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THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. COMMISSIONS TO TREAT
WITH THE INDIANS. VOYAGE ON THE LAKES. GREEN BAY. BUTTE DE MORTS.
Organization of the Bureau of Indian affairs-Dilatory legislation-Living on
half pay-Effects of severe labors upon health-Appointed commissioner to negotiate a treaty with the Indians at Fond du Lac_Other commissioners to the Choctaws, Chickasaws and Creeks—Arrival at Detroit, and departure for Green Bay–First steamboat ascent of the Neebish Rapids-Sault de St. Marie-White fish, and the fishery—Canadian voyagers—Gale on the LakeSea-sickness—Boat aground-Detention at Green Bay-Le Petit Butte de Morts-Return to Mackinac—A patient—Doctor Monroe and lady—A contrast-A romantic wife-Return to Green Bay-Hazardous voyage-A night on shore-Another patient—The medicine man superseded—A cure—Arrival at Green Bay-Alarm in the fort-Allayed by the arrival of General CassApprehensions of an attack—The big gun brought up—Portage at the Grand Kockalas—“Short guns”—An experiment—Lighting an Indian's pipe with the sun-Firing at a target in the lake-Indians coming in—Toils of the womenAn exception-An Indian’s gratitude-Passage of the Rapids of the Grand Kockalas-Talk with the Winnebagoes—Anecdote of General Leavenworth.
In the month of February, 1824, Mr. Calhoun being Secretary of War, that gentleman made known to me his wish, which was also the President's, to organize a Bureau of Indian Affairs, in connexion with the Department of War, and offered me the appointment of chief. He said the duties were peculiar, and required experience in their performance, and that I had that. I was engaged in the incipient stages of a departure for a trip to Mexico, and thanking him for his confidence, told him I did not think I could accept of the proposal. I made the offer known to some of my friends, who thought it better for me to forego my contemplated trip to Mexico, and resume under this new form, my relations to the government and the Indians. At another interview with Mr. Calhoun, I learned that all the means at his disposal, which he could make applicable to my salary, were sixteen hundred dollars. This I declined to accept, upon the ground that it was inadequate to my support, and would not be a just equivalent for the services which I knew the office would require at my hands. He admitted the justness of both—but added, the President and himself had talked the matter over, and that, if I would undertake the trust, the President would recommend in his next message to Congress, the organization of an Indian Department, with a salary equal to that paid to auditors, expressing a hope that this would be satisfactory. I finally consented, and on the 11th of March, 1824, had assigned to me the duties of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.*
March 11th, 1824. Sta—To you are assigned the duties of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in this department, for the faithful performance of which you will be responsible. Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Miller are assigned to you, the former as chief, the latter as assistant clerk. You will take charge of the appropriations for annuities and of the current expenses, and all warrants on the same will be issued on your requibitions on the Secretary of War, taking special care that no requisition be issued, but in cases where the money previously remitted has been satisfactorily accounted for, and on estimates in detail, approved by you, for the sum required. You will receive and examine the accounts and vouchers for the expenditure thereof, and
them over to the proper auditor's office for settlement, after examination and approval by you; submitting such items for the sanction of this department as may require its approval. The administration of the fund for the civilization of the Indians is also committed to your charge, under the regulations established by the department. You are also charged with the examination of the claims arising out of the laws regulating the intercourse with Indian tribes, and will, after examining and briefing the same, report them to this department, endorsing a recommendation for their allowance or disallowance. The ordinary correspondence with the superintendents, the agents, and sub-agents, will pass through vour bureau.
I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
JOHN C. CALHOUN.
ed in what is denominated, in native dialect, Tsalagi Tinilawigi, consisting of a national committee and council. Members of both branches are chosen by and from the people, for a limited period. In Newtown, a printing-press is soon to be established; also a national library and a
Immense concourses of the people frequent the seat of government when Tsalagi Tinilawigi is in session, which takes place once a year.”
The first regular school established among the Cherokees, was in the year 1817—(incipient steps had been taken, however, before that)—so that all this culture, and this converting the waste into a garden, was the product of the labor of only about eight years. It was during my superintendency of the government trade with the Indians, and, as I have before stated, in 1818 or 1819, that I addressed the circular before referred to, to the corresponding secretaries and others friendly to the cause of the Indians, and to their rescue from the sad condition in which they were everywhere known to be; and in 1819, the act of Congress was passed, appropriating the annual sum of $10,000 for their benefit. It was in the same year that an act was passed by Congress, annulling the power of the President to appoint the officers for the trade department, without the consent of the Senate. On the passage of this act, which I interpreted as annulling my own commission, as also the commissions of the factors and clerks, &c., I waited on President Monroe, and told him that, in my
view of it, my powers were annulled, as were those, also, of all others connected with the department; and that I had suspended all further action until his pleasure could be known. “Go on, sir," said this good man and pure patriot, “and furnish me with a list of the names of those connected with the service, and I will place it at once before the Senate.” I did so, omitting my own. The Senate's action being had upon the nominations, it resulted in confirming the entire
list, with myself as principal.* The system was continued, as I have stated, until 1822, when it was abolished.
In 1823, I think it was, I write from memory, Colonel Freeman, then fourth auditor of the Treasury, died. Mr. Calhoun, being then Secretary of War, asked me if I would accept the office made vacant by the Colonel's death. I assented—when leaving me in his office, he went over to see Mr. Monroe, the President, and ascertain his pleasure on the subject. Mr. Calhoun soon returned, telling me the President very cordially assented—but had scarcely finished the sentence, when the President's messenger came in, saying to Mr. Calhoun that the President would be glad to see him. He left me, requesting me to remain until his return; and being gone some half hour, he came back, saying, in substance, “It is very strange! The President, I think, is singularly scrupulous. He recognized you just now with great pleasure as Colonel Freeman's successor ; and then sent for me to say he could not nominate you— giving as his reason, that you had been active and useful in defending his administration, and if, with the knowledge the public had of this fact, he should appoint you to office,
* JAMES MONROE, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA
To all who shall see these presents, Greeting : Know Ye, That reposing special trust and confidence in the integrity, diligence and discretion of Thomas L. McKenney, of the District of Columbia, I have nominated, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, do appoint him Superintendent of Indian Trade, Georgetown, District of Columbia, and do authorize and empower him to execute and fulfil the duties of that office according to law: And to have and to hold the said office, with all the rights and emoluments thereunto legally appertaining, unto him, the said Thomas L. McKenney, during the pleasure of the President of the United States, for the time being. In testimony whereof, I have caused these letters to be made patent, and the
seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed. Given under my hand (SEAL) at the City of Washington, the twentieth day of April, in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen, and of the Independence
JAMES MONROE. By the President.
John Q. Adams, Secretary of State. VOL. L.
it might be interpreted as a compensation to you, out of the public money, for those services.” He went on to say that Mr. Monroe was anxious for my appointment to some suitable office in the government, provided a situation could be found that would not devolve upon him the duty, for the reasons stated, of conferring it upon me.
I introduce this little anecdote to show how sensitive was this good man, and how constantly alive to his fame; and also, that it may serve as a contrast to the practice which was destined in a few short years to take the place of it—of an exactly opposite character.
Another anecdote illustrative of this sensibility in Mr. Monroe to his reputation. It is known that his entire devotion to the public service, left him but little time to attend to his private affairs. He became embarrassedgreatly so; but was perhaps never more so, than during the term of his Presidency. He owned, by bequest, I believe, a valuable estate in Virginia—known as the Albemarle estate. It was his great object, if possible, to save this, and pass it down to his descendants. But the
pressing nature of his finances forced from him, at last, a reluctant offer of this property for sale. Some time after the
appearance of the advertisement, he was waited upon by a gentleman, who said to him—“Sir, I am just from Virginia, and from your estate in Albemarle. My object in going there, was to examine it, with a view to its purchase. I have done this, and have also learned from your agent your terms. I am here to say, that I am ready, when you shall have made out the title deeds, to pay you the stipulated price.”
Mr. Monroe replied, “Colonel 0-, I cannot sell that estate to you. My necessities, I know, are great ; and these, alone, prompted me to advertise that property for sale-but- Colonel 0— interrupting him, asked, with surprise, “ Why not sell to me ?”—For no other reason than one—and that is, you were a contractor