McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859Alternative names
Public official, editor, and publisher.
From the description of Letter of Thomas Loraine McKenney, 1825. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79454524
Thomas Loraine McKenney was Superintendent of the Indian Bureau.
From the description of Sketches of a tour to the lakes, 1826. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122632847
Thomas Loraine McKenney, founder of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, was the author, with James Hall, of History of the Indian tribes of North America, first published in Philadelphia by J.T. Bowen between 1836 and 1844.
McKenney was appointed Superintendant of Indian Trade in 1816, and Commissioner of Indian Affairs under the U.S. War Dept. in 1824. Fearing that the Native Americans were in danger of becoming extinct, McKenney commissioned a collection of portraits of prominent Indians who came to Washington, D.C., in the delegations over treaties and trade. The artist Charles Bird King painted most of the portraits between 1822 and 1842, and James Hall, a lawyer who served in the war of 1812, provided the accompanying text. In his governmental work, McKenney was responsible for starting a system of schools for the Southern Indian nations of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole, and was instrumental in establishing many treaties for both Northern and Southern tribes.
From the description of Agreement with John Bisco for the sale of History of the Aborigines of North America : holograph, 1847 Dec. 4. (American Museum of Natural History). WorldCat record id: 56596921
Thomas Loraine McKenney, government official and author, served as superintendent of Indian Trade from 1816-1822.
In 1824 McKenney was appointed to head the newly organized Bureau of Indian Affairs. He served in that capacity until his dismissal in 1830. Later in life, McKenney wrote several works on American Indian history.
From the description of Letters, 1820-1843. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 38466450
The son of devout Quakers from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Thomas Loraine McKenney was appointed by James Madison as Superintendent of the Indian Trade in 1816. A strident opponent of the emerging Jacksonian Democracy, McKenney's years in office were marked by partisan strife and improfitability. His zealous support for John C. Calhoun's bid for the presidency in 1824 earned him the wrath of Congress, and a special investigation of his Office. McKenney was fully exonerated, and after Calhoun removed himself from the race in return for the vice presidency, McKenney was rewarded for his loyalty with an appointment as the nation's first Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
In both his Superintendencies, McKenney allied himself with the policies of his predecessors in the Washington and Adams administrations, aiming to "civilize" the Indians rather than merely exterminate them. He was the prime supporter of the Indian Civilization Act of 1819, which provided funds for Indian education, but he was also supported the Removal Act of 1830 with its devastating consequences for the Indians of the eastern states. McKenney later justified his support for the act by arguing that removal was more humane than the alternative. Regardless of his intentions, shortly after the act went into effect in the fall of 1830 he was dismissed from office by Andrew Jackson. Although he remained active in anti-Democratic politics, he was never again appointed to office, and spent the last decade of his life in obscurity, living in Brooklyn. He died on February 20, 1859.
Kenney's long-term reputation is based in large part, as he predicted it would, on the Office (later Bureau) of Indian Affairs that he helped establish, but above all on his two major proto-ethnographic works: Sketches of a Tour of the Lakes (1827) and the History of the Indian Tribes of North America (1844). His later Memoirs, Official and Personal (1846) were written in defensive mode, justifying his actions while in office against his many detractors.
The Sketches is an engaging account of a treaty negotiation in 1826 between the federal government and the Cippewa, Menominee, and Winnebago Indians, all vital elements in the fur trade in the upper Midwest. Part travel narrative, part ethnography, the Sketches includes a detailed description of the trip across the Great Lakes undertaken by McKenney and Lewis Cass, later governor of Michigan Territory. The bulk of the volume, however, is devoted to a description of the "character," language, and beliefs of the Chippewa Indians and of the treaty negotiations held at the American Fur Company headquarters at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The artist James Otto Lewis accompanied the party, and his illustrations formed the basis for the 29 lithographic plates that appeared in the Sketches .
McKenney's efforts to establish a reference collection on the American Indian in the War Department (home of the Office of Indian Affairs) resulted in his collaboration with the artist Charles Bird King, among others, to accumulate portraits of prominent Native Americans. After leaving office, he collaborated with the writer, James Hall, conceiving a plan to publish these as a massive color plate book, adding biographies to accompany the portraits. Although he abandoned the project before completion, the McKenney and Hall History of the Indian Tribes of North America remains an important work both in the history of printing and the history of American ethnography.
From the guide to the Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes, 1826, (American Philosophical Society)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York (State)--New York|
|Indians of North America--Study and teaching--History--19th century--Sources|
|Indians of North America--Treaties|
|Indians of North America--Great Lakes (North America)|
|Eastern Woodlands Indians|
|Indians of North America--Government relations|
|Indians of North America--Government relations--1789-1869--Sources|
|Alcohol--Law and legislation--History--19th century--Sources|
|Indians of North America--Commerce--History--19th century--Sources|
|Book industries and trade|
|Indians of North America--History|
|United States--Description and travel|
|Indians of North America|
|Cherokee Indians--Government relations--19th century--Sources|