117. Fort Payne: Black Hawk

Photograph of Black Hawk
Painting of Black Hawk
Within two months of Fort Payne’s completion, Black Hawk surrendered to U.S. military officials in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. In his surrender speech, he voiced the desperate conditions that led to his return to Illinois and the war that ensued: “The sun rose dim on us in the morning, and, at night, it sank in a dark cloud, and looked like a ball of fire. That was the last sun that shone on Blackhawk. His heart is dead… he is now a prisoner of the white men. He has done nothing wrong, for which an Indian ought to be ashamed…. He has fought for his countrymen against white men who came, year after year, to cheat them, and take away their lands. You know the cause of making war. It is known to all white men…. The white man speaks bad of the Indian, and looks at him spitefully. But the Indian does not tell lies; Indians do not steal. We were not safe. We lived in danger. We went to our father the President of the United States…. His great council gave us fair words and big promises, but we obtained no satisfaction, things were growing worse…. the springs were drying up, and our people were without victuals to keep them from starving.”