Red Jacket

Red Jacket
Red Jacket from an 1835 lithograph by Henry Corbould, after a painting by Charles Bird King, printed by Charles Joseph Hullmandel.

Red Jacket (known as Otetiani in his youth and Sagoyewatha after 1780) (c. 1750–January 20, 1830) was a Native American Seneca orator and chief of the Wolf clan.[1] He negotiated on behalf of his nation with the new United States after the American Revolutionary War, when the Seneca as British allies were forced to cede much land, and signed the Treaty of Canandaigua. He helped secure some Seneca territory in New York state. His talk on "Religion for the White Man and the Red" (1805) has been preserved as an example of his great oratorical style.



Red Jacket's birthplace has long been a matter of debate. Some historians claim he was born at the Old Seneca Castle near present-day Geneva, New York, near the foot of Seneca Lake.[2] Others believe he was born near Cayuga Lake and present-day Canoga,[3] while others place his birth south of Branchport, on Keuka Lake near the mouth of Basswood Creek.[4][5] It is known that he spent much of his youth at Basswood Creek, and his mother was buried there after her death.

Red Jacket lived much of his adult life in Seneca territory in the Genesee River Valley. He and the Mohawk chief Joseph Brant were bitter enemies and rivals, although they often met together at the Iroquois Confederacy's Longhouse. During the American Revolutionary War, when both Iroquois nations were allies of the British, Brant contemptuously referred to Red Jacket as "cow killer," alleging that at the Battle of Newtown in 1779, Red Jacket killed a cow and used the blood to claim he had killed an American rebel.[6]

President's House, Philadelphia. Red Jacket met with George Washington, and later John Adams, in the presidential mansion in Philadelphia, then the temporary national capital.

Red Jacket became famous as an orator, speaking for the rights of his people. He played a prominent role in negotiations with the new United States federal government after the war. In 1792 he led a delegation of 50 people to Philadelphia. The US president George Washington presented him with a special "peace medal", a large oval of silver plate engraved with an image of Washington on the right-hand side shaking Red Jacket's hand; below was inscribed "George Washington", "Red Jacket", and "1792". Red Jacket wore this medal on his chest in every portrait painted of him. (Today the medal is held in the collection of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.[7]) In 1794, Red Jacket was a signatory, along with Cornplanter and fifty other Iroquois leaders, of the Treaty of Canandaigua by which they were forced to cede much of their land.[8] It confirmed peace with the United States, as well as the boundaries of the postwar the Phelps and Gorham Purchase (1788) of most of the Seneca land east of the Genesee River in western New York.

In 1797, by the Treaty of Big Tree, Robert Morris purchased rights from the Seneca for $100,000 to some lands west of Genesee River. (This area is present-day Geneseo in Livingston County). Red Jacket had tried to prevent the sale but, not able to convince the other chiefs, he gave up his opposition. As often occurred, Morris used gifts of liquor to the Seneca men and trinkets to the women to "grease" the sale.[citation needed] Morris had previously purchased the land from Massachusetts, subject to the Indian title, then sold it to the Holland Land Company for speculative development. He retained only the Morris Reserve, an estate near present-day Rochester. During the negotiations, Brant told an insulting story about Red Jacket, but Cornplanter intervened and prevented the leader from attacking and killing Brant.[9]

Monument at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Red Jacket took this name, one of several he used, for a highly favored embroidered coat given to him by the British for his wartime services.[10] The Seneca were allied with the British Crown during the American Revolution, both because of long trading relationships and in the hope they could limit colonial encroachment on their territory. After their ally lost, the Seneca were forced to cede much of their territory. In the War of 1812, Red Jacket supported the American side.[11]

His later adult name, Segoyewatha, which roughly translates as "he keeps them awake," was given by the Seneca about 1780 in recognition of his oratory skill. When in 1805 Mr. Cram, a New England missionary, asked to do mission work among the Seneca, Red Jacket responded expressing how the Seneca had suffered at the hands of Europeans. His "Religion for the White Man and the Red" further expressed his profound belief that Native American religion was fitting and sufficient for Seneca and Native American culture. It has been documented and preserved as one of the best examples of oratory.[12]

Red Jacket developed a problem with alcohol and deeply regretted having taken his first drink (see following quote). Asked if he had children, Red Jacket, who had lost most of his offspring to illness, said:

"Red Jacket was once a great man, and in favor with the Great Spirit. He was a lofty pine among the smaller trees of the forest. But, after years of glory, he degraded himself by drinking the firewater of the white man. The Great Spirit has looked upon him in anger, and his lightning has stripped the pine of its branches."[13]

In his later years, Segoyewatha lived in Buffalo, New York. On his death, his remains were buried in an Indian cemetery. In 1876, William C. Bryant presented a plan to the Council of the Seneca Nation to rebury Red Jacket's remains in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo.[14] This was carried out on 9 October 1884. The proceedings, with papers by Horatio Hale, General Ely S. Parker, and others, were published (Buffalo, 1884).[11]

According to Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography, "Several portraits were made of him. George Catlin painted him twice, Henry Inman once, and Robert W. Weir did his portrait in 1828, when Red Jacket was on a visit to New York City. Fitz-Greene Halleck has celebrated him in song."[11]

Honors and legacy

A variety of structures, ships and places were named in his honor, especially in the Finger Lakes region and Buffalo:

  • A complex of dormitory buildings at the University at Buffalo
  • Red Jacket Dining Hall at SUNY Geneseo.
  • The Red Jacket Building, an apartment and commercial building in Buffalo.
  • A memorial statue and Red Jacket Park are in Penn Yan, New York near Seneca Lake. The statue was sculpted by Michael Soles.
  • Red Jacket Yacht Club, which lies on the western shores of Cayuga Lake.
  • The Red Jacket clipper ship, which set the unbroken speed record from New York to Liverpool.[1]
  • A public school system, Red Jacket Central, which serves the communities of Manchester and Shortsville in Ontario County, New York.
  • The Red Jacket Volunteer Fire Department, which serves the Town of Seneca Falls.
  • A section of land on the Buffalo River (New York) is named "Red Jacket Peninsula". On the eastern bank of the river is the plaque containing a brief bio of Red Jacket and river history.
  • Red Jacket Parkway in South Buffalo
  • The Boy Scouts of America had a Red Jacket Council that included west of Rochester and Orleans County, New York, until 1943; it became part of Otetiana Council. In 2010 it merged with Finger Lakes Council to form Seneca Waterways Council.
  • The community of Red Jacket in southern West Virginia, although the leader was not known to have had any connection to that region.[15]

See also

U.S. Constitution, Native American influence


  1. ^ a b Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums (1970). Doris A. Isaacson. ed. Maine: A Guide 'Down East'. Rockland, Me: Courier-Gazette, Inc.. pp. 260–261. 
  2. ^ John Niles Hubbard, "An Account of Sa-Go-Ye-Wat-Ha
  3. ^ Col. William L. Stone (1838), Life of Red Jacket
  4. ^ Miles A. Davis (1912), History of Jerusalem, p. 38
  5. ^ Stafford C. Cleveland (1873), History of Yates County, p. 450
  6. ^ Graymont, pg. 216
  7. ^ "Fact, Fiction & Spectacle: the Trial of Red Jacket". Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. Retrieved 2011-09-18. 
  8. ^ "The Canandaigua Treaty of the 1794". Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  9. ^ The Cornplanter Chronicles, Vol. 4, part 7
  10. ^ William Jennings Bryant, ed (1906.). "The World’s Famous Orations. America: Vol I. (1761–1837)". Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  11. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Red-Jacket". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900. 
  12. ^ "Red Jacket on Religion for the White Man and the Red", Bartleby Website, accessed 22 May 2011
  13. ^ Lossing, Benson J. (1876) (in English). A centennial edition of the history of the United States. Hartford: T. Belknap. pp. 26. 
  14. ^ "The Graves of Red Jacket". Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Kenny, Hamill (1945). West Virginia Place Names: Their Origin and Meaning, Including the Nomenclature of the Streams and Mountains. Piedmont, West Virginia: The Place Name Press. pp. 524. 

Further reading

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Red Jacket — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Red Jacket Red Jacket (Nueva York, 1758 1830) es el nombre que recibió de los británicos el orador seneca Sagoyewatha, el que los mantiene despiertos . En 1792 marchó a Washington para negociar la …   Wikipedia Español

  • Red Jacket — Red Jacket, WV U.S. Census Designated Place in West Virginia Population (2000): 728 Housing Units (2000): 313 Land area (2000): 5.208261 sq. miles (13.489334 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000):… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Red Jacket, WV — U.S. Census Designated Place in West Virginia Population (2000): 728 Housing Units (2000): 313 Land area (2000): 5.208261 sq. miles (13.489334 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 5.208261 sq. miles… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Red Jacket — (spr. redd dschäcket), Stadt im nordamerikan. Staate Michigan, mit der großen Calumet und Hecla Kupfergrube (1904: 36,000, 1898: 42,000 Ton. Förderung) und (1900) 4668 Einw …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Red Jacket — Seneca Kriegshäuptling Red Jacket, Lithographie von Henry Corbould, Druck bei Charles Joseph Hullmandel, London, nach einem Gemälde von C. B. King Red Jacket (deutsch: Rotrock; * um 1750 bei Geneva, New York; † 20. Januar 1830 vermutlich in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Red Jacket — (Sagoyewatha) c1756 1830, Seneca leader. * * * ▪ Seneca chief original name  Otetiani , also called  Sagoyewatha  born 1758?, Canoga, New York [U.S.] died January 20, 1830, Seneca Village, Buffalo, New York, U.S.  Seneca chief whose magnificent… …   Universalium

  • Red Jacket — /rɛd ˈdʒækət/ (say red jakuht) noun c. 1758–1830, a Seneca chief known for his oratory and political shrewdness; advocate of separate Iroquois jurisdiction and customs. Also, Sagoyewatha …   Australian English dictionary

  • Red Jacket — (Sagoyewatha) c1756 1830, Seneca leader …   Useful english dictionary

  • Red Jacket Mountain View Hotel — (Норт Конвей,США) Категория отеля: 3 звездочный отель Адрес: 2251 Whi …   Каталог отелей

  • Red Jacket Beach Resort — (Саут Ярмут,США) Категория отеля: 3 звездочный отель Адрес: 1 South Shore Dr …   Каталог отелей

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