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 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…)