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Palmer to Curry, 8 August, 1856, in United States, Office of Indian Affairs, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880, National Archives Microcopy 234, Roll 609 (excerpt), NADP Document D39.
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Portland, Oregon Territory
August 8th 1856

To
His Excy. George L. Curry
Governor of Oregon Ter.
(now at Washington City, D.C.)

                         Dear Sir:
                                        I must plead official duties for this delay to answer your letter under date of 23rd June, addressed to me on the eve of your departure for Washington City. That letter is not, now before me, and I cannot recollect its precise language; the impression left upon my mind in perusing it is, however, indelibly fixed. If I remember rightly it commences by expressing regrets that anything should have occured to destroy the friendly and neighborly feeling so long existing between us, and informing me, that my official correspondence with General Wool evinsed a disposition on my part to do injustice to the people of Oregon &c. and, goes on to advise me, that it would be your duty and pleasure to oppose, at Washington, all persons who might be against you.
      This, of course, is not the language, but modified in mild terms, yet, giving me distinctly to understand that I might expect to find in you one who would sacrifice me, or any other person, if deemed necessary to


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forth some of those causes, and whilst its language might be regarded as unmerited, or improper if applied to a whole community, was none too strong when applied to that class of persons for whom it was intended. That subsequent events have verified the predictions, therein contained no sane man can deny. There is not one sentence contained in that letter that I wish to recall, because the facts have stamped its truthfulness; but in saying this, I did not, nor do I wish to apply it to the entire community, but I say that the war in Southern Oregon has been provoked by a set of lawless vagabonds who alike disregard the rights of Indians and Whites. This is not a general or wholesale charge against all the people of Southern Oregon, nor does it imply opposition to the prosecution of the war by Volunteer forces, or opposing the speedy appropriation by Congress, to pay the expenses consequent upon it, for, as in my official correspondence to the Indian Department, I have stated that it was too late to speculate as to the causes of the War; it was enough to know that it was upon us, and that our women and children were being slaughtered by these ruthless savages: Who could have imagined that in pointing out to the Commanding Officer some of the cause of this war, and the necessity for furnishing troops to remove the friendly bands from the proximity of hostile tribes would have been seized hold


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[...] red man; and the cunning, the violation of faith, the treachery and savage brutality said to be the characeristics of that people, have been practiced towards them, to a degree almost inconceivably, by the reckless portion of whites who have cursed that land with their presence the past six years. By this I by no means intend to disparage the worthy and just people of that portion of the territory, for there are many such there, and many of whom are ignorant of what is going on around them, others decieved by false representaions, gotten up for the occasion, and, not a few are awed into submission by the numerous class who are eating out the very substance and life of that Community.
      The greater portion of the people of this Territory hear but one side of these questions -- as they generaly derive their information from interested parties: my official duties have thrown me in conflict with this latter class of population and, whilst I have mourned over that state of affairs, and sought to evate the disasters consequent, I have endeavored to leave the community to purge itself rather than take any steps which could only end in defeat and tend to exasperate to additional extremes. A communty unable through its judicial tribunals, on account of chicanery and management, to rid itself of a portion of its most obnoxious members


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for offences against its own citizens, would not be likely through the same source, to extend its aid to federal officers in ridding it of similar persons when charged with offences against Indians. Very many politicians charge me with slandering the people of the South, can any man be so ignorant of events in that section of the country as not to know that there has been an enormous amount of crime committed there within the last few years theft robbery murder and the whole catalogue of crime, not only against Indians but against white people, has prevailed to an alarming extent and who has sought to remedy this growing evil? Who has been punished? Several arrests have been made for the crime of murder, but by 'management' the parties have been turned loose to prey upon the community and commit similar offences. Crime will not cease there when the entire Indian population shall be removed. It is claimed that in Jackson County, on conviction of the killing an Indian punishment has followed the perpetration of the act – I have heard of but that one conviction and that one an orphan boy who encouraged by the acts of those around him shot an Indian. An orphan friendless and penniless, he alone, of all the offenders in that country must suffer the penalty! Who does not believe that, had he been a prominant citizen and backed up with means, the Court would have as in other cases in that District set a few days in empanelling a jury until one was "packed" that would have requitted him. But no!! he had no friends, no purse to empty, and he was sentenced to two years in the Penitentiary. It is not the settler and law abiding people to which I refer in my letters, but the scum of society who


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have congregated there to eat out the substance of the better portion of those people; but `scum' as it is, politicians federal and Territorial officers and aspirants curry favor with and pamper to its viciousness and demoralization instead of meeting it boldly and manfully, and aiding to purge the community of its pestisential influence: One half the zeal manifested by public men in this Territory in the denunciations of their neighbors and elevation of favorites to office would have been quite sufficient to change the current popular feeling into a right course, by riding and encouraging the real bona-fide settler and good citizen to maintain the laws and restore the country to security and peace. It is that class of persons whom I charge with reckless and lawless acts and so long as politicians seek to throw odium upon, and trample under foot those who would rid the community of such men so long we merit the reproach and appeltation of a lawless community.
      My official acts as Superintendant of Indian Affairs are nearly closed, for I am, tho' not as yet officially informed, removed, from the office, but this does not lessen the interest I feel in the welfare of a people for whom I have been laboring, and I hope my successor may be more successful in his efforts to accomplish good for them and insure the interests of this community generally. Whilst I have been zealous to promote the good of the Indian, and carry out fully my instructions I have by no means, been unmindful of my obligations as a citizen, and have acted in all things as it appeared to me best suited to secure the lives and property of our citizens restore and maintain peace, advance the Indian in civilization and subserve the cause of humanity. In leaving the office it is a consolation to feel and know that


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fact, of an Official doing what his duties required of him. As before remarked there have been many acts committed by members of volunteer companies which I disapprove but the expression of that sentiment is not to be construed as being in opposition to Governor Curry's policy generally, and has nothing to do with the payment of these war expenses, nor can it reasonably be perverted into a constinction that I stood antagonistical to the interests of the people of Oregon.
      It appears to me a weak argument that because the first act of aggression in Southern Oregon was committed by a white man which provoked this war – hundreds of our citizens should be butchered by the savages, and whole neighborhoods cut off and destroyed without an effort to punish the aggression, or restrain their further acts, and that Congress therefore, ought not to pay the expenses necessarily incurred; None but weak minded, selfish men entertain such views. It needs no distortion of truth, nor the disgrace or victimizing of any public office to establish the existence of a war between a portion of the Indian tribes, and the white settlers in Oregon and Washington Territories; nor will it be difficult to convince Congress of the necessity that existed for calling volunteer forces into the field, or of the equitable claim of our citizens upon the General Government for payment of the proper and legitimate expenses of the war; but the distorted imagination of Political demagogues and aspirants have seized hold of every act and movement in order to wield an influence which may turn to their favor, and thus many of our citizens who should, and doubtless would but for this influence have need [...]