Lincoln Peace Medal

A Lincoln Peace Medal

A Lincoln Peace Medal

This Lincoln Peace Medal is like the one presented to Ouray by Lincoln’s secretary, John G. Nicolay, at the conclusion of treaty talks at Conejos, Colorado Territory on October 6, 1863. Ouray had received a silver-tipped cane from President Lincoln during a visit to Washington earlier that same year.

Image courtesy the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian NMAI E-Newservice.

Published in: on August 24, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Lincoln’s Secretary in Colorado

John G. Nicolay on left with President Lincoln and John Hay taken November 8, 1863 by Alexander Gardner in his Washington studio. Image from the Library of Congress collection.

John G. Nicolay on left with President Lincoln and John Hay taken November 8, 1863 by Alexander Gardner in his Washington studio. Image from the Library of Congress collection.

President Abraham Lincoln sent his secretary, John G. Nicolay,  as his personal representative to the 1863 treaty council with the Utes at Conejos, Colorado Territory. Nicolay arrived in September and spent a month touring the Territory. He arrived at Conejos on  October 1, 1863 to lead the team of government representatives that included Territorial Governor John L. Evans, Dr. Michael Stech, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico, plus Indian Agents Simeon Whiteley and Lafayette Head.
          Fifteen hundred Tabeguache Utes (Ouray’s band) turned out for the treaty council. Only three Mouache chiefs and one Capote chief attended. The Weeminuche and the northern Ute bands did not participate. A treaty was concluded on October 7, 1863. It was primarily an agreement with the estimated 4,000 Tabeguache Utes, who gave up their lands east of the Continental Divide.
          After the agreement was made, Nicolay presented silver peace medals bearing President Lincoln’s image to seven chiefs, including Ouray. These were men Nicolay counted as most cooperative.
          The treaty Nicolay negotiated was ratified, with amendments, by the U.S. Senate on March 25, 1864, and accepted by the Utes on October 8, 1864.

          Arnold Schwarzenegger was the voice of Lincoln’s Bavarian-born secretary, John G. Nicolay, in the 1992 ABC documentary Lincoln (Richard Zoglin, “Trying To Hype History,” TIME, December 28, 1992).
          Helen Nicolay wrote a biography of her father: Lincoln’s Secretary (Longmans, Green and Co. 1949; reprinted Greenwood Press, 1971).

Lincoln Bicentennial

This year the nation celebrates the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Did you know Colorado’s Ute Chief Ouray met Lincoln in person?

          In the spring of 1863, Ouray and a group of Ute chiefs or headmen traveled to Washington City with their Indian Agent, Lafayette Head. They wanted a treaty that would define Ute land and protect it from the gold seekers and settlers who began invading Ute land in large numbers in 1859.
          During that trip the delegation met President Lincoln at the White House. Ouray was identified as the leader of the group and Lincoln presented him a silver-tipped cane, his typical gift to Indian chiefs. Ouray insisted that all the chiefs of the various Ute bands must be involved in a treaty decision. Lincoln agreed to send government representatives to Colorado Territory the following October for a great treaty conference.