Indian Wars Discussed By Presidents Part III

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Andrew Jackson

While in Office As President During the Term of March 4, 1829 to March 4 1833.

Volume: II   Page: 603
                                                                                                                     December 4, 1832
Fourth Annual Message

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

(excerpt) "The hostile incursions of the Sac and Fox Indians necessarily led to the interposition of the Government. A portion of the troops, under Generals Scott and Atkinson, and of the militia of the State of Illinois were called into the field. After a harassing warfare, prolonged by the nature of the country and by the difficulty of procuring subsistence, the Indians were entirely defeated, and the disaffected band dispersed or destroyed. The result has been creditable to the troops engaged in the service. Severe as is the lesson to the Indians, it was rendered necessary by their unprovoked aggressions, and it is to be hoped that its impression will be permanent and salutary.

This campaign has evinced the efficient organization of the Army and its capacity for prompt and active service. Its several departments have performed their functions with energy and dispatch, and the general movement was satisfactory.

Our fellow-citizens upon the frontiers were ready, as they always are, in the tender of their services in the hour of danger. But a more efficient organization of our militia system is essential to that security which is one of the principal objects of all governments. Neither our situation nor our institutions require or permit the maintenance of a large regular force. History offers too many lessons of the fatal result of such a measure not to warn us against its adoption here."


President Andrew Jackson while in office March 4, 1833 to March 4, 1837

Volume: III    Page: 32
                                                                                                         December 3, 1833

Fifth Annual Message

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

(excerpt) " Our relations with the various Indian tribes have been undisturbed since the termination of the difficulties growing out of the hostile aggressions of the Sac and Fox Indians. Several treaties have been formed for the relinquishment of territory to the United States and for the migration of the occupants of the region assigned for their residence west of the Mississippi. Should these treaties be ratified by the Senate, provision will have been made for the removal of almost all the tribes now remaining east of that river and for the termination of many difficult and embarrassing questions arising out of their anomalous political condition. It is to be hoped that those portions of two of the Southern tribes, which in that event will present the only remaining difficulties, will realize the necessity of emigration, and will speedily resort to it. My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes can not exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear. Such has been their fate heretofore, and if it is to be averted and it is it can only be done by a general removal beyond our boundary and by the reorganization of their political system upon principles adapted to the new relations in which they will be placed. The experiment which has been recently made has so far proved successful."


Volume: III   Page: 253

Eighth Annual Message
                                                                                                         Washington, December 5, 1836.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

(excerpt) "The military movements rendered necessary by the aggressions of the hostile portions of the Seminole and Creek tribes of Indians, and by other circumstances, have required the active employment of nearly our whole regular force, including the Marine Corps, and of large bodies of militia and volunteers. With all these events so far as they were known at the seat of Government before the termination of your last session you are already acquainted, and it is therefore only needful in this place to lay before you a brief summary of what has since occurred.

The war with the Seminoles during the summer was on our part chiefly confined to the protection of our frontier settlements from the incursions of the enemy, and, as a necessary and important means for the accomplishment of that end, to the maintenance of the posts previously established. In the course of this duty several actions took place, in which the bravery and discipline of both officers and men were conspicuously displayed, and which I have deemed it proper to notice in respect to the former goby the granting of brevet rank for gallant services in the field. But as the force of the Indians was not so far weakened by these partial successes as to lead them to submit, and as their savage inroads were frequently repeated, early measures were taken for placing at the disposal of Governor Call, who as commander in chief of the Territorial militia had been temporarily invested with the command, an ample force for the purpose of resuming offensive operations in the most efficient manner so soon as the season should permit. Major-General Jesup was also directed, on the conclusion of his duties in the Creek country, to repair to Florida and assume the command."


President Martin Van Buren while in office during March 4, 1837, to March 4, 1841.

Volume: III   Page: 616

Fourth Annual Message
                                                                                                        Washington, December 5, 1840.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

(excerpt) "The emigration of the Seminoles alone has been attended with serious difficulty and occasioned bloodshed, hostilities having been commenced by the Indians in Florida under the apprehension that they would be compelled by force to comply with their treaty stipulations. The execution of the treaty of Paynes Landing, signed in 1832, but not ratified until 1834, was postponed at the solicitation of the Indians until 1836, when they again renewed their agreement to remove peaceably to their new homes in the West. In the face of this solemn and renewed compact they broke their faith and commenced hostilities by the massacre of Major Dade's command, the murder of their agent, General Thompson, and other acts of cruel treachery. When this alarming and unexpected intelligence reached the seat of Government, every effort appears to have been made to reinforce General Clinch, who commanded the troops then in Florida. General Eustis was dispatched with reinforcements from Charleston, troops were called out from Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, and General Scott was sent to take the command, with ample powers and ample means. At the first alarm General Gaines organized a force at New Orleans, and without waiting for orders landed in Florida, where he delivered over the troops he had brought with him to General Scott. Upon entering the administration of the Government I found the Territory of Florida a prey to Indian atrocities. A strenuous effort was immediately made to bring those hostilities to a close, and the army under General Jesup was reinforced until it amounted to 10,000 men, and furnished with abundant supplies of every description. In this campaign a great number of the enemy were captured and destroyed, but the character of the contest only was changed. The Indians, having been defeated in every engagement, dispersed in small bands throughout the country and became an enterprising, formidable, and ruthless banditti."


President John Tyler while in Office during April 4, 1841 to March 4, 1845

Volume: IV   Page: 80

First Annual Message
                                                                                                         Washington, December 7, 1841

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

(excerpt) "The war with the Indian tribes on the peninsula of Florida has during the last summer and fall been prosecuted with untiring activity and zeal. A summer campaign was resolved upon as the best mode of bringing it to a close. Our brave officers and men who have been engaged in that service have suffered toils and privations and exhibited an energy which in any other war would have won for them unfading laurels. In despite of the sickness incident to the climate, they have penetrated the fastnesses of the Indians, broken up their encampments, and harassed them unceasingly. Numbers have been captured, and still greater numbers have surrendered and have been transported to join their brethren on the lands elsewhere allotted to them by the Government, and a strong hope is entertained that under the conduct of the gallant officer at the head of the troops in Florida that troublesome and expensive war is destined to a speedy termination. With all the other Indian tribes we are enjoying the blessings of peace. Our duty as well as our best interests prompts us to observe in all our intercourse with them fidelity in fulfilling our engagements, the practice of strict justice, as well as the constant exercise of acts of benevolence and kindness. These are the great instruments of civilization, and through the use of them alone can the untutored child of the forest be induced to listen to its teachings.


Volume: IV   Page: 154
                                                                                                        Washington, May 10, 1842.

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

(excerpt) "The season for active hostilities in Florida having nearly terminated, my attention has necessarily been directed to the course of measures to be pursued hereafter in relation to the few Indians yet remaining in that Territory. Their number is believed not to exceed 240, of whom there are supposed to be about 80 warriors, or males capable of bearing arms. The further pursuit of these miserable beings by a large military force seems to be as injudicious as it is unavailing. The history of the last year's campaign in Florida has satisfactorily shown that notwithstanding the vigorous and incessant operations of our troops (which can not be exceeded), the Indian mode of warfare, their dispersed condition, and the very smallness of their number (which increases the difficulty of finding them in the abundant and almost inaccessible hiding places of the Territory) render any further attempt to secure them by force impracticable except by the employment of the most expensive means. The exhibition of force and the constant efforts to capture or destroy them of course places them beyond the reach of overtures to surrender. It is believed by the distinguished officer in command there that a different system should now be pursued to attain the entire removal of all the Indians in Florida, and he recommends that hostilities should cease unless the renewal of them be rendered necessary by new aggressions; that communications should be opened by means of the Indians with him to insure them a peaceful and voluntary surrender, and that the military operations should hereafter be directed to the protection of the inhabitants."


Volume: IV    Page: 198

Second Annual Message
                                                                                                            Washington, December 6, 1842

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

(excerpt) "The vexatious, harassing, and expensive war which so long prevailed with the Indian tribes inhabiting the peninsula of Florida has happily been terminated, whereby our Army has been relieved from a service of the most disagreeable character and the Treasury from a large expenditure. Some casual outbreaks may occur, such as are incident to the close proximity of border settlers and the Indians, but these, as in all other cases, may be left to the care of the local authorities, aided when occasion may require by the forces of the United States. A sufficient number of troops will be maintained in Florida so long as the remotest apprehensions of danger shall exist, yet their duties will be limited rather to the garrisoning of the necessary posts than to the maintenance of active hostilities. It is to be hoped that a territory so long retarded in its growth will now speedily recover from the evils incident to a protracted war, exhibiting in the increased amount of its rich productions true evidences of returning wealth and prosperity. By the practice of rigid justice toward the numerous Indian tribes residing within our territorial limits and the exercise of a parental vigilance over their interests, protecting them against fraud and intrusion, and at the same time using every proper expedient to introduce among them the arts of civilized life, we may fondly hope not only to wean them from their love of war, but to inspire them with a love for peace and all its avocations. With several of the tribes great progress in civilizing them has already been made. The schoolmaster and the missionary are found side by side, and the remnants of what were once numerous and powerful nations may yet be preserved as the builders up of a new name for themselves and their posterity."

JOHN TYLER                                  

Website: The History
Article Name: Indian Wars Discussed By Presidents Part III
Researcher/Preparer/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my Collection of Books: "A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897". By James D. Richardson--a Representative from the State of Tennessee. Publisher: by Authority of Congress--1899. Ten volumes total. Copyright: 1897 by James D. Richardson.
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