The Indian Policy of Abraham Lincoln
As James M. McPherson notes in his recent Tried By Fire: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, “Abraham Lincoln was the only president in American history whose entire administration was bounded by war. During his four years as president Lincoln was preoccupied with the Civil War but several events occurred that had lasting impact on Indian policy and Indian people. As David A. Nichols notes, “For the most part, the president left Indian matters to the Indian office,” the precursor of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.” An indication of the level of Lincoln’s involvement in Indian affairs is his brief mentions of Indians in each of his four Annual Messages to Congress.
Second only to winning the Civil War and establishing a just post war reconstruction, Lincoln’s highest policy priority was settling the west. The Homestead Act and facilitating the construction of the transcontinental railroad were two means designed to accomplish this end. Neither were concerned with the well being of Indians except to the extent that if Indians were in the way they had to be moved by any means necessary.
“Self-Guided Tour to Acoma.” http.//www.Sandia.gov/day/docs/Acoma. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the President, Volume VIII. (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Literature, 1896), 3388. Hereinafter as Messages and Papers.
Bain, David Howard. “The Transcontinental Railroad.” In Abraham Lincoln Great American Historians on Our Sixteenth President, Brian Lamb and Susan Swain, eds. (New York: Public Affairs, 2008), 111.
Cox, Hank H. Lincoln and the Sioux Uprising of 1862. (Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 2005),184.
Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. (London: A Touchstone Book, 1995), 393.
McPherson, James M. Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln As Commander In Chief. (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008), xiii.
Moulton, Gary E. John Ross: Cherokee Chief. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1978), 176.
Moulton, Gary E., ed. The Papers of Chief John Ross Volume II 1840-1866. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985), 53.
Nichols, David A. Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Politics and Policy. (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press,1999), 161.
Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), 450.
Roy P. , ed. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 9 vols. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953-55), I: 509-10.
Simmons, Marc. “Trail Dust: Lincoln’s lasting legacies.” Santa Fe New Mexican, January 9, 2009. http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%20News/Lincoln-s-Lasting-Legacies. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
White, Ronald C., Jr. A. Lincoln: A Biography. (New York: Random House, 2009), 12.
Wilson, Douglas L. And Rodney O. Davis, eds. Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln. (Urbana, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 372.
Viola, Herman J. Diplomats in Buckskin: A History of Indians Delegations in Washington City. (Buffington, SC: Rivilo Books, 1995), 99.