Governor Johnston’s Signed State Address to the Chickasaw Nation

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92. CHICKASAW NATION. GOVERNOR. JOHNSTON, Douglas Hancock Cooper (“Henry”). Executive Department. Chickasaw Nation. Tishomingo Indian Territory. September 5, 1899. Original typescript, signed by Governor D.H. Johnston, of his address to the Chickasaw legislature. Tishomingo, 1899. 6 leaves with text on rectos. Folio (33 x 20.5 cm). Creased where formerly folded, light wrinkling, two small stab holes in upper left blank margin where pin was removed. Docketed on verso in purple pencil “Message 1899.” Overall, a fine copy of a very rare survival with signature of a prominent Chickasaw governor.

     Johnston speaks before a rapidly changing backdrop. Both the Curtis Act and Atoka Agreement called for dismembering and ultimately abolishing tribal governments, a policy that Johnston vigorously opposed and actively fought. Other important problems included the nation’s finances, schools, and the sale of lands, some of which were claimed by the railroads. He also addresses questions of citizenship that had to be settled by lawsuits as ramifications of the Dawes Act, the commissioners of which allowed large numbers of fraudulent claims. He closes his address with a sentiment no doubt felt by many to this day, “Let your session be as brief as possible, consistent with the work before you” (p. 6).

     Johnston (1856-1939) was twice elected governor of the Chickasaw Nation. Johnston’s mansion near Emet became known as “the Chickasaw White House” and served as a center for tribal business and social gatherings. Both his terms were marked in certain cases by significant victories for the nation, some of which saved the tribe considerable funds. To the contrary, he was accused by opponents of an overly lavish lifestyle, but the charges were never proven. He was an influential governor at a tumultuous time in Chickasaw history. See Melvin Cornish, “Douglas H. Johnston” in The Chronicles of Oklahoma 18 (March 1940).


Auction 23 Abstracts

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