The US government has a long history of conflict with Native Americans. In 1832, this conflict resulted in the Black Hawk War, which was fought over land in Illinois. Learn about the major events of the Black Hawk War, and then test yourself.

Before the War

The United States government and Native Americans have a long history of miscommunication and unfair agreements; The Black Hawk War of 1832 began in much the same way. In 1804, the US government signed the Treaty of 1804 (also known as the Treaty of St. Louis) with four members of the Sauk and Fox tribes. The treaty gave the tribes $1,000 a year and several other gifts in exchange for all their land east of the Mississippi River. $1,000 might not sound like a lot of money, and it isn’t: When you adjust for inflation, that amount becomes about $15,000 today.

However, money was not an issue in this deal. The chiefs of the Sock and Fox tribes claimed that the members of the tribe making the deal were not leaders and were not allowed to make the treaty. But in the eyes of the US government, the treaty was valid and they planned to enforce it. Tribes were allowed to live on the land until the government was able to sell it to white people; The land was mostly free of settlers until after the War of 1812. However, by the 1820s, an influx of settlers had moved into the area, and many Native Americans had left their homes to move west of the Mississippi.


This conflict, although it took place before the settlement of Whiteside County, has had a significant impact on its history. It was the fertile valley of the Rock River that the old Sardar and his bravehearts wanted to take back, which was the reason for the war. As noted above, Black Hawk returned to the east coast of the Mississippi before 1832, but during the early part of that year he made the most concerted and desperate attempt to regain his beloved country and which he Supposedly he was unfairly denied. There is much speculation about Black Hawk’s motives in returning to Illinois, with many claiming that he only came to obtain food for his tribe, and not with hostile intentions. Appearing on Black Hawk with his force on this coast of the Mississippi, a large army rose at once and marched against him. On the evening of May 14, 1832, the first engagement between the army and the Black Hawk’s band took place, with the former being defeated.

This attack and its aftermath woke up the whites. A large force of men was raised, and General Scott arrived from the seaside via Lakes, with United States troops and artillery to aid in the subjugation of the Indians. On June 24, Black Hawk, accompanied by 200 warriors, was driven between the Rock River and Galena by Major Demont. American forces continued to advance up the Rock River towards the main body of the Indians, and on July 21 came upon Black Hawk and his band, and defeated them near Blue Mound.

Black Hawk, with twenty of his bravehearts, retreated to the Wisconsin River. The Winnebagos, wanting to gain the friendship of the whites, were pursued and captured and handed over to United States Indian agent Jane Street. Among the prisoners was the son of Black Hawk and the prophet of the tribe. With the Black Hawk, he was sent to Washington, D.C. were taken and soon sent as prisoners to Fort Monroe.

In the interview with the Black Hawk president, he concluded his speech on the occasion with the following words: “We didn’t expect the whites to conquer. They have too many houses, too many men. For the part, to avenge the injuries that my men could no longer bear. If I had endured them longer without being hit, my men would have said, “Black Hawk is a woman; He is too old to be the chief; He is not a sack.’ These reflections inspired me to take up the battlefield. I say no more. This is known to you. Keokak was once here; You took his hand, and when he wanted to return home, you obeyed. Black Hawk hopes, like Kiokuk, he will be allowed to return.”

After his release from prison, he was held in charge of Major Garland through some major cities, to see the power of the United States and learn of his inability to deal with them in battle. Wherever he was taken, a large crowd gathered to see him, and his attention was made a triumphant procession through the country instead of an officer carrying the prisoners. In the midst of a great and impressive ceremony, the prisoners at Rock Island were granted their freedom. In 1838 the Black Hawk built them a residence near Des Moines, Iowa, furnishing it according to the manner of the Whites, and engaged in agricultural pursuits and hunting and fishing. Here, with the wife to whom he was very much attached, he spent the remaining days of his life. To his credit, it can be said that Black Hawk remained true to his wife, and served her unusually among Indians, living with her for upwards of 40 years.

In September, 1838, on his way to Rock Island to receive his annuity from the government, he contracted a severe cold, resulting in a fatal attack of gall fever, and his life was ended October 3. He was clothed after his death. The uniform was presented to him by the President in Washington. He was buried in a grave six feet deep, which is situated on a beautiful reputation. The body was placed in a sitting posture in the middle of the grave, on a seat made for that purpose. To his left was held upright a cane given to him by Henry Clay, on which his right hand rested. Thus, after a long, adventurous and changeable life, the Black Hawks gathered around their father.

The Corn Treaty

In the summer of 1831, Black Hawk and about 1,000 sock and fox moved back to Illinois, but found their aboriginal home filled with white settlers. General Edward Gaines, a local military leader, considered the Black Hawk’s withdrawal an invasion. In fact, Black Hawk just wanted to come back to his home so Sock and Fox could plant and harvest crops so they could survive the winter, not to start a struggle. Gaines, with a militia of about 700 men, forced Sauk and Fox to withdraw to the Mississippi. To add insult to injury, Black Hawk was forced to sign the Articles of Agreement and Surrender, also known as the Corn Treaty, which stated:

  • Black Hawk and his men will stop crossing the Mississippi River
  • Sock and Fox will stop going to British trading positions in Canada
  • Black Hawk had to submit to Keokuki, the other souk leader.

You’re probably wondering where the ‘corn’ part of the corn treaty comes from. In addition to outlining what the Black Hawk and the tribes were not allowed to do, the treaty also promised the tribes that the government would provide them with enough corn to survive. in the winter because they were no longer allowed to harvest their crops east of the Mississippi River.

Crossing into Illinois

The Black Hawk and the tribesmen quickly realized that the corn promised to them in the treaty was nowhere near enough to get them through the winter. With about 1,000 followers, Black Hawk decided to re-enter Illinois in April 1832 so that he and his men could dine and harvest. White settlers in Illinois panicked when Native Americans showed up and automatically assumed they were there to take a fight. Black Hawk was instructed to leave immediately by the US military, but he refused and did his best to communicate his peaceful intentions.

The band of Native Americans moved north to start farming. In May, the Black Hawk realized they were being pursued by a militia of about 1,600 and thought it would be a smart idea to send a small delegation of Sauk to let the militia know that they were at no harm. The Three Souks approached the militia waving the peace flag, but the militia did not understand what they were trying to do. They opened fire on three people, in which one was killed and two others were captured. Five other souks witnessed the incident and tried to communicate their peaceful intentions, but met with the same result. Sauk who managed to escape from the militia ran back to Black Hawk and told him what had happened.


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