“Your quarrel and mine was all wrong. There was no one in that upper country capable of understanding you but me, no one capable of understanding me, but you. We should have been friends, and would have been, if we had not each had a self which we were all too anxious to defend.”
After the Sioux had finished their work of horror, Minnesota men, aided by volunteers from Iowa and Wisconsin, pursued and captured the murderers of one thousand men, women and children; tried them, found them guilty, and proposed to hang them just as if they had been white murderers. But when the general government interfered and took the prisoners out of the hands of the State authorities, and when it became evident that Eastern people endorsed the massacre and condemned the victims as sinners who deserved their fate, one of the State officers proposed that I should go East, try to counteract the vicious public sentiment, and aid our Congressional delegation in their effort to induce the Administration either to hang the Sioux murderers, or hold them as hostages during the war.
To me this was a providential call, for I had been planning to make a home in the East, that our daughter, then old enough to live without me, might spend a portion of her time with her father.
With letters from all our State officers, I left my Minnesota home at four o’clock A.M., January 2nd, ’63, leaving the Democrat in charge of my first apprentice, William B. Mitchell.
In Washington, the Minnesota delegation secured the use of Dr. Sutherland’s church, and a packed audience for my lecture on Indians. It was enthusiastically applauded, and for a time I did hope for some security for women and children on the frontier; but the Secretary of the Interior assured me it was not worth while to see the President, for “Mr. Lincoln will hang nobody!” and our Minnesota delegation agreed with him. Indeed, there was such a furor of pious pity for the poor injured Sioux, such admiration for their long suffering patience under wrong, and final heroic resistance, that I might about as well have tried to row myself from the head of Goat Island up the rapids of Niagara, as stem that current. The ring which makes money by caudling Indians, had the ear of both President and people, and the Bureau had a paying contract in proving Little Crow’s sagacity. The Sioux never were so well supplied with blankets and butcher-knives, as when they received their reward for that massacre; never had so many prayers said and hymns sung over them, and their steamboat ride down the Minnesota and Mississippi and up the Missouri, to a point within two days’ walk of the scene of their exploits, furnished them an excursion of about two thousand miles, and left them well prepared for future operations. They appreciated their good fortune, have been a terror to United States troops and Western settlers ever since, and have enjoyed their triumph to the full.