"The Trial of Red Jacket" by John Mix Stanley
- John Mix Stanley, Artist
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- A print of Red Jacket (ca. 1750-20 Jan. 1830) speaking to a group of natives. It is likely titled “The Trial of Red Jacket” and was originally painted in 1869. An inscription on the left lower corner reads: “Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1871 by John M. Stanley in the clerk’s office of the eastern district of Michigan”. The paper is affixed to linen and is on a stretcher.
Red Jacket was a Seneca chief who became a leader of his nation during the American Revolution. Allied to the British, the Seneca found themselves on the losing side at the end of hostilities. From a weakened position, Red Jacket emerged as a negotiator and speaker rather than a warrior, to the consternation of many among the tribe. In 1792 he led a delegation of 50 Natives to Philadelphia where he met George Washington and received a large peace medal and was shown shaking hands with the first president. As in this scene, Red Jacket is always portrayed wearing this medal. Nevertheless, in 1801 after defending Seneca tribal ways, which included rejection of Christianity, he was brought to trial for witchcraft by fellow tribesmen. His oratory provided a successful defense, and he emerged from the trial as a leader who preserved Seneca lands that included a reservation in the area of present-day Buffalo, New York. He and his tribe fought on the American side during the War of 1812, and that participation enabled the Seneca to retain their land for years after the death of this noble leader.
It is known from documents in the LLB collection that Red Jacket was on the US pay roll of the Corps of Indian Volunteers during the occupation of Niagara by American forces and received his pay at Fort George (12 August 1813 - 11 September 1813).
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- Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rightsholder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
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- Image courtesy of the Niagara Historical Society & Museum
- Please contact the Niagara Historical Society & Museum for any reproductions of this image.
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