Before Ben Windham wrote his horrible description of John McKee's life on Sunday two weeks ago,
I had no idea what a sick puppy we had with this back ward patient Windham IN CHARGE OF OUR PAPER'S EDITORIAL PAGE!
Dat don't bother me 'cause
I will rag HIS
NEW YORK TIMES MONEY GRUBBING ass 'till the cows come home!!!!
Read his "article" about John McKee and then read mine and you figure out who's an American!
BEN WINDHAM WROTE HIS COLUMN ON SUNDAY MAY 20, 2007-TWO WEEKS AGO!
I wrote my article about John McKee in 1997
I copied this from Ben Windham's column two weeks ago Sunday(May 20, 2007) http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070520/NEWS/705200349&SearchID=73283585869916
& the knucklehead actually wrote this.
Compare it to what I wrote and ask yourself the question,
"Who is anti-American?":
[or even mo' worser]
JOHN MCKEE FOUNDED TUSCALOOSA!
I am almost certain he inserted the law that made this land a federal reservation into the legislation creating the State of Alabama in 1819. He opened the land office here and he was our first U.S. representative. Most of the veterans around here got their Revolutionary War and War of 1812 pensions through McKee. He was the strongest of all the supporters of the University of Alabama and this is what he gets from Selma native and BSC alum Windham.
It's so sad that Windham's po' ass 'flicted soul ain't got sense enough to ashamed of his SCALAWAG self.
The po' boy needzzzzzzzzzz
A CHECK UP FROM THE NECK UP!
THIS MENTAL CASE WINDHAM needZZZZZZZZZZ to wake up!
BY B. WINDHAM
Judging people who lived in another century by our standards and values can be a dangerous exercise. Like milk, the notion of goodness can easily curdle and spoil.
Still, it’s hard to see how some historical figures could sleep easily, knowing what they did to other humans.
One of those people was John McKee, whom historian Matt Clinton called Tuscaloosa’s “first citizen who attained national importance."
McKee dedicated most of his life to Indian affairs and politics.
“I … never heard anything from him but the truth," said a Cherokee chief in Tennessee.
But thousands of Choctaws in Alabama and Mississippi probably went to their graves cursing him.[HUH?!!!...ed.]
Born in Virginia, educated in Greek and Latin philosophy, McKee moved in 1821 to Tuscaloosa. By then, he had a quarter-century of experience in dealing with the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Choctaws.
McKee caught Andrew Jackson’s eye during the Creek Indian War in 1812, when he helped persuade the Chickasaws and Choctaws to fight on the side of the white Americans.
It’s a dramatic story.
After the bloody attack by Creek warriors on Fort Mims in south Alabama, Choctaw Chief Pushmataha went to Mobile to offer the services of his tribe to the U.S. Army.
However, the Army commander, Thomas Flournoy, wouldn’t hear of it. Indians serving as United States soldiers? Impossible.
Pushmataha was mortified. He headed home in a huff.
He’d reached St. Stephens, the territorial capital, when a galloping courier overtook him. Flournoy had changed his mind. The Choctaws could have the privilege of serving in the Army, the general decided.
Pushmataha returned to his people. In an eloquent speech to the 5,000 Choctaws camped along the banks of the Tombigbee River, he made the case for war.
Pushmataha called Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, who had recently urged Southern Indians to uproot the whites from their lands, “a bad man."
Tecumseh had convinced the Creeks to attack Ft. Mims. The whites there “were our friends," Pushmataha, his features highlighted by the flickering council fires, told the Choctaws.
“They played ball with us. They sheltered and fed us, whenever we went to Pensacola. Where are they now? Their bodies rot at Sam Mims’ place.
“You are all free men," the Choctaw chief continued. “I dictate to none of you." But he vowed to join the whites at St. Stephens and fight the Creeks.
“If you have a mind to follow me, I will lead you to glory and to victory," he concluded.
There was a brief pause, a silence as the Choctaws drank in his words. Then a warrior stood up and slapped his chest.
“I am a man!" he said. “I am a man. I will follow you!"
The other warriors leaped to their feet and did the same.
Jackson, meanwhile, sent word about Ft. Mims to McKee, who was visiting in Tennessee. The general told the Indian agent to “get out" as many Choctaws as he could to attack a Creek settlement at he falls of the Warrior River.
The Choctaw warriors did as McKee asked. But when they came to the site where Tuscaloosa later would be built, all they found were deserted lodges; the Creeks, forewarned, had escaped.
They burned the empty village, then split forces. Some returned home and the rest -- around 135 -- went to St. Stephens to be mustered into the Army.
Jackson delivered a shattering deathblow to the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend in 1814, ending the war.
For their loyalty and service, the whites rewarded the Choctaws with a knife, slowly twisted, in the back.
In 1820, the year before McKee came to Tuscaloosa, Jackson bullied the tribe into approving the Treaty of Doaks Stand. The Choctaws ceded more than 4 million acres of prime cotton acreage for lands of questionable value in the new “Indian Territory" west of the Mississippi River.
The Indians didn’t want to give up their property. But when they argued with Jackson, the general went into a rage and threatened to exterminate them.
The Choctaws were wary of Jackson and rightly so. He had shown no quarter at Horseshoe Bend. Then he relentlessly pursued renegade Seminoles into Florida. Old Hickory was not a man to be crossed.
Under the terms of the treaty, the Indians lost a third of their ancient tribal property, which stretched from the Tombigbee to the Mississippi River.
A decade later, McKee would help Jackson complete the land grab.
But first there was an interlude in McKee’s new hometown. President James Monroe appointed him as registrar of the Tuscaloosa land office in the spring of 1821.
McKee was what we would call a piece of work. In a town where tippling was one of the main pastimes, he allowed himself exactly one drink a day. Moreover, it had to be at high noon.
He would appear outside of Travis’ saloon at University Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, glancing nervously at his timepiece. If it was a few minutes before noon, he would pace back and forth in front of the saloon until it was precisely 12. Then he would enter, down a drink and leave.
Little boys learned to tell time by watching him.
Despite this eccentricity, he was popular enough with the voters. They elected him to Congress in 1822, 1824 and 1826.
He ran each time as a Jackson Republican. McKee was so enamored of the Indian-fighting general that he carried a walking stick with 13 knots, each carved with a letter of Jackson’s name.
McKee didn’t run in 1828, when Jackson was elected president, but Old Hickory didn’t forget him. In the first few months of his administration, he picked McKee to help broker a treaty to get the Choctaws out of West Alabama and Mississippi for good.
The governor of Mississippi already had decided that leaving “savage tribes of Indians" in possession of fertile land “cannot be tolerated." The Legislature responded with an act giving the state “unlimited sovereignty" over all the land in Mississippi.
The governor feared problems with enforcing the act, however, and he sought Jackson’s help.
The president’s directions to McKee and the others he named to talk to the Choctaws were simple: Make a new treaty to get the governor off his back.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, signed near Macon, Miss., in September 1830, made the draconian Treaty of Doaks Stand look like a walk in the park.
It decreed that the Choctaws would exchange all of their remaining land for reservation property west of the Mississippi -- including land the tribe already had been given in 1820.
Tribal leaders, some of them wooed with promises of land and cash, backed the treaty. But most Choctaws were bitterly opposed.
Seven elderly women who sat near the center of the council ring were especially vocal. When a half-breed chief spoke in favor of the treaty, they shouted him down and one of them threatened him with a butcher knife.
McKee and the other commissioners knew they needed a sweetener. So they added a provision saying that any Choctaw who chose to remain on the ancestral tribal lands could do so.
There were a few catches.
The Indians who remained would be subject to Mississippi property taxes, highway assessments and military conscription. They also had to purchase their home sites.
A reduced price was offered, but most of the Choctaws didn’t begin to have the money. Hunger forced many of them to barter away their government-issued land scripts for a sack of corn or flour to help feed their families.
To make matters worse, the terms delayed for 60 years a “final accounting" of treaty provisions. And the government agent to the Choctaws failed to register many of the land claimants.
As the Indians debated the treaty, a motley rabble of whites, hungry for new property, hung around the council fringes. They set up bars and faro tables. The treaty commissioners didn’t interfere; instead, they went to some lengths to drive away the Christian missionaries who came to help the Indians.
To the federal officials, the presence of the rabble was a form of leverage, a symbolic threat that loomed larger as the talks dragged on. Unless the Indians agreed to the federal treaty, Jackson’s commissioners would pull out and let the Great State of Mississippi and its people do as it pleased with the Choctaws.
Ultimately, the Indians caved. More than 160 chiefs and warriors put their marks on the treaty.
The government didn’t lose much time in getting them out. Half of the tribe was ordered to leave during the falls of 1831 and 1832; the rest would have to follow in the fall of 1833.
Fearful of the future, the Choctaws pleaded to have a representative in Congress. No can do, the treaty commissioners said. That would have to be a decision for people in higher positions. The important thing now was to prepare to move.
McKee, hailed by the whites on the frontier and President Jackson for negotiating such a wise and fair accord, decided it was time to rest on his laurels. He retired to an estate he’d purchased in Boligee and given the fanciful name “Hill of Howth" for a beautiful spot in Ireland.
McKee died in 1832 and was buried in Bethsalem Cemetery.
The Choctaws, meanwhile, stumbled west, through massive swamps, thick forests, dense canebrakes and dangerous streams on a journey of more than 550 miles.
The first wave of 4,000 Choctaws was supposed to have been transported to the reservation, in what is modern Oklahoma, by steamboat and wagons. However, the planning fell apart and the group walked much of the way, enduring a terrible winter with blizzard conditions, illness and starvation. They died by the hundreds.
By the time the second wave of Choctaws left, the government had overspent its Indian removal budget. Rations were cut even further and the tribe had to walk most of the way to Oklahoma. En route, the Indians were hit by a cholera epidemic. Hundreds more died.
Word about the deadly marches west quickly reached the remaining Choctaws; only 800 showed up for the final trek. Some 6,000 decided to stay on their ancestral lands.
Corrupt white officials went to work, bilking many who remained out of their property. The Indians appealed to the federal government; ultimately, it promised a reimbursement, but only for individuals willing to relocate to Oklahoma.
In the end, just 3,000 Choctaws stayed in their old land between the rivers. The once-powerful tribe -- always friendly, always loyal to the whites -- was effectively destroyed.
Hill of Howth is long gone. But on a rainy Wednesday, I visited Boligee in hopes of finding McKee’s grave.
I had a computer map showing Bethsalem Cemetery, but Boligee’s lack of road and street signs made it worthless.
Instead, I followed my instincts down a country road outside of Boligee and pulled up in front of a hillside church.
The lawn was newly mown, but the church seemed long abandoned. Weeds grew at the doorway. There was no sign, nothing saying Bethsalem.
But some of the tombstones in the graveyard looked to be right age, so I got out in the pelting rain and poked around.
I had nothing to guide me except Matt Clinton’s history, long out of print, which says McKee’s grave is in the “fartherest corner" of the cemetery. Which corner, I didn’t have a clue. I wasn’t even sure I was in the right cemetery.
But I’d come too far in the rain to turn around and go home. After an hour of squinting, rubbing and deciphering the old carved stones under the dark skies with the help of a flashlight, I finally found McKee’s grave marker.
It’s in bad shape. Broken in two or three places, it’s partially hidden by undergrowth.
I got on my knees to read it. I couldn’t make out the entire inscription, but it was clearly the stone I’d been seeking. It spoke of McKee’s service as Indian agent and member of Congress, calling him a “prominent citizen" of early Alabama.
I reached for the top of the stone to pull myself up -- only to find it was balanced precariously on its broken bottom half.
So this was the end of Tuscaloosa’s first citizen of national importance, three-term congressman and long-time Indian agent: a broken tombstone in a remote and overgrown corner of an obscure country cemetery on an unmarked road.
Again, it’s dangerous to pass judgment now. But considering the fate of the Choctaws that McKee helped to herd west, it seemed a fitting end.
There was a big controversy in the Alabama Legislature last month over resolutions apologizing for slavery.
Only one opposing argument made any sense to me, however. After slavery, where do the apologies stop?
Reach Editorial Editor Ben Windham at 205-722-0193 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
MY ARTICLE FROM A '97 ISSUE OF OLD TUSCALOOSA MAGAZINE:
JOHN MCKEE: INDIAN AGENT
By Robert Register
The memory of the frontier career of Colonel John McKee, Tuscaloosa's first U.S. Representative, can never be relegated to the shadows of oblivion shared by most of Alabama's pioneers. A mountain of documentation produced by almost forty years of McKee's public service in the old Southwest continue to await the biographer who will someday preserve McKee's memory for posterity.
Colonel McKee would certainly be unconcerned that his life had never been illuminated by American historical research.
Consider the Colonel's own words.
"...money is the subject of my story, and if they will, God bless them, give me but enough of that they may keep their honors for those who are more ambitious of them."
The grateful citizens of Tuscaloosa certainly spared no expense in honoring Colonel McKee at his retirement party held at the Eagle Hotel on May 19, 1829. The Tuscaloosans were eating high on the hog and they were well aware that Colonel McKee held responsibility for much of their good fortune. For eight years, ever since he opened Tuscaloosa's Land Office and sold the first lots in 1821, John McKee had had his finger in the pie. Some of the men in the audience at this public dinner in the Eagle Hotel had fathers who had received their Revolutionary War & War of 1812 pensions with McKee's help while he served in Washington as their congressman from 1822 to 1828. The property deeds that many of these men held were received from Colonel McKee in 1821. This real estate certainly turned out to be a good investment.
At the time of the dinner, in the spring of 1829, Tuscaloosa had been Alabama's capitol for more than two years.
This party hosted by the men of a grateful city raised their glasses forty-two times for the toasts that preceeded sitting down to have dinner with the Colonel. Toast #11 was drunk to "The University of Alabama- may is indeed become the cradle of genius and the abode of science."
Colonel McKee himself led the congregation at the end of Toast #6. The old colonel raised his cup to "The citizens of Tuscaloosa- may wealth reward their industry and enterprise, and health and happiness surround their firesides."
Tuscaloosa's leaders were reminded of something very important as Colonel McKee stood at the head of the table to address them. This old man in his blue swallowtail coat held himself up with the assistance of a knotted hickory walking stick. Each of the stick's thirteen knots held a silver plate onto which a letter had been engraved. Together the thirteen silver letters spelled "ANDREW JACKSON."
The first year of Jackson's presidency was 1829 and the Tuscaloosans looked forward to seeing Old Hickory put the tariff-loving Yankees in their place. Jackson also promised to fix the "Indian Problem" once and for all.
Three years after his retirement party, McKee's body, weakened by decades of frontier living, gave up the ghost at his plantation home, Hill of Howth, near Boligee in Greene County. In its obituary THE GREENE COUNTY GAZETTE stated: "With the earlier history of Colonel McKee's life we are unacquainted..."
In this newspaper obituary from August of 1832 we begin to find evidence that a collective amnesia concerning their frontier origins had already begun to cloud the thinking of Alabama's citizens. To consider Colonel McKee's earlier career would force Alabama's men to consume a bitter pill of history. Not only would they have to recall the long forgotten memories of abandoned Indian wives and children, they would also have to face the unpleasant fact that the negotiations that produced the civilization they and their fathers had founded, were based on three elements:
alcoholic intoxication, intimidation and bribery.
John McKee knew this better than anyone else. McKee's influence was ubiquitous throughout many affairs of the Southern Indians from 1792 until his death in 1832. Colonel McKee may have been an honorable man, but the frontier world he lived in was anything but honorable. The records of the Colonel are a window into the destruction of every Southern Indian nation; the Cherokee, the Chickasaw, the Choctaw and the Creek. Through his life one can know the complete historical record of the decline of the Southern Indian, yet a comprehensive analysis of the Colonel's life has never been written. The light that this yet unwritten biography would shed upon our forgotten past would certainly be appreciated by an American public that treasures a legacy which has shown the world that self-government is possible. Regardless of the psychic trauma that certain unpleasant details about our origins might produce, this history continues to influence continues to influence us in the present day.
John McKee's life with the Indians began in 1791 during General George Washington's presidency when William Blount, Governor of the territory south of the Ohio, appointed him to survey the Cherokee boundary from Clinch River to Chilhowee Mountain according to the Treaty of Holston, July 2, 1791. Educated at Liberty Hall Academy, now Washington and Lee University, the twenty-year-old McKee began to apply the lessons he learned in this log schoolhouse near the Shenandoah Valley town of Lexington, Virginia. To go along with his surveying skills, McKee began to acquire a mastery of Indian languages by utilizing the most renowned of all foreign language classrooms:
the marriage bed.
According to a written notation made by "E.A." in the margin of page 508 of the book A HISTORY OF ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY VIRGINIA, McKee "...married a half-breed Chicasaw[sic], birth of a daughter Alzira is recorded in a notebook preserved from 1794."
Elizabeth Archibald, in her essay on McKee, states that, "Papers preserved from his days as a Congressman show John McKee burdened with a son, Alexander..." This child was also likely the result of McKee's relationship with an Indian woman. According to THE DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY, McKee "...was said to have been legally married to an Indian wife, and he provided that after his death, his friend and heir, William P. Gould, should make a quarterly payment in gold to his half-breed son." A nineteenth century biographical summary of Colonel McKee indicates that McKee died a bachelor. There's much evidence that McKee himself distanced himself from his Indian family after his entrance into politics in 1821. An example comes from the recollections of George Strother Gaines. Gaines wrote that in the early 1820s McKee mediated a Choctaw conflict a the Choctaw Indian Trading House near Epes in Sumter County. During the negotiations, Greenwood Leflore, Choctaw chief and namesake of Greenwood, Mississippi, told Gaines, "Colonel McKee has become a stranger to the Indians and cannot be expected to feel as much interest in their well doing as you feel."
This occurred thirty years after McKee's entry into Indian affairs.
In February 1793 McKee received his first opportunity to apply his mastery of Indian language when Governor Blount appointed him to head a peace mission to the Cherokees. These negotiations initiated McKee's career as an Indian agent. On page 12 of the first volume of THE CORRESPONDENCE OF ANDREW JACKSON,these words are found in a letter from Jackson to McKee dated January 30, 1793:
"One question I would beg leave to ask, why do we now attempt to hold a Treaty with them [i.e. the Cherokees]; have they attended to the last Treaty; I answer in the negative then why do we attempt to Treat with [a] Savage tribe that will neither adhere to Treaties, nor the law of Nations upon these particulars. I would thank you for your sentiments in your next [letter]."
McKee certainly learned how to "Treat with the Savage Tribe." Over the next thirty years, at one time or another, McKee served as U.S. agent to the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations. He applied a persuasive argument in his negotiations with Indian leaders. After lubricating the chiefs' tongues by applying copious amounts of rum, McKee would ply the Indians for information and then ask them this rather pointed question when the Indians began to gripe about losing their land:
"Did you ever know Indians to recover land by war? Have you not observed that war is invariably followed by loss of land?"
With this argument McKee was able to talk the Choctaws and Chickasaws out of joining the Creeks during the War of 1812. In fact, the only action the Chickasaw tribe saw during the entire war was with McKee. They accompanied him on his expedition which destroyed all that remained of Black Warrior's Town located near present-day Tuscaloosa.
In his last years in Tuscaloosa, McKee showed evidence that he had mastered personal control over the demon rum. According to William R. Smith, McKee allowed himself only one drink per day. The occasion of this single daily libation by the Colonel turned into a sort of community ritual. McKee's rule was to take his daily drink at noon in Travis' saloon which was located at the intersection of University Boulevard and 23rd Avenue. Smith described what he saw each day when he was a ten-year-old boy growing up in Tuscaloosa:
"...when he [McKee] reached the steps he would invariably stop, pull out his watch, and go in, or not as the pointers of the watch directed; if it lacked one or more minutes of the exact period, he would walk up and down in front until the time should come...When the Colonel entered the saloon, the boys of the town would yell,'IN HE GOES; IT IS EXACTLY 12!'"
Colonel McKee's plantation home in Boligee stood until the death of John McKee Gould, Jr. in 1944. Timbers from the demolished "Hill of Howth" plantation home were used to build a relative's home between Eutaw and Greensboro. Today nothing remains on the site of McKee's 1816 home, the first house ever built by a U.S. citizen in what is now Greene County. This quiet hill where the Choctaws showed McKee springs that never ran dry has now returned to the forest. The springs at the foot of "Hill of Howth" still flow and the muck that surrounds these flowing waters produces the only evidence of human occupation. Glass bottles, left by one hundred thirty eight years of continuous human occupation, glisten as the visitor washes off the mud that covers them. Maybe someday, like these old bottles, a light will shine once more on the life of one of early Tuscaloosa's most important citizens:
COLONEL JOHN MCKEE.