Adams Papers

From John Adams to Henry Channing, 27 May 1822

Montizillo 27 May 1822

Dear Mr Channing.

I thank you for your favor of the 22 inst & the two Connecticut gazettes which I have given to Mr. Shaw of the Athenaeum to be communicated to the Historical Society. I had rather read their remarks on the Mohegan letter than make any of my own. It is unpleasant though it is necessary to bring such documents before the public after a concealment of one hundred twenty years. If the Legislature of Connect. whose conduct is represented so cruel could arise from their graves I dare say that they could alledge much explanation <of> for their conduct. I suspect much high church policy and intrigue in the history of this Country from Arch bishop Laud to this day. The Mohegan letter is however very curious. I wish he had told us who were his Gods I presume they were the earth the moon & the sun, under the most high the great spirit. The Indian religion in every part of America seems to me to be the same with that of <[. . .]> [. . .] whose doctrine was that ouranos & ge were the offspring of the most high and that men all animals and all vegetables were children by a marriage between ouranos & ge. Tecumsha said “my father is the Sun my mother is the earth. I wish I could give you a detailed account of some <conver> conversations I have lately had with Gen Millar Gov. of Arkansas. He spent 4 months of the winter 1820 among the Cherokees & Osages endeavoring to make peace between them the king of the Osages informed him that three of this Gods under the great Spirit were the earth, the moon & the Sun. These he was hiped daily in several ways. One was by smoaking tobacco in their honour. He blowed several whiffs to the earth several more to the moon & most of all to the sun. The religious veneration for tobacco appears to me be universal among all the tribes of the Indians. They believed it to be a special gift of their Gods sent down by a select messenger from the heavens as sincerely as the monarchs of Europe believe the holy vial of oil to have been sent down by the holy ghost, in shape of a dove. I wish you were accquainted with Gen. Millar. He appears to me to be more <accquainted with> inquisitive & more successful in obtaining information relative to the religion manners & customs of the Indians than all the missionaries—I wish I could enlarge but I must break off with assurances of esteem & friendship / of your humble Servant—

MHi: Adams Family Papers, Letterbooks.

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