Mitchell and Fitzpatrick re-propose
the treaty council they had urged Medill to approve two years
before. Now, Congress was locked in a debate over slavery in
Missouri, and the omens for a new council were not good which
Fitzpatrick left St. Louis for the Platte River country.
arrived at Big Timber, in late winter, where tribes had assembled
to await word on the big council. Fitzpatrick reported to
Mitchell that the tribes were expressing "... great interest and
anxiety in regard to the contemplated treaty."
After the last
snows had melted, Fitzpatrick settled in at Bent's Fort, on the
Santa Fe Trail to wait for news of the council from Mitchell.
While there, he sent a dispatch to his boss:"I regret exceedingly
that the whole arrangement has not been completed the past summer,
as I am confident that the Indians of that country will never be
found in better training, or their dispositions more pliable, or
better suited to enter into amicable arrangements with the
government, than they are at the present time."
In June, the
Missouri Republican newspaper reported that Fitzpatrick
had returned to St. Louis the previous day where he learned from
that action on their treaty had been delayed while Congress hacked
its way through the political thicket of slavery in Missouri.
Meanwhile, cholera continued to rage on the plains, and word from
Washington was not auspicious.
September, newspapers published stories that Mitchell and
Fitzpatrick were planning a grand treaty council to negotiate
rights of passage through Indian lands for Oregon bound
emigrants. Fitzpatrick wrote to Mitchell that a council was
"…necessary at this time to have some understanding with [the
Indians] in regard to the right of way through their
country." The new national census showed that the
population of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas had grown by
1.7 million in the past decade, while more than 100,000 citizens
had rushed to California to claim their fortune.