Even a black man like John Horse could participate in Texas’ polite society,
so long as he maintained an illusory subservience. During visits to Montgomery’s
home, John Horse played the part by marshalling Coacoochee “with all ceremony
[as] his interpreter.” Montgomery studiously described the docility she observed
in “Gopher John, a full-blooded negro, whose immediate parents were from
John, or as the Lipans call him, “Laughing Dog,” is, in all his ways, true to
the records of three thousand years of dependent servitude. He is pliant,
docile, heedless of race or nationality, and only intent to serve his chief in
the way he is most pleased to be served, yet no coward withal, and as generous
and as light-hearted as he is thoughtless of the future.
Was John Horse, the black rebel who fought the U.S. Army to a standstill and
boasted of making many a white man “bite the dust,” really the meek, docile
porter described by Montgomery? And how could she describe as “thoughtless of
the future” a man who had repeatedly risked his life for the freedom of his
family and followers, across three decades and as many international frontiers?
The nineteenth century may offer few better examples of black
“double-consciousness” (or its corollary in white misperception) than this scene of John Horse, who rose to lead the
largest and most successful black rebellion in U.S. history, yet was still able
to reassure Cora Montgomery that deep down he was naturally subservient.
Montgomery 74, 145.