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Arren Swift

on 22 July 2014

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Lincoln and Native Americans
Lincoln’s grandfather was murdered by Native Americans according to Lincoln’s Autobiographical Sketch presented on December 20, 1859.
On April 21st 1832 Lincoln at the age of 23 volunteered to fight in the Black Hawk war. Lincoln was soon elected captain and later stated, “… not since had any success in life which gave him so much satisfaction.”
“why did Yankees almost instantly discover gold in California, which had been trodden upon and overlooked by Indians and Mexican greasers for centuries?” - Lincoln
At the same time of the Emancipation Proclamation General John Pope was dispatched to Minnesota to suppress a rebellion of the Santee Sioux.
Pope’s efforts to put down the rebellion succeeded capturing 2,000 Sioux. 303 men were sentenced to death for the uprising President Lincoln comminuted the death sentences of 264 prisoners but allowed the execution of 38. This was the largest mass execution in American History.
These events in the life of Lincoln help understand his remarks made to Indians on March 27th 1863 at the White House.
“You have all spoken of the strange sights you see here, among your pale-faced brethren; the very great number of people that you see; the big wigwams; the difference between our people and your own. But you have seen but a very small part of the palefaced people. You may wonder when I tell you that there are people here in this wigwam, now looking at you, who have come from other countries a great deal farther off than you have come”
“We pale-faced people think that this world is a great, round ball, and we have people here of the pale-faced family who have come almost from the other side of it to represent their nations here and conduct their friendly intercourse with us, as you now come from your part of the round ball''
“One of our learned men will now explain to you our notions about this great ball, and show you where you live”
“There is a great difference between this palefaced people and their red brethren, both as to numbers and the way in which they live. We know not whether your own situation is best for your race, but this is what has made the difference in our way of living. The pale-faced people are numerous and prosperous because they cultivate the earth, produce bread, and depend upon the products of the earth rather than wild game for a subsistence”
“This is the chief reason of the difference; but there is another. Although we are now engaged in a great war between one another, we are not, as a race, so much disposed to fight and kill one another as our red brethren”
“You have asked for my advice. I really am not capable of advising you whether, in the providence of the Great Spirit, who is the great Father of us all, it is best for you to maintain the habits and customs of your race, or adopt a new mode of life. I can only say that I can see no way in which your race is to become as numerous and prosperous as the white race except by living as they do, by the cultivation of the earth”
“It is the object of this Government to be on terms of peace with you, and with all our red brethren. We constantly endeavor to be so. We make treaties with you, and will try to observe them; and if our children should sometimes behave badly, and violate these treaties, it is against our wish. You know it is not always possible for any father to have his children do precisely as he wishes them to do. In regard to being sent back to your own country, we have an officer, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who will take charge of that matter, and make the necessary arrangements''
Lincoln’s conversation with the Native Americans exemplified the popular belief of white men at the time period, that Indians were a barbarous people who were a barrier to progress.
the Santee Sioux of Minnesota grew tired of waiting for the 1.4 million dollars they had been promised for the sale of 24 million acres of land to the federal government in 1851. Appeals to President Lincoln fell on deaf ears. What made this even more egregious to the Sioux was the invasion of this yet unpaid for land by thousands of white settlers. Then, with a very poor crop in august of 1862, many of the Indians were hungry and facing starvation with the upcoming winter.
Lincoln outright refused to pay the owed money, remember he had a war to finance, the Indians revolted. Lincoln assigned General John Pope to quell the uprising.
Lincoln valued the lives of African American slaves but his view on Native Americans seemed to be much different. As observed from his actions and statements he made.

Cecil Eby, That Disgraceful Affair, the Black Hawk War (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1973) 99 -100.
Dale, Thomas. "The Blackhawk War and Abraham Lincoln." The Blackhawk War and Abraham Lincoln. http://clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/articles/lincoln/blackhawk_war.htm (accessed June 19, 2014).
Lincoln, Abraham. “Lecture on Discoveries, Inventions, and Improvements,
Springfield, Illinois, February 22, 1860” in Nicolay, John G., and Hay, John
(Ed.s), The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, v. 5. New York: Francis D.
Tandy Company, 1894.
Lincoln, Abraham. “Lecture on Discoveries, Inventions, and Improvements,
Springfield, Illinois, February 22, 1860” in Nicolay, John G., and Hay, John
(Ed.s), The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, v. 5. New York: Francis D.
Tandy Company, 1894.
Franklin County Historical Society, The Passing of the Redman ... (Franklin, Idaho: Franklin County Historical Society, 1917), 7-12.
Nichols, David A.. Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War policy and politics. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1978.
Lincoln, Abraham. “Speech to Indians, White House, March 27, 1863” in Basler,
Roy P. (Ed.), The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, v.6. New Brunswick,
NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953.
"Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 6.." Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 6.. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=lincoln;rgn=div1;view=text;idno=lincoln6;node=lincoln6%3A329 (accessed June 23, 2014).
Micheal Clodfelter, The Dakota War: The United States Army vs. the Sioux, 1862-1865 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 1998), 72.
"From St. Paul: More Indian Murders," Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1863, p. 1.
Frank Moore, ed., The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc. (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1864), VII: 6.
Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, (Army) Series I, vol. 50, Part 2, p. 481
Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

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