Tecumseh was a great leader of the Shawnee Indians and his name means “shooting star.”
History of Tecumseh
The history of Tecumseh starts when he was born in 1768 in Ohio.
- His father died in the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774.
- When the white settlers came, some Indians would fight for their land and others would move.
- Tecumseh’s mother decided to move to Indiana, later to Illinois, and finally settled in Missouri. He did not go with his mother but stayed in Ohio with his brother Chiksika and his sister Tecumpease.
- He was trained as a warrior but ran from his first battle.
- Ashamed of himself, he worked even harder and became a great warrior.
- He soon became a respected leader of the Shawnee people, calling for the Indians to stand up to the white men who were settling on their land.
Because he was such a great warrior, knowing the history of Tecumseh requires knowing about some of the battles Tecumseh participated in.
- The Indians were defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and felt they had to give up their lands, so they signed the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795. This left them with a section of land in the northwestern part of Ohio.
- Tecumseh thought they should not have signed the treaty.
- He decided the Indian tribes needed to unite against the white man and he set out to convince them to form a confederacy. He contacted all the tribes west of the Appalachians from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.
One thing that really helped shape the history of Tecumseh was his brother Tenskwatawa, the Prophet.
- Tenskwatawa claimed that God told him that the Indians had to give up white customs and ways, which was anything like guns, liquor, clothing, ways of farming, etc.
- He said that God was offended that the Indians had given up their history and traditions and he supported Tecumseh.
- If the Indians would return to the old ways, God would be happy and banish the white man from their lands.
- Many tribes met with the two brothers at the village called Prophetstown.
Battle of Tippecanoe
Seeing so many Indians together worried the governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, so he sent an army there.
- Tecumseh was not there and before he left, he instructed his brother not to attack the whites.
- Tenskwatawa said he had a vision to attack that showed bullets would not harm the Indians, so he attacked.
- The battle was called the Battle of Tippecanoe and the Americans were victorious.
- Needless to say, the confederation of Indians was weakened by this defeat.
- Many tribes had not joined because they had adopted some white customs and did not want to stop.
Tecumseh and the War of 1812
- During the War of 1812, Tecumseh and the federation took sides with the British in hopes that they would return the land to the Indians if they won.
- Tecumseh died during the Battle of the Thames in 1813.
- At the start of the battle, the British retreated and left the Indians to fight on their own.
- With his death came the end of the allied Indian resistance to the American settlers.
Now that we have looked at the history of Tecumseh, let’s look at some of his memorials.
- In the Royal Canadian Military Institute, there is a large portrait of Tecumseh which was unveiled in 2008.
- Tecumseh is considered a great warrior who allied with the British in the War of 1812 and helped repulse the Americans.
- He is ranked as number 37 on the list of Greatest Canadians.
- The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland has a court named after Tecumseh in front of Bancroft Hall. Within there is a bust of Tecumseh.
- The U.S. Navy has had four ships named the USS Tecumseh.
- There is a HMCS Tecumseh naval reserve unit in Alberta, Canada.
So, now you know the history of Tecumseh and all about his life and legacy.