"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

28 March 2021

Happy Birthday, Schoolcraft

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was born on this day in 1793.

In the fall of 1855, a small book containing "The Song of Hiawatha" was given to the public. A few weeks after its appearance, the statement was made by a writer in a Washington, D. C., newspaper that Longfellow had taken “the entire form, spirit, and many of the most striking incidents” from the Finnish Kalevala. For a while critics amused themselves with preferring charges of plagiarism against this latest production of the poet. Spurred on by hunger for publicity, Poe once had led such an attack viciously. Longfellow and his friends had no great trouble in refuting the disagreeable assertions. In his notes to the poem, Longfellow gave full credit to Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s writings as the source of practically all of his material. When Schoolcraft’s The Myth of Hiawatha appeared in 1856 the slanders were effectually scotched. 

In 1899 Nathan Haskell Dole published a learned discussion of the relation of Hiawatha to the Kalevala, in which Longfellow was completely vindicated; but no one has ever adequately presented the important part played by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in the creation of the great American epic. 

Chase S. Osborn and Stellanova Osborn, from Schoolcraft, Longfellow, Hiawatha            

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