National and Congressional outrage at the capture
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Whig-oriented newspapers denounced the act. Even though former President Jackson was retired to the Hermitage, his former enemies, like Representative Henry Wise of Virginia, saw his hand at work:
"There is an old chief, well known here, who writes from his wigwam in Tennessee, who originates these instructions."
Whigs endlessly repeated the charge that Jesup had committed "treachery" and "fraud" by entrapping the "noble" Indian under a flag of truce. They declaimed paeans to the victimized chief, even indulging in speculations on his character. Osceola, said Wise,
"... excites my wonder and admiration. The nation and its army are bound to accord him praise for his great qualities and achievements."
Initially, the outrage transcended party affiliation, with a large margin of Congress calling for investigations into the general's conduct. By January, however, the debate began to take shape around party lines, and Jesup's defenders came to the fore with impassioned arguments of their own. Osceola was called an assassin who deserved the capture, having violated rules of war himself in the treacherous flight from Tampa Bay. A Florida delegate went so far as to claim that Jesup's vigilance had prevented the "murderous chief" from seizing General Hernandez as his prisoner. Had
he been in Jesup's place, said the delegate, Osceola would be hanging "on the crooked limb of a yellow pine."
In the end, Jesup had about as many Congressional supporters as detractors. He escaped official censure, but could never shake the popular indignation.
Niles National Register November 4, 1837 in Motte 286, Kieffer 207, 188-89,
Washington Globe 23-25 Jan 1838.
Part 2, War: l