Life, Letters, and Speeches

Life, Letters, and Speeches

Life, Letters, and Speeches

Life, Letters, and Speeches

Synopsis

George Copway (Kahgegagahbowh, 1818-69), a Canadian Ojibwe writer and lecturer, rose to prominence in American literary, political, and social circles during the mid-nineteenth century. His colorful, kaleidoscopic life took him from the tiny Ojibwe village of his youth to the halls of state legislatures throughout the eastern United States and eventually overseas. Copway converted to Methodism as a teenager and traveled throughout the Midwest as a missionary. He became a forceful and energetic spokesman for temperance and the rights and sovereignty of Indians, lecturing to large crowds in the United States and Europe and founding a newspaper devoted to native issues.

Published originally in 1847, this edition of Life, Letters and Speeches marks the 150th anniversary of its first appearance. One of the first Native American autobiographies, it chronicles Copway's unique and often difficult cultural journey. Copway vividly captures the freedom of his early childhood, the dramatic moment of his spiritual awakening to Methodism, the rewards and frustrations of missionary work, a desperate race home to warn of a pending Sioux attack, and the harrowing rescue of his son from drowning.

Excerpt

The text of this edition is from George Copway Life, Letters and Speeches of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh or, G. Copway, Chief Ojibway Nation (New York: S. W. Benedict, 1850), which the editors selected because it contains letters and speeches not present in The Life, History and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh . . . (Albany NY: Weed and Parsons, 1847; Philadelphia: Harmstead, 1847).

Obvious errors in Copway's text that might lead to confusion, such as some misspellings, omitted punctuation marks, or duplicated words, have been corrected. in annotating the text, the editors have identified all individuals, events, places, and quotations they could find. Many of Copway's quotations from hymns and poetry are so obscure they do not appear in standard collections, concordances, or quotation lists. A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff annotated Copway's allusions pertaining to the United States and Donald B. Smith, those to Canada. the bibliography contains full references to published works; full bibliographic information on archival sources and city directories is included in the notes. Throughout the essays and annotations by Ruoff and Smith, tribal names are spelled according to current usage: Ojibwe rather than Ojibwa or Ojibway, Pequot rather than Pequod.

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