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In “Address to General William Henry Harrison”, Chief Tecumseh ominously asks for the return of Native American land the United States government bought. Chief Tecumseh believes the Natives who sold the land did not have the right to do so and it should, therefore, be returned as General Harrison promised. Through the use of literary techniques, Chief Tecumseh appeals to the pathos of General William Henry Harrison and establishes a relationship with him in order to convince him to return the Native American land.
Perhaps the most obvious literary technique used in this letter is repetition. Chief Tecumseh starts every paragraph by addressing General Harrison as “[b]rother. ” This literary technique allows a familial relationship to be established with General Harrison. Though they may differ in outward appearance, they are the same on the inside. Since they are both human, they should not be at odds with each other over something as trivial as land. With this literary technique, Chief Tecumseh also implies that families do not steal land from one another. Therefore, if they are actually family, the land will be returned.
Apart from establishing a familial connection with General Harrison, Chief Tecumseh appeals to his spirituality as well. Chief Tecumseh alludes to the Crucifixion narrative, wondering how anyone can trust white men after the way they treated Jesus. Chief Tecumseh uses this allusion to express his distrust in white people. This allusion also dares General Harrison to prove the Native Americans can trust white people by returning the land. He does this in a way General Harrison will recognize, due to the fact he is a Christian. Chief Tecumseh also states, “[t]he Great Spirit has inspired me, and I speak nothing but the truth to you. ” The use of this statement demonstrates a shared value of religion. Though their religions may differ, General Harrison is a spiritual person and will be able to relate to Chief Tecumseh’s religious point of view. This statement also amplifies the trustworthiness of Chief Tecumseh’s address.
Chief Tecumseh also appeals to the values General Harrison speaks. He accomplishes this by referencing General Harrison’s own speech commenting, “[b]rother, I was glad to hear your speech. ” In the remaining part of the paragraph, Chief Tecumseh brings up that the Native Americans who sold the land did not own it, so they had no right to sell it. According to General Harrison’s speech, if this could be proven the land would be returned. Chief Tecumseh uses the General’s own words in an attempt to create a shared understanding when it comes to the return of the land. By referencing General Harrison’s speech, Chief Tecumseh challenges him to remain true to his word, or risk losing his credibility.
Speaking of credibility, Chief Tecumseh appeals to General Harrison’s work. Chief Tecumseh admits war will be produced among the tribes if the land is not returned and General Harrison “will have had a hand in killing them” because he did nothing to help. This threat appeals to the pathos of General Harrison because he will not want to be responsible for the deaths of anyone. Chief Tecumseh also uses this statement as a call to action, one he hopes General Harrison will take because he is a man of action. In the close of his address, Chief Tecumseh continues appealing to the work of General Harrison. Chief Tecumseh uses an allegory saying, “should they offer us powder and a tomahawk, we will take the powder and refuse the tomahawk. ” Chief Tecumseh means to say the Native Americans will accept peace if it is offered, but they will not hesitate to make war if it is necessary. General Harrison will not want to fight against the Native Americans because lives will be lost. However, the only way to avoid war, and the loss of lives, is to return the land to the Native Americans.
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