Saturday, June 18, 2016

Native American Review: Ely Samuel Parker: Seneca


Ely Samuel Parker

Ely Samuel Parker is known as a Civil War officer, and the person who put in writing the final surrender terms.  He was a Lieutenant Colonel attached to the staff of Ulysses S. Grant.  Parker studied for the law, but he was not allowed to take the bar exam because as a Seneca he was not a U.S. Citizen.  He subsequently studied civil engineering which he pursued until the Civil War.
Grant's staff, Parker on left

After being turned down twice to serve in the army because of his being Indian, he approached an acquaintance Ulysses S. Grant and became a captain in the civil engineers serving under Grant.  He went with grant when he was assigned as the leader of all U.S. forces.  He served as his secretary and wrote much of Grant's correspondence.
Appomattox, Parker third from right, back row

He was present at Appomattox Courthouse, and later said, "At the time of surrender, General Lee "stared at me for a moment," said Parker to more than one of his friends and relatives, "He extended his hand and said, 'I am glad to see one real American here.' I shook his hand and said, 'We are all Americans.'"  After these event Parker was breveted to a general. When Grant became president, he was appointed commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the first Native American to serve in this post.   

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