1823: Abram Antoine, revenger

On this date in 1823, American Revolution veteran Abram/Abraham Antoine was hanged in Madison County, New York, for avenging the execution of his daughter by murdering the man whose testimony hanged her.

Antoine was a Native American — presumably, although I have not seen it explicitly stated, Oneida.

This was the very springtime of American continental expansion, a project well-understood to entail the removal and, uh, “chastisement” and of the peoples lately occupying that continent.

Some more sensitive or scholarly souls of the time noticed, as this one does, that “[t]ime is advancing, by rapid strides, towards the extinction of the Indian race in North America.” Resolving therefore “to preserve such authenticated facts as, at this day, lie within our reach, that posterity may not be altogether ignorant of characteristics attached to a various people, that once reigned lords over this wide extended country,” a fellow Revolutionary War veteran named George Turner (Anglo, he) knocked out a volume meant to capture a snapshot of dying peoples from the viewpoint of the conqueror. (Turner really was an interested party: he’d speculated aggressively in the Northwest Territory.)

The bit on Antoine appears as one of numerous anecdotal vignettes — un-linked save by their respective purported relationship to a continent-wide temperament of the “savage” — under a chapter on “Traits of Indian Character.” The reader may judge what lessons the parable imparts thereto.

Savage Revenge and a Confirmed Murderer.

Abraham Antoine, an Indian, was executed in the county of Madison, New York, in 1823, for the murder of a Mr. Jacobs. He had committed three other murders. The first was on a child of his own, which he buried in the embers on the hearth — because he was disturbed by its crying: the second, on a man in Canada — because he had called him ‘an Indian dog.’ This man he followed for several days; when, finding him at an Inn, the Indian obtained leave to sleep by the fire. He stole, in the dead of the night, to the bed in which the man slept; and, plunging a knife into his bosom, gave the Indian whoop of victory, and escaped. The third, was of an Indian; whom he shot at a house-raising on the Susquehanna, on pretence that he had wronged him of part of a certain bounty.

As to Jacobs — for the murder of whom Antoine was hanged — it appears, that he had been a principal witness against Antoine’s daughter, who had murdered another female, through jealousy, for inveigling away her Indian suitor — and for which she had suffered death some years before. Jacobs, to escape the threatened vengeance of Antoine, left the country. Antoine invited his return, promising not to hurt him. But an Indian’s vengeance never sleeps. Jacobs returns: — Antoine gives him a friendly shake by the hand, and, with the other, repeated stabs from a long knife he had concealed under his shirt-sleeve — and again escaped from that justice which, at length, overtook him.

The same Indian was strongly suspected of having committed a fourth murder.

Part of the Themed Set: Americana.

On this day..

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