McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859

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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)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Coffee, Joshua A. Papers, 1827. University of Florida
creatorOf Audubon, John James, 1785-1851. Lantern slide collection, [188-?] - [19--?]. Alabama Department of Archives and History
creatorOf Bank of Columbia (Georgetown, Washington, D.C.). Bank of Columbia Records. 1794-1828 (inclusive). Porterville Public Library
referencedIn Jacob Butler Varnum papers, Varnum, Jacob Butler papers, 1811-1888, 1811-1833 William L. Clements Library
creatorOf McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859. Letters, 1820-1843. Newberry Library
referencedIn Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843 Houghton Library
referencedIn Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849. Albert Gallatin papers, 1783-1847. Library of Congress
creatorOf Force, Peter, 1790-1868. Papers, 1825-1856. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes, 1826 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Lyons, M. Bank draft, 1821 Jul 1. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Indian portraits 1836-1858? The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library
referencedIn M'Kendree, William, 1757-1835. William M'Kendree papers, 1790-1855. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée, 1771-1834. Papers, 1782-1838. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Roberts, Kenneth Lewis, 1885-1957. Letter to Kenneth Wood [manuscript], 1943, November 27. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Draper, Lyman Copeland, 1815-1891,. Draper manuscripts: Thomas Forsyth papers, 1804-1833. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843 Houghton Library
creatorOf McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859. Letter to Nicholas Biddle, concerning McKenney's History of the Indian tribes [manuscript] 19 May 1832. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf McKenney, Thomas, 1785-1859. Letter of introduction for Robert Montgomery Bird, 1834. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859. Agreement with John Bisco for the sale of History of the Aborigines of North America : holograph, 1847 Dec. 4. American Museum of Natural History
referencedIn Central Michigan University. Office of the President. Visual collection, 1990,1uuu. Clarke Historical Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIc, 1826-1836 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Letters to David Brydie Mitchell, 1805-1829 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859. Sketches of a tour to the lakes, 1826. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Fritzen, John, 1897-. John Fritzen papers, 1934-1967. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859. Letter of Thomas Loraine McKenney, 1825. Library of Congress
creatorOf McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859. History of the Indian tribes of North America subscriber list, 1828-1843. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Contract between Thomas L. McKenney and J.T. Bowen with supporting documents, 1847 Feb 4-Jul 17. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf McKenney, Thomas Loraine, 1785-1859. McKenney and Hall prints, undated. University of Georgia, University of Georgia, Main Library
creatorOf Johnston, John, 1775-1861. John Johnston papers [microform], 1801-1860. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn Napier, Thomas, 1776 or 7-1860. Thomas Napier papers, 1803-1947; (bulk, 1803-1860). University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn Christopher Van Deventer papers, Van Deventer, Christopher, papers, 1799-1925 William L. Clements Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IId, 1837-1844 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn University of Cincinnati Libraries, Digital Projects Records, 1997-2006, 1995-2005 University of Cincinnati, Archives and Rare Books Library
creatorOf Varnum, Jacob Butler, 1788-1874. Jacob Butler Varnum papers, 1811-1888, bulk 1811-1833. William L. Clements Library
creatorOf History of the Indian tribes of North America subscriber list, 1828-1843 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Worcester, S. A. (Samuel Austin), 1798-1859. Samuel Austin Worcester correspondence and provenance, 1826-1832. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief, 1768-1813. Draper manuscripts: Tecumseh papers, 1811-1931. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
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creatorOf Johnston, John, 1775-1861. John Johnston papers, 1801-1860. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Fur Company. corporateBody
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Bank of Columbia (Georgetown, Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Biddle, Nicholas, person
associatedWith Bisco, John. person
associatedWith Bowen, John T., ca. 1801-1856? person
associatedWith Cady, Isaac Hutchins, 1801-1867. person
associatedWith Cass, Lewis, 1782-1866. person
associatedWith Central Michigan University. Office of the President. corporateBody
associatedWith Clark, William, 1770-1838. person
associatedWith Coffee, Joshua A. person
associatedWith Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée, 1771-1834. person
associatedWith Edward E. Ayer Manuscript Collection (Newberry Library) corporateBody
associatedWith Force, Peter, 1790-1868. person
associatedWith Fritzen, John, 1897- person
associatedWith Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849. person
associatedWith Hall, James, 1793-1868. person
associatedWith Jackson, Mr., of Brunswick (Me.) person
associatedWith Johnston, John, 1775-1861. person
associatedWith Lewis, James Otto, 1799-1858 person
associatedWith Lewis, William Berkeley, 1784-1866. person
associatedWith Lyons, M. person
associatedWith Mitchell, David Brydie, 1766-1837 person
associatedWith M'Kendree, William, 1757-1835. person
correspondedWith Napier, Thomas, 1776 or 7-1860. person
associatedWith Newberry Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Roberts, Kenneth Lewis, 1885-1957. person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Thompson, Henry, Merchant. person
associatedWith United States. Office of Indian Affairs corporateBody
correspondedWith United States. Office of Indian Affairs. St. Louis Superintendency corporateBody
associatedWith University of Cincinnati. Libraries. Digital Projects corporateBody
associatedWith Van Deventer, Christopher, 1788-1838 person
associatedWith Van Deventer, Christopher, d. 1838. person
associatedWith Varnum, Jacob Butler, 1788-1874. person
associatedWith Worcester, S. A. (Samuel Austin), 1798-1859. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Washington (D.C.)
Arkansas
Great Lakes
Missouri
Maine
West (U.S.)
Michigan
United States
New York (State)--New York
Wisconsin
Subject
Native America
Indians of North America--Study and teaching--History--19th century--Sources
Indians of North America--Treaties
Ojibwa language
Ojibwa Indians
Ojibwa language--Dictionaries--English
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
License agreements
Government Affairs
Autograph albums
Alcohol--Law and legislation--History--19th century--Sources
Manuscripts, American
Indians of North America--Commerce--History--19th century--Sources
Treaties
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
Occupation
Publisher
Public officials
Editors
Function

Person

Birth 1785-03-21

Death 1859

Americans

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