James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Eustis, 12 July 1810

From William Eustis

War Department July 12. 1810.


I have the honor to enclose a copy of a Letter received from Governor Harrison by which it will appear that we are relieved from any apprehension of hostilities on the part of the Indians.1 With the highest respect I am Sir, your obedt. servt.

W. Eustis

§ William Henry Harrison to William Eustis

26 June 1810, Vincennes. Reports information he has received from a deputation of Potawatomi Indians about a council held at St. Joseph where the Delaware and other Indians refused to join forces with the Prophet.2 Was informed that the Prophet intended to engage all the tribes on the Mississippi to join his confederacy and to attack Detroit, Fort Wayne, Chicago, St. Louis, and Vincennes, but he now thinks that the Prophet’s influence is limited to “the War-Chiefs, or those who are heads of small bands.” Relates the “consummate villainy” of the Prophet in trying to incite younger men to murder the principal chiefs of all the tribes in order to unite the Indians and thus prevent further land sales to whites. Is convinced that the Prophet is “inspired by the Superintendant of Indian Affairs for Upper Canada, rather than [by] the Great Spirit, from whom he pretends to derive his authority.” Has sent an emissary (Mr. DuBois) to the Prophet and has mustered two companies of militia but will not keep them in service after the return of DuBois “unless the Accounts brought by him should be very different from what I expect them to be.”

RC and enclosure (DLC); FC and FC of enclosure (PHi: Daniel Parker Papers); letterbook copy (DNA: RG 107, LSP). RC docketed by JM. Enclosure (6 pp.) in a clerk’s hand; marked “(Copy)”; docketed by JM; printed in Esarey, Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison, Indiana Historical Collections, 1:433–36.

1At a later time, JM wrote in the left margin of the RC, “see his letter of June 26. 1810.”

2Lalawethika, or the Prophet (1775–1836), was born of Creek-Shawnee parentage and passed most of his early life in Ohio. Reputedly an alcoholic, he aspired to the status of medicine man but without much apparent success before the winter of 1804–5 when he experienced a spiritual crisis and fell into a prolonged trance. He awoke to preach a message of cultural revitalization, based on an amalgam of reformed Indian custom and Christianity, which stressed that Indians should avoid contact with American settlers and their way of life. In 1808 he and his followers moved from Ohio to the juncture of the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers where they established a community (Prophetstown) that became a focal point of Indian dissatisfaction in the Northwest with the expansionist policies of the U.S. (R. David Edmunds, The Shawnee Prophet [Lincoln, Nebr., 1983], pp. 28–86).

Index Entries