Monday, March 2, 2009

They Left on the Sabbath

New York Indian Removal, Part XV:
They Left on the Sabbath

Andrew Jackson's plans to remove all Indians westward were not abandoned by his successor, Martin Van Buren.

The treaty of 1839 may have been written up in good faith. Half of the reservation was sold to the U.S. because Thomas Hendricks and Robert Konkapot had convinced federal officials that about half of the tribe wanted to remove to the Little Osage River in what is now Kansas. Instead we have reports that "70 or 80" Stockbridge Mohicans separated from the tribe (Jones, 106). James Oberly (page 67) also quotes Cutting Marsh as saying that the remaining Canadian Munsees went with them (but it is not clear where he gets that quote).

Although the federal government did a miserable job of implementing the treaty of 1839, the emigrants appear to have added to the problem by ignoring instructions to wait until the treaty was approved by the president and ratified by the Senate. Oberly describes the result:

Unfortunately the Emigrants lacked enough money and supplies to reach their destination.... At St. Louis they became public charity cases and had to be rescued by the U.S. Indian agent there.
Writing from Stockbridge, Massachusetts fifteen years later, Electa Jones was getting her information about the Emigrant party second-hand from Chauncey Hall, an ABCFM schoolteacher. Furthermore, she had no sympathy for the Emigrant party, pointing out "it has been creditably reported that they started on the Sabbath"(emphasis is Jones', page 106). My response is that maybe Chauncey Hall never told Electa Jones that the Hendricks-Konkapot faction left Cutting Marsh's Calvinist (that is, Sabbath-observing) church and started their own Baptist church.....or, from a modern perspective, maybe Ms. Jones was too much of an ideologue to be writing history "creditably."

Those of the so-called Disaffected party who made it safely to the new reservation continued to worship in the Baptist way. Meanwhile, the payments promised in the treaty of 1839 didn't come until after "a tedious delay of between 2 & 3 years"(Cutting Marsh in Wisconsin Historical Collections, XV, page 180).

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