Embark for New York--A glimpse of Texan affairs--Toltecan
monuments--Indian population of Texas--Horrible effects of drinking
ardent spirits among the Indians--Mr. Gallatin--His opinions on
various subjects of philosophy and history--Visit to the
South--Philadelphia--Washington--Indian affairs--Debt claim--Leave
to visit Europe--Question of neutrality--Mr. Van Buren--American
imaginative literature--Knickerbocker--Resume of the Indian question
1838. Nov. 14th. I Embarked in a steamer, with my family,
for New York, having the double object of placing my children at
eligible boarding-schools, and seeking the renovation of Mrs. S.'s
health. The season being boisterous, we ran along shore from river
to river, putting in and putting out, in nautical phrase, as we
could. On the way, scarlatina developed itself in my daughter.
Fortunately a Dr. Hume was among the passengers, by whose timely
remedies the case was successfully treated, and a temporary stop at
Buffalo enabled us to pursue our way down the canal. Ice and frost
were now the cause of apprehension, and our canal packet was at
length frozen in, when reaching the vicinity of Utica, which we
entered in sleighs. In conversation on board the packet boat on the
canal, Mr. Thomas Borden, of Buffalo Bayou, Texas, stated that there
is a mistake in the current report of the Camanche Indians being
about to join the Mexicans. They are, perhaps, in league with the
Spaniards of Nacogdoches, who now cry out for the federal
constitution of 1824; but there is no coalition between them and the
Mexicans. Lamar is elected president, the population has greatly
increased within the last year, customs are collected, taxes paid,
and a revenue raised to support the government. Mr. Borden said, he
was one of the original three hundred families who went to Texas,
with my early friend Stephen F. Austin, Esq., the founder of Texas,
of whom he spoke highly.
"Hurry" was the word on all parts of our route; but, after reaching
the Hudson, we felt more at ease, and we reached New York and got
into lodgings, on the evening of the 24th (Nov.). The next day was
celebrated, to the joy of the children, as "Evacuation Day," by a
brilliant display of the military, our windows overlooking the Park,
which was the focus of this turnout.
28th. In conversation with the Rev. Henry Dwight, of. Geneva,
he made some pertinent remarks on the Toltecan monuments, and the
skill of this ancient people in architecture, in connection with
some specimens of antiquities just deposited in the New York
Historical Society. This nation had not only preceded the Aztecs in
time, as is very clearly shown by the traditions of the latter, but
also, there is every reason to believe, in knowledge.
29th. Texas papers contain the following statistics of the
Indian population of that Republic, of whom it is estimated that
there may be 20,000. "The different tribes known as wild Indians,
comprise about 24,000, west and south-west. There are on the north
ten tribes, known as the 'Ten United Bands,' between the Trinity and
Red River, numbering between 3 and 4000. Of these latter tribes,
three are said to have wandered off beyond the Rio Grande and the
Rocky Mountains. Of the Comances, nearly one-half of the
Indians known by that name are, and have always been, without
the limits, and press upon the tribes of New Mexico. In all it
appears that we have within the limits of Texas, an Indian
population of 20,000--of whom one-fifth may be accounted Warriors.
There are one or two remnants of tribes (perhaps not more than fifty
in number) living within the settlements of the whites, whom they
supply with venison, and in that way support themselves.
"Some of these tribes are the hereditary enemies of Mexico, who has
nevertheless furnished them with arms and ammunition, in the hope of
inciting them against our people, at a risk to her own. If, looking
beyond our borders, we turn our eyes to the north, we behold within
striking distance of the United States frontier on the north-west,
an indigenous Indian population of 150,000, and on their western
frontier 46,000; in all between 2 and 300,000 Indians within the
jurisdiction of the United States--against whom, were they to
combine, they could at any moment direct a war force of 60,000 men."
These popular estimates, may serve the purpose of general
comparison, but require some considerable abatements. There is a
tendency to estimate the numbers of Indian tribes like those of
flocks of birds and schools of fish. We soon get into thousands, and
where the theme is guessing, thousands are soon added to thousands.
Dec. 4th. James L. Schoolcraft of Michilimackinack, in a
letter of Nov. 10th, describes a most revolting scene of murder,
which, owing to the effects of drinking, recently occurred at the
Menomonie pay-ground at Grande Chute, Wisconsin.
"Since closing my letter of this morning, Lieut. Root, just from
Fort Winnebago, informs me that he attended the payment of the
Menomonies, at the Grande Chute; that liquor, as usual, had
found its way to the place of payment, and that, in consequence, an
Indian had killed two Indian women. That the individual (murderer)
was taken to the tent of the agent, Colonel Boyd, but that, in
consequence of the repeated and threatening demands of the Indians
for the man, the agent was obliged to deliver him up to them, and
that they then, in front of the tent, inflicted wounds of death,
from six different blades, upon the body of the murderer, beat his
brain out with clubs, and then threw his body upon a burning fire,
after which he was dragged some distance, to which place he might be
traced by attached embers strewed along the path.
"A child was crushed to death by a drunken Indian accidentally.
Lieut. Root informs me that he left the ground, soon after the scene
above alluded to, and that many of the Indians were armed with
knives, and in much excitement."
6th. I visited Mr. Gallatin at his house in Bleecker Street,
and spent the entire morning in listening to his instructive
conversation, in the course of which he spoke of early education,
geometric arithmetic, the principles of languages and history,
American and European. He said, speaking of the
EARLY EDUCATION OF CHILDREN.--Few children are taught to read well
early, and, in consequence, they never can become good readers. A
page should, as it were, dissolve before the eye, and be absorbed by
the mind. Reading and spelling correctly cannot be too early taught,
and should be thoroughly taught.
Arithmetic.--G. There is no good arithmetic in which
the reasons are given, so as to be intelligible to children.
Condorcet wrote the best tract on the subject, while in confinement
at a widow's house near Paris, before his execution. The language of
arithmetic is universal, the eight digits serving all combinations.
They were not introduced till 1200. The Russians count by sticks and
beads. The Romans must have had some such method. M stood for 1000,
D for 500, C for 100, L for 50, X for ten, V for five, and I for
one. But how could they multiply complex sums by placing one under
LANGUAGES.--S. How desirable it would be if so simple a
system could be applied to language.
G. Ah! it was not designed by the Creator. He evidently
designed diversity. I have recently received some of the native
vocabularies from Mackenzie--the Blackfeet and Fall Indians, &c.
Parker had furnished in his travels vocabularies of the Nez Perces,
LEADING FAMILIES.--S. The term Algonquin, as commonly
understood, is not sufficiently comprehensive for the people
G. I intended to extend it by adding the term "Lenape." The
Choctaw and the Muscogee is radically the same. The Chickasaw and
Choctaw has been previously deemed one. Du Pratz wrote about the
Mobilian language without even suspecting that it was the Choctaw.
G. The National Institute at Paris has printed Mr.
Duponceau's Prize Essay on the Algonquin. Dr. James wrote
unsuccessfully for the prize. Duponceau first mentioned you to me.
He has freely translated from your lectures on the substantive,
which gives you a European reputation.
PUBLISHERS ON PHILOLOGY.--G. There is no patronage for such works
here. Germany and France are the only countries where treatises on
philology can be published. It is Berlin or Paris, and of these
Berlin holds the first place. In Great Britain, as in this country,
there is not sufficient interest on the subject for booksellers to
take hold of mere works of fact of this sort. They are given to
reading tales and light literature, as here.
ORAL TALES OF THE INDIANS--G. Your "Indian Tales" and your
"Hieroglyphics" would sell here; but grammatical materials on the
languages will not do, unless they can be arranged as appendices.
S. I urged Governor Cass to write on this subject, and he
G. Does he understand the languages?
S. Pronouns, in our Indian languages, are of a more permanent
character than philologists have admitted. They endure in some form,
in kindred dialects, the most diverse.
G. This is true, the sign is always left, and enables one, clearly
enough, to trace stocks. Dialects are easily made. There are many in
France, and they fill other parts of Europe. Every department in
France has one.
DISCRIMINATING VIEWS OF PHILOLOGY AND PHILOLOGISTS.--G. It is not
clear what Heckewelder meant by "whistling sound," in the prefix
pronouns. I told Mr. Duponceau that it had been better that the
gentleman's MSS. were left as he originally wrote them, with mere
corrections as to grammar--that we should then, in fact, have had
Indian information. For Heckewelder thought and felt like a
Delaware, and believed all their stories1.
MONOSYLLABIC LANGUAGE.--G. You have asserted that all the Indian
roots are monosyllables.
S. Most of them, not all. This is a branch to which I have paid
particular attention; and if there is anything in Indian philology
in which I deem myself at home, it is in the analysis of Indian
words, the digging out of roots, and showing their derivatives and
G. The societies would print your observations on these topics.
They are of much interest.
ORIGIN OF THE INDIAN LANGUAGE.--S. The Hebrew is based on roots
like the Indian, which appear to have strong analogies to the
Semitic family. It is not clearly Hindostanee, or Chinese, or Norse.
I have perused Rafn's Grammar by Marsh. The Icelandic (language)
clearly lies at the foundation of the Teutonic.
G. I have not seen this. The grammatical principles of the Hebrew2
are widely different (from the Indian). There is, in this respect,
no resemblance. I think the Indian language has principles akin to
the Greek. The middle moods, or voices, in the Greek and Indian
dialects are alike; they make the imperfect past, or aorist, in a
1: This admission of the re-composition of Mr.
Heckewelder's letters, and the excellent missionary's general
deficiency, furnishes a striking confirmation of the views and
sagacity of a critic of the North American Review, writing on that
topic, in 1825. And the more so, as those views were conjectural,
but they were the conjectures of one who had personally known Mr. Heckewelder.
2: Mr. G. did not understand the Hebrew, and was
not aware that the person he addressed had made a study of it in
particular reference to the Indian.
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Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the
Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851
Years with the Indians |