Tag Archives: Indian lands

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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