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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: The Story of a Soldier, Adventurer, and Emissary to the Cherokees, 1756-1765

The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: The Story of a Soldier, Adventurer, and Emissary to the Cherokees, 1756-1765

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Duane H. King.

"This visually rich volume will appeal to historians, anthropologists, and the general reader and should prove useful in secondary and college classrooms."   -The Journal of East Tennessee History      "The … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Duane H. King
Genre: History
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Date Published: June 21, 2007
1 review about The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: The...

In 1763 18 Year Old Thomas Jefferson saw the Cherokee delegation leave from WIlliamsburg for London

  • Mar 26, 2011
Rating:
+5
The scholarship surrounding Professor Duane H. King's edition of THE MEMOIRS OF LT. HENRY TIMBERLAKE triples the value of the brilliant, original eye-witness narrative published in 1765.

Thus we learn from commentary and notes that the great King Ostenaco was the only Cherokee seen by and commented on by two future American Presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In 1762, 26 year old, initially well off, soon enough bankrupted by Cherokee escort expenses, Virginia militia officer Henry Timberlake, accompanied Ostenaco and two other chiefs to England. In one newspaper account Timberlake was described as Ostenaco's son-in-law (though he later married a white woman in London). In any case Timberlake had started a grandson for Ostenaco before leaving the Cherokee Nation, a grandson to whom the Great Chief remained very close all the days of his life.

Thomas Jefferson was an 18-year old student at William and Mary when the Cherokee delegation passed through Williamsburg, Virginia to take ship for England. He wrote:

"I knew much of the great Outasseti (Ostenaco), the warrior and orator of the Cherokees. He was always the guest of my father on his journeys to and from WIlliamsburg. I was in his camp when he made his great farewell oration to his people the evening before he departed for England. ... His sounding voice, distinct articulation, animated action, and the solemn silence of his people at their several fires, filled me with awe and veneration, although I did not understand a word he uttered" (end note 160).

We also learn from Professor Duane King's commentary that today's accepted spelling "Tennessee" for the Tennessee River first occured in print in a map drawn by Lt. Timberlake and included in his MEMOIRS.

We are given a grand sweep of the relative isolation from Europeans of the Mountain-bound Cherokees for 150 years after the first Spanish expedition through their parts. Then in 1690 we find a Cherokee delegation pop up in colonial Charleston, SC seeking to buy arms to defend themselves (and expand their territory) against better armed Indian rivals longer in contact with Europeans. To pay for English muskets and long rifles, the Cherokees with blinding speed set up a vast hunting and trade network in hides. Soon 50,000 deerkskins a year were leaving Charleston for England.

According to Professor King, the Cherokees were instinctively fonder of the French than of the English colonialists in either South Carolina or Virginia. Timberlake's MEMOIRS write of a time late in the Seven Years War which was soon to drive the French from Canada. The French, from their base in New Orleans, were more courteous and more cross-culturally attuned and treated the Cherokees with respect. And the Cherokees knew that if The Nation was to remain independent and an international power (there were only about 20,000 of them) they would have to play off French, British and Spanish against one another. Even British soldier, Lt. Timberlake sympathized with Cherokee need to choose their European friends and enemies. He wrote:

"they foresaw, or the French took care to shew them, that, should they be driven out, the English would in time extend themselves over all North America" (Ch 8).


Lt. Timberlake understood the Cherokees to be open to European ways and very quick learners. Some agricultural and cooking arts they took over at once from sympathetic men and women prisoners among them. Timberlake saw their political survival dependent on assimilating European skills as quickly as possible, and drawing their small, scattered population together in one fortified area. But Cherokee temperament assured that this would not happen.

"The sole occupations of an Indian life, are hunting, and warring abroad, and lazying at home. Want is said to be the mother of industry, but their wants are supplied at an easier rate" (Ch 8).


So the Cherokees, for better or for worse, cast their lot with Britain, not France. After signing a peace accord with threatening Virginia militia men in late 1761, a Cherokee delegation, the first in two decades, went to London to express loyalty in the summer of 1762 at St. James's Palace, to 24 year old King George III. Timberlake's MEMOIRS details that long trip and the way the people of England reacted as recorded in contemporary letters, court records and the press. Not many months thereafter, King George, who would later be called "the last King of America," issued his famous Demarcation Line Proclamation which respected Indian rights west of the crown of the Appalachian Mountains. This prolonged two-way good feeling kept the Cherokees loyal to the Crown throughout the American Revolution. The successful former Colonists of Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia would later wreak considerable harm on the Cherokee Nation for that stubborn loyalty to Britain.

All this and much, much more will enchant you in the Duane H. King edition of THE MEMOIRS OF LT. HENRY TIMBERLAKE - THE STORY OF A SOLDIER, ADVENTURER, AND EMISSARY TO THE CHEROKEES, 1756 - 1765. -OOO-
In 1763 18 Year Old Thomas Jefferson saw the Cherokee delegation leave from WIlliamsburg for London In 1763 18 Year Old Thomas Jefferson saw the Cherokee delegation leave from WIlliamsburg for London In 1763 18 Year Old Thomas Jefferson saw the Cherokee delegation leave from WIlliamsburg for London In 1763 18 Year Old Thomas Jefferson saw the Cherokee delegation leave from WIlliamsburg for London

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March 27, 2011
Sounds like a fascinating read--excellent review!
 
March 26, 2011
Sounds terrific. Nice review. SOunds like something definitely worth checking out.
 
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