Who’s the barbarian?

DOI Secretary Columbus Delano

Columbus Delano

The Secretary of the Department of the Interior, from 1870 to 1875, was Columbus Delano.  A native of Shoreham, Vermont, he practiced law before entering politics in 1844.

In 1869, President Ulysses Grant hired Delano as the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.  In November 1870, Grant reassigned him to the position of Secretary, Department of the Interior.  Scandal at DOI precipitated Delano’s departure five years later.

During Delano’s second year at Interior, his annual departmental report to President Grant included observations on progress being made to civilize indigenous people.  Among those observations were the following:

“We are assuming, and I think with propriety, that our civilization ought to take the place of their barbarous habits.  We therefore claim the right to control the soil which they occupy, and we assume that it is our duty to coerce them, if necessary, into the adoption and practice of our habits and customs.”

(Source:  Report of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Columbus Delano, 31 October 1872, House Executive Document 1(42-3), Part 5, being Part of the Message and Documents at the Beginning of the third Session of the Forty-Second Congress, vol. 1, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1872, pp 1-9, Oklahoma Dept. of Libraries.)

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1 Comment »

  1. Steve Beleu Said:

    You can examine this historic document and the other documents that vehoae used to write her book at the Oklahoma Dept. of Libraries, U.S. Govt. Information Division, 200 N.E. 18th St., OKC. Open Monday – Friday, 8:00 to 5:00. Reading the primary sources that our federal govt. published in the 1800’s is better than reading any standard history texts that quote only secondary sources rather than the original, primary sources like vehoae did. Come to ODL and read the same primary sources that she used for this period of our national history or for other periods of our history.


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