Seth Eastman (1808-1875), Red Jacket, Chief of the Senecas
Red Jacket, Chief of the Senecas
Watercolor and ink on paper
Sheet size: 13 x 9 3/4"
Frame size: 21 5/8 x 17 5/8"
This watercolor was later translated into an engraving published in "History Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes..., and published 1851-52 in Philadelphia.
Framed to full museum specifications
This original watercolor is a striking, iconic portrait of Red Jacket wearing a peace medal seated on a rock holding a pipe with tomahawk resting at his feet.
Red Jacket (c. 1750–January 20, 1830) was a Native American Seneca orator and chief of the Wolf clan. 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 (1794). He helped secure 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 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 History Museum. In 1794, Red Jacket was a signatory, along with Cornplanter, Handsome Lake, and fifty other Iroquois leaders, of the Treaty of Canandaigua, by which they were forced to cede much of their land due to their alliance with the British during the war. 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.
Seth Eastman was trained at West Point Military Academy, and was taught topographical drawing there under Robert Weir. He kept detailed pencil sketch diaries of his reconnaissance tours of the American frontier which became important first hand documents of the landscape and native people encountered. Eastman's work is an important record of the American west in the mid nineteenth century.
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