Wyandott Lyceum

Organized In 1844

From the papers of William Walker, Jr.

[Note: Lyceum is a hall or association providing for public lectures, concerts or entertainment. The following information from 1844 brings to light some interesting facts and shows how our culture was evolving at that time.  Despite the difficult circumstances our people found themselves in when they arrived in Kansas in 1843, they organized a debating society where important issues could be considered.  This is completely reminiscent of our very early history as recorded by the Jesuits in 1644. *”Councils took place most frequently at night. The young men were allowed to be present to initiate them to public affairs. In the presentation of their views, the elders adopted a special intonation that was used at no other time.  It was a lofty and measured tone and the delivery was slow and very distinct.  Each orator took up the proposition, repeated the opinions already expressed and then gave his own with the reasons for it.  Their discourses were filled with figures of speech and the nations were called by the names of their chiefs”(1). Perhaps today’s internet conversations and e-groups have taken the place of the Wyandott Lyceum and the earlier councils.   We can all agree when we get together online or in person we still love to discuss issues that are important to our people and nation. I am proud we still carry that trait in our spirit and bones.]

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The citizens of Wyandott City met according to notice and organized themselves into a society on the 36th of December 1844 for the purposes set forth in the following rules and regulations.

1. This society shall be called the Wyandott Lyceum.

2. The objects of this society shall be the moral and mental improvement of its members.

3. Its officers shall be a President and Vice President, a Secretary and five Managers.

4. The duties of the President and Vice President shall be to keep order and to act as judges in all matters which may be brought before the society, always however reserving an appeal to the house.

5. In all discussions and disquisitions before this society, no personal allusions shall be permitted.  Anyone violating this rule shall be immediately called to order and if persisted in, he shall not be permitted to proceed.

6. It shall be the duty of each member of this society once in two weeks or more often to present a proper subject for discussion which shall be recorded by the Secretary and out of which the President and Vice President shall select one to be discussed at the succeeding meeting.

7. At each meeting the President and Vice President shall designate two persons who shall act as foremen of the discussion at the succeeding meeting.  They shall choose sides on the question, select their men alternately one at a time from the members of the society.

8. This constitution may be amended or altered by vote of the society.

9. Any person may become a member of this society by subscribing their name to this constitution.

The following officers were elected:  James Washington, President; John Gibson, Vice President; and J. M. Armstrong, Secretary.  Members:  Henry Jaques, J. M. Armstrong, John Gibson, Francis Driver, Sarralius, James Washington, Thomas Punch, Walter Split the Logs, M. R. Walker, Lewis Lumpy, Mathew Mudeater.

The following topics were discussed by the Wyandott Lyceum:

No. 1 * discussed.  Should a female committing willful murder on a male person be punished by law?

No. 2 * discussed.  Are wars productive of more misery than the intemperate use of spirituous liquors?

No. 3 * discussed.  Is it right to inflict capital punishment?

No. 4 * discussed and decided in the affirmative.  Does fire possess more power than water?

No. 5 * discussed Jan. 21st.  Is it productive of the general good of the nation to divide the annuity moneys among the people?

No. 6 * discussed and decided in the negative.  Is the pursuit of the chase (hunting) productive of more good than agricultural pursuits?

No. 7 * discussed.  Is it a benefit to our nation to be divided into tribes?

No. 8 * discussed January 24th and decided in the affirmative.  Would it be of service to our people to have a town bell?

No. 9 * discussed January 24th and decided in the affirmative.  Should we compel parents by law to send their children to school?

No. 10 * discussed January 26.    Is it right or proper that we, the Wyandots alone of the Indian tribes, have a regular written code of laws?

No. 11 * discussed and decided in the affirmative.  Does the mother possess more influence in training up children than the father?

No. 12 * discussed February 17th and decided in the affirmative.  Should the Wyandots have a regular written constitution?

No. 13 * discussed February 6th and decided in the negative.  Should the Indians in Indian Territory unite in one general government?

No. 14 * Shall we have a national prison?

No. 15 * discussed January 28th 1845 and decided in the affirmative.  Is the credit system beneficial to community?

No. 16 * discussed February 13 and decided in the negative.  Is the mind of woman not really inferior to that of man?

No. 17.  Is the republican form of government in its nature better calculated to render its subjects happy than a monarchial government?

No. 18 * Discussed January 28th * Has thunder a real existence?

No. 19 * Discussed February 6th and decided in the affirmative.  Where the institutions of our forefathers good or calculated to render their people happy?

No. 20.  Has our earth a rotary motion?

No. 21.  Do our medicine feasts possess the virtues ascribed to them?

No. 22.  Is there any truth in witchcraft?

No., 23 * discussed January 26th, 1845, and decided in the negative.  Is the hog of more value to the farmer than the horse?

(1) from The Jesuit Mission Among the Hurons 1634 – 1650, Lucien Campeau, S.J., page 44.

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