Introduction to Special Collections & Archives
Special Collections & Archives is a department of the Bowdoin College Library that houses rare books, manuscripts, and the College Archives.
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“I Will Fight No More Forever” speech, October 5, 1877. Published in Harper’s Weekly (November 17, 1877). Words spoken by Chief Joseph, interpreted by Arthur Chapman, and transcribed by C.E.S. Wood.
Tell General Howard that I know his heart. What he told me before I have in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead, Tu-hul-hil-sote is dead. the old men are all dead. It is the young men who now say yes or no. He who led the young men is dead. It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people -- some of them have run away to the hills and have no blankets and no food. No one knows where they are -- perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs, my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more against the white man.
Oliver Otis Howard (1830-1909, Bowdoin 1850), a career officer in the United States Army, rose to the rank of bvt. maj. general in the volunteers and, later, in the regular army. During the Civil War, he fought at Bull Run, Fair Oaks, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, and in Sherman's march through Georgia. After the Civil War, Howard was appointed commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (1865-1873). Subsequent appointments included: commander of the Department of the Columbia (1874-1880) during the Nez Perce War; superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point (1880-1882); commander of the Department of the Platte (1882-1886) and the Divisions of the Pacific (1886-1888) and the East (1888-1894). His papers are held in SC&A.
Hinmatonyalatkit, or Chief Joseph, was born in Wallowa Valley, Oregon, the ancestral territory of the Nez Percé, he was the son of a chief who had converted to Christianity. In the early 1860s gold was discovered on Nez Percé lands, and the US government attempted to renegotiate earlier treaties to deprive Joseph's people of their homeland. In 1871, on the death of his father, Joseph became one of the leaders of a Nez Percé band that refused to accept the new treaty. He counselled peace, but when his braves killed several white settlers, US troops were sent to capture the band (1877). After a series of battles and skirmishes the Nez Percé were forced to retreat. Joseph led about 750 of his people on a 2,400-km (1,500-mile) journey across four states, fighting off pursuing US troops who greatly outnumbered them and twice crossing the Rockies. He nearly completed his plan of leading them into safety in Canada, but when they stopped to rest about 50km (30 miles) from the border, they were surrounded by fresh troops under General Nelson A Miles. He and his people were sent to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), and he died in the Colville Indian Reservation, Washington.
<<< O. O. Howard with Chief Joseph at the Carlisle Indian School, 1904.