Tippecanoe and Prophet Too


Yes I’m from Tippecanoe County in Indiana. That’s where William Henry Harrison made his bones. He defeated a large group of Shawnee Indians in the Battle of Tippecanoe and became a war hero and later President. His running mate was John Tyler and their campaign motto was “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.”

There were so many interesting figures that evolved from that battle, so many personalities. Harrison and Tyler have had volumes written about them. The two Indians, who were brothers, were the great Chief Tecumseh and his brother, Prophet. When I was a little kid I used to play and climb around “Prophet’s Rock” a famous hill and rock where Prophet supposedly stood and watched his tribe lose a big battle. Later, in the mid-50s, they made a small park with a stage for musical groups and plays. When I was eleven years old, my eight year old brother and I were hired to be one of the musical acts. But that’s another story
I was reminded of the Prophet because last Sunday another non-Prophet who wanted to be a Prophet died, poor old Harold Camping. He scared the hell out of a few thousand fools because he told the world that May 21, 2011 was Judgment Day. Many sold everything and prepared to be swept up. I’m not sure where they thought they would be swept up to, but they were getting swept up. Didn’t happen. Harold Camping checked his numbers and re-calculated. “Sorry” he said, “I had missed the exact date by a bit.” He set the new date for October 21, 2011. Didn’t happen. Camping told his flock, “It is going to happen, there is no Plan B.” Yes there was. He just experienced it.

HAROLD CAMPING

Harold CampingHowever, the Indian named Tenskwatawa, really was a Prophet and gained his name and fame by predicting something that really did happen. In 1805 he told his tribes that he had received a message from “The Master of Life” and the message was that in one year, 1806, there would be a Solar Eclipse. One year later was a Solar Eclipse and Tenskwatawa was known from that day forward as the Prophet. He then decided that reform was in order. No more wearing textiles, just animal skins and furs. No more alcohol. No ownership of property and no inter-racial marriages. He even got more carried away and started some witch burning. He probably learned that trick from those 17th Century white guy reformers in Massachusetts.

PROPHET

Prophet

All was well with the Prophet until his brother, Chief Tecumseh, left the encampment in November, 1811. Prophet was in charge and that was not good. His brain got too big for his animal skins because he decided it would be a good time to go knock off some troops that were under General William Henry Harrison. Prophet forgot to talk to “The Master of Life” for surely he would have been told this was a stupid plan. His tribe was defeated, Prophet became discredited and more importantly the huge pan-tribal confederacy his brother, Tecumseh, had put together broke apart.

tecumsehRIP Tenskwatawa…you should have stuck to witch burning
RIP William Henry Harrison…you should have worn a jacket at your inauguration
RIP Tecumseh…you died in the Battle of Thames in 1813..yeah, also won by General Harrison
RIP Harold Camping…you should have stuck to civil engineering, that’s what you knew about.

About bakoheat

Writer/Musician
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2 Responses to Tippecanoe and Prophet Too

  1. fiddlrts says:

    Funny that fundamentalist reform – wherever it happens, seems to have certain common features: asceticism (no booze), clothing to distinguish the true believers from the infidels, racial purity, and demonization of a convenient group. (common ownership of property is sometimes there, but not always) Just weird to see it in this context.

    My favorite fact about the ill-fated Harrison inauguration is that he gave the longest presidential speech ever, and had the shortest presidency.

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