The Writings of Carl Schurz/To E. Dunbar Lockwood, April 1st, 1880


Department of the Interior,
, April 1, 1880.

I notice in the [Philadelphia] Telegraph of March 30th an article about the Ute matter if possible still more outrageous than the first. It says that my “avowed object” in making the bargain with the Utes “was to get from them twelve millions of acres of land for the land speculators and miners of Colorado,” and that I gave them for that less than forty thousand acres, located nobody knows where. It says further that this agreement was obtained from the Utes while they were held as prisoners and not allowed to consult any one but himself while in Washington.”

This constitutes the charge, and is a misrepresentation of facts from beginning to end. For months before the agreement was made the Ute chiefs here were at perfect liberty to consult any one they pleased, and they were called upon by a great many persons and had conversations about their affairs with Congressmen and Senators and others; in short, with all whom they desired to see.

Secondly, the fact is that ever since the attack upon Thornburgh and the Meeker massacre, I have single-handed and alone been standing between the Utes and destruction, for which I have been ridiculed and reviled beyond measure. If I had removed my hand from them a day a war would have been inaugurated and we should have seen the last of this tribe. I can say without any exaggeration that I alone saved them, and that in point of fact they can be saved in the future only by removing that source of irritation that exists between them and the white population that is now in very large numbers crowding around them.

Now, as to the agreement itself, it is untrue that for twelve millions of acres they get only forty thousand acres as the Telegraph says. I send you herewith a copy of the bill containing the agreement, which was drafted by my direction and from which you will see that in the aggregate they will have between seven and eight hundred thousand acres; and not only that, but they will be settled at the expense of the Government, receiving everything needful to them, and will have an annuity of fifty thousand dollars, representing a capital of a million and a quarter in addition to their former annuities.

What the Telegraph says about their remaining insecure in the possessions which they are to have is equally untrue, for you will see that they will hold their lands in fee simple and receive from the United States individually a United States patent just like any white man. You will further see that their land is to be inalienable for twenty-five years and exempt from taxation and execution; and further that the courts are to be open to them, as they are open to any white citizen. The provision concerning their admission to citizenship, which I had put in the bill, was stricken out by the Senate Committee; but we are going to have a general bill making provision in that respect.

Thus you will see that the strictures of the Telegraph are utterly unjust and have not the least foundation in fact.

The Telegraph further says that I have been hotly contesting the admission of the Indians to the protection of the courts, and that I have been throwing every obstacle in the way of the friends of the Indians, who wished the decision of Judge Dundy confirmed by the Supreme Court. This is equally untrue, for I recognized the decision of Judge Dundy myself as good and did not contest it at all. So it stands in full force unquestioned by this Department.

In the second place, I did not contest the right of the Indian to go into court, but simply showed that as the law now stands an Indian tribe has no standing in court according to the decision of the Supreme Court. This is a matter of fact which nobody questions. But what I did do is to have introduced in Congress more than one legislative provision for the opening of the courts to the Indians just as they are opened to the whites.

Thus you will see that the article of the Telegraph is based on untruth from beginning to end, and that what has been done for the Utes is not only saving them from utter destruction but giving them ample provision and protection as far as the law can give it for the future.

I have no doubt that Mr. Warburton, whom I believe to be a just man, will not hesitate to retract the untruthful and injurious statements which the Telegraph has put forth.