Black Hawk War begins April 6, 1832
In April of 1832, the Winnebagoes, Saes, and Foxes, Indian tribes inhabiting the upper Mississippi, commenced hostilities under their celebrated chief, Black Hawk, re-entering the lands which had been sold to the United States, and which were now occupied by the citizens of Illinois.
The so-called sale of Indian lands was frequently anything but with the free-will of the red man, and, as in this very instance, the Sao Indians were extremely unwilling to vacate their lands; but American generals, of the same character as the president, unscrupulous and resolute, not troubled either with too much conscience or too much sensibility, were ever at hand ready to pledge themselves "within fifteen days to remove the Indians, dead or alive, over to the west side of the Mississippi."
The conduct of Black Hawk on this occasion is worthy to be related. Gaines, the American general, rose in the council of the chiefs, and said that the president was displeased with the refusal of the Saes to go to the west of the great river. Black Hawk replied that the Saes, of which he was the chief, had never sold their lands, and were determined to hold them.
|Description: Sauk Chief Makataimeshekiakiah, or Black Hawk. Date: 1837. Source: McKenney, Thomas Loraine and James Hall. History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes, of the Principal Chiefs. Philadelphia: J. T. Bowen, 1848-1850. Author: Charles Bird King (1785–1862)|
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"Who is this Black Hawk? Is he a chief?" inquired the general. "What right has he in the council?"
Black Hawk rose, and gathering his blanket round him, walked out of the assembly. The next morning he was again in the council, and rising slowly, said, addressing the American general: "My father, you inquired yesterday, 'Who is this Black Hawk? Why does he sit among the chiefs?' I will tell you who I am. 1 am a Sac; my father was a Sac; I am a warrior, and so was my father. Ask those young men who have followed me to battle, and they will tell you who Black Hawk is; provoke our people to war, and you will learn who Black Hawk is."
TEXT CREDIT: A popular history of the United States of America By Mary Howitt