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President Grant’s Personal Copy of Board of Indian Commissioners Report on Progress of His Peace Policy
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[ULYSSES S. GRANT]. Book. Presentation Copy of Second Annual Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners to the Secretary of the Interior, for Submission to the President for the Year 1870 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1871). Three-quarters morocco gilt volume, with a blue morocco label reading “U.S. Grant/President” on the upper cover and a presentation label to the President affixed to the front blank. 149 pp., 5½ x 9 in.

Inventory #24065.02       Price: $1,950


Soon after the close of our last report, threatening indications of an extensive war on the plains reached us from the agents of the Osages, Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Sioux.

            “The Osages, a once powerful tribe, to whom the solemn pledges of our Government were made as far back as the administration of Thomas Jefferson, ‘that all lands belonging to you lying within the Territory of the United States shall be, and remain, the property of your nation, unless you shall voluntarily relinquish or dispose of the same, and all persons, citizens of the United States, are hereby strictly forbidden to disturb you, or your nation, in the quiet possession of said land.’

            “Notwithstanding this solemn treaty, over twenty thousand squatters had, within the last few years, been allowed to settle on the lands of the Osages. These Osages having been induced to sign a fraudulent treaty, disposing of all their lands in Kansas, (as reported to you last year,) were driven from their homes, and went out on the plains, and mingling with the wild tribes, gave them such impressions of the perfidy of the whites, that, combined with the experience of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes on the Washita two years ago, and of the Kiowas and Comanches on the Clear Fork of the Brazos, in Texas, in 1858, and a failure to keep the Government’s promises with the Sioux, so aroused the vindictive passions of these Indians that any slight additional provocation might at any time have produced an outbreak of war.

            “Affairs continued in this dangerous condition until January last, when the memorable Blackfeet war, or what was generally called the ‘Piegan massacre,’ occurred....

            “Arrangements were immediately made by the Department for the coming of Red Cloud, with twenty of his headmen, and Spotted Tail, with five other chiefs of the Sioux of the Missouri. The advent of these chiefs in Washington and the East was so full of interest to the many who witnessed it, and so productive of important results to our Indian affairs, that a brief sketch of the event has been placed in Appendix 1.

the advent of Red Cloud, with his heroic bearing, manly speeches, and earnestly successful efforts for peace among his own people on his return home, strengthened the hands of the many friends of the Indians and, it may fairly be inferred, led to more friendly legislation on their behalf.

Historical Background

The year 1870 began with the Piegan Massacre or Marias Massacre in Montana Territory. The United States Army massacred two hundred women, children, and elderly men from a friendly band of Piegan Blackfeet Indians, many ill with smallpox, on January 23. This tragic event was one of the factors that led President Grant to reverse the federal government’s approach to Indian affairs and institute a “peace policy” to minimize military conflict with the Indians. He abandoned plans to return the control of Indian affairs to the U.S. Army. In 1869, Grant had appointed his former adjutant, General Ely S. Parker, as the first Native American to hold the position of Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

In 1870, the Board of Indian Commissioners had nine members: Chairman Felix R. Brunot, Nathan Bishop, Robert Campbell, William E. Dodge, John V. Farwell, John D. Lang, George H. Stuart, Edward S. Tobey, and Secretary Vincent Colyer. Most were wealthy religious humanitarians, and all served without pay. Stuart was a Philadelphia merchant and friend of President Grant, Brunot was a Civil War surgeon, and Colyer had founded the United States Christian Commission during the Civil War.

On February 9, 1871, the Board forwarded their annual report to Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano, who immediately forwarded it to President Ulysses S. Grant. The following day, Grant submitted it to Congress, and Congress ordered it to be printed. This printed copy was “Respectfully Presented to The President of the United States with the Compliments of the Board of Indian Commissioners, Washington, D.C.

Red Cloud (1822-1909) was one of the most important leaders of the Oglala Lakota Sioux, which he led from 1868 to 1909. From 1866 to 1868, he led a successful campaign called Red Cloud’s War over control of the Powder River Country in Wyoming and Montana. The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 ended the war, and Red Cloud led his people in the transition to reservation life. In 1870, he visited Washington, D.C., and met with President Ulysses S. Grant and Commissioner of Indian Affairs Ely S. Parker, a Seneca and U.S. Army general who had served on General Grant’s staff in the Civil War. Red Cloud returned in 1875 to urge Grant to keep miners out of the Black Hills in South Dakota. Although he was unable to avert the Lakota War of 1876-1877, he did not participate in it.


Spotting, some residue to the leaf with presentation label, else fine. See Sabin 69763.

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