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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1861
([1861])

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, November 27, 1861,   pp. [7]-30 PDF (10.3 MB)


Page 10

10                          REPORT OF THE 
pression prevailing amongst that class of persons as to the views of the
present 
administration and its intended policy in relation to slavery, and the further
fact 
that almost immediately after the breaking out of hostilities between the
govern- 
ment and its disloyal citizens, the forts in their vicinity were in many
instances 
basely surrendered to the rebels by the officers in command, and so far as
pos- 
sible all United States troops withdrawn by government from that section
of 
country, it is not surprising that many of the Indians have thrown off their
allegiance and espoused the cause of the rebellion; and that many others,
find- 
ing themselves entirely without support from the government, or the means
to 
repel the violent and aggressive measures everywhere adopted by the rebels
towards loyal citizens, have quietly submitted to the condition of affairs
by 
which they were surrounded. Amongst the first to yield to these varied influ-
ences were the Choctaws and Chickasaws; amongst the last were the Cherokees,
at the head of whom is John Ross, who appears to have resisted the movements
of the rebels so long as was in his power. If reliance is to be placed in
the 
following publication, which has been extensively circulated, and so far
as I 
have observed without contradiction, it may be presumed that he has at last
reluctantly yielded: 
"It is reported that an understanding, under the name of a treaty, has
been 
arranged between the rebellious confederacy on the one part, through Albert
Pike, of Arkansas, and Elias Rector and the Cherokee chiefs and headmen on
the other part, in which Mr. Pike entitles himself as 'Commissioner of Indian
Affairs,' and Mr. Rector, who for several years held the post of superintendent
of Indian affairs of the southern superintendency for the United States,
as 
'superintendent' under him. I am informed, nevertheless, that this treaty
does 
not satisfy the Cherokees of the full blood, who regard it as having been
effected 
by the most scandalous frauds, misrepresentations, and corruptions."
The Rev. Evan Jones, who has for many years resided amongst the Chero- 
kees, and is intimately acquainted with their disposition and feelings, under
date 
of 31st ultimo, writes me in relation to this reported treaty as follows:
"I have no doubt the unfortunate affair was brought about under stress
of 
threatened force, which the Cherokees were by no means able to resist. But
greatly as this defection of our old friends is to be lamented, I feel assured
that 
it was an unwilling surrender, and that it only needs a sufficient force
to afford 
them protection to secure a speedy and cordial return to their former allegiance,
and an abjuration of whatever reluctant alliance they may, under duress,
have 
formed with the rebel States."  He adds the following suggestion, in
which I 
heartily concur: "And in consideration of the unfavorable circumstances
in 
which the Cherokees were placed, I have no doubt the President will be dis-
posed, on their return, to treat them with a generous lenity and forbearance,
which will bring about a restoration of that confidence and good understanding
which have so long and so happily subsisted between them and the government
and the people of the United States." His letter, which is herewith,
is amongst 
the most interesting I have received. 
In view of the distracted condition of affairs amongst the Indians of this
super- 
intendency, as well as on account of the interruption of communication there-
with, occasioned by the occupation of the intervening country, comprising
the 
"neutral land" and the *Neosho valley, by armed rebels and banditti,
the 
accustomed annuities have been withheld, not, as has been falsely represented,
with a view to their confiscation, but that I might obtain more reliable
assur- 
ances that they would not fall into the hands of the rebels as booty, and
thus 
the loyal and deserving portions* of the tribes interested be defrauded of
their 
just dues. 
In submitting the regular estimates for the prospective fiscal year, I deemed
it proper to ask for the usual appropriations for this superintendency, notwith-
standing the present relations of the Indians therein towards the goverunment.


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