Compiled by McRae Limerick, March 2002
The following is a copy of the petition sent to the Governor of the State of Mississippi, Dec 1, 1837, in interest of Hopiah Isketena, known as "Little Leader," from his service in the Creek Wars, He fought along side General Jackson, and because of his small stature he earned his name "Little Leader."
The State of MS, Kemper County
To his Excellency the acting Governor of the State of Mississippi:
We the undersigned your petitioners, citizens of Kemper and the adjoining counties, respectfully represent to your Excellency that at the May Term of the Circuit court for said County the noted personage, Hopiah Isketena, alias Little Leader, a Choctaw Captain, was arraigned on a charge of murder, and the trial proved (by two Indians) that an Indian by the name of Neehetubba, formerly one of Little Leader's company, had on a certain occasion, assaulted two said defendant, having rode up to him, where he was in a state of intoxication, and made an attempt to chastise him said Little Leader, with a whip, that the defendant drew a pistol and shot him through the body of which wound he died nine days after. It was further stated when the deceased had previously went to the house of the defendant with some other Indians, with the intent as he declared to kill the defendant, but no proof was made to show that the defendant entertained any previous malice toward the accused. The jury found a verdict of guilty and recommended the prisoner to mercy. You petitioners further show that at the trial the defendant offered a plea to the jurisdiction of the Court which was rejected by the Court. The defendant moved in errant of judgement and moved for a new trial, and on the motion being overruled he prayed and obtained an appeal to the Supreme Court to be held at Jackson on the first Monday in September inerrant.
To your Excellency that they are advised that whatever may be the decision of said Court of appeals, a new trial will be the results and consequently a further confinement of the defendant in jail - which confinement had already been lengthened out to about nine months. Your petitioners will not stop to give your Excellency a detailed record of the motives and causes that operated to effect the conviction aforesaid - but will only remark that great efforts were used to cause isolated extraneous matters to operate upon and influence public opinion relation to the cause. The prosecutors and principal movers having themselves so far related as first to propose asking for remission of the sentence at your hands.
Your petitioners represent that they look upon the conviction and punishment of the unfortunate allude to _ First, as unauthorized by the law and testimony - and secondly as deeply involving the character of our common country. The Little Leader is about sixty years of age and has proved himself to be a man of fine natural endowment and of deliberate bravery. He has been watchful and efficient friend and ally to the armies of our and early settlers. He was one of the first to enlist in our cause in the Creek War and in conjunction with the brave Band which he led was then regarded as an important acquisition to our forces, having fought side by side with our brave Commander and Chief General Jackson; his worth and service were grateful acknowledged by his and others in the Supplement to the Choctaw Treaty in which he was classed among the most deserving Chief and allowed an extra portion of land.
.Under all these circumstances your petitioners feel constrained to solicit the interposition of the high and gracious discretionary exercise of power which the constitution has placed in the breast of your Excellency. Believing as they do, that in failing to do so, they would give to cause after generation to upbraid them with the want of gratitude, your petitioners present to your Excellency an untutored son of the forest on whose extraordinary person the ravages of time have marked well their inroads, one, too who in the midst of our tribulations forsook his wild home and in view of justice of our suffering cause emerged with his hardy band from the wildness which new no civilization and placed their lives as a sheltering rampart between us and a savage free, neighboring tribe of their own kind, now about to be made a sacrifice upon the pretended alter of justice, for exercising a species of authority and power over one of his subjects which he had been for many years accustomed to use and exercise without interference interruption (that of enforcing obedience) and that too by these whose cause he does generously espoused in the perilous hour.
Your petitioners humbly conceive that the killing alluded to is destitute of the great and essential ingredient to constitute murder of malice even if the parties had stood upon equal footing in the examination of each other, the indignity offered was certainly such as to reduce the killing from murder to manslaughter, and to preclude the idea of preconceive malice of the part of the defendant, and much more so as the defendant had long been accustomed as a matter of right to demand and receive implicitly obedience of and from the deceased and never amenable to the law and usage of the State of Mississippi. Your petitioners do not believe that he considered himself as having refractory subject according to the answered motion of his rights and duties.
The foregoing facts, together with the fact that all the evidence against the defendant was Indian testimony and those of his bitter enemies, and who have no notion to the solemn obligation of an oath, as also that the convicted has a large family consisting of some very small children your petitioners claim as their apology for recommending the said Little Leader to Executive clemency -nothing doubting that the same will be extended, and that he will be restored to that circle in which his relationship with his white brethren have been marked with peace, friendship, honor and punctuality.
December 1st, 1837
Names of the Petitioners:
J. A. Marchall, J. H. Gentry, William McClung, James Dickson, Wiley Mosley (Juror), --- Burks, H. W. Woods, Nathan Holfula Snow, John Fritx, Edwin L. Dobyns, John Post, T. G. McCory, S. A, Maynor, John B. McArn, Thos. P. Eskridge, C. Copeland, William Killen (Dept. Sher.), Samuel Blair, W. T. Barksdale, William Fox, W. M. Cherry, Theodore P. Peatrose, Pricilla Fox, Sarah H. Moore, L. W. Pennington (Sher.), C. Morgan, Ann Eliza Habl, Mary McDaniel, W. W. Joyner, Burwell Pope, Jordon Newton, Walter Hudson, Maison Hunicut, William Williams, Peter H. Cole, William Fore, Richard Moore, Richard Coghill Esq., Willis H. Haden, S. M. Hundly, John Bovis, William L. Baker, George Wagner, Lewis Stoveall Clk. of C. H. C., James Cherry, James Tusdale, Isiah Smith, James McPerson, Wiley Tipper, Benj. C. (Oppalt Judge of Probate Kemper Co.) Moses Sweton, Wes Tittle, Preason Gentry, C. Thompson :(Bep. C. L. K. of Cir. C.), Cornelious Key, William Blackwell, G. Terry, Jermiah Beesan, C. P. Arthur, H. T. Mabry, John E. Richardson, John Sinclair, R. T. Bagley, W. F. Morrison, Robert J. S. Durr, William Land, Thompson Harris, William Watson, Samuel Murry, Thos. Bennit, William Ness, A. McIntire, John H. Cole, Wildes Fish, L. Thurston, John. H. Fitzhugh, George Merritt, Thomas Merritt, John W. Brown, Thomas Height, H. R. Stannen, Edward Griffith, William B. Jay, Charles A. Felson, William T. Bobinson, J. R. Henlsy, F. H. Putmam, B. Dunn, William Bragg, A. Maner, Jas. F. King, John DeCatlett, John Tate, William H. Parrish, W.T. Morrison, W. W. Williamson, John Blow, Drew Fitzhugh, John P. Drake, John Morrison, Herbert Carter, C. Watkins, Julis C. Lynch, Albert W. Nicholson, John T. Fitzhugh, G. W. Green, James McShelton, D. B.B. Smith, R. Jones, James Ward, G. M. Lawrence, Samuel H. Covill, J. P. Lewry, W. McInnis, W. LeBatte, William D. Hathern, T. J. Smith, J. McLaren, John Kavanaugh, E. C. Watkins, Sarah T. Gurr, William Hainey, William Coopee
Work Progress Administration (WPA)
State Wide Historical Research Project 1935-36
Jeff Kemp - State Coordinator
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