James Madison Papers

To James Madison from the Chiefs of the Shawnee People, [18 November] 1811

From the Chiefs of the Shawnee People

[Fort Wayne, 18 November 1811]


We have just finished the foreg[o]ing talk to our Brothers it is our wish that you may see it also that you may Know our minds.1

Fathers. We have one request to make: our Annuity comes by the way of Detroit to Fort Wayne for us, and we find it a great distance for our women to go for them, it is our wish if it could be possible in future to have them sent down the Ohio, and delivered to us by our friend John Johnston at Picquatown, it is but a short distance from our Town and we could get them there verry conveniently

Black Hoof2

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, J-36:6). Addressed “To the President of the United States & Secretary of War.” A note at the foot of the RC, signed by John Shaw, certifies that “the two foregoing Speeches was delivered by the Shawanoe Chiefs on the day aforesaid in Council through the Speaker Black Hoof” (for the first speech of 18 Nov., see n. 1). Enclosed, along with the speeches described in n. 1, in John Johnston to Eustis, 4 Dec. 1811 (ibid.; docketed by a War Department clerk as received 29 Dec. 1811).

1The RC follows a “Speech delivered by the Shawanoe Chiefs Nov. 18. in Council at Fort Wayne” through their speaker, Black Hoof. In the speech the chiefs exhorted their “Brothers” to “pursue a path that will lead to happiness” while also reminding them that “some of our people that lives on the Wabash at the mouth of Kihtepecanoe has for a great while been working of bad works.” “We want our Father to know,” they continued, “that it is not the wish of the rest of our Brothers to follow the same path.” Stressing that it was the wish of all the people along the lakes to Michilimackinac to live in peace, the chiefs repeatedly referred to the “Mischief” brought by the Prophet to himself and to those with him, and they again urged that the peace with “our white Brothers” must not be broken.

Following the RC is a “Speech of the Chiefs and Head men of the Delaware, Miami, Shawanoe, & Putawatamie Tribes of Indians to John Johnston … delivered at Fort Wayne on the 22nd. Nov. 1811. in General Council Assembled,” which also bears John Shaw’s certification indicating that it was presented through Black Hoof. The speech contains sentiments similar to those expressed in the first 18 Nov. speech and concludes with the plea: “Our Great Father the President of the United States & Secretary of War listen to your Children’s voice, when we understood that mischief had befel some of our people on the wabash we wished to speak with you, that you might know our minds, we hope you will take pity on our Women and Children. All the Nations here speak to you it is the desire of us all to live in peace & friendship with our white Brothers. Your Children all takes you by the ha[n]d and wishes you well.”

2Black Hoof, or Catahecessa (1740?–1831), was a principal chief of the Shawnee, said to have been present at Braddock’s defeat in 1755, who resisted the advance of American settlers in the Northwest until the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Thereafter, convinced of the futility of continued warfare, he became an advocate of peaceful relations with the U.S. (Hodge, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, 1:212).

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