Sitting Bull (1834 - 1890)
Sitting Bull was the Sioux chief and shaman
(medicine man) who organized the Indian coalition that defeated Custer at
the Battle of Little Big Horn.
His Indian name was Ta-tan-ka I-yo-ta-ke, which
translates literally as Sitting Bull. As a young warrior he
had led the Sioux against their traditional enemies, the Crow. He was friendly
for a time with Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet, a Catholic priest who tried unsuccessfully
to convert him to give up warfare.
Sitting Bull brought together over four thousand
Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and others in a single encampment before Little
Big Horn. He did not fight in the battle himself because his job as shaman
was to create the good medicine that would bring Indian victory.
After his return from Canada and surrender,
he remained extremely hostile to whites. He participated in the Ghost
Dance revival and agitation on a Sioux reservation and was shot by
Indian police sent to arrest him.
Quote: I dont
want a white man over me. I dont want an agent.I want to do right
by my people, and cannot trust anyone else to trade with them or talk with
REFERENCE: Robert Utley, The
Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull (1993).
Chief Joseph (1840 - 1904)
Chief Joseph was the Nez PercÚ leader
whose campaign against the U.S. Army in 1877 is considered a military classic.
Josephs Indian name was Hinmaton-Yalaktit,
meaning Thunder-Coming-Across-the-Water-onto-Land. He had maintained
peaceful relations with whites for years, but when some white civilians killed
some Nez PercÚ, a group of young braves retaliated by killing whites,
and the army under Gen. O. O. Howard (former head of the Freedmens
Bureau) was sent after Chief Joseph.
His maneuvers in defeating and eluding the army
for over fifteen hundred miles were carried out with women and children in
tow. He compelled his warriors to fight only against soldiers and not to kill
or steal from white civilians. General Howard and other military personnel
who met him after his surrender were all impressed by his intelligence and
His tribe was first moved to Oklahoma, where
many of its members died, and then to the Colville reservation in Washington.
Quote: I am
tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed.It is cold and we have no blankets.
The little children are freezing to death.From where the sun now stands,
I will fight no more forever. (Statement of surrender, 1877)
REFERENCE: Merrill D. Beal, I
Will Fight No More Forever: Chief Joseph and the Nez PercÚ War (1963).
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830 - 1885)
Jackson was the writer and advocate of Indian
rights whose book A Century of Dishonor was one
of the first to advocate more humane policies toward Native Americans.
A vivacious, intelligent, charming New Englander,
Jackson turned to writing after her first husband was killed and her two young
sons died. She became a very popular poet and novelist. Her novel Mercy
Philbricks Choice was based partly on the life of her schoolmate
and friend Emily Dickinson.
She became interested in Indians after moving
to Colorado with her second husband. Although Jackson did a good deal of research
for A Century of Dishonor, she really understood
little of Indian culture. Her subsequent novel about California Indians, Ramona, was a greater popular success. She also carried
on a public controversy over Indian policy with Secretary of the Interior
Congress] could cover itself with the lustre of glory as the first to cut
short our nations record of cruelties and perjuriesthe first
to attempt to redeem the United States from the shame of a century of dishonor!
(A Century of Dishonor, 1881)
REFERENCE: Siobhan Senier, Voices
of Indian Assimilation and Resistance: Helen Hunt Jackson, Sarah Winnemucca,
and Victoria Howard (2001).
Mark Hanna (1837 - 1904)
Hanna was the Cleveland businessman who engineered
McKinleys election in 1896 and later became a prominent Republican
He came from a strong antislavery Quaker background,
which jeopardized his marriage to his first wife because she was an equally
strong Democrat. Hanna made his fortune in coal and iron but focused much
of his energy on forging an alliance between business and politics.
McKinleys political fortunes had declined
for a time, until Hanna became interested in his ideas and began to promote
McKinley for Ohio governor. He also got other business leaders to substantially
aid McKinleys personal finances. Hanna was later elected senator by
a very narrow margin amid charges of bribery of state legislators.
Hanna was genial and popular with both businesspeople
and politicians, whom he liked to bring together. Although a staunch conservative
on most issues, he favored labor unions and was so generous to workers that
his own companies never had a strike.
Quote: I am
glad that there is one member of the Convention who has the intelligence to
ascertain how this nomination was made. By the people. What feeble efforts
I have contributed to the result, I am here to lay at the feet of my party.
(Statement after McKinleys nomination, 1896)
REFERENCE: Wayne Morgan, William
McKinley and His America (1963).
Eugene V. Debs (1855 - 1926)
Debs was a railway union leader who became the
top socialist in the United States and the frequent presidential candidate
of the Socialist party.
Debss parents were French immigrants
who settled in Indiana. During one period he worked three full-time jobsas
a grocery clerk, as a city clerk, and as secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood
of Locomotive Firemen.
When Debs was released from jail after the Pullman
strike, there was a huge celebration in Chicago. He was always much-loved
in his home town of Terre Haute, even by most people who disliked his socialism.
A heavy drinker, Debs often had to be pulled away from his liquor by fellow
He was passionate, warmhearted, eloquent, and
simple. Workers everywhere loved him and thronged to watch him jab his bony
finger in the air and denounce capitalism, even if they did not vote for him.
there is a lower class I am in it.While there is a soul in prison I
am not free.
REFERENCE: Nick Salvatore, Eugene
V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist (1982).
William Jennings Bryan (1860 - 1925)
Bryan was the eloquent three-time-losing presidential
candidate who later became Wilsons secretary of state and the prosecuting
attorney in the Scopes evolution trial.
He began his career as a small-town Nebraska
lawyer and journalist and retained a small-town outlook throughout his career.
When not campaigning for president, he traveled widely as a Chautauqua lecturer.
Two of his most popular lectures on religion were The Prince of Peace
and The Value of an Ideal. His voice was a remarkable instrument,
which could carry with perfect clarity to the back of a crowd of thousands.
Although he became secretary of state, Bryan
knew almost nothing about foreign policy or the world beyond the United States.
On a visit to Turkey, he once asked the foreign-service officers, Where
are the Balkans?
Bryan had long been an active crusader in Fundamentalist
causes before becoming involved in the Scopes trial. He was deeply humiliated
by Darrow in the trial and died shortly afterward.
Quote: The poor
man who takes property by force is called a thief but the creditor who can
by legislation make the debtor pay a dollar twice as large as he borrowed
it is lauded as the friend of sound currency. The man who wants the people
to destroy the government is an anarchist but the man who wants government
to destroy the people is a patriot. (Congressional speech, 1893)
REFERENCE: Paolo Coletta, William
Jennings Bryan (3 Vols., 1964 - 1969).
John Peter Altgeld (1847 - 1902)
Altgeld was the Illinois governor whose pardon
of the Haymarket anarchists and support for organized labor made him a hero
to reformers and a hated figure among conservatives and businessmen.
Altgeld was born in Germany, and spent most
of his youth as a poverty-stricken farm laborer in Ohio and elsewhere in the
Midwest. He essentially educated himself by reading, especially in the law,
and began a career as a prosecuting attorney and judge in Missouri and Illinois.
In 1892 Altgeld was elected the first Democratic
governor of Illinois since the Civil War. The case of the Haymarket anarchists
came to him for review shortly afterward, and his thorough study of the trial
and the evidence convinced him that justice had not been done. The political
furor set off by his pardon of three of the convicted men escalated when he
protested President Clevelands use of federal troops in the 1894 Pullman
strike as unnecessary and unconstitutional. Aroused Republicans mounted a
strong campaign against him in 1896, and his political career was ended by
is no situation in Illinois which warrants the sending of federal troops.
It is not soldiers that the railroads need so much as it is men to operate
trains. (Statement, 1894)
REFERENCES: Harry Barnard, Eagle
Forgotten: The Life of John Peter Altgeld (1938); Paul Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy (1984).