The Bloody Letter — Native American documents

“When you see this letter stained with the blood of my husband …”

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Of the 1,000 or so original documents and visual images preserved in the Southeastern Native American Documents, 1730-1842 collection, few evoke pathos for the Indians’ plight as “the blood-stained letter” – written by the widows of Creek leader William McIntosh – appealing to the U.S. government for help.

McIntosh was  killed by fellow Creeks opposed to the ceding of their sbiancamento denti land to the white settlers. In the letter, Peggy and Susannah McIntosh describe their dire situation and beg the officials to remember their pledge to assist and protect them. A description and transcription of the letter is available here, along with scans of the original.

Most of the documents, dated 1763 to 1842, are from the Cherokee tribe, but other tribes are represented, including Seminole and Creek. The documents include treaties,letters from tribal members,  letters to the tribes from state representatives, military orders regarding Native Americans and the first 18 months of the first newspaper published in a Native American language, the Cherokee Phoenix.

The significance of these documents extends beyond traditional political and diplomatic history into the daily lives of Native Americans and their new European neighbors. These collections testify to the richness and continued viability of Native American culture even as it was encroached upon and eroded by European settlement. Letters of complaint to white government officials from Native Americans demonstrate their ability to contend with European institutions with a resourcefulness that belies the commonly held stereotypes from that period of Indians as violent savages or helpless victims.

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I want to ride my bicycle

Jesse Mercer Archer, Hancock County, Georgia, between 1895 and 1900

I recently purchased a bicycle. While it lacks the nifty bell possessed by this dapper gentleman’s bike (as pictured on the left), it does otherwise appear little changed to the casual eye. The larger difference by far is found in the rider, and I will not anytime soon be seen on, or even posing by, my new bike in a suit, tie and hat.

Style is a sacrifice, particularly if you insist upon it crossing boundaries. Living in Athens, Georgia, one sees spandex clad bikers at all times and places. Below are photographs of  a time when riders eschewed hyper-specific sports wear for the dignified clothes of their daily lives.

The DLG – and more specifically the Vanishing Georgia collection – has many historical photographs of bicycles, bike riders and even bike shops. Take a look.

Cook and Gentry Bicycle Shop, Rome, Floyd County, Georgia, ca. 1897
Group on bicycles, not after 1904
Florence Timmerman with a new bicycle, Lanier County, Georgia
Man on tricycle, Cedartown, Polk County, Georgia, ca. 1895
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