Jackson had two Indian wars to carry on while he was President. One was the Black Hawk War (1832), in Illinois and Wisconsin, where the Indians, after selling their lands, obstinately refused to give them up to the settlers. The other was the Florida or Seminole War which began in 1835. The Seminole Indians had been beaten by Jackson himself some time before, and after the purchase of Florida they had consented to give up their land and go to the other side of the Mississippi.
Still, when the time came for them to move, their chief, Osceola, would not go, and defiantly drove his knife into a table, saying: “The only treaty I will execute is with this.” His influence was so great that the Seminoles rose up in arms and began to massacre all the whites. They surprised and killed one officer at dinner, and surrounded another in Wahoo Swamp, where he was slain with more than a hundred men.
The Seminoles next retreated into the Everglades, where several battles took place. Finally they were beaten at Lake Okechobee. Osceola, having been treacherously seized in the meantime under a flag of truce, was imprisoned in Fort Moultrie, near Charleston, where he died and was buried. The Indians, however, continued fighting, but were finally forced to submit. Many of them were then removed to the Indian Territory, so that the white people in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama need no longer dread their presence.
During this Seminole War, which lasted until the year 1842, there was one engagement in which all the officers but one were soon killed. Bravely heading what was left of his troop, this young man cried: “Follow me! I’m the only officer left, boys; but we’ll all do the best we can.” Doing his best he bravely died, but if his last words serve as a motto for every American boy and girl, our country will become greater than ever.
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✔ Indian Issues
Presidents from 1789 to 1899
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