Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics

Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics

David A. Nichols

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 0873518756

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


 “Lincoln and the Indians has stood the test of time and offers this generation of readers a valuable interpretation of the U.S. government’s Indian policies—and sometimes the lack thereof—during the Civil War era. Providing a critical perspective on Lincoln’s role, Nichols sets forth an especially incisive analysis of the trial of participants in the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota and Lincoln’s role in sparing the lives of most of those who were convicted.” 
—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer P rize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“For the Dakota people, the Indian System started with the Doctrine of Discovery and continued  through Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and beyond. The United States was bound to protect the rights of Indian parties. But in the end, the guilty were glorified and the laws for humanity disgraced. This book tells that story, and it should be required reading at all educational institutions.” 
—Sheldon Wolfchild, independent filmmaker, artist, and actor

“Undoubtedly the best book published on Indian affairs in the years of Lincoln’s presidency.” 
American Historical Review

David A. Nichols was vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Southwestern College in Kansas. He is a leading expert on the Eisenhower presidency, and his most recent book is Eisenhower 1956.

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Papers. 13. Aldrich to Thompson, 12 November 1861, ibid. 14. Wilkinson to Thompson, 11 July 1861, ibid. 15. C. B. Hensley to Thompson, 30 November 1861, Box 1, Hensley to Thompson, 20 May 1862, Box 2, Thompson Papers; James B. Hubbell and Alpheus T. Hawley to Dole, n.d., Roll 935, M234, LR, Winnebago Agency, OIA, RG75, NA. 16. William Windom to Caleb B. Smith, 31 May 1862, Roll 20, M825, LR, ID, OSI, RG48, NA. 17. Webb to Thompson, 2 July 1861, Box 1, Thompson Papers. 18. Depositions by

whole affair irritated Lincoln. He was especially upset because in October the Confederates had begun to parole Union soldiers on the stipulation that they could not be used against the Indians. This supported the perception of the Minnesota war as part of a Confederate conspiracy. Lincoln threatened not to accept such parolees and “send the prisoners back with a distinct notice that we will recognize no paroles given our prisoners by the rebels as extending beyond a prohibition against fighting

Indian removal. When Indians were removed, it was nearly always to agriculturally inferior land. Lincoln told the Indians, “I can only say that I can see no way in which your race is to become as numerous and prosperous as the white race except by living as they do, by the cultivation of the earth.” At that very moment, Lincoln’s subordinates were preparing to move Minnesota’s Sioux and Winnebagos onto land that was practically unarable. The Minnesota Indians, in fact, were forced to leave good

the political consequences of Indian affairs rather than to the substance of the difficulties that demanded his attention. He addressed the fundamental problem only when confronted dramatically and personally, as in the executions. Even then, he put it out of mind as quickly as he could. Lincoln was personally confronted by the events in the Indian Territory and Minnesota, the proposed executions, and the incessant arguments of reformers like Bishop Whipple. The convergence of these in late 1862

what had become of Bailey, Wilkinson replied that the agent had been arrested for stealing $870,000 in bonds out of a safe in the Interior Department. Wilkinson quickly assured his colleagues that such corruption ended with the election of Abraham Lincoln and that the new administration appointed only “honest men.” Thus reassured, the senators passed the appropriation.31 A Pathway to Wealth and Power By the 1860s, the Indian System had become more than a source of corruption. It had become a

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