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the Quarterly and the Edinburgh, and by the social dominance of literature which ostracised Shelley and lionized Disraeli, he suffered instead from political jealousy and hurt pride on the one hand, and from too great a reverence for old England on the other. He gives us a different and altogether interesting picture of literary England, but his limited perspective, in spite of his basic intelligence and his eagerness to learn, is somewhat disappointing.
In his appreciation of the human aspects of those authors he visited, however, his comments have greater value. It is hard to believe that Scott and Cooper belonged to two separate nations which, for almost forty years, had been in a state of actual or near hostility. In the realm of literature the bonds of humanity and a common language so far counter-balanced political hostilities and national rivalries as to make harmony inevitable. The Americans were not jealous because, as Irving admitted, they had nothing with which to rival England's supremacy; and the English were uniformly cordial because their guests were their admirers. As long as the American visitors were willing to sit at their feet, the English literary celebrities were not immune to the flattery implied and spoken; the Americans were wise enough to accept the situation and to profit by the rich culture of the older country.. The result was that they were afforded an unexampled opportunity of surveying the accepted English literary world from a fresh viewpoint and of recounting its human and personal aspects in records that vary from hurried letters to formal travel books to be printed and read at home.
BY GREGORY LANSING PAINE
In Cooper's varied presentation of America, no aspect is more vividly pictured than that of the epic conflict between the red man of the forest and the white man of the clearing. Throughout the Leather-Stocking Tales runs the great theme of a westward-moving frontier a theme through which one hears again and again the sombre undertones of pathos and defeat, as a strong, primitive people retreats, step by step, before a relentlessly advancing civilization.
From the recurrence of this theme it is obvious that Cooper was deeply interested in the American Indians as a significant part of America. He was interested in their history and legends, and in their ethnic development and decline. As a critic of America, he saw a primitive people deprived of their birthright and wasted in their power and strength. To him, the development of America could be justified only if it were done righteously. Therefore his romantic interest in the early native America, together with his rigid conception of right and justice, led him to consider the Indians not as obstacles in the pathway of civilization, but as a people of native abilities and virtues that warranted preservation.
Although it is generally acknowledged that Cooper's conception of the American Indian is of outstanding importance in the history of the red man in literature, certain fallacies and misconceptions concerning his method and material have arisen. It is the purpose of this article to attempt to answer the following questions, which Cooper's biographers and critics have discussed, but concerning which no satisfactory conclusions have been reached: (1) Where did Cooper get his apparently authoritative knowledge of Indian history and character? (2) Is Cooper's treatment of the Indian realistic or idealistic?
In the first place, it has been assumed, without warrant, that Cooper's knowledge of the Indians depended upon his having lived among them in the pioneer settlement of Cooperstown. Mary E. Phillips, for example, states this view as follows:
The Six Nations were yet a power in the Mohawk valley. . . . The boy was face to face with the "grim warriors, braves, and chieftains" that
the man, Fenimore Cooper, translated into his pages, with a touch true to the red man's life.1
As a matter of fact, there were no wild Indians about Otsego Lake when Cooper was a boy. Doubtless he saw roving bands of degenerate, half-breed Indians, who camped in the swamps and sold baskets and medicines to the settlers. Such bands did indeed roam about central New York even as late as the second quarter of the century; but by 1789, when Cooper was born, the few remaining Indians, apart from these rovers, were on the reservations of Long Island or in the central and northern parts of the state. A sketch of the Indian history of central New York will account for the early disappearance of the Indians.2
Before the coming of the white men, the Algonquins probably occupied the head waters of the Susquehanna River, and the Lenni Lenape of that nation claimed the region. At a later time, probably even as late as the seventeenth century, the Iroquois supplanted the Lenape, and gave Iroquois names to all natural features, except the Susquehanna River, which had taken its name from the Algonquin tribe of Susquehannocks. In 1753, Gideon Hawley, who made a missionary tour through the region and wrote a journal of his adventures, followed deep-worn Indian trails along the rivers and lakes, but found only a few small Indian villages on the upper Susquehanna. At this time the fur trappers and traders were being supplanted by white settlers. In 1768 Sir William Johnson negotiated the Treaty of Fort Stanwix with the Iroquois and allied Indians, by which a vast territory east of the Ohio, Susquehanna, and Unadilla Rivers was first opened to settlement. The Otsego Lake region was within this grant, and was abandoned by the Indians, except for raids.3
1 James Fenimore Cooper, New York, 1913, pp. 12, 13.
2 The Indian history of New York has been written by such authorities as William Beauchamp, William W. Campbell, Lewis H. Morgan, and William L. Stone. Among the local historians are Willard Yager, Francis W. Halsey, Sherman Williams, and Adrian A. Pierson. Of special value is the article by Adrian A. Pierson, "The Prehistoric Indian in Otsego and His Immediate Successor," in The Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, XIV, 103-119.
'Halsey, Francis W., The Old New York Frontier, New York, 1913, pp. 101 ff.
Birdsall, Ralph, The Story of Cooperstown, Cooperstown, N. Y., 1917, p. 1-22.
During the Revolutionary War, the Iroquois, with the exception of a few Oneidas, sided with the British. These Indians, led by Joseph Brant, served under Colonel William Butler, and, with his Tory troops, helped to lay waste the frontier. There were many massacres, of which the most sanguinary were those in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and at Cherry Valley, a few miles west of Cooperstown, both in 1778. General Washington planned terrible reprisals for these depredations by the Tories and Indians. By his order the country was not to be "merely overrun, but destroyed." General Sullivan, who received these orders, took them literally. He sent General Clinton with a few thousand men over to Otsego Lake to descend the Susquehanna. Sullivan and Clinton joined their forces at Tioga Point. After defeating the Indians in battle, they began the work of devastation. The destruction of the houses, orchards, cornfields, and storehouses of the Iroquois was ruthless. Stone says that the Indians were hunted like wild beasts, till neither house nor fruit-trees, nor field of corn, nor inhabitant remained in the whole country." After Sullivan had left the country, the Indians returned to view the blackened ruins of their ancestral homes. Destitute of all their possessions, they marched to Niagara, where the English built huts for them. During the winter hundreds died from disease. In the spring, maddened by their losses and eager for revenge, the Iroquois continued fighting on the side of the English against the colonists, or engaged in small bloody raids against them. After the treaty of peace they scattered along the border and through Canada. Through the exertions of Brant, a tract of land was obtained for the remnant of the Mohawks on the Grand River in Canada. Many returned to New York and were placed upon reservations. The number of Iroquois was never large. It is estimated that in 1774 there were only between 10,000 and 12,000.5
When Judge Cooper visited Otsego Lake in 1785, he found a wilderness with no settlements or dwellings, either Indian or white. The earlier white settlers had fled during the Revolutionary War. There were no Indians living in the region, although there were
Quoted by Halsey, op. cit., p. 282.
Hodge, F. W., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Wash. ington, 1907, 1, 619.
many Indian relics and remains. On the present site of Cooperstown there were clearings and old apple orchards. In later times. many Indian relics, both of Algonquin and Iroquois origin, have been found.
As a boy and man, therefore, James Fenimore Cooper saw few Indians. He remarked to an acquaintance:
"You have the advantage of me, for I never was among the Indians. All that I know of them is from reading and hearing my father speak of them."
In 1828, two years after writing The Last of the Mohicans (1826) and thirteen years before writing The Deerslayer (1841), Cooper spoke of the Indians in the eastern part of the United States as follows:
In the more interior parts of the country I frequently met parties of the Indians, either traveling, or proceeding to some village, with their wares. They were all alike, a stunted, dirty, and degraded race. . . . An inhabitant of New York is actually as far removed from a savage as an inhabitant of London. A few degraded descendants of the ancient warlike possessors of their country are indeed seen wandering among the settlements, but the Indian must now be chiefly sought west of the Mississippi, to be found in any of his savage grandeur.7
Cooper, however, never went west to study the Indians in their native wildness. After his return from Europe in 1833 he retired to the village of Cooperstown to spend the rest of his days. It was not until 1847 that he went further west than Buffalo, and then he went only to central Michigan, which was already a settled region.8
Cooper's daughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper, also testifies as to the meagreness of her father's first-hand knowledge of the Indians. She says:
His own opportunities of intercourse with the red men had been few; occasionally some small party of the Oneidas, or other representatives of
* Wilson, J. G., Bryant and His Friends, New York, 1886, p. 337. *Notions of the Americans, Philadelphia, 1828, 1, 237 and 245.
Lounsbury, T. R., James Fenimore Cooper, Boston, 1882, p. 258. Phillips, op. cit., p. 309.