This Week in History

Sand Creek Massacre:

November 29, 1864

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America (now available in hard cover)For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

“Nothing lives long except the earth and the mountains.”

White Antelope, old gray-head, arms folded, sang his death song: “Nothing lives . . .”

The ancient chief, leader of the people, refusing refuge within the banks of the murmuring creek bed, boldly faced the onslaught of the white-faces, unresisting. The whizzing bullet, whether aimed deliberately or fired recklessly, struck the old man, and he fell, like an ancient, towering pine cut down in the distant forest.

“Nothing lives long . . .”

A depiction of the Sand Creek Massacre, by Howling Wolf, an eye witness


Some would have said that White Antelope’s people, the Arapaho, had lived far too long, scouring the plains in pursuit of the herds of buffalo that fed them and clothed them. It was a new age; the white man was advancing, had been advancing, for over 20 years across the hunting grounds of the Arapaho, the Cheyenne, and the Sioux. Not many years had passed since gold had been found in the mountains of Colorado, and the white man’s city, Denver, had swelled with thousands of fortune seekers. The shiftless Indian (as the whites thought him), intent only on hunting and war, just wasted this land, just wasted it. He must submit to the white man (whose destiny it was to take the land) or die. (more…)

This Week in History

A Wince-worthy Treaty Signed: November 19, 1794

The following comes from our text, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. For more information on Lands of Hope and Promisego here. To see sample chapters of this book and our other books, go hereFor ordering information on this and our other texts, please go here.

George Washington in 1795

Washington had wanted to retire at the end of his first term, but at the entreaties of Jefferson and Hamilton, he agreed to stand for a second term. No one opposed Washington in the election of 1792 and, once again, he was elected with a unanimous electoral vote.

In his second administration, Washington faced difficult problems. For one, Great Britain still refused to abandon the forts it held in American territory. More serious, British ships were seizing neutral American ships bound for France and the French West Indies and impressing American sailors. Too, the refusal of Spain to allow American farmers passage down the Mississippi jeopardized the union of the western territories with the United States. Then there were the Barbary pirates of the northern coast of Africa who seized unprotected American ships and imprisoned American sailors.

George Washington reviews troops in Cumberland, Maryland, before marching against Pennsylvania farmers.

Closer to home, a rebellion of farmers in western Pennsylvania challenged federal power. In 1791, to fund the federal government’s assumption of state debt, Congress had laid an excise tax on whiskey, which affected the farmers of the Appalachian region, who could only transport their corn by distilling it into spirituous liquors. The tax was especially heavy on small farmers, for they could not afford the flat yearly rate of $54 that larger distilleries paid to get out of the per-gallon tax. When farmers in western Pennsylvania refused to pay the tax and rose in revolt, the Jeffersonian Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Thomas Mifflin, did nothing to hinder them. With Washington’s urging, however, Congress called up the militia of four states. Led by Washington, and joined by Hamilton sporting military dress, the militia dispersed the farmers, putting an end to what was jokingly called the “Whiskey Rebellion.”

“Mad Anthony” Wayne

More serious were developments farther west. The British lieutenant governor of Upper Canada (later named Ontario), John Graves Simcoe, built a fort on the Maumee River, 100 miles southwest of Detroit — well within United States territory. Worse, Simcoe was mobilizing and arming the Indians in the Northwest Territory. Fortunately for the United States, the western army of 2,000 men was under the command of Maj. General Anthony Wayne. Called “Mad Anthony” by his men for his reckless courage, Wayne was a consummate strat­egist and expert in the art of forest warfare, in which he relentlessly drilled his men.

Reinforced by several hundred Kentucky riflemen, Mad Anthony moved north towards the Maumee, fighting Indians in the dense forest lands of Ohio and Indiana. Reaching the Erie Plain, where lay the log cabins and cultivated fields of the Indians, Wayne built Fort Defiance and offered the Indians peace. They refused his offer and retreated to the vicinity of the British fort. There, behind a natural stockade of fallen trees, members of the Miami, Shawnee, Ojibwe, Potawotomi, Sauk and Fox, and Iroquois peoples, along with a contingent of Canadians led by an old loyalist commander, awaited Wayne’s advance. On August 20, 1794, Wayne attacked the Indians and Canadians in what became known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers, a short fight that in 40 minutes completely routed the Indian force. Wayne followed up the victory by burning Indian homes and laying waste their fields. At the forks of the Maumee in Indiana he raised Fort Wayne.

A year later, tribes from the region between the Mississippi, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio met with Wayne and signed the Treaty of Greenville. In this treaty, the Indians ceded to the United States the entire southeastern section of the Northwest Territory, as well as the sites of Vincennes, Detroit, and Chicago. In return, they received $20,000 and the promise of a yearly payment of $9,500 in goods.

But the Treaty of Greenville did not end the disputes between the U.S. and Great Britain. To resolve the disputes, President Washington had sent Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate a new treaty with Great Britain; but when Washington saw the treaty, he feared to publish it.

John Jay

Jay’s Treaty, signed November 19, 1794, did contain some provisions favorable to the United States. For one, the British agreed to evacuate all their forts on United States ter­ritory by 1796 and granted American ships a limited right to trade with the British West Indies; and while the United States agreed to pay back debts amounting to 600,000 pounds, the British offered 1,317,000 pounds in reparation for the illegal capture of American ships. But other parts of the treaty, Washington knew, would only stoke Republican ire — and they made even Washington wince. For one, the treaty forbade American ships from transport­ing, as they long had been doing, certain products, including cotton, molasses, and sugar, from the British West Indies to America. It did not press the British to compensate slave owners for slaves taken at the end of the war — Jay was opposed to slavery and did not insist on the provision. Finally, the treaty made no mention of the impressing of American sailors. (more…)

This Week in History

The End of “The War to End All Wars”: November 11, 1918

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For more information on Light to the Nations II, go here. To see sample chapters of this book and our other books, go here. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here.

Italian troops march through the Val d’Assa during the battle for Vittorio Veneto

The battle that ended Austria-Hungary’s participation in the war occurred on October 23, 1918, when the Italians, with British, French, and American reinforcements, attacked Austrian positions on the Piave River and in the Alps. The stout resistance the Austrians made in the mountains surprised the Italian commander, Armando Diaz. He could make little headway against the Austrian, German, Czech, Slovak, Magyar, Croat, Pole, and Ukrainian soldiers of the Emperor’s army, who disputed every inch of ground with the enemy. Elsewhere, along the Piave, the Italians made more progress, and by October 30 had captured the town of Vittorio Veneto, thus splitting the Austrian army in two.

The day before the capture of Vittorio Veneto, Austria and Italy had begun armistice negotiations that resulted in the calling of a truce on November 2. Despite the truce, after the Austrians had laid down their arms, the Italians continued to advance into the mountains of Trentino until they reached the Brenner Pass. When the armistice was finally signed, Italy was occupying lands of “unredeemed Italy” that the Allies had promised her in the secret Treaty of London. The defeat at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto was the death knell of the empire. One by one, each of the outlying regions of the empire, inhabited by Croats, Slovenes, Poles, and Ukrainians, proclaimed their independence. In Hungary, the government collapsed; in Austria, socialists were calling for the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic. Though many groups supported the monarchy, all knew what the powerful President Wilson was demanding—the abdication of the Habsburg emperor. (more…)

by Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed.

In the relentless tide of terrible news stories battering our Holy Mother Church, there is a harbinger of goodness on the horizon. So often in history we have seen the depth of the troughs of scandal, evil, disease, greed, war, and the list goes on. When things seem worst, a renewal is working through in the background, growing, gaining strength, and ready to rise when the corruption causes things to break to pieces. Who cannot remember the beautiful, humble hobbits pulling in various elements of a broken society who longed for a restoration of culture and freedom?

This Week in History

Defeat at Tippecanoe:

November 7, 1811

The following comes from our textt, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please go here.

A portrait, purportedly, of Tecumseh

A comet scored the heavens at the moment of his birth, an event that presaged his future greatness. His father, a Shawnee chieftain, named him Tecumseh (“Panther Crossing the Sky”), in token of the omen. From his earliest days, Tecumseh watched as white settlers crossed through the Cumberland Gap, over the mountains, to take his people’s country, west­ern Virginia and the rich lands of Kentucky beyond. He saw his people fight these settlers, only to be defeated in battle after battle; his father, Puckeshinwa, fallen in battle; his mentor, the chieftain Cornplanter, shot and killed; his elder brother, Chiksika, slain at his side — all these deaths, and many more, weighed on Tecumseh’s spirit. He waxed more bitter and angry against the people that flowed in, in ever increasing numbers, over the mountains. The 26 year-old Tecumseh was among the defeated at Fallen Timbers in 1794; but unlike his fellow chiefs, he had refused to sign the Treaty of Greenville, which handed millions of acres of land over to the United States government for yearly payments of $10,000.

Tecumseh knew that the Shawnee alone, or even an alliance of the north­ern tribes, were powerless against the whites, whose numbers seemed endless. He conceived of a broader alliance that would join the northern and southern tribes against the whites and prevent them from seizing more Indian land. By 1808 he had formed an alliance with tribes of the western Ohio River Valley. He established the capital for this alliance at Tippecanoe, a settlement on the Wabash River in the Indiana Territory. There warriors gathered and trained for war. (more…)