Edward Everett Dale
Few men have had a greater influence upon the early history of Oklahoma than the two Boudinots—father and son. Both were men of great ability; the lives of both were filled with romance and adventure, and both have left names written large in the annals of their people—the Cherokee Indians.
These letters are taken from the “Stand Watie Papers,” a collection of several thousand pieces found by the undersigned a few years ago stored in a farm house in Northeastern Oklahoma. The collection includes a large number of letters of General Stand Watie and the various members of his immediate family; several hundred letters of his brother-in-law, Colonel J. M. Bell, and his family and friends, a few letters of the elder Boudinot and several hundred of his son, Elias Cornelius Boudinot.
The father, Elias Boudinot, was born in the old Cherokee Nation in Georgia about the close of the eighteenth century, though the exact date of his birth is in dispute. His father, O. O. Watie, was called by the missionaries David, or David Oowatie. He had five sons and three daughters. Elias Boudinot was the eldest of these sons. His Indian name was Ga-la-gi-noh—meaning “Male Deer,” and in consequence he was called by the whites “Buck” Watie.
In 1818, however, young Watie entered the mission school at Cornwall, Connecticut, founded by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. His attendance at this school was made possible by the aid and encouragement of the Philadelphia philanthropist, Elias Boudinot, so the young man secured permission to take the name of his benefactor and for the remainder of his life was known as Elias Boudinot.
At Cornwall he met and loved the village belle, Harriet Gold, and upon his graduation married her, in spite of some objections of the young woman’s relatives, and took his bride home to the Cherokee Nation.
In 1827 the Council of the Cherokee Nation formally
resolved to establish a national newspaper and the following year the “Cherokee Phoenix” was approved with Boudinot as its editor. The newspaper was printed in Cherokee characters. Its office was a log cabin and the first typesetters two white men. Boudinot remained editor of the paper for six years, at the end of which time it was discontinued owing to the hostility of the State of Georgia—to reappear again in 1844, after the removal of the Cherokees to Oklahoma, as the “Cherokee Advocate.”
In 1833 Boudinot published “Poor Sarah,” or “The Indian Woman,” printed at New Echota, Georgia, in Cherokee characters and republished in 1843 at Park Hill, near Tahlequah. From 1823 until the time of his death he was joint translator with Rev. S. A. Worcester of various parts of the Bible into the Cherokee language.
He was a staunch friend of his people at all times and stood firmly for their rights against the aggressions of Georgia. Convinced at last that they could only be saved as a nation by removal westward, he and a small body of his relatives and friends signed the Treaty of New Echota by which it was agreed that the Cherokees should give up their lands in Georgia in consideration of the sum of five million dollars and remove to Oklahoma and join their brethren, the Cherokee West.
This made him very unpopular and on June 22, 1839, he was brutally murdered near his home at Park Hill. His relatives, Major Ridge and John Ridge, were both murdered on this same day, leaving Boudinot’s brother, Stand Watie, as the only prominent member of the Ridge-Boudinot family alive.
Elias Boudinot was a man of real culture and refinement. Deeply religious—the intimate friend of Lyman Beecher and other eminent ministers—he practiced his religion in every act of his daily life. A kind and loving husband and father, a sincere and loyal friend, he exemplified in his whole life the finest attributes of real Christian manhood. Something of this sweetness of character is apparent in his letters, of which all too few were to be found in the collection previously mentioned. The letters here given are typical, however, and reveal much of the heart and life of this great Cherokee.
Elias Cornelius Boudinot had much of the abilty of his distinguished father. He was born at New Echota, near the present city of Rome, Georgia, in 1835, the year his father signed the famous treaty for the removal of the Cherokees westward. He was therefore less than five years of age when his father was murdered. Immediately after this assassination, his mother removed from the Cherokee Nation to her old home in Connecticut, taking her three sons, William P., Elias Cornelius, and Frank, with her. There she lived and reared and educated her little family. Elias Cornelius attended school for some years at Manchester, Vermont. He planned to be an engineer, so at first studied for that profession and at seventeen entered the service of an Ohio railway. Not finding this work entirely to his liking, he left the employ of the railroad after a year and entered the law office of A. M. Wilson of Fayetteville, Arkansas, to prepare himself for the legal profession. He was admitted to the bar in 1856, and immediately began to practice. He was soon admitted to the bar of the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas where one of his first cases was the defense of his uncle, Stand Watie, who was charged with murder. His work on this case, which resulted in the acquittal of his client, won him very considerable recognition as an orator as well as a lawyer.
He then served for a time as editor of the “Weekly Arkansan,” published at Fayetteville, and later was for a time editor of the True Democrat, one of the leading Democratic papers of the state which was published at Little Rock. In 1860 he was chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee, a distinguished honor for a young man only twenty-five years of age, and in 1861 was Secretary of the Secession Convention which took Arkansas out of the Union and into the ranks of the Southern Confederacy. After the adjournment of this Convention, he hastened to the Cherokee Nation and assisted his uncle, Stand Watie, in raising a regiment of Cherokee volunteers for service with the South. Stand Watie was elected colonel of this regiment and Boudinot major, soon afterwards rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
Apparently he had little liking or aptitude for military life and in 1863 was elected as delegate from the Cherokee Nation to the Confederate Congress at Richmond, since the
Cherokee treaty with the Confederacy provided that the Cherokee Nation should have a representative in that body. After the close of the war, Boudinot appeared in Washington as a member of the Southern delegation of Cherokees. This delegation was headed by Boudinot’s cousin, John Rollin Ridge. It sought to secure the division of the Cherokee Nation into two parts but was not successful.
After the treaty of 1866, he returned to the Cherokee Nation, where he established a tobacco factory. This enterprise failed because of difficulties with the Government of the United States with respect to the payment of revenues, and Boudinot again began the practice of law.
He was a strong advocate of the abolition of the tribal land system of the Indians and wished to have the lands owned in severalty, the establishment of United States Courts in Indian Territory, and the early abandonment of the tribal governments. Because of these views he became very unpopular and was forced to flee from the Cherokee Nation. He returned to Fayetteville and again resumed the practice of law, eventually removing to Fort Smith where he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. While his home was nominally in Arkansas, he maintained a ranch in the Cherokee County which he occasionally visited. He also spent much time in Washington, since legal business often took him to that city and kept him there for long periods of time.
In 1877 Boudinot and T. C. Sears, a railway attorney, claimed to have discovered that there was a large area of government land in the central part of Indian Territory that was subject to homestead entry. The land in question was “Oklahoma” or the “Unassigned Lands.” Boudinot and Sears published newspaper articles announcing their discovery which were widely copied. These articles created great excitement, and a stream of letters of inquiry came pouring in, all of which were courteously answered. The lands were described in detail, a map, of them prepared and distributed to inquirers and instructions given as to the best methods of reaching the region. Excitement grew rapidly and the first “Boomer invasion” was launched. This and the subsequent movements of a like character failed, but Boudinot gave much aid and encouragement to the “Boom-
ers,” always insisting that the lands in question were rightfully subject to homestead entry. He also continued to urge that the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes should take their lands in severalty, and that the Tribal Governments were extravagant and corrupt and should be abolished.
He lived to see the fulfillment of his hopes as to the settlement of the Oklahoma lands, since this area was opened to white settlement on April 22, 1889. The abolition of the tribal governments, however, and the taking of the lands of the Five Civilized Tribes in severalty he was not to see. Early in September, 1890, he was taken ill in St. Louis. He at once returned to his home at Fort Smith, but died on September 27th.
More fiery, and perhaps with more personal ambition than his father, he had much of the latter’s ability, refinement and love of culture, coupled with some of the shrewdness and aggressiveness of his New England mother. As in the case of the elder Boudinot, much of the nature and character, as well as something of the hopes and ambitions of this interesting man, are revealed in the letters here given.
EDWARD EVERETT DALE.
Boston, March 7, 1832.
My dear Brother,
You will, before this reaches you, have heard of the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in favor of Mr. Worcester and Butler, and against the State of Georgia—It is a glorious news—The laws of the State are declared by the highest judicial tribunal in the Country null and void.1 It is a great triumph on the part of the Cherokees so far as the question of their rights were concerned. The question is for ever settled as to who is right and who is wrong, and the Controversy is exactly where
1The decision of the Supreme Court here referred to was the case of Worcester v. Georgia—6 Peters 515-597. Worcester and Butler were missionaries residing in the Cherokee country. They had been arrested, tried on the charge of breaking the law of Georgia, forbidding white men to reside among the Indians unless they were citizens of the state and had taken an oath to support the constitution and laws of Georgia, and had been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment at hard labor. They had appealed their case to the Supreme Court of the United States, which decided that the act of the Legislature of Georgia was unconstitutional.
it ought to be, and where we have all along been desirous it should be. It is not now before the great state of Georgia and the poor Cherokees, but between the U. S. and the State of Georgia, or between the friends of the judiciary and the enemies of the judiciary. We can only look and see whoever prevails in this momentous crisis.
Expectation has for the last few days been upon tip-toe—fears and hopes alternately took possession of our minds until two or three hours ago Mr. John Tappan came in to see us, and asked us whether we could not dine with him to-morrow.—He said his brother had just arrived in the city from Washington, and he supposed we were prepared to hear bad news—(a chill went through my heart).Mr. Ridge2 observed, “No, we are not prepared.” He then told us of the true story of the case, and produced a paper which contained an account, and tried to read to us, buthe was so agitated with joy he could hardly proceed. A few minutes after Mr. Anderson came in to congratulate me in the happy news. Soon after Dr. Beecher came—I asked him whether he had heard the news from Washington. He said, “No, what is it?” I told him the Supreme C. had decided in favor of the Missionaries. He jumped up, clapped his hands, took hold of my hand and said, “God, be praised,” and ran right out to tell his daughter and his family.3 These little incidents manifest the feeling, the intense feeling on that question—And I will take upon myself to say that this decision of the Court will now have a most powerful effect on public opinion—It creates a newera on the Indian question.
Your letter found me very feeble. I am better now, although I have not been out of the house the last four days. In consequence of my illness I have been obliged to give up my appointments at Salem and Newburyport. Nor was I able to attend a meeting held in this city last evening. I understand it was a very full meeting.4
Brother Franklin Gold has come all the way from New Hampshire to see me. He came in last evening from
3This was Lyman Beecher. One may wonder if Harriet Beecher Stowe was one of the members of his family to whom he told the good news.
the meeting—will be in this morning and go with me to Salem.
I am sorry, I grew to think many of our countrymen are betraying our country. Let us hold fast to our integrity.
Tell Harriet I have written to her almost every week—and generally very long letters.
Publish nothing in regard to the Presidential election—about Clay or Jackson, and copy little of what is said about the S. C.5 A great deal will be said but let us only look on and see—I shall again write soon. Tell T. I do behave myself.
Washington, Feb. 28, 1835.
My dear Brother,
For a few days back we have been trying to obtain the best stipulations that we can to be sent to our people—for them to accept or not to accept as they choose. We find the greatest difficulty to be in satisfying those who are determined to stay.6 Our proceedings have finally so frightened Mr. Ross so that he made several propositions lately, all of which have been rejected promptly except the last, which is, to agree to take the gross amount in money which the Senate shall say will be sufficient. He has this day given a written obligation to that effect. His intention is to get the money and hunt out a country for himself.7 This the President is willing should be laid before the Cherokee people, also a proposition giving the same amount if they will go to the west. The question is to be submitted to the Senate to-day. I have not time to enlarge—but I can tell you our rights are fully secured. I am sure the
5Boudinot’s paper, the Cherokee Phoenix, had been left in charge of Stand Watie during its editor’s absence. The campaign of 1832 between Clay and Jackson was a bitter one, with the recharter of the Bank of the United States as the chief issue. Boudinot evidently did not want the Cherokees to become involved in this political struggle.
6Some of the Cherokees were unwilling to remove under any consideration. As a matter of fact, some fled to the hills and forests at the time of the removal in 1838 and could not be found. Lands were later purchased for these in western North Carolina, where they still live on a reservation called the “Qualla Boundary.”
7This was contrary to the wishes of the Ridges and Boudinots who wanted to join the Cherokees West in Oklahoma.
Cherokees, when they find out that they are to remove at all events will not think of going to a Country of which they know nothing. Where will Ross take them to? But here is a country to which they can go with the same pecuniary advantages—a country already obtained and near by. Besides the President has agreed to add the Neutral land—which is a most excellent country.8 We have now some prospects of a speedy termination to our perplexities. Be firm to our cause and we shall yet succeed in saving a majority of our people.
I hope you will not be disturbed in your possessions—if you should be never mind—we shall make provisions for all such.9 We are all well, and at this time in high spirits. Give love to all—in great haste.
E. C. BOUDINOT TO STAND WATIE
Honey Creek, Oct. 5, 1861.
I went down to see you to-day but could not get across the river. I can say by note, however what I wished to say in person. Just as I left Tahlequah Tom Taylor came to me and told me to tell you that he would start for your headquarters Monday next, and then told me that you had promised to have him appointed Lt. Col.10 I hope there is some mistake about this for of all men I think him least deserving and least fitted for that post; he is as you know a timid flexible wavering unstable speculating politician
8The “Neutral Lands” consisted of about 800,000 acres in Kansas. The Cherokees gave up these lands at the close of the Civil War.
9The whites were constantly encroaching upon the Indian lands in Georgia and carrying off or destroying their property.
10When the Civil War broke out, the Confederate States sent General Albert Pike to the Indian Territory to sign treaties of alliance with the various Indian tribes there. The Cherokees refused to sign and sought to maintain neutrality. Pike, therefore, went on to the other tribes with whom he made treaties, at the same time keeping up correspondence with that portion of the Cherokee tribe which favored the South. At the time this letter was written, Pike had just returned to the Cherokee country and October 2nd to 7th, signed at Park Hill, treaties of alliance with the Osage, Seneca, Shawnee, Quapaw and Cherokee. These treaties may be found in Official Records of the Rebellion, Fourth Series, Vol. I, pp. 635-687.
always ready to profit by the labors of others and selfish to the last degree. You told me in Tahlequah if I would go with you you would do a good part by me. I am willing and anxious to go with you and as you have it in your power to do a good part by me, and thinking without vanity, that I deserve something from your hands I venture to ask from you either the Lt. Col. or the Major’s place. I do not wish the post of Adjutant or any other than one of the two I have named. If any accident, which God forbid, should happen to you so that another would have to take your place, you will see the importance of having some one in responsible position to keep the power you now have from passing into unreliable hands.
John Ross and you are rivals, he has appointed his nephew Lt. Col. intent on keeping a foothold in the military organization; perhaps my appointment would give dissatisfaction to some, a great many no doubt want, and some expect it, but you can’t please all and I hope you will judge as your own feelings dictate. I have been a dray horse for Tom Taylor and others like him ever since I figured in the Nation. I have made sacrifices for them continually while they got all the pay. You have it in your power now to put me in a position where I can do honor to myself and to you. Will you not give it to me? Send your answer by the boy. I will go to Fayetteville and if your answer is favorable I will purchase some things you will need, and return next week.11
P. S. Destroy this as soon as you have read it.
11Apparently Boudinot was successful in his plea, as he became a Major in Stand Watie’s regiment. It seems that political life was more to his liking than military life, however, as he later was elected as Delegate to the Confederate Congress at Richmond. His chief service to the Cherokee, therefore, was in his work at the Confederate capital. See O’Beirne, The Indian Territory, p. 115, or S. W. Harmon, Hell on the Border, p. 142, for sketches of Boudinot.
E. C. BOUDINOT TO STAND WATIE
Little Rock, Jan. 23, 1863.
I delayed proceeding to Richmond until I could know something definite concerning the fate of our army here, upon which rested the only hope of our country. I wished to carry such intelligence of the State of Affairs as would enable me to do more at Richmond than I could otherwise.12 Marmaduke’s success in Missouri (the taking of Springfield and Rolla) Van Dorn’s splendid raids on Holly Springs and Memphis, the attitude of Kentucky in regard to the emancipation proclamation, and many other matters that I might mention relieves my anxiety for the Nation and the fate of the Confederate States. An early peace I think beyond doubt, is inevitable. The Post of Arkansas was carried by the Feds, & Churchill and his army, 3,500 men taken prisoners. But their reverses elsewhere caused them to abandon in haste both the Arkansas and White rivers, if they should come to Little Rock, and with the present stage of water they could do so, they would be compelled to abandon it as soon as the river fell. In prospect of early peace it is all important that we should maintain our civil and military organization. I have procured a copy of the Late Treaty and find that such sums of money as may be due the Cherokees will be paid to any person authorized to receive it by the “Constituted Authorities of the Cherokee Nation.” A good deal of money is due us, and I suggest that the convention assemble and adopt the accompanying resolution authorizing me to receive such moneys, if they will pass this ordinance I am satisfied I can get the money, and with a full treasury you know what new life will be infused into our infant government.
Your buggy was taken from Fort Smith and run down to Judge Wheelers to keep it from falling into the hands of the enemy, in the general confusion, panic and stealage going on at Fort Smith I think it well it was taken off,
12The Confederate states in the treaties made by General Pike had agreed to assume toward the Indians the obligations formerly held by the United States. They were to pay the Indians the same annuities they had been receiving from the United States and to protect and defend them and assume responsibility for their welfare. These pledges they did not keep, but their failure was perhaps due more to inability to carry out the terms of the treaties than to any lack of good faith.
though it doubtless has put you to much inconvenience. Wheeler lives 30 miles from Fort Smith nearly on the Waldron road. If John has got back you might send him home leading a horse, and he could get it for you. I will keep you posted.
P. S. If the convention adopts the ordinance send me an official letter as chief, enclosing the ordinance, Genl. Cooper will send it if you have no other way.13
E. C. BOUDINOT TO STAND WATIE
Fort Smith, June 27, 1863.
I had decided to start to-day for your hdqtrs. but Genl. Steele tells me you are again on the scout across the river, and there would be no chance for me to see you soon if I went. I therefore conclude I had better go to Fayetteville and see if anything can be done speedily about the cartridge boxes I partially engaged. I have received authority from Genl. Holmes to purchase any articles necessary for your command or to make contracts that I may deem necessary. I shall therefore have it in my power, I hope, to do something substantial.
William has sent me a copy of the ordinances adopted by the Convention—to make the provision law work, the Commissioner in place of money should either be furnished with warrants or bonds of the Cherokee Nation, or an arrangement should at once be made with Genl. Smith to allow him to draw on the army rations and transportation, until such time as other arrangements can be made with the Confederate Govt. If this be thought the better plan, the Commissioner should at once receive his appt. from you and be directed to go and see Genl. Smith personally. I will accompany him if the Convention should desire it.14
13One wing of the Cherokees repudiated their alliance with tht,1 Confederacy, so there were now two Cherokee Nations—the northern wing headed by John Ross and the southern wing with Stand Watie as principal chief. Each claimed to be the rightful nation.
14Many of the Cherokee people were virtually destitute and it was necessary to make some provision to care for them.
The Conscript law in the shape they have passed it amounts to nothing—they chose to strike out the only clause that made the law of any force; they substituted “arrest” and “imprisonment” for a deprivation of all rights as a citizen, and the confiscation of property, as I had the penalty for not enrolling. What does a skulker care for arrest, while here at Fort Smith or in Texas or anywhere out of the Cherokee Nation? Suppose a man resists arrest and killed the man who arrests him, where’s your redress? You can’t treat him as a deserter; the fact is the law is of no binding force. I have said this to no one else, but you look at the law and see if I’m not right.
As ever, Yours,
P. S. Cally Thompson visits your camp; you might make him serviceable in some way. If you write to me, direct to care of Genl. Steele.
E. C. BOUDINOT TO STAND WATIE
Monroe, La., Nov. 4, 1863.
I managed to borrow on my own responsibility $10,000 for the use of our refugees.15 It seemed that neither Smith nor Scott could advance a dollar without assuming a responsibility outside of their official characters, and while each were ready to advance if the other would be responsible, neither would do it on his own responsibility, so the matter stands. You can say to the Commissioner—Martin and the others—that in 8 weeks at the fartherest I will have at Shreveport subject to the order of the Treasurer, or
15When the Cherokees joined the Confederacy many northern sympathizers among these Indians fled north to refugee camps in Kansas where they spent two miserable winters. In the summer of 1862 came an invasion of the Indian Territory from the north by troops under Col. William Wier. This failed, but the following summer Col. W. A. Phillips again invaded the Cherokee country and captured Tahlequah and Fort Gibson which the North held for the remainder of the war. The southern non-combatants fled south before the advance of these northern troops and established themselves in refugee camps along Red River or across the line in Texas. Here they spent the winters of 1863-4 and 1864-5 enduring all the hardships that the northern Indians had suffered the two preceding winters. See Official Records of the Rebellion, Vol. XXII, Part 1, pp. 447-448 and Part 11, pp. 1104-1105.
of the Court, if I can so arrange it—at least $40,000. In this time if I can do anything I can accomplish it.
I have news to-night, that Bragg has again whipped Rosecranse—tho the report of his having surrendered needs confirmation. I don’t believe it. Lee is also reported to have whipped Meade near Manassas.16
I will write you just what the news is, when I get across the Miss. which will be in three days, without an accident.
ELIAS CORNELIUS BOUDINOT TO STAND WATIE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Richmond, Va., Jany. 24, 1864.
I regret exceedingly that I have not been able to forward money sooner. Mr. Scott did not make the arrangement that I expected, and he promised, when we left Shreveport, so I was compelled to introduce a bill to that especial end.17 It passed with but one dissenting vote, and, has but just received the approval of the President. No one unacquainted with legislative delays will appreciate the embarrassment under which I have labored. I have procured the money at last without assistance, and hope our Commissioners will make it go as far as possible, for it must be borne in mind that this money will have to be returned after the war, or else the C. S. will retain the amount out of moneys that may then be collectable, and that this $100,000, Confederate is the representation of $100,000 gold. Our claims for indemnity under the treaty are not effected by this loan.
Congress is making slow preparation to meet the enemy in the Spring from the tone of Northern papers the Yankees believe they have us subjugated already, and are
17Scott was the Confederate Commissioner of Indian Affairs. The money here referred to was in the nature of a loan or an advance of future annuities. As Boudinot states, further in his letter, the money was to be returned at the close of the war and as the advance was in the depreciated Confederate currency good business demanded that as little of it be borrowed as possible, barely enough to relieve the destitute Cherokee refugees.
quarreling among themselves about what shall be done with us. Lee & Johnson, will undeceive them in the Spring. 150000 men completely investing Charleston might starve it out, and I think that is the only way it can be taken.
I insisted on Genl. Steele’s removal as soon as I arrived here last November, a few weeks since Rev. Robinson from the Chickasaw Nation came on with Sundry petitions, praying that Cooper be promoted and placed in command of the Indian Territory.18 He said he represented the wishes and sentiment of all the Indians, Cherokees as well as Choctaws, and that it was the opinion of your best friends that you were incompetent to command a brigade, and hardly able to command a regiment.19 These friends of yours I ascertained to be Judge Keys, Judge Taylor, Mackey, Drew, Parks, Bob and other warm friends; Robinson I found to be a simple fellow he goes home under the impression that he accomplished much, when in reality he did nothing. I told the President that while I did not think Cooper the best General we could select for the command of our Dept. we infinitely preferred him to Steele. And I was assured Steele should be removed long before Robinson arrived. My plan which I have submitted to the President is to place Price in command of the Dept. of Mo. and the Indian Country, give him all the Mo. Infantry skeleton regts., let Cooper command the brigade of white troops and organize the Indians into three small brigades to be commanded by citizens of the several Nations. The President told me he was much pleased with my scheme, and has written to Kirby Smith about it; if Price will accept, I think there is little doubt but he will be assigned to that command, in spite of Robinson’s threats that, if Cooper is not made the commander in chief all the Indians will de-
18Steele quite early became very unpopular in the Indian Territory while the ambitious Cooper, whose acquaintance with the Indians was wide, owing to his previous service as agent of the Choctaw and Chickasaw, was quite popular. Cooper made every effort to secure the appointment to the command of Indian Territory but did not succeed until later. Steele’s place was filled by the appointment of General S. B. Maxey, who was in turn supplanted by Cooper just before the close of the war.
19There was some truth in this. Stand Watie always wanted to lead his troops in person. He was a dashing cavalry leader but hated the routine and red tape of military life. In consequence he was a better Captain or Colonel than he was Brigadier General.
sert the cause. Judge Dick Fields is here he has not told me his business, perhaps he has a delicacy in telling me he is the bearer of dispatches from a secret caucus which affected to represent the Cherokee people, recommending Cooper for Major Genl. and declaring that I had lost the confidence of the Cherokee people, which they would testify to by electing another delegate, bah! I can laugh at all such plots. I will be with you in May or June by that time I shall have done all for our country, that I am able to do here. I shall succeed in collecting from the State of Va. $13500, which I will carry with me to our commissioners. Everything is extravagantly high here. My board costs me $300 per month, while I get $230 pay, so you see I am not making a pile being congressman, board at the principal hotels $20 per day. The Sec. of War has decided that Crawford and Vore must elect which position they will hold, Q. M. or Agent, and that they cannot hold both.20
The Yankees will summon all their energies in the Spring to take Richmond and Atlanta, McClellan is likely to be their conservative candidate for President, and either Lincoln or Grant the radical, the electoral votes of La. Arks. Kentucky, Tenn. & Maryland will be thrown for Lincoln or Grant. McClellan stands no chance in these States, although he alone is in favor of giving the South her Constitutional rights. One tenth of the populations of these states is allowed to represent the whole.
I wish you would forward as soon as possible a statement of the condition of your forces, whether you have a battalion organized toward your third regiment etc.
Give your letter to Scott and he will forward it.
My regards to all the boys.
As ever, Affly,
P. S. I have introduced two bills to provide for the payment of all Q. M. Commissary and Ordinance acts, in the Ind. country whether regular or otherwise, also a bill to pay the dead soldiers accts, in a more summary manner
20Crawford and Vore were Indian agents of the Confederate States that had been appointed as quartermasters also. When the Civil War broke out, all the United States Indian agents in the Indian Territory went over to the South and were provisionally retained for service.
than now provided for. I will send a copy of the bill introduced by me and adopted, providing for elections to fill vacancies etc.
Washington D. C.
Oct. 31, 1864.
I shall not leave for Richmond before the 10th. of next month, believing that I can be instrumental in effecting more good for the Indians by delaying a few days than if I should hasten on. Senator Mitchell—one of my best friends, and one of the truest friends the Indians had is no more, and Col. R. W. Johnson is prostrated by a serious accident and general bad health—he will not be able to take his seat in the Senate this winter. At this particular time our two most influential and zealous friends will not be able to serve us. I will write you again in a week and hope to tell you something that will explain the appropriateness of my remaining.
Don’t fail to call the council and recommend the measures I have before suggested—for God’s sake and the sake of the naked refugees let some person go across the river and buy cotton cards—and let them do it quick, it will soon be too late.21
Washington D. C.
We have been beaten: that is to say we have not been successful in securing an absolute separation.22 I am in
21The refugees were in very miserable condition and Boudinot is here urging Stand Watie to send some one across the Mississippi River to purchase cotton cards in order that the women in these refugee camps might spin and weave cotton cloth for a supply of clothing.
22At the close of the War, the Cherokees seemed hopelessly divided into two factions—the Ross party and the Stand Watie party. Each faction sent a commission to Washington in 1866 to make a treaty with the United States. The Stand Watie commission of which Boudinot was a member consisted of seven men. They wished to divide the Cherokee nation into two parts but failed in spite of their best efforts. Stand Watie was a member of this commission but had been called back to the Cherokee nation before negotiations had been completed.See U. S. mats. at Large, Vol. 14, pp. 755-799 for the treaties of 1866.
doubt as to the proper course to pursue. Adair and the others wish to defeat the treaty the Rosses have signed, but I incline to the opinion that the better policy would be to accept what he put in their treaty as it does not commit us to any thing, and gives us a good chance to renew the demand for a division at a more favorable opportunity.
The treaty grants a general amnesty, declares confiscation laws void, and gives the Ross party no jurisdiction over us in civil and criminal cases before the courts. They shoulder all the responsibility of the negro matter. We get none of the money. I haven’t time nor patience to explain.
Washington D. C.
Dec. 2, 1866.
I feel disgraced by the treachery and bad faith of Ridge and Adair: I feel humiliated by this dishonest and surprising meanness. They haven’t succeeded in swindling me as they tried to do, but they made a bungling attempt that way, and their intentions were plain enough: they will lose money by the operation, for I shall insist on you and Scales having an equal share. Counting Ridge in there are seven delegates—$28,000. has been allowed, which would give us $4,000. apiece.23 They agreed to pay $8,000. for atty’s fees. When I receive my $4,000, I am willing to contribute my quota less the extra expenses I have been put to to prevent my amiable colleagues from stealing all my
23The seven delegates who formed the commission from the southern wing of the Cherokees were Boudinot, Stand Watie, and his son Saladin Watie, Adair, Fields, Scales, and John Rollin Ridge. The last named was a son of John Ridge and so a cousin of Stand Watie and Boudinot. He had killed a man in the Cherokee nation about 1849 and fled to Missouri and from there had crossed the Plains to California. Here he had lived from 1849 to 1866 when he came to Washington to take a place with the southern delegation of the Cherokees and had been elected as chairman of the commission. He was an author, poet, and newspaper man. After the failure to get a division of the Cherokee nation Ridge returned to California, where he died a year or so later. It seems possible that the dissensions within the commission may have been in part responsible for its failure to achieve the objects sought. See Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. IV, p. 312 for a sketch of Ridge’s life.
share. Adair, Ridge, Fields and Saladin have each received $2500. leaving $1500. due them yet. I will see that they get no more, and that your and Scales full share is reserved to you both.
Saladin, so Fields tells me, was in the daily habit of denouncing me as a traitor. Strange that Ridge with his ridiculous and groundless slanders could have so easily influenced Saladin to doubt me, whom he has known so long and well.
Ridge is a scoundrel! there is no use in denying it. With him and Adair I shall have nothing to do henceforth. Adair’s conduct in the matter has been beyond all comparison mean, dishonest and contemptible. I shall probably leave for Fort Smith this month. I shall leave things here so that they can’t rob us when the rest of the money is paid.
I have friends who will assist and back me, and my prospects for making money are good. I am going to turn my attention especially to that business hereafter. I may be of service to you.
Love to Aunt Sallie and the children and Uncle Charley.
Washington D. C.
Jan. 9, 1868.
My dear Uncle:
I was so glad to hear from you and know that the arrangements concerning my tobacco business were satisfactory to you. I believe we will be able to make a handsome thing of it this year, and so better and better every year. I calculate all expenses will be paid up in the spring and then we will have clear sailing. I wish to put up in conjunction with the factory a steam flour mill. What think you of it? If I save enough out of the treaty matter I will put it in a mill and give you an interest if you think it best. If I should fail here, however, we can put up the mill with our factory profits by the 1st of September.
I have drawn up and had introduced an important railroad bill. It is my own invention and I am entitled to a patent right therefor. The bill incorporates the Central Indian R. R. Co., the first directors to be apportioned to
the several nations according to population, and the subsequent directors to represent the several nations in proportion to the stock subscribed. My plan is to allow the Indians to build their own road and own it. They have got the land and money to do it, and it will be their own fault if they dont. The bill takes well and is already printed24
Bill Penn has not yet arrived being detained by sickness of his wife in Kansas.
I hope you will have the necessary buildings put up as soon as possible about the factory and move up and take possession.
I am hard pushed for means for the delegation has not provided for me.25 Sometimes I get in excessive bad humor, when I think that notwithstanding all the hard work I have done, and am doing, for the Cherokees, they wish to throw me overboard.
But dear Uncle, keep my affairs straight at home and we will make money. Now with money and brains we can win in spite of family malice and prejudices.
E. C. BOUDINOT TO J. M. BELL.
New York City
Feby. 22, 1873.
Yesterday Senator Harlan, by order of the Indian Committee, reported my Oklahoma bill.26 I do not expect to
24The treaties of 1866 provided that the Indians should grant right of ways to railroads across their lands. Boudinot’s plan to have the Indians organize their own railway company to build railroads is an interesting one but, of course, impracticable, as the Indians were too poor to undertake such an enterprise.
25After the war each of the Five Civilized Tribes maintained a delegation in Washington to look after tribal interests.
26J. M. Bell was Stand Watie’s brother-in-law. Stand Watie himself had died In 1871 and his son Saladin three years earlier or in 1868. Boudinot was eager to secure the abolition of the tribal governments of the Indians and the substitution of a regular territorial government. His plan included the taking of land In severalty by the Indians and the sale of surplus lands to white settlers.
push it any further this session, all I expected to do was to show Adair & Co. how easily I could get the thing done. Adair you will remember called on Rice of Ark. who had charge of the bill & after his usual soft talk returned to his friends and said “It’s all fixed.” The next night Rice sent for me and requested me to write his report for the Committee; So much for Bill Pain’s fixing. If I have charge of the campaign next winter, I will put through the bill in spite of all the delegates and lawyers and money that the other side may raise.
I shall not decide to deliver my lectures until some of my friends return from St. Louis, but if I do not this spring I certainly shall next fall. If I live. I shall return to Washington to-night where I shall expect to hear from you and the state of things in the Nation.
Regards to all my friends,
E. C. Boudinot.