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Surrender Speech

Surrender Speech

Black Hawk, 1832

From April to August 1832, an armed band of Sauk and Fox Indians under Chief Black Hawk sought to reoccupy the lands they had held in the Illinois and Wisconsin Territory. The tribes, who faced famine and hostile Sioux to the west, wanted a place with decent land in which to plant their corn. The Illinois militia chased them into Wisconsin, killing women and children as the tribe attempted to escape across the Mississippi River.

Faced with annihilation, Black Hawk had no choice but to surrender. In his speech he recounted the history of lies and betrayal the white men had perpetuated on Native Americans. President Jackson then sent Black Hawk and his son Whirling Thunder on tour to be displayed as "trophies" of war. But the two prisoners showed such dignity in their ordeal that the public quickly began to sympathize with them.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationHistorical Legal Documents and Landmark Speeches