March 23, 2006
A True Native American Hero — Osceola

With all due respect to Bill Doolittle’s previous post, I offer up the following, mainly because I caught glimpse of, and then took a picture of, what for me was an unexpected encounter with the grave of Osceola while touring the South this past week. The grave of Osceola is located at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, SC (Edgar Allen Poe fans take note), and I have been itching for an opportunity to post it.

Although Andrew Jackson is sometimes fondly remembered for the first of the Seminole Wars, let us not forget the Second Seminole War, of which has been written:

The greatest lesson of the Second Seminole War shows how a government can lose public support for a war that has simply lasted for too long. As the Army became more deeply involved in the conflict, as the government sent more troops into the theater, and as the public saw more money appropriated for the war, people began to lose their interest. Jesup’s capture of Osceola, and the treachery he used to get him, turned public sentiment against the Army. The use of blood hounds only created more hostility in the halls of Congress. It did not matter to the American people that some of Jesup’s deceptive practices helped him achieve success militarily. The public viewed his actions so negatively that he had undermined the political goals of the government.

[Thanks to Martha Bridegam for her comments in the previous post, which reminded me (I’m a poor history scholar) that Osceola (misspelled on the grave) had a connection to Andrew Jackson.]


And it also has been written of Osceola:

Although Osceola was not an elected chief, his band of about 4,000 men successfully held 100,000 U.S. Army troops at bay for over ten years by employing hit and run guerrilla warfare tactics from bases deep within the wilderness swampland that was then central and south Florida.

On October 21, 1837, on the orders of U.S. General Thomas Sidney Jesup, Osceola was captured when he arrived for supposed truce negotiations in Fort Payton. He was imprisoned at Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida.

Osceola’s capture by deceit caused uproar even among the white population and General Jesup was publicly condemned. Opponents of the contemporary administration cited it as a black mark against the government.

The next December, Osceola and other Seminole prisoners were moved to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. There painter George Catlin met him and convinced him to pose for him for two paintings. Robert J. Curtis painted an oil portrait of him. These pictures inspired a number of other prints, engravings and even cigar store figures. Afterwards numerous landmarks, including Osceola Counties in Florida, Iowa, and Michigan, have been named after him.

I might suggest that there are striking parallels between the first and second Seminole Wars and the first and second Iraq Wars, but heck, what’s the use. President Bush never claimed to be a history scholar anyway. And for what it’s worth, the politicians would call Osceola a terrorist these days. At any rate, let us hope that it doesn’t take ten years this time around.


Posted by Buck Batard at March 23, 2006 08:05 AM
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Ain't it amazing how we ignore history? You are so right. Bush actually is proud he has no knowledge of history or liturature or anything intellectual.

Pride cometh before the fall. Ya think?

Posted by: spiiderweb on March 23, 2006 10:15 AM

Well, we once had what they called a "great awakening" back in the 1700's. Fast forward and we had Pearl Harbor, which might have been something like that, although it seems to me it was partly provoked. [Roosevelt worshipers please ignore].
Then we had 9/11. Which might have been another one of those "moments".

However, Bill Doolittle is right in the previous post. It depends. Depends on if enough people have "waked up". A fall will only come if the politics become ripe enough for picking time, as they say on the farm.

Egads. Mrs. Batard reminded me that Nixon urged a "guaranteed minimum income". Is it OK to long for the good old bad old days?

Posted by: Buck on March 23, 2006 10:38 AM

Mrs. Batard is of course right, as always. But Nixon advocated a minimum income in the days when the Soviet Union and its egalitarian ethic, which as in the US was universally revered but not universally followed, was considered a viable threat by the US upper class.

Adam Smith's “masters of mankind” reacted to the destruction of the Berlin Wall with a long-planned, deeply thought out, and well-financed project to roll back the twentieth century, or at least the part starting with FDR. As others have pointed out, this is probably why Rumsfeld said that FDR was the most hated man in Amerca during the Second World War: from the point of view of the extremely privileged, Roosevelt defected to the other side.

Of course, Roosevelt's view was concisely put in something he is supposed to have said on the train on his way to be inaugurated for the first time. He and his advisors were discussing schemes to get the economy going again. At one point, one of them said, "If this works, you'll go down as the greatest President in history!" To which FDR supposedly replied, "If it fails, I'll go down as the last."

That was a mandate; Americans were hungry and in the streets nationwide. I personally think we're not as bad off as they were in the Depression, but I agree that the current management is so inept that it threatens to take us there.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree (Belisarius) on March 24, 2006 4:27 AM
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