"One of those uncommon geniuses, that spring up occasionally to produce revolutions and overturn the established order of things". These words by William Henry Harrison, who went on to become the ninth US president, describe his adversary, Tecumseh.
Tecumseh (1768-1813) was a Shawnee chief and warrior who promoted resistance to the expansion of the United States onto Native American lands.
He was a persuasive orator and traveled widely, forming a Native American confederacy and promoting inter-tribal unity. Although his efforts to unite Native Americans ended with his death in the War of 1812, he became an iconic folk hero in American, Indigenous, and Canadian popular history.
Before the onslaught of colonists, there were over 10,000 Shawnee Indians. After the War of 1812 and after many conflicts, the number of Shawnee Indians dwindled to only about 3,500 people. Diseases like the flu and scarlet fever that settlers from Europe brought also decimated the population. Today, almost 15,000 Shawnee Indians live in the United States.
Our image is based on a bust of Tecumseh created in 1896 by Hamilton MacCarthy (1846–1939).
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More than 200 years ago Tecumseh tried to unite Native-American tribes to resist conquest by the young United States. While he failed in that, he survives as a symbol for Native peoples of their right to protect their lives, lands, and loved ones. The Tecumseh towel is one of the best of many good ones produced by “Radical Tea Towels.” It is strong, clear, and focused. While Radical Tea Towels has impressed me with the quality of their work and the clarity of their message, the Tecumseh towel is particularly well done. I’m not an artist, but if I was, I believe I could learn some useful concepts from the Tecumseh towel. PS: I know we’re talking tea towels here, not the Magna Carta or the American Constitution, but, honestly, they do some great work, and this particular towel is my favorite.