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J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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'of the war given above. "Black Hawk was honest," he says. "He was attached
to the home of his people; but he was indiscreet and sentimental." Dr. Thwaites,
in his account of the Black Hawk war, says of Black Hawk, "He was of a highly
romantic temperament; his judgment was warped by sentiment; and tricksters easily
played upon his weakness. . . He was, above all things, a patriot. In the
year before his death, he made a speech to a party of whites who were making a
holiday hero of him, and thus forcibly defended his motives: 'Rock River was a
beautiful country. I liked my town, my cornfields, and the home of my people. I
fought for them.' No poet could have penned for him a more touching epitaph." 13
In the Outlook magazine number for April 10, 1910, there is a reference to an
incident of Black Hawk's eastern trip. The "Spectator," while visiting an aerial
exhibit in Boston, heard a story of the captured chief. "Near the Harvard ex-
hibit," he writes, "where the Wright and Curtiss models faced each other, the
Spectator found a gray haired man in an official blue coat and brass buttons, who
was always the center of a group of boys. He was helping them build their aero-
planes for sale, and telling them about old days in air navigation. 'Yes, sir, I'm
the son of Charles Durant, the aeronaut who made the balloon ascension in Castle
Garden in 1834. Here's the handbill.' He showed a quaint old placard, with a
queer ancient cylindrical barometer hanging along side of it. 'And that barometer
was used on the ascent. So was this flag pretty ragged and faded now, isn't
it? Only twenty-one stars there were then, you see.' The red stripes were faded
almost white, and the white yellowed and worn in the folds, but the flag spoke for
itself, and the boys gazed at it delightedly.

" 'Andrew Jackson was President then. He came on from Washington and
that meant some traveling in those days to see my father make the ascent. Black
Hawk, the Indian chief (they'd just captured him) was brought to New York and
saw it, too. The Government thought it might do him good to see what wonder-
ful things the white man could do. The old fellow was astonished, sure enough.
He wouldn't say much, but he looked and looked, and he asked whether the bal-
loon would go all the way to the happy hunting-grounds, and whether my father
would ever come back. That's a question no aeronaut can ever answer. But my
father went up into the air, and did come back safe, and the Indian felt just the
way they wanted him to that the white man could do anything, no matter how
wonderful.' "

13 Thwaites. "Black Hawk War," p. 196.



CHAPTER XI

INDIAN REMOVAL ILLINOIS AND MICHIGAN CANAL

CHARACTER OF SAVAGES EARLY TREATIES TREATY OF CHICAGO THE ENCAMPMENT

SIGNING OF THE TREATY PROVISIONS OF THE TREATY REMOVAL OF THE IN-
DIANS WHARFING PRIVILEGES ILLINOIS AND MICHIGAN CANAL FEASIBILITY OF

A CANAL CANAL IDEA IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY EASTERN OPINION REGARD-
ING THE CANAL STATE LEGISLATION FINANCING THE WORK CHICAGO JOY-
FULLY ANTICIPATES THE CANAL MEETINGS OF CITIZENS AT CHICAGO WORK IS

BEGUN PROGRESS OF THE WORK MAGNITUDE OF THE UNDERTAKING DIFFI-
CULTIES SURMOUNTED WORK RESUMED UNDER A TRUSTEESHIP FINANCIAL CON-
DITION OF THE CANAL IN 1843 COMPLETION OF THE CANAL THE ERIE CANAL

OF NEW YORK M'cOWAN's NARRATIVE DESCRIPTION OF THE CANAL.

CHARACTER OF SAVAGES

S E have had much to say in this history of Indians whose presence in the
land which the whites came to occupy was the chief and most important
fact among the conditions which were encountered by the pioneers of the
wilderness. We of a later generation can little understand the deep in-
terest with which the early settlers regarded them, nor wonder at their
dealings with them. It is common to condemn the conduct of the white man in
his so-called encroachments upon the savage, who, by reason of his want of ex-
perience in the ways of civilized men, was peculiarly subject to imposition. The
savage, however, was not much impressed with ideas of justice, and when it came
to making treaties the pleas he made for his rights were merely the sentiments
which he had borrowed from the whites. Indeed Indians cared for the ideas ob-
tained from civilized life only so far as they could be made use of to their own ad-
vantage and "played fair" only when obliged to do so. Like all savages they were
apt to be bullies taking advantage of weakness rather than exercising the virtue
of generosity or forbearance. Savage nature and characteristics were often de-
picted by writers in a sanguinary and lurid manner quite in excess of the real con-
ditions. We quote a stanza from a poem read in 1881 at the unveiling of the
memorial tablet, on the site of Fort Dearborn.

"Here where the savage war-whoop once resounded,
Where Council fires burned brightly years ago ;
Where the red Indian from his covert bounded
To scalp his pale-faced foe."

201




202 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

Such practices by the "red Indian" were very exceptional and seldom indulged in.
Indians were not always "bounding from their coverts" or scalping pale-faces, for
they had too much reason to fear the people thus rudely pounced upon, as the con-
sequences of such acts were apt to be very serious to them. When they did engage
in warfare, however, they avoided open and fair fights, preferring the sneaking
methods of surprises and ambuscades, and making attacks on defenseless women
and children.

The Indian had only the most rudimentary ideas of right and wrong. He had
no aspirations for mental or moral improvement, and an altruistic impulse of any
kind was foreign to his nature. There were exceptions of course to such a state-
ment but even then only as the result of ideas borrowed from the whites. The aver-
age Indian, when not hostile, was an idler and a vagabond. He was obliged to
spend part of his time in hunting in order to provide sustenance, but he left all
the drudgery to be performed by the weaker sex. He spent much time, when near
posts or settlements, in lounging about in the hope of picking up a few crumbs or
cast-off articles, and in "watching the proceedings."

Indian lore is of absorbing interest. The literature of American history is
heavily saturated with it. But the interest that the average person of today feels
is of a far different kind from that which was felt by those who were in actual
contact with the "noble red man of the forest." We criticise the harshness of the
pioneer in his conduct towards the Indians, but we forget that constant vigilance
was the price of safety, and it was almost inevitable that antagonisms should arise.

EARLY TREATIES

From the time of the signing of the Greenville treaty in 1795, there was a se-
ries of Indian treaties extending over thirty-eight years particularly affecting the
region of northern Illinois. Some of these treaties were merely declarations of
friendship, others provided for territorial cessions while some renewed the condi-
tions of former treaties and included as participants additional tribes. The pro-
visions of these treaties were often not clear to the ignorant chiefs who, after the
agreement was made and ratified, would raise objections and demand another
council. The government would then frame up a new treaty including the former
provisions as well as added ones, and again the chiefs were gathered to sign away,
usually unwittingly, still more of what remained to them. The odds were all against
them, with their unstable conditions of land tenure, their ignorance and barbarity
on the one side; and the keen, often unscrupulous, wits of the government agent
on the other side. Finally came the great Treaty of Chicago in 1833, which pro-
vided for the removal of the Indians to the reservation in the West which was
given them by the terms of this same treaty. It was a long time before the sig-
nificance of this agreement came home to them, and they realized but slowly the
seriousness of the great father's intention to send them away from their dwellings
to new lands nearer the setting sun.

TREATY OF CHICAGO

The Treaty of Chicago was signed on September 26, 1833. By proclamation
the President of the United States had gathered together at Chicago the United Na-




MAP

8HOW1NO T11E

IXT>IAN TRIBES

in
ILLINOIS

IN 1812



From Blanchard's "The Northwest and Chicago"



MAP SHOWING THE INDIAN TRIBES IN ILLINOIS IN
1812 AND BEFORE THE INDIAN REMOVAL



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 203

tion of Pottawattomies, Chippewas, and Ottawas for a council to be held on Sep-
tember 10, 1833. The purpose of this was to make a treaty whereby the Indians
would cede to the United States all the land remaining to them on this side of
the Mississippi, and remove to lands given them on the east bank of the Missouri
river. The necessity for this had been made clear by the coming of increasingly
greater numbers of Easterners, who were settling on land which the Indians had
occupied and now threatened.

By the time appointed the Indians had assembled at Chicago in hundreds, and
with them a multitude of those white people who expected to take advantage of
the offer of the government to make good losses of all kinds that had been suffered
in connection with the Indians. Everywhere were Indian wigwams ; the encamp-
ment overspread the village, covered the river bank, occupied the lake shore and
extended back over the prairie and into the woods. Of the countless agents, traders
and adventurers who had come to get what spoils they could at this distribution,
some presented claims for lost property averred to have been stolen by Indians;
others were there as land speculators; others to trade with the Indians when drink
should have made them regardless of the spending of the silver half dollars that
came to them in the payment. Those who were present to conduct negotiations
on behalf of the government were housed in the fort and in hastily constructed
huts made for their accommodation.

THE ENCAMPMENT

An account of this picturesque event has been written by Charles J. Latrobe, the
English traveller and author, who was present at the gathering, and whose complete
and lively description is the basis for this narrative.

The council had opened with the statement from the principal commissioner,
Governor George B. Porter of Michigan Territory, that "as their great father in
Washington had heard that they wished to sell their land, he had sent commissioners
to treat with them." To this they replied that their "great father in Washington
must have seen a bad bird which had told him a lie, for that far from wishing to
sell their land, they wished to keep it." The commissioner, urging that, neverthe-
less, as they had come together for a council, they must take the matter into con-
sideration, prepared to state his terms. But as there was a passing cloud in the sky
the chiefs refused to continue negotiations, and adjourned sine die.

For many days it was impossible to gather the Indians in council, owing to bad
omens that continued to present themselves. In the meantime life at populous Chi-
cago was chaotic ; all day there were feasting and games and clamor or barter ; all
night there was dancing and yelling. As negotiations for the treaty had begun, the
government supplied daily rations to the Indians, and all was well with them ; the
first night, in abandoned joy, they danced the war dance, and whooped and sang
about the village. During the whole period of the encampment the forbidden whis-
key was sold to the Indians, and this, too, in full view and knowledge of the com-
missioners. Many traders made preparations to have a great supply of this com-
modity so disastrous to the Indian, which they sold to him for exorbitant prices.
Not only this, but they found him, intoxicated, a ready and open handed customer
for any other goods that attracted his eye. So did these worthies ply their trade.



204 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

The scene during the encampment was an epitome a condensation in time and
space of most of the elements and experiences of Indian life. "Far and wide the
grassy prairie teemed with figures ; warriors mounted or on foot, squaws, and horses.
Here a race between three or four Indian ponies, each carrying a double rider,
whooping and yelling like fiends. There a solitary horseman with a long spear, tur-
baned like an Arab, scouring along at full speed ; groups of hobbled horses ; Indian
dogs and children; or a grave conclave of gray chiefs seated on the grass in consul-
tation. It was amusing to wind silently from group to group, here noting the raised
knife, the sudden drunken brawl quashed by the good-natured and even playful in-
terference of the neighbors ; there a party breaking up their encampment, and fall-
ing, with their little train of loaded ponies and wolfish dogs, into the deep, black
narrow trail running to the north."

Meanwhile no progress was made with the treaty. Each day the signal gun at
the fort was fired to call the chiefs together, and each day an unpropitious omen
forbade their responding. Finally, on the 21st of September, late in the afternoon,
the council fire was lighted in a large open shed on the north bank of the river. The
chiefs sat at one end of the enclosure ; at the other end were the government com-
missioners (G. B. Porter, Thomas J. V. Owen, and William Weatherford), besides
interpreters and visitors. After some bickering and speeches of more or less vio-
lence from a few Indians, the treaty was agreed to, by which these original propri-
etors of the country, degraded beyond their former state after years of contact with
white men, were giving up the land which had immemorially been theirs, and agree-
ing to leave it forever to changes and to people they know not of. Each chief in sign-
ing put "his X mark" to the treaty, which was also signed by the government
commissioners.

This was on September 26th, and on May 22nd following the treaty was ratified.
By its terms the Indians ceded to the United States all lands claimed by the United
Nation east of the Mississippi, supposed to be about five millions of acres. In re-
turn they were to receive as much land as they relinquished, on the east bank of the
Missouri river, this land being located in the southwestern part of the present state
of Iowa and the northwestern part of the present state of Missouri. The country
thus assigned to them was to be inspected, previous to the removal, by a deputation
of not more than fifty persons accompanied by five United States agents. The gov-
ernment undertook the expense of this deputation and of the entire removal, and
agreed, moreover, to provide subsistence to the Indians for one year after their ar-
rival at their new homes. Payments also were to be made, 1 "one hundred thousand
dollars to be paid in goods and provisions, a part to be delivered on the signing of
this treaty, and the residue during the ensuing year; two hundred and eighty thou-
sand dollars to be paid in annuities of fourteen thousand dollars a year, for twenty
years ; one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to be applied to the erection of mills,
farm-houses, Indian houses, and blacksmiths' shops, to agricultural improvements,
to the purchase of agricultural implements and stock, and for the support of such
physicians, millers, farmers, blacksmiths and other mechanics, as the President of
the United States shall think proper to appoint; seventy thousand dollars for pur-
poses of education and the encouragement of the domestic arts, to be applied in such
manner as the President of the United States may direct."

1 From Article 2 of Treaty of 1833.



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 205

In the articles supplementary to the treaty is one which provides for the pay-
ment of "twenty-five thousand dollars, in addition to the sum of one hundred and
fifty thousand dollars, contained in the said treaty, to satisfy the claims made against
all composing the United Nation of Indians, which they have admitted to be justly
due. and directed to be paid according to schedule B, to the treaty annexed." The
list of names of those who appear in Schedule B as creditors to the United Nation,
either by debt or damage suffered, for sums ranging from $20 to $5,000, is an alarm-
ingly extensive one, and there has been much merited doubt concerning the justice
and honesty of the claims of certain ones. By signing the treaty the Indians en-
dorsed these claims against themselves, whether they realized it or not, and the pay-
ments were made. Speaking of the treaty negotiations, Hurlbut writes of the ex-
pressions of an early resident here who "was familiar with the whole proceedings,
and whose ideas of the business scarcely accord with those who would commend the
action of our government officials on that occasion." This eye-witness said: "You,
or hardly any other man, can imagine what was done, or how ridiculously the whole
thing was carried on or closed up. It should have been conducted upon principles
of truth and justice; but the whole thing was a farce, acted by those in office in our
Government."

REMOVAL OF THE INDIANS

It was stipulated that immediately on the ratification of the treaty the Indians
should leave the land ceded by them and lying within the state of Illinois. The
country north of the boundary line of that state they could inhabit without molesta-
tion for not longer than three years. Op one pretext and then another the removal
was delayed from season to season, the Indians pleading that they must gather their
crops, visit their old hunting grounds once more, remain near the burial places of
their dead and many another excuse given by these simple creatures reluctant to
be sent away from all that was familiar to them. Finally the government agent,
Major Sibley, 2 issued word to the Indians of this region that the time for their re-
moval had come, and they must meet him in Chicago in the summer of 1835. There
they were to receive their payments, and then be taken by the agent to their new
homes beyond the Mississippi river. Major Sibley succeeded that year in collecting
about one-half of the total number of 5,000 Indians. While awaiting the arrival of
the goods for paying them off, many of the Indians, tired of lounging about the
streets, withdrew to the woods west of the prairie until the time for payment. Dur-
ing their stay in the village, about eight hundred of the braves danced their last war
dance in Chicago for the benefit of the residents there. In September, 1835, the
government agent advertised for "ox teams and covered wagons, to remove the In-
dians," and the start was at length made. During the fall they were established
on the lands assigned them near the Council Bluffs.

The task of gathering together the rest of the Indians in the following summer,
preparatory to their removal West, would have been very great had not Billy Cald-
well, brave in sacrifice and loyal to the interests of the whites, told them that he,
too, intended to go with them, leaving the land they all loved and sharing their hard-
ships in a strange home. He, with J. B. F. Russell, the government agent at that
time, effected the peaceful departure of the Indians, taking some by steamboat from






2 Fergus: 14: 33.



206 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

St. Louis to the Council Bluffs, and gathering numbers as they proceeded westward.
Thus to leave behind them the country that had always been theirs and to go
silently and reluctantly to a strange region where they were placed on reservations
adjoining, frequently, those of some ancient enemy, was heart-breaking indeed to
many a chief with his proud record of victories. During the lifetime of Caldwell
his wise and peaceable councils prevailed, and there was little disturbance between
his own brethren and hostile tribes on neighboring reservations.

The Indians were later moved by the government to Kansas, and again to the
Indian Territory. By the census of 1900, the number of Indians then in Illinois
was sixteen, a meagre remnant of the numbers that, but three-quarters of a century
before, could claim this region as their own, and could assemble by thousands in
a mighty encampment.

THE ALLEGORICAL INDIAN

In the old time geographies and histories there were often shown in the frontis-
pieces allegorical pictures. One of these pictures represented an American Indian
surveying an extensive landscape from an eminence. The landscape was diversified
by a great variety of features. There were cities with domes and spires and tall
chimneys, shipping at the water front, steamers passing in the harbor, railroad trains
crossing lofty viaducts, and cultivated fields on the slopes of surrounding hills,
all these views presented themselves to the thoughtful gaze of the untutored red
man. What he was thinking of was left to the imagination, but it was supposed that
he was contemplating the advances of the white man's civilization, the wonderful
progress of the arts of peace, and, perhaps, by contrast, the inferiority and ulti-
mate doom of his own race.

Doubtless these old allegorical pictures fairly represented the truth, common-
place though it may be, that the white race had won complete possession. It was
indeed a race problem which was thus approaching its solution after two centuries
of conflict.

WHARFING PRIVILEGES

The first map of Chicago, which the Canal Commissioners had made in 1830,
shows the front of those streets bordering the river, the "Water Streets," as they
were called, as open to the water's edge. Some three years after the making of
this map, namely, March 1st, 1833, the General Assembly of Illinois abolished the
Board of Canal Commissioners, and it was not until January 9th, 1836, that an
act was passed creating another board to prosecute the work of building the canal.
During this interregnum practically all interest in the canal and canal matters
was suspended. Meantime, says the writer of a historical sketch in the Canal
Commissioners' report for 1900, "trespassers, timber thieves, squatters and spec-
ulators living along the Chicago river and the line of the proposed canal had full
and undisputed sway. Those in the immediate vicinity of the original sub-divisions
at Chicago appear to have taken prompt measures to secure the full benefit of this
opportunity. Many pieces of state property were appropriated for private use,
upon which were erected stores, dwellings and other private improvements."

The wharfing privileges along the Chicago river were appropriated by the
Town Board of Trustees, under an act passed by the legislature July llth, 1835,
which provided as follows: "Section 6: The Board of Trustees [of the town of



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CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS



207



Chicago] shall have power to lease the wharfing privileges of said town, giving to
the owner or owners, occupant or occupants, of the lots fronting the river the pref-
erence of sub-privileges."

"On November Mth, 1835," says Colbert, "the Board resolved to sell the
leases of the wharfing privileges in the town for the term of nine hundred and
ninety-nine years," the Board agreeing to dredge the river to the depth of ten
feet at least, within four years from the sale, and the lessees of the privileges being
bound to erect a good dock, five feet wide and three feet above the water in front
of each lot or wharfing privilege which was to be kept open as a tow or foot path.

These terms having been agreed upon it remained to fix the prices, and ac-
cordingly on the 26th of the same month a sale of these "immensely valuable
wharfing privileges" was ordered. The minimum prices established, at which own-
ers of lots fronting the river had the privilege of buying, were twenty-five dollars
a front foot on South Water street, eighteen dollars and seventy-five cents on North
Water street, and eighteen dollars on West Water street. "The men who got rich
in buying such property at such prices," says Colbert, "deserve no credit for specu-
lative ability." The Board took secured notes for three and six months for the
first payment of one-fourth of the price, and gave three years in which to pay the
balance. However, the dockage fronts did not readily find sale, and it was not
until after several postponements that the greater portion of them was at length
disposed of.



THE LEGISLATURE CALLS A HALT



A few days after the passage of the act creating a new board of Canal Commis-
sioners the legislature apparently awoke to the fact that its former action in em-



Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.1) → online text (page 29 of 59)