From Alliance to Removal

[138]Throughout the Jeffersonian period and later, the white countrymen and mixed bloods expanded their influence over the full-blood tribal members. One aspect of this can be seen by analyzing the ratio of full-blood to mixed-blood Choctaw signers of treaties with the United States.


Breakdown of Choctaw treaty Signers

YearTreatyFull BloodsMixed Blood
1786Hopewell29 0
1801Ft. Adams151 (6%)
1802 Ft. Confederation10 0
1803Hoe Buckintoopa100
1805Mt. Dexter14 9 (39%)
1816Trading House112 (15%)
1820Doaks Stand7825 (24%)
1825Washington4*4 (50%)
1830Dancing Rabbit Creek12744 (26%)

Two major Choctaw chiefs in the treaty party died before it was signed. Had they lived the mixed-blood percentage would have been 40%. Extracted from Kappler[139] One of the most apparent facts to emerge from Chart 19 is the high percent of mixed bloods participating in the major cession treaties of 1805, 1820, and 1830. The treaties of 1816 and 1825 were not major cessions. The 1816 treaty of the Choctaw Trading House extinguished Choctaw claims to lands also claimed by the Creek Indians and ceded at Fort Jackson in 1814. The Treaty of 1825 in Washington, D. C. was an adjustment to the Treaty of Doaks Stand in 1820 and resulted in a net land gain for the tribe. When analyzing the treaties signed in Choctaw country after the Creek War, there is an ascending percentage of mixed bloods signing, from 15 percent in 1816, to 24 percent in 1820, to 26 percent in 1830. The figures for the treaty held in Washington in 1824-25 are considered non-representative because of the obvious necessity for English-speaking mixed bloods on a trip to the distant national capitol.

The figures for mixed blood participation in treaties actually are not representative of the vast influence they came to exercise over the tribe prior to removal. Even during treaty talks such as the one at Hopewell in 1786 there were usually one or two countrymen or mixed-blood interpreters whose effect on the outcome [140]is hard to overemphasize. 1 Especially effective were men such as John Pitchlynn, an avowed advocate of the United States who never disagreed with American commissioners on any argued point. That is not to say that he was a puppet of either the Federalist or Republican administrations which paid him a stipend to act as official interpreter, although his ideological practices certainly did not hurt his case when he pleaded for increases in salary or compensation for fire losses sustained at his plantation on the Noxubee River. It would be wrong to label John Pitchlynn anti-Indian because of his pro-white predilections; he had a Choctaw wife and a house full of mixed-blood children. His family intermarried widely in the Choctaw tribe and he never attracted a negative report from any of the tribesmen. If anything he was esteemed by them for his honesty and directness. Although the mixed-blood influence became more and more pronounced, it appears that the full bloods never really resented the rise of their relatives to prominence. Instead they displayed[141]loyalty and cooperated with them during periods of outside agitation and war.

The mixed bloods began an accelerated rise to prominence during and after the Creek War. Although only a few of them are documented as having served with the Choctaw war party under Pushamataha campaigns against the Creeks and at the Battle of New Orleans (see Chart 20), they quickly asserted their leadership when war threatened. One main rallying point concerned objections to Tecumseh’s historic visits across Mississippi Territory in 1811 seeking an Indi1ndianfederation opposed to the United States government.

Several prominent mixed bloods vociferously objected to the famous Shawnee’s cry for white blood with firmness and unabashed sympathies for the United States. Among the Chickasaw nation the powerful mixed-blood Colbert family refused to accept Tecumseh’s call for war. When he traveled south into Choctaw country and made several speeches to various chiefs and headmen, John Pitchlynn and David Folsom among them, they politely listened to his talk and then vetoed his overtures to[141a]

Chart 20

Some Mixed Bloods With Pushamataha in War of 1812

Christie, JessePrivate
Christie, WilliamPrivate
Folsom, EdmundCaptain
Garland, JamesPrivate
Juzan, CharlesPrivate
Kelly, MichaelPrivate
Leflore, LouisMajor
Long, SamuelSergeant
Mackey, MiddletonPrivate/Interpreter
McKown, BarneyPrivate
Nail, JoelPrivate
Pitchlynn, John, Jr.First Lieutenant

Extracted from Alabama Department of Archives and History, Halbert Papers, Folder #103.

[142]join with the British against the United States. 2 Tecumseh and the Shawnee prophet, Seekaboo, also attempted to sway countryman Pierre Juzan at his Chunky Town residence. According to Creek War historians Halbert and Ball who interviewed several persons claiming to have first-hand knowledge of events:

“Juzan became greatly indignant and spurned the Shawnees’ proposition. He turned away and would hold no further conversation with them. It so
happened that same day that Oklahoma, a noted mingo from Coosha, a nephew of Pushamataha and brother of Juzan’s wife, was in Chunky with a number of his warriors. He was soon informed by Juzan of the object of Tecumseh’s visit, whereupon he became greatly enraged and forthwith ordered his warriors to mould bullets and prepare to make battle against the Shawnees. He also sent a messenger to Iskifa-chito, to inform him of the situation and urge him to prepare for war against the Shawnee intruders. Tecumseh, whose object was to harmonize all Indians, saw the drift of affairs, and wishing to avoid any hostile collision, he summoned his warriors and quietly withdrew from the place.” 3

Some factions among the Choctaw, however, were partially swayed by Tecumseh’s oratory. J.F.H. Claiborne[142] identifies Little Leader as pro-confederation and Mushulatubbee as vacillating, but he agrees with other chroniclers that Pushamataha was the most vociferous in disapproval of the seditious mission. 4 Tecumseh also met some mixed-blood opposition among the Creeks from Sam Moniac, a pro-American who frequented the trading house at St. Stephens and also was one of the early alarm raisers just prior to the bloody massacre at Ft. Mims in the summer of 1813. 5

Although this study does not address the many complexities and campaigns of the Creek War in Mississippi Territory, one striking facet does need to be addressed. Most early chroniclers of the war agree that the attack on Fort Mims near the Alabama River in the summer of 1814 was really a case of mixed-blood faction [144] making war upon themselves. 6 But there were white settlers also at Ft. Mims and that fact, coupled with the sheer scope of hundreds of people massacred in a display of wanton brutality, dictated quick and sure response from area militia. 7 The mixed bloods of the Tombigbee and Alabama River region had too many familial ties with influential whites and other Indians to be subjected to the violence of warfare without aid. 8

Most historians of the Creek War agree that had it not been for Choctaw friendship to the white and mixed-blood settlers the area would have seen more bloodbaths. Halbert and Ball best described this critical alliance’s impact:[145]

“Had the Choctaws united with the Creeks at the inception of the war of 1813, as has been truly said, in less than thirty days, the whole Southern frontier would have been drenched in blood; and the Federal Government, hampered, as it was with war elsewhere, would have been forced to put forth its mightiest effort to retain a hold upon the territory of the Southwest. But the Choctaws, true to the old tradition, did not break their record as steadfast friends of the whites; nay, even more, for as the war progressed, hundreds of their warriors enlisted in the armies of Claiborne and Jackson. No lapse of time should ever permit the people of Mississippi and Alabama, the old historic Southwest, to forget the action of the Choctaw people. The story of their fidelity to the American cause should never be permitted to pass into oblivion.” 9

The Choctaw tribe indeed held the balance of power. The fact that the Americans in the area were outnumbered by Indians, the realization that Great Britain was planning a later major assault on the Gulf Coast that climaxed at the battle of New Orleans in the closing days of 1814 and early 1815, suggests that the even more sentimental statement concerning Choctaw fidelity to the United States by J. F. H. Claiborne, kinsman to the Colonel Claiborne who fought in the Creek War, was heartfelt:

“…when we were but a feeble people, they fought for us the martial Muscogee; and when we had become numerous and opulent, in the darkest days of our history, when pressed to the earth by a superior [146]adversary, when we had no reward to hold out, only our broken lances and shattered shields, they came to our aid and shared with us the doom of the vanquished. Mississippi, if she survives for a thousand years, as God grant she may, should never forget the brotherhood that binds her to this noble race, born under her own stars and skies.” 10

Claiborne’s dramatic sentiments tell a simple truth: the Choctaw tribe was a critical ally when the nation was weak. The times were crucial for the United States, but the earlier Jeffersonian policy of defensive land acquisition, tempered with a sensitivity for Indian amity, provided in 1813 a protective shield for Mississippi Territory. Andrew Jackson also had the loyalty and arms of a Choctaw contingent which withstood the numbing January cold as it helped buttress the battle line against crack British troops at the Battle of New Orleans. If any Indian people deserve accolades for helping American forces when friendship really counted it is the Choctaw tribe. Yet within a were fifteen years many of the heroes of New Orleans would have to face forcible ejection from their homeland by the very nation they helped guarantee.

The role played by mixed bloods in setting the stage for the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek and the removal which followed was a large and complex one[147]involving complicity by federal agents, missionaries, and state government. But the major treaties in 1820 at Doaks Stand and in 1825 at Washington, D. C. — along with statehood for Mississippi and Alabama — paved the way for Choctaw removal.

In contrast, the earlier Treaty of the Choctaw Trading House in 1816 did little more than extinguish Choctaw claims to lands between the Tombigbee and Black Warrior Rivers which the Creeks had already ceded to the United States at the close of the Creek War. The area was only sparsely populated and could be described as an overlapping hunting ground between the Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw tribes. 11 This Choctaw treaty supplemented the Chickasaw treaty of 1816 signed one month earlier and effectively opened to settlement all the land from Tennessee to Mobile in the eastern Tombigbee valley. If ever there was a time to use leverage against the tribe for its outstanding debts to the Choctaw factory, this was it. Not only had the factory been losing money, but several prominent Choctaw leaders were in debt to it and financially vulnerable to pressures from American[148] officials. 12 However, these debts were not mentioned in the many communiqués between government officials preparing for the treaty talk at the new factory on the Tombigbee River at the site of old Fort Tombeckbe. To the contrary the individual accounts receivable debt actually grew from approximately seventy five hundred dollars in 1815 to approximately twelve and a half thousand dollars in 1817, indicating a 67 percent increase over the period the treaty of 1816 was negotiated. 13 Although the short treaty only promised to pay the Choctaw “the sum of six thousand dollars annually, for twenty years” and merchandise worth ten thousand dollars, the federal government agreed to several additional requests by the tribe even before the treaty talks had commenced. These included: payment by the United States for Choctaw militia service in the Creek War, indemnity for mixed-blood Choctaw living east of the Tombigbee River for improvements in the area to be ceded, movement of the agency to a more accessible [149]location in the eastern part of the nation, consideration to establish schools in the nation, and the honoring of outstanding individual claims by mixed bloods. If any leverage was applied during this period it obviously was done by the tribe, not the government. 14

The series of treaties signed with the Southern tribes in the years immediately following the end of the War of 1812 also foreshadowed the coming pressures for Indian removal. Andrew Jackson in 1816 noted in a letter to the acting Secretary of War, George Graham:

…I am happy to learn that the whole of the treaties made with the southern tribes meet the approbation of the President.

“Nothing can promote the welfare of the
United States, and particularly the southwestern frontier, so much as bringing into market, at an early day, the whole of this fertile country. The proceeds accruing thence to the treasury will be great, and it will also give a permanent population to that frontier competent to its defense; and the sooner the laws can be extended over that section of the country the better. 15

Jackson sounded exactly like Thomas Jefferson in his concern for the defense of American frontiers and the need to bring the United States treasury into fiscal balance. One observes here a continuity of purpose and [150] policy stretching from Jefferson’s early presidential problems, through his successors, to Jackson, who would execute a Jeffersonian removal policy over two decades after Jefferson left office. The idea of total Indian removal was actively articulated by the Senate Committee on Public Lands which in January 1817 resolved:

“That an appropriation be made, by law, to enable the President of the United States to negotiate treaties with the Indian Tribes, which treaties shall have for their object an exchange of territory owned by any tribe residing east of the Mississippi for other lands west of that river.” 16

The policy of Indi1ndianoval to lands west of the Mississippi River therefore emerges not as an evil plot hatched by a latter day, land hungry Jacksonian machine, but rather as a comprehensive and cohesive series of government actions. Pro-removal sentiment was evident in Jefferson’s 1813 thoughts of promoting Indian emigration across that river and his condemnation of the Indian uprising during the War of 1812:

“This unfortunate race, whom we had been taking so much pains to save and to civilize, have by their unexpected desertion and ferocious barbarities justified extermination, and now await our decision on their fate. The Creeks too on our Southern border, for whom we had done more than for any[151] other tribe, have acted the same part (‘tho not the whole of them) and have already paid their defection with the flower of their warriors. They will probably submit on the condition of removing to such new settlements beyond the Missisipi [sic] as we shall assign them.” 17

Widespread removal sentiment became especially pronounced towards Southern Indians after the Creek War, and Presidents Jefferson and Madison both agreed with it. Later President Monroe would add his official approval of removal by signing into law a removal bill in the closing days of his administration, adding to an unbroken Jeffersonian Republican stamp of approval to the policy.

The most crucial event pertaining to Indian removal occurred in 1817 when Mississippi was admitted to the union as a state. Although the United States government retained for itself the right to treat with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, pressure from state officials was immediate and insistent regarding the cession of Indian lands and removal of the tribesmen themselves to other areas. The year following Mississippi’s statehood George Poindexter was named to head the House of Representative’s standing committee on Public Lands. Poindexter lost little time in issuing a[152] communication to the House on the matter of reported Choctaw Indians who emigrated across the Mississippi River on their own. Entitled “Emigration of the Choctaws,” it read in part:

“The Committee on the Public Lands, to whom was referred a resolution instructing said committee ‘to inquire into the expediency of prohibiting the emigration and settlement of the Choctaw tribe on the lands of the United States west of the river Mississippi, until thy shall have acquired that right by treaty…” 18

Although it might be expected of Poindexter that he would welcome Indian emigration, he took the longer view that the Indians were restricted to the boundaries agreed to at the Treaty of Hopewell in 1786. But he also acknowledged an earlier Jeffersonian intent of removal.

“It further appears to your committee that, since the cession of Louisiana to the United States by France, Congress, by an act passed on the 26th of March, 1804, did authorize the President of the United States ‘to stipulate with any Indian tribes owning lands on the east side of the Mississippi, and residing thereon, for an exchange of lands…on the west side of the Mississippi…[if] the said tribes shall acknowledge themselves to be under the protection of the United States.” 19

Poindexter thus reminded his fellow members of the[153] congress that an earlier session in 1804 had begun preparing the way for Indian emigration. He added an interpretation of his own to the 1804 legislation:

“The obvious intention of this act was to enable the government, as soon as practicable, to transfer to the extensive uninhabited territories of the United States west of the Mississippi the several Indian tribes, who by their local situation east of that river, retard the progress of population in that section of the country, and prevent the facilities which ought to be afforded to the commercial intercourse between the western steps and Territories and the city of New Orleans.” 19

Poindexter gave as his basic reason for removal the free access to New Orleans by the rest of the nation and then explains in more detail how both trade and security are hampered by the presence of Indian tribes in the state of Mississippi.

“The Choctaws possess the east bank of the Mississippi for a distance of near three hundred miles, which will remain an inhabited wilderness for centuries to come, unless their claim is extinguished, and the country populated by the United States. A variety of important
considerations urge the expediency of this object at an early period. The defense of the southern frontier of the United States from foreign invasion imperiously requires a strong physical force on the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Ohio to New Orleans.” 19

[154]Echoing the same sensitivity to defense needs as did Jefferson, and later Jackson, Poindexter closed his argument against continued unofficial emigration of the Choctaw Indians by stating that:

“…so long as the Choctaw tribe of Indians are permitted to live…west of the Mississippi, they will never cede…any part of the valuable country which they occupy by treaty east of said river.” 20

In consonance with the argument for increased military security for the Mississippi River valley and the recently acquired Gulf Coast, after the War of 1812 Jackson asked for and was granted a Military Road from Nashville through Chickasaw and Choctaw lands to New Orleans. 21

The Creek War stands as a major turning point in federal Indian policy in the Old Southwest and the American nation as a whole. Prior to 1813 the United States mainly sought from the Southern Indians amity, alliances, and passage through their country. These[155]  government treaty efforts ameliorated border conflicts through the redefining of tribal boundary lines, attracted Indian fealty through the factory system and fees to chiefs, and opened several arteries from New Orleans northward and eastward to the existing American states. The few larger cession treaties were sought primarily to engender an inflow of settlers necessary to man a defensive militia in the strategic Mississippi River valley or to ease the frictions caused by settlers spilling over onto unceded Indian lands. The government faced an interesting dilemma of attracting settlers for defensive purposes while not unduly irritating tribes who might themselves turn warlike. It was a delicate balancing act that from time to time wobbled, and finally failed along the Alabama River when the Creek Red Stick faction attacked Fort Mims in retaliation for an earlier militia interdiction of forbidden arms shipments from Pensacola.

In contrast the several states on the north and east of Mississippi Territory were vociferous in their demands for control of Indian tribes within their borders, especially in those areas where growing white settlements impinged on tribal territory. Georgia and Tennessee both had a spate of clashes with bordering Creek, Cherokee, and Chickasaw tribesmen and were barely[156] held in check by the federal government as they attempted to claim lands for the state.

After the Creek War sentiment in the South ran so high in favor of removing the Indians that citizens of the region loudly applauded Jackson’s harsh, punitive treaty with the Creeks at Fort Jackson. The treaty literally split the Indian nations apart and for the first time connected American territory from the Atlantic to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. When Mississippi and Alabama entered the union in 1817 and 1819, respectively, they quickly parroted the states rights arguments expounded by their older neighbors and joined the growing popular demand for Indi1ndianoval. The American policy towards the Southern Indians after the war was markedly different and took on an appearance of distrust and punishment even for those tribes and factions which had allied themselves to the American cause. Where in the past Americans had been content to allow Indians time to acculturate and become more “civilized,” now they saw only immediate assimilation or extinction as alternatives to removal.

Removal was also an accepted concept among some of the Choctaw mixed bloods who cooperated with American officials over the fifteen year period between the end of the Creek War and the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in [157]the fall of 1830. They were not slow in sensing the shift in American sentiment and some added their voices to the clamor for removal. As early as 1819 John Pitchlynn’s son, James, clearly stated his position in a letter, probably to Andrew Jackson:

Dear Sir –: I take this pleasure to inform you I have several families 01 the Choctaws who are willing to move west of the Mississippi, and believe, if there was a treaty held in the nation, there would be one-third or half of the nation would remove in the fall. I find all the rich white people living in the nation; they give bad talks to Indians; they tell them not to exchange lands, and some public men in the nation. Some of the Indians has threatened to knock me in the head on this account. I have never heard from you nor the President of the United States about my business. You wrote for me at your house — I hope you will write to me soon as you receive answer. Excuse my bad writing, as 1 told you I never went to school but six months.

I am your friend,
James Pitchlynn 22

As removal pressures began mounting within the tribe another external element manifested itself as the American government began subsidizing religious schools and the missionaries who manned them. 23Education had been a major topic of discussion by the Choctaw as early[158] as 1804 when they visited President Jefferson, in Washington. A mixed-blood interpreter, Turner Brashears, recalled in 1811 that earlier:

“I accompanied the three great medal chiefs of the Choctaws to the city of Washington as interpreter. That while there the Secretary (Dearborn) did propose to all the chiefs to have one or more of their sons educated & that the government would afford them aid. I remember also that he particularly recommended that they should be sent and put under the care of the Messrs. Elliots near Baltimore with whom a half breed Chickasaw then lived, & was making flattering progress.” 24

Later, in 1816, David Folsom, during negotiations for the Treaty of the Choctaw Trading House, requested that funds derived from the Treaty should be used “to create a fund for the rising race to defray the expense of schools and other plans for their improvements.” 25 Folsom repeated his request in 1818 for help from the United States government in building a schoo1. 26 By 1819 Puckshenubbee, the chief of the northwestern Choctaw section, requested from secretary of war James Calhoun two hundred dollars from their annuity share to be given[159] to Presbyterian missionary Cyrus Kingsbury for school construction. 27

The government answered the Choctaw request in part when it passed the Indian Civilization Fund Act in 1819 making ten thousand dollars annually available for construction of school building for all tribes. Mainly this fund was used to subsidize missionary educational efforts among the various tribes.” 28

By spring of 1820 Calhoun had promulgated a circular advising Indian agents that Mr. David Humphereys was in Indian country to select school sites. 29 And before the end of the summer that year the Choctaw agent, John McKee, had notified Calhoun that the northwestern[160] chiefs had increased their education fund request to two thousand dollars; Calhoun had responded positively, acknowledged that Turner Brashears had also requested more funds for schools, and called the request “highly commendable.” 30 By the time preparations for the pending treaty talks, to be held at Doaks Stand on the Natchez Trace, were underway there was a pronounced desire on the part of full bloods and mixed bloods in favor of increased spending for education.

The Choctaw tribe again requested, at the Treaty of Doaks Stand in 1820, Article 7, that:

“Out of the lands ceded by the Choctaw nation to the United States, the commissioners aforesaid, in behalf of the United States, further covenant and agree that fifty-four sections of one mile square shall be laid out, in good land, by the President of the United States, and sold, for the purpose of raising a fund to be applied to the support of the Choctaw schools on both sides of the Mississippi river: three-fourths of the said fund shall be appropriated for the benefit of the schools here, and the remaining fourth for the establishment of one or more beyond the-Mississippi… 31

In just a few years from the ratification of the treaty nearly twenty-six thousand dollars would be realized from[161] partial sale of these 54 sections of land. 32

By 1821 the Choctaw council resolved that:

“small schools should be established in all populous parts of their country, so that no family would be more than three or four miles from a school.” 1n the fall of 1822 Mr. Kingsbury and Mr. Jewell made a journey to the southeastern part of the nation for the purpose of selecting places for the establishment of missionary stations. One place was selected near the home of Henry Nail, an Indian countryman. They at once began preparations for the building of it. Named it Emmaus.

“In 1823 a school was established in Koonsha Town in the house of Charles Juzan.” 33

Thus, the missionaries considered the desires and locations of the white countrymen and their mixed-blood families in the placement of the various mission schools.

The provision within the treaty of 1820 for Indian schools would later be supplemented by further monies from the Treaty of 1825 in Washington for funding a Choctaw Academy to be started at the Kentucky[162] plantation of War of 1812 veteran Richard M. Johnson. 34

During the 1820s a British traveler named Adam Hodgson passed through the Choctaw country and visited the mission schools. He observed “the settlement of White people among them [the Choctaw], and occasional intermarriages, have undermined many of their customs.” 35 Hodgson continued with an account of his visit to Eliot mission sixty miles from the Trace in Choctaw country:

“Soon after my arrival, we proceeded to the school, just as a half-breed, who has taken great interest in it, was preparing to give the children ‘a talk,’ previous to returning home, 60 miles distant. He is a very influential chief, and a man of comprehensive views: he first translated into Choctaw, a letter to the children, from some benevolent friends in the north…. When he took leave, he shook hands with me — said he was glad to hear that the white people in England were interested in the welfare of their red brethren… 36

[163]In his route through Choctaw and Chickasaw country Hodgson often stayed at the houses of the ubiquitous mixed bloods. 37

The mixed bloods who were not lucky enough to have schools built near their areas lost little time in requesting equal treatment from the missionaries. In a joint letter to Cyrus Kingsbury in 1825, eight mixed bloods wrote:

“Sir: We, the undersigned, citizens of the lower part of the district of Mingo Mushulatubbee, have been induced, from the number of children amongst us, and from our remote situation from the schools under your direction, to petition our chief on the subject of establishing a separate school near us, and have named the neighborhood of Mr. John Walker as an eligible situation but any other situation that may meet your approbation, on examining into the subject, will be chosen by us. We are aware of your disposition to extend the benefits of the present system of education equally to all of us, and hope you will take such steps as will ensure us a school.

“We are respectfully, your friends,
Jno. Coleman
Sampson Muncrief
John Jones
Joseph Riddle
Isaac Gaunee [Gardner]
Samuel Jones
Jeremiah Gardner
John Walker” 38

One indication of the social position of mixed[164] bloods within the tribe is the list of mixed bloods at Richard Johnston’s Choctaw Academy in 1825. (see Chart 21) The social and political ascendancy of the mixed-blood families can also be observed from the continuing high ratio of mixed bloods to full bloods on the Academy rosters into the 1840s. 39 The presence of many mixed bloods in the missionary schools in Choctaw country is also reported by Reverend Jedidiah Morse in his 1820 report on 1ndian Affairs to the secretary of war. Morse stated that:

“Intermarriages…have taken place to a great extent, and this too by many men of respectable talents and standing in society. More than half the Cherokee nation, a large part of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and I add indeed, of all other tribes with whom the whites have had intercourse, are of mixed blood. The offspring of this intercourse, a numerous body, are of promising talents and appearance. Their complexion is nearly that of the white population. They require only education, and the enjoyment of our privileges to make them a valuable portion of our citizens.” 40

Morse also discussed the individual Choctaw mission schools, reporting that “the schools are more flourishing that at any former period. There are in both 75 scholars, descendants of the Choctaws, and about 20 of

[164a ]Chart 21

Resolution Signers at Choctaw Academy, 1827

Adams, John
Austin, Sam
Baxter, Richard
Berryhil, James
Brown, Jesse
Bryant, William
Calhoun, John C.
Carr, Thomas C.
Chambers, Benjamin S.
Clay, Henry
Collins, Lyman
Crowell, John
Durant, George
Everson, John
Folsom, Daniel
Folsom, Jacob
Garland, Lewis
Graves, Henry
Grayson, Sampson
Harkins, Willis
Harrison, Zadoc
Hawkins, George
Hicks, Thomas
Jackson, Andrew
Jones, Charles
Juzan, Pierre
Kearney, Allen
King, Hiram
King, Peter
LaFlore, Jackson
McAffe, Jackson
McCurtain, Samuel
McKenny, Thomas L.
Nail, Morris
Parry, Anderson
Perry, Hardy
Silas D. Riddle,
John Rush,
Richard Thompson,
David Wade,
Picken Wall,
Thomas Ward,
William Wilson,
Charles Winslet, John
Asbury, Daniel
Barbour, James
Benton, Thomas H
Brewer, John
Brown, Samuel
Burrows, Gabriel
Carr, Lewis M.
Carr, William M.
Christy, Adam
Cobb, William
Creath, Jacob
Curtain, Canada
Everson, John
Fisher, Silas D.
Folsom, David
Gardner, Noel
Garland, Samuel
Gray, William
Grayson, Steven
Harrison, William
Harvey, James
Henderson, Thomas
Holmes, David
Johnston, Richard M.
Jones, Robert
Juzan, William
King, Charles
King, James M.
LaFlore, Basil
LeFlore, Forbes
McCurtain, Camper
McIntosh, Samuel
Moore, John
Nail, Robert M.
Parson, Levi
Pickens, Soloman
Pope, Alexander
Riddle, William
Stewart, William K.
Wade, Alfred
Wall, David
Wall, William
Webster, David M.
Wilson, David
Worcester, Samuel

Extracted from (26-2) House Doc. 109, pp. 40-41

[165] them full blooded natives.” To this very high ratio of 55 to 20 Morse added that there were “five children belonging to the white families.” From these figures it would appear that mixed-blood and countrymen children accounted for seventy-five percent of the schools registration. 41 Often there were mixed bloods associated with the schools in a non-student capacity, and Morse mentioned while at Mayhew that “two half-breed Choctaw lads, also reside here, one as interpreter, the other is learning the blacksmith’s trade.” 42 He also mentioned “a widow woman, a half breed Choctaw,” as assisting the teachers at Eliot. 19

Morse also included in his report a list of 1ndian students attending Cornwall school in 1821 on the banks of the Housatonnic River in Connecticut. Only two Choctaw youth were in attendance, McKee Folsom and his younger brother 1srael Folsom, both mixed bloods who studied alongside Cherokee mixed bloods John Ridge and John Vann, among others. 43 Morse chose to include in his report several examples of student scholarship, one of which was a letter to President Monroe by Israel Folsom.

[166]It read in part:

“One thing increases the deplorable condition of the Choctaws; that is, the bad examples of the bad white people, who come into the Nation, and show the poor Indians how to pursue the way down to ruin…” 44

So young and so far from home, this mixed-blood boy thought of himself completely as a full member of the tribe and called himself a “heathen.”

The period between 1820 and 1830 was one of growing friction between various Choctaw factions. Although thought by some historians to be caused by a full blood/mixed blood dichotomy, evidence suggests the differences were as much regional and personal as racial. Most of the reported differences between full bloods and mixed bloods are offered by federal commissioners or their informants within the Indian Nation and seem to be more a result of outside interpretation than internal strife.

For example, Choctaw agent William Ward often referred to tribal leaders in terms of whether or not they were full bloods, thinking that they were more amenable to removal pressures than the mixed bloods. Most of the mixed-blood tribal leaders such as David Folsom thought of themselves as Indian. Only after some[167] mixed bloods and whites were identified as anti-removal did the official perception of a racial schism emerge as Ward and the official hierarchy to whom he reported all sought to negotiate with whomever seemed most inclined toward removal.

Earlier in 1820, prior to the Treaty of Doaks Stand, an anti-cession faction emerged to help spur Andrew Jackson to proselytize for democratic elections in the tribe in order to favor pro-American leaders. Believing that there existed only a few “white men and half-breeds” among the tribe who had “poisoned” the minds of the general Choctaw populace, Jackson thought that democratic processes might weed out the malcontents 45 Accordingly he was instrumental in the following statement to the assembled headmen:

“…if a majority of the nation believed the chief to be unfit to preside over them, they had the power to elect another, and should they select an individual as his successor, he would be presented with a medal, and recognized as principal chief.” 19

Jackson certainly was shrewd enough to realize that although many full bloods were anti-cession and anti-removal it was the educated and articulate mixed bloods who became spokesmen for the faction.

[168]interestingly Jackson opened wider a door of white political practices which would in time cause major tribal dissension and almost lead to internecine warfare. Whether or not Jackson was simply being ideologically democratic or actively sowing the seeds of discord is an unanswered, intriguing question.

The deaths of Puckshenubbee and Pushamataha while out of the nation for treaty talks in Washington, D. C. in 1824 and 1825 allowed a rapid implementation of Jackson’s earlier suggestion of elections. While in the national capital the Choctaw delegation elected mixed-blood Robert Cole, son of trader Roscoe Cole and Choctaw Sheinaka Cole, as Puckshenubbee’s replacement. 46

Cole’s election was written into the Treaty of 1825 as article ten, and he was granted “an annuity from the United States of one hundred and fifty dollars a year during his natural life….” 47 By 1826 changes had occurred in the leadership of both nations. The new president, John Quincy Adams, had named James Barbour as secretary of war, and the Choctaw nation had filled[169] Pushamataha’s seat with Tappenahomah in the summer of 1825. 48 A letter to Barbour from the tribe refusing further cessions was signed by Mushalatubbe, Robert Cole (signed Mingo Robert), Tappenahomah, three lesser chiefs, and Coleman Cole, another mixed blood. 49

But the government persisted in attempts to negotiate further cessions from the Choctaw tribe and called another treaty talk that tall. The commissioners included Thomas Hinds, who had assisted Jackson at Doaks Stand, and John Coffee, who would be a major force as a commissioner at Dancing Rabbit Creek later. The commissioners echoed sentiments of 1820 when they informed Barbour concerning the Choctaw nation:

“The government seems to be in the hands principally of half-breeds and white men, who dictate to some of them, without regard to the interest of the poor 1ndians..l.the nation is fast declining in wealth and comforts generally, excepting a few half-breeds who have been enlightened by education and otherwise, and who have settled on the road that leads through the nation, are gathering a harvest on that road, and who reap the greater part of the profits arising from the road and the annuities. It is therefore, their interest to continue things as they now are.” 50

[170] Secretary of Indian Affairs Thomas McKenny took a different stand on the issue of mixed-blood control of the tribe and advised Barbour in early 1827 that he had no information that such was the case and that there was no evidence that whites, missionaries, or traders were adversely advising the Indians. 51 McKenney might have deemed some individuals actively counseling against removal to be Indians rather than mixed bloods. Obviously not all of the mixed bloods lived on the two main roads (Natchez Trace and the Military Road) through the nation, and the commissioners did not mean to include all mixed bloods and countrymen in their definition. Several prominent mixed bloods, especially the Pitchlynn family, were pro-removal. 52 Although several correspondents mentioned the “mixed bloods and whites” as the source of cession reticence, obviously they themselves were mixed bloods. Countryman John Pitchlynn[171] was pro-removal and seemed never to have lost his respected position in the tribe. Apparently there was more to the tribal schism than mere racial identity. 53

One major source of friction concerned Mushalatubbee’s loss of pension annuity when he was replaced in 1826 by David Folsom after being charged with re-introducing whiskey into his district. 54 Letters from this full blood chief from the time of his deposal until removal arc replete with requests for money for himself and favors for his relatives in exchange for his agreeing to removal. 55

There is also evidence of regional jealousy. The often mentioned clash between Greenwood Leflore and the other district chiefs, Mushalatubbee and Nitakache, is also an example of how regional clashes can be[172] erroneously interpreted as racial in nature. 56 Although the clash which occurred not long before the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek featured full bloods on one side and mixed bloods on the other, that identity only pertains to the principals and not to the men who allied with the sectional chiefs. Both sides were well represented by full and mixed blood warriors. The major reason behind the differences of opinion is best explained in the letters written to Secretary of 1ndian Affairs Thomas McKenny by his former ward, James McDonald.

McDonald was an astute, educated Choctaw mixed blood who had lived some time with the secretary at Washington, D.C., while working at the office of 1ndian Trade when McKenny held that post. 57 After studying law, McDonald returned to Mississippi and eventually resided in the new capital city of Jackson. From time to time he would advise McKenny on the state of things within the Choctaw nation. In April of 1826 McDonald wrote three lengthy letters in as many days with a detailed analysis of Choctaw inter-tribal squabbling. In the first of the three letters McDonald stated to McKenney:

[173]”This letter you will regard as a private communication…on the subject of the school established in Kentucky…in which the entire appropriation of $6000 per annum has been diverted to the almost exclusive benefit of one district [Mushalatubbee’s] of the Choctaws to the injury of the others….The blame, or the credit, rests either with Col. Ward, the United States agent, or with Mushalatubbee, the Choctaw chief….”

“I cannot but sometimes feel greatly discouraged when I look at the conduct of the chiefs and see the misapplication of their funds. 58

McDonald was referring to a special education annuity clause of the Treaty of Washington he helped obtain as a member of the Choctaw delegation in 1824-25. After just two days had passed McDonald was perturbed enough to write a second lengthy letter in which he further elaborated:

“…the Choctaw nation is divided into three districts, each district governed by one head chief…Each chief has his partizans [sic], each district customs…particular itself; the annuities granted by the United States are distributed not in proportion to population, but sectionally, an equal portion to each district; in short, their districts are in many respects totally and essentially different. In such a state of things, it is obvious that frequent collisions will arise. Their districts being separate, will frequently clash, and there being no tribunal to which they can resort for the settlement of their differences, discontent is engendered & animosities created sometimes threatening disastrous consequences…. I think 1 may venture to affirm that there never has been a period of one year[174] within the last twenty, in which some difference, some cause of dissension has not existed. 59

Later that, same day, McDonald again attempted to persuade McKenney in a third letter that much of the cause of the unresolved misunderstandings between regional chiefs was due to Agent William Ward’s uneven treatment of the chiefs and less than professional execution of his duty. 59

Leflore and Folsom later agreed with McDonald’s doubts concerning Ward and petitioned for the agent’s replacement in the fall of 1828. 60 Although conclusive proof is lacking, there is a strong probability that Ward had favored Mushalatubbee in the annuity allocations, silently backed him against Leflore and Folsom, and attempted to manipulate him to participate in a full blood versus mixed blood schism in order to achieve a removal treaty. Ward several times alluded to racially motivated friction. In the spring of 1826 he advised secretary Barbour that “much jealousy appears…among this tribe and especially with the half breeds as they are called.” 61 Later that year he again wrote Barbour and stated that maybe “the old chiefs” could be persuaded[175] to cede their lands. 62

An examination of documents such as petitions from the tribe indicates that there was harmony and cooperation between mixed bloods and full bloods, as almost of these documents contained signatures of full bloods as well as of mixed bloods. Problems and dissent definitely were present among the tribesmen throughout this period until removal in 1830, but the issues mainly concerned regional jealously over Mushaltubbee’s district being favored in the Choctaw Academy student assignments, the old chiefs permission to allow whiskey back into his district, and the lack of equal distribution of annuity funds. This sectionalism was still evident immediately after the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek when Nitakache complained to Eaton that his southeast district was treated less favorably than the other two. 63

During McDonald’s life span there had existed regional differences among the three major chiefs. That statement is true for full-blood chiefs as well as mixed-blood chiefs. Doubtless there were honest ideological differences among many of them; some feared a[176] giveaway of tribal lands with little compensation, and others displayed an unabashed sentiment for the United States position and agreed with the policies of Jeffersonians and Jacksonian which viewed the Indian presence in the Old Southwest as a national defense weakness.

By the time the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek had been signed in September of 1830 this sectional strife eased enough to allow all three districts to act in concert to censure Chief Greenwood Leflore for his role in urging the treaty on his tribesmen. Although the leaders emerging in the tribe during this critical period were mainly mixed bloods, they had the backing of many full-blood leading men and spoke as true representatives of tribal feeling. Friction and misunderstandings did exist among Choctaw regional factions, but they were overshadowed by the reality of removal which forged a new unity and set the stage for later tribal cohesion in Indian Territory. Although there certainly was a degree of remorse evident as tribal members began preparing for the trek westward, there also was a feeling of opportunity and new beginnings.Citations:

  1. Compare names of witnesses and interpreters in Charles J. Kappler, ed. and comp., Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, 4 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904-29), 2: 14, 64, 70, 88, 137, 195, 317, with identified mixed bloods in Appendix A.[]
  2. W. David Baird, Peter Pitchlynn: Chief of the Choctaws, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972), 10; Henry Sales Halbert, and T. H. Ball, The Creek War of 1813 and 1814, Southern Historical Publications 15, ed by Frank L. Owsley, Jr. (University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1969), 41, 51; Horatio B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw & Natchez Indians (n.p.: 1899, reissued, Stillwater, OK: Redlands Press 1962), ed. and intro., Angie Debo, 261-2.[]
  3. Halbert and Ball, Creek War, 48[]
  4. Angie Debo, The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic, Civilization of the American Indian Series, number 6, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961), 41; J. F. H. Claiborne, Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and State, (n.p.: 1880, reprint ed., Spartanburg: The Reprint Company, 1978), 487; Peter J. Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, ed., Charles G. Summersheil, Southern Historical Publications No. 20, (n.p.: 1910, reprint ed., University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1976), 420.[]
  5. Halbert and. Ball, Creek War, 66; Albert James Pickett, History of Alabama and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi from the Earliest Period, (n.p.: 1878, reprint ed., Tuscaloosa: Willo Publishing, 1962), 519.[]
  6. Pickett, History of Alabama, 528-43; Halbert and Ball, Creek War, 125, 130, 144, 147-48, 157-176; Claiborne, Mississippi, 319n, 321-25.[]
  7. Compare John K. Mahon, “British Strategy and Southern Indians: War of 1812,” Florida Historical Quarterly (hereafter FHQ), 44 (April 1966), 4: 285-302; and Frank L. Owsley, Jr., “British and Indian Activities in Spanish West Florida During the War of 1812,” FHQ, 46 (October 1967), 2: 111-23.[]
  8. For three regional views of the attack on Fort Mims see Laurence H. Marks, “Fort Mims: A Challenge,” Alabama Review (hereafter AR), 18 (October 1965), 4: 275-80; Frank L. Owsley, Jr., “The Fort Mims Massacre,” AR, 24 (July 1971), 3: 192-204; Leland L. Lengel, “The Road to Fort Mims: Judge Harry Toulmin’s Observations on the Creek War, 1811-1813,” AR, 19 (January 1976), 1: 16-36.[]
  9. Halbert and Ball, Creek War, 123.[]
  10. J. F. H. Claiborne as cited in Ibid.[]
  11. American State Papers, Indian Affairs, (hereafter ASP IA), 2 vols, (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1832-34), Secretary of War to Commissioners, May 20, 1816, 2: 128.[]
  12. Aloysius Plaisance, “The Choctaw Trading House — 1803-1822.” Alabama Historical Quarterly. 16 (Fall and Winter, 1954), 405.[]
  13. Records of the Choctaw Trading House, 1803-24, Record Group 75, National Archives, microfilm; Jean Strickland, “Records of the Choctaw Trading Post,” 1984, mimeographed typescript of selected Choctaw Trading post records, extracted from NA, RG 75, microfilm T-500, pp. 5-83, passim.[]
  14. SP IA, 2: 122.[]
  15. Jackson to Graham, December 21, 1816, ASP IA 2: 123.[]
  16. ASP IA, 2: 123-4.[]
  17. Jefferson to D. B. Warden, December 29, 1813, Sigmund Diamond, “Notes and Documents: Some Jeffersonian Letters,” MVHR 28(Sept., 1941): 231-2.[]
  18. ASP IA 21A180-81.[]
  19. Ibid.[][][][][]
  20. Ibid[]
  21. Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767-1821, 2 vols. (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers 1977), 1: 331.[]
  22. ASP 1A 2: 229, 18 March 1819, Pitchlynn to [Jackson ?).[]
  23. Francis Paul Prucha, ed., Documents of United States Indian Policy, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975), 33.[]
  24. Letters Received by the Secretary of War, Registered Series, 1789-1861, Record group 107, National Archives, microfilm M-221, Brashears to Dinsmoor, September 10, 1811.[]
  25. ASP IA 2: 122[]
  26. Niles’ Weekly Register, 16 (1819), 97.[]
  27. Letters Received by the Office of the Secretary of War Relating to Indian Affairs, (800-23, Record Group 75, National Archives, microfilm M-271, McKee to Secretary of War, June 10, 1819. For one report by Kingsbury re Choctaw mixed bloods at missionary schools see, Robert F. Berkhoffer, Salvation and the Savage: An Analysis of Protestant Missions and American Indian Response, 1787-1862 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1965. Reprint edition. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977), 113.[]
  28. Thomas L. McKenney, Memoirs, Official and Personal, intro., Herman Viola, vii; Prucha, Documents, 33; Samuel J. Wells, “The Evolution of Jeffersonian Indian Policy with the Choctaws of Mississippi,” Master’s thesis, University of Southern Mississippi, 1981, 43; ASP IA 2: 201.[]
  29. Letters Sent by the Secretary of War Relating to Indian Affairs, 1820-24, Record Group 75, National Archives, microfilm M-15, Calhoun to Circular, April 5, 1820.[]
  30. Ibid., Calhoun to McKee, August 12, 14, 1820.[]
  31. ASP IA 2: 225[]
  32. Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-81, Choctaw Agency, Record Group 75, National Archives, microfilm M-234, September 30, 1826.[]
  33. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Halbert papers, folder 91.[]
  34. Thomas L. McKenney, Memoirs, Official and Personal, (New York: Paine and Burgess, 1846, reprint ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973), vii; Viola, Herman J. Thomas L. McKenney, Architect of America’s Early Indian Policy: 1816-1830 (Chicago: Sage Books 1974), 189-90; Angie Debo, The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic, Civilization of the American 1ndian Series, number 6, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961), 44[]
  35. Adam Hodgson, Letters From North America, vol. 1, (London: n.p., 1824), 271.[]
  36. Ibid., 273.[]
  37. Ibid., passim.[]
  38. House Executive Document 109, 26th Cong., 2nd sess., p. 7.[]
  39. Ibid., pp. 37, 109, 145; National Archives, RG 75, Item 1/267, Bound Letters, Box 8.[]
  40. Jedidiah Morse, A Report On Indian Affairs, (New Haven: S. Converse, 1822, reprinted., New York: Augustus M Kelley, 1970), 73-4.[]
  41. Ibid., Appendix, 190.[]
  42. Ibid., Appendix, 194.[]
  43. Ibid., Appendix 265.[]
  44. Ibid., Appendix 277.[]
  45. ASP 1A 2: 234-5.[]
  46. Lackey Papers, Coppick letter, University of Southern Mississippi (hereafter USM). Richard White in The Roots of Dependency (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), 125, mistakenly identifies Cole as a full blood and later uses this identification to construct a mixed blood/full blood dichotomy in the tribe prior to removal.[]
  47. Charles J. Kappler, comp. and ed., Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904-29), 2: 213. 169[]
  48. Letters Sent by the Office of 1ndian Affairs, 1824-81, Record Group 75, National Archives, microfilm M-2l. Chiefs to McKenney, August 16, 1825.[]
  49. ASP IA 2: 704, Mackey to Barbour, March 18, 1826.[]
  50. ASP IA 2: 709, Commissioners to Barbour, November 19, 1826. For a counter argument see John F. H. Claiborne, Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and State with Biographical Notices of Eminent Citizens (n.p. 1880, reprinted., Spartanburg: The Reprint Company, 1978), 508. Claiborne is just as simplistic in his argument that mixed bloods were pro-removal and full bloods were anti-removal.[]
  51. McKenney to Barbour, Feb. 1, 1827, ASP IA 2: 145.[]
  52. ASP IA 2: 229, 18 March 1819, Pitchlynn to [Jackson ?].[]
  53. Yet some historians, notably Richard White in The Roots of Dependency, 140-46, conjure a mixed blood/full blood dichotomy which is hard to sustain with the evidence at hand. White’s otherwise excellent treatment of this period is marred by a strong Indian instance, which paints full bloods such as Mushalatubbee as having “adroitly and effectively stymied his rivals,” and mixed bloods such as Leflore as being “clumsy, heavy-handed, and ineffective.”[]
  54. Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-81, Record Group 75, National Archives, microfilm M-234 (hereafter LROIA M-234), Ward to McKenney, Dec. 12, 1825.[]
  55. Ibid., Mushulatubbee to Jackson, May 16, 1829; Mushulatubbee to Eaton, Dec 30, 1830. Mushulatubbee saw both David Folsom and the missionaries as enemies, but seemed more interested in personal gain than tribal matters.[]
  56. For the major versions of this historic face off between the Choctaw chiefs see Claiborne, Mississippi, 508-9; Cushman, History, 280-85; Gaines, “Reminescences.”[]
  57. See Viola, Thomas L. McKenny, for details of the relationship between these two men.[]
  58. LROIA, M-234, McDonald to McKenney, April 25, 1826.[]
  59. Ibid., McDonald to McKenney, April 27, 1826.[][]
  60. Ibid., Choctaw Council, Sept. 17, 1828.[]
  61. Ibid., Ward to Barbour, April 15, 1826.[]
  62. Ibid., Ward to Barbour, August 9, 1826. In 1827 Barbour reported to the Senate that he had failed to achieve a treaty with the Choctaw tribe due to “half-breed” chiefs who were profiting from the status quo.[]
  63. LROIA, M-234, Nituckache to Eaton, Oct 9, 1830.[]

Wells, Dr. Samuel James. Choctaw Mixed Bloods and the Advent of Removal. University of Southern Mississippi. 1987. © Dr. Samuel James Wells, 1987. Used by permission.

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