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character, and of an ability which would do credit to the training of a highly refined civilization. He is the product of the orator, the novelist, or the philanthropist, and has but slight and distant rela. tion to facts. The usual type, however, and the one which has entered most largely into the popular mind, is the Indian villain. He is portrayed invariably as cunning, treacherous, cruel, and cowardly, without any relieving quality. In this there is of course much truth. As a matter of fact, Indians are cunning, treacherous, and cruel, but they are also bold fighters. The leading idea of the Indian that has come down from Cooper's time, and which depicts him as a “cowardly redskin,” unable to stand for a moment against a white man in fair fight, is a complete delusion designed to flatter the superior race. It has been in a large measure dissipated by Parkman's masterly histories, but the ideas born of popular fiction die hard. They are due in part to the theory that cruelty implies cowardice, just as we say that a bully must be a cow. ard, another mistaken bit of proverbial wisdom.
As a matter of fact, the records show that the North American Indian is one of the most remarkable savage warriors of whom we have any knowledge; and the number of white men killed for each Indian slain in war exhibits an astonishing disproportion of loss. Captain James Smith, for many years a captive, and who figured in most of the campaigns of the last century, estimated that fift of our people were killed to one of theirs. This of
course includes women and children; and yet even in the battle of the Big Kanawha, the Virginia riflemen, although they defeated the Indians with an inferior force, lost two to one, and a similar disproportion seems to have continued to the present day.
The Indian, moreover, not only fought well and to the death, if surrounded, but he had a discipline and plan of battle which were most effective for the wilderness. It seems probable that, if the experiment had been properly tried, the Indians might have been turned into better soldiers than the famous Sikhs; and the French, who used the red men skillfully, if without much discipline, found them formidable and effective allies. They cut off more than one English and American army, and the fact that they resorted to ambush and surprise does not detract from their exploits. It was a legitimate mode of warfare, and was used by them with terrible effect. They have fought more than one pitched battle against superior numbers when the victory hung long in the balance, and they have carried on guerrilla wars for years against overwhelming forces with extraordinary persistence and
There is no savage, except the Zulu or Maori, who has begun to exhibit the natural fighting quality of the American Indian; and although the Zulu appears to have displayed greater dash, the Indian, by his mastery of the tactics of surprise, has shown a far better head. In a word, the Indian has always been a formidable savage,
treacherous, cruel, and cunning to an extreme de gree, no doubt, but a desperate and dogged fighter, with a natural instinct for war. It must be remembered, too, that he was far more formidable in 1790 than he is to-day, with the ever-rising tide of civilized population flowing upon him and hemming him in. When the Constitution came into being, the Indians were pretty well out of the Atlantic States, but beyond the Alleghanies all was theirs, and they had the unbroken wilderness as their ally and their refuge. There they lay like a dark line on the near frontier, threatening war and pillage and severe check to the westward advance of our people. They were a serious matter to a new government, limited in resources and representing only three millions of people.
Fortunately the President was of all men best fitted to deal with this grave question, for he knew the Indians thoroughly. His earliest public ser. vice had been to negotiate with them, and from that time on he had been familiar with them in peace and in diplomacy, while he had fought with them in war over and over again. He was not in the least confused in his notions about them, but saw them, as he did most facts, exactly as they
He had none of the false sentimentality about the noble and injured red man, which in later days has been at times highly mischievous, nor on the other hand did he take the purely brutal view of the fighting scout or backwoodsman. He knew the Indian as he was, and understood him as
a dangerous, treacherous, fighting savage. Better than any one else he appreciated the difficulties of Indian warfare when an army had to be launched into the wilderness and cut off from a base of supplies. He was well aware, too, that the western tribes were a constant temptation to England and Spain on either border, and might be used against us with terrible effect. In taking up the question for solution, he believed first, as was his nature, in justice, and he resolved to push every pacific measure, and strive unremittingly by fair dealing and binding treaties to keep a peace which was of great moment to the young republic. But he also felt that pacific measures were an uncertain reliance, and that sharp, decisive blows were often the only means of maintaining peace and quiet on the frontier, and of warding off English and Spanish intrigue. This was the policy he indicated in the brief sentences of his first speech, and it only remains to see how he carried it out.
The outlook in regard to the Indians, when Washington assåmed the presidency, was threatening enough. The Continental Congress had shown in this respect most honorable intention and some vigor, but their honest purposes had been in large measure thwarted by the action of the various States, which they were unable to control. In New York peace reigned, despite some grumbling ; for the Six Nations had made a general treaty, and also two special treaties, not long before, which werk on the whole just and satisfactory. At the
same time a general treaty had been made with the western Indians, which modified some of the injustices of the treaties of 1785, and which were also fair and reasonable. In this treaty, however, the tribes of the Wabash were not included, and they therefore were engaged in war with the Kentucky people. Those hardy backwoodsmen were quick enough to retaliate, and they generally proceeded on the simple backwoods principle that tribal distinctions were futile, and that every Indian was an enemy. This view, it must be admitted, saved a good deal of thought, but it led the Kentuckians in their raids to kill many Indians who did not belong to the Wabash tribes, but to those protected by treaty. The result of this impartiality was, that, besides the chronic Wabash troubles, there was every probability that a general war with all the western and northwestern tribes might break out at any moment.
South of the Ohio, matters were even worse. The Choctaws, it is true, owing to their distance from our frontier settlements, were on excellent terms with our government. But the Cherokees had just been beaten and driven back by Sevier and his followers from the short-lived state of Franklin, and had taken refuge with the Creeks. These last were a formidable people. Not only were they good fighters, but they were also well armed, thanks to their alliance with the Spaniards, from whom they obtained not only countenance, but guns, ammunition, and supplies. They were