Indian Wars Discussed By Presidents Part II

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James Madison

While in Office As President During the Term of March 4, 1809 to March 4, 1817.

Volume: I   Page: 496
                                                                                             Washington, December 18, 1811

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

I lay before Congress two letters received from Governor Harrison, of the Indiana Territory, reporting the particulars and the issue of the expedition under his command, of which notice was taken in my communication of November 5.

While it is deeply lamented that so many valuable lives have been lost in the action which took place on the 7th ultimo, Congress will see with satisfaction the dauntless spirit and fortitude victoriously displayed by every description of the troops engaged, as well as the collected firmness which distinguished their commander on an occasion requiring the utmost exertions of valor and discipline.

It may reasonably be expected that the good effects of this critical defeat and dispersion of a combination of savages, which appears to have been spreading to a greater extent, will be experienced not only in cessation of the murders and depredations committed on our frontier, but in the prevention of any hostile incursions otherwise to have been apprehended.

The families of those brave and patriotic citizens who have fallen in this severe conflict will doubtless engage the favorable attention of Congress


volume: I   Page: 563
                                                                                                         Washington, December 5, 1815

Seventh Annual Message

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

(excerpt) " In conformity with the articles in the treaty of Ghent relating to the Indians, as well as with a view to the tranquility of our western and northwestern frontiers, measures were taken to establish an immediate peace with the several tribes who had been engaged in hostilities against the United States. Such of them as were invited to Detroit acceded readily to a renewal of the former treaties of friendship. Of the other tribes who were invited to a station on the Mississippi the greater number have also accepted the peace offered to them. The residue, consisting of the more distant tribes or parts of tribes, remain to be brought over by further explanations, or by such other means as may be adapted to the dispositions they may finally disclose.

The Indian tribes within and bordering on the southern frontier, whom a cruel war on their part had compelled us to chastise into peace, have latterly shown a restlessness which has called for preparatory measures for repressing it, and for protecting the commissioners engaged in carrying the terms of the peace into execution."


President James Monroe while in Office during the Term of March 4, 1817 to March 4, 1825

Volume: II    Pages: 31, 32

Washington, March 25, 1818

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

I now lay before Congress all the information in the possession of the Executive respecting the war with the Seminoles, and the measures which it has been thought proper to adopt for the safety of our fellow-citizens on the frontier exposed to their ravages. The enclosed documents show that the hostilities of this tribe were unprovoked, the offspring of a spirit long cherished and often manifested toward the United States, and that in the present instance it was extending itself to other tribes and daily assuming a more serious aspect. As soon as the nature and object of this combination were perceived the major-general commanding the Southern division of the troops of the United States was ordered to the theater of action, charged with the management of the war and vested with the powers necessary to give it effect. The season of the year being unfavorable to active operations, and the recesses of the country affording shelter to these savages in case of retreat, may prevent a prompt termination of the war; but it may be fairly presumed that it will not be long before this tribe and its associates receive the punishment which they have provoked and justly merited.

As almost the whole of this tribe inhabits the country within the limits of Florida, Spain was bound by the treaty of 1795 to restrain them from committing hostilities against the United States. We have seen with regret that her Government has altogether failed to fulfill this obligation, nor are we aware that it made any effort to that effect. When we consider her utter inability to check, even in the slightest degree, the movements of this tribe by her very small and incompetent force in Florida, we are not disposed to ascribe the failure to any other cause. The inability, however, of Spain to maintain her authority over the territory and Indians within her limits, and in consequence to fulfill the treaty, ought not to expose the United States to other and greater injuries. When the authority of Spain ceases to exist there, the United States have a right to pursue their enemy on a principle of self-defense. In this instance the right is more complete and obvious because we shall perform only what Spain was bound to have performed herself. To the high obligations and privileges of this great and sacred right of self-defense will the movement of our troops be strictly confined. Orders have been given to the general in command not to enter Florida unless it be in pursuit of the enemy, and in that case to respect the Spanish authority wherever it is maintained; and he will be instructed to withdraw his forces from the Province as soon as he shall have reduced that tribe to order, and secure our fellow-citizens in that quarter by satisfactory arrangements against its unprovoked and savage hostilities in future.


Volume: II   Page: 48
                                                                                                                December 2, 1818

To the House of Representatives of the United States:

I transmit to the House of Representatives copies of such documents referred to in the message of the 17th ultimo as have been prepared since that period. They present a full view of the operations of our troops employed in the Seminole war who entered Florida.

The residue of the documents, which are very voluminous, will be transmitted as soon as they can be prepared.


Volume: II    Page: 212

                                                                                                           Washington, December 2, 1823

Seventh Annual Message

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

(excerpt) " During the month of June last General Ashley and his party, who were trading under a license from the Government, were attacked by the Ricarees while peaceably trading with the Indians at their request. Several of the party were killed and wounded and their property taken or destroyed.

Colonel Leavenworth, who commanded Fort Atkinson, at the Council Bluffs, the most western post, apprehending that the hostile spirit of the Ricarees would extend to other tribes in that quarter, and that thereby the lives of the traders on the Missouri and the peace of the frontier would be endangered, took immediate measures to check the evil.

With a detachment of the regiment stationed at the Bluffs he successfully attacked the Ricaree village, and it is hoped that such an impression has been made on them as well as on the other tribes on the Missouri as will prevent a recurrence of future hostility."


President John Quincy Adams during his term in office March 4, 1825 to March 4, 1829.

Volume: II   Page: 387
                                                                                                                Washington, December 4, 1827

Third Annual Message

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

(Excerpt) " During the last summer a detachment of the Army has been usefully and successfully called to perform their appropriate duties. At the moment when the commissioners appointed for carrying into execution certain provisions of the treaty of August 19, 1825, with various tribes of the Northwestern Indians were about to arrive at the appointed place of meeting the unprovoked murder of several citizens and other acts of unequivocal hostility committed by a party of the Winnebago tribe, one of those associated in the treaty, followed by indications of a menacing character among other tribes of the same region, rendered necessary an immediate display of the defensive and protective force of the Union in that quarter. It was accordingly exhibited by the immediate and concerted movements of the governors of the State of Illinois and of the Territory of Michigan, and competent levies of militia, under their authority, with a corps of 700 men of United States troops, under the command of General Atkinson, who, at the call of Governor Cass, immediately repaired to the scene of danger from their station at St. Louis. Their presence dispelled the alarms of our fellow-citizens on those borders, and overawed the hostile purposes of the Indians. The perpetrators of the murders were surrendered to the authority and operation of our laws, and every appearance of purposed hostility from those Indian tribes has subsided."



Website: The History
Article Name: Indian Wars Discussed By Presidents Part II
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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