Helen Hunt Jackson 2-2-24b transcription
Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0156, Box 2, Folder 24b, two letters
from Samuel Bowles to HHJ concerning Susette LaFleshe, also known as "Bright
Eyes" or Inshta Theumba, 1881.
[Letterhead] The Republican, Springfield Mass.
Dear Mrs. Jackson:
I am not sure that you will be satisfied with the paragraphs that I have made concerning Bright Eyes in this morning's Republican.
I am sorry that the correspondent said what he did about the girl, because true or false, its effect will be to hurt the cause of the Indian as against the imposition and injustice of the white man. Even if Bright Eyes were the greatest liar that ever lived, that would never excuse us for wronging the red men as the Poncas have been wronged. The Republican has been, and is, in hearty sympathy with the friends of the Poncas and has done what it could to secure these Indians their rights before the law.
It has even sharply criticised the course of Secretary Schurz who is our political and personal friend, and in whose integrity and good purposes, I must say, I have entire faith.
The charges against Bright Eyes as printed in the letter were not mere stores of the street at Washington, but came from high authority at first hand. Our correspondent is not a careless or a wanton person; quite the contrary. I always feel even that he has duly weighed and carefully investigated whatever he writes about.
Quite likely your reports of what happened at Washington are true and our correspondent's informers are mistaken, but taking a personal knowledge of the case, I did not think it would be right to say more than was said this morning in contradiction of our original report.
If I can hereafter say more on behalf of Miss La Fleshe I shall be only too glad to do so. I would not knowingly accuse unjustly or allow those under me to accuse any woman, whatever her race or condition.
In one view of it this intensity of feeling over the Ponca case on both sides is unfortunate, but in a larger, broader sense it is healthy and will be, I believe, productive of good to the red men of all tribes. I am glad to see people so thoroughly aroused, through the intemperance and pessimism with which the of custom has been discussed makes it difficult for the journalist to get at the exact truth.
With cordial regards I am
Yours very truly
Dear Mrs. Jackson:
I have sent you several copies of the Republican in care of Roberts Bros. and am sorry you have not received them.
I now enclose several cuttings: I. Our Boston letter of Sunday in which is given quite fully the Bright Eyes version of this affair; II. Every editorial paragraph, III. Part of a new letter from Washington, in which our correspondent re-states and enforces his case, by showing , or clarifying, that the young woman could have seen her friends on Sunday without Mrs [Chalfant's?] assistance and I am confident that he could not make this claim unless he knew whereof he was writing.
I t seems to me there is simply an unfortunate misunderstanding at the bottom of the whole matter. I do not believe that Schurz or his agents intended to deny Bright Eyes an interview with her relative, but I have no doubt that she thought from not being able to see him on Saturday that she was not to be permitted to see him at all, until after the treaty was signed. It was very wrong and foolish to say that the girl's story was a lie, when it merely grew out of a misunderstanding.
But, as you said in your first letter, bad blood has been started on both sides. Schurz was angry and consequently indiscreet. I hope the whole controversy about Bright Eyes will be dropped; it can do no good to anybody to keep it up. We shall print an editorial on the subject tomorrow, which I think you will regard as sensible, explaining that there has been a misunderstanding and mistake in this matter, and insisting on the consideration of the real issues that have been raised by the Ponca trouble.
If you think it wise to go on hurting Schurz I cannot object to your using my statement as to our correspondents authority.
maintained by Special Collections; last revised, 6-2003, jr