Saturday, August 6, 2016

Missions to the Western Indians by "Melville" - No. 4 of 6

From the Christian Watchman [Boston, Massachusetts] Friday, April 27, 1838; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank.

For the Watchman.
Missions to the Western Indians.—No. 4.

The Seminoles are about four thousand in number. They occupy a tract on the western coast of the peninsula of Florida. This tribe is descended from another who were named Yemassees. They have made but small advances in civilization, and are extremely warlike.— About twenty-five years since, they became engaged in a war with the United States. The contest proved most disastrous to the Seminoles. The American troops under Gen. Jackson, drove them into the then Spanish towns of St. Marks and Pensacola, then taking possession of those places, held the fugitives completely in their power. Under these circumstances, the disheartened Indians accepted a proffered treaty of peace.

In 1835, arose a second war with the Seminoles. Their country had previously been ceded to the United States; and stipulations had been made for their removal to the Indian territory. Discontent subsequently arose, however, between the parties to this treaty, and the sparks of disaffection were soon fanned into a flame. Slaves belonging to the Florida planters escaped from their masters, and sought a refuge among the Seminoles. When the agents of the United States, in the name of the government, claimed the occupancy of the country, and the removal of the Indians, a violent spirit of resistance was instantly manifested. One of the principal chiefs having advised to yield to the demands of the United States, a number of his fellow chiefs sought his hut, and despatched him, sending each an arrow through his body.

The Seminoles immediately fled to arms. Troops from the United States were sent against them; but from the nature of the country the latter could contend with the Indians only at a tremendous disadvantage. Florida abounds in treacherous swamps and stagnant pools, which are thickly infested with noxious serpents and most troublesome insects. The Indians possessing an intimate acquaintance with the country, would frequently sally forth against the invading foe, and then retire to those swamps which were inaccessible to the foot of civilized man.

The war is still raging without a prospect of a speedy conclusion though the principal chiefs have been captured, and the Indians defeated in several engagements. The issue can only be known from the developments of the future. Under the present circumstances, it would necessarily be idle to speak of the Seminoles in Florida as the subjects of missionary labor. The Christian can only beseech Him who performs his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, to hush the commotions of war into the stillness and security of peace. It will then be more rational to hope that the benign influences of the gospel may be borne to the hearts of the degraded and unfortunate Seminoles.

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