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“Bring Warm Clothes: Henry Whipple”

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Submitted By megsatlas
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Document Summary No. 4
“Bring Warm Clothes: Henry Whipple”

The passage from “Bring Warm Clothes” of Henry Whipple’s letter to Thomas Galbraith in early 1861 embodies his sympathy for the Native Americans. He was writing in response to Galbraith’s recent appointee as an Indian agent in hopes that he could provide some color to the current situation. Whipple’s letter takes a stance of advocation for the natives as he feels that they have been wronged and deserve an ‘outstretched’ hand. He describes the reasons he believes that they were owed help; their land was taken and had nowhere to hunt, they were robbed and taken advantage by greedy agents, the whites were infringing on their culture and providing them with alcohol. By outlining this information, it is as if he was trying to convince Galbraith to take his stance. An interesting theoretical question was posed by Whipple about why the Canadians had so many communicants, or “a person who receives Holy Communion”, while the Native Americans were killed and taken advantage of. Whipple concludes his writing by positioning his argument for help as a religious obligation as he states “… but you are permitted by God to represent the honor of our government and race and will answer to him for the trust…”.

This excerpt is a very poignant and unique writing for this time. Whipple, in my opinion, was in a very tough spot. He was advocating for the natives while many were opposing them. I imagine that this didn’t sit well with many people as they were just beginning to enjoy a new, vibrant, economy and livelihood. The tone of this letter is as if he was begging for help as knew the relations between the native and the whites were weakening. His pleas for peace were entrenched in religious duty which speaks to the influence of Christianity with so many people at that time. What’s interesting about this letter is that it fell on deaf ears. In 1862, Galbraith was very much part of the confrontation with the Dakota when he refused to distribute food. This altercation was undoubtedly a major contributor to the Dakota conflict and it could be said that the ‘blood was on his hands’. Although it doesn’t say, I would be interested to find out if Galbraith ever did meet with Whipple and if so, what those discussions entailed.

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