Potawatomi Books, Gary E.  Mitchell]


Go back to previous page Return to table of contents

Samuel C. Pomeroy, senator from Kansas, gained 4,600 shares of railroad stock for his part in the 1861 treaty and later claimed 90,000 acres of Potawatomi land in the 1867 treaty.

All of this was reward for his part in lobbying his colleagues in the radical-reconstruction wing of the Republican party.

Pomeroy's tactics included his lining up political support from this segment of the party. This wing devoted its energies to raising tariff rates, providing for the importation of contract labor, assuring highly profitable contracts to industry, chartering transcontinental railroads, and securing land grants and bond subsidies for them.

His persistence and lack of ethics in bargaining for support enabled him to secure the usual land grants and government subsidies for the railroad.

On the national level, J.P. Usher was to help lobby for the Potawatomi lands, and once the treaty was safely ratified, became assistant secretary and two years later rose to full cabinet status in President Abraham Lincoln's administration.

Usher proclaimed that "the object of the treaty was to bring this thirty miles square within the influence of civilization."

Caleb B. Smith, and R.W. Thompson, other prominent Abraham Lincoln cabinet appointees, along with Usher, shared in 20,000 shares of railroad stock for their part in the ratification of the 1861 Potawatomi and other Indian treaties.

Not surprisingly, even the Office of Indian Affairs, the office entrusted with safeguarding the interest of the Indian people played an integral part. William P. Dole, the commissioner, and Charles E. Mix, chief clerk, were scheduled to get 1,200 and 640 acres respectively for their cooperation in the negotiations of the 1861 treaty.

The Indian office did its best to stop the appointment of attorneys by the tribe because they were afraid the corruption in Washington might be uncovered. They thoroughly discredited their attackers, ensuring continued corruption.

But even with all the political help from Pomeroy and his friends, the Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Atchison Railroad Company failed to come up with the proper financing, paving the way for another Pomeroy interest to come into play.

The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe, of which Pomeroy was the President then entered the picture.

The new treaty of 1867 provided for the sale of the unalloted Potawatomi land at $1.00 an acre with the concession that payment be made in greenbacks, a provision which assured a still further reduction in the real cost per acre.

In the Annual Report of the Santa Fe for 1873, the cash receipts from the land were reported at $646,784, and the remaining lands were valued at $507,366. The profit in four short years was $816,150.

And how did the Jesuits turn out in this transaction?

The Jesuits, although failing ultimately to make Kansas a center of Catholic influence, did emerge in time with clear title to some 2,300 acres around St. Mary's Mission.

With the dispersal of the Catholic Citizen Band and the rejection of Catholicism by the Prairie Band, the Jesuits turned St. Marys into a school serving the growing white population, and soon forgot past promises of educating the Potawatomi.

Here, as elsewhere, the exploitation of the Indian lands became the key to the development of the white man's economy. The Potawatomi started out with 568,223 acres in 1846 and by 1867 had only 77,357 acres or an 87 percent decrease in land holdings.

While this is only a footnote in the development of the western world, the Potawatomi will never recover from this particular period in their history.

First published in the Topeka Capital Journal, Thursday, May 3, 1995 and later reprinted in the Potawatomi Traveling Times in Crandon, Wisconsin, 1996.
Go back to index - - 20 - - Go on to next page

Return to: Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe Language
A Kansas History & Kansas Heritage Group site.