Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PITCHLYNN, Peter P., Choctaw chief, born in Hush-ook-wa (now part of Noxubee county, Mississippi), 30 January, 1806; died in Washington, D. C., in January, 1881. His father was a white man, bearing Gem Washington's commission as an interpreter, and his mother was a Choctaw. He was brought up like an Indian boy, but manifesting a desire to be educated, he was sent 200 miles to school in Tennessee, that being the nearest to his father's log-cabin. At the end of the first quarter he returned home to find his people engaged in negotiating a treaty with the general government. As he considered the terms of this instrument a fraud upon his tribe, he refused to shake hands with General Andrew Jackson, who had the matter in charge on behalf of the Washington authorities. He afterward attended the Columbia, Tennessee, academy, and was ultimately graduated at the University of Nashville. Although he never changed his opinion regarding the treaty, he became a strong friend of General Jackson, who was a trustee of the latter institution. After graduation he returned to Mississippi, became a farmer, and married, being the first Choctaw to depart from the practice of polygamy. He also did good service in the cause of temperance, in recognition of which he was made a member of the national council. His first proposition in that body was to establish a school, and, that the students might become familiar with the manners and customs of white people, it was located near Georgetown, Kentucky, rather than within the limits of the Choctaw country. Here it flourished for many years, supported by the funds of the nation. In 1828 he was appointed the leader of an Indian delegation sent by the United States government into the Osage country on a peace-making and exploring expedition, preparatory to the removal of the Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks beyond the Mississippi. Six months were occupied in the journey, and the negotiations were every way successful, Pitchlynn displaying no little diplomatic skill and courage. He emigrated to the new reservation with his people and built a cabin on Arkansas river. He was an admirer of Henry Clay, whom he met for the first time in 1840. He was ascending the Ohio in a steamboat when Mr. Clay came on board at Maysville. The Indian went into the cabin and found two farmers earnestly engaged in talking about their crops. After listening to them with great delight for more than an hour, he returned to his travelling companion, to whom he said: " If that old farmer with an ugly face had only been educated for the law, he would have made one of the greatest men in this country." He soon learned that the " old farmer" was Henry Clay. At the beginning of the civil war in 1861 Pitchlynn was in Washington attending to public business for his tribe, and assured 5It. Lincoln that he hoped to keep his people neutral ; but he could not prevent three of his own children and many others from joining the Confederates. He himself remained a Union man to the end of the war, notwithstanding the fact that the Confederates raided his plantation of 600 acres and captured all his cattle, while the emancipation proclamation freed his 100 slaves. He was a natural orator, as his address to the president at the White House in 1855, his speeches before the congressional committees in 1868, and one delivered before a delegation of Quakers at Washington in 1869, abundantly prove. According to Charles Dickens, who met him while on his first visit to this country, Pitchlynn was a handsome man, with black hair, aquiline nose, broad cheek-bones, sunburnt complexion, and bright, keen, dark, and piercing eyes. He was buried in the Congressional cemetery at Washington with masonic honors, the poet, Albert Pike, delivering a eulogy over his remains. See Charles Dickens's " American Notes" trod Charles Lanman's "Recollections of Curious Characters "(Edinburgh, 1881).
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