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For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C.

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When the War Department was created by Congress under the act of August 7, 1789, the duties assigned to it included those“ relative to Indian affairs."

A Bureau of Indian Affairs was organized in the War Department on March 11, 1824, with Thomas L. McKenney as its chief, and among the duties to which he was assigned were the administration of the fund for the civilization of the Indians, under regulations established by the department, the examination of the claims arising out of the laws regulating the intercourse with Indian tribes, and the ordinary correspondence with superintendents, agents, and subagents. He was succeeded September 30, 1830, by Samuel S. Hamilton, whose successor about one year later was Elbert Herring.

By the act of July 9, 1832, there was created in the War Department the office of Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who, subject to the Secretary of War and the President, should have the direction and management of all Indian affairs and all matters arising out of Indian relations."

On June 30, 1834, an act was passed “to provide for the organization of the Department of Indian Affairs." Under this enactment certain agencies were established and others abolished, and provision was made for subagents, interpreters, and other employees, the payment of annuities, the purchase and distribution of supplies, etc. This may be regarded as the organic law of the Indian Department.

When the Department of the Interior was created by act of March 3, 1849, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was transferred thereto, and hence passed from military to civil control.

Section 441 of the Revised Statutes provides that “ The Secretary of the Interior is charged with the supervision of public business relating to

the Indians." Section 463 of the Revised Statutes reads: “ The Commissioner of Indian Affairs shall, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior and agreeable to such regulations as the President may prescribe, have the management of all Indian affairs and of all matters arising out of Indian relations."


Commissioners of Indian Affairs





Herring, Elbert

New York.

July 10, 1832 Cass.1
Harris, Carey A.


July 4, 1836 Cass and Poinsett.1
Crawford, T. Hartley- Pennsylvania

Oct. 22, 1838 Poinsett i to Marcy.
Medill, William.


Oct. 28, 1845 Marcy 1 and Ewing.
Brown, Orlando.


May 31, 1849 Ewing.
Lea, Luke...


July 1, 1850 Ewing to Stuart.
Manypenny, George W. Ohio.

Mar. 24, 1853 McClelland and Thompson.
Denver, James W


Apr, 17, 1857 Thompson.
Mix, Charles E.

District of Columbia. June 14, 1858
Denver, James W.


Nov. 8, 1858

Greenwood, Alfred B.. Arkansas.

May 4, 1859 Do.
1 Secretaries of War.

? Ewing and all following Secretaries of the Interior.



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