« PreviousContinue »
66 I was
the “ Talisman,” and pilot her up. With Abe at the helm, she ran with comparative ease and safety as far as the NewSalem dam, a part of which they were compelled to tear away in order to let the steamer through. Thence she went on as high as Bogue's mill; but, having reached that point, the rapidly-falling water admonished her captain and pilots, that, unless they wished her to be left there for the season, they must promptly turn her prow down stream. For some time, on the return trip, she made not more than three or four miles a day, son account of the high wind from the prairie." sent for, being an old boatman,” says J. R. Herndon, “and I met her some twelve or thirteen miles above New Salem. We got to Salem the second day after I went on board. When we struck the dam, she hung. We then backed off, and threw the anchor over the dam, and tore away a part of the dam, and, raising steam, ran her over the first trial. As soon as she was over, the company that chartered her was done with her. I think the captain gave Mr. Lincoln forty dollars to run her down to Beardstown. I am sure I got forty dollars to continue on her until we landed at Beardstown. We that went down with her walked back to New Salem.”
N the spring of 1832, Mr. Offutt's business had gone to
ruin: the store was sold out, the mill was handed over to its owners, Mr. Offutt himself departed for parts unknown, and his “head clerk” was again out of work. Just about that time a governor's proclamation arrived, calling for volunteers to meet the famous chief Black Hawk and his warriors, who were preparing for a grand, and, in all likelihood, a bloody foray, into their old hunting-grounds in the Rockriver country.
Black Hawk was a large Indian, of powerful frame and commanding presence. He was a soldier and a statesman. The history of his diplomacy with the tribes he sought to confederate shows that he expected to realize on a smaller scale the splendid plans of Pontiac and Tecumseh. In his own tongue he was eloquent, and dreamed dreams which, amongst the Indians, passed for prophecy. The prophet is an indispensable personage in any comprehensive scheme of Indian politics, and no chief has ever effected a combination of formidable strength without his aid. In the person of Black Hawk, the chief and the prophet were one. His power in both capacities was bent toward a single end, - the great purpose of his life, —- the recovery of his birthplace and the ancient home of his people from the possession of the stranger.
Black Hawk was born on the Rock River in Wisconsin, in the year 1767. His grandfather lived near Montreal, whence his father Pyesa had emigrated, but not until he had become thoroughly British in his views and feelings. All his life
long he made annual journeys to the councils of the tribes at Malden, where the gifts and persuasions of British agents confirmed him in his inclination to the British interests. When Pyesa was gathered to his fathers, his son took his place as the chief of the Sacs, hated the Americans, loved the friendly English, and went yearly to Malden, precisely as he thought Pyesa would have had him do. But Black Hawk's mind was infinitely superior to Pyesa's: his sentiments were loftier, his heart more susceptible; he had the gift of the seer, the power of the orator, with the high courage and the profound policy of a born warrior and a natural ruler. He “had brooded over the early history of his tribe; and to his views, as he looked down the vista of years, the former times seemed so much better than the present, that the vision wrought upon his susceptible imagination, which pictured it to be the Indian golden age. He had some remembrance of a treaty made by Gen. Harrison in 1804, to which his people had given their assent; and his feelings were with difficulty controlled, when he was required to leave the Rock-river Valley, in compliance with a treaty made with Gen. Scott. That valley, however, he peacefully abandoned with his tribe, on being notified, and went to the west of the Mississippi ; but he had spent his youth in that locality, and the more he thought of it, the more determined he was to return thither. He readily enlisted the sympathies of the Indians, who are ever prone to ponder on their real or imaginary wrongs; and it may be readily conjectured that what Indian counsel could not accomplish, Indian prophecy would." He had moved when summoned to move, because he was then unprepared to fight; but he utterly denied that the chiefs who seemed to have ceded the lands long years before had any right to cede them, or that the tribe had ever willingly given up the country to the stranger and the aggres
It was a fraud upon the simple Indians: the old treaty was a great lie, and the signatures it purported to have, made with marks and primitive devices, were not attached in good
1 Schoolcraft's History of the Indian Tribes.