76 Biography

Tecumseh was born around 1768 in modern-day Ohio to a Shawnee family.[1] He grew up during the French and Indian War, in which his father, a minor war chief, was killed. Outrage at the ever-encroaching settlers and at his father’s death pushed Tecumseh to become a strong and fierce warrior. In his teen years, he joined the American Indian Confederacy and fought with other famous leaders like Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant, Blue Jacket and Little Turtle.[2] These groups shaped Tecumseh with pan native ideas, which would become a trademark of his life. He fought with the Confederacy through victory over St. Clair’s army, and defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. He refused to be a part of peace negotiations that followed the loss, and he spoke against chiefs that signed away more land.[3] His outrage at settlers continual pushing led to a new resistance movement, and he began gathering forces. In the early 1800’s Tecumseh joined his brother, who had become a religious leader preaching the rejection of the white colonist’s culture through native unity. Tecumseh latched on to this movement to promote his ideas of pan-native action in a more militant form.[4] In 1809, while Tecumseh was away, their home-base at Prophet’s Town/Tippecanoe was attacked under the direction of Governor William Henry Harrison. Bitter, Tecumseh sided with the British in the War of 1812, and his military tactics helped successfully hold Detroit. In 1813 Tecumseh was killed in the Battle of the Thames, also killing his movement.[5] The spirit of native unity that he carried sputtered out. He produced few works, mostly consisting of speeches promoting native unity and the protection of native lands. Tecumseh is often an overlooked figure, though he had a massive impact on the history of the time. Though his work and impact have been explored more today, there is still little scholarship done on Tecumseh.

[1] “Tecumseh.” Tecumseh – Ohio History Central, Ohio History Connection, www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Tecumseh.

[2] “Tecumseh”, Ohio Historical Connection

[3] “Treaty of Greenville (1795).” Treaty of Greenville (1795) – Ohio History Central, Ohio History Connection, www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Treaty_of_Greenville_(1795).

[4] “Tecumseh’s Confederation.” Tecumseh’s Confederation – Ohio History Central, Ohio History Connection, www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Tecumseh%27s_Confederation.

[5] “Battle of the Thames.” Battle of the Thames – Ohio History Central, Ohio History Connection, www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Battle_of_the_Thames.

 

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Biography by Timothy Robbins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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