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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Fox Chiefs Denounce Alcohol & Reject Marsh's Plan

Editor's Note:

Notes for Marsh's short temperance speech may the paragraphs written out of place and upside-down on pages 172-175 of the manuscript diary.


Although not explicitly noted in the diary, Appenoose and the other chiefs rejected Marsh's proposal to establish a church and missionary school in the village. In his official report to the Board the next year, he wrote, "The day after this [drunken orgy] was the time in which I was obliged to lay the object of my visit before him. It was very unfavorable as he still felt the effects of the drunken frolic the eve previous, and was so ill that he could hardly listen, but I could not defer it any longer both on my own account as well as the Indians, for I had been then a number of days waiting for A to return from his summer hunt, and they also, as soon as I had laid my business before them, had national business which would occupy some days.


"In his answer to me he stated they did not wish to change their religion as a nation, but as every man was free, if any individuals were disposed to, they had no objections; that they wanted no missionaries but in respect to teachers they had nothing to say; as he did not consider his land independent of the rest of the nation he could not act alone; still, if the other chiefs wanted teachers he would also give his consent.


"This is the substance of his reply, the sketch of it which I took down at the time is mislaid and I cannot now find it."


Mon [Aug.] 11th Pagan Feast


...In the eve I requested the chief to call his head men together as I had something to say to them. I then made a short speech upon the subject of temperance, setting forth its evils etc and recommending total abstinence as the only safe path. This was listened to very attentively and each sentence as it was interpreted was responded to by a grunt.


To this the chief responded in a very animated and handsome manner.


"We have listened," says he, "to what you have said and believe it to be all true. Strong drink I have myself thought to be some evil spirit which had taken this form and was going round destroying mankind. You have described this vice so that we have seemed to see it, but we are so weak that we are afraid that when we go abroad we shall be attracted by it.


"We formerly had some wise men amongst us and as they got acquainted with the white people and found out what a destroyer it was to the Indians, they told their people that an enemy would be nothing to it, and we see how true their prophecy was.


"It was for this reason we left the Mississippi, in order that we might get away from strong drink, and we came here hoping that by making some law and by the restraints of morals we might do it away. You saw yesterday what work it makes with our settlement and how we had to run away in order to get away from it [referring probably to myself]. And as you have said that you hoped we should be happy, we ourselves hope also that by some means it may be the case."



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