Chief Tecumseh urges Indians to unite against whites - HISTORY
Year
1809

Chief Tecumseh urges Indians to unite against whites

Alarmed by the growing encroachment of whites squatting on Native American lands, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh calls on all Indians to unite and resist.

Born around 1768 near Springfield, Ohio, Tecumseh early won notice as a brave warrior. He fought in battles between the Shawnee and the white Kentuckians, who were invading the Ohio River Valley territory. After the Americans won several important battles in the mid-1790s, Tecumseh reluctantly relocated westward but remained an implacable foe of the white men and their ways.

By the early 19th century, many Shawnee and other Ohio Valley Indians were becoming increasingly dependent on trading with the Americans for guns, cloth, and metal goods. Tecumseh spoke out against such dependence and called for a return to traditional Indian ways. He was even more alarmed by the continuing encroachment of white settlers illegally settling on the already diminished government-recognized land holdings of the Shawnee and other tribes. The American government, however, was reluctant to take action against its own citizens to protect the rights of the Ohio Valley Indians.

On this day in 1809, Tecumseh began a concerted campaign to persuade the Indians of the Old Northwest and Deep South to unite and resist. Together, Tecumseh argued, the various tribes had enough strength to stop the whites from taking further land. Heartened by this message of hope, Indians from as far away as Florida and Minnesota heeded Tecumseh’s call. By 1810, he had organized the Ohio Valley Confederacy, which united Indians from the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Winnebago, Menominee, Ottawa, and Wyandot nations.

For several years, Tecumseh’s Indian Confederacy successfully delayed further white settlement in the region. In 1811, however, the future president William Henry Harrison led an attack on the confederacy’s base on the Tippecanoe River. At the time, Tecumseh was in the South attempting to convince more tribes to join his movement. Although the battle of Tippecanoe was close, Harrison finally won out and destroyed much of Tecumseh’s army.

When the War of 1812 began the following year, Tecumseh immediately marshaled what remained of his army to aid the British. Commissioned a brigadier general, he proved an effective ally and played a key role in the British capture of Detroit and other battles. When the tide of war turned in the American favor, Tecumseh’s fortunes went down with those of the British. On October 5, 1813, he was killed during Battle of the Thames. His Ohio Valley Confederacy and vision of Indian unity died with him.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Zeppelin demonstrates airship

In the sky over Germany’s Lake Constance, Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin, a retired Prussian army officer, successfully demonstrates the world’s first rigid airship. The 420-foot, cigar-shaped craft was lifted by hydrogen gas and powered by a 16-horsepower engine.Zeppelin had ...read more

Mutiny on the Amistad slave ship

Early in the morning, Africans on the Cuban schooner Amistad rise up against their captors, killing two crewmembers and seizing control of the ship, which had been transporting them to a life of slavery on a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba.In 1807, the U.S. Congress ...read more

Amelia Earhart disappears

On July 2, 1937, the Lockheed aircraft carrying American aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Frederick Noonan is reported missing near Howland Island in the Pacific. The pair were attempting to fly around the world when they lost their bearings during the most challenging leg of ...read more

Johnson signs Civil Rights Act

On this day in 1964, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the historic Civil Rights Act in a nationally televised ceremony at the White House.In the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was ...read more

Greece declares war on Central Powers

On this day in 1917, several weeks after King Constantine I abdicates his throne in Athens under pressure from the Allies, Greece declares war on the Central Powers, ending three years of neutrality by entering World War I alongside Britain, France, Russia and Italy.Constantine, ...read more

Helen Wills Moody wins final Wimbledon

On this day in 1938, Helen Wills Moody defeats a hobbled Helen Jacobs 6-4, 6-0 to win her eighth Wimbledon singles title. The victory was the final major championship for Moody, who had been the dominant player in women’s tennis for the better part of two decades.Born Helen Wills ...read more

President Garfield is shot

On this day in 1881, President James A. Garfield, who had been in office just under four months, is shot by an assassin. Garfield lingered for 80 days before dying of complications from the shooting.Garfield’s assassin was an attorney and political office-seeker named Charles ...read more

Men in Black premieres

On this day in 1997, the science fiction-comedy movie Men in Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, opens in theaters around the United States. The film grossed more than $250 million in America alone and helped establish the former sitcom star Will Smith as one of ...read more

Pilgrim stampede kills 1,400

A stampede of religious pilgrims in a pedestrian tunnel in Mecca leaves more than 1,400 people dead on this day in 1990. This was the most deadly of a series of incidents over 20 years affecting Muslims making the trip to Mecca. To the followers of Islam, traveling to Mecca in ...read more

President Garfield shot

Only four months into his administration, President James A. Garfield is shot as he walks through a railroad waiting room in Washington, D.C. His assailant, Charles J. Guiteau, was a disgruntled and perhaps insane office seeker who had unsuccessfully sought an appointment to the ...read more

Soviet Union rejects Marshall Plan assistance

Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov walks out of a meeting with representatives of the British and French governments, signaling the Soviet Union’s rejection of the Marshall Plan. Molotov’s action indicated that Cold War frictions between the United States and Russia were ...read more

Fighting continues at the Battle of Gettysburg

On this day in 1863, during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia attacks General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac at both Culp’s Hill and Little Round Top, but fails to move the Yankees from ...read more

Chevrolet builds 1 millionth Corvette

The 1 millionth Corvette, a white LT1 roadster with a red interior and a black roof–the same colors as the original 1953 model–rolls off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Kentucky on this day in 1992. The Corvette, America’s first all-fiberglass-bodied sports car, made its ...read more

Congress votes for independence

On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress, assembled in Philadelphia, formally adopts Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence from Great Britain. The vote is unanimous, with only New York abstaining.The resolution had originally been presented to Congress on ...read more