Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership

Date: Nov 30, 2018
Category: Review Category


The book for review Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership was written by David Edmunds in 1984. It was published by Little, Brown and Company Publishers which are located in Boston. The book describes historical setting of Indian leadership and its environment.

Chapter One

Edmunds states that the Iroquois association was an alliance of five Iroquois speaking nations. The nations included “Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga and Seneca” (Edmunds 23). The alliance was powerful enough to fight their neighbors with an aim of expanding their territory. They also wanted to have full control of the fur trade in the region. Shawnee was a tribe that collaborated with Delaware community in order to represent the Iroquois alliance. The Shawnee was one of the tribes that went into war with the alliance when they were resisting the danger of being overthrown. The Shawnee and Iroquois association had common interests in the Western Virginia section. They both wanted to overthrow the region. Therefore, the relation represented by the alliance and the Shawnee was always violent. The Dunmore war became intense whereby several parties took part in the battle. Moreover, the Virginia governor had to unite with the Dunmore and decide how to defeat the Shawnees who posed great threat to the Western Virginia region. They decided to attack the Shawnees in their settlements. Dunmore drew two armies that could attack the Shawnees from different directions and capture them. As a result, the Shawnees lost their settlements. The Shawnees relinquished their claims for the land around the Ohio River which was the territory of Iroquois confederacy. Due to displacement of the Shawnees, the Battle of Point Pleasant brought about huge losses to the Shawnees. Their claim for Ohio land was fruitless and they were also eradicated.

Chapter Two

The revolutionary battle was basically a war to get the territory of Ohio. The book reveals that the Americans and Britons were engaged in the war. They stayed on different sides throughout and after the war. Immediately after the post-revolutionary period, the Americans showed great concern about the control over Ohio region. The reasons behind their concern were the rich land surrounding the Ohio River. It was also a desirable location for Trans-Appalachian settlements. The land was rewarding and it also had many resources. However, the America’s attempts to conquer the region were not fruitful. Initially, the Americans had formed the civil government in the region and named it the Illinois County. America’s initial military campaigns in the region were unsuccessful because the tribes around the Ohio region and the British decided to unite to fight the Americans (Edmunds 45). However, America’s succeeded in the region when Anthony Wayne changed his approach to the area conquest. He turned from the military attempts to diplomatic which foresaw great success in the campaign. The diplomatic attempts led to the reformation of the Illinois County.

Chapter Three

The book shows the Shawnees involvement in the fur trade. The Shawnees were location was strategic whereby they influenced the fur trade. The Shawnees had been displaced from the region but they regained their control over the region. They also hunted animals which created a new source of fur. The Shawnees diversified in the fur trade whereby they traded with the European traders for rum or brandy (Edmunds 73). As a result, alcoholism became the main problem among the Shawnees. Most Shawnees opposed alcoholism because it brought about serious social problems. A conflict arose between the Shawnees and Governor Patrick Gordon concerning alcohol sale which led to the migration of the Shawnees from Pennsylvania to Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama and Illinois. The Shawnees also believed that their society was plagued with the witches. The reason behind the belief was that the Shawnees experienced incurable illnesses. The book states that the witches were highly blamed for the demise of the illnesses that caused death. Therefore, Tenskwatawa, their religious leader worked to eliminate witches from the Shawnees society.

Chapter Four

Tenskwatawa was the religious leader of the Shawnees. He was Tecumseh’s brother . He led the Shawnees in various religious activities. In addition, he gave the Shawnees helpful teachings to restore their cultural and religious identity. He preferred diplomatic means of solving conflicts (Edmunds 99). This was the reason why the Native Americans in the Midwest liked him. Tenskwatawa insisted on retreating from the Great Lakes region to the west. He taught the Shawnees that it was advisable for them to avoid the whites’ influence in the region because they would eventually lose their Indian culture. The prophet’s influence on the Indians was also strengthened by the harsh policies that William Henry Harrison implemented towards the Shawnees. They were badly treated. William also encouraged more whites to settle in the region to displace the Indians. The presence of many whites in the Great Lakes region confirmed the prophet’s claims about white influence. Therefore, the Shawnees migrated westwards without hesitation.

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Chapter Five

Tecumseh formed his confederacy under the teachings of his blood brother, Tenskwatawa. A brief look at Tecumseh shows that he is the main character in the book. He is a powerful Indian ruler who was feared around the globe. He was the greatest leader in India’s history. He had gained respect across the globe because of his power. Other world leaders feared him. On this note, the prophet’s teachings influenced the original Americans mostly. Therefore, the confederacy was mainly formed of the Native Americans. Tecumseh’s confederacy was strong and developed roots within the Ohio region. Logistical problems were a major factor that helped Tecumseh maintain his confederacy (Edmunds 113). The enemies of the confederacy faced the problems that weakened them. The enemies lacked food ammunition and supply because they were blocked by Tecumseh’s confederacy. This means that the confederacy was strategically located. The confederacy had constant supply, enough food and ammunition that enabled it to thrive. The meeting between Tecumseh and William Harrison at Vincennes made Harrison change his mindset about the Shawnee representative. Harrison changed his mind because of the approach that Tecumseh made to him. Tecumseh arrived in Vincennes with soldiers in the fighting paint. He also insisted that the land of the Confederacy should not be taken by the Americans. As a result, Harrison decided not to do what he had initially agreed with Tecumseh and to respect the treaty of Fort Wayne. The treaty detailed that the land could be sold freely from the confederacy.

Chapter Six

Harrison was motivated to campaign against the Prophetstown because the Tecumseh’s Confederacy had turned into threat to them. Harrison had underestimated the Confederacy. He assumed that the confederacy could remain under the power of the Prophet. However, the teachings of the Prophet blinded him. Tecumseh took advantage of the situation and expanded the Confederacy. Tecumseh made significant contributions to the Creeks war that took place between 1813 and 1814 (Edmunds 126). Edmunds describes the Creek war as the continuation of the four century long Indian wars. It had close connection with the War of 1812 whereby the Shawnee Prophet and Tecumseh had actively contributed to it. The Creek war resulted from the American –British wars where Tecumseh and the Prophet backed the British and their contribution.

Chapter Seven

The author describes the military encounters at Brownstown, Monguagon that had great significance to the Native American military tactics. The military approaches that were used in the 1812 war of Brownstown were mostly in ambush. The attackers attacked without any warning. This means that preparedness was an important factor in the war. However, the fighting tactics of the Native Americans were different. The Native Americans were never prepared to have the war. Therefore, they could be easily defeated if they were attacked in an ambush. Edmunds also describes the year 1812 to be a year full of wars (Edmunds 136). During the same year, the Americans fought the Canadians. The main motive of the invasion was the interaction the Canadians and the British. The Canadians assisted the British in the war against the Americans. Arrogance was also a motivating factor. The American’s invasion was arrogant because there was no reasonable purpose for the invasion.

Chapter Eight

The War of 1812 was mainly between two parties; the British and the Americans. However, the British had the support of the Indians. They both worked together to fight the Americans. It was a military conflict in which soldiers were involved. Nevertheless, the British and Americans had different goals in the war. This was their major weakness and it made them lose the war. The goals of the British were to fight against the restrictions that the Americans had imposed on them. Basically, they fought for the freedom of trade. The Indians’ goal was to oppose the American settlement on their lands. The goals enabled the British and the Indians to join hands and fight the common enemy. The strategies of the two groups, the Indians and the British, were supported by their goals because they formed the foundations of the wars. The American naval victory was a big blow to their enemies (Edmunds 176). The Indians and the British highly depended on the oceans for supply of food and ammunition. Therefore, the victory made them weak in the war. Furthermore, Lake Erie was the British stronghold.

Chapter Nine

Edmunds portrays Tecumseh as a man who was admired by the Americans and Britons. Although he was finally defeated, he had unique characteristics. He was courageous no matter what came on his way. He fought until his last breath. He was also admired because he had adorable leadership qualities. He was able to unite the Native Americans under the influence of the Prophet and form the Tecumseh confederacy. Although he was from the Shawnee community, the Native Americans felt comfortable under his rule. The Americans and the British admired Tecumseh for these characteristics. Edmunds also portrays him as an opportunistic person. He took advantage of the teachings of his brother, Tenskwatawa. His brother had influenced the Native Americans to follow his teachings. Tecumseh united with his brother and united the Native Americans and the Shawnee. The unity of the Native Americans and the Shawnee formed the grand Indian alliance (Edmunds 201). The alliance helped to contain America’s expansion. He did so by convincing the Native Americans not to sell the land to the whites. However, the plan did not succeed because some chiefs in his confederacy started rebelling against him. In conclusion, the book describes the qualities of Tecumseh through his leadership story. The historical information about the wars shows that the Native Americans were exploited in the past. The leadership qualities Edmunds has found in Tecumseh’s personality are admirable. Therefore, current leaders should take after Tecumseh to fight against social evils.

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