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    "They were quite unwilling to leave the land on which they now live"

    Winnebago Indians: George J. Abbot Autograph Letter Signed. Six and one-half pages, 8.25" x 10.5", Washington, October 18, 1846, written to Abbot's uncle, Rev. Abiel Abbot, D.O., of Peterborough, New Hampshire, concerning the removal of the Winnebago's - "for the third time" - from Wisconsin. The letter reads in part:

    "Washington has been enlivened by the visit of the Winnebago Indians, whom, the Government wish to remove for the third time from lands solemnly & inviolably guaranteed to them in the faith of Treaties. Little Hill, their chief orator, was a very shrewd man, & quite equal in diplomatic subtlety to the three American negotiators. They held out for very good terms, and obtained them, considering it was weakness dealing with power. They obtained after four days negotiation a modification of the terms first offered, somewhat more to their advantage. They were quite unwilling to leave the land on which they now live. When one of the Commissioners told them that the land to which he desired them to remove was good land they gave a grunt & looking at each they smiled as much as Indian gravity would permit them, evidently indicating they were not to be taken in by such blarney. One of them, an old venerable chief told the commissioners he was afraid they did not always think of the Great Spirit, & he was afraid their Great Father, who had broken his promises twice to them in removing them did not always regard the Great Spirit. The first time he told them he wanted their land, because it was a mineral country, the next time he had some good reason, & now again he had another. The land they had was given them by the Great Spirit, to the Whites he had given another portion. The Great Spirit knew best what lands he had assigned to different people, & they are afraid of displeasing him by interfering with his arrangements. He said their hearts were saddened by what he had told them of their decreasing number & of the near extinction of their race. When he spoke of the Great Father's disregard of his children & of the Great Spirit, a smile ran round the room as every body thought it was a remark true as it was keen. They were dressed - if dressed at all it could be called, very fantastically."

    Abbot also writes about the Mexican War ("Of course you have seen the sanguinary news from Monterey-glorious they call it. Here every body feels more or less saddened for many of the officers, killed & wounded were our friends & neighbours [sic]. Mourning sorrow & bereavement have been carried in to many homes") and President James K. Polk ("Still the President hurries on. . . . They say his nights are sleepless & disturbed & who can wonder, the cries of orphans & widows, of sick & fallen soldiers, of mangled & dying men, must be heard in the stillness & darkness of the night"). The letter is written on lined paper with folds. The address panel bears the original red seal and a Washington, D.C., postmark. Minor tears along the address panel's folds, while the lower left corner has been removed (no loss of text).


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2010
    14th-15th Thursday-Friday
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