As though the Indians had not afflictions enough to endure merely because of their proximity to the contending whites, life was made miserable for them, during the period of the Civil War, as much as before and after, by the insatiable land-hunger of politicians, speculators, and would-be captains of industry, who were more often than not, rogues in the disguise of public benefactors. Nearly all of them were citizens of Kansas. The cessions of 1854, negotiated by George W. Manypenny, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, were but a prelude to the many that followed. For years and years there was in reality never a time when some sort of negotiation, sub rosa or official, was not going on. The order of procedure was pretty much what it had always been: a promise that the remaining land should be the Indian’s, undisturbed by white men and protected by government guarantee, forever; encroachment by enterprising, covetous, and lawless whites; conflict between the two races, the outraged and the aggressive; the advent of the schemer, the man with political capital and undeveloped or perverted sense of honor, whose vision was such that he saw the Indian owner as the only obstacle in the way of vast material and national progress; political pressure upon the administration in Washington, lobbying in Congress; authorization of negotiations with the bewildered Indians; delimitation of the meaning of the solemn and grandly-sounding word, forever.
When the war broke out, negotiations, begun in the
border warfare days, were still going on. This was most true as regarded the Osages, whose immense holding in southern Kansas was something not to be tolerated, so the politicians reasoned, indefinitely. Petitions, praying that the lands be opened to white settlement were constantly being sent in and intruders, who intended to force action, becoming more and more numerous and more and more recalcitrant. One of the first official communications of Superintendent Coffin embodied a plea for getting a treaty of cession for which the signs had seemed favorable the previous year. Coffin, however, discredited a certain Dr. J.B. Chapman, who, notwithstanding he represented white capitalists, had yet found favor with the Osages. To their
[Footnote 622: For example, take the petitions forwarded by M.W. Delahay, surveyor-general of Kansas [Indian Office Consolidated Files, Neosho, D 455 of 1861]. One of the petitions contains this statement: “... The lands being largely settled upon and improved and those adjacent being all claimed and settled upon by residents—while a large emigration from Texas and other rebellious States are forced to seek homes in a more northern and uncongenial climate greatly against their interests and inclinations....”]