Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics

Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics

David A. Nichols

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 0873518756

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


 “Lincoln and the Indians has stood the test of time and offers this generation of readers a valuable interpretation of the U.S. government’s Indian policies—and sometimes the lack thereof—during the Civil War era. Providing a critical perspective on Lincoln’s role, Nichols sets forth an especially incisive analysis of the trial of participants in the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota and Lincoln’s role in sparing the lives of most of those who were convicted.” 
—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer P rize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“For the Dakota people, the Indian System started with the Doctrine of Discovery and continued  through Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and beyond. The United States was bound to protect the rights of Indian parties. But in the end, the guilty were glorified and the laws for humanity disgraced. This book tells that story, and it should be required reading at all educational institutions.” 
—Sheldon Wolfchild, independent filmmaker, artist, and actor

“Undoubtedly the best book published on Indian affairs in the years of Lincoln’s presidency.” 
American Historical Review

David A. Nichols was vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Southwestern College in Kansas. He is a leading expert on the Eisenhower presidency, and his most recent book is Eisenhower 1956.

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unannounced upon the Northwestern Territories and States.”16 On 13 May, the Confederate secretary of war ordered the occupation of the Territory and the raising of two regiments of Indian troops. On 17 May, the Confederacy annexed the Indian Territory. That same month, Stand Watie of the Cherokees offered to organize troops and was made a colonel in the Confederate Army.17 Albert Pike’s efforts in the Indian Territory were soon rewarded with all the tribes except the Cherokees. Among the

Buckingham informed Governor Ramsey on 9 August 1862 that Minnesota had 2,681 troops due to fill its portion of the 300,000 troops being called up, Roll 13, Ramsey Papers. The number of 5,360 comes from a letter from Ramsey to Stanton, 25 August 1862, OR, 3:2, p. 457. 13. Stanton to Ramsey, 26 August 1862, Roll 13, Ramsey Papers; Ramsey to Lincoln, 27 August 1862, Roll 40, Lincoln Papers, LC, also found in OR, 1:13, p. 597; Lincoln to Ramsey, 27 August 1862, Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected

Case number 389 was typical. After he was asked if he was involved in a battle, the prisoner replied: “I saw nothing, but fired. I fired twice.” On those few words, the military tribunal acted, “And thereupon the case being closed, the commission was cleared and proceeded with their finding and sentence.” Moments later, the sentence was pronounced: “Guilty of the charge.” Lincoln’s lawyers recommended pardon in many such cases. They tried to distinguish between cases in which there were

man and 2 girls.” The Indian replied, “I was there, but I don’t know who shot them.” He was condemned to death. Case number 333 remained condemned on hearsay evidence. A Mrs. Robertson testified, “I heard prisoner say he was out at Green Lake and killed some one with an axe.” The prisoner replied that he struck the man only after he was dead. Slowly, case by case, the number of the condemned was reduced. Abraham Lincoln was apparently a torn man. If he failed to execute any Indians, he risked

1862, Roll 483, M619, LR, AGO, RG109, NA. 3. Pope to Sibley, 7, 10 October 1862, ibid. 4. Sibley to his wife, 17 October 1862, Roll 11, Henry Hastings Sibley Papers; Sioux Trial Transcripts, Military Commission, U.S. Army. 5. Welles Diary, 14 October 1862, Howard K. Beale, ed., The Diary of Gideon Welles, 1:171. 6. Abraham Lincoln to Henry M. Rice, 16 October 1862, Henry Mower Rice Papers; Pope to Sibley, 17 October 1862, Roll 483, M619, LR, AGO, RG109, NA. 7. Alexander Ramsey to Lincoln, 20

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