A man of smaller intellectual mould than Tecumseh would not have dreamed of the possibility of establishing relations with people so distant as the Creeks were from the tribes of the North-west. But Tecumseh had all the qualities of a man of genius, the chief of which are breadth and comprehensiveness of view and daring boldness of conception. The great northern chieftain did many deeds in his day by which he fairly won the reputation he had for the possession of genius, both as a soldier and as a statesman; but nothing in his history so certainly proves his title to rank among really great men as his boldness and brilliancy in planning the formation of a great confederacy of the tribes, which extended in a chain from the lakes on the north to the Gulf of Mexico on the south. He was wise enough to learn of his foes. He saw that their strength lay in their union; that it was by "joining all their camp-fires," as he phrased it, that they made themselves irresistible; and as he saw with consternation that the great tide of white men was steadily advancing westward, he understood, as few men of his race were capable of doing, that there was but one possible way for the red men to withstand the ever-encroaching stream. Separately the tribes were powerless, because separately they could be beaten one by one. Troops who were engaged in reducing an Illinois tribe during one month could be sent the next to oppose another tribe in Mississippi or Alabama. Thus the secret of the white men's success, Tecumseh saw, lay in two facts: first, that the whites were united, working together for a common purpose, and helping each other in turn; and, second, that the whites used the same troops over and over again to fight the separately acting tribes.
Seeing all this and understanding it, Tecumseh conceived his great plan—a plan equally great, whether we regard it as a stroke of statesmanship or a brilliant scheme of military combination. He determined, as he said, to build a dam against the stream. He undertook to form a confederacy of all the tribes from north to south, to teach them to act together, and to oppose the advance of the white men by uniting that power which they were wasting separately...