Book submission: The Life, History, and Travels of Kah-Ge-Ga-Gah-Bowh

Title: The Life, History, and Travels of Kah-Ge-Ga-Gah-Bowh
Author: Copway, George
Publication date: Philadelphia: James Harmstead, 1847 (Sixth Edition)
Library: Columbia University (Butler Library)
Call number: 302.83 C796
Submitted by: Tara Key
Description:
The Reverend Isaac Aylsworth Savage, recipient of this presentation copy, was a Methodist minister who was stationed in Lowell in 1849. He died young, at age 40, in 1854 shortly after this book was gifted to him.

George Copway, the author and presumed presenter, was an Ojibwa Indian who converted to Christianity and had been an ordained Methodist minister. In 1842, prior to writing this book, he was charged with embezzlement by the Indian Department, who he served as vice-president of the Ojibewe General Council, which resulted in being convicted by the Indians and being defrocked by the Methodists.

After this event, he and his wife and children moved to New York City, were he wrote “The Life, History and Travels..” Copway toured the Atlantic seaboard in 1847-1848, speaking on temperance and Indian themes. The book was quite popular and went through seven editions by 1848, after being published in 1847.

He befriended historian Francis Parkman, James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who he also gifted with a book in 1849. Longfellow wrote The Song of Hiawatha six years later, and Copway was the only Ojibwe he met prior to writing the poem based on the Lake Superior Ojibwe.

Copway was a complex man ultimately caught between two worlds. Indians did not fully trust him and he faced racism in settler society. He joined the Know-Nothings in an act of intolerance in 1851. In 1865, he abandoned his family and was actually baptized a Catholic on January 17, 1869 just days before he died.

This copy belonged to historian Frederic Bancroft.

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