Indian Commissioners

Reproduction of a lithograph by W. Croome shows Massasoit, peacekeeper of the Wampanoag and British pilgrim colonists shake hands on agreement.

Treaties, or agreements of peace, between settlers and Indians began in colonial days. The Continental Congress appointed men to negotiate treaties on behalf of the colonies. These men were called “commissioners.” Early commissioners included Benjamin Franklin and  Patrick Henry.
          An Office of Indian Affairs was established in 1824 under the War Department. In 1832 the head of that office was designated the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.  Men appointed to negotiate treaties with Indians were still called “commissioners.” 

These men negotiated treaties as commissioners and later became President of the United States:

William Henry Harrison 1803-1815
Andrew Jackson 1814-1820
John C. Calhoun 1819, 1825

Photo countesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection


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