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Category Archives: Native Americans

You can be debt free! (Pt. 2 of 2)

… you have contracted a great debt to some British traders …which you honestly wish to pay … it will be better for you to sell some of that [your land] to pay your debts … your lands are your own, my children, they shall never be taken from you by our people or any others. you will be free to keep or to sell as yourselves shall think most for your own good … We have lately obtained … all the country beyond the Missisipi called Louisiana … but it is very far off, and we would prefer giving you lands there, or money & goods as you like best, for such parts of your lands on this side the Missisipi as you are disposed to part with. should you have any thing to say on this subject now, or at any future time, we shall be always ready to listen to you.
Thomas Jefferson to the Chickasaw Nation Chiefs, March 7, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Reasonable leaders offer options, not demands.
In the previous post, the President thanked the loyal Chickasaws and urged them away from hunting for sustenance and toward agriculture. He offered the nation’s help to do that. Now, he raised the ante.

Since the tribe had become indebted to the British, selling some of their lands to the U.S. would erase that debt. Their remaining land would be adequate for farming. Even better, he could trade unpopulated land far away, west of the Mississippi River.

Regardless, Jefferson affirmed their land was theirs to do with as they pleased. Still, he was not averse to adding pressure to induce their sale. However “unenlightened” his stance might be regarded today, his administration’s conduct toward natives was far more respectful and benevolent than some of his successors.

“Thanks to you, our Institute Planning Committee was showered with accolades
for its wisdom and good judgment
in inviting William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark team …”

Executive Director, Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors
Thomas Jefferson has honorable friends who would be delighted to inspire your members!
Invite them to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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My Indian friends, let us help you! (Part 1 of 2)

I am happy to recieve you at the seat of the government of the twenty two nations [the 22 states of the U.S]… our fathers have told us, that your nation never spilled the blood of an American, and we have seen you fighting by our side, & cementing our friendship by mixing our blood in battle against the same enemies …
Your country, like all those [tribal lands] on this side the Missisipi, has no longer game sufficient to maintain yourselves, your women & children confortably by hunting. we therefore wish to see you undertake the cultivation of the earth … a little labour in the earth will produce more food than the best hunts you can now make … we shall very willingly assist you in this course, by furnishing you with the necessary tools & implements, and with persons to instruct you in the use of them.
Thomas Jefferson to the Chickasaw Nation Chiefs, March 7, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Responsible leaders offer help to marginalized people.
The Chickasaw people lived along the northern reaches of the Tombigbee, Yazoo and Mobile Rivers in what is now Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.

Indian Chiefs regularly visited the President in Washington City, where he committed his addresses to them to writing. He welcomed and thanked them for their loyalty, which included fighting the British three decades earlier.

Jefferson then returned to a familiar theme in his relations with the natives, that agriculture held a much more promising future for them than hunting. He promised U.S. help in any way to assist that transition. He had additional motives which will be the subject of the next post.

“One of the audience members even went so far as to take on the persona of Aaron Burr
and confronted President Jefferson who, although not expecting such an event,
responded with sharp wit and ready facts.”
Interim Executive Director, Kentucky Bar Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, go to FoundersArchives.gov. Cut a few words from the letter in the post, paste them into the search box at the top, with beginning and ending quotation marks, and click the GO button. The correct letter … should … come up.
Or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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What about America’s Aborigines? Part 7b

But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which awaits their present course of life, to induce them to exercise their reason, follow it’s dictates, & change their pursuits with the change of circumstances, have powerful obstacles to encounter …  the habits of their bodies, prejudices of their minds, ignorance, pride, & the influence of interested & crafty individuals among them, who [fear loss of influence] … these persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did must be done through all time … that their duty is to remain as their creator made them, ignorance being safety, and knolege full of danger …  they too have their Anti-Philosophists [anti-science, reason and progress] …
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders understand there are powerful influences against change.
The previous post outlined Thomas Jefferson’s strong support for helping native Americans transition from hunting to agriculture. This post details their difficulty in doing so.

While business-as-usual was not possible for the Indians, they faced formidable challenges to a new way of life. In addition to their own “habits … prejudices … ignorance [&] pride,” some in their midst insisted they must remain as they always had been, with safety in ignorance, fearing danger in knowledge.

In this regard, Jefferson drew a parallel to his own political opposition, “Anti-Philosophists.” Both cultures had to contend with those who only looked backwards and resisted all change.

“It was a great pleasure to have you return the the Old Court for our annual
“Historic Fourth of July Celebration”.”
Superintendent, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, National Park Service
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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What about America’s Aborigines? Part 7a

The Aboriginal inhabitants [native Americans] … with the faculties & the rights of men, breathing an ardent love of liberty and independance, & … [having] no desire but to be undisturbed … have been overwhelmed by the current [of immigrant Americans] … humanity enjoins us to teach them agriculture & the domestic arts; to encourage them to that industry … & to prepare them in time for that state of society, which to bodily comforts adds the improvement of the mind & morals. we have therefore liberally furnished them with the implements of husbandry & houshold use; we have placed among them instructors in the arts of first necessity; and they are covered with the Aegis [protection] of the law against aggressors from among ourselves.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Enlightened leaders seek improvement of marginalized members.
Thomas Jefferson had a lifelong interest in America’s native citizens and their improvement. He recognized they had the same rights and aspirations as all people. Although they wished to be left alone, they were being “overwhelmed” by white people pushing further and further west.

Inevitably, their prosperous future was in “agriculture & the domestic arts.” It was the white man’s responsibility to teach those arts for the natives’ improvement in body, soul and spirit. To that end, his administration had furnished both agricultural and household materials and instructors in their use. On top of this, they were protected by law from aggression by white settlers.

Jefferson believed that given enough time, the Indians could become farmers like the white men. Then they would no longer need vast expanses for hunting, and those lands could be opened for settlement. While some natives were assimilated, he greatly underestimated their attachment to their own culture and resistance to change.

“This is a letter of recommendation for Patrick Lee
and his presentation of Thomas Jefferson …
Mr. Lee’s presentation was fantastic.”
President, California Land Surveyors Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Might we scratch each other’s backs?

Considering that we have shortly to ask a favour ourselves from the Creeks [Creek Indians], the Tuckabatché road, may we not turn the application of Hawkins to our advantage, by making it the occasion of broaching that subject to them? … it is becoming indispensible for us to have a direct communication from the seat of our government with that place [New Orleans], by a road which, instead of passing the mountains … shall keep below the mountains the whole way … that we do not mean to ask this favor for nothing, but to give them for it whatever it is worth; besides that they will have the advantages of keeping taverns for furnishing necessaries to travellers, of selling their provisions & recieving a great deal money in that way …
To Henry Dearborn, February 9, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders use gifts to open negotiations.
The “application of Hawkins,” U.S. Indian Agent for the southern tribes, was approved, granting a number of supplies needed by the Creek Indians. The President asked his War Secretary to use the granting of these supplies to open negotiations for a concession from the Creeks.

The current road from Washington to New Orleans was through the mountains of Tennessee. U.S. acquisition of Louisiana required a better, faster route. That road would be south of the mountains, through Creek Indian land, across Georgia and Alabama. The U.S. would soon be asking the Creeks for permission to build that road.

Jefferson insisted the U. S. would not take the needed land but would pay for it. The granted supplies might open the door with the Creeks. Not only would they be reimbursed for the right-of-way, the Creeks would profit from maintaining the business development rights along the new road.

“There is not doubt about it.
You were the hit of our annual conference.”
President, MO Association for Adult Continuing and Community Education
Mr. Jefferson will be the surprise hit of your conference!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Shall we evangelize the Indians? Part 1 of 4

[This post is the first of four from this one letter.]

I now return the sermon you were so kind as to inclose me, having perused it with attention. the reprinting it by me, as you have proposed, would very readily be ascribed to hypocritical affectation [artificial, pretended, offered only to impress], by those who, when they cannot blame our acts, have recourse to the expedient of imputing them to bad motives. this is a resource which can never fail them; because there is no act, however virtuous, for which ingenuity may not find some bad motive.
To Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Bad leaders will always find a way to criticize virtuous acts.
Dowse (1756–1828), a Massachusetts merchant, had forwarded a sermon by William Bennet, The Excellence of Christian Morality, which had been delivered at a meeting in Scotland. Something in the sermon suggested to Dowse its value in evangelizing the Indians in America, and he asked the President to reproduce it for use by American missionaries.

Jefferson read the sermon carefully and returned it, declining Dowse’s suggestion. Why?
1. As President, he avoided any theological favoritism.
2.His opponents would label him a hypocrite if he now championed this worthwhile effort.
3. Some people were so jaded and clever they could find sinister motives in even virtuous acts.

“Mr. Lee’s creative energy and talent were a major factor
in making this critical event the success it was.”
Program Coordinator, Smithsonian Associates, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Jefferson will contribute greatly to the success of your event!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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This is your homework for the NEXT THREE YEARS.

… The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by it’s course & communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean, may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce.
Beginning at the mouth of the Missouri …
Instructions for Meriwether Lewis, June 20, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders provide detailed instructions when oversight isn’t possible.
This 2,400 word document outlined the goals for Meriwether Lewis’ mission west the following year. The heart of that mission was described above: Find a water route across the continent for the purpose of commerce. Everyone knew that route, the fabled Northwest Passage, existed, but no one had found it. Lewis’ main job was to find it. That passage would allow travel by water between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

As he went, this was to be a scientific mission as well. They were also to:
– Document all animal and plant life, paying particular attention to those species unknown in the U.S.
– Learn as much as possible about the native people and remain on the best possible terms with them.
– Document the land itself, its geography, geology, topography, resources and rivers.

When the Corps of Discovery returned in May 1806, the men had written about 1.5 million words in their journals, fulfilling most of President Jefferson’s instructions.

“Clearly the visits with President Jefferson and Captain Clark
have set the standard for future conferences.”
Director of Education, Indiana Historical Society
Let Thomas Jefferson (or Clark or Daniel Boone) set a new standard for your conference.
Invite them to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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This will help the Indians become farmers.

… of great importance, is the establishment of a strong front on our Western boundary, the Missisipi, securing us on that side, as our front on the Atlantic does towards the East. our proceedings with the Indians should tend systematically to that object … the Indians being once closed in between strong settled countries on the Missisipi & Atlantic, will, for want of game, be forced to agriculture, will find that small portions of land well improved, will be worth more to them than extensive forests unemployed, and will be continually parting with portions of them, for money to buy stock, utensils & necessaries for their farms & families.
Memorandum for Henry Dearborn on Indian Policy, December 29, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even a leader’s clear vision is no guarantee of success.
Dearborn was Jefferson’s Secretary of War. The President wisely wanted to secure America’s western boundary, the Mississippi River in 1802. Part of that strategy was to extinguish Indian claims on western lands they had hunted for centuries and encourage farmers to settle there. Hemmed in by settlements on the east and west, with the natural decrease in game for hunting, Indians would have no choice but to become farmers themselves.

Small farms “well-improved” would yield much more for the Indians than vast forests “unemployed.” In time, they would gladly part with those forests, bit by bit, for money to outfit their families and farms.

Jefferson greatly overestimated natives’ interest in becoming farmers. While some were assimilated, many resisted that change and were later relocated, sometimes by force, west of the Mississippi and later further west.

“Your interpretation of Jefferson was inspiring
and very appropriate for our audience… you were a tremendous hit!”
Executive Director, Missouri School Boards Association
Mr. Jefferson stands ready to inspire your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Is this shrewd or underhanded?

the cheapest & most effectual instrument we can use for preserving the friendship of the Indians: is the establishment of trading houses among them. if we could furnish goods enough to supply all their wants, and sell them goods so cheap that no private trader could enter into competition with us, we should thus get rid of those traders who are the principal fomenters of the uneasiness of the Indians: and by being so essentially useful to the Indians we should of course become objects of affection to them. there is perhaps no method more irresistable of obtaining lands from them than by letting them get in debt, which when too heavy to be paid, they are always willing to lop off by a cession of lands.
To Henry Dearborn, August 13, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What’s a leader to do?
Dearborn (1751-1829) was Jefferson’s Secretary of War. This letter dealt with issues surrounding whites and Indians living on either side of the lower Ohio River. Whites were continually moving further west into Indian lands, and the President had to deal with the conflict that inevitably arose. He tried to do that in two ways, first to pacify the Indians and second, to encourage (or force) them to transfer ownership of some (or all) of their lands.

Here, Jefferson proposed an approach he favored for many years:
1. Establish trading stores for the Indians.
4. Drive out competition from private traders who stirred up trouble among the Indians.
2. Sell necessities at low prices, encouraging Indians to become farmers like the white men.
3. Be so helpful to the Indians they would come to like the white men.

The final sentence is uncharacteristic for this humane man. He proposed creating indebtedness in the Indians and then forgiving that debt in return for their relinquishing some of their land.

“The presentation was very educational,informative
and the details seemed to come to life …”
Director of Member Services, Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives
Watch Thomas Jefferson come to life for your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Old McDonald had a farm. Part 2 of 2

… whenever the Indians come to Detroit on trade or other business, they encamp on or about this farm. this would give them opportunities of seeing their sons & daughters, & their advancement in the useful arts, of seeing & learning from example all the operations & process of a farm, and of always carrying home themselves some additional knolege of these things … & losing by degrees all other dependance for subsistence, they would deprecate [disapprove of] war with us as bringing certain destruction on their property, and would become a barrier for that distant & insulated post against the Indians beyond them.
To President James Madison, December 7, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders use every opportunity to teach.
The first post from this letter outlined Jefferson’s vision to use a government-owned farm near Detroit as a school for Indian girls and boys. The girls were to learn household arts, the boys farming. Both were to be taught to read and write.
A second purpose for this farm/school was to be an object lesson for other Indians. They were to camp on or near this farm when they came to Detroit. In doing so, they would see the advantages enjoyed by their children and take that knowledge home with them. In time, that knowledge would:
1. Help them be self-supporting on their own land
2. Lead them to give up warfare which could only end in their destruction
3. Become an object lesson themselves for tribes that lived further west and be a protective barrier for whites who lived to the east

“Your well-organized and well-researched approach
certainly enhanced our evening …”

Director, The Leadership Academy, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Let Mr. Jefferson enhance your meeting.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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