The Worlds Famous Orations. America: I. (17611837). 1906.
II. Tecumseh to General Proctor
The Shawnee Chief Tecumseh (1768?1813)
Born about 1768, died in 1813; a Chief of the Shawnee and twin brother of Elskwatawa, who was defeated by Harrison at Tippecanoe; joined the British in the War of 1812; fought in several battles in Canada; commanded the right wing of the allied Indian and British forces, who were defeated in the Battle of the Thames by General Harrison.
FATHER,1 listen to your children! you have them now all before you. The war before this, our British father gave the hatchet to his red children when old chiefs were alive. They are now dead. In that war our father was thrown on his back by the Americans, and our father took them by the hand without our knowledge; and we are afraid that our father will do so again at this time.
Summer before last, when I came forward with my red brethren and was ready to take up the hatchet in favor of our British father, we were told not to be in a hurry; that he had not yet determined to fight the. Americans.
Listen! When war was declared, our father stood up and gave us the tomahawk, and told us that he was ready to strike the Americans; that he wanted our assistance, and that he would certainly get us our lands back, which the Americans had taken from us.
Listen! You told us at that time to bring forward our families to this place, and we did so; and you promised to take care of them, and that they should want for nothing while the men would go and fight the enemy. That we need not trouble ourselves about the enemys garrisons; that we knew nothing about them, and that our father would attend to that part of the business. You also told your red children that you would take good care of your garrison here, which made our hearts glad.
Father, listen! Our fleet has gone out; we know they have fought; we have heard the great guns, but know nothing of what has happened to our father with one arm. Our ships have gone one way, and we are much astonished to see our father tying up everything and preparing to run away the other, without letting his red children know what his intentions are. You always told us to remain here and take care of our lands. It made our hearts glad to hear that was your wish. Our great father, the king, is the head, and you represent him. You always told us that you would never draw your foot off British ground; but now, father, we see you are drawing back, and we are sorry to see our father doing so without seeing the enemy. We must compare our fathers conduct to a fat animal that carries its tail upon its back, but when affrighted it drops it between its legs and runs off.
Listen, father! The Americans have not yet defeated us by land; neither are we sure that they have done so by water; we therefore wish to remain here and fight our enemy should they make their appearance. If they defeat us, we will then retreat with our father.
At the Battle of the Rapids, last war, the Americans certainly defeated us; and when we retreated to our fathers fort in that place the gates were shut against us. We were afraid that it would now be the case, but instead of that we now see our British father preparing to march out of his garrison.
Father! You have got the arms and ammunition which our great father sent for his red children. If you have an idea of going away, give them to us, and you may go and welcome; for us, our lives are in the hands of the Great Spirit. We are determined to defend our lands, and if it is His will we wish to leave our bones upon them.
Note 1. Delivered in the name of the Indian chiefs and warriors to Major-General [Henry A.] Proctor, as the representative of their great father, the king, a short time before the Battle of the Thames in Canada, which occurred on October 5, 1813. Proctor, totally defeated by Gen. William Henry Harrison, was court-martialed and suspended from his rank and pay, but reinstated afterward and rose to be a lieutenant-general. This speech was first published in 1813 in the National Intelligencer of Washington, with a note saying it was found among General Proctors papers after his flight. [back]