The Indian Prince in London

 George (1840).	 Osceola Nick-a-no-chee, a Boy. Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Catlin, George (1840). Osceola Nick-a-no-chee, a Boy. Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Abolitionists and the Second Seminole War
Center for American Indian Studies Programs
American Indian Studies Seminar Series
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

TFL

Natalie Joy, Reed College

In June 1843 American and British abolitionists convened in London for the second General World’s Anti-Slavery Convention. On the second day, delegates were treated to a visit from a Seminole Indian boy, who was introduced to the crowd as “a young Seminole Indian prince” named Nikkanochee. Those responsible for his arrival claimed that Nikkanochee was related to two Seminole leaders known to abolitionists; he was purportedly the son of Econchattamico and the nephew of Osceola, who was prominent for his role in the Second Seminole War. Nikkanochee arrived at the meeting “arrayed in a beautiful Indian dress, as a chief,” which, according to one eyewitness, had been prepared by the American painter George Catlin, currently in London to display his exhibition of Indian portraits. The boy’s appearance at the convention coincided with speeches on the recently concluded Second Seminole War or Florida War, a conflict that abolitionists had opposed for its obviously proslavery character. Nikkanochee’s presence at the convention offers evidence of ongoing antislavery interest in the southern Indians, which had begun with the removal crisis in the late 1820s. His presence also reveals the central paradox of abolitionist support for southern Indians: until recently, Nikkanochee’s father Econchattamico had been the owner of twenty black slaves. In fact, abolitionists knew about Econchattamico because he had recently petitioned the U.S. government for compensation after whites stole his slaves. Rather than suppress evidence of Indian slaveholding as they easily might have done, abolitionists at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention deliberately raised the issue, using Econchattamico’s case to highlight the unusual relationship between black slaves and Seminole Indians.

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