Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership By: R. David Edmunds Luke Adair His 101 Mr. Jack McKnight Tecumseh was the fifth child born into the family in 1768. Tecumseh always the leader springboards into the position of War Chief, in which he leads many battles and defenses for the Shawnee tribe.
Europeans settled in North America, claiming land that was never theirs to claim. The British initially making a deal to protect the Indians went back on it when a battle broke out in which many Shawnee fled the battlegrounds to a British Fort, where they were not allowed inside for protection. On August 3rd, the Indians signed a treaty calling for them to remain at peace, relinquish all the prisoners, and give up the land in the southern, eastern, and central Ohio. In return the United States gave the Indians trade goods, valued from $5,000 to $10,000.
The Shawnees’ lives were simple and they were spiritual people. The role of men and women is very simple; the men are the hunters and warriors. While the women are used as the housekeepers, clothe makers, and kept the families close. In the Spring/Summer months the main two projects are to farm and to re-build the villages. In the Fall/Winter months they do hunting, allowing them to feed the family.
By the early 1800’s the Indian life became much more difficult. The white hunters wiped out most of the wildlife, forcing the Indians to start using more modern, “white man”, ways of hunting. The British finally agreed to a farming agreement and sent William Kirk in 1807 on a mission to Wapakoneta, where they set up farming for the Indians and British. The mission was a success, but in the long run did damage to the Shawnees’ ways of life. Lalwethika is Tecumseh’s brother that is disliked by many people. Leading Lalwethika to drink such an abundance of alcohol that he passed out and fell into a deep trance, later that day several other Shawnee members found his body in the wigwam.
They pronounced him dead. After this he woke from his trance he was known as Tenskwatawa, and was looked upon differently. The Prophet, as he was also known, gave the tribe a new faith. The Americans and British knew they were nearing a war; therefore the Americans made sure the Indians would not side with the British. Tecumseh ended up giving a three hour-long speech where he stated that there would be no further advancement by the Whites. Throughout the years, things became much more difficult for the Shawnee to survive at the village site.
Thus they decide to movie further west for better protection and food source. After the Treaty of Fort Wayne is where Tecumseh becomes known as more of a leader than just “The Prophets Brother”. After several meetings Tecumseh warns the British not to meddle with intertribal politics or a war will result. Later in a meeting with Harrison he stated Tecumseh is “The Moses of The Family”.
The next few months were brutal on the Shawnee tribe. Tecumseh went to meet with the British demanding the food and ammunition promised. Harrison had information making him believe that the Indians were going to be rebellious. Harrison sent troops into the Wabash area, Tecumseh found out before arrived and ambushed the sleeping troops, planning to kill Harrison. The plan did not succeed because they were discovered before they got to the troops; the battle lasted for several hours.
Just before dawn the Indians retreated, as a result ending the Battle of Tippecanoe. All was quarrels were eventually settled, Tecumseh and Harrison’s friendship was still intact. A British leader named Brock and Tecumseh join together in taking the American fort in Detroit. Tecumseh and Brock succeed in what seems to be an easy victory in Detroit as Americans surrender. Brock and Tecumseh create a strong friendship, until Brock is summands to Niagara to lead a counterattack against the Americans, during this attack Brock loses his life.
Tecumseh, considered the “bravest of the brave” and “the greatest Indian”, was killed in the Battle of Thames. Colonel Richard M. Johnson claimed that he is the one man that single handedly shot Tecumseh. Although many believe that Johnson truly was the one that killed Tecumseh it is an unknown speculation. The one thing all agree on is that he was an admired man.
R. David Edmunds is the author that wrote Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership, the book details the journeys of Tecumseh from birth to death to even his retrospect. It’s a factual book about the settling of North America and times and tribulations that the Native Americans went though. The information in the story is stated very clearly in some cases, yet blurry in others. I feel the book was exceptionally well written, although I just never got into the book.
I felt as though there was not enough about Tecumseh, there was more information about the actions going on around Tecumseh and the Shawnee. I came away from the book wondering more about Tecumseh himself than I had ever thought imaginable. Therefore the book left many questions unanswered for me, i.e. What ever happened to his family life, it never really got into detail about the son he had. Though there were several more unanswered questions left about Tecumseh, the book overall answered many questions that I didn’t know the answer to.
For example I never knew the details about the British and Indian relationships, from the book I got the assumption that Tecumseh and Harrison had a tight friendship. I always thought that the British and Indians never quite mixed. I now know otherwise, some Indians mixed well with British, others did not. It taught me a great deal about the land cessions between the British, Indians, French, and Americans.
The author I don’t believe did a very good job at clearly stating his conclusion, thus making it quite difficult to agree or disagree with it. Towards the end of each chapter he stated mostly just information, eluding the direct conclusion itself. The conclusion I drew from the book is that he was more in favor of the Indians needs than the other countries trying to settle in North America, in that case I do agree with him. I personally believe that the Native Americans had this land first, so why not let them stay here on the east coast and just move more toward the west coast.
Greediness I guess could possibly be a theme to this book; it shows how greedy people can be. If they want something, they want the most amounts possible. I had a discussion at work about this topic and many people felt that the Indians would have died off any way because they are about tradition, not moving forward as people. Example, the African tribes that are 3rd world, they feel that’s what North America would be like if Indians were still here. The book I feel had some very strong points but at the same time had some weaker points as well.
“Between 1755 and 1758 Shawnee war parties periodically attacked the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia, burning cabins, taking scalps, and stealing their livestock”1 shows how detailed the book truly is. “During the summer he assembled 320 regulars and 1,133 Kentucky militiamen at Fort Washington, and in late September General Josiah Harmar led the force north across Ohio toward the Miami towns near modern Fort Wayne, Indiana”2 again shows Edmund’s knowledge on the subject he was writing about. For instance, I feel that the book was exceptionally informative, yet it lacked certain information. As I stated before, what happened to Tecumseh’s family? His son and wife were mentioned just briefly. I suppose the only solution to that is to increase the length of the book, which in my opinion wouldn’t have been a very good idea.
Another possibility is if they want you to focus on Tecumseh, he might want to change the title. Before even reading the preface I assumed that the book was basically going to be a biography on the life of Tecumseh and all the struggles throughout his life. Instead I was in for a rude awakening, I did more reading about the Indians/British/French/American feuds. Therefore I would recommend this book to a person that was interested in history, but if the person lacked interest in history, I would strongly advise not reading the book.
The letters/speeches that were shown throughout the book I found to be informative, but almost too informative. They distracted me from my reading. I am not a big enthusiast on history myself so I felt this book to be very boring and dry. No disrespect toward the author, but it just never jumped out and grabbed my attention, making it a very long book. R. David Edmunds obviously did his homework before writing this book because he showed great detail in the book, overall it wasn’t a bad book, but I just felt bored reading it.
Quotes from book 1 Page 5 2 Page 31.