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Listen to the voice of duty, of honor, of nature and of your endangered country. Let us form one body, one heart, and defend to the last warrior our country, our homes, our liberty, and the graves of our fathers.

Tecumtha (or Tekamthi) (March 1768? – 5 October 1813), usually known as Tecumseh, was a Native American mystic, warrior, and military leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy that opposed the United States during Tecumseh's War and the War of 1812.


  • When the legends die, the dreams end; there is no more greatness.
    • Quoted as a statement of Tecumseh in Inspire! : What Great Leaders Do (2004) by Lance H. K. Secretan, p. 67; but also often quoted as an anonymous Shawnee proverb, as in The Soul Would Have No Rainbow If The Eyes Had No Tears (1994) by Guy A. Zona, p. 45
  • So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.


"Let the White Race Perish" (October 1811)[edit]

  • The Muscogee was once a mighty people. The Georgians trembled at your war-whoop, and the maidens of my tribe, on the distant lakes, sung the prowess of your warriors and sighed for their embraces. Now your very blood is white; your tomahawks have no edge; your bows and arrows were buried with your fathers. Oh! Muscogees, brethren of my mother, brush from your eyelids the sleep of slavery; once more strike for vengeance; once more for your country. The spirits of the mighty dead complain. Their tears drop from the weeping skies. Let the white race perish! They seize your land, they corrupt your women, they trample on your dead! Back! whence they came, upon a trail of blood, they must be driven! Back! back — ay, into the great water whose accursed waves brought them to our shores! Burn their dwellings! Destroy their stock! Slay their wives and children! The red man owns the country, and the pale-face must never enjoy it! War now! War forever! War upon the living! War upon the dead! Dig their very corpses from the graves! Our country must give no rest to the white man's bones.
    • Speech to the Creek people, quoted in Great Speeches by Native Americans by Robert Blaisdel. This quote appeared in J. F H. Claiborne, Life and Times of Gen. Sam Dale, the Mississippi Partisan (Harper, New York, 1860). However, historian John Sugden writes, "Claiborne's description of Tecumseh at Tuckabatchie in the alleged autobiography of the Fontiersman, Samuel Dale, however, is fraudulent. … Although they adopt the style of the first person, as in conventional autobiography, the passages dealing with Tecumseh were largely based upon published sources, including McKenney, Pickett and Drake's Life of Tecumseh. The story is cast in the exaggerated and sensational language of the dime novelist, with embellishments more likely supplied by Claiborne than Dale, and the speech put into Tecumseh's mouth is not only unhistorical (it has the British in Detroit!) but similar to ones the author concocted for other Indians in different circumstances." Sugden also finds it "unreliable" and "bogus." Sugden, John. "Early Pan-Indianism; Tecumseh’s Tour of the Indian Country, 1811-1812." American Indian Quarterly 10, no. 4 (1986): 273–304. doi:10.2307/1183838.

Quotes about Tecumseh[edit]

  • I found some extraordinary characters. He who attracted most my attention was a Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, brother to the Prophet, who for the last two years has carried on contrary to our remonstrances an active warfare against the United States. A more sagacious or more gallant warrior does not, I believe, exist. He was the admiration of every one who conversed with him.
    • Briitish Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, as quoted in History of the United States of America (1890) by Henry Adams, Vol. 6, p. 329
  • It is difficult to feel greatness after a lapse of 200 years, but Tecumseh truly seems admirable. He was noble in his speech and behavior, adamant in his opposition to U.S. expansion, farsighted in his policies, brave in battle, yet merciful and protective toward captives.
    • Devin Bent in Tecumseh: A Brief Biography
  • If it were not for the vicinity of the United States, he would perhaps be the founder of an empire that would rival in glory Mexico or Peru. No difficulties deter him. For four years he has been in constant motion. You see him today on the Wabash, and in a short time hear of him on the shores of Lake Erie or Michigan, or on the banks of the Mississippi, and wherever he goes he makes an impression favorable to his purpose.

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