American Legends: The Life of Tecumseh

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Martin Luther King Jr. Black Power Years of Withdrawal Triangular Diplomacy: U. Roe v. Flower Power The New Right The End of the Cold War Republicans vs. The End of the American Century. In some ways, however, the comprehensive religio-political challenge that their movement embodied continued to trouble Americans. Among other things, Americans who wrote about this movement and its leading figures found it much easier and popular to divide in their representations what had been united in practice. In novels, plays, histories, and speeches, white writers split religion and politics, divorced passion from reason, contrasted Tenskwatawa with Tecumseh.

They demonized the prophet, who continued to live for more than two decades after the war, as the font of all of kinds of irrational excesses, the one who foolishly led his followers into the disastrous Battle of Tippecanoe November 7, And they mythologized his brother Tecumseh, now safely dead, as a romantic, but doomed, warrior who thought strategically and fought nobly, all for nought.

In sum, white writers celebrated Tecumseh as a singular genius, though one handicapped by his brother's incompetence. These simplistic stereotypes obscured the complex realities. In fact, some Native Americans in the South remembered Tecumseh as a prophet himself. And it is clear that he and Tenskwatawa both drew upon key ideas from previous intertribal resistance movements, movements that had fused prophetic teachings with political goals to rally Native communities facing new forms of domination. In other words, Tecumseh fought with everything he had to defend the cultural and political sovereignty of American Indians.

Dowd, Gregory Evans. Baltimore, Edmunds, R. The Shawnee Prophet. Lincoln, Nebr. Sugden, John.

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Tecumseh: A Life. New York , White, Richard. T ecumseh was a Shawnee war chief and one of the most influential of all Native American leaders. Respected by both friends and enemies as a powerful public speaker and a dynamic, humane person, he tried to convince Native Americans from many different tribes to join together to keep white settlers from taking over traditional Native American lands. Tecumseh had won many recruits and become a serious threat to white American settlement in the Northwest Territory when, during the War of , he decided to ally himself and his people with the British side.

His death during the Battle of the Thames spelled the end of his dream of a Native American confederacy.

American Legends: The Life of Tecumseh (Hörbuch Download) | Charles River Editors | avijihybihyl.ga

The son of a veteran Shawnee warrior named Puckesinwa and Methoataske, a woman who may have been of Creek or Cherokee origin, Tecumseh was born in the Shawnee village of Old Piqua, which was located on the Mad River in what is now western Ohio. His name means "flying or springing across. But the last quarter of the eighteenth century brought a major change to the lives of the Shawnees and other Native Americans as white American settlers began to enter the area called the Northwest Territory including the present-day states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and parts of Minnesota by the U.

The lifestyles of the Native Americans and whites of European descent were very different, and conflicts soon arose. One of the major conflicts involved the concept of property, for most Native Americans believed that land could not be owned by any one person but must be shared by all. Although Americans made treaties to obtain land from various representatives of Native American tribes, other Native Americans did not recognize such agreements.

At the same time, some Americans also failed to live up to the terms of treaties. As a result, violent attacks by each side upon the other became increasingly common. Tecumseh grew up in the midst of this time of great chance and conflict, and in the violence touched his life directly when his father was killed by Long Knives the Native American term for whites in the Battle of Point Pleasant. Three years later, the Shawnee chief Cornstalk called Corn-planter in some sources , whom Tecumseh greatly admired, also was killed by whites.

Enraged and alarmed by the prospect of losing both their land and their lives, Shawnees stepped up their attacks on white settlements. The U. Even though there were more American than Native American losses, the attack sent ripples of terror through the entire Shawnee tribe. Soon about one-third of them one thousand people decided to leave the area and settle in what is now southeastern Missouri. Tecumseh's mother was one of these.

She left her ten-year-old son in the care of his sister Tecumpease. Tecumseh's brother Chicksika whose intense hatred for white people dated to their father's murder also took responsibility for him, teaching him the skills of hunting and war that he would need as a Shawnee man. Tecumseh's courage and leadership ability were evident early in his life, when he would organize and lead hunting parties with other young boys.

When he was about fifteen years old, he took part in his first battle, fighting against white settlers on the Mad River. After witnessing Chicksika being slightly wounded, Tecumseh fled the battle. Although he soon returned and was forgiven by the other warriors for running away, Tecumseh remembered the incident with shame and was determined never to repeat it. In the years that followed, Tecumseh took part in many fights as the Shawnee attempted to protect their territory. At seventeen, he participated in an attack on a white settlement near present-day Maysville in which all of the settlers but one were killed.

The warriors brought the one survivor back to their camp and spent the next day torturing him to death. Tecumseh was horrified by this act and spoke out against it, claiming that torturing prisoners was not an honorable way for a warrior to behave. His speech was so convincing that those involved promised to stop this practice. The incident was an early hint of Tecumseh's considerable powers as an orator speechmaker as well as his compassion for other human beings.

Now a young man—and passionately opposed to white encroachment gradually taking over on Native American lands—Tecumseh traveled around with his brother, visiting their mother's village in Missouri as well as both Shawnee and Miami settlements in southern Illinois. In Tecumseh witnessed Chicksika's death by whites in a clash near Nashville, Tennessee. Two years later, he headed north again. He became a follower of a Miami chief named Little Turtle c. Again, the U. Troops under General Josiah Harmar clashed with warriors in , and the next year Tecumseh took part as the leader of a scouting party in a battle against forces under General Arthur St.

Clair , who was then the governor of the Northwest Territory. The same year, Tecumseh again traveled south, rallying the Shawnee as well as Creeks and Cherokees to resist whites and building a reputation as a dynamic leader. Meanwhile, the U. Army improved its efforts to stem Native American aggression through better planning and increased supplies. On August 20, , U. The Americans lost 38 soldiers, while several hundred warriors—including another of Tecumseh's brothers, Sauwauseekau—were killed. The battle was followed by a two-month conference attended by about a thousand Native Americans from twelve tribes.

On August 3, representatives of the tribe signed the Greenville Treaty, in which they agreed to give a large area of land that included most of what is now Ohio to the U. Tecumseh did not sign the treaty and, furious that those who had would give away so much land, he refused to acknowledge the agreement.

Since Little Turtle was among the treaty's signers, Tecumseh now became the leading chief of those Native Americans who opposed white settlement. He began to express the idea that treaties signed by individuals were not valid, since the land belonged to all Native Americans. Meanwhile, another member of Tecumseh's family was making a name for himself.


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Tecumseh's brother Laulewasika was an unpopular figure who—like many Native Americans who had adopted, to varying degrees, white ways—was addicted to alcohol. But in Laulewasika claimed to have had a vision in which the Great Spirit the Native American version of a supreme being or god showed him the path that Native Americans must take to survive. Changing his name to Tenskwatawa which means "the open door" , he began to preach that Shawnees must return to their own traditions, abandoning the use of the tools, clothing, weapons, and especially alcohol of white people.

Instead, they should develop their traditional farming skills and refuse to accept anything from whites on credit. Tenskwatawa established a settlement at Greenville, Ohio, where a steadily increasing number of followers joined him. Tenskwatawa's movement was essentially a religious one, while Tecumseh's goals were more political. Still, he recognized that by teaming up with his brother he could recruit more warriors for his own cause.

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Thus Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa joined forces, together promoting the goals of land shared in common by all Native Americans, and an alliance or confederacy that erased the boundaries and, hopefully, the sometimes deep-seated animosities between tribes. Their numbers grew, and eventually the area around Greenville had been so depleted of game and fish along with increasing numbers of white settlers moving into the area that the two leaders began to look for a new location.

With permission from the Potawotami and Kickapoo tribes, they settled on a spot on the west bank of the Tippecanoe River in present-day Indiana , where it meets the Wabash River. The settlement became known as Prophet's Town. Tecumseh began traveling southward to try to gain more recruits, even venturing as far as Florida. He also went north to Canada, establishing links with the British and acquiring weapons, ammunition, and clothing from them.

As he spoke to various tribes, Tecumseh often received a cool reception from older leaders, who felt threatened by the Shawnee chief and who warned their people about the dangers of making alliances with old enemies. Many younger warriors, however, embraced Tecumseh's ideas with enthusiasm. By Tecumseh had gained the support of members of the Sauk, Winnebago, Creek, Cherokee, and Seminole tribes and about one thousand of them had gathered at Prophet's Town. During the same period that Tecumseh was winning recruits to his cause, William Henry Harrison ; see biographical entry , the governor of the Northwest Territory, was doing everything he could to make his region safe for white settlement.

When he heard about the treaty, Tecumseh was enraged, insisting that the chiefs involved—whom he threatened to kill—had had no right to make such a deal. By this time Harrison had heard rumors of the two charismatic Shawnee leaders who had attracted such a following, and the rumors made him nervous. Wrongly assuming that Tenskwatawa was in charge, Harrison invited him to a meeting at Vincennes, the territorial capital, in August Tecumseh attended Harrison's meeting in place of Tenskwatawa.

In Benjamin Drake's book, Life of Tecumseh , a witness at the meeting described the Native American leader as "about six feet high, straight, with large, fine features, and altogether a daring, bold-looking fellow," who brought with him four hundred warriors in full war paint. The meeting grew tense and almost came to blows, but Tecumseh and his followers eventually retreated.

In there was another meeting between Tecumseh and Harrison, which was more peaceful thanks to the presence of U. According to Tecumseh's biographer R. David Edmunds, Harrison may have been Tecumseh's sworn enemy but he also admired him, writing that "the implicit obedience and respect which the followers of Tecumseh pay to him is really astonishing and … bespeaks him one of those uncommon geniuses, which spring up occasionally to produce revolutions and overturn the established order of things.

Soon after his meeting with Harrison, Tecumseh set off for the south to attempt to win converts from tribes in Mississippi, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida. Harrison took advantage of Tecumseh's absence, marching a thousand soldiers toward Prophet's Town with the intention of teaching those gathered there a lesson. Harrison's army camped a few miles from the settlement waiting for an opportunity to attack. Meanwhile, Tecumseh had instructed Tenskwatawa to strictly avoid any kind of conflict with the whites. Tenskwatawa, however, disobeyed Tecumseh's instructions by ordering an attack on Harrison's men during the early morning hours of November 7, The next day, the Americans burned Prophet's Town.

Tecumseh returned in early to find the settlement in ruins, and his brother disgraced by the defeat. Tecumseh exiled his brother and vowed to seek revenge for what would become known as the Battle of Tippecanoe.

True or False?

Still, his dream of a powerful Native American alliance had suffered a major blow. Despite the Native Americans' defeat, attacks on white settlers increased. Instead of seeing the Native Americans' loss of their traditional lands as the motivation for these attacks, many Americans including Harrison blamed the British, accusing them of encouraging and aiding the Native Americans in their violent resistance.


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Some even claimed that British officials paid warriors for white scalps it was a Native American custom to remove and retain the scalp of fallen enemies. It was provoked by two major issues. The first was Britain's maritime policy of impressment in its war with France. This policy was where British officials boarded U. The other issue that led to the war was Americans' belief that Great Britain was encouraging Native Americans to attack white settlers who were moving west. When the war began both the United States and Great Britain knew that it would be a great advantage to have as many Native Americans as possible on their side.

The British gained the upper hand when Tecumseh—convinced that the a British victory would mean the establishment of a Native American homeland within U. When Tecumseh aligned himself with the British, he brought with him thousands of warriors. In fact, the U. Of course, not all of these were warriors, for the men brought their families with them to the British camps, and feeding them all would become a major burden for the British.

During the next year and a half, Tecumseh and his men would fight in several important battles such as those at the Raisin River, Fort Meigs , and Fort Stephenson , and some commentators have asserted that the Native American presence was a major factor in the inability of the United States to successfully invade Canada. In the summer of , Tecumseh was given command of all Native American forces and made a brigadier general in the British army, a rare honor for a Native American.

He was introduced to General Isaac Brock ; see biographical entry , commander of the British forces in the northwest region, and the two immediately liked and respected each other. Tecumseh's warriors were beside Brock's soldiers on August 15, when U. Even though he had more men than Brock, Hull had been spooked by the prospect of an attack that included Native Americans, who were known among whites for their brutality. Tecumseh, however, was known for taking mercy on prisoners and for preventing needless slaughter and torture, and everyone knew that his word could be trusted.

Tecumseh was deeply saddened when Brock was killed in October at the Battle of Queenston. His replacement was the overweight Colonel Henry Procter , who failed to gain the Shawnee chief's respect. On September 10, , the Americans won a major battle on Lake Erie and thus gained dominance on that important body of water. With his supply lines now cut off, Proctor ordered his troops to retreat from the Detroit area—of which they had had control for more than a year—and move toward eastern Canada.

Adamant that the British should turn and face the Americans instead of fleeing, Tecumseh was incensed. As a local newspaper the Weekly Register reported several weeks later, Tecumseh told Procter, "We must compare our father's conduct to a fat animal, that carries its tail upon its back, but when affrighted, he drops it between his legs and runs off. We are determined to defend our lands, and if it be his will, we wish to leave our bones upon them.

On October 2 U. Three days later, the two armies met near Moraviantown near the present-day city of Chatham. Procter had regular soldiers and Tecumseh's Native American warriors, while Harrison had troops. The ensuing battle did not last very long, for the British were soon surrounded and caught in a crossfire. The Native American warriors were less willing to give up, until the news that Tecumseh had been killed began to spread.

The news was true, for Tecumseh had been shot in the chest. His body was never found, although many stories were told about what had happened to the famous Shawnee. Some American soldiers later claimed to have cut strips of skin from Tecumseh's body as souvenirs, while other reports claimed that his corpse was carried away by his warriors and buried in a nearby swamp. Admired by so many—whether British, Native American, or U. Yet the confederacy of Native American tribes that he envisioned would never materialize.

With his death, the dream was crushed, and white settlement would continue its relentless push across the northwestern, then western, U. Eckert, Allan W. A Sorrow in Our Heart. New York : Bantam, Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership. Boston:Little, Brown, Gilbert, Bill. Tecumseh: Warrior-Statesman of the Shawnees.

During the War of the United States was testing and proving the depth of its independence from Great Britain. At the same time the Native Americans were involved in a desperate struggle to hold on to the lands and lives they had known for thousands of years. White settlers were moving west in large numbers, and many Native Americans were responding with violent resistance. During this period, two leaders emerged to direct the effort to bring Native American peoples together to resist white encroachment. They were Shawnee war chief Tecumseh, who led the political and military aspects of the resistance movement, and his brother Tenskwatawa, who provided the spiritual dimension that reinforced Tecumseh's ideas.

The brothers were born in a Shawnee village in what is now Ohio. Born in and seven years younger than Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa was originally named Lalawethika which means "Noise-maker". While he was growing up, the Native Americans who lived in the Northwest Territory were beginning to experience many difficulties as white people moved onto their lands.

Their lives were being disrupted by poverty and violence. Tecumseh and Lalawethika's father, for instance, died soon after the younger child's birth, killed in a confrontation with whites. Some Native Americans were finding an escape in alcohol, which was often offered to traded to them by whites who hoped it would make them easier to manipulate. Lalawethika became addicted to alcohol at a very young age. Short and physically unattractive, with a badly scarred face, he made himself unpopular with his frequent boasting and unwillingness to participate in the hunting and fishing expeditions in which other young men took part.

He seemed a hopeless case until, in , a change occurred in him. It was at this stage in his life that Lalawethika claimed to have a vision possibly after drinking himself into a stupor in which he spoke with the Master of Life also called the Great Spirit, the highest god to Native Americans. Stating that he had been shown the best way for Native Americans to avoid the torment for which they seemed headed, he changed his name to Tenskwatawa meaning "the Open Door ;" translated by whites as the "Prophet" and quit drinking. He began preaching that Native Americans must give up the evil white ways they had adopted, especially thedrinking of alcohol, but also the use of white clothing, farming methods, and even guns.

They must return to their traditional customs and regard each other as brothers. Like Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa was a persuasive speaker, and he soon had a growing following among the Shawnee. Within two years, members of other Native American nations also had joined his movement. In , having searched for a site that was sufficiently isolated, Tenskwatawa established a settlement for his followers at a place in Indiana Territory where the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers meet. In the summer of , after a meeting with the governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison , Tecumseh traveled south to gain more followers for his movement.

Believing that Tecumseh's absence would allow a more effective strike against Prophet's Town, Harrison led a force of U. While they were camped close to the village, Tenskwatawa worked his warriors into a frenzy as he urged them to attack the American camp. He assured them that his magical powers would protect them from the whites' weapons. Although Harrison's troops were initially overwhelmed by the attack, which came in the early morning hours of November 7, , they were able to drive back the warriors. The next day, they destroyed Prophet's Town.

Tenskwatawa's followers were so angry with him that for some time his life was in danger; they tied him up and threatened to kill him. When Tecumseh returned to find the settlement in ruins and his followers scattered, he banished Tenskwatawa to keep him from doing more harm. The damage, however, was already done and Tenskwatawa would never regain the popularity he once knew. After the War of , Tenskwatawa fled into Canada where he was supported by the British government, who Tecumseh had sided with during the war. In , Tenskwatawa returned to the United States just in time for the forced removal of the Native Americans to land set aside for them in Kansas.

He died in Sources: Heidler, David S. Heidler, eds. Encyclopedia of the War of Santa Barbara, Calif. Gale Group, How is it now? Wants and oppressions are our lot; for are we not controlled in everything? Are we not being stripped day by day of the little that remains of our ancient liberty? At the height of his power in the first decade of the nineteenth century, Shawnee war chief Tecumseh was the single biggest obstacle to continued American expansion into what was known as the Old Northwest the present-day states of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

Leading first his own people and then a confederacy organized group of Native American tribes, Tecumseh harassed Americans settling in the area and then defeated American military forces in several key battles. Despite allying themselves with the British during the War of —14; a conflict between the British and the Americans over the control of the western reaches of the United States and over shipping rights in the Atlantic Ocean , Tecumseh's forces finally fell to the superior numbers and technology of the American forces.

Tecumseh probably originally pronounced te-kamtha was born near Chalahgawtha, a Shawnee village near present-day Springfield, Ohio. His father was Puckeshinwa, a respected Shawnee war chief, and his mother, Methoataske, was of Creek or possibly Cherokee origin. Although the exact number of children in the family is uncertain, Tecumseh had several siblings—including a set of younger triplet brothers. Tecumseh was raised during a time of crisis for the Shawnee people. For hundreds of years they had inhabited the Ohio Valley , living in villages along the river, the women farming and the men hunting and fishing, and from time to time, warring with neighboring tribes.

They had long been accustomed to contact with the "long knives," as they called the white frontiersmen; they traded with them and generally maintained good relations. But by the s and s whites began arriving in increasing numbers.

Tecumseh's Curse

They set up permanent settlements and clashed with the Indians over land and game. By the Shawnee were at war against the settlers. During one battle Tecumseh's father, Puckeshinwa, was killed. Tecumseh's older brother Chicksika took it upon himself to school Tecumseh in the ways of a hunter and warrior. At fourteen Tecumseh joined his brother in battle. It was Tecumseh's first battle, and he turned and ran when violence erupted. His brother and the other warriors told him that fear in battle was acceptable once, but never again.

Thereafter, Tecumseh was renowned for his bravery. Tecumseh also developed into a powerful public speaker, or orator.

Who Was Tecumseh?

From an early age he could lead and inspire his people with his convincing and colorful arguments. Once, disgusted at the way his tribesmen burned, tortured, and killed their white prisoners, Tecumseh convinced his fellow warriors to give more humane treatment to enemies captured in battle.

During the years following the Revolutionary War —83 , the U. Government chiefs—the Indians' name for tribe leaders who were willing to sell land to the Americans—sold off huge tracts of land that they did not really own. Tecumseh's people tried to avoid these arrangements and never saw them as legitimate. It was probably during this time that Tecumseh came to believe that the land belonged to all the Indians in common and that, therefore, no one tribe or group had the right to sell any land. While some of the magic is lost as Sugden dispels the many myths, he offers insight into what influenced Tecumseh's life-long quest to unite Native Americans and preserve their civilization.

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A disdain for white settlers formed early in Tecumseh's childhood after settlers killed his father, seized the hunting grounds, and uprooted the Shawnees from Ohio. While these events could have turned him into a bitter, savage warrior, Sugden points out that Tecumseh grew into a strong, inspiring leader.

This is further illustrated by several examples of how Tecumseh overruled fellow warriors to spare an enemy's life. Delving into Tecumseh's past allows us to further appreciate this renowned and gifted speaker and diplomat who skillfully negotiated with the U. Yet the biography also portrays Tecumseh as a human being with his own shortcomings.



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