The Pottawattomie Treaty of 1833

The Rambler in North America
by Charles Joseph Latrobe

It is a grievous thing that Government is not stronghanded enough to put a stop to the shameful and scandalous sale of whiskey to these poor miserable wretches. But here lie casks of it for sale under the very eye of the Commissioners, met together for purposes, which demand that sobriety should be maintained, were it only that no one should be able to lay at their door an accusation of unfair dealing, and of having taken advantage of the helpless Indian in a bargain, whereby the people of the United States were to be so greatly the gainers. And such was the state of things day by day.

However anxious I and others might be to exculpate the United States Government from the charge of cold and selfish policy toward the remnant of the Indian tribes, and from that of resorting to unworthy and diabolical means in attaining possession of their lands, as long as it can be said with truth, that drunkeness was not guarded against, and that the means were furnished at the very time of the Treaty, and under the very nose of the Commissioners, how can it be expected but a stigma will attend every transaction of this kind. The sin may lie at the door of the individuals more immediately in contact with them; but for the character of the people as a nation, it should be guarded against, beyond a possibility of transgression. Who will believe that any act, however formally executed by the chiefs, is valid, as long as it is known that whiskey was one of the parties to the Treaty.


As Others See Chicago, Compiled and Edited by Bessie Louise Pierce
University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1933