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To Mrs. S. B. Shaw.

Wayland, 1873.
As for the poor Indians, would to heaven they had education and newspapers to tell their side of the story! The pages you inclosed scarcely give a glimpse of the real facts that caused the Seminole war. The Seminoles were adopting civilized modes of life. They were devoting themselves to agriculture, [219] and had established a friendly relation with their neighbors. But the slave-holders of Georgia wanted to drive them out, because they coveted their lands, and still more because their slaves were prone to take refuge with them. This had been going on for generations, and the fugitives had largely intermarried with the Indians. The slave-holders not only claimed their slaves that had escaped, but their children and grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, on the ground that “the child follows the condition of the mother.” It was to satisfy them that Jackson got up the war. It was not Osceola's wife and children only that were seized and carried into slavery. Multitudes of their wives and children were carried off; and you may easily conjecture that no very nice care was always taken to ascertain whether they had descended from slaves in the United States or not. The pages you send contain the cool remark that “the seizure of Osceola's beautiful wife was an unfortunate affair.” God of heaven grant me patience! What would he call it if the Indians had seized and carried off his beautiful wife, to sell her in the market for a mistress. I hope the writer is no relation of yours, for I have a vehement desire to cuff his ears. As for the Seminoles not removing after they had by treaty agreed to, I do not know the real facts of the case; but this I do know, that General Jackson was in the habit of making nominal treaties with any Indians who could be brought by grog to sign a paper, which was forthwith declared to be an official treaty concluded with the government of the tribe. Just the same as if the government of France or England should enter into negotiations with General Butler, or Boss Tweed, and then claim that the arrangement [220] was binding on the government of the United States.

General Grant has disappointed me. His Indian policy looked candid and just on paper; but he does not seem to have taken adequate care that it should be carried out. The Modocs have formerly had a good name as peaceable neighbors; but they have been driven from place to place, and finally pushed into a barren corner, where the soil did not admit of their raising sufficient for a subsistence. They were driven to desperation by starvation, and wearied out with promises that were never fulfilled. Poor Captain Jack said, “To die by bullets not hurt much; but it hurts a heap to die by hunger.” I regret the barbarities of Captain Jack, but not more than I regret the barbarities of Phil. Sheridan. I look upon Osceola and Captain Jack both as worthy of an historical place in the list of heroes that have died for their oppressed peoples. But I may as well stop writing on this theme, for it is a hopeless task to try to delineate the “general cussedness” of governments. It is a strange thing, but it seems impossible to convince politicians that it is not “visionary” to be guided by correct principles in the administration of affairs. Their idea is, the greater the indirectness and the double dealing, the greater the statesmanship. Yet, all the time, they make loud professions of following the teaching of him who said, “Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.” Oh, Sarah, I am so tired of shams! It is very inconvenient to be habitually direct, in such a world of indirectness.

I pitied Mr. Curtis when I read his patient answers to the “interviewers.” Really, those men, who have made a profession of audacity and impertinence, are as [221] insufferable a nuisance as mosquitoes; and in these days there is no kind of netting that will keep the pests out. Certainly the prophesied day has arrived, when whatsoever is done in the house is proclaimed upon the house-top. Was Dr. Livingstone really “interviewed” by a Yankee “interviewer?” Why don't we hear further from him? What has become of the party headed by Dr. Livingstone's son, that set out in search of him before Stanley? Professional interviewers manufacture interviews when they do not succeed in finding the individual they propose to bore. Even such a small lion as I am has been served up in that style. Years ago there was a column in the New York Tribune describing me in a place where I never was, looking as I never looked, and saying things I never said or thought of. Even the heart of Africa is not a place of safety, and if one were to climb Himalaya, some sort of pulley would be contrived to hoist up an “interviewer” !

I am so sorry about the Modocs! I have no doubt the poor wretches had been goaded to desperation before they committed that wanton and most impolitic assault upon the Peace Commissioners. White men have so perpetually lied to them that they don't know whom, or what, to believe. And after all, we, who are so much more enlightened, and who profess to be so much more human, have again and again killed Indians who were decoyed into our power by a flag of truce. No mortal will ever know the accumulated wrongs of that poor people. No wonder they turn at bay, in their desperation and despair. . ...

You ask if I am in favor of the prohibitory law. I am. Its aim is, and its effect would be, to diminish, if not entirely to suppress, groggeries; and a large [222] portion of the awful drunkenness that prevails is owing to the moral weakness that cannot withstand temptation continually placed right before the eyes. Unfortunately, alcohol is needed in medicine and in various arts, but for these purposes a few wholesale depositories are sufficient. I grow more and more strict about temperance. I do not now manufacture currant wine for the sick, as I used to do.

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