Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume III by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume III by  Mara L. Pratt


President Madison.

The Administration of James Madison

The next President was James Madison. He, too, was chosen by the Republicans. He had been a near and dear friend of Jefferson, and in simplicity of manners and living was very like him. He was usually dressed in a plain suit of black broadcloth, and was always very quiet and gentlemanly in his bearing. The wearing of gay colors had very much gone out of fashion since the days of Washington and Adams, and so they were not very often worn, either at the capitol or elsewhere.

When Madison became president, affairs were very prosperous and quiet. There was a prospect of trouble ahead, however, both from the Indians and from the English.

The Indians had been very quiet since the time of Washington, when Anthony Wayne had attacked them so furiously; but now there had arisen among them a young chief, Tecumseh, who was wise enough to see that the Indians were being pushed father and farther from their "happy hunting grounds," and that unless the white man could be driven away, they would some time have no hunting-grounds at all. And so when Harrison, the Governor of Indiana, bought from some of the chiefs a piece of land, and was about to take possession of it, this chief felt that the time had come to speak; and accordingly the Flying Tiger, as he was called, came to Harrison about it.

"I wish to talk with you," said Tecumseh.

"Very well," said Harrison, "will you come into my house?"

"No," said Tecumseh; "the air of the white man's wigwam stifles me. I will talk outside."

As Tecumseh and his warriors, and Harrison and his officers gathered, one of the officers said, "Tecumseh, sit down beside your father," pointing to Harrison.

"My father!" cried the chief, contemptuously. "the Sun is my Father!"

Tecumseh then went on to explain that the Indian was being driven every year farther west, that the broad lands of the country were theirs, and that no Indian had any right to sell, nor a white man any right to buy the land.

Governor Harrison tried to explain, but Tecumseh would not understand; and although he went away quietly enough, Harrison well knew that an outbreak might at any time be expected.

Tecumseh's great plan now, was to unite all the Indian tribes into one body, and so make a fearful attack upon the white men. And for this purpose he left his tribe in the care of his brother, "The Big Prophet," and travelled about from tribe to tribe, telling his story and urging them to fight against these "pale-faces," as he called the white men. If Tecumseh had succeeded in his plan, I fear it would have been a sad, sad day for those states bordering upon the Indian camps. But while Tecumseh was away, Harrison attacked the Indian camp on the Tippecanoe river, broke up their town, and drove the tribe into the forests beyond.

Tecumseh on his return, finding his own tribe broken up, and knowing that now his plan was hopeless, vowed vengeance on the Americans. Knowing that America was just on the verge of another war with England, he again journeyed from tribe to tribe, telling them what had been done during his absence, and urging them to join the English against the Americans.

Having inflamed all the Indians who would listen to him with his own desire for revenge, he hastened to the British officers and offered himself and his warriors to fight against the Americans.

Satisfied that revenge was sure, Tecumseh and his followers were quiet during the winter months—quiet, but not idle, as the Americans learned to their sorrow a few months later.

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