anxious fears as to what evils might threaten them from the savages of the wilderness; and to be now assured that the principal chief was kindly disposed must have been cheering indeed.

Samoset was soon despatched to the sachem, charged with a message of peace, and Massasoit himself, and his brother Quadequina, with sixty armed men, came to pay a visit to Governor Carver. After exchanging hostages, Massasoit advanced to a brook with twenty unarmed men, where he was met by a file of musketeers, and was conducted to a house and seated on a green rug, with a number of cushions. Here the two chiefs saluted each other, kissed hands, and entered into a league of friendship, commerce, and mutual defence. This treaty gave peace to all that part of the country, and Massasoit always continued to be a firm friend to the colonists.

The first attack on the Europeans, by the Indians of New England, was at Connecticut, in 1636, by the Pequod tribe. They felt jealous of the strangers who had come upon their ancient soil, over which they had so long roamed as the sole possessors. With the hope,[173] therefore, of expelling or exterminating the intruders, they attacked the fort at Saybrook, and slew and took captive the inhabitants of that early settlement. Determined on more extensive and fatal measures against the colonists, the Pequods sought to gain over the adjacent tribe of the Narragansets, with whom they had before carried on a bloody warfare. They represented to them that these foreigners were mere intruders, dispossessing the original inhabitants, and that, unless, by a general combination, they were driven off or destroyed, they would become masters of the whole country. They also bade them reflect, that, if the English should destroy the Pequods, they would soon root out the Narragansets themselves.

In consequence of their attacks, the colonists felt it necessary to take vigorous measures for carrying the war even into the intrenchments of the enemy. Captain Mason, with ninety Englishmen and seventy Mohegan and River Indians, who had been secured as allies, was accordingly despatched from Hartford, to search out the enemy, and give them battle. These were joined by Captain Underhill, of Saybrook, with nineteen men.

On the 26th of May, 1637, Mason, after a fatiguing march, surprised Mystic, near the present town of Stonington, one of the principal Indian forts. After a volley from their fire-arms, they entered the place, sword in hand, their Indian allies leaving them to make the assault alone. Captain Mason, with his company, had approached on the east side, and Captain Underhill, with his men, on the west side. When they were within about a rod of the fort, the barking of a dog[174] awakened the sleeping sentinel, who cried out, “Owannux! Owannux!” Englishmen! Englishmen! The Indians, roused by the cry, rallied, and fought bravely, and victory for a time hung in suspense, till Captain Mason, observing that the wigwams were covered with mats, or other combustible materials, had recourse to the expedient of setting them on fire.

This decided the fate of the Pequods. In an hour, about seventy wigwams were destroyed, and most of the Indians, estimated at four or five hundred, were burned to death, shot down, or slain by the sword. Sassacus, the Pequod sachem, and his warriors, were so panic-struck by the loss of their fort and the destruction of their men, that they burned their remaining wigwams and the royal fortress, and fled towards the Hudson River. They were pursued to a swamp near Fairfield, where another battle took place, in which the Pequods were entirely vanquished. The Mohawks, treacherously hired, as has been supposed, by the Narragansets, then fell upon the remnant of the tribe, and cut them to pieces. It was calculated, that, in the whole, not less than seven hundred Indians fell in this war. A few, who still lingered on their ancient grounds, at last united with the Mohegans, under Uncas. This chief had shown himself a friend to the English, and some of his descendants have remained, till within a few years, among the few Mohegans who still hold lands in the vicinity of Norwich, Connecticut.

This effort of the Pequods, under the renowned Sassacus, was the first great attempt of the Indians to destroy the settlers of New England. So speedy and terrible was the retribution which followed this attempt,[175] that the humbled Indians remained at peace for many years after. Other circumstances aided to promote this state of things. Sassacus, the monarch of the country, reigning over twenty Indian kings, had maintained a long and successful war with Miantonimoh, the sachem of the Narragansets, and was an object of terror to that people. Miantonimoh and his nation, therefore, desired a league with the colonists, to defend them against the Pequods. Massasoit, also, and his people, had sought the same alliance as a defence against their bitter and dangerous foes, the Tarratines of Maine; and all the New England Indians desired, especially, to secure themselves against the attacks of the terrible Mohawks. Thus mutual weakness and mutual fears led to general peace.

Attempts were early made by the colonists to instruct the Indians in the Christian religion. About the year 1644, Mr. Mayhew and Mr. Eliot began, successfully, to engage in labors for the conversion of the Indians on Martha’s Vineyard and at Natick. At first, there was great opposition by the sachems and powows, or priests, who used every effort to baffle and discourage the devoted missionaries. But, in 1660, there were whole towns of “praying Indians,” and in 1687, there were more than twenty assemblies of these savages who worshipped the true God. Eliot, with vast labor, translated the Bible into the language of those among whom he preached. This was printed, and a copy of it may occasionally be found treasured up as a curiosity in our public libraries. In 1695, there were not less than 3,000 adult Indians, reckoned as converts to the Christian religion, in the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.


About the year 1675, another Indian war began, which proved the most serious contest in which the colonists had ever been engaged. For several years previously, the Indians had been silently forming a general conspiracy for the extermination of the New England colonies. Massasoit, the good friend of the English, was dead, and his grandson Philip, sachem of the Wampanoags, whose chief seat was in Rhode Island, did not inherit the kindly feeling of his ancestor toward the whites. He was a man of great abilities, and, had his means been equal to his skill and bravery, the result might have proved fatal to the now flourishing colonies.

A Christian Indian, named John Sausaman, discovered to the English the mischiefs he was plotting against them. Philip, burning with rage that his plan should be revealed, caused Sausaman to be murdered. The English detected the murderers, apprehended them, and after a trial, in which their guilt was sufficiently apparent, executed them. This still further incited Philip to revenge. On the 20th of June, he commenced open hostilities on the town of Swansey, near his territory.

The torch of war, thus lighted, continued to rage over the whole extent of New England, for several years, with unabated fury. Its details would fill a volume. Philip,[8] who was the master spirit of the league against the whites, displayed a courage, sagacity, and perseverance, worthy of a king and a patriot. Nor was he ill seconded by the tribes whom he drew[177] into the conspiracy by his eloquence and his intrigues. Though often defeated, he was never discouraged, and, while his foe seemed about to trample him to the earth, he frequently arose with renewed vigor and more desperate resolution. He was at length slain, and, though the struggle was maintained for some time longer, it at last resulted in a general defeat of the Indians, from which they never recovered. The war had extended from Rhode Island to Maine, and, throughout the whole extent of this region, the smoke of the dwellings and the cries of the victims were seen and heard on every hand. Many of the most flourishing English villages were laid in ashes. The struggle was not finished till the spring of 1678. Six hundred of the flower of the colonists perished, and three hundred houses were consumed. The Mohegans and a few other tribes remained friendly, but the rest shared in the war and its fatal consequences.

The next efforts of the Indians against the New England colonies took place during the long and bloody wars between the French and English, called the wars of William and Queen Anne. In June, 1689, instigated by the French, they surprised Cocheco, part of the town of Dover, New Hampshire, and killed and took captive about fifty of the inhabitants. They began depredations, also, in various parts of Maine, plundering, burning, and carrying off captives, wherever they were able. For ten years the provinces of New Hampshire and Massachusetts were subjected to the fury of the savages. Deerfield, on the Connecticut River, was surprised and burnt, forty persons were killed, and nearly a hundred men, women, and children[178] led away captive. The eastern settlements, also, were again ravaged and depopulated. A treaty was at last concluded in the year 1699. From time to time, however, the war was renewed, as the French often succeeded in engaging the Indians in their plans. In 1713, a peace having been agreed upon between the French and English, the Eastern Indians, who had again been involved in hostilities with the colonists, sent a flag, desiring peace. A general pacification ensued, to the great joy of all parties.

We must now turn our attention to the severe contest with the Indians along the northeastern border, which commenced in 1722. Before the subjugation of Canada by the British, the New England settlements, as we have seen, were exposed to the hostilities of the Eastern Indians, and a spirit of jealousy and revenge was kept up, not only between the different nations, but between individuals. The boundaries of the different territories being loosely defined, both sides were left exposed to real or fancied encroachments, so that pretexts for war were always at hand. The French Jesuits had planted themselves among the Indian tribes at an early period; and at the beginning of the eighteenth century, they had two churches among the Eastern Indians,—one at Penobscot, and the other at Norridgewock, within the boundaries of the present State of Maine.

At the latter settlement resided the Jesuit, Sebastian Rasle, a man of talent, learning, and address, who, by accommodating himself to the Indian mode of life, and maintaining a gentle, condescending deportment, had completely won the affection of the savages, and his influence[179] over them was supreme. Knowing the power of superstition over their minds, he took advantage of this, and of their prejudice against the English, to strengthen the interest of the French among them. He even made the offices of devotion serve as incentives to their ferocity; he kept a banner, on which was depicted a cross surrounded by bows and arrows, which he was accustomed to hoist on a pole at the door of his church, and gave the Indians absolution, previous to their setting out on a warlike expedition.

The governor of Canada held a constant correspondence with this Jesuit, and received through his hands information of every thing that transpired among the tribes in that quarter. From these individuals the savages received every encouragement to assert their title to lands occupied by the English, and to molest the settlers, by killing their cattle, burning their haystacks, and robbing and insulting them. Many of the inhabitants, alarmed by these demonstrations of hostility, removed from the frontiers in 1720. The garrisons were reinforced, and scouting parties were sent abroad, which checked for a time the hostile movements of the Indians, who were compelled, the same year, to give hostages for their good behaviour. This last requisition was highly disrelished by the governor of Canada, who renewed his efforts to keep up the quarrel, and secretly promised to supply the Indians with arms and ammunition, although, as Great Britain and France were not then at war, he could not openly assist them. The New England governments obtained information of these intrigues; yet, though highly incensed, they judged it best not to rush into hostilities.[180] The main dispute lay between the Indians and the proprietors of the eastern lands, and the public were not directly concerned in it. No blood had as yet been shed within the limits of the English territory.

Rasle was considered the principal instigator of the Indians, and it was thought, that, if he were removed, all would be quiet. A proposal was made to send the sheriff of York County with a posse of a hundred and fifty men, to seize him and bring him to Boston, but this bold stroke was not ventured upon. In the summer of 1721, Rasle, in company with the Count de Castine from Penobscot, and Croisil from Canada, appeared at one of the English garrisons, and presented a letter, written in the name of the several Indian tribes to Governor Shute of Massachusetts, declaring, that, “if the English did not remove in three weeks, they would kill them and their cattle, and burn their houses.” The lands in question were comprehended within the limits of the English patents, and the settlers were considered the only legal proprietors. They had been accustomed to obtain regular deeds of sale from the Indians, and pay them a valuable consideration; but some of these titles were from an obscure and questionable source; and the memory of such transactions is soon lost among people possessing no written records. The Indians easily forget the sales made by their ancestors, or imagine that such bargains are not binding upon their posterity.

The Massachusetts government, on receiving this menacing epistle, sent an additional force to the Maine frontiers; and, being desirous to avoid a rupture, invited the Indians to a conference, from which the French[181] emissaries were to be excluded. This invitation was treated with neglect; and in the succeeding winter, a party under Colonel Westbrooke was ordered to Norridgewock to seize Rasle. They reached the village undiscovered; but, before they could surround his house, he had escaped into the woods, leaving his papers in his strong box, which they brought away, without committing any act of violence. Among these papers were his letters of correspondence with the governor of Canada, which afforded positive proof that he was deeply engaged in intrigues to incite the Indians to hostilities. The savages were enraged at this attempt to seize their spiritual father, and resolved upon revenge. In the summer of 1722, they made a descent upon the settlements at Merry-Meeting Bay, and captured nine families; dismissing some of the prisoners, they retained enough to secure the redemption of their hostages in the hands of the English, and sent them off to Canada. Their next attack was on the fort at St. George, on the Androscoggin, where they were repulsed with considerable loss. They afterwards surprised some fishing vessels in the eastern harbours, and at length made a furious attack on the town of Brunswick, which they destroyed. These hostilities determined the government of Massachusetts to issue a declaration of war against them, which was published in form, at Boston and Portsmouth, on the 25th of July, 1722.

Troops were raised and enlisted for two years’ service, and the government had no scruples in offering a bounty of forty pounds sterling for every Indian scalp. This war obtained the name of “Lovewell’s[182] War,” from Captain John Lovewell, of Dunstable, in New Hampshire, who was the most prominent commander in the enterprise against the enemy, and was killed in a severe engagement. Various incursions were made upon the settlements by the Indians during the year 1723, and several of the inhabitants were killed and carried into captivity. On the 10th of June, 1724, a farmer and his son, being at work on Oyster River, planting corn, went to a brook to drink, and discovered three Indian packs. They immediately ran to give information to a company of volunteers, which had lately been raised in the neighbourhood, for the defence of the frontier. The company marched towards the spot, but were fired upon from an ambush, and the farmer and his son, who acted as guides, were both killed. The company then fired and killed one of the Indians, and wounded two others who made their escape, though they were pursued and tracked by their blood to a considerable distance. The slain Indian was a person of distinction, and wore a species of coronet, made of fur, dyed scarlet, with an appendage of four small bells, by the sound of which the others might follow him through the thickets. His hair, contrary to what is almost universal among the natives, was remarkably soft and fine; and he had about him a devotional book, and a muster-roll of one hundred and eighty Indians. From these various circumstances, it was supposed that he was a natural son of the Jesuit, Rasle, by an Indian woman, who served him as a domestic.

Garrison-houses were built among the frontier settlements, to which the inhabitants were warned to repair[183] in time of danger. At Dover there were many families of Quakers, who, doubting the lawfulness of war, could not be persuaded to use any means for their defence, although the Indians never spared them on that account. One of these, John Hanson, lived remote from the garrison, and refused to take shelter in it with his family, although he had a large number of children. A party of thirteen Indians, called French Mohawks, had marked his house for their prey, and lay several days in ambush, waiting for an opportunity to attack it. On the 27th of June, while Hanson and his eldest daughter were gone to attend the weekly meeting, and his two eldest sons were at work in a meadow at some distance, the Indians entered the house, killed and scalped two small children, and took his wife, with her infant of fourteen days old, her nurse, two daughters, and a son, and, after rifling the house, carried them off. This was done so suddenly and secretly, that the first person who discovered it was the eldest daughter, on her return from the meeting. Seeing the two children dead at the door, she uttered a shriek of distress, which was distinctly heard by her mother, then in the hands of the enemy among the bushes, and by her brothers in the meadow. The people, being soon alarmed, went in pursuit of the enemy; but the Indians, cautiously avoiding all beaten paths, went off with their captives undiscovered. The mother, though of a tender constitution, had a firm and vigorous mind, and passed through the various hardships of an Indian captivity with much resolution and patience. When her milk failed, she supported her infant with water warmed in her mouth, till the squaws taught her to[184] beat the kernel of walnuts and boil it with bruised corn, which proved a nourishing food for the babe. The prisoners were all sold to the French in Canada. Hanson redeemed them the following year, one daughter remaining behind.

These and other outrages of the enemy caused the government of Massachusetts to resolve on an expedition against the Indian town of Norridgewock. Two hundred men, under Captains Moulton and Harman, marched from York in August. They left forty of their men at Teconic Falls, on the Kennebec, and, dividing the remainder into two bodies, one of them, under Harman, took a circuitous route, hoping to surprise some of the enemy in their cornfields, while the other, under Moulton, marched directly for the village of Norridgewock, which, being surrounded by trees, could not be seen till they were close upon it. All the Indians were in their wigwams, and the English advanced cautiously and in perfect silence. When they had approached very near, an Indian came out of his wigwam, and, discovering the English, set up the war-whoop, ran in, and seized his gun. In a few minutes the warriors were all in arms, and advanced to meet them. Moulton gave orders not to fire till the Indians had made the first discharge. This was done, and, as he expected, they overshot the English, who then immediately fired with great execution. After another volley had been exchanged, the savages fled with precipitation to the river. They were pursued and slaughtered in every quarter, and their wigwams set on fire. Moulton wished to take Rasle alive, and gave strict orders that no one should kill him. But the[185] Jesuit having shut himself up in his house, from which he continued to fire upon the English, one of them burst into it, and shot him through the head. They then set fire to the church, which was a handsome structure, and brought away the plate and furniture of the altar, with the devotional banner, as trophies of their victory. Eighty of the Indians were killed in this attack, and three English captives rescued.

The fate of Norridgewock struck great terror into the savages, and they no longer thought themselves safe at any of their former places of abode, but occupied them as resting-places only, when they were scouting or hunting. This successful undertaking, and the large premium offered for scalps, brought several volunteer companies into the field. In December, Captain Lovewell, with thirty men, made an excursion to the north of Lake Winnipiseogee. They discovered an Indian wigwam, in which were a man and a boy. They killed and scalped the man, and brought the boy alive to Boston, where they received the reward promised by the government, and a considerable gratuity besides. This company was soon increased to seventy, and Lovewell marched again, early in 1725, toward the head of Salmon-Fall River. Their provision falling short, thirty of them, selected by lot, were dismissed, and returned home. The remaining forty continued their march till the 20th of February, when they discovered a track, which they followed till they saw a smoke, just before sunset; from this they judged that the enemy were encamped for the night. They kept themselves concealed till after midnight, when they cautiously advanced, and discovered ten Indians[186] asleep round a fire, by the side of a frozen pond. Lovewell now determined to make sure work, and, stationing his men conveniently, ordered five of them to fire in rapid succession, and the remainder to reserve their shot. He gave the signal by discharging his own gun, which killed two Indians; and the men, firing according to order, despatched five more on the spot. The remaining three started up from their sleep, but two of them were immediately shot dead by the reserve, and the other was wounded. He attempted to escape across the pond, but was seized by a dog, who held him fast until the English came up and despatched him. Thus, in the space of a few minutes, the whole party was destroyed, and an attempt against the frontiers of New Hampshire prevented;—for these Indians were marching from Canada, well furnished with new guns and plenty of ammunition for that object; they had also a number of spare blankets, moccasins, and snow-shoes, for the use of the prisoners whom they expected to take. The pond near which these events transpired is now known as Lovewell’s Pond. The company, with their ten scalps stretched on hoops, in the Indian fashion, marched to Boston in great triumph, and received their bounty out of the public treasury. The English spoke of this enterprise with great exultation, and pronounced it a capital exploit. In the light of the present day, the barbarity of giving a premium for scalps would be justly censured.

This brilliant success, as it was then termed, encouraged Lovewell to his last and fatal undertaking. Early in March, he again took the field, intending to attack the[187] Indian villages of Piguacket, on the upper part of the Saco, where a formidable tribe had anciently a settled habitation, though at this period they only paid occasional visits there. His company consisted of forty-six men, including a chaplain and a surgeon. Two of them became lame, and returned. Another falling sick, they halted, and built a stockade fort on the west side of Great Ossipee Lake, partly for the accommodation of the sick man, and partly for a stronghold in case of any reverse. Here the surgeon was left with the invalid man, and eight of the company for a guard. Lovewell, with his thirty-four men, advanced to the northward about twenty-two miles, and encamped on the shore of a pond in the evening of the 7th of May. Early the next morning, while the men were at prayer, they heard the report of a gun, and discovered an Indian about a mile distant, standing on a point of land jutting out into the water. They had been alarmed during the night by noises round their camp, which they imagined were made by Indians, and now suspected that the one whom they saw was placed there to decoy them, and that a body of the enemy was in their front. A council of war was held, and they decided to go forward, and, by marching round the pond, to gain the spot where the Indian stood. That they might be ready for action, they disencumbered themselves of their packs, and left them, without any guard, in a pine plain, where the trees were too thinly set to hide them.

Lovewell, on his march, had crossed a carrying-place, by which two parties of Indians, consisting of forty-one warriors, commanded by the noted chiefs[188] Paugus and Wahwa, who had been on a scout down the Saco, were returning to the lower village of Piguacket, about a mile and a half from the pond. Having fallen on Lovewell’s track, they followed it, and came at last to the baggage, which they carried off. On counting the packs, they found the number of the English to be less than that of their own force. They therefore placed themselves in ambush to attack them on their return. The Indian who had stood on the point, and was returning to the village by another path, met the English and received their fire, which he returned, and wounded Lovewell and another person with small shot. By a second fire the Indian was killed, and they took his scalp. Seeing no other enemy, the company returned toward their packs, and, while they were searching for them, the Indians sprang from their ambush and ran towards them with a horrid yell. A smart firing commenced on both sides, and Lovewell was speedily slain, with eight others. Several of the Indians fell, but, being superior in numbers, they were by no means daunted, and endeavoured to surround the English, who, perceiving their design, retreated, hoping to gain a shelter behind a point of rocks and some large pine-trees on the shore of the pond. Here they took their station, having on their right the mouth of a brook, and on their left the rocky point,—their front being partly covered by a deep bog, with the pond in their rear.

The battle now recommenced. The Indians poured in their fire from front and flank, and had so much the advantage of position, that, by a little skill, they might have shot down every man of the English, or compelled[189] them to surrender at discretion, as they were totally unable to extricate themselves, and were entirely destitute of provisions. Under the conduct of Lieutenant Wyman, the latter kept up their fire, and maintained a resolute countenance the remainder of the day,—the action having begun a little after ten in the morning. The chaplain and three others were mortally wounded. The Indians invited them to surrender by holding up ropes to them, and endeavoured to intimidate them by hideous yells; but they determined to die rather than yield, and, by their well directed fire, the number of the savages was reduced, and their cries became fainter, till, just before night, they quitted their advantageous ground, carrying off their killed and wounded, and leaving the dead bodies of Lovewell and his men unscalped. The shattered remnants of this brave company, on coming together, found three of their number unable to move from the spot, eleven wounded, but able to march, and nine unhurt. It was melancholy to leave their dying companions behind, but there was no possibility of removing them. One of these, Ensign Robbins, desired them to lay his gun beside him loaded, that, if the Indians should return before his death, he might be able to kill one more.

After the rising of the moon, those who were able quitted the fatal spot, and directed their march toward the fort where the surgeon and guard had been left. To their great surprise, they found it abandoned. In the beginning of the action, one man had deserted and fled to the fort, where, in the style of Job’s messengers, he informed them of Lovewell’s death and the defeat of the whole company, upon which they made the best[190] of their way home, leaving a quantity of provisions, which proved a seasonable relief to the retreating survivors. From this place they endeavoured to get home. Lieutenant Farwell, and the chaplain, who had the journal of the march in his pocket, and one other, perished in the woods, for want of a dressing for their wounds. The others, after enduring the most severe hardships, reached the settlements, one after another. There were no white residents within fifty miles of the scene of the battle.

A party from the New Hampshire frontier was ordered out to bury the dead. Fourteen bodies were found, which were interred, and their names carved on the trees. Three Indian graves were discovered and opened; one of them contained the body of the warrior-chief, Paugus. Tracks of blood were traced to a great distance from the scene of action, but the exact loss of the enemy never was known. After this battle, the Indians abandoned the neighbourhood of Piguacket, and did not return till the war was over.

A doggerel ballad, on the subject of “Lovewell’s Fight,” made its appearance the same year that these events happened, and was for a long time very popular in New England. As the reader may wish to see a specimen of it, we quote the opening stanza, which is as follows.

“Of worthy Captain Lovewell I purpose now to sing,

How valiantly he served his country and his king.

He and his valiant soldiers did range the woods full wide,

And hardships they endured to quell the Indian’s pride.”

We add the sixteenth stanza, as it notices a striking circumstance.


“Our worthy Captain Lovewell among them there did die.

They killed Lieutenant Robbins, and wounded good young Frye,

Who was our English chaplain; he many Indians slew,

And some of them he scalped, when bullets round him flew.”

The following winter, four chiefs came to Boston to ratify the treaty which followed these hostilities. The government of the colonies prohibited all private traffic with the Indians, as it had been the cause of many troubles. Truck-houses were established in convenient places, at which they were supplied with all the necessaries of life on advantageous terms. Though the government was a loser by the trade, this was deemed the most economical method of preserving peace, and it seems fully to have accomplished its purpose.

The natives throughout the New England provinces, now thinned and weakened, while the English had gained strength and extended their settlements in every direction, made no more serious attempts upon the peace of the country. In the French wars, even down to the period just preceding the Revolution, it is true that incursions were occasionally made, but they produced no lasting results.

There are few Indians now remaining in the New England States. A small number of Mohegans still reside in the vicinity of Norwich, Connecticut, where they have a neat little church, and a missionary has labored among them with some success. A few Penobscot Indians, too, are found in Maine, and here and there, in other places, may be met one or more of the descendants of the aborigines; but they are like the last scattered leaves of autumn,—withered, decaying, and frozen by the wintry blasts; spring finds them not again.



This noted confederacy consisted of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The name given them, by the French writers, is the Iroquois. Each nation was divided into three tribes or families, distinguished by their ensigns, as the Tortoise, the Bear, and the Wolf. Their original seat was the island of Montreal and its vicinity. Many years before the French discovered Canada, they employed themselves in the peaceful pursuits of agriculture. The Adirondacks, who then dwelt about 300 miles from Trois Rivières, where the Ottawas afterwards lived, pursued hunting, and exchanged their venison for the corn raised by the Five Nations.

The Adirondacks, or, as they are more frequently called by the French, the Algonquins, despised the Five Nations, as a weak people, occupied with business fit only for women. But on a certain occasion, their game failed, and they employed some of the young men of the Five Nations to assist them in hunting. These soon became expert and capable of enduring fatigue beyond the Adirondacks themselves. The latter consequently became jealous of them, and, fearing that they[193] would throw off the yoke to which they were subjected, murdered them in cold blood. Not having any serious fears of the resentment of so unwarlike a people, they ordered a small compensation to be paid to the Five Nations, whom they looked upon as incapable of avenging the atrocity which had been perpetrated. These were, however, greatly exasperated, and resolved to be revenged. The Adirondacks, when informed of this, deemed it a good occasion to subject them to their sway, and accordingly attacked them. The Five Nations at first defended themselves faintly against their fierce and warlike assailants, and were forced to leave their own country, and fly to the shores of the Lakes. This occurred about the beginning of the seventeenth century. Here they applied themselves to the exercise of arms, and became daily more and more expert in the use of them. Their sachems, to remove the dread of the Adirondacks, entertained by their people, and to inspire them with some degree of confidence, first led them against the Satanas, who then occupied what are now the central parts of the State of New York. They subdued these, and drove them out of the country, to the banks of the Mississippi.

Having thus proved their courage, the Five Nations next successfully withstood the whole force of the Adirondacks. They then carried the war into the heart of their country, and forced them to leave it, and fly towards Quebec. The Adirondacks were now joined by the French, who had just commenced their settlements in Canada. The combatants met at Corlaer’s Lake, since called, after the French commander, Lake Champlain. The Five Nations had[194] never seen fire-arms, and the French, keeping themselves concealed till the Indians were engaged, rose suddenly up and poured a deadly volley upon them. Panic-struck at the fearful character and deadly effect of the attack, they fled, with great loss, from the field.

By the influence of the French, the Hurons and other neighbouring nations now joined in the war against the Five Nations. The Adirondacks, thus reinforced, and having been furnished with fire-arms, proposed utterly to destroy their enemies. But their young men, fond of adventure, and refusing obedience to their captains, often attacked the foe rashly; and the latter, observing this, soon began to profit by it. They sent out small parties, who, meeting greater numbers of the enemy, retreated, while the Adirondacks pursued with fury, and carelessly suffered themselves to be drawn into ambuscades. Thus many of them were cut off with little loss to the victors. In this manner the Adirondacks were wasted away, while the practice of the Five Nations, of adopting into their tribes the prisoners taken from the Satanas, increased their strength and numbers.

The Five Nations appear to have delighted in stratagem, and amused the Adirondacks, and the Hurons, their allies, by messages to the French, pretending to wish for peace, and to have some priests come among them. When, accordingly, some Jesuits came, they kept them as hostages, in order to force the French to remain neutral in their wars with the Adirondacks. They then attacked and defeated the latter within two leagues of Quebec, and, had they known its weakness, might have destroyed even the French colony.


The allies of the Adirondacks, now struck with terror, fled in different directions. Soon after, the Five Nations collected 1,000 or 1,200 men, and set out to pay a visit to the governor of Canada. On their way, they met Piskaret, captured him, and, learning from him that the Adirondacks were divided into two bodies, they fell upon them and cut them to pieces. When the French first settled in Canada, the Adirondacks had 1,500 warriors within a league of Quebec, but, after this last battle, they never possessed any consequence as a nation.

Piskaret, whom we have just mentioned, was a great warrior, and famous for his exploits and stratagems. On one occasion, he set out for the country of the Five Nations, about the time of the spring thaws. He put the back part of his snow-shoes forward, and went along the ridges and high grounds, where the snow was melted, so that he might leave no track. Coming near a village of the Five Nations, he hid himself till night. Then stealing into a wigwam, he murdered the whole family while asleep, scalped them, and again hid himself. The next day, the murderer was sought for in vain. At midnight, he came out and repeated his bloody deed. The third night, a watch was kept. Piskaret bundled up his scalps, and then stole on till he discovered an Indian asleep. Him he despatched at a blow, but, being discovered, he was obliged to flee. As he was the swiftest of all the Indians, he suffered his pursuers to approach him, and then darted away. In the evening, he hid himself and lay down; his pursuers also stopped and went to sleep. Piskaret turned about, knocked them on the head, scalped them, and[196] returned home. Such were the bloody feats which secured renown among the Indians.

The Five Nations having thus established their ascendency over the adjacent tribes, rapidly advanced in power. Though checked by the French, they still extended their sway in every direction, and especially towards the south. They conquered the whole territory of the Delawares, or Lenapes, and obliged them to put themselves under their protection. They spread their victorious bands over all the remote parts of Virginia, and down as far as the mouth of the Ohio, while they subdued the nations eastward to Connecticut River. They often travelled singly, or in small parties, three or four hundred miles, and lurked about the villages of their enemies to shed blood, and revenge the real or imputed wrongs of their friends. Their sway at length extended to South Carolina on the south, and on the west to the Mississippi, a tract of territory 1,200 miles in length, and 600 in breadth. In 1667, they formed a treaty with the governor of Maryland, which was afterwards broken, and troubles, both with that colony and Virginia, ensued. At last, Lord Howard, as agent of the latter, met the chiefs of the tribes at Albany, and, after a long conference, a peace, which was well observed on both sides, was entered into by the contracting parties.

In 1684, the French made great efforts to detach the Five Nations from the English. They invited them to a conference at an appointed place. The Onondagas complied, and sent one of their sachems and thirty warriors; the Senecas and others refused. The French commander, after reproaching the Indians, threatened[197] them with vengeance, if they did not conform to his views; but the sachem replied boldly, and avowed his determination to preserve peace, and the Frenchman went home disappointed and enraged.

The Five Nations, soon after this, subdued the tribe of the Illinois, who had fought against them, and then prepared to go against the Miamis. The French determined to support their allies, and sent an order to all the Indians around Michilimackinac to assemble at Niagara and join them in an attack on the Senecas. The Potawatomies and others assembled at the place of rendezvous; but here the Ottawas sought to divert them from the enterprise, not being willing to lose a gainful trade they now enjoyed with the English. After various preparations, the French, with their Indian allies, marched toward the Seneca towns. The warriors of the latter tribe were, however, on the alert. Five hundred or more of them lay in ambush, while the French scouts passed within pistol-shot, and, not seeing them, reported that they could not find the enemy. The French pressed boldly forward, but, when they were about a quarter of a league from their village, the Senecas suddenly rose upon them with a discharge of their fire-arms, attended by the appalling war-whoop. This threw the militia, as well as the regular troops, into a fright, and such was the confusion, that they fired on one another. The Senecas, perceiving their disorder, fell upon them, till the French Indians, at last, rallied and repulsed them. This action so dispirited the French commander, that he could not be induced immediately to pursue his object; he halted till the next day, when he marched forward to burn the[198] village. But he now found that the Senecas had already laid it in ashes and disappeared. After destroying two other villages, and the corn he found there, he returned home to Canada.

Instigated by new causes of dissatisfaction, the Five Nations invaded Canada with a large force, and pushed the war with such vigor as to take Montreal and lay it in ashes. One thousand of the French are said to have been killed, and twenty-six taken prisoners, with the loss of only three men on the part of the Indians, who got drunk and remained behind. Had they understood the feeble condition of the French, and been relieved from the influence of the priests that were among them, especially the Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas, the French settlements in Canada would probably have been totally ruined.

Influenced by the advice of an English officer, Colonel Dogan, in whom they confided, the Five Nations, so far as they could, formed treaties with the Western Indians. At this period, war between the English and the French again broke out, and Count Frontenac, the new governor of Canada, sent a message to the tribes by a sachem who had been a prisoner and had been carried to France, but who had just returned with the Count. The object of this mission was to invite the Five Nations to a conference, for the purpose of making peace. After holding a general council, consisting of eighty sachems, at Onondaga, on the 27th of December, 1689, at which they requested the mayor of Albany to be present, in order to advise them, they sent to Count Frontenac their answer. This was quite characteristic. Its conclusion ran thus:—


“Yonondio,” (the name they always gave the French governor,) “you desire to speak with us at Cadarackui. Don’t you know that your fire there is extinguished? It is extinguished with blood. You must send home the prisoners in the first place.

“We let you know that we have made peace with the Wagunhas [probably the Ottawas]. You are not to think that we have laid down the axe because we return no answer; we intend no such thing. Our far-fighters shall continue the war till our countrymen return. When our brother is returned, then we will speak to you of peace.”

The Five Nations were now engaged in frequent skirmishes with the French, whom they annoyed greatly by their war-parties, killing some, and carrying off others as prisoners, sometimes even from the vicinity of Montreal. The Mohawks, however, not finding the English earnest in furnishing them aid, as they had promised, began to incline to make peace with the French. They accordingly despatched some of their sachems to Count Frontenac for this purpose, and entered into a treaty with him. The English, being made aware of this, renewed their covenant with the other nations, and gave them presents. The Mohawks also renewed their alliance with the English colonies, saying, “Though an angry dog has endeavoured to bite the chain in pieces, we are resolved to keep it firm, both in peace and in war. We now renew the old chain, that so the tree of peace and prosperity may flourish and spread its roots through all the country.”

During the whole of this war, the Five Nations remained faithful to the English colonies, notwithstanding[200] the intrigues of the French to lure them over to their side. They contributed essentially to the protection of our frontiers, and greatly harassed the enemy along the whole Canadian border. The contest drew forth many acts of extraordinary skill and bravery, on both sides, as well as others of shocking atrocity. The French seemed often to forget their civilization in their fury against their savage foe. At last, the treaty of Ryswick, between England and France, which terminated the war in other quarters, brought peace also to the Indian tribes.

During Queen Anne’s War, the Five Nations were prevailed on by the French, as they refused their alliance, to stand neutral, for they could not be induced to make war against the English. They were, however, more or less engaged in incursions into Virginia, and harassing the friendly Indians there. In 1712, they received into their confederacy the Tuscaroras, who fled from North Carolina, as we have related; so that, afterwards, they bore the title of the Six Nations. The peace of Utrecht, in 1713, put an end to the hostilities between the English and French. The Indians were now, for a number of years, engaged in trade, both at Montreal and Albany.

In 1743, several chiefs of the Six Nations met the English commissioners at Philadelphia. They there made a cession of their lands on both sides of the Susquehannah, in Pennsylvania, and, in view of the expected war with the French, renewed their bond of alliance with them. Similar meetings and treaties occurred in 1744, between the Six Nations and the governors [201]of Maryland and Virginia. The Delawares were required by the Six Nations to remove to the west side of the River Delaware, and not to sell lands hereafter, “as they were no better than women.” A peace was made with the Cherokees, with whom they were at war, but not with the Catawbas, whom they threatened with their vengeance, because they did not come and join them at the council. In the year 1746, they met the governor of New York and renewed their alliances; and, from time to time, they sent out parties to harass the French, in which they were joined by the Susquehannah Indians.

Subsequently to this, the Six Nations, and especially the Mohawks, were brought peculiarly under the influence of an English officer, afterwards celebrated in history as Sir William Johnson. Hendrick, the renowned king of the Mohawks, and his warriors, accompanied their patron in his various military excursions against the French, which terminated in the surrender of Canada to the English. The chief himself sealed his fidelity with his blood, having fallen at the battle of Lake George. Many instances of his sagacity are related. A council of war having been called, on a certain occasion, and the proposition made to send out a detachment to meet the enemy, Hendrick, being consulted, said, “If they are to fight, they are too few; if they are to be killed, too many.” Another proposition being made to send out three parties, the old chief took three sticks and said, “Put these together, and you cannot break them; one by one, you can do it easily.” His sagacity was admitted, his advice followed, and the victory was won.

It appears that this famous chief received the title[202] of King; the occasion is said to have been as follows. The Mohawks and the River Indians, called Mohegans, had a contest which should have the honor of naming their king. Both nations gathered in their strength, and met at a place called Woton Island, in the Hudson River, to decide the question. A pitched battle was fought, which lasted through the day. Towards night, the Mohawks, fearing that the Mohegans were likely to gain the victory, suddenly took to flight, and gained another island. In the evening, they kindled a great number of fires, and spread their blankets on some bushes, as though they had encamped beneath them. The Mohegans, pursuing, landed on the island in the night, and, imagining the Mohawks to be asleep, crept up as silently as possible, and poured a heavy fire on the spot; they then rushed forward with their knives and tomahawks, raising their yells, and cutting and slashing in every direction. At this moment, the Mohawks, who lay flat on the ground, rose from their ambush at a little distance, and poured in a murderous fire on their foes, whom they could distinguish by the light of the fires. Most of them were killed, or borne down and taken prisoners. A treaty was then made, by which the Mohawks were to appoint the king, and the Mohegans were to hold them in reverence, and call them “Uncle.” Hendrick was the monarch first named by the Mohawks. He lived to a great age, and was killed, as has been related, at the battle of Lake George.

The Six Nations were accustomed now to make temporary removals from place to place, paying visits to the Miamis, Hurons, and Wyandots. Some of them[203] also resided on the Susquehannah, in Pennsylvania, and received instruction from Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians. To this party belonged the Cayuga chief, Shikellimus, the father of Logan, the Mingo chief, whose sorrows and whose eloquence have become so celebrated. The Mohawks accompanied Sir William Johnson in his expedition to Niagara, in 1759, and contributed to the victory gained over the French, when, after the death of General Prideaux, the command devolved on Sir William. In this battle, their afterwards celebrated chief, Brant, though but a youth, greatly distinguished himself.

The Mohawks received Protestant missionaries among them, as the Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas had received the French Catholics. They had churches built, and some of their young men were sent into Connecticut, to be educated there under the care of Dr. Wheelock.

In the fierce wars which broke out at the West, of which we have elsewhere given an account, the Six Nations, in general, took no active part, though some of the Cayugas, and the warriors on the banks of the Susquehannah and Shamokin, occasionally became parties to them. Still, the feelings of the Six Nations were considerably alienated from the English, as well as those of the whole Indian race, unless we may except the Oneidas. The reason of this probably was, that the English did not take equal pains with the French to win them with presents. Sir William Johnson’s influence with them, however, was very great, and, so long as he lived, they looked up to him as their protector and father. He died just before the[204] commencement of the American War of Independence. His sons, Sir John Johnson and Colonel Guy Johnson,—the former of whom was the Indian agent for the British government,—succeeded to his influence, and their interference was the cause of many interruptions of the peace and happiness of the settlers in New York and Pennsylvania during the great struggle for freedom. But the account of these transactions, with the further history of the Six Nations, must be reserved for another chapter.




On the breaking out of the War of Independence, the Six Nations were in alliance with the British government, and under the influence of Sir John and Colonel Guy Johnson. As before intimated, they were led to take part in the hostilities against the colonies. The Indians were now living on the extended tract of country up the Mohawk valley, and reaching beyond the small lakes in the western part of the State of New York. The Mohawks had their principal seat in the vicinity of Johnstown; that of the Oneidas was near Lake Oneida, and called Oneida Castle; the Onondagas dwelt in the country around the lake which bears their name. Onondaga Castle, as it was called, was the centre of the confederacy, and here was the grand council-house where the council-fire was kept perpetually burning. The Cayugas were still further west, near Lake Cayuga, and the Senecas beyond them.

These nations had villages of well constructed huts, fine orchards, and fruitful fields. Through the influence of the English, they had considerably advanced in civilization, and had gathered round them many comforts. The colonists felt a deep interest as to the[206] part which these nations were to take in the opening contest; and negotiations were early entered into with them, to secure, if not their alliance and friendship, at least their neutrality. This was, undoubtedly, the wisest position for the Six Nations to take, and the Oneidas, influenced by the persuasions of their good missionary, Kirkland, agreed to adopt it. The other nations, no doubt, might have been induced to do the same, had it not been for the great weight of Sir John Johnson’s influence with them, enforced by the presents received from the British governor of Canada, while the colonists were poor, and unable to win them, by the same means, to their cause. The early successes of the Americans, however, kept them quiet for a time, as they were afraid to venture on open hostilities. The Mohawks met in council, in 1775, at Guy Park, the seat of Colonel Guy Johnson, near the Mohawk. Their principal speaker there was Little Abraham, the brother of Hendrick. Delegates, also, from Albany and Tryon counties attended. These expressed their desire to maintain friendship with the inhabitants; but still the influence of Colonel Johnson operated unfavorably for the interest of the colonies.

The Oneidas and Tuscaroras, likewise, met at German Flats, with a committee from the two counties, and the pledge of neutrality was there given. Colonel Johnson convened another council soon after, composed chiefly of the Cayugas and Senecas, the most numerous of the Six Nations. At this meeting, the minds of the Indians were seriously alienated from the Americans; still, they continued to receive the various commissioners[207] sent them by Congress, and professed a determination to preserve a neutrality in the opening war. The Mohawk leader, at this period, was Thayandaneca, or Joseph Brant,[9] so famous in the history of the time. His first active participation in the contest was in 1776, on the St. Lawrence, at the battle of the Cedars, ten miles above Montreal. He appeared there, it is said, at the head of 600 Indians, principally the Caughnawagas, and other tribes not including the Six Nations. The fact was scarcely known at that time by the Americans, who yet hoped to be able to preserve themselves from the open attacks of so formidable a foe.

The division of opinion and feeling among the tribes, on the subject of the part to be taken in the war, was the cause of the dissolution, in 1777, of the confederacy of the Six Nations, which had so long existed, and which had contributed so much to their strength and civilization. The announcement of the rupture was made in a characteristic manner. Addressing Colonel Elmore, the officer in command at Fort Stanwix, the Oneida chiefs said, “Brother, we are sent here by the Oneida chiefs in conjunction with the Onondagas. They arrived at our village yesterday. They have brought us the melancholy news that the grand council-fire at Onondaga is extinguished. We have lost out of their town ninety, among whom are three principal sachems. We, the remaining part of the Onondagas, do now inform our brethren that there is no longer a council-fire at the[208] capital of the Six Nations.” They then requested that this intelligence should be forwarded to various American officers, and also to the Mohawks.

We cannot but feel a melancholy regret at thus witnessing the dissolution of this ancient confederation, which had so long bound them together like brethren, and under the influence of which they had made a more rapid advance in improvement than any of the contemporaneous nations of their race. Henceforth they appear as separate tribes, and often in arms against each other. From this point may be dated their degeneracy, which has at last left them but the recollection of their former greatness, while they are scattered far from their ancient seats of power and the graves of their sires.

Our history, hereafter, is more especially concerned with the Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. A great council was held at Oswego, in which these Indians, with Brant, as their now acknowledged leader, took part with other tribes from the west. Engagements to aid the British cause were entered into, and, consequently, Colonel St. Leger, about the time that General Burgoyne began his invading expedition by way of Lake Champlain, also set out with his force of British and Canadian troops and Indian allies from Oswego, to coöperate with Burgoyne, by passing down the Mohawk valley, and meeting him near Albany. As Fort Schuyler lay in his way, it was besieged on the 3d of August, 1777. The Indians, concealing themselves behind clumps of trees, greatly annoyed the garrison with their fire, while throwing up parapets for their defence. To relieve Fort Schuyler, thus assailed,[209] General Herkimer was sent forward from below. He apprised Colonel Gansevoort, the commander, of his approach, and urged his coöperation. Measures for this purpose were concerted, but delay prevented the union being effected before the enemy made their appearance at Oriskany. Here a severe battle was fought, and greatly to the disadvantage of the Americans in the outset, though they were finally victorious. The Indians bore a prominent part in this dreadful contest. It is said the Senecas were first intoxicated, and in this condition lured into the battle, under the idea that they were only to smoke their pipes, and see the British whip the rebels. Their loss was great, many of them being killed and wounded. It is supposed, that, on this occasion, a large force was led on by Brant, consisting principally of Cayugas, Senecas, and Mohawks.

On the 3d of December in the same year, Congress made another effort to divert the Six Nations from the British service, but without effect. The Indians now wholly threw off the mask, and sent out various parties to attack the settlements. Severe skirmishes took place, among which may be mentioned the battle of Cobelskill between a party of regular troops and Schoharie militia, fifty-two in all, and a body of Indians 450 strong. The latter were victorious, and the Americans retreated, with the loss of fourteen killed, eight wounded, and two missing. The Indians then burned several houses, destroyed all the horses and cattle which they could not drive away, and took considerable other plunder. Strolling bands were continually prowling about the valley of Schoharie and other exposed situations,[210] and many persons were killed or carried off as captives.

Among the expeditions of this period, in which Brant and the Six Nations, as they were still called, though embracing only four of the tribes, were engaged, in alliance with the British, we may particularly notice those which resulted in the destruction of the German Flats, and the massacre at Cherry Valley. Yet the dreadful scenes at this latter place, as they are recorded in history, are too shocking for detail. Neither beauty, nor youth, nor innocence, nor age, nor piety, formed the slightest protection against the ferocity of the savages and their worse than savage instigators. Every dwelling and barn in the village was set on fire, and thirty or forty prisoners, of all classes and both sexes, were marched off, half-naked and shivering, through the woods, to the distant post of Fort Niagara. On their return to the Seneca country, the savages celebrated their exploits by a dance of thanksgiving, sacrificing, as usual, a dog, and going through the various ceremonies of the scalp-yell, while brandishing their knives, and recounting their achievements in song.

In the autumn of 1778, occurred the celebrated massacre in the beautiful vale of Wyoming. This lovely spot was peopled with Germans and emigrants from New England, who lived in a state of enviable peace, comfort, and content. On the first of July, a force of 1,200 British and tories, with 400 Indians, appeared on the Susquehannah, and began their hostile operations. A brave resistance was made by the settlers, but they were at last overcome, and the whole valley[211] became a scene of the most fearful desolation. These terrific events have acquired immortality from the pen of Campbell, who has made them his theme in the pathetic poem of “Wyoming.”[10]

The year 1779, which was distinguished by the war of the Western Indians, and the Shawanese and Delawares in the remote parts of Virginia, was also marked by the project of Brant for a combined attack on the friendly Oneidas. This led to an expedition to Onondaga, by the Americans, against that hostile tribe. The Indians abandoned their villages on the approach of the enemy, yet thirty-three of them were taken prisoners, and a few slain. Three villages, consisting of nearly fifty houses, were burned to the ground; a large amount of provisions was destroyed; a hundred muskets and rifles, with a considerable quantity of ammunition, constituted part of the booty.

The Onondagas now breathed vengeance, and 300 of their warriors poured down on the valley of the Schoharie, where they plundered and burnt Cobelskill, which had been settled by some twenty families, since its destruction a year or two previous. The Mohawks also burst suddenly on the town of Minisink, and laid waste the settlement, burning, killing, and plundering on every hand. A battle was fought between them and a force sent from Goshen and its vicinity. It lasted from 11 o’clock, A. M. till nightfall. The Americans, though superior in numbers, were defeated, and forced to retreat, owing to a successful ambuscade formed by the Indians, and the failure of ammunition.


A vigorous effort was now made by the Americans against the Senecas, the most numerous and ferocious of the Six Nations. General Sullivan, at the head of a large force, penetrated into their country, and destroyed forty towns and villages, some of them having fifty or a hundred houses, and one as many as a hundred and twenty-eight. He also destroyed 160,000 bushels of corn, and many extensive fields and beautiful orchards of fruit, some of them containing 1,500 trees. The lovely valley of the Genesee was thus transformed into a scene of desolation, and the nation was left houseless and destitute to encounter the severe winter of 1780. Previous to his reaching the Seneca country, however, a severe battle took place at Chemung, in which the Indians fought with determined bravery, though they were defeated, and lost many of their warriors. In another engagement at Newtown the whole force of the Senecas and the other Indians, variously computed at from 800 to 1,500, was routed with great slaughter. A tragic scene occurred at this period in the cruel death of Lieutenant Boyd, belonging to General Sullivan’s army, who, with a small party of men, was sent out on a scouting expedition. They were cut off by some Indians, and, being captured, the lieutenant was put to death with tortures too horrible to relate.

The destruction of the Seneca towns was not, however, suffered to pass without retaliation. The hostile Indians, aided by the British, in 1780, invaded the villages of the Oneidas, and entirely destroyed their castle, church, and dwellings; the Oneidas were thus driven, in their state of desolation, upon the white[213] settlements for protection and aid. The American government gave them support, fixing them, till the close of the war, at Schenectady and its vicinity.

Numerous incursions were made, in the same year, by the Indians, led on by Brant, who burned Canajoharie, and took fifty-two prisoners, besides killing seventeen persons. One hundred and forty houses and barns were burned; twenty-four people killed, and seventy-three made prisoners.

The towns of Johnstown and Caughnawaga had recently been visited with the vengeance of the Indians, in connection with Sir John Johnson’s invasion of the seat of his ancient residence. The Senecas, however, were still unsated with revenge. Under Cornplanter, a famous chief of that nation, joined by Brant and some British troops, they again made their appearance in the valley of the Schoharie, with the intention of completing the work of destruction there. Some severe skirmishes ensued, but their purpose was in a great degree effected, and the whole region was left desolate. The Mohawk valley became the scene of a similar incursion. Here, however, the enemy was overtaken and defeated, in the battle of Klock’s Farm, and compelled to seek safety in flight.

In 1781, the Indians assisted at the battle of Durlagh, where, after a spirited attack and resistance, they were routed, leaving nearly forty dead on the field. In October, they were also present at the battle of Johnstown, and fought from noon till sunset, when they were finally forced to retreat; in the pursuit, Butler, the notorious leader in the Cherry Valley massacre, was killed. This was the last expedition in[214] which they were engaged previous to the close of the American war.

In the articles of peace between the mother country and her former colonies, no provision had been made for the Indian allies of the English. The Mohawks, who had left their own country, were invited by the Senecas to take a tract of their territory; but they declined it, choosing, as they said, to sink or swim with the English. The latter then assigned them a domain on the north side of Lake Ontario, upon the Bay of Quinte. Not satisfied, however, with this, another, by their request, six miles on each side of the Grand River, from the mouth to its source, about forty miles above the Falls of Niagara, was bestowed on them.

In the mean time, the sachems and warriors of the Six Nations held a conference, in 1784, with the agents of the United States. There were present representatives from the Mohawks, Senecas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Oneidas, and Tuscaroras, and Seneca Abeal, or the Senecas of Cornplanter’s clan, on the Alleghany. In the treaty that was concluded, the Six Nations relinquished a portion of their territory, and were to be secured in possession of that which they then occupied. The treaty, however, did not satisfy the Indians, and both Red Jacket,[11] the noted Seneca orator, and Brant, the Mohawk chief, were highly displeased with its terms. A plan was laid by the latter for obtaining assistance from the English, in the event of a general Indian war with the United States, which he evidently had in contemplation.


Red Jacket.


Questions of boundary originated further difficulties between the new republic and the Indians. In December, 1786, a grand council was held at Huron village, attended by the Six Nations, the Hurons, Ottawas, Miamis, Shawanese, Chippewas, Cherokees, Delawares, Potawatomies, and Wabash confederates. An address to the United States was agreed upon, pacific in its character, but it closed by suggesting, that, in case their views were not concurred in, they should take the field to assert their claim by arms. Another council was held in 1788, at which Brant succeeded in making further advances toward hostilities; but the purpose of the Mohawk chief was, for the present, defeated by the treaties of General St. Clair with the Western Indians, at Fort Huron, in 1789.

In 1791, the Six Nations, after the defeat of General Harmar by the Western Indians, joined with them in sending a deputation to the British governor at Quebec, to inquire if British aid could be hoped for in the further prosecution of the war. They received, however, but little encouragement from him, and Cornplanter used his efforts to prevent the warriors of the Six Nations from taking part in the contest, and to persuade the Miamis to peace. These, and other efforts, were but partially successful; for, in the battle which soon after took place, resulting in the defeat of General St. Clair, it is said one hundred and fifty Mohawks, with their leader, were engaged.

Negotiations were carried on, however, during the early part of the year 1792; and in the autumn, Cornplanter, with forty-eight chiefs of the Six Nations, thirty chiefs and warriors of the Mohawks and Canada[217] Indians, with others from tribes beyond the Canadian territory, visited the Miamis and held a council with a view to dissuade them from war. They succeeded only so far as to make them agree to suspend hostilities till spring, and then meet the United States in council for further deliberation.

The account of the transactions in Ohio, connected with these events, will be found in the history given of the Western Indians. The Six Nations desired, if possible, to bring about peace, and a number of councils were held, at which they were present; but their efforts were vain. In consequence of a claim being set up by Pennsylvania on Presque Isle, the Six Nations were induced to assume a hostile attitude toward the United States in 1794, and, probably, but for the interposition of Washington, withholding Pennsylvania from prosecuting her design, a collision would have been inevitable. The defeat of the Western Indians by General Wayne effectually quieted the Six Nations, and Jay’s treaty with Great Britain was soon followed by a general peace.

The Six Nations continued to reside in their respective territories. Missionaries were received among them, the Bible was translated into their language, and numbers were converted to Christianity. The pacific feelings of this period are indicated by the fact, that the Mohawks and Senecas met by mutual challenge for athletic exercises, especially for matches of ball and cricket, which they had learned from the whites, and in which they had become remarkably expert.

When the war between the United States and England broke out, in 1812, the Mohawks, led by John[218] Brant, youngest son of the great chief, took part with the latter, and were present at a number of battles fought on the frontiers. The Senecas, and other tribes residing in the State of New York, were on the side of the Americans. More recently, numbers of them have removed to the West. But a feeble remnant of the once mighty confederacy is now to be found. They have, also, by repeated transfers, become so intermingled with other tribes, that it is difficult to trace them. By a recent report of the Indian Department, it appears, that, west of the Mississippi, there are about 251 Senecas from Sandusky, and 211 Senecas and Shawanese; the whole number of the New York Indians is estimated at 3,293. These probably include the Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas, with such relics of other tribes as may be found within the limits of the State of New York. By repeated cessions and sales of former reservations, they are dispossessing themselves of their ancient abodes; and the time is not far distant when scarcely a solitary Indian will be found where they once spread terror by their numbers and valor, and excited admiration for their heroism and sagacity.




The Shawanese, who were joined with the Delawares and other nations in the Indian wars by which the western section of the United States was disturbed, about the close of the Revolution, seem to have been a Southern nation, and are said to have once resided on the River Suwaney, in Florida. They have a tradition that their ancestors crossed the sea. The Delawares were once numerous and powerful. Yet, as has been mentioned, they were conquered by the great confederacy of the Five Nations; so that, for a considerable period afterwards, they make no great figure in history.

At the grand council held at Philadelphia in 1742, by the chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations and the Delawares, on the one part, and the English, on the other, the governor of Pennsylvania alleged, that William Penn, in his purchases, had bought certain lands of the Delawares, which they still retained in their possession, while, at the same time, the Six Nations claimed the ownership. He reminded the chiefs of the Six Nations, that, as they required him to remove the whites who intruded on their lands, the Six Nations[220] were under a similar obligation to remove the Indians from the lands of which the English had acquired the right by purchase.

The old chief, Canassatego, after rebuking the Delawares sharply for their dishonesty and duplicity, in selling land they did not own and still retaining it in their possession, taunted them for their degradation in being conquered and made women of by the Six Nations; and then pronounced it as the decision of the chiefs and warriors, that they should leave the disputed territory, and remove to Wyoming or Shamokin. The Delawares did not dare to disobey, and at once retired to Wyoming.

The Shawanese were already settled there; but, as they were in friendship with the Six Nations, they made no attempt to molest them. The Shawanese occupied, therefore, the west side of the river, while the Delawares planted themselves on the eastern side, and built their town. It was not long, however, before mutual jealousies arose, and, on the breaking out of the old French War, the Shawanese favored the French, while the Delawares, like the Six Nations, continued faithful to the English.

At first, there were no actual hostilities, but the following incident is said to have brought on a desperate fight between these rival neighbours. While the Delaware chiefs were one day engaged in the chase, on the mountains, their women and children were occupied in gathering fruit on the margin of the river below the town. Some Shawanese women and children, seeing them thus employed, paddled across the river, and joined them. They all engaged in sports; but, in the[221] course of the morning, a Shawanese child having caught a large grasshopper, a quarrel arose as to the right of possession. The fight among the young ones brought up the squaws, who took part with their children respectively. From words they came to blows; the Delawares said, the Shawanese had no right to cross the river, and come upon their premises; and being the stronger party, after several had been killed on both sides, they drove off the Shawanese, and compelled them to recross the river to their homes.

On the return of the warriors, they also entered into the contest. The Shawanese invaded the territory of the Delawares, who met them on the river’s brink, and fought them as they landed from their canoes. Still, the Shawanese, after a smart struggle, were enabled to land, when a fierce and bloody battle took place, in which several hundreds were killed on both sides. The Shawanese were routed, and, after having lost half their number, were compelled to return. They, therefore, immediately left Wyoming, and joined the main body of their nation, already settled on the Ohio. The Delawares remained.

In 1761, a conference was held between several American governors and the Six Nations, at which the Delawares, also, were present. Here a warm dispute arose respecting some lands, of which the Delaware chief complained that the English had taken possession, in consequence of a fraudulent conveyance. The Indians being thus dissatisfied, the French took care, by emissaries, to foment disturbances. The resentment of the Shawanese and Delawares was further roused by the suspicion that the English had concerted[222] a plan for their extirpation. They therefore united with the other tribes upon the Ohio, and the nations about Detroit and along the Mississippi, for the purpose of making a sudden and general attack on the frontiers, and at one blow to cut off the inhabitants and their means of subsistence. This plot, in which the celebrated Pontiac[12] was one of the master spirits, was matured with great art and secrecy.

In 1763, the storm, which had been long gathering, and of which the low muttering had been heard, burst forth in its fury. The savages broke in upon the settlements, massacred the inhabitants, and all the frontier country of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, for twenty miles back, was abandoned. The travelling merchants, who were among the Indians, were murdered and plundered, and property to the amount of hundreds of thousands of pounds was lost. So fierce and unexpected was the onset, that several forts, as those of Le Bœuf, Venango, and Presque Isle, were captured by the enemy. They next attempted Fort Pitt, Detroit, and Niagara. The two former were invested at the same time, though about three hundred miles apart.

A strong detachment was despatched by the English to relieve these posts. On reaching the neighbourhood of Fort Detroit, an attack on the Indian camp, about three miles off, was determined on. But, before the English approached, the Indians themselves began the attack, with the utmost fury, and the[223] troops were compelled to retreat to the fort, with the loss of seventy killed and forty wounded. The Indians, however, soon despairing of success in their scheme of reducing the garrison, gave it up and withdrew.

The war still waged with fury along the whole western frontier. The siege of Fort Pitt was long continued, but after severe fighting, in which the loss of the Indians was great, they were beaten. Fort Niagara was also sharply assailed, but the enemy were finally driven back. At last the savages began to feel the necessity of peace, which was accordingly concluded in September, 1764, though the terms, being dictated by the English, were unfavorable to the Indians.

In the summer of 1774, hostilities again broke out. This war had its immediate origin in the incursions and outrages of the whites. The earlier stage of it is known in history as “Cresap’s War,” from the murder, by one Cresap, of the family of Logan, the Mingo chief,[13] who had settled among the Shawanese in Ohio. This base act of treachery and cruelty, which occurred in the spring of 1774, was followed by another atrocity, committed by a man named Greathouse, who invited a large number of Indians to drink with him and his men, and, when in a state of intoxication, fell upon them and massacred them. These and other outrages had the effect to combine several tribes in a war, which resulted in the desolation of many of the remote settlements. The governor of Virginia,[224] Lord Dunmore, sent a large body of troops under General Andrew Lewis, who marched towards the junction of the Kenhawa with the Ohio. Here, on the morning of the 10th of October, just at sunrise, he was attacked by a body of Indians, estimated at from eight to fifteen hundred, consisting of Shawanese, Delawares, Mingoes, Wyandots, Cayugas, and other tribes, led on by Logan, aided by Cornstalk, his son, and the Red Eagle.

The Indians are said to have had the advantage of position, and in the early part of the battle they compelled the Virginia regiments to give way. But other troops being brought up, the Indians were, in turn, forced to retreat, and fall back behind a breastwork of logs and brushwood which they had erected. Here they made a valiant stand, and defended themselves till night had nearly set in. Cornstalk cheered on his men, crying out, “Be strong, be strong!” and he is said also to have buried his tomahawk in the head of one who was seeking safety in flight. The Indians, however, were at last outflanked by an unperceived movement of a body of troops, who passed to their rear, and drove them from their lines. Supposing that the Virginians had now received reinforcements, they fled across the Ohio, and retreated to the Scioto.

Pressed with difficulties and dangers, the inquiry arose among the Indians, what was to be done. Cornstalk, who had been opposed to the battle, but who had been overruled in the council, now spoke. “What shall we do? The Long Knives are coming upon us by two routes. Shall we turn out and fight them?” As no one answered, he next inquired, “Shall we kill[225] our squaws and children, and then fight until we are all killed ourselves?” Every one was silent,—and Cornstalk struck his tomahawk into the war-post, exclaiming, with stern emphasis, “Since you are not for fight, I will go and make peace.” He accordingly repaired to the English camp, where negotiations were opened, and a treaty concluded.

Logan was not present at the council, but a special messenger was despatched to gain his assent. Cornstalk, as it appears, was even his superior as an orator. An American officer, who was present at the interview between this chief and Lord Dunmore, says, “I have heard the first orators in Virginia, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, but never have I heard one whose powers of delivery surpassed those of Cornstalk.”

On the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, the Delawares took part with the colonists, owing greatly, it is said, to the influence of the chief, White Eyes, who was a firm friend to the colonists, in opposition to another chief, named Pipe. At a council held in Pittsburg to deliberate on the question, he boldly declared that he would not join in a war the object of which was to destroy a people born on the same soil with himself. The Americans, he said, were his friends and brothers, and no nation should dictate to him, or his tribe, the course they should pursue. In the course of the war which followed, he also sent a message to the Shawanese, with whom he had been allied, warning them against taking part in it. The language is characteristic of the Indian. “Grandchildren,” says he, “some days ago, a flock of birds, that had come on[226] from the east, lit at Goschochking, imposing a song of theirs upon us, which song had well-nigh proved our ruin. Should these birds, which, on leaving us, took their flight towards Scioto, endeavour to impose a song on you likewise, do not listen to them, for they lie.”

Notwithstanding all the efforts of this chief, however, the Delawares, as well as other Western Indians, eventually became hostile in their feelings towards the Americans. In the spring of 1778, Pipe nearly succeeded in involving them in the contest. Instigated by the loyalists, he assembled a great number of warriors, and proclaimed every one an enemy to his country, who should endeavour to persuade them against fighting the Americans, and declared that all such ought to be put to death. But White Eyes also collected his people, and addressed them with great earnestness and pathos. Seeing that some of them were preparing to take up the hatchet, he told them that such a course was fraught with destruction to themselves. If, however, they disbelieved him, and were resolved to go forth to the war, he would go with them. “But,” he added, “it shall not be as when the hunter sets his dogs on the bear to be torn in pieces by his paws, while he keeps at a safe distance. No; I will lead you on to the thickest of the fight; I will myself be in the front rank, and the first to fall. You have now but to decide on your course. For my part, I am determined not to survive my slaughtered and ruined nation. I will not spend the last lingering of life in mourning over the doom of my people.”


The chief was now seconded by the arrival of a message of peace from the Americans, and the Indians determined to follow his advice. This state of things, however, did not long continue. The Shawanese had been for some time carrying on a warfare with Colonel Daniel Boone and the pioneers of the western settlements, and various skirmishes took place. In February, 1778, Boone was taken prisoner, and adopted into one of the Shawanese families as a son. But shortly after, he found means to escape, and returned home.

During the summer of this year, Colonel Clarke and Captain Bowman performed some brilliant exploits against the Indians at Kaskaskia and St. Philip’s, in the territory of Illinois. In 1779, the Indians, having suffered severe defeats, held a conference with Colonel Brodhead at Fort Pitt. The chiefs of the Delawares, Wyandots, and Hurons, with the king of the Maquichees, a branch of the Shawanese, were present. A partial treaty was formed, but hostilities were still continued along the frontier. In 1780, the Indians were severely chastised, and portions of them were overawed for a time. In 1782, under the vigorous operations of General Clarke, the war on the western border was brought to a close. During this protracted struggle, most of the tribes, from Michilimackinac to the mouth of the Ohio, were engaged against us, and many events of deep interest occurred. The war was marked with those acts of daring and atrocity which we might expect from exasperated savages and woodsmen, little accustomed to emotions of fear or pity.

A troubled and dubious peace continued for a time;[228] but questions of boundary, about which the Indians were always dull and confused, soon became the occasion of irritation. Hostilities followed in the western parts of the Ohio territory, and the Indians, being wrought upon by English emissaries, were not appeased by all the efforts of General Washington at negotiation. Strong measures became necessary, and General Harmar was sent against them in September, 1790, with a force of 1,450 men. On his approach, the Indians abandoned their principal town, after setting it on fire, but, rallying again, made an attack on a detachment of two hundred and ten men, thirty of whom were regulars. The militia fled, and all but seven of the regulars were slain. The next day, another bloody battle was fought, between three hundred and sixty men and a large party of Indians, which resulted in the defeat of the Americans, with the loss of several officers and one hundred and eighty-three men. The Indians are said to have lost one hundred and twenty warriors. The victory was claimed by the Americans, though they retreated, and the consequences were, that the Indians became more bold in their incursions on the frontier settlements.

Various efforts were now made to effect a general peace, but, though several councils were held, and the British governor and other officers lent their influence to secure this object, the Indians still continued hostile.

In 1791, therefore, General St. Clair marched towards the country of the Miamis. His army consisted of about two thousand men. The Indians hung continually on his path, and, as he advanced, the militia began to desert, till his whole force was reduced to about[229] fifteen hundred. Having approached within about fifteen miles of the Miami villages, the army halted and encamped for the night beside a creek, the militia passing over to encamp on the other side. Here the intention was to throw up a temporary defence and await the return of a detachment which had been sent back to guard the supplies. But the Indians had no idea of permitting this junction; and about half an hour before sunrise they attacked the militia, who were a quarter of a mile in advance. These troops made no stand, but ran in the greatest confusion to the camp, where they threw the whole force into disorder. The Indians fought with the utmost fury, charging the artillery on all sides, and, though driven back by the regulars at the point of the bayonet, they succeeded in surrounding the Americans. By a furious charge our troops forced a passage in the rear, and thus effected their retreat. Yet so great was the terror inspired among the men, that many of them, in their flight, threw away their arms and accoutrements, even after the pursuit had ceased.

In this famous engagement the Indians lost about one hundred and fifty killed, besides the wounded; while of the Americans above five hundred, including officers and men, were killed, and two hundred and sixty wounded. They also lost their camp equipage and baggage, six or eight field-pieces, and four hundred horses. The number of the Indians engaged is differently estimated at from 1,000 to 1,500. Their commander is said to have been Meshecunaqua, or the Little Turtle, a chief of the Miamis. It is also asserted, that Brant, with about one hundred and fifty Mohawks, had a large share in the action.


For twelve months subsequent to this dreadful defeat, the frontiers were exposed to more ferocious assaults than before. Numerous instances are related of the boldness of the Indians in attacking the settlers, and also of the bravery of those hardy pioneers of the West in repelling the foe. In one case, a party attacked a dwelling-house and wounded severely the husband, so that the defence devolved on the wife and daughter. These succeeded in closing the door, so that the Indians had to cut an opening by which to enter. On one of them thrusting in his head, the valiant woman despatched him with an axe, and drew in the body. Four others, one after another, supposing that the warriors thus killed had made an entrance, suffered the same fate. Abandoning this mode of attack, they next mounted the roof, and attempted to come down the chimney; but the two heroines casting the contents of a feather-bed on the fire, the enemy, descending, became suffocated, fell down, and were beaten to death by the maimed husband with a billet of wood. Another Indian still, on attempting the door again, was severely wounded, and the party, discouraged at so obstinate a resistance, and doubtless imagining the force within to be greater than it was, withdrew.

After some ineffectual attempts at negotiation, in various councils, General Wayne, who had been appointed to succeed General St. Clair, advanced into the Miami country. A sharp engagement took place at Fort Recovery, which had been thrown up on the field of St. Clair’s defeat. The Indians were led on by Little Turtle, who, having surprised[231] a detachment of the Americans, drove them into the fort. Pressing on, in the hope of entering the fort in the pursuit, a heavy fire was opened on the Indians, who were forced to retreat. They renewed the assault, however, the next day, but were again driven off.

On the 8th of August, 1794, General Wayne reached the confluence of the Au Glaize and Miami of the Lakes, where were the principal Indian villages. Thirty miles from this place, the Indian force, amounting to nearly two thousand, was gathered close by the British fort. Notwithstanding Wayne’s precautions, the Indian leader was aware of his approach, and prepared for battle. An attempt at negotiation was once more made by the American officers, but it proved unsuccessful. The Indians were formed in three lines near the fort, within suitable distance of each other. The attack commenced, and they attempted to turn the left flank of the American army. Wayne’s disposition of his forces was happily so made as to counteract the plans of the enemy. The fight was severe, but the Indian forces were soon driven from their position, leaving to the Americans a complete victory.

Seven nations are said to have been engaged in this action,—the Miamis, Wyandots, Potawatomies, Delawares, Shawanese, Chippewas, and Ottawas. Every Wyandot chief present was killed, and many others also fell. Little Turtle, it is said, was averse to fighting, believing that Wayne was a more vigilant officer than those with whom they had before contended. But Blue Jacket, a great warrior among the Shawanese, prevailed in the council, and the engagement we[232] have described, with the consequent defeat, was the result.

The whole Indian country, which was thickly peopled, was laid waste for twenty miles around. “The margins of the rivers,” says Wayne, in his despatches, “appeared like one continued village, and the fields of corn were immense.” Yet these were made a scene of desolation. The year after this, all hope of succour from the English being removed by Jay’s treaty, the Indians became desirous of peace, and terms were proposed and accepted on the 3d of August, 1795.




The peace, noticed at the close of the last chapter, continued till near the opening of the last war with England. At that period, the famous Tecumseh entered upon his design of embodying the Western Indians in a grand effort to check the advance of the American settlements. A plan so extensive had never before been attempted by an Indian chief. His brother, the Prophet, in his sacred character, visited the distant tribes, even those beyond the Mississippi, and poured out his stirring eloquence upon the warriors as far as the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Had the confederacy been actually perfected, the history of events had been written in bloodier lines than those which portray the reality.

While the Prophet was marshalling the West, Tecumseh, with burning words, was rousing the fiery passions of the Southern Indians. Without much difficulty, he succeeded in inspiring the Creek warriors with a portion of his own fire, and the buried hatchet was once more lifted in a fierce attack on the settlements within their reach. But a part of the Creek nation, however, were engaged in these transactions;[234] some of them still remaining friendly to our people. The principal chiefs bore the names of Weatherford, Big Warrior, and Little Warrior. The great argument which Tecumseh held out to them was the prospect of an approaching war between the United States and Great Britain, which, he said, would afford to the Indians the opportunity of avenging their wrongs and regaining their rights.

The first onset was the well known attack and capture of Fort Mimms. This was commanded by Major Beasley, with one hundred volunteers; besides whom, a large number of the inhabitants, foreseeing the storm, had gathered there for safety. Though warned of the contemplated attack, the fort was surprised, about noon, on the 30th of August, 1812. The sentinel had scarcely time to announce the approach of the Indians, when they rushed, with a terrific yell, towards the open gate. The garrison was instantly under arms, and the commander, with some of his men, flew towards the entrance to close it, and drive out the enemy; but he fell mortally wounded. The conflict was desperate. The gate, however, was at last closed, and the Indians, who had taken possession of a blockhouse near, were finally expelled, after much bloodshed. The assault continued for an hour, on the outside of the pickets, and the portholes were several times carried by the assailants, and retaken by the garrison.

The Indians, for a short time, withdrew, apparently disheartened; but, being urged on by their fiery leader, Weatherford, they returned to the attack, cut away the gate with their axes, forced the pickets, and got possession of the open space within, compelling the[235] garrison to retreat to the buildings. Here they met a gallant resistance, but the Indians at length succeeded in setting fire to the roofs, and a scene of carnage ensued. Women and children, the old and the young, were all crowded together in these dwellings, and, in the spirit of savage warfare, all were sacrificed. Scarcely a soul escaped from the terrific scene, and nearly two hundred and sixty persons are said to have perished.

This catastrophe taught the inhabitants what they had to expect in the contest thus opening upon them, and produced immediate efforts, both in Tennessee and Georgia, to prepare for the crisis. It was determined to carry the war at once into the enemy’s country. The command of the expedition from Tennessee was committed to a man of prompt decision, firm and unflinching purpose,—a conqueror in his nature,—General Andrew Jackson. On marching to the Coosa, he despatched a detachment to attack the Indian village of Littafutchee, on a branch of the above-named river. The place was captured, with a number of prisoners.

The Creeks now concentrated their forces at Tallushatches, also on the Coosa. General Coffee was despatched, by General Jackson, with nine hundred cavalry and mounted riflemen, against them. The Coosa was forded, and, as he advanced, the Creeks struck their war-drum, sung their war-songs, and, with terrific yells, sallied forth from their village, boldly charging the troops. A fearful struggle followed, and the Indians, in their fury, disdaining to receive quarter, were slaughtered in great numbers. Two hundred of their warriors fell, and the women and children were[236] taken prisoners. In his official account, General Coffee says that the enemy fought as long as they could stand or sit, using chiefly the bow and arrow after the first fire, though occasionally loading and discharging their guns.

This bloody engagement was the first of a series bearing the same general character. General Jackson soon moved forward to the relief of the fort at Talladega, which was menaced with the fate of Fort Mimms. The Creeks were found encamped within a quarter of a mile of that place, and, as the lines of the American troops advanced, they were attacked by the Indians, who were, however, compelled to retreat, with the loss of two hundred and ninety left dead on the field, and many more wounded.

About the same time, General Floyd, with nine hundred and fifty of the Georgia militia, and three or four hundred friendly Indians, met the hostile Creeks of that region on the banks of the Tallapoosa River. An engagement followed, in which the Indians presented themselves at every point, and fought with desperate bravery. After a firm resistance, they were beaten and driven from the plain, and the houses of their two towns were wrapped in flames.

Notwithstanding their ill success, the Indians were not yet prepared for submission, and another battle was fought with the forces under General Claiborne, on the Alabama. Their stronghold was taken, thirty or forty warriors were slain, and two hundred dwellings burned. Another town, also, of sixty houses, eight miles above, was destroyed, with several distinguished chiefs, and all the boats owned by the Indians in that vicinity.


While these transactions were taking place on the Georgia side, General Jackson was advancing from the west. Several fierce encounters took place, but the great battle which broke the strength of the Indians occurred at the Horseshoe, a bend in the Tallapoosa. Here a thousand or more of the Creeks were gathered from their towns, and had strongly fortified themselves. General Jackson, with a force of three or four thousand men, attacked their position, having stationed a portion of his troops so that the escape of the enemy might be cut off. The fort was taken by storm, and the Indians were entirely defeated. Five hundred and fifty-seven were left dead on the field, and a great number were killed by the cavalry in attempting to cross the river.

This was, indeed, a dreadful battle. The fighting continued to rage for five hours. The Indians refused to surrender, answering the propositions made them to this effect by volleys of fire-arms. Their numbers were now greatly reduced, and the prophets, by whom they had been urged on, had nearly all fallen. The humbled savages, at last, felt it to be hopeless to continue the contest, and accordingly sued for peace. A treaty was, therefore, concluded on the 10th of August, 1814, by which their territories were once more limited within such boundaries as might prevent their disturbing the people of the United States.

The chief, Weatherford, who had led on some of the most daring attacks, spoke on this occasion with great feeling. “I am in your power,” said he to General Jackson, who had been appointed to treat with them; “do with me as you please. I am a soldier. I[238] have done the white people all the harm I could. I fought them bravely. If I had an army, I would yet fight, and contend to the last, but I have none; my people are gone. I can now do no more than weep over the misfortunes of my nation. Once I could animate my warriors to battle; but I cannot rouse the dead. My warriors can no longer hear my voice. Their bones are at Talladega, Tallushatches, Emuckfaw, and Tohopeka. I have not surrendered myself thoughtlessly. Whilst there were chances of success, I never left my post, nor supplicated for peace. But my people are weakened, and I now ask it for my nation and myself. On the miseries and misfortunes suffered by my country I look back with the deepest sorrow, and wish to avert still greater calamities. If I had been left to contend with the Georgia troops alone, I would have raised my corn on one bank of the river, and fought them on the other; but you have destroyed my nation. You are a brave man; I rely on your generosity. You will exact no terms from a conquered people but such as they should accept. Whatever they may be, it would now be madness and folly to resist. You have told us where we might go and be safe. This is a good talk; my nation ought to listen, and they shall listen.”

After this speech, Big Warrior made an address, promising to abide by the treaty. Since this time, the Creeks, as well as the Cherokees and Choctaws, have remained at peace. A portion of this nation, who bear the name of Seminoles, having driven out part of the Uchees from Florida, incorporated the remnants of that tribe with themselves. Here, in the Everglades[239] and deep fastnesses, they have maintained a long and bloody warfare with the United States, during which the Americans expended millions of money, and lost great numbers of their soldiers, either by battle or disease. The principal leaders of the Seminoles were Micanopy, Philip, Creek Bill, and Osceola. The latter, a half-breed, was the master spirit; but, being captured, he died a prisoner to the Americans, at Fort Moultrie, in Charleston, South Carolina, in the year 1838. After a protracted contest, the Seminoles have been subdued, and the greater part of them, as well as of the other Southern Indians, have been removed to the west side of the Mississippi. Agriculture has advanced among the Creeks, and they yet number some twenty thousand, or more, in the various divisions of their nation.

The war of the United States with Black Hawk,[14] and the Sacs, Foxes, and Winnebagoes, in 1832, need not be detailed here. It is sufficient to say, that it disturbed the northwestern frontier for a time, but resulted in the entire defeat of the savages, and the surrender of the chief.

The red man is fast disappearing from the settled portions of the United States; here and there a small community of Indians is found east of the Mississippi. Every year has witnessed new aggressions on their territory by the whites, who have continued to despoil them of their property, and rob them of their lands. No one can doubt that great injustice has often been done, and that they have frequently been forced[240] to yield to the arm of might rather than to the sense of right. Yet there is one compensation;—the mild spirit of the gospel has exerted itself among them, and Christian communities, with devoted and faithful leaders, are found planted in the midst of them. We shall advert more fully to some facts on this score in a subsequent page, and now only observe, that the success which has recently attended the benevolent efforts of the missionaries justifies the hope that some remnants of these tribes may yet be preserved, and be able, hereafter, to testify to a more humane policy on the part of their conquerors.




The vast territory, which lies outspread north of the great chain of lakes which separate the British provinces from the United States, and far in the west beyond the sources of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers, is inhabited by numerous tribes of Indians. Among these, in the British provinces, are the Chippewas, the Assinniboins, the Snake, Stone, Beaver, Copper, and Hare Indians. These are wandering tribes, who have no history deserving the name; though they are more or less involved, from time to time, in wars with each other. The regions in which many of them dwell are cold and barren, and they subsist almost entirely by hunting and fishing, furnishing the traders with furs, and receiving in exchange such articles as they need. Some of them are pensioners on British bounty, on account of services rendered in former wars.

Still further to the north, on the coasts of Labrador, we meet with the Esquimaux, a singular race, who live, during the long winter which reigns around them, shut up in their huts, and, at the opening of their[242] brief summer, go forth to provide the means of subsistence by fishing and hunting. They seem to be a different race from the red Indian, as they are generally low in stature, and of a complexion approaching to white. In the interior, however, they are said to be taller. They possess great skill in the management of their canoes or boats, and the training of their dogs in sledges, which serve them as the reindeer does its Lapland master. Their history is principally comprised in the benevolent and successful efforts of the Moravians to extend to them the blessings of the Christian religion. Some of them, especially those in Labrador, have thus been civilized and Christianized. The progress of missionary exertion among them has been most interesting, and is fully recorded in the history of Moravian missions. For a long period, these self-denying men toiled amid hardships which might have discouraged others actuated by less exalted motives. Year after year rolled by, and still the frigid hearts, like the icy rocks of their native land, responded not to the warm appeals of the Christian missionary; but at last the heart was melted, and they were found anxious to learn yet more of the spiritual tidings which had been brought to their frozen zone.

The adventurous explorer of the far northern regions, by land or by sea, occasionally meets the Esquimaux roaming over the ice-clad plains; but there has been little, in that land of wintry barrenness, to tempt the invasions of cupidity; and thus they have remained comparatively at peace, except that some prowling bands of the northern tribes of Indians have,[243] now and then, assaulted them while on their hunting expeditions.

In the travels of Mackenzie, Hearne, Franklin, Back, and the voyages of Ross and Parry, we find occasional notices of the different tribes which roam over the extended territory towards the north pole. But as they are mostly descriptions of individuals or families, they scarcely claim a place in these pages.

The Chippewas, who were formerly called Algonquins, are an extensive though scattered band, and have heretofore been engaged in bloody wars with other tribes, particularly the Otagamies and Saukies. These were once much inferior to their adversaries both in numbers and strength; but on a particular occasion, as related by Carver, they gained a great advantage in war, which resulted, at last, in an enduring friendship between the rival nations.

Bordering on the Esquimaux on the west, and also near the Chippewas, are the Knistenaux, or Cree Indians, who inhabit a wide space of country. They are a well formed race, and their women are the handsomest of the Indian females. They are said to be hospitable, generous, and mild; not very careful of speaking the truth, but otherwise honest, so that they are permitted to go about the trading posts without restraint. They have carried on long and bloody wars with the Blackfeet. These are more powerful in frame, as well as more numerous; and though the Knistenaux warriors have been much reduced, they have often proved themselves, by their superior agility, a full match for their warlike foes. They are probably a portion of the Chippewas, whom they are said much to resemble both in appearance and language.


The Assinniboins, or Stone Indians, though their appearance is prepossessing, are represented as great thieves, stealing whatever they can lay their hands on, especially horses. They are at perpetual war with the Slave Indians, who live further west, and whom they resemble. They are desperate and daring. The Assinniboins are supposed to have belonged originally to the Sioux, as they are very much like them both in their features and manners.

The Chippewayans, being the same as the Chippewas in the United States, are divided into many tribes. They differ from the Crees as to hospitality, for they never give or receive with a good grace. Their disputes are generally settled by wrestling, and the victor of the match may carry off the wife of the vanquished as his prize.

The powerful nation of the Sioux, or Dahcotahs, occupy in part the region west of the Mississippi, near the Falls of St. Anthony, though the main body of them are found on the Upper Missouri. These are the same Indians whom Carver calls the Naudowessies, and have always been great warriors. They are divided into numerous bands, each called after the name of its chief, as the Black Dog’s band, the Red Wing’s band, &c. They have ever been at war with the Chippewas, and are the mortal foes of the Osages, whom they have greatly reduced, and who hold them in great dread. They occupy a wide extent of country, and the main object of their contention with the Chippewas, for two hundred years, is stated to have been the territory from Rum River to the Rivière de Corbeau, both parties claiming it as their own. They have conquered and destroyed vast numbers of their red brethren, and have[245] swept the whole region extending from the banks of the Mississippi to the mouth of the Great Platte, together with the plains that lie to the north, between the Mississippi and the Black Hills. They form six distinct tribes, comprising about 28,000 souls, subsisting chiefly on buffalo’s meat and the wild fruits of the forest. They also use the native rice, of which they gather many thousand bushels. A revolted band of this nation, called the Osinpoilles, said to consist of 8,000 persons, live near the Rocky Mountains.

Catlin divides the Sioux nation into the Mississippi Sioux and the Missouri Sioux. He says that they are separated into forty-two bands, or families, each having a chief; these acknowledge a head chief, to whom they are subordinate.

The Mississippi branch, being near to the white settlements, are somewhat advanced in civilization, yet form but an imperfect sample of the nobler warriors who live on the banks of the Missouri, and roam over the plains between that river and the Rocky Mountains. At the time Catlin visited them, the head chief of the Sioux was Hawanjetah, greatly renowned for his prowess in war and the chase. Of him we are furnished with the following story.

Hawanjetah had, in some way, been the accidental cause of the death of his only son, a very fine youth; and so great was the anguish of his mind, at times, that he became frantic and insane. In one of these moods he mounted his favorite war-horse, with his bow and arrows in his hand, and dashed off at full speed upon the prairies, repeating the most solemn oath, “that he would slay the first living thing that fell in[246] his way, be it man or beast, friend or foe.” No one dared to follow him, and after he had been absent an hour or two, his horse came back to the village with two arrows in his body, and covered with blood! Fears of the most serious kind were now entertained for the fate of the chief, and a party of warriors immediately mounted their horses, and retraced the animal’s tracks to the scene of the tragedy, where they found the body of their chief horribly mangled and gored by a buffalo bull, whose carcase was stretched by his side.

A close examination of the ground was then made by the Indians, who ascertained by the tracks, that their unfortunate chief, under his unlucky resolve, had met a buffalo bull, in the season when the animal is stubborn, and unwilling to run from any one, and had incensed the creature by shooting a number of arrows into him, which thus brought him into furious combat. The chief had then dismounted, and, turning his horse loose, shot a couple of arrows into his body, which sent him home at full speed. He had then thrown away his bow and quiver, encountering the infuriated buffalo with his knife alone,—the desperate battle resulting in the death of both. Many of the bones of the chief were broken, as he was gored and stamped to death; and his huge antagonist had laid his body by the side of him, weltering in blood from a hundred wounds, made by the chief’s long and two-edged knife.

The Sacs, or Sauks, and Foxes, called Renards by the French, are said to be among the most warlike of these northern savages. “No Indian tribe, except the Sioux,[247] has shown such daring intrepidity and such implacable hatred towards other tribes. Their enmity, when once excited, was never known to be appeased till the arrow or tomahawk had for ever prostrated their foes. For centuries, the prairies of Illinois and Iowa were the theatre of their exterminating prowess; and to them is to be attributed the almost entire destruction of the Missouris, the Illinois, Cahokias, Kaskaskias, and Peorias. They were, however, steady and sincere in their friendship to the whites, and many is the honest settler on the borders of their old dominion, who mentions, with the warmest feelings, the respectful treatment he has received from them, while he cut the logs for his cabin, and ploughed his potato-patch on that lonely and unprotected frontier.”

This tribe formerly owned a great part of the northern portion of Illinois and much of the State of Missouri. Their friendly relations to the United States were first broken in the year 1832. A treaty had been formed between their chiefs and the commissioners of the United States, by which they sold their lands north of the Rock River in the State of Illinois. This portion of the country contained the old villages and burial-places of the nation. Though their chiefs had seen fit to dispose of this tract, yet the tribe could not, without a struggle, yield up the loved and sacred places where every thing was associated with their former history. Some of the chiefs, and among them Black Hawk, declared that they had been deceived by the whites, and that they had not consented to such a sale as was attempted to be enforced upon them. They therefore took up the hatchet for redress;[248] but the contest terminated, as we have related, in their being driven across the Mississippi, and the capture of that noted chief.

Among them are still found some able chiefs, of whom Catlin has given portraits and sketches. Keokuck, the head of the tribe, who is now dead, was said to possess superior abilities, and will be recollected by many persons who saw him on his visit to Washington and some of the Atlantic cities in 1837.

The Sacs and Foxes were formerly two distinct tribes, but have become incorporated, in the course of years, into one nation. The following account is given of them, by the commanding officer of Fort Armstrong, in 1820. “Question to Masco, a Sauk chief. ‘What is the name of your nation?’ Answer. ‘Since we can remember, we have never had any other name than Saukie or Saukie-uck’ (Saukie is singular, Saukie-uck, plural). Question. ‘What is its original name?’ Answer. ‘Since the Great Spirit made us, we have had that name and no other.’ Question. ‘What is the name by which it has been known among Europeans?’ Answer. ‘The French called us by that name; but since then, the white people have called us Sauks.’

“Question to Wahballo, principal chief of the Fox nation. ‘What is the name of your nation?’ Answer. ‘Musquak-kie, or Musquak-kie-kuck.’ Question. ‘What is its original name?’ Answer. ‘Since the Great Spirit made us, we have had that name and no other.’ Question. ‘What are the names by which it has been known among Europeans?’ Answer. ‘The French called us Renards, and since, the white people have called us Foxes.’ Question. ‘Are any portion[249] of your tribes scattered in other parts?’ Answer. ‘Yes.’ Question. ‘Where?’ Answer. ‘There are some of our people on the Missouri, some near Fort Edwards, and some among the Potawatomies.’ Question. ‘To what nations are you related by language?’ Answer. ‘The Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo are related by language.’ Question. ‘By manners and customs?’ Answer. ‘The Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo’s manners and customs are alike, except those who have intercourse with the whites.’ One of the chiefs added, that the Shawanese descended from the Sauk nation. Question. ‘What tribes do you call grandfather?’ Answer. ‘The Delawares call us and all other Indians grandchildren, and we, in return, call them grandfather; but we know of no relationship between them and us.’ Question. ‘What tribes are grandchildren?’ Answer. ‘There are no tribes or nations we call grandchildren.’ Question. ‘Where is the great council-fire for all the tribes connected with your own tribes?’ Answer. ‘We have no particular place; when we have any business to transact, it is done at some one of our villages.’”

The Otoe Indians consist in part of Missouri’s, to whom they became united after the Sacs and Foxes had succeeded in dispersing that tribe. When the French first came into the country, the Missouris were the most numerous tribe in the vicinity of St. Louis. They are said to have been an energetic race, till they were nearly all cut off by their Indian foes and the small-pox. This disease has reduced and destroyed many an Indian nation, and is still, from time to time, performing its part in wasting them[250] away. The site of the ancient village of the Missouris is yet to be seen on the north bank of the river which bears their name, just below the point at which the Grand River enters it. Their territory is said to have embraced the fertile country lying a considerable distance along the Missouri above their village, and down to the mouth of the Osage, and thence to the Mississippi.

One of the most celebrated chiefs of this tribe was Shongmunecuthe,[15] or the Ietan. The following particulars relate to scenes which occurred during a tour of the United States commissioner, in the year 1833. The party were approaching the Otoe village. “The old warrior,” says the narrator, “welcomed us cordially; then, turning round, he rode with us in the direction of the village. While he was speaking with the commissioner, several dusky forms clambered the high bluff before us, and stood upon its dizzy verge, watching our movements. Suddenly the Ietan galloped a few yards in front, and waved his arm, uttering a long, shrill yell. It was answered by a whoop from those on the hill, who instantly commenced whirling their blankets around their heads. Then all was silent.

“For a few moments, we were in doubt as to the meaning of the manœuvre; but suddenly a loud roar rose from behind the bluff, and a dark troop of wild horsemen burst round its base, and came pouring down upon us. There must have been several hundred of them. Every man was naked, but glaring with paint. They dashed onward, pealing out scream upon scream,[251] brandishing their spears, and whirling their tomahawks around their heads. The old chief was unmoved, and sat like a statue upon his horse. The soldiers who accompanied us, unaccustomed to such an Indian welcome, began to prepare for action. The band had now approached within a hundred yards. We could perceive the flashing eyes of the straining horses, with the bare teeth, scowling brows, and starting muscles of the riders. Bow clattered against bow, tomahawk clashed against tomahawk, and voice was blended with voice, until the whole din rose in the air, like the wild, tumultuous roar of a raging sea. They were close upon us,—another moment, and it might seem that we were lost; yet at that moment, at a signal from Ietan, the wild horde separated, and, whirling round, were enveloped in a cloud of dust.

“The old chief smiled, with an air of grim satisfaction, as he observed the effect produced upon us by his warriors; then, raising his voice, he joined in the wild mêlée around us. Horse dashed against horse, as the band swept onward in a large circle. Some were hurled from their seats; others clung to the manes of the maddened horses. The strong poured down upon the weak, and brushed them from their paths. Ever and anon, some little pepper-spirited horse, vexed with the hustling, would pause to discharge his heels into the ribs of his next neighbour; but before it could be done, the crowd would pass on, and he would be borne forward, in the rushing course of the whirlpool. No one regarded his neighbour; each was under the influence of a mad excitement. A giant Indian was dashing around, upon a horse as powerful as himself, at the[252] inner verge of the ring. In front of him was another, on a little nag, who kept near the border for safety. Suddenly they came in contact. The powerful steed swept onward as if he had met with no obstacle. The little horse spun out of his path, and his rider threw a somerset in the air, landing in the very midst of the throng. Fifty hoofs clattered over his head; but he scrambled out, caught his horse, bounded on his back with a whoop and a flourish of his tomahawk, and pursued his course as if nothing had happened.

“After this scene of hubbub and confusion had continued for about fifteen minutes, the crowd gradually ceased its clamor, and formed in a large circle round us, with their horses’ heads towards the party. Presently the ring broke, and was extended in two lines, through which a band of about thirty warriors slowly advanced, to a long, solemn chant, sung by the whole troop, and accompanied by a kind of drum. This band was formed of the flower of the Indian village. None were admitted except those who could boast of having taken a certain number of scalps, or of having performed an equally honorable service in stealing a large number of horses.” In this manner was the commissioner welcomed to the Indian village.

A singular story is related by the writer of the above extract, respecting one of the braves of the Otoes. “One squaw attracted our attention, from her gigantic height. As we approached her, there was a masculine coarseness in the features of her face, which rendered her hideously ugly, and formed a contrast highly in favor of the group around her. We afterwards learned that this strange being, though now clad in the[253] garb of a female, and performing the most menial of their offices, was in reality a man, and had once ranked among the proudest braves of the Otoe nation. His name had once stood foremost in war and in council. He had led on many an expedition against their noble, but bitter foes, the Osages. In the midst of his bright career, a change came over him. The cause was this. He had been for several weeks absent upon a war expedition against the enemies of his tribe. At a little before sunset, on a fine afternoon, this band of Indians were seen coming over the hills, returning towards their village. The troop of way-worn warriors counted less than when they started; but their bundle of scalps, and their fierce brows, declared that their lost comrades had been avenged. In front of them strode the form of the giant brave. He was wearied with toil and fasting, and, without staying to receive the greetings of his fellow-townsmen, he hastened to his lodge and threw himself upon one of the bear-skins which form an Indian bed.

“He remained for the night. In the morning he arose from his couch; but he was an altered man. A change, fearful and thrilling, had come over him. His eye was quenched; his proud step wavered; and his haughty frame seemed almost sinking beneath the pressure of some heavy calamity. He collected his family around him. He told them that the Great Spirit had visited him in a dream, and had said to him that he had now reached the height of his fame; that no voice had more weight at the council-fire than his; that no arm was heavier in battle; and concluded by commanding him henceforth to relinquish all claim to the[254] rank of a warrior, and assume the dress and duties of a female. The communication was listened to with deep sorrow, but with implicit confidence. He then made known his determination to the nation. They, too, listened gravely and sadly, but admitted the justness of his views. He next returned to his lodge, took down his bow, broke it into atoms, and threw them in the fire. He buried his tomahawk and rifle, washed the war-paint from his face, and took out the eagle-plume from his scalp-lock. After this, he was seen no more among the warriors, and took no part in the councils; but, attired as a female, occupied himself in the most servile and degrading employments, and lived abject, neglected, and scorned by those who once gloried in being his followers!”

The Osages are said to have been formerly a brave and warlike people, and in good circumstances. But disease, and the attacks of the Sioux, of whom they were once the hardiest and fiercest enemies, have reduced their tribe so that not more than 5,500 now remain. Treaties have been made with them, and various efforts have been used, but with small success, to civilize and teach them. They have secured to them, for the education of their tribe, by an arrangement for the sale of their lands to the United States, about seventy thousand dollars. Stipulations have also been entered into to teach them agricultural pursuits.

This tribe are still distinguished for their tall, fine forms, though they have lost their fame as warriors. They have repeatedly moved and jostled along from the head-waters of the White River, and even from[255] the banks of the Mississippi, to the Indian territory bordering on the Creeks, where they now are. The Kansas, formerly a portion of this nation, have seceded from them, and thus impaired their strength. They have been, till recently, engaged in war with the Pawnees and Camanches, and, though thereby reduced, they have a number of able men as chiefs and warriors.




The Omahaws are said to have formerly been a much larger tribe than they are at present, and a terror to their neighbours, being able to muster not less than a thousand warriors. But in the year 1802, they were attacked by the small-pox, and the tribe was reduced to about three hundred souls. The survivors, unwilling to remain in a place that had proved so fatal to them, burned their village, and became, for a time, a wandering people. But they have since returned to their country, north of the River Platte, and built a village on the southwest bank of the Missouri. The Pancas, having been nearly destroyed by the Sioux, after several removals from the Red River of Lake Winnipeg, joined the Omahaws, and, for a time, were merged in that tribe, but have now resumed their separate existence. These two tribes are allied with the Pawnees, and, some twenty years since, their chiefs accompanied some Pawnees and other Indian warriors to Washington, where Big Elk, the Omahaw chief, thus addressed the President.

“My great father, look at me! look at me, my[257] father! My hands are unstained with your blood; my people have never struck the whites, and the whites have never struck them. It is not the case with other red-skins. Mine is the only nation that has spared the Long Knives. I am a chief, but not the only one in my nation; there are other chiefs who raise their crests by my side. I have always been the friend of the Long Knives, and, before this chief” (pointing to Major O’Fallon) “came among us, I suffered much in support of the whites. I was often reproached for being their friend; but when my father came among us, he strengthened my arms, and I soon towered over the rest.”

In reference to the proposition made him to have people come among them to teach them the arts of agriculture, he said:—“The Great Spirit made my skin red, and he made us to live as we do now; and I believe, that, when the Great Spirit placed us upon this earth, he consulted our happiness. We love our country, we love our customs and habits. I wish that you would permit us to enjoy them as long as I live. When we become hungry and naked; when the game of the country becomes exhausted, and misery encompasses our families; then, and not till then, do I want those good people among us. Then they may lend us a helping hand; then show us the wealth of the earth; the advantages and sustenance to be derived from its culture.”

In the recent report of the Commissioner for Indian Affairs, he says, “The agent states that the Omahaws waited on him, previous to their starting on their summer hunt, and most earnestly begged for arms and[258] ammunition to enable them to defend themselves against their enemies, declaring, ‘If our great father will now furnish us arms and ammunition, we will defend ourselves.’ The agent remarks, further, ‘The Sioux, from all that we can learn, are resolved on exterminating this little band of Indians. Some few days after the visit of the Omahaws, above spoken of, I was called on by an express from the Omahaw camp, asking for the assistance of the troops to defend them against their enemies, and to retake thirty-six horses, which the Sioux had taken in a skirmish, a few days previous.’ He adds, that, ‘until the fierce and bloody war now prosecuted by the Sioux shall subside, it will be in vain to try to prosper the Omahaws in agricultural pursuits.—Owing to the game receding, the Omahaws have to seek food in the more distant prairies, which makes them the more accessible; and unless they can be provided for in agricultural pursuits, where they will be more remote from their harassing enemy, the same fierce and cruel war, in all probability, will continue. The Omahaws have this season returned to their old village, near the Missouri River, and, from present appearances, they will have to abandon it again.’”

The Pawnees own an extensive country on the Great Platte River, lying west of the Otoes and Omahaws. They still retain their fondness for savage life, and keep up among them many of their old customs. Various treaties have been formed with them, but, as yet, they evince no desire for civilization. They are divided into the Grand Pawnees, the Tapage Pawnees, the Wolf Pawnees, or Pawnee Loups, and the Republican[259] Pawnees. They were formerly a numerous nation; but the small-pox being introduced in 1832, by the fur-traders and whisky-sellers, swept off ten thousand or more of them, in a few months, so that they do not now number more than ten or twelve thousand. They are a warlike people, and live in four villages, several miles apart, having their allies, the Omahaws and Otoes, so near them, that they may act in concert in case of invasion. The Pawnee chief who visited Washington, at the time before alluded to, in company with Major O’Fallon, like the Omahaw chief, declined the offer of teachers, on the ground that the Great Spirit made them for the chase, and intended them “to go to war, to take scalps, steal horses, and triumph over their enemies.”

One of the delegation, at this time, was a Pawnee brave, of a noble size, figure, and countenance. At the early age of twenty-one, his heroic deeds acquired for him the rank of the “bravest of the braves.” The following incident was related of him. An unfortunate female of the Paduca nation, as the Camanches are called by them, having been taken prisoner, was destined to torture. The fatal hour arrived; the trembling victim, far from her home and her friends, was fastened to the stake; the whole tribe was assembled on the surrounding plain to witness the awful scene. Just when the funeral pile was to be kindled, and the whole multitude of spectators were excited with expectation, this young warrior, having prepared two fleet horses, with the necessary provisions, sprang from his seat, rushed through the crowd, liberated the victim, seized her in his arms, placed her on one of[260] the horses, mounted the other himself, and made the utmost speed towards the nation and friends of the captive. The multitude, struck dumb and nerveless by the boldness of the deed, made no effort to rescue their intended victim from her deliverer. They viewed it as the immediate act of the Great Spirit, submitted to it without a murmur, and quietly retired to their village. The young chief accompanied the released captive three days, through the wilderness, towards her home. He then gave her the horse on which she rode, with sufficient food for the remainder of the journey, and they parted. On his return to the village, no inquiry was made into his conduct, and no censure was passed on it. Since this transaction, no human sacrifice has been offered in this or any other of the Pawnee tribes, and the practice has been thus abandoned.

On the occasion of the visit of this Pawnee chief to Washington, the young ladies of a seminary in that city, having heard of the anecdote just related, presented him a handsome silver medal, in token of commendation of his noble act in rescuing one of their sex from a cruel death, closing their address with these words:—“Brother, accept this token of our esteem; always wear it for our sakes; and when again you have the power to save a poor woman from death and torture, think of this and of us, and fly to her relief and her rescue.”

His reply was to this effect:—“Sisters, I am glad you have heard of the good deed I have done. I did it partly in ignorance; but your gift makes me feel happy, and enables me more fully to see that I did right. I[261] shall now be even more ready to listen to the words of the white man, for they tell me what is good.”

The following speech of a Pawnee chief was made at Fort Gibson in 1833, and addressed to Mr. Ellsworth, the United States commissioner, on taking leave of him to return home, after having accompanied him on a part of his tour.

“I have travelled with my grandfather many miles on foot. He came to our village. We ran to meet him. We followed him here. We came through many villages of hostile bands, whom we never have met before. All treated us kindly, and peace is made. My heart is glad. I am a wild man, and come naked to follow my grandfather; but I am not ashamed. A bird hovers over her young, and takes care of them; so does our Great Father pity and care for us. I feel now as though I was born again. I used to worship the Great Spirit as my forefathers did; but now I will worship him as the white men do. Every day, when I speak to you, I look to the Great Spirit to help me speak the truth, and what I say is true. I go out alone and speak to the Great Spirit, and ask his aid; but we now look to him together. I am now going home. The wild Indians will be glad to hear how we have been treated by our enemies, and how our great father has spoken to us. Our ears are bored out, and nothing shall be forgotten.”

Mr. Murray, an English gentleman, who travelled among the Indians about eight years since, gives us the following sketch.

“Within twenty or thirty miles of Fort Leavenworth are settled a great variety of Indian tribes, most of[262] them emigrants from the country now inhabited by the whites, especially from the States of Illinois and Michigan. The nearest to the fort are the Kickapoos, who are settled in a village distant from it about four miles. They are a weak and daily decreasing tribe; their natural properties are much changed by constant communication with the whites. There is a Methodist missionary resident among them.

“The fort is supplied with beef and other meat, chiefly by a farmer who lives in the Great Bottom, immediately opposite to it. Among other articles for the supply of the table, one of the most abundant to be met with here, is the cat-fish. I found it somewhat coarse, but not unpalatable eating. These fish are caught, of a most enormous size, and in great quantities, by the settlers on the banks of the river; one of whom told me that he caught four in the course of one morning, weighing above fifty pounds each.

“On the 4th of July, the usual commemoration took place, of firing twenty-four guns; after which ceremony we adjourned to an excellent dinner, and madeira and champagne were the order of the day. We had spent an hour or two in the festivities of the table, when news was brought in that a hundred and fifty Pawnees had arrived, under the guidance of Mr. Dougherty, one of the principal Indian agents; and, upon an invitation from the officers, twelve or fourteen of their chief warriors came into the mess-room. I had already seen many Indians, but none so wild and unsophisticated as these genuine children of the wilderness. They entered the room with considerable ease and dignity, shook hands with us all, and sat down[263] comfortably to cigars and madeira. I was quite astonished at the tact and self-possession of these Indians, two thirds of whom had never been in a settlement of white men before, nor had ever seen a fork, or table, or chair in their lives; yet, without asking questions, or appearing to observe what was passing, they caught the idea with intuitive readiness, and during the whole dinner were not guilty of a single absurdity or breach of decorum.

“The dress of these Indians consisted of a belt of deer-skin round the middle, with a flap passing between the legs, and fastened again to the belt behind. Their legs were covered with tight leggins of deer-skin, and their feet by moccasins; while their shoulders were loosely and gracefully covered, or half covered, by a blanket or buffalo-skin. Most of them had ear-rings, bead-necklaces, and armlets; and the two principal chiefs wore round their necks a large medal each, on which was engraved the head of the late president of the United States. The greater part of them were lusty, and a few even fat, giving no outward evidence of the privations to which their mode of life renders them so liable. Generally speaking, they were of middle height, with fine chests, arms well proportioned, but not muscular, and remarkably fine-shaped legs. I do not think there was a countenance among them that could be pronounced handsome, though several were pleasing and good-humored; but the prevalent character of their expression was haughty, impenetrable reserve, easily distinguishable through the mask of frank conciliation, which their present object rendered it expedient for them to wear.


“As we, in our mirth, sang one or two choral songs, we called upon our red brethren. They rose all at once; and I never shall forget the effect of that first Indian chorus which I ever heard. Each singer began, by strange and uncouth sounds, to work his mind and lungs up to the proper pitch of excitement; and when, at length, their shrill and terrible cry rose to its full height, its effect was astounding, and sufficient to deafen a delicate ear. Then, again, they would allow their strain to fall into a monotonous cadence, to which they kept time with inflections of the head and body, and again burst forth into full chorus of mingled yell and howl.”

During Mr. Murray’s stay among the Pawnees, he witnessed the following scene.

“While I was sitting near my packs of goods, like an Israelite in Monmouth Street, an elderly chief approached, and signified his wish to trade. Our squaws placed some meat before him, after which I gave him the pipe; and, in the meantime, had desired my servant to search my saddle-bags, and to add to the heap of salable articles every thing of every kind beyond what was absolutely necessary for my covering on my return. A spare shirt, handkerchief, and waistcoat were thus draughted; and, among other things, was a kind of elastic flannel waistcoat, made for wearing next to the skin, and to be drawn over the head, as it was without buttons or any opening in front. It was too small for me, and altogether so tight and uncomfortable, although elastic, that I had determined to part with it.

“To this last article my new customer took a great[265] fancy; and he made me describe to him the method of putting it on, and the warmth and comfort of it when on. Be it remembered that he was a very large, corpulent man, probably weighing sixteen stone. I knew him to be very good-natured, as I had hunted once with his son; and, on returning to his lodge, the father had feasted me, chatted with me by signs, and taught me some of that most extraordinary Indian method of communication. He said he should like to try on the jacket; and as he threw the buffalo-robe off his huge shoulders, I could scarcely keep my gravity, when I compared their dimensions with the garment into which we were about to attempt their introduction. However, by dint of great industry and care, we contrived to get him into it. In the body, it was a foot too short, and fitted him so close that every thread was stretched to the uttermost; the sleeves reached a very little way below his elbow. However, he looked upon his arms and person with great complacency, and elicited many smiles from the squaws at the drollery of his attire; but, as the weather was very hot, he soon began to find himself too warm and confined, and he wished to take it off again. He moved his arms,—he pulled the sleeves,—he twisted and turned himself in every direction, but in vain. The woollen jacket was an admirable illustration of the Inferno of Dante and Virgil, and of matrimony as described by many poets; it was easy enough to get into it, sed revocare gradum was a difficult matter indeed. The old man exerted himself till the drops of perspiration fell from his forehead; but had I not been there, he must either have made some person cut it open, or have sat in it until this minute.


“For some time, I enjoyed this scene with malicious and demure gravity, and then I showed him that he must try and pull it off over his head. A lad, who stood by, then drew it till it enveloped his nose, eyes, mouth, and ears; his arms were raised above his head, and for some minutes he remained in that melancholy plight, blinded, choked, and smothered, with his hands rendered useless for the time. He rolled about, sneezing, sputtering, and struggling, until all around were convulsed with laughter; and the squaws shrieked, in their ungovernable mirth, in a manner that I had never before witnessed. At length I slit a piece of the edge, and released the old fellow from his straight-waistcoat confinement. He turned it round often in his hands, and made a kind of comic-grave address to it, of which I could only gather a few words. I believe the import of them was, that it would be a ‘good creature in the ice-month at the village.’ I was so pleased with his good humor, that I gave it to him, and told him to warm his squaw with it in the ice-month.”

Mr. Murray gives us, also, the following sketch.

“On the 6th, I rode out with Captain Hunter to the Kickapoo village, which is about five miles from the fort. The Kickapoos are a branch of the great northern nation of Indians, which includes the Potawatomies, the Chippewas, and other numerous tribes. Their former territory has been bought by the United States, and this tract of country, along the southern bank of the Missouri, allotted in its stead; beside which, the United States engaged to supply them, for a certain time, with a stipulated quantity of provisions, clothes, &c. Living so near the settlements, they have lost[267] most of the traits of their original character, and are a reduced, debased race; nevertheless, they are now interesting in a religious point of view. A miniature Mahomet has arisen among them, and the tribe is divided into two sects, the religious and irreligious; these are pretty equal in number, and the former acknowledge and obey, as secular chief, the prophet who teaches the new creed. This man preaches very good and enlightened morality. He pretends to have seen the Great Spirit in a vision, and to have received his command to proclaim his truths and precepts to the Indians. I should have been astonished at the excellence of his doctrine, and the soundness of his religious views, if I had not learned from a gentleman, long resident among them, the fountain from which he drew his knowledge. It appears, that, when very young, he learned the English language thoroughly, and, in remote parts of the State of Illinois, attended many Christian meetings. He thus became acquainted with the outlines of the Christian scheme, and with the morality which the Bible inculcates; and afterward grafting the knowledge thus acquired upon his Indian prejudices and superstitions, he has used it as an engine of personal aggrandizement, and become priest, prophet, and chief of half his nation.

“I attended a preaching, which was held under a large, open, reed-thatched shed. The meeting was conducted with the greatest decorum; all the men under or near the shed stood uncovered; but in this, as in all the Christian churches that I have seen in any country, the greater part of the assembly were females. Each was supplied with a flat board, on which were[268] carved symbols, which answered the purpose of letters, and enabled them to chime in with the prayer or hymn of the preacher.

“I regretted to find that the officiating preacher was not the ‘great prophet himself,’ but one of his favorite disciples. He was a man of middle age, with a quiet and earnest expression of countenance, and a voice capable of much modulation and variety of tone; he spoke without the slightest hesitation. I placed myself within hearing, and, keeping at my elbow the half-breed French interpreter, took down in pencil the following scraps from his lecture:—‘Look up at the heavens! look around you at the earth fertile with fruit, and the animals given for our use. All these show the goodness of the Great Spirit. If he were not good, much better than any of us, he would be angry with us, for we are all bad, and disobey him; he would punish, and not forgive us. But if we are good and obey him, we are happier and more flourishing here; all goes well with us. We are but half-taught children; we are poor Indians. It is only a few years since we learned his will and commands, through his prophet; but if we ask him, and obey him, we shall daily grow wiser and happier’;—and so on in a similar strain. After this sermon, a hymn was sung. It was a low, melancholy, and not unmusical air, and was rendered wild and peculiar by the closing of each verse in the minor key. I left the scene with strong emotions of interest and compassion, and must own that I entertain hopes, though but faint ones, that this twilight may be the forerunner of the sunrise of the gospel among them.”


There is another tribe of Indians, called Pawnee Picts, who live on the banks of the Red River, in alliance with the Camanches, and are sometimes reckoned as belonging to the Pawnees, though a thousand miles from them. Catlin asserts that “there is no family resemblance, nor any similarity in their language and customs.” Their village is described as being a large one, containing some five or six hundred wigwams. The nation consists of from eight to ten thousand persons. At a council held while Catlin was present, Colonel Dodge restored to them two Pawnee girls, who had been purchased from their captors, the Osages, and received in return a little boy, the son of Judge Martin, whose family had been murdered on the False Washita. On this occasion, “the heart of the venerable old chief seemed to melt at the evidence of the white man’s friendship; he rose on his feet, and, taking Colonel Dodge in his arms, and placing his left cheek against the left cheek of the Colonel, held him for some minutes without saying a word, whilst tears were flowing from his eyes. He then embraced each officer in turn, in the same silent and affectionate manner.” The chief, with two others, accompanied Colonel Dodge to Fort Gibson, and formed a treaty with the United States. Their residence is among the Rocky Mountains.

Close by the Pawnee Picts are the Kioways, who are described as being a fine looking race of men, very tall, some of them being seven feet high, and having a Roman outline of head. They are decidedly distinct from the Pawnee Picts and the Camanches, and also differ from them in language and customs.


The Camanches are supposed to be at least twenty thousand strong. Catlin even estimates them as high as thirty or forty thousand, and says they are able to show some six or seven thousand warriors, well mounted and well armed. They are a very warlike tribe, traversing the immense space of country extending far north and south, and east and west, from the Red River to the Pacific Ocean. They were long the dreaded enemy of the Spaniards, as they now are of the Mexicans, on whom they make frequent incursions, and bear off prisoners, especially female children, whom they adopt and marry. About sixty years ago, the daughter of the governor-general of Chihuahua was stolen by them. The father, by an agent, some weeks after, was allowed to ransom her. But she refused to return to her parents, and sent them word that the Indians had tattooed her face, and given her to be the wife of a young man of their tribe; that her husband treated her well, and had reconciled her to his mode of life. In her present circumstances, therefore, she preferred remaining where she was. She continued in the nation, and raised a family of children.

The Camanches have fought many a bloody battle with their enemies, and have always succeeded in preserving their independence. They particularly excel in catching and taming for use the wild horses of the plains, and form a terrible cavalry in war, particularly as they are able, in a moment, to throw themselves over to the opposite side of the horse, so as to be screened from their enemy, while they can shoot their arrows, either over or under the horse’s neck, with such force as to pierce through[271] a buffalo. They also carry, in war, a shield, and a lance of fourteen feet in length, which they use with great effect. Numerous instances of their intrepidity are on record. The following incident is related by Farnham in his travels. About the middle of June, 1839, a band of fifty or sixty crossed the river in the night, and concealed themselves near where the animals of the establishment were feeding during the day. As they concealed themselves in the bushes, they were not perceived by the Mexican horse-guard, who, after having driven out his charge within reach of the guns of the fort, took his station, as usual, beyond them, holding his horse by a long rope, and suffering him to graze around him. While here on duty, the Indians suddenly rose, and ran towards the animals with horrible yells, seeking to drive them across the river. “The guard, however, nothing daunted, mounted quickly, and drove his horse at full speed among them. The mules and horses, hearing his voice amidst the frightening yells of the savages, immediately started at a lively pace for the fort; but the Indians were on all sides, and bewildered them. The guard still pressed them onward and called for help, and on they rushed, despite of the Indians to the contrary. The battlements were covered with men. They shouted encouragement to the brave guard, ‘Onward, onward!’ and the injunction was obeyed. He spurred his horse to his greatest speed from side to side, and whipped the hindermost of the band with his leading rope. He had saved every animal; he was within twenty yards of the open gate, when he fell; three arrows from the bows of the Camanches had cloven his heart.[272] And, relieved of him, the lords of the quiver gathered their prey, and drove them to the borders of Texas, without injury to life or limb. Thus forty or fifty mules, and their best servant’s life, were lost to the Messieurs Bents in a single day.”

The Appachees are a numerous tribe of Indians, estimated at 20,000, who inhabit the country lower down than the Camanches. But little is known of them. The Eutaws, estimated at 19,200, dwell in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, occupying alternately both sides of the Eutaw or Anahuac range. They are continually migrating from one side to the other, still holding the superstitions of their fathers, though a few of them, principally half-breeds, have embraced the Catholic faith.

The Arrapahoes reside on the western side of the Rocky Mountains, and are said to number about 3,000 souls. They wander, in the winter season, around the head-waters of one branch of the Colorado of the West, and in summer hunt the buffalo farther east. They are said to be a brave, thrifty, and hospitable people. They derive their name, which signifies dog-eaters, from fattening and eating that animal. They admit whites, who desire it, to the privilege of citizenship on certain conditions.

The Shoshonies, or Snakes, reside north of the Arrapahoes, and are also a wandering tribe, who inhabit that part of the Rocky Mountains which lies on the Grand and Green River branches of the Colorado of the West, the valley of the Great Bear River, the habitable shores of the Great Salt Lake, and a tract of country on the Snake River. Some of them subsist[273] principally on roots; while others live on fish. They are said to own many horses, and, from their first acquaintance with the whites, to have been averse to war and cruelty. They have, however, been obliged to fight with the Blackfeet, Crows, Sioux, and Eutaws, to defend portions of their territory; and these tribes have formerly been much accustomed to send parties to rob them of their horses. They are described as being an intelligent race, possessing many domestic comforts, and opposed to immorality. They refuse the use of intoxicating liquor, saying, “It unmans us for the hunt and for defending ourselves against our enemies; it causes unnatural divisions among ourselves; it makes the chief less than his Indian; and by its use, imbecility and ruin would come upon the Shoshonie tribe.”

The Nezpercés and Chinnooks, or Flatheads, with the Skyuse Indians, are found near the mouth and branches of the Columbia River. Catlin thinks the Chinnooks are related to the Choctaws, and tells a tradition of the latter which seems to favor this opinion. The Nezpercés excited much interest a few years ago, in consequence of a delegation which came from them across the Rocky Mountains, saying they had heard from a white man that the religion of the whites was better than theirs, and they would be lost if they did not embrace it, and they came to inquire for teachers. Missionaries were sent among them, who are said to be in some measure successful in their efforts.

The code of laws existing among this tribe, as given in the last report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, is very strict, and exhibits a determination on the part of the people to have justice truly administered.[274] Murder and arson are punished with death; the burning of an outbuilding with six months’ imprisonment, fifty lashes, and the payment of all damages. Careless burning of a house subjects the person doing it to the payment of damages.

The Chiens are a small tribe, about 3,000 in number, neighbours to the Sioux on the west. They are a fine race of men, scarcely a man in the tribe being less than six feet in height. They are said to be the richest in horses of any tribe on the continent, living, as they do, where the greatest herds are grazing on the prairies; these they catch in great numbers, and vend to the Sioux, Mandans, and other tribes, as well as to the fur-traders. They are described as dexterous horsemen and fierce warriors, having carried on an unceasing contest with the Pawnees and the Blackfeet.

The Crows are a wandering tribe, usually found in the upper plains around the head-waters of the Great Platte, Snake, and Yellowstone Rivers. They are variously estimated at from 5,500 to 7,000. The general opinion seems to be, that they are the most arrant rascals among the western mountains. The traders say, “They have never been known to keep a promise, or do an honorable act.” No white man or Indian trusts them. Murder and robbery are their principal employments. Catlin is disposed to modify this view of the tribe, though he admits that such is their reputation. He says they are distinguished for their elegant lodges, and their beautiful skin dresses. They are always at war with the Blackfeet, in consequence of which they suffer greatly in battle.

The Blackfeet are a well known numerous and warlike[275] tribe of Indians residing on the branches of the Missouri above the Great Falls. Various estimates have been made of their numbers. Catlin supposes that they may reckon as many as 40,000 or 50,000. In the year 1828, they suffered very severely by the small-pox, which was introduced among them in consequence of their stealing a blanket from the steamboat of the American Fur Company on the Yellowstone, which had belonged to a man who had died of that disease. The infected article, being carried to their encampment upon the left fork of the Missouri, spread the dreadful infection among the whole tribe. They were amazed at the appearance of the disease. The red blotch, the bile, the congestion of the lungs, liver, and brain, were all new to their medicine-men; and the corpse, falling in pieces while they buried it, struck horror into every heart. In their frenzy and ignorance, they increased the number of their sweat-ovens upon the banks of the stream; and whether the burning fever or the want of nervous action prevailed, whether frantic with pain, or tottering in death, they were placed in them, sweated profusely, and plunged into the snowy waters of the river. The mortality which followed this treatment was like that of the great plague in London. They endeavoured for a time to bury the dead, but these were soon more numerous than the living. Mad with superstition and fear, brother forsook sister; father his son; mother her sucking child. They fled to the elevated vales among the western heights, where the influences of the climate, operating on the already well-spent energies of the disease, restored the remainder of the tribe to[276] health. To this hour do the bones of seven or eight thousand Blackfeet lie unburied among the decaying lodges of their deserted village on the banks of the Yellowstone.

The Blackfeet are a ferocious tribe, numbering among their enemies all the nations within their reach. They roam about, seeking their foes wherever they are to be found. To show the hostility of the other tribes to the Blackfeet, Catlin relates the following event as having occurred when he was present. A party of Knistenaux came from the north for the purpose of making their summer’s trade at the station of one of the fur companies; and whilst there, a party of Blackfeet came from the west, also to trade. They encamped on opposite sides of the fort, and spent some weeks together in apparent good-fellowship, their arms, according to the regulation at the fort, being locked up in the arsenal. The Knistenaux had completed their trade, yet loitered about the premises, until all, both Indians and white men, were getting tired of their company, and wished them quietly away. When they were ready to start, with their goods packed on their backs, their arms were given them, and they started, bidding every body, both friends and foes, a hearty farewell. They went out of the fort, and though the party gradually moved off, one of them, undiscovered, loitered about, until he got an opportunity to poke the muzzle of his gun between the pickets. He then fired it at one of the chiefs of the Blackfeet, who stood within a few paces, talking with Mr. McKenzie, and shot him with two musket-bullets through his body! The Blackfeet and the Frenchmen in the fort[277] ran forth with their arms, and, after several shots were exchanged, drove off the Knistenaux, they having lost one man, and having several others wounded.

The Blackfeet are described as of a Herculean make, though of middling stature; they have broad shoulders, and great expansion of chest. They probably acquired their name from the black leggins or moccasins which they wear. They are divided into four bands or families, the Pe-a-gans, of five hundred lodges, the Blackfoot band, of 450 lodges, the Blood band, of 450 lodges, and the Small Robes, of 250 lodges. These four bands comprise about 1,650 lodges, and, probably averaging ten to a lodge, amount to about 16,500 souls. There are also, in the vicinity, the Grosventres des Prairies, 430 lodges; Circees, of 220 lodges; and Cotornés, of 250 lodges. These have languages distinct from each other and from the Blackfeet, yet they seem to be their confederates, and hunt, eat, fight, and intermarry with them.

The Minetarees, a small tribe of about 1,500 souls, reside in three villages, consisting of earth-covered lodges, on the banks of the Knife River, a branch of the Missouri. This people are supposed to be a part of the Crows, who, at some remote period, being cut off by their enemies, and unable to return, threw themselves upon the hospitality of the Mandans, with whom they became, in a measure, joined. In language and customs they are said much to resemble the Crows, though they have also become somewhat assimilated to the Mandans. They have a tradition to the following effect. They came to the vicinity of the Mandans, poor, and without wigwams or horses. They were nearly[278] all women, as their warriors had been killed off in fight; the Mandans would not take them into their village, nor let them come nearer than where they are now living, but they assisted them to build wigwams.

Their chief, Black Moccasin, who treated Lewis and Clarke with great kindness, when they crossed the Rocky Mountains, in 1819, was still living when Catlin was among them, though probably more than a hundred years old. Lewis and Clarke constituted him chief of the tribe, and such has he been ever since. He remembered and inquired very earnestly after Red Hair and Long Knife, as he called those officers, from the fact that one had red hair and the other wore a broadsword. The Minetarees are a bold and daring tribe, often carrying war into their enemies’ country, and thus greatly diminishing their numbers.

Mr. Catlin gives an account of the following scene which occurred while he was with this tribe. “The sensation I created,” says he, “among the Minetarees, while on the Upper Missouri, by taking from amongst my painting apparatus an old number of the New York Commercial Advertiser, edited by my kind and tried friend, Colonel Stone, was extraordinary. The Minetarees thought that I was mad, when they saw me, for hours together, with my eyes fixed upon its pages. They had different and various conjectures about it; the most current of which was, that I was looking at it to cure my sore eyes, and they called it ‘the medicine-cloth for sore eyes.’ I, at length, put an end to this and several equally ignorant conjectures, by reading passages in it, which were interpreted to them, and the object of the paper fully explained; after which,[279] it was looked upon as a much greater mystery than before, and several liberal offers were made me for it, which I was obliged to refuse, having already received a beautifully garnished robe for it from the hands of a young son of Esculapius, who told me, if he could employ a good interpreter to explain every thing in it, he could travel amongst the Minetarees, and Mandans, and Sioux, and exhibit it after I was gone, getting rich with presents, and adding greatly to his list of medicines, as it would make him a great medicine-man. I left with the poor fellow his painted robe and the newspaper; and just before I departed, I saw him unfold it to show some of his friends, when he took from around it some eight or ten folds of birch-bark and deer-skins, all of which were carefully enclosed in a sack made of the skin of a polecat, and undoubtedly destined to become, and to be called, his mystery or medicine-bag.”

The Ricarees are esteemed a part of the tribe of the Pawnees, as their language is nearly the same. They received Lewis and Clarke with great cordiality; but, owing to the abuses which they have suffered from the traders, they now harbour the most inveterate feelings of hostility towards the whole civilized race.

We come now to the Mandans, a tribe, a few years since, numbering about two thousand, but who are said to be now extinct. They appear to have been a remarkable and peculiar people, differing greatly from most other Indians. The impression has prevailed among many individuals who became acquainted with them, that they were the descendants of Madoc, the Welsh chief, who is supposed to have landed[280]
on the coast with a colony. This opinion is sustained by Mr. Catlin, who has given a full and interesting account of the peculiarities of the nation. He claims to have traced them up from the banks of the Ohio to their last residence, where he found them. In support of his views, he urges that there is a diversity of complexion among them, some being dark, and some light; that blue and gray eyes are often met with; and that striking resemblances to the Welsh, in language, manners, and customs, are to be found.

The Four Bears.

Dr. Morse, in his Indian Report, tells us that he was informed by a French priest at Detroit, that, in 1793, he was told at Fort Chartres, that twelve years before, Captain Lord, who commanded at this post, had heard some of the old people observe, that the Mandan Indians, who visited the post, could converse intelligibly with some Welsh soldiers in the British army. It is to be regretted that more attention was not devoted to the solution of this interesting question, before the last remnant of this people had become extinct. The account which Mr. Catlin gives of their warriors shows that there were many valiant men among them. The robe of one of their chiefs, called Mah-to-toh-pa, or the Four Bears, by means of its pictured records, set forth that he had been engaged in numerous encounters with the Sioux, Chiens, Ricarees, and Assinniboins. The following is the substance of his adventures. His brother having been killed by a noted Ricaree brave, whose spear was found in his body, he drew out the lance and kept it four years, with the blood dried on its blade. He then, according to an oath he had taken, prepared to avenge his brother’s[282] death, with the spear by which he had fallen. Sallying forth, he brandished the weapon through the village, uttering these words:—“Let every Mandan be silent! Let no one sound the name of Mah-to-toh-pa; let no one ask for him, nor where he is gone, until you hear him sound the war-cry in front of the village; he will then enter it, and show you the blood of Won-ga-tap. The blade of this lance shall drink the heart’s blood of Won-ga-tap, or Mah-to-toh-pa shall mingle his shadow with that of his brother!”

He then directed his course toward the Ricaree village. When he approached it, he loitered about the wigwam of his destined victim, and, looking through the chinks, observed him smoking his last pipe. He saw him retire to bed. The village was silent, and wrapt in darkness. He now crept softly into the lodge, and seated himself by the fire, where he satisfied his appetite from the contents of a pot hanging over it; he then lighted his pipe, after which, stirring up the embers until he clearly saw his way, with lance in hand, he rose and drove it through the body of his enemy. Snatching his scalp from his head, he now darted from the lodge, and hurried across the prairie. The whole village was roused, but no one knew who had dealt the blow. He ran all night, and lay by during the day. On the sixth morning, at sunrise, he entered his village, showing the blood of his victim dried upon his spear, over that of his brother, while the scalp was suspended from the handle of the weapon.

On a certain occasion, a band of one hundred and fifty Chien warriors made an assault on the Mandan[283] village at early dawn, drove off a number of horses, and took one scalp. Mah-to-toh-pa, though a young man, yet, as one of the most valiant of his tribe, pursued with a party of fifty. About noon of the second day, they came in sight of the enemy. Finding them more numerous than was imagined, the Mandans were about to return, when their young leader galloped out in front, and, after wheeling in a circuit, plunged his lance into the ground. The blade was driven up to the hilt. He then made another circuit, tore from his breast his red sash, and hung it on the lance as a flag. He now called out to the retreating Mandans, “What! have we come to this? Have we dogged the enemy three days, and found them, now to go back like cowards? Mah-to-toh-pa’s lance, which is red with the blood of brave men, has led you to the sight of your enemy; it now stands firm in the ground, where the earth will drink its owner’s blood; you may all go back, and Mah-to-toh-pa will fight these warriors alone.”

The Chiens had now turned back to give the Mandans battle, and their leader, admiring the gallant conduct of Mah-lo-toh-pa, galloped forward within hailing distance, and demanded who it was that had thus stuck down his lance, and alone defied his enemies? The answer was, “I am Mah-to-toh-pa, the second in command of the brave and valiant Mandans!” The Chien chief then said, “I have heard often of Mah-to-toh-pa; he is a great warrior. Dares he come forward and fight with me alone, while our warriors look on?” “Is he a chief who speaks to Mah-to-toh-pa?“ was the reply. The Chien answered, “My scalps you see hanging to my horse’s bits; and here is my[284] lance, with the ermine-skins and the war-eagle’s tail.” “It is enough,” said Mah-to-toh-pa.

The Chien chief, mounted on a fierce white horse, now made a circuit at full gallop, and stuck his lance into the ground, leaving it standing by the side of Mah-to-toh-pa’s, and with a red flag also waving from it. They now drew near each other, and discharged their guns. They then passed each other, and, as they wheeled, Mah-to-toh-pa held up his powder-horn, and showed his antagonist that a bullet had shattered it in pieces. He then threw aside his firelock, drew out his bow and an arrow, and hung his shield on his left arm. The Chien did the same, and both dashed on, sending their whizzing shafts at each other in quick succession. Mah-to-toh-pa’s horse received an arrow through the heart, and fell to the ground. The rider sprang to his feet, and was instantly prepared for his antagonist. The Chien dismounted, drove back his horse, and presented his shield, inviting the Mandan to come on. After a few shots from the bow, the Chien held up his empty quiver, and, dashing it with his bow and shield to the ground, drew his knife, and brandished it aloft in air. “Yes!” cried out Mah-to-toh-pa, exultingly, throwing away also his quiver and shield; but, on feeling for his blade, it was missing,—he had not brought it in his belt! He had only his bow in hand, but with this he parried the blows of his assailant, and at last struck him to the ground. After a desperate struggle for the knife, in which the blade was several times drawn through Mah-to-toh-pa’s right hand, he gained possession of it, and plunged it into the heart of the Chien. Holding it up, the Mandan claimed[285] it as his own, and, taking the scalp of his valiant enemy, he departed in triumph.

Such are some of the feats of the Four Bears. But he and his tribe are now no more. In the summer of 1838, the small-pox, that curse of the red race, was introduced among them by the fur-traders. The Mandans were then surrounded by several war-parties of the Sioux, so that they could not scatter into the plains, but were confined to their village. The disease became so malignant, that, after a person was attacked, death ensued in a few hours. Despair and madness seemed to seize upon the people, and a large number destroyed themselves with knives and guns, or by dashing out their brains in leaping headlong from a ledge of rocks in front of their village. None thought of burying their dead, and whole families were left in ghastly heaps in the wigwams.

Mr. Catlin gives the following account of the melancholy fate of Mah-to-toh-pa. “He sat in his wigwam and saw every one of his family die about him,—his wives and his little children. He was attacked with the disease himself, but he recovered. He then walked out, and, passing around the village, wept over the destruction of his tribe. His braves and warriors, whose sinewy arms once seemed to defy danger, were now but as heaps of clay. He came back to his lodge, and covered the bodies of his family in a pile with a number of robes; he threw another around himself, and went out upon a hill at a little distance and sat down. Despite the entreaties of some traders who chanced to be there, he utterly refused to eat. He remained on the earth till the sixth day, when, faint[286] and exhausted, he staggered back to the village, and entered the horrid gloom of his own wigwam. Laying his body down beside the group of his sleeping wife and children, he drew his robe over his face, and, lingering for three days, at last died.”

Thus, in the course of two months, the whole tribe of Mandans perished, with the exception of some thirty or forty, that were taken as slaves by the Ricarees, who moved from their own abodes and took possession of the Mandan village. This remnant of the valiant Mandans could not endure a state of bondage. Some months after they had been reduced to captivity, when the Ricarees were attacked by their enemies, the Sioux, they ran out together upon the prairie, calling to the Sioux to kill them. “We are Ricaree dogs!” said they. “Our friends are dead,—our warriors are no more,—our villages are in the hands of strangers. We will not, we cannot live!” Then, brandishing their weapons in a manner to provoke the enemy, they were all cut in pieces. Not one escaped, and the Mandans are no more. Where is there a sadder page of history than this?



From our previous pages it will be seen that numerous causes have contributed to reduce the number of the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, so that but a remnant are now found in the States and Territories of this republic. By the most recent report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to Congress, the following is the estimated number of Indians in the United States. Of tribes indigenous to the country west of the Mississippi River, 168,909; of those removed, 82,594; present western population of the tribes wholly or partially removed, 89,288; remaining east of the Mississippi, 22,846.

From this it seems that there were but about 300,000 of the various tribes specified yet remaining. But this includes only a small portion of some of the most numerous native tribes, as, for instance, the Blackfeet and others.

The evils attending the proximity of the whites to the Indians, while the latter remained within the bounds of the States, have induced the general government to adopt the policy of their removal to an extensive country west of the Mississippi. The measure was[288] one which was, indeed, attended by great present inconvenience and injustice to those tribes which had become, in a degree, somewhat civilized, as they were forcibly torn from their loved homes, and compelled to commence their journey to an untried country, where they must, as it were, begin life anew. Many perished during their march, from fatigue and disease. But resistance was hopeless, and the only chance that remained of their preservation, as distinct tribes, was in their consent to go; and so they obeyed the mandate, and departed far from their ancient seats of power, and the burial-places of their fathers. They left behind them, in many instances, good houses, well cultivated fields, and various improvements, which were the fruit of the labor of years; and, to the great disgrace of the whites, they were subjected, in some cases, to outrage and rapine, dispossessed of their property, and even wounded, or put to death, while defending it.

The Indian Territory, as it is called, is a tract of country bounded on the south by the Red River, east by the States of Arkansas and Missouri, on the north and northeast by the Missouri and Punch Rivers, and west by the western limit of habitable country on this side of the Rocky Mountains. This has been purchased, at various prices, of the indigenous tribes. The soil is said to be most excellent, abounding in fine water, timber, mines of coal, iron, and lead; at the same time, it is the resort of numerous buffaloes, so that it seems well adapted for the purposes to which it is destined.

The plan adopted by the government has been by[289] purchase to extinguish the Indian title to those lands which they leave, give them others within the new territory, transport them thither, and erect a portion of their dwellings, plough and fence a part of their fields, furnish them teachers in agriculture, and tools, horses, cattle, &c., build school-houses and provide instructors, and make arrangements for the support of those who have not the means at hand, at the outset, for this purpose.

By treaty, the lands are perpetually guarantied to them, and stipulations have been entered into, by which they receive annual sums of money, and other sums are also to be expended in useful articles, and for the purposes of education. Agents are stationed among them, who, as well as the teachers provided for them, make annual reports to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who includes these documents in his own annual report to Congress. Governments, properly constituted by themselves, are also guarantied to them, and it is understood to be the design to lead them to establish elective governments in each tribe, similar to our own State governments; all to be united in a kind of federal republic. Some of the tribes have adopted the preliminary measure, and have already made important advances towards civilization.

The relative position of the various tribes is as follows. Immediately on the Red River, beginning at the south, are the Chickasaws; then follow, in order, towards the north, the Choctaws, Seminoles, Creeks, Cherokees, Shawanese, Senecas, Quapaws, Oneidas and Tuscaroras, Piankeshaws and Weahs, Peorias and Kaskaskias-Shawanese, Kansas, Delawares, Kickapoos;[290] then, north of these, the Omahaws and Otoes, Missouris, Pancas, and Pawnees; north of the Missouri, the Sacs and Foxes; and west of the Peorias and Oneidas are the Osages.

The Chickasaws have become, in a great degree, merged in the Choctaws. Their district, called the Chickasaw District, they purchased of the Choctaws for $530,000. By the treaty of 24th of May, 1834, it is provided, that $3,000 shall annually, for fifteen years, be expended, under the direction of the Secretary of War, for the education of the Chickasaws. They are a wealthy people, having invested nearly $2,000,000, from which they will soon receive interest; they have also a large fund for various objects, $10,000 of which is, at the present time, applied to the purposes of civilization.

The Choctaw country embraces 19,200,000 acres of good soil, and some 6,000,000 more of a poorer quality. This people are said now to be improving in civilization and comfort. They have many large farms, and much live stock, three flouring mills, ten or twelve cotton-gins, eighty-eight looms, and two hundred and twenty spinning-wheels.

The Choctaw nation has adopted a written constitution, similar to that of the United States. Their legislative body is said to transact its business with great decorum and propriety. Their journals are kept in the English language, but, in the progress of business, are also read off in the Choctaw. They have four judicial districts, and the usual officers of justice. They are likewise, says the agent among them, fast approaching to the division of lands, and carefully seize[291] and destroy whisky illegally introduced among them. By the treaty of 1830, forty Choctaw youths are to be kept at school, under the direction of the president of the United States, for the term of twenty years. Also, the sum of $2,500 is to be applied for the support of three teachers of schools among them, for the same number of years. They have, likewise, a balance of $25,000 of unexpended annuities, which is to be applied to the support of schools at twelve different places; and, by the treaty of 1825, they have a further annuity of $6,000, for the support of schools.

There are among them, as appears from the last report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, fifteen teachers and four hundred and five scholars. The missions there are under the direction of the American Board of Commissioners at Boston, and in their last report they state that the churches have all been enlarged, the aggregate increase having been somewhat more than one hundred. The whole number now connected with five churches is four hundred and seventy-one. The number of Choctaws able to read is steadily increasing, and the demand for books is becoming greater every year.

The Creeks are not so well organized, in respect to their government, as the Choctaws or Cherokees. There are two bands or parties, one under McIntosh, the other under Little Doctor. The first of these brought from their former home their old laws; the latter have framed theirs since their removal. Both of them have their general councils, who combine the legislative, executive, and judicial departments in one. They own salt-springs, cultivate the ground, and follow other[292] pursuits of civilization. Many of them, also, are said to have large stocks of cattle. Before the crops of 1837 had been gathered, it is stated that they had sold corn to the amount of upwards of $39,000, and that vast quantities then remained unsold; and even the emigrants, who arrived in the country during the winter and spring previous to the harvest of that year, broke the turf, fenced their fields, raised their crops for the first time, and sold their surplus of corn for $10,000. By the treaty of the 6th of March, 1832, it is stipulated that an annuity of $3,000 shall be expended by the United States, under the direction of the president, for twenty years, in the education of their children. Besides this, $1,000, by the treaty of the 14th of February, 1833, is to be annually expended, during the pleasure of Congress, for the same object. A great number of the Creeks, and of the Seminoles who are now merged in that tribe, died on the way, or shortly after their removal to the Indian Territory.

The Cherokees have probably made the greatest advances in civilization of any of the Indian nations on our western border. They own numerous salt-springs, which are worked by themselves, and in which they manufacture, it is said, one hundred bushels of salt, daily. They also own two lead-mines. The eastern portion of their country, which embraces the settlements, contains about 2,500,000 acres. They have a large stock of cattle, wagons, ploughs, looms, and spinning-wheels; their lands are well inclosed with rail-fences; and they have comfortable log-houses, with stone chimneys and plank floors, which are well furnished. They have, likewise, seven native merchants, and one regular physician.


Their settled country is divided into four districts, each of which, every two years, elects two members of the national council, which is called “The General Council of the Cherokee Nation.” They have three chiefs, whose approval is necessary for the passage of a law; though an act, notwithstanding their veto, may be passed by a vote of two thirds of the council. They have, also, judicial, and other appropriate officers. By the treaty of the 6th of May, 1823, it is stipulated that the United States shall pay, annually, $2,000 for ten years, to be expended, under the direction of the president, in the education of their children, in their own country, in letters and the mechanic arts; also, $1,000 towards the purchase of a printing-press and types. By the treaty of December 29, 1835, the sum of $150,000 is provided for the support of common schools, and such a literary institution, of a higher order, as may be established in the Indian country. To this is also added an education fund of $50,000, making, in all, a permanent school-fund of $200,000, only the interest of which is used.

From the last report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, it appears that the Cherokees are steadily advancing in knowledge and civilization. Many of them are said to be men of decided talents and learning. The constitution and laws of the nation are printed and circulated among the people. Education is popular among them, and it is probable that they will adopt the suggestion of the agent in their territory, and divide their lands into farms, as individual property. Some unhappy feuds have existed, and, to a certain degree,[294] still exist among them, which have resulted in the death of two or three of their prominent men, especially John Ridge and Elias Boudinot. Their principal chief is John Ross, a man of fine appearance, of considerable ability, and a gentleman.

According to the last report of the American Board of Commissioners, the mission among the Cherokees consists of eighteen persons. There are five churches, comprising two hundred and thirty members, twenty-six of whom have been added within a few months. The temperance society organized there reckons among its members at least 1,560 Cherokees.

One of the most remarkable events in the history of this people is the invention of a Cherokee alphabet, by George Guess, a native Cherokee. In the account of the mission, this alphabet is said to furnish, probably, the most perfect orthography in the world. There has been a paper published in the Cherokee nation, partly in the English, and partly in the native language, and edited with considerable ability. Three presses are employed by the mission in printing books, principally for this tribe, though some are struck off in other languages. Since 1835, besides the Gospels of John and Matthew, and the Epistles of John, there have been printed, at one press, not less than thirty-two different works, nearly all of which were above twenty pages each, making an aggregate of upwards of 2,000,000 pages. The whole number of pages printed among the Cherokees since 1828, as appears by the last report of the American Board, is 4,725,000.

Five schools, under the care of the mission, contain about one hundred and sixty Cherokee children.


Some interesting cases of improvement have occurred among this nation, on which, were there space for it, it would be pleasing to dwell. The Cherokees bid fair, if no untoward events occur, to realize the most sanguine expectations of their friends. Much sympathy has been excited for them, at various periods, during the last thirty years, and especially when they were driven from their loved homes, and the territory guarantied to them by so many treaties; and words of burning eloquence were called forth from some of the most eloquent speakers in the halls of Congress, in depicting the injustice and cruelty with which they have been treated. It is to be hoped that the experiment they are now making may be permitted to go on to its completion, without any further invasions of their rights and happiness.

Besides these principal tribes, who are deriving benefit from missionaries and schools among them, there are missionary stations among the Pawnees, the Sioux, Shawanese, Ottawas, Potawatomies, and other tribes. By treaty, large portions of land, or annual sums, have been set apart for the purposes of education, agriculture, and such other aids to their civilization as appear most desirable. The aversion to labor among some of these nations is said to be gradually wearing off, and idolatry and superstition are becoming eradicated. They still retain their ancient forms of government by chiefs.

The Stockbridge Indians, within the limits of Wisconsin, have recently been admitted to the rights of citizenship, and during the last winter (1843-44) the Ottawas within the State of Michigan have petitioned[296] the legislature of that State for the same privilege. Many interesting particulars respecting the state of the schools and missions among the several Indian tribes, and their present prospects, may be found in the reports of the various missionaries and agents of government, some of which are also appended to the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, annually submitted to Congress.

From all these sources we derive the hope, that a more successful experiment is to be made respecting the aborigines of our country than has ever before been attempted, and that the time may soon arrive when they shall be allowed to form a State of this vast republic. The wrongs they have suffered demand the best reparation which a Christian nation can make; and the prayer of many a pious and sympathizing heart is daily breathed forth, that they may henceforth be permitted, without molestation, to learn and practise the virtues of peace, cheered and encouraged in every honest endeavour to do well.

Such, then, as we have attempted to sketch it, is the history of the aborigines of America. It is sad to reflect that so many pages of it have been written, as it were, in blood, and that such multitudes have perished in the vain attempt to resist outrage and oppression.



Columbus, speaking of the American Indians, said:—“I swear to your Majesties that there is not a better people in the world; they love their neighbours as themselves; their language is the sweetest, softest, and most cheerful, for they always speak smiling; and, although they go naked, let your Majesties believe me, their customs are very becoming; and their king, who is served with great majesty, has such engaging manners, that it gives great pleasure to see him; and also to consider the great retentive faculty of that people, and their desire of knowledge, which incites them to ask the causes and effects of things.”

After the dark and bloody account we have given of the history of the Indians,—especially those within the compass of our own country,—we may smile at the flattering picture presented by the discoverer of the New World. But we must consider that the natives of the West Indies, of whom Columbus speaks, were the mildest portion of the great Indian family; and, besides, at the time to which he refers, they had not become exasperated by the repeated and cruel wrongs of the Europeans.


In estimating the native capacities of the aborigines, and especially their fitness for civilization, we must take into consideration the long train of influences which has been moulding them, for centuries, into their present condition. The history of Peru, as well as that of Mexico, abundantly proves that a portion of them had an aptitude for improvement, evinced by the progress they made in various arts; and it may be added, that, under the instructions of Eliot and Mayhew, even the tribes of New England, regarded as among the most savage and irredeemable, made rapid strides in Christianity and the peaceful arts of civilized life.

If, therefore, in our picture of these Northern nations, we have been called upon to delineate them chiefly as warriors, revelling in blood, and delighting in the terrific scenes of slaughter, pillage, and conflagration, it must not be inferred that such is their intrinsic and necessary character. An experiment is, indeed, now making, on a large scale, and under favorable auspices, having for its object to bring them into the family of civilized man; and in our view of the present condition of the Indians in the United States, we have exhibited the hopeful advances already made by some of the tribes in refinement and the Christian virtues.

The question, then, as to the possibility of civilizing the Indians within our borders, seems, at first view, to be favorably determined. The subject is one of deep interest, and claims the attention of enlightened minds throughout our republic. Our ancestors have inflicted fearful wrongs upon this race; for centuries, their blood has cried to heaven for vengeance. Nor is[299] our own generation free from similar guilt, or similar accountability. But besides the deep debt thus incurred, and which, in this age of light, we should be earnest to discharge in behalf of the remnants of these people, their numbers are still considerable, and, from their own importance in this point of view, they may well claim the attention of the philanthropist.

And there is still another aspect in which this subject becomes one of deep interest. The tribes within the Indian Territory can now muster fifty thousand warriors. They have a fine country, and, in the aggregate, possess a considerable amount of property. Stretching along our defenceless western frontier, they may render themselves indeed formidable, whenever they choose to combine against us. They have horses in abundance, and can transfer themselves, with the fleetness of the Arab, from one point to another. They have fire-arms, in addition to the spear, the bow and arrow, and the tomahawk. They have, contiguous to them, the Camanches on the south, and numerous other tribes on the north and west. These can easily be made their allies, in case of need.

The position of these tribes is, therefore, one of great strength. Let us now consider that their minds must be full of bitter remembrances towards our people. The story of Philip, Sassacus, and Logan may not have descended in their traditions to the present day, but the general story of their race is familiar to them all. When Keokuck replied to Governor Everett in the State-house in Boston, in 1837, he said he had been told by the old men of his tribe, that the ancestors of the Indians once owned and occupied the[300] lands to the shores of the Atlantic. It must be a familiar fact to the Indians, from the Mississippi to the borders of the Pacific, that they were lords of this continent, and that the white man has dispossessed them of their inheritance. They must not only know this general truth, but they must also know and deeply feel the violence and injustice of that process by which their nations have been wasted, and the inheritance, which God, and nature, and their ancestors had bequeathed to them, was wrenched from their hands.

The particular experience of many of them must also contribute to increase their store of bitter recollections. The fate of Tecumseh is familiar to many of them, for those still live who fought by his side. The story of the Everglades, and the doom of Osceola, must be often repeated by those who participated in the scenes of the late Florida war. The bloodhounds, imported from Cuba to hunt them down in the thickets, will be introduced to give effective coloring to the picture of suffering, to embitter the feeling of indignation, and, if need be, to rouse the soul to acts of retribution.

While, therefore, the tribes are now placed by treaty within the Indian territory, and are adopting, by degrees, the arts of civilization, under the auspices of the United States, it must be remembered that they are there not willingly, and that they have carried with them the long accumulated remembrances of their painful history.

“I yield,” said Weatherford to General Jackson, “by necessity, not by choice. My warriors are dead; my people slain; it is vain to resist; but if I had an[301] army, I would still be in the field against you.” It is with such a feeling that many of the tribes have retired to their present abodes; and can we doubt that there is many a daring and independent soul among them, that would rejoice in the opportunity to balance the heavy reckoning which stands summed up in their minds against us?

It has often happened that the wrath of man has been made to work out the will of Providence. Who can tell that the time is not yet to come, in which these Indian tribes shall wreak signal vengeance upon us, and furnish another lesson to the world, in assurance of the fact, that, in the history of nations, great crimes are usually followed, sooner or later, by adequate retribution? It seems evident that this concentration of the Indian tribes in the West must issue in great events,—either in their civilization, and their final accession, as citizens, to our republic, or in future struggles, in which their power will be made the instrument of chastising our country for its former course of injustice.

In this case, there is but one line of conduct for us to pursue, and that is alike dictated by policy and right feeling. Let us do all in our power to bestow upon these three hundred thousand Indians the benefits of our own religion and civilization, and prepare them, as speedily as may be, to come within the fold of our own government, as members of the Union. Let us do this in atonement for former aggression, as a measure of future safety, and as the obvious dictate of common philanthropy.

Let us not permit the common suggestion, that the[302] Indian is incapable of receiving the benefits of civilization, to hinder us from adopting this course. Upon what basis does this idea of Indian character rest? Upon no better foundation, we apprehend, than prejudice,—and a prejudice, too, inculcated, if not engendered, by the desire of finding apologies for the harsh and desolating policy which has been pursued toward the race. The Indians are incorrigible,—therefore let them be swept away. This is the ready logic of those who wish to possess their lands, or who desire to excuse acts of plunder and aggression.

Let us not adopt conclusions too hastily in this important matter. If, hitherto, many of the efforts to civilize the Indians have failed, we must not thence infer that they have a nature which excludes them for ever from the fold of civilization. May there not be some defect in the means, some error in the mode, adopted to instruct them? and cannot we better account for failure in this way, than by resorting to a supposition which seems to impugn the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator?

In considering the possibility of civilizing the Indians, the author of the splendid work on “The History of the North American Tribes of Indians,” &c., makes the following just and appropriate remarks: “We consider the question to be, not whether the Indian intellect is endowed with the capacity to receive civilization, but whether his savage nature can be so far conciliated, as to make him a fair subject of the benevolent effort. The question is, not as to the possibility of eradicating his ferocity, or giving steadiness to his erratic habits, but as to the practicability of[303] bringing to bear upon him the influences by which his evil propensities and his waywardness must be subdued. The wild ass may be tamed into the most docile of the servants of man; the difficulty is in catching him, in placing him under the influence of the process of training. Whenever the bridle is placed upon his head, the work is done; all the rest follows with the certainty of cause and effect; in the contest between the man and the brute, between intellect and instinct, the latter must submit. So it is between the civilized and savage man. The difficulties to be overcome are the distance by which the races are separated, and the repulsion which impedes their approach. There is no sympathy between the refinement of the civilized man and the habits of the savage; nor any neutral ground, upon which they can meet and compromise away their points of difference. They are so widely separated in the scale of being, as to have no common tastes, habits, or opinions; they meet in jealousy and distrust; disgust and contempt attend all their intercourse, and the result of their contact is oppression and war. And why? The repulsive principle is never overcome; the attraction of sympathy is never established. The parties do not gaze upon each other patiently and long enough to be reconciled to their mutual peculiarities, and sit together in peace until they become acquainted. The habit of enduring each other’s manners is not established, nor the good-fellowship which results from pacific intercourse, even between those who are widely separated by character and station.”

Here the great obstacle to the instruction of the[304] Indian tribes is clearly stated; let this be removed, and we have little doubt that we shall soon have to regard the current opinion of their obduracy as founded in error. The circumstances in which these people are now placed,—large bodies of them having made considerable advances in many of the arts of civilized life, having adopted regular governments, holding pacific intercourse with the United States, and enjoying the ministration of zealous and faithful missionaries among them,—are favorable to the making of one more experiment for their redemption, and this, too, with the important advantage of a good understanding between them and their teachers.

As to the capacity of the aborigines for civilization, we have little doubt. We have already hinted at the successes of Eliot, Mayhew, and the Moravians, in Christianizing some of the most savage tribes; and it would be easy to add other facts of the same nature, and tending to the same point. We could also set before the reader numerous incidents, which show that the Indian character is by no means destitute of the finest elements which belong to human nature.

The affecting story of Totapia, a Choctaw mother, known to the whites by the name of Jenny, related by the Rev. Dr. Morse in his Report, exhibits a touching example of the strength and sensibility of maternal affection in the Indian woman, which, in a Roman or Grecian matron, would have been rendered immortal by the poet and historian. She was the widow of a Choctaw, who, having slain one of his own tribe, was pursued by the relatives of the deceased, and put to death, according to the Indian law. After the death[305] of her husband, she settled near St. Francisville, in Louisiana, where she lived reputably, with four or five children, of whom Hoctanlubbie, or Soue, her son, was the eldest.

At the age of twenty-five, her son murdered an old Indian, for which act, according to the unalterable law of the nation, his life was demanded, and he was sentenced to die. The day of his execution was fixed and had arrived, and the relatives and friends of the murdered, with others, a mingled throng, were assembled after their usual manner, and all things were ready for inflicting the sentence of the law. At this moment of strong and mingled feeling, Jenny, the mother, pressed through the crowd to the spot where her son stood by the instruments prepared to take from him his life. She then addressed the chiefs and the company, demanding the life of her son, and offering in its stead her own. Her plea was this: “He is young; he has a wife, children, brothers, and sisters, all looking to him for counsel and support. I am old; I have only a few days to live, at most; I can do but little more for my family. Nor is it strictly just, it is rather a shame, to take a new chief for an old one.”

The magnanimous offer of the devoted mother was accepted, and a few hours were allowed her to prepare for death. She repaired immediately to the house of a lady, Mrs. T., who had been her kind and liberal friend, and, without divulging what had occurred, said she came to beg a winding-sheet and coffin for her son. Not suspecting the arrangement of Totapia to preserve her son, the lady acceded to her request. When asked in relation to the length of the coffin and[306] grave-clothes, the Choctaw mother replied, “Make them to suit my size, and they will answer for my son.”

Soon after Jenny had left Mrs. T. for the camp, where all things were ready for her execution, a messenger arrived in haste, and informed Mrs. T. of what was passing in the camp, and that Jenny was immediately to die. She hastened to the scene, with the intention of rescuing her; but Jenny, the moment she saw her carriage coming at a distance, imagining, doubtless, what her object was, standing in her grave, caught the muzzle of the gun, the prepared instrument of her death, and, pointing it to her heart, entreated the executioner to do his duty. He obeyed, and she fell dead!

We are not told how it happened that the son suffered his mother to die for him, or whether he could have prevented it. It seems, however, that he was despised for permitting it, and that his own conscience goaded him. The friends of the old man whom he had murdered taunted him, “You coward, you let your mother die for you; you are afraid to die.” Unable to endure all this, he stabbed a son of his former victim, but not until five years had elapsed since the death of his mother.

He returned home with indications of triumph, brandishing his bloody knife, and, without waiting for inquiry, confessed what he had done. He told his Indian friends that he would not live to be called a coward. “I have been told,” he said, “that I fear to die. Now you shall see that I can die like a man.” A wealthy planter, whose house he passed, he invited to see how he could die. This was on Sunday. Monday,[307] at twelve o’clock, was the day he appointed for his self-immolation. Here a scene was presented which baffles all description. Soue walked forward and backward again, still keeping in his hand the bloody knife. With all his efforts to conceal it, he discovered marks of an agitated mind. The sad group present consisted of about ten men and as many females; the latter with sorrowful countenances were employed in making an overshirt for Soue’s burial. The men, all except two of his brothers, were smoking their pipes with apparent unconcern. Several times, Soue examined his gun, and remained silent. His grave had been dug the day before, and he had laid himself down in it, to see if it suited as to length and breadth.

No one had demanded his death; for all who were interested, and felt their honor concerned in it, resided at a distance of thirty or forty miles. The death-song was repeated, as was also the shaking of hands. Both were again repeated the third and last time. Immediately after, Soue stepped up to his wife, a young woman of eighteen, with an infant in her arms, and another little child, two or three years old, standing by her side, and presented to her the bloody knife, which, till now, he had kept in his hand. She averted her face to conceal a falling tear, but, recovering herself, with a forced smile, took it. His sister was sitting by the side of his wife, wholly absorbed in grief, apparently insensible to what was passing, her eyes vacant, and fixed on some distant object. His pipe he gave to a young brother, who struggled hard to conceal his emotions. He then drank a little whisky[308] and water, dashed the bottle on the ground, sung a few words in the Choctaw language, and, with a jumping, dancing step, hurried to his grave. His gun was so fixed by the side of a young sapling as to enable him to take his own life. No one, he had declared, should take it from him.

These preparations and ceremonies being now complete, he gave the necessary touch to the apparatus, the gun was discharged, and its contents passed through his heart. He instantly fell dead to the earth. The females sprang to the lifeless body. Some held his head, others his hands and feet, and others knelt at his side. He had charged them to show no signs of grief, while he lived, lest it should shake his resolution; as far as possible, they obeyed. Their grief was restrained until he was dead; it then burst forth in a torrent, and their shrieks and lamentations were loud and undissembled.

In the midst of the unnumbered wrongs which the Southern Indians have received at our hands, it gives us pleasure to record an act of justice toward an interesting Choctaw girl; while, at the same time, the incident which led to it is pertinent to our present purpose, which is, to show the amiable qualities which belong to the savages even in the untutored state.

“The Committee on Indian Affairs, in the late House of Representatives, reported a bill allowing a pension for life to Milly, an Indian woman of the Creek tribe, daughter of the celebrated prophet and chief, Francis, who was executed by order of General Jackson, in the Seminole war of 1817-18. The subject was brought to the notice of the Committee by the Secretary of[309] War, at the instance of Lieutenant-colonel Hitchcock, who communicated the particulars of the incident upon which the recommendation to the favor of the government was founded.

“Milly, at the age of sixteen, when her nation was at war with the United States, and her father was one of the most decided and indefatigable enemies of the white people, saved the life of an American citizen, who had been taken prisoner by her tribe. The captive was bound to a tree, and the savage warriors, with their rifles, were dancing around him, preparatory to putting him to death. The young Indian girl, filled with pity for the devoted prisoner, besought her father to spare him; but the chief declined to interfere, saying, that the life of the prisoner was in the hands of his captors, whose right it was to put him to death. She then turned to the warriors, and implored them to forbear their deadly purpose; but she was repulsed, and one of them, much enraged, told her that he had lost two sisters in the war, and that the prisoner must die. Her intercession, however, continued; she persevered in entreaties, and used all the arts of persuasion which her woman’s nature suggested; and she finally succeeded in saving his life, on condition that the young white man should adopt the Indian dress, and become one of the tribe.

“It appears from the information communicated by Colonel Hitchcock, that, some time after this event, the white man sought his benefactress in marriage, but she declined, and subsequently married one of her own people. Her husband is now dead. Her father was put to death in the war of 1817-18, and her mother[310] and sister have since died. She is now friendless and poor, residing among her people in their new country, near the Verdigris River. She has three children, a boy and two girls, all too young to provide for themselves, and, consequently, dependent upon their mother for support.

“The Committee thought that the occasion presented by this case was a suitable one, not only to reward a meritorious act, but also to show to the Indian tribes how mercy and humanity are appreciated by the government. The grant of a pension, with a clear exposition of the grounds of its allowance, would have a salutary influence, it was believed, upon savage customs in future. A bill was accordingly reported, to allow to Milly a pension of ninety-six dollars per annum, or eight dollars a month, for life.”

In connection with this detail, we may remind the reader of Pocahontas, who, with proper education, had doubtless proved an ornament to the most exalted station; and we may also relate, at length, the story of Attakullakulla and Captain Stewart, to which we have adverted in the preceding pages.

Fort Loudon, on the River Tennessee, was situated five hundred miles from Charleston, and there were few towns between. It was built in 1756, for the purpose of preventing the encroachments of the French, who used to steal down from Canada, and annoy the white English inhabitants, who were forming settlements in that part of the country. At the same time, it was a safeguard against the Indians, numerous tribes of whom lived round about. These Indians, at all times savage and cruel, were particularly hostile to the[311] whites, and the more so as they perceived them forming establishments in their neighbourhood.

In the abovementioned fort, at the time our account commences, there were but few soldiers. This fact the Indians by some means discovered, and they determined to make an attack upon it, and, if possible, to massacre the garrison.

The plan was conducted, as usual, with much secrecy and cunning, and, before the soldiers were aware, the fort was surrounded by a large number of savages, thirsting for their blood. The fort was strong, however, the gates were shut, and the Indians found it impossible to enter. But they could watch it. They might, perhaps, in time, force the garrison to surrender, because their provisions could not last always. A guard was, therefore, constantly kept round about, and so vigilant were they, that not a single white man durst venture abroad, nor could any come to their assistance.

For a time, the provisions in the fort held out; but, at length, the soldiers were obliged to resort to the flesh of their horses and dogs, which, by reason of scanty food, had dwindled away nearly to skeletons. For two long months, they bore up under the pressure of confinement and stinted fare. The enemy that surrounded them, they well knew, were at all times ferocious; but they would be doubly so now, having become exasperated by watching for so long a period.

The soldiers had stout hearts and good courage; but, at length, they told the officers that they could hold out no longer. Upon this, the latter came together,[312] and, after due consultation, it was agreed to surrender, and to obtain the best terms of capitulation from the Indians they were able.

There was one man among them whom the Indians esteemed,—Captain Stewart. He was accordingly selected to inform the enemy that they had held out sufficiently long, and were willing to surrender, provided they could make suitable terms. The Indians replied, that they might march out with their guns and a little powder and shot, but that the fort must be surrendered that very day; adding, that they would accompany them to Fort George, where their white brethren lived.

As these were better terms than they expected, the English officers did not hesitate to accept them. They marched out accordingly, and speedily set out upon their journey for Fort George. It was noon when they left the fort, and night before they halted.

Wearied with their toilsome march, they soon laid themselves down to rest. Just as they were doing this, they perceived that the whole body of Indians were leaving them. The object of this movement they were unable to explain; but, well knowing the cunning and artifice of the savage warriors, they could sleep no more. A few, perhaps more weary than the others, dozed occasionally for a few minutes; but the painful state of anxiety, in which they were, made their sleep short and unrefreshing. Several hours passed in this state of suspense; but, as no Indians came near them, they began to indulge the hope that the enemy had left them, to return no more. They, therefore, generally laid themselves down, and one after another, sunk into a sound sleep.


About the dawn of day, one of the men, who had been placed as a guard, came running in great haste to inform them that a large body of Indians were secretly approaching. The alarm was instantly given, and the men were ordered to stand to their arms. The summons, however, was so sudden, and the terror so universal, that not a single soldier had his gun loaded when the tremendous war-whoop broke upon them. The onset of the savages upon this comparatively feeble and unprepared band was so furious that resistance was vain. Some were killed, and the rest were taken prisoners. Captain Stewart had his hands tied behind him, and, at the head of the others, was led back to the fort.

On their arrival, an Indian chief, taking Captain Stewart by the hand, conducted him to his own hut, unbound his arms, and fed him from his own bowl. This was Attakullakulla. A few days after, the Indians held a great council as to the disposal of the prisoners. The chiefs were all present, and, though some differed for a time from others, they finally agreed to send for Captain Stewart, and inform him that they were about to attack Fort George. “You and your men,” said they to him, “will accompany us. You will fight with us. This is the result of our talk. You must do more,” added they. “Write to the captain of Fort George; tell him of our coming; tell him, that, if he surrenders the fort peaceably, it is well; if not, we will strip his friend Captain Stewart, and burn him before his eyes!”

Captain Stewart, finding no alternative, sat down, and, in the presence of the savages, wrote the letter[314] required; but he thought within himself, that, before he would fight against his brethren, he would undergo the pains even of savage torture. On returning home, he said to Attakullakulla, “You are my friend; you have shown your friendship in the hour of danger and of trial. Now can you show it again? I cannot fight my brethren. I must escape, or I must die.”

Attakullakulla replied, “I have been your friend once; I will be so again. You must not fight your brethren. The red men must not kill you. Come with me, and I will take you far from the reach of the bloody tomahawk.”

Before the next morning, Attakullakulla and Captain Stewart were far on their journey in the depths of the wilderness. By day, they travelled with great expedition, and at night slept upon the open ground. The sun and moon served as guides to the sagacious Indian chief; and as they kept on, over hills and mountains, valleys and rivers, Captain Stewart wondered where their journey would end. On the fourteenth day, they saw fires at a distance, and they knew men were near. They soon met a party of soldiers, who informed them that they were in Virginia, and that this was the camp of Colonel Bird. They told them to go on further, where they would see the colonel himself. When they came up with this officer, Captain Stewart introduced himself and his Indian friend to him. He was delighted to hear of the captain’s escape, and was much pleased with the friendship which the Indian had shown to the white man. “This,” said he, “is true friendship, which shows itself in action, not in words.”

When Attakullakulla said he must depart that night,[315] the two officers begged him to remain with them for a few days. But the old man said, “No.” Finding that he could not be persuaded, they loaded him with presents of all kinds, and, bidding him farewell, saw him depart for his home. On his return to his tribe, he met some soldiers, who told him they had been sent from Fort George, the place which the Indians were going to attack. They said that the captain of Fort George had received their letter, and had heard that they were coming to fight him. But he desired Attakullakulla to inform his brethren that they must not come to Fort George, for there was much powder and ball buried in holes around the fort, to blow up any enemies who might venture too near; and that, if they dared to approach, they would certainly be blown in pieces.

Attakullakulla promised the soldiers that he would tell the Indians of this, and again proceeded on his way. On reaching Fort Loudon, he called the chiefs together, and told them of the message the white man had sent to them. They were much frightened when they heard of the powder and shot, and blessed the Good Spirit that he had not permitted them to attack the fort, as they must all have been killed.

But to return to Captain Stewart. Now that he had himself escaped, he began to think of the poor soldiers whom he had left in captivity. For a time, he could hear nothing of their fate, and was in doubt whether his escape might not have led to the massacre of them all. But, at length, he had the pleasure to know, by means of one who had escaped like himself, that they were alive, though still in captivity. Upon this intelligence,[316] he collected such articles as he thought would be acceptable to the Indians, beads, buttons, red belts, &c., and begged him to divide them among the chiefs, and to ask that their white prisoners might be sent to him in return. The presents proved acceptable to the Indians, and, in the fulness of their joy, they said they must send something in return to their friend, Captain Stewart; but for an appropriate present they were quite at a loss. Attakullakulla told them he could help them out of their difficulty, and now informed them of the request of Captain Stewart. To this they unanimously assented, and forthwith communicated to their prisoners that they were at liberty.

The joy of the prisoners need not be told. Under the guidance of the man whom Captain Stewart had sent with the presents, they were conducted in safety to Fort George, where they had the pleasure to meet, once more, their friend and benefactor, Captain Stewart himself, and to thank him, in person, for his kind remembrance of them in the land of their captivity.

These, and numerous other instances that might be cited, show that boldness and cunning are not the only qualities of the Indian, but that, in possessing the nobler attributes of kindness, generosity, and friendship, he may often challenge our respect and admiration. Of the capacity of the Western tribes for civilization, it indeed seems that there can be no reasonable doubt.

What, then, is to be done, to aid them in taking advantage of their present condition for improvement? Let our government pursue toward them a conciliating policy; and, while maintaining their present relations,[317] do all in their power to secure the confidence and good will of these tribes.

One of the greatest difficulties lies in conquering the love of war and the chase, a passion, which, once indulged, is apt to engross the whole soul. The tame pursuits of agriculture seem tasteless, if not revolting, to those who have been accustomed to mingle in the stormy excitements of savage life. But this difficulty may still be overcome. Let the master spirits of the tribe be taught that the war-path is no longer the road to distinction, and they will soon seek it in some other way. To use the words of the author before quoted on this subject,—“The season for political competition not having yet arrived, the only means of distinction would be wealth; and the glory of accumulating the bloody trophies of the battle-field would be exchanged for the boast of broad fields and numerous herds. The few, possessed of prudence and foresight, or desiring eminence, would see at once the advantages of agriculture, and would become farmers. The example would be salutary, and one after another would desire to possess the comforts and independence which crown the labors of the husbandman. The best and most influential men would be the first to lead the way in this reformation; and every man who became a farmer would be a powerful advocate of the cause, because it would be his interest to diminish the number of the idle and non-producing, who must depend on the public for subsistence, or disturb the peace by crime and violence.

“To hasten this result, to hold out a reward for industry, and to provide for a more advanced civilization[318] than that which we have been contemplating, it should be provided, that, whenever an Indian should have actually become a farmer, and should, for a specified number of years, have tilled the soil, a tract of land should be granted to him, the title to which should be a life-estate to himself, and a fee simple to his descendants. By this provision, portions of land would be converted into private property, and the remainder might be vested in the nation, whenever they should have a government capable of properly disposing of it.

“In this way, the Indian might be allured by his interest, and led to self-elevation. We would deprive him of his natural liberty only so long as should be necessary to bring about that lucid interval in which he would become sensible of his true condition, and apprized of the means held out for his redemption; and we would leave it to himself to seek out his own further advancement in his own way. In this, we should pursue the plan of Nature. The primitive nations were not precociously instructed by their Creator in the whole circle of human knowledge; but it was left for them and their descendants to discover gradually the wealth and resources of the world beneficently given them, and to increase in learning by an easy and healthful gradation.

“The attempt to civilize the roving bands by reason, by the mere force of truth, or by any abstract sense of duty, has always been, and will continue to be, abortive. The physical impediments must first be removed. Among white men, Christianity, literature, and the arts have never flourished during a period of[319] anarchy or civil war. In those countries where the peasantry are oppressed, and have no rights, property, or education, they are degraded and ferocious; and if the passions of their savage nature are not developed in deeds of courage, it is because they are bridled by the strong arm of power. If we trace the nations of Europe from their former state of barbarism to their present moral elevation, we shall find the same causes to have always operated. The first step has always been the acquisition of permanent habitations, and the consequent love of country and of home. Domestic comforts warmed into life the social virtues. The possession of property followed, and then personal and civil rights, one after another, were conceived. Then emancipation from their chiefs ensued, and political rights began to be demanded. The state of war became inconvenient. It was now the interest of the honest and industrious to protect themselves against plunder and violence; and the deeds of murder and robbery ceased to be heroic. Commerce between nations softened prejudice, produced the interchange of commodities, encouraged the arts, and enlarged the stock of knowledge. And lastly, hand in hand, came education and religion.

“The ministers of the gospel and the schoolmaster have been powerful agents in these changes, but they have never marched in the van. They form an efficient corps in the main body; but their business is, to secure and improve the acquisitions which bone and muscle, and skill and courage have obtained. As the rifle and the axe must first subdue the forest, before the husbandman can cultivate the soil, so must the strong[320] arm of the government produce peace, enforce obedience, and organize a system of civil rights and restraints, before the mild precepts of the gospel, and the fructifying streams of knowledge, can be made to pervade the wilderness, and teach the desert to blossom as the rose.”

With these suggestions we dismiss this subject, in the hope that it will attract the serious attention, not only of the government, but of the people of the United States; and that a course will be pursued, in respect to these remnants of the American tribes, alike dictated by prudence, justice, and general benevolence.



[1] For an account of these, see “Manners and Customs of the Indians” in “The Cabinet Library.”

[2] In the “Lives of Famous Indians,” we have offered a few suggestions on this subject. If the reader perceives some repetition of facts in this article, to be found in that just mentioned, he will consider that it is a part of our design to render each volume of the “Cabinet Library,” complete in itself.

[3] For an account of the operations of the missionaries in Paraguay, see “Lights and Shadows of American History.”

[4] See “Lives of Famous Indians.”

[5] For an account of Cofachiqui, see “Lives of Famous Indians.”

[6] See “Lives of Famous Indians.”

[7] For the details of Smith’s life, see “Curiosities of Human Nature,” and “Lives of Celebrated American Indians,” article “Pocahontas.”

[8] For the life of Philip and an account of the war, see “Lives of Famous Indians.”

[9] For an account of Brant, see “Lives of Famous American Indians.”

[10] See Life of Brant, in “Lives of Famous American Indians.”

[11] See “Lives of Famous Indians.”

[12] For the particulars of Pontiac’s life, see “Lives of Famous American Indians.”

[13] See “Lives of Famous American Indians.”

[14] See “Lives of Famous American Indians.”

[15] See “Lives of Famous American Indians.”

Transcriber’s Note

Original spellings, including any variations (i.e. skillful and skilful), have been retained, except in the cases of the following typographical errors.

Page 23, “firmanent” changed to “firmament.” (had sailed out of the crystal firmament)

Page 25, “spices” changed to “species.” (abounding with species and odoriferous trees)

Page 92, “no” changed to “not.” (not part of Pizarro’s plan)

Page 98, “divsions” changed to “divisions.” (Each of these great divisions)

Page 105, “moistture” changed to “moisture.” (his men from the extreme moisture)

Page 145, “earnage” changed to “carnage.” (fearful scene of blood and carnage)

Page 162, “Apalachians” changed to “Appalachians.” (Cherokees, Appalachians, Catawbas)

Page 163, “souththern” changed to “southern.” ( desolating the southern frontiers)

Page 210, “skocking” changed to “shocking.” (are too shocking for detail)

Page 238, “everglades” changed to “Everglades.” (Here, in the Everglades)

Page 259, “ove” changed to “over.” (and triumph over their enemies)

Page 259, “throngh” changed to “through.” (rushed through the crowd)

Page 289, “instructers” changed to “instructors.” (build school-houses and provide instructors)

Page 298, “vengeace” changed to “vengeance.” (cried to heaven for vengeance)