A Persistent Removal: Black Hawk, Commemoration, and Historic Sites in Illinois

By Sherfy, Michael | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

A Persistent Removal: Black Hawk, Commemoration, and Historic Sites in Illinois


Sherfy, Michael, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


Black Hawk made his final public appearance at a Fourth of July celebration in Fort Madison, Iowa in 1837. He seems an unlikely attendee at such a patriotic function. Five years earlier, he had been at war with the United States-throwing the frontier into a panic from Michigan to St. Louis and lending his name to the last armed Algonquian resistance to American expansion east of the Mississippi. In 1833, Black Hawk was a prisoner-of-war, brought to Washington to meet with President Jackson, and sent on a tour of the Eastern cities to assure him that future conflict between his people and the Americans could result only in the annihilation of the Natives. Upon his eventual release, the war-chief became a published author and pleaded his own justification for going to war-and unrepentantly fixed blame for the conflict firmly on the conduct of American officials.1 Yet, in 1837, he stood with his former enemies and one-time captors celebrating the birth of a nation that had sought to destroy him. At the festivities, he joined in thirteen toasts-with cold water in his glass rather than the more potent potables preferred by his white associates. When it came his turn to speak, Black Hawk raised his glass and gave a short speech that concluded, "A few summers ago I was fighting against you. I did wrong perhaps, but that is past-it is buried-let it be forgotten. Rock River was a beautiful country. I liked my towns, my corn-fields, and the home of my people. I fought for it-it is now yours-keep it as we did."2

Black Hawk's advice went unheeded. Thousands upon thousands of American settlers flooded into northern Illinois in a remarkably short time and irrevocably altered the landscape to suit their own needs. In less than two generations, the newcomers cleared the woodlands, drained the marshes, and broke the prairie. They replaced the native grasses with domesticated crops and created a region of unprecedented agricultural productivity. They developed the region's industrial capacity as well-digging canals, laying railroads, and building cities of a size that dwarfed anything that had come before. Determined to coerce Nature into submission, they even reversed the flow of the Chicago River.

With each passing year, it became more difficult to remember-or even imagine-the historical past that had led to such development. In 1837, Black Hawk and other Native people-removed from Illinois but neither inaccessible nor forgotten-stood as living reminders of a time that preceded the arrival of an American population and the transformations that followed. Generations passed and the frontier shifted west. Most Indians went with it. New immigrants supplanted the pioneer families of Illinois and there arose a fundamental disconnection between the present and the past. By 1900, fearing the loss of the region's "ancient" history and the social cohesion it provided, various individuals and groups worked to preserve its memory...even if that meant re-inscribing it on a landscape that would have appeared wholly alien to the people whose lives were being commemorated.

Paul Angle, one of the most respected historians of Illinois, pointed out that, although his state possessed a captivating history, its own citizens were generally unfamiliar with more than small segments of it. "And travelers from outside the state,"he added,"of whom there are many thousands annually, may cross from boundary to boundary without becoming acquainted with any part of fllinois's heritage except, perhaps, that it was the home of Abraham Lincoln, and that his body is buried in our soil."3

George Palmer, another member of the Illinois State Historical Society (ISHS), echoed these sentiments. He pointed out that Illinois offers "a story as rich in history and romance of any of her sister States; but... that it would be difficult to induce then citizens of Massachusetts or Virginia to accept this assertion."4 He and Angle agreed also that Illinois residents were too often ignorant of the history even of their own localities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Persistent Removal: Black Hawk, Commemoration, and Historic Sites in Illinois
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.