Tecumseh’s speech to General Procter (September 1813)
Father!—Listen to your children! You have them now all before you.
The war before this, our British father gave the hatchet to his red children, when our old chiefs were alive. They are now dead. In that war our father was thrown flat on his back by the Americans, and our father took them by the hand without our knowledge. We are afraid that our father will do so again at this time.
Summer before last, when I came forward with my red brethren, and was ready to take up the hatchet in favor of our British father, we were told not to be in a hurry—that he had not yet determined to fight the Americans.
Listen!—When war was declared, our father stood up and gave us the tomahawk, and told us that he was then ready to strike the Americans- - that he wanted our assistance—and that he would certainly get us our lands back, which the Americans had taken from us.
Listen!—You told us, at that time, to bring forward our families to this place, and we did so. You also promised to take care of them—they should want for nothing, while the men would go and fight the enemy—that we need not trouble ourselves about the enemy's garrison—that we knew nothing about them—and that our father would attend to that part of the business. You also told your red children that you would take good care of your garrison here, which made our hearts glad.
Listen!—When we were last at the Rapids  it is true we gave you little assistance. It is hard to fight people who live like ground-hogs.
Father, listen!—Our fleet has gone out; we know they have fought; we have heard the great guns; but we know nothing of what has happened to our father with one arm. Our ships have gone one way, and we are much astonished to see our father tying up every thing and preparing to run away the other, without letting his red children know what his intentions are. You always told us to remain here, and take care of our lands; it made our hearts glad to hear that was your wish. Our great father, the king, is the head, and you represent him. You always told us you would never draw your foot off British ground. But now, father, we see you are drawing back, and we are sorry to see our father doing so without seeing the enemy. We must compare our father's conduct to a fat dog, that carries its tail upon its back, but when affrighted, it drops it between its legs and runs off.
Father, listen!—The Americans have not yet defeated us by land—neither are we sure that they have done so by water—we therefore wish to remain here, and fight our enemy, should they make their appearance. If they defeat us, we will then retreat with our father.
At the battle of the Rapids, last war, the Americans certainly defeated us; and when we returned to our father's fort, at that place the gates were shut against us. We were afraid that it would now be the case; but instead of that, we now see our British father preparing to march out of his garrison.
Father !—You have got the arms and ammunition which our great father sent for his red children. If you have an idea of going away, give them to us, and you may go and welcome for us. Our lives are in the hands of the Great Spirit. We are determined to defend our lands, and if it be his will, we wish to leave our bones upon them.
- the speech has been repeatedly reported by Benjamin Bussey Thatcher in his works about the North-East Indians; e.g., Indian Biography, or An historical account of those individuals who have been distinguished among the North American natives as orators, warriors, statesmen and other remarkable characters, New York, J. & J. Harper, 1832, vol. II, pp. 237-238 (accessible online in books.google)
- alluding to the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)
- probably alluding to the Battle of the Miami rapids (5 May 1813)
- alluding to the Battle of Lake Erie (10 September 1813)
- alluding to Commander Robert Heriot Barclay (1786–1837), who had lost his left arm while leading a boarding attack on a French convoy during the Napoleonic Wars
- alluding to the Battle of Fallen Timbers (20 August 1794) and the Northwest Indian War (1785–1795)
- alluding to Fort Miami