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HITCHCOCK, ETHAN ALLEN (1798-1870)

Known for his investigation of fraud perpetrated on some of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory, Ethan Allen Hitchcock was born at Vergennes, Vermont, on May 18, 1798. A grandson of the Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen, Hitchcock graduated from West Point in 1817. He pursued a military career that involved assignments at the United States Military Academy as an instructor and service in the Old Northwest, in the Seminole and Mexican wars, and as commander of the U.S. Army's Pacific Division. He retired from the military as a colonel in 1855 only to return as a major general of volunteers during the Civil War.

The hallmark of Hitchcock's career began in 1841 with his appointment to investigate rumors of fraud in Indian Territory. His investigation was painstaking and thorough, uncovering a wide range of offenses involving dishonest business practices among some of the agents and contractors in Indian Territory. After five months Hitchcock returned to Washington, D.C., to prepare an extensive report including one hundred exhibits culled from his journals accumulated during his investigation. However, because of delicate negotiations with the Cherokee at the time, the government suppressed his report of graft and corruption for more than a year before presenting it to Congress.

Hitchcock's observations of conditions in Indian Territory went unnoticed for ninety years until noted historian Grant Foreman edited portions of Hitchcock's diaries for publication under the title A Traveler in Indian Territory: The Journal of Ethan Allen Hitchcock, late Major-General in the United States Army. A man of literary ability, Hitchcock wrote numerous books on religion, philosophy, and military tactics before his death at Sparta, Georgia, on August 5, 1870.

SEE ALSO: INDIAN REMOVAL, MILITARY–NINETEENTH CENTURY, WESTWARD EXPANSION.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Grant Foreman, The Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokee, Chicksaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1934). Ethan Allen Hitchcock, A Traveler in Indian Territory: The Journal of Ethan Allen Hitchcock, ed. Grant Foreman (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: The Torch Press, 1930).

Jerome O. Steffen

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