Letter from John Blunt to William S. Pope, May 3, 1833

From: the Pope Family, Papers, ca. 1820-1918, Collection N2007-1, Box 1

Letter from John Blunt to William S. Pope, May 3, 1833

About This Document

Creek Indian society underwent significant changes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Among these were the introduction of African slavery, the movement of some individuals away from communal property and towards private land ownership, and the emergence of nativist religious leaders committed to purging these outside influences from their culture.

John Blunt (or Blount), for whom Blountstown, Florida, is named, was a product of these times. Born to a Creek mother and European father sometime in the mid-18th century, the mestizo Blunt grew up in Tuckabatchee, a large Upper Creek town located on the Tallapoosa River in what is now central Alabama. Considered an important town in the Creek Confederacy, Tuckabatchee was home to Big Warrior, a principal leader of the Creeks until his death in the 1820s.

When a civil war erupted in the Creek Country in 1813, known as either the Red Stick War or the Creek War, Blunt joined the side friendly to the United States. The so-called “friendly” Creeks opposed the Red Stick faction of the tribe, who were determined to expel white influence from their culture and revive native ways. Blunt fought alongside Andrew Jackson’s troops and more than 1,000 friendly Creek warriors in the decisive battle of the Red Stick War at Horseshoe Bend in March 1814.

In 1816, Blunt again joined the Americans in the destruction of the Negro Fort, located on Prospect Bluff 16 miles upstream from the mouth of the Apalachicola River. After expelling the hostile Creeks, Seminoles, and their African allies from the region, Blunt and hundreds of other friendly Creeks appropriated land along the fertile river, and thereafter became known as Apalachicola Indians. Blunt’s loyalty to the Americans continued during the First Seminole War (1816-1818) when his people participated in the destruction of Seminole and black Seminole towns from the Red Hills to the Suwannee River.

Because of his loyalty to the Americans, Blunt and other Apalachicola Indians received special concessions in the Treaty of Moultrie Creek (1823). The treaty reserved land in Central Florida for the Seminoles and dictated that all Florida Indians must relocate to the reservation. When faced with the prospect of moving, Blunt and the Apalachicolas refused and pleaded to remain in the Panhandle. In the end, the Americans agreed and created separate reservations along the Apalachicola River.

Despite his long-standing cooperation with the Americans, Blunt faced a series of problems in the decade following the Treaty of Moultrie Creek. White settlers from Georgia, Alabama and Florida repeatedly harassed the Apalachicolas, stealing their livestock and slaves. Officials seemed powerless or unwilling to stop these raids on the Apalachicola reservations. The letter below represents one instance of violence and theft committed against Blunt and his family. In the letter, Blunt pleads with the local Indian agent, Judge William S. Pope, to apprehend the attackers and secure the return of his property.

By the early 1830s, Blunt and his followers determined that leaving Florida offered their only opportunity to live in peace. On October 11, 1832, continued tensions with whites encroaching on the Apalachicola reservation compelled Blunt to cede his land to the United States. The Apalachicola Indians agreed to emigrate west of the Mississippi River and hoped to eventually settle along the Trinity River in Texas. After several aborted attempts, Blunt and other principal leaders of the Apalachicola Indians left Florida in late 1833 and early 1834. The last Apalachicola Indians hung on until October 1838 before being removed to Indian Territory.

Blunt penned this letter during a tumultuous time for Native southerners. The emergence of the United States and plans to civilize the southeastern Indians in order to resolve the Indian Problem led to serious internal divisions among tribes throughout the region. In the end, whether traditionalist or friendly towards the Americans, by the 1850s, the United States government had removed the vast majority of southeastern Indians to the Indian Territory.

Transcript

[Page one]

H.E. Pope,
Postmaster.

Sneads, FLA.,
Blountstown May 3 1833

Judge Pope

My dear Agent and friend on Tuesday last I went to the woods to gather my cattle Thought all friends white man red man and black man. That night two white men come to my house took my axe broke my door down took my money all. All my clothes, two trunks with all Mrs. Blunts clothes with a large amount of domesticks, as our agent please come down as soon as you receive this. My wife saw the men & I know them as well as any member of my family. Some of my white friends think if you will come immediately that ways and means might be adjudged so that I might apart or perhaps two thirds of my money If you do not come immediately the men will go off before they can be brought to justice or I get my money or clothes