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.