After the hostilities known as the “Black Hawk War” were ended, Chief Black Hawk was captured. He was initially shackled, but later he was treated with more respect. He was taken on a tour of Eastern cities, probably with the intention of showing the chief just how powerful the United States of America was.
In his autobiography he states:
“We next started to New York, and on our arrival near the wharf, saw a large collection of people gathered at the Castle-Garden. We had seen many wonderful sights in our way—large villages, the great national road over the mountains, the rail-roads, steam carriages, ships, steam boats, and many other things; but now were about to witness a sight more surprising than any of these. We were told that a man was going up into the air in a balloon! We watched with anxiety to see if it could be true; and to our utter astonishment , we saw him ascend into the air until the eye could no longer perceive him. Our people were all surprised, and one of our young men asked the prophet, if he was going up to see the Great Spirit?
After the ascension of the balloon, we landed, and got into a carriage, to go to the house that had been provided for our reception. We had proceeded a short distance, before the street was so crowded that it was impossible for the carriage to pass. The war chief then directed the coachman to take another street, and stop at a different house from the one he had intended. On our arrival here, we were waited upon by a number of gentlemen, who seemed much pleased to see us. We were furnished with good rooms, good provisions, and everything necessary for our comfort.
The chiefs were particular in showing us everything they thought would be pleasing or gratifying to us. We went with them to Castle-Garden to see the fireworks, which was quite an agreeable entertainment—but to the whites who witnessed it, less magnificent than the sight of one of our large prairies would be when on fire.”