History of the Butterfly, Part 91: Understanding Keokuk

Keokuk and Black Hawk were rivals.  Much of the literature we have about them mentions that fact.  Keokuk was also egotistical, vain, and a natural orator.  He was known to have defrauded the Meskwaki chiefs Poweshiek and Wapello a few years after these events.

Yet I don’t think the actions of Keokuk that Black Hawk mentions in his autobiography were just about the rivalry.  Keokuk had argued passionately with the Indian agents that the treaty of 1804 was fraudulent.  According to Perry Armstrong, he had even taken the argument all the way to the President of the United States.

I think that Keokuk knew he was in a life-or-death argument with the members of the British Band who sided with Black Hawk.  If he could not persuade them to leave Black Hawk and go with him to Iowa, they would probably die.  I think Black Hawk was likewise in an argument for the souls of the people who would follow him.  Black Hawk underestimated the strength of the people he was going up against. 

Keokuk underestimated the power of home.

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About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in American Indians, Black Hawk, Iowa History, Keokuk, The History of the Butterfly and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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