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Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple - Crusader for Fair Treatment of Indians - Circa 1863

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posted by Paul Taylor alias civilwar3dhighdefwidescreen on Wednesday 2nd of December 2020 04:09:00 PM

From a Minnesota photo album (see below at bottom of page) a high-res scan of an original carte de visite (Cdv) of Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple (1822 - 1901). This particular Cdv has no identification on it, but there are many photos of Bishop Whipple on the web and the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) has this same image in its online collection. Published in the 1860's, this image is now in the public domain. From Wikipedia, a couple brief extracts on Bishop Whipple: "On June 30, 1859, Whipple was elected the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, an office he held until his death more than forty years later....During his episcopate, Whipple guided the development of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota from a few missionary parishes to a flourishing and prosperous diocese. For many years, especially during the first two decades of his episcopate, he made regular missionary sojourns by wagon or coach through the rural areas of the state, often in mid-winter, preaching in cabins, school houses, stores, saloons, and Indian villages. Until the diocese was financially secure, he pledged himself to personally support several of its missionary clergy and assumed many other financial obligations of the church." ".....Although concerned with establishing his denomination in the new state of Minnesota, Whipple soon began to champion the cause of Native American groups in the state against what he saw as an abusive and corrupt Federal policy towards Indians. He is best known for his clemency pleas in favor of a group of Dakota or Sioux who fought against the United States government in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 in the area around New Ulm, Minnesota. On December 26, 1862, the largest mass execution in U.S. history occurred in Mankato following the war's end. Thirty-eight Dakota Amerindians were hanged for participation in the conflict. A total of 303 were sentenced to be hanged but President Lincoln pardoned 265 at Whipple's urging...He was referred to as "Straight Tongue" by Dakota Indians because of his honesty in dealing with them." Below, are some interesting extracts from his autobiography, "Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate, Being Reminiscences and Recollections of the Right Reverend Henry Benjamin Whipple, D.D., LL.D. Bishop of Minnesota," published in 1899 and available for free download at: ------------------------ [Whipple's ancestry from Page 1] “I WAS born in Adams, Jefferson County, New York. I have paid little attention to the subject of genealogy, but I account it a cause for gratitude that, so far as I know the history of my family, it has numbered a goodly line of God-fearing men and women who have been loyal and useful in their devotion to Church and State. Sixteen of my kinsfolk were officers in the Colonial and Revolutionary wars. Brigadier-General Whipple was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The mother of Stephen Hopkins, another signer of the Declaration, was a Whipple. My grandfather, Benjamin Whipple, was in the navy of the American Revolution, which was then in its infancy but honored for the heroic bravery of Paul Jones and his associates. He was taken prisoner and confined in the prison-ship Jersey, and came out of it a paralytic. My father, John H. Whipple, was born in Albany, New York. He was baptized in St. Peter's Church of that city, and in the year 1820 married Elizabeth, daughter of the Hon. Henry Wager, one of the electors of Thomas Jefferson….” ------------------------------ [From Pages 65-67, his reaction to coming upon a Sioux "scalp-dance," and the chief's response to Whipple; Whipple's thoughts on slavery, secession, and a Southern sympathizer.] “….On one of my visits I found a scalp-dance going on in front of the Mission House. I had just come from the Chippewa country, and had heard that the Sioux had killed one of their people. Indignant at the brutal sight, I took our interpreter, Thomas Robertson, and went to see the chief. I said, "Wabasha, you asked me for a school and a mission. I come to visit you and I see in front of the Mission House a horrible scalp-dance. I know the man who was killed; he had a wife and children; the wife is asking for her husband; the children are asking for their father. Wabasha, the Great Spirit is angry! Some day He will look Wabasha in the face and ask him for his red brother." The chief was smoking, but when I had finished he took his pipe from his mouth, and slowly blowing a cloud of smoke into the air said: "White man go to war with his own brother; kills more men than Wabasha can count all his life. Great Spirit look down and says, 'Good white man; he has My Book; I have good home for him by and by.' Dakota has no Great Spirit's Book; he goes to war, kills one man, has a foolish scalp-dance; Great Spirit very angry. Wabasha doesn’t believe it!" In the autumn of 1860 I went to Washington to plead for justice to these red men. I had letters from J. K. Sass, President of the Bank of Charleston, to a prominent Southern statesman upon whom I called with the Rev. Dr. Charles H. Hall, rector of the Church of the Epiphany. In response to my pleas this government official said : — "Bishop, we cannot help you. Mr. Lincoln will be elected President, and the South will go out of the Union. South Carolina will secede first and other states will follow. You will have to seek justice for your Indians from the Northern Government." "Is it possible," I exclaimed, "that I hear a representative of the Government say that even its trusted servants are plotting for its destruction?" He smiled and replied, "You know we Southern men believe in the right of secession." "If you go out of the Union," said Dr. Hall, "it will be because God has permitted you to be stone-blind, and slavery will be doomed. It will be a righteous retribution. We have married men and women at the altar, and have separated them on the auction-block, and Christian men have not dared to call it a sin.” Two years after this, in the middle of the Civil War, I was the guest of my cousin. General Halleck. Mr. Stanton, the Secretary of War, came in one evening, and after speaking with some bitterness of the secessionists in Washington remarked, "I was told to-day that Dr. Hall is a Southern sympathizer." I repeated Dr. Hall's words at the interview in 1860, at which Mr. Stanton expressed much surprise and exclaimed, "Did you hear that yourself, Bishop?" The next day I called upon Dr. Hall and told him that although I could not give him my reasons for believing it, I was confident that he possessed enemies who had informed the Government that he was a Southern sympathizer. Springing to his feet he exclaimed: "Bishop, excuse me a few minutes. I must go to the War Department immediately." This he did, sending word to Mr. Stanton that he wanted to see him for "exactly two minutes." Upon being admitted he said: "Mr. Stanton, I am a Southern man. I am a Southern sympathizer, and I should be a brute if I were not. My misguided friends are being killed. I am a Christian and loyal to the Government which keeps a roof over my head. When I cannot be loyal I will ask you to put me in Fort Lafayette. Is that satisfactory?" Mr. Stanton's answer was: "Dr. Hall, have you any pews to rent in your church ? If you have, you may count on me as a parishioner as long as I live in Washington." Mr. Stanton was a member of the Parish of the Epiphany until he died.” -------------------------------- [From pages 96-97, Whipple preaches to Minnesota Soldiers during the Civil War and visits General McClellan at Antietam.] "The frontier men were loyal-hearted, and when the Civil War came they were ready to give their lives for their country. When President Lincoln called for troops, the first regiment which was mustered in for three years' service was from Minnesota. General Sanford, United States Minister to Belgium, sent President Lincoln a battery of rifled cannon to be given to the first regiment mustered into service for three years which proved worthy of the gift ; and it was given to the First Regiment of United States Volunteers from Minnesota. I preached to the regiment, May 12, 1861, on the parade-ground at Fort Snelling, from the text, "If I forget thee, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning." It was one of the most solemn services of my life. I knew many of the men, and as I looked into their faces I knew that it would be the last time that I should tell them of the love of Jesus Christ. I was afterward elected chaplain of this regiment ; but, gratifying as was the expression of loving confidence, duty to my diocese compelled me to decline. I met the regiment again after the battle of Antietam. They had been placed at a point where the battle raged fiercest. The field was covered with the dead, and the stone house and barn hard by were filled with the wounded and dying. From one to another I went, with words of comfort and last prayers, and many a message of love and loyalty for home friends I carried away from those brave hearts…. I had known General McClellan when he was chief engineer of the Illinois Central Railway. He invited me to spend the night in his tent, and we conversed until long after midnight. When we parted he said, "Bishop, you do not know what a comfort it is in my care-worn life to have a good talk about holy things!" He paid a tribute to our Minnesota boys saying, "No general ever had a better regiment than the Minnesota First." --------------------------------- [Spotty extracts on the massacre of white settlers from pages 105 - 132] "August 18, 1862, the Sioux Indians began a massacre which desolated the entire western border of Minnesota. Eight hundred people were murdered. Many of these victims of savage vengeance had given me true-hearted hospitality, and my heart was filled with sorrow. I had feared an outbreak. Again and again I had said publicly that as certain as any fact of human history, a nation which sowed robbery would reap a harvest of blood. Thomas Jefferson said, " I tremble for the nation when I remember that God is just." In subsequent pages the causes of these Indian wars will be found….. ….This massacre led to a general war between the Sioux and the whites which lasted for over a year. The refugees from the two Agencies and our mission and many settlers were besieged for three weeks at Fort Ridgely, where there were no troops. The Indians were kept at bay by Captain John Whipple and Sergeant Jones. After three weeks of peril the beleaguered fort was relieved by Colonel Shehan, who had made a rapid march from Fort Ripley to Fort Ridgely, and the Indians then fled. The next terrible engagement was at Birch Coulee. A party of soldiers under Major Joseph Brown, of which Dr. J. W. Daniels was the surgeon, went out to bury the dead who had fallen victims in the massacre. They camped for the night at Birch Coulee, and at break of day they were surrounded by a large body of Indians, who opened fire upon the camp, and most of the command were killed or wounded. The next battle was at Round Lake, where the Indians were signally defeated. It was while the hostile Indians were engaged in this battle that the friendly Indians rescued the white captives, and after the battle delivered them to General Sibley…. A little later a large body of Indians surrendered to General Marshall. Three hundred were condemned to death by Military Court. The President commuted the sentences of all but thirty-nine, who were hanged at Mankato. The Rev. Dr. Riggs, who was present at the trial, said that it was conducted with haste and that forty men were tried in one day. An officer told me that one man was hanged for lying, the circumstances having been that the man, who was not at Yellow Medicine during the outbreak, boasted upon his return that he had killed Garvey, an Indian trader, with an arrow. "As we knew," said the officer, "that Garvey had been killed by a bullet, we hung the rascal." The marshal of the prison told the Rev. Dr. Knickerbacker and myself that a man was hanged by mistake. "The day after the execution," said the marshal, "I went to the prison to release a man who had been acquitted for saving a woman's life, but when I asked for him, the answer was, 'You hung him yesterday.' I could not bring back the redskin." ------------------------- Findagrave link: ------------------------- A Minnesota Photo Album: My friend Mike was browsing the "bargain-mart" community store at a senior living/retirement village where he found an antique photo album, containing 100 original Civil War era cdv's, a large portion of which bear back-stamps from Minnesota photo publishers. Mike was able to purchase the entire album for only $60.

Independence Day,
Independence Day 2,
Independence Mall,
Independence Day 3,
Independence University,
Independence Blue Cross,
Independence High School,
Independence Day Cast,

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  • Published 01.25.21
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