MCKENNEY, Thomas Loraine (1785-1859) and James HALL (1793-1868)
Red Jacket. Seneca War Chief
On stone by Corbould from a painting by C.B. King. Printed by C. Hullmandel. London: [William Wilcockson for J.M. Campbell, 156 Regent Street], 1837. Hand-coloured lithograph. Image size (including text): 11 1/4 x 8 3/4 inches. Sheet size: 19 5/8 x 13 1/8 inches.
From the extremely rare London edition of McKenney and Hall's 'History of the Indian Tribes of North America', unrecorded at auction for the last 25 years, and printed by the famous London lithographer Hullmandel.
One of the most famous images of a Native American, this portrait of Red Jacket depicts one of the most important Indian leaders and spokesmen of the early national period. Red Jacket or Sagoyewatha (c. 1750 - 1830) was born into the Seneca tribe, near present-day Geneva, New York, about 1750. Having fought with the British during the American Revolution, as did most of the Iroquois Confederacy, he habitually wore the red coat presented to him by the British, hence the origin of his English name (his Seneca name, Sagoyewatha, means "Keeper Awake"). It was as an orator that Red Jacket became famous, speaking out forthrightly in the years after the Revolution for the rights of his people. He played a prominent role in negotiations with the new Federal government, heading a delegation of fifty to Philadelphia in 1792. There President Washington presented him with a special peace medal, a large oval, silver plate with an image of Washington and Red Jacket shaking hands engraved upon it. Red Jacket wore this medal in every portrait painted of him ( it is the Buffalo Historical Society). Red Jacket was not unopposed in his leadership, and he fought both to protect his nation against white encroachment and from enemies within. In 1801, opponents within the tribe, including Cornplanter, managed to put him on trial for witchcraft, which was punishable by death; in a famous display of his oratorical skills, he successfully defended himself. In the 19th century, as continued settlement of upstate New York pressed against Iroquois lands, he became internationally famous for his articulate expression of Indian rights; a pamphlet entitled Indian Eloquence, published in 1811, gave translations of some of his speeches. He battled for his people with words against missionaries and white governments, trying to preserve the lands and rights of the Seneca. By the 1820's, as McKenney notes, he was as great an object of wonder for visitors to upstate New York as Niagara Falls. In 1827 Red Jacket paid a visit to Washington, to convey his unhappiness over the activities of missionaries among the Seneca to Thomas McKenney at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and President Adams. It was on this visit that Charles Bird King painted the portrait after which this image was lithographed. Red Jacket died a few years later, in 1830. McKenney and Hall's 'Indian Tribes of North America' has long been renowned for its faithful portraits of Native Americans. The portraits are largely based on paintings by the artist Charles Bird King, who was employed by the War Department to paint the Indian delegates visiting Washington D.C., forming the basis of the War Department's Indian Gallery. Most of King's original paintings were subsequently destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian, and their appearance in McKenney and Hall's magnificent work is thus our only record of the likenesses of many of the most prominent Indian leaders of the nineteenth century. Numbered among King's sitters were Sequoyah, Red Jacket, Major Ridge, Keokuk, and Black Hawk. After six years as Superintendent of Indian Trade, Thomas McKenney had become concerned for the survival of the Western tribes. He had observed unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of the Native Americans for profit, and his warnings about their future prompted his appointment by President Monroe to the Office of Indian Affairs. As first director, McKenney was to improve the administration of Indian programs in various government offices. His first trip was during the summer of 1826 to the Lake Superior area for a treaty with the Chippewa, opening mineral rights on their land. In 1827, he journeyed west again for a treaty with the Chippewa, Menominee , and Winnebago in the present state of Michigan. His journeys provided an unparalleled opportunity to become acquainted with Native American tribes. When President Jackson dismissed him from his post in 1830, McKenney was able to turn more of his attention to his publishing project. Within a few years, he was joined by James Hall, a lawyer who had written extensively about the west. McKenney and Hall saw their work as a way of preserving an accurate visual record of a rapidly disappearing culture. (Gilreath).
Cf. Howes M129; cf. Bennett 79; cf. Field 992; cf. Lipperheide Mc 4; cf. Reese American Color Plate Books 24; cf. Sabin 43410a.