JACKSON, Andrew (1767-1845), President. Letter signed ("Andrew Jackson"), to Dr. W. Wynne, Fort Jackson, [AL], 22 July 1814. 1 page, 4to (10 x 8 in.), integral address leaf, browned, mat burn.
JACKSON'S COMPASSION FOR A "DISTRESSED INDIAN GIRL," DURING THE CREEK INDIAN CAMPAIGN
Jackson, writing from the frontier in the midst of his military campaign against the Creek Indians during the War of 1812, expresses concern for a distressed Indian girl. Jackson's experience on the Tennessee frontier had convinced him that the Indian presence was an obstacle to the growth of the nation and a threat to the lives of settlers. He believed that the threat and use of force were the only effective means to curb Indian depredations.
While maintaining this harsh policy in his campaigns against the Creeks and other tribes, Jackson ironically showed surprising compassion for innocent individuals caught up in the bloody warfare. After a brutal attack upon the Creek village of Tallushatchee in the early phase of the war, a ten-month-old infant boy was found in the arms of his dead mother. When the child was brought to Jackson's Headquarters, the General was moved by the memory of the childhood loss of his family during the Revolution. The child, named Lyncoya, by Jackson, was sent to the Hermitage where he would be raised as an adopted son. Jackson assured that the boy had every advantage, including education, and when Lyncoya contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 17 in 1828, Jackson and his wife Rachel mourned him "as a favorite son...they always spoke of him with paternal affection" (Remini, p. 194).
Here, Jackson displays a similar sympathy for a young orphan that Wynne, surgeon to Pipkin's Regiment of Tennessee Militia, had written to him about. "Sensibility to the distresses of the unfortunate, is a characteristic of worth. Your attention to the distressed indian girl, mentioned in yours of the 17th inst. is duly appreciated: I desire that you will continue those attentions as honorable to your feelings, until an order can be taken touching her future disposition."
Jackson's displays of deep compassion seem oddly inconsistent with his uncompromising ferocity on the battlefield towards the native American tribes, and his relentless enforcement of the policy of Indian removal, with tragic results, during his Presidency.