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Greenwood LeFlore

Greenwood LeFlore
Born June 3, 1800 (1800-06-03)
LeFleur's Bluff
Died August 31, 1865 (1865-09-01)
Residence Choctaw nation, Mississippi
Nationality Choctaw, American
Education Educated by Major Donly in Nashville, Tn.
Occupation Tribal chief, planter and entrepreneur; Mississippi State Senate 1841-1844
Title Chief & State Senator
Predecessor Robert Cole, before Cole was Apuckshunubbee
Successor George W. Harkins
Spouse(s) 1st-Rosa Donley (12/4/1817), Priscilla Leflore
Children William, Benjamin, Basil, Clarissa, Forbis, Jackson, Emily, and three other daughters.
Parents Louis LeFleur and Rebecca Cravatt

Greenwood LeFlore or Greenwood Le Fleur (June 3, 1800 – August 31, 1865) was a mixed-race leader of the Choctaws who was also elected state legislator and senator in Mississippi. A wealthy and regionally influential trader with many connections in state and federal government, he was elected chief of the entire Choctaw tribe shortly before the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1824. He was the first Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation, which had previously been governed by a council of regional chiefs. He remained in Mississippi after Indian Removal, and was elected to state government. During the American Civil War, he sided with the Union and lost most of his property.



LeFlore was the son of Rebecca Cravatt, high-ranking Choctaw niece of the chief Pushmataha and Louis LeFleur, a French fur trader and explorer from French Canada. [1] When LeFlore was twelve, his father sent him to Nashville to become educated in European-American schools.[1]

Advocate of civilization

While LeFlore was not said to be popular among the full-blood tribal men, he became a powerful and influential man at an early age, in part because of his mother's and uncle's positions.[1] When Leflore was 22, he became chief of the western district of the Choctaw Nation when it was still in Mississippi. On March 15, 1830, he became the head chief of the entire nation. He is credited with abolishing the Choctaw "blood for blood" law, which dictated rounds of revenge for murders.

LeFlore aupported the civilization program which U.S. President George Washington and Henry Knox developed during the Washington administration. He encouraged Choctaws to make permanent residence, cultivate the land in agriculture, convert to Christianity, and send their children to United States schools for education.

wee [sic] are anxious to become sivillize [sic] Nation if our father lets us rest few years but wee [sic] have been pastered for land so much wee [sic] dont know what to do hartly, but I hope wee [sic] will rest now awhile.

—-Greenwood LeFlore, 1827[2]

Marriage and family

At age 17, LeFlore married Rosa Donley. After her death, he married again, to a woman named Priscilla. He had ten children: William, Benjamin, Basil, Clarissa, Forbis, Jackson, Emily, and three other daughters.


Despite being recognized as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes", the Choctaw were under pressure from encroaching European-American settlers. They were entering the territory in great number. The US government wanted to remove the Choctaw to lands west of the Mississippi River. In treaty negotiations, LeFlore used his formidable personal political capital and position as head of a unified tribe to secure the largest and most desirable areas of what would later be called Indian Territory. He did not oppose removal because he regarded it as inevitable, given his assessment of the politics and the growing European-American population.

In the event, the Choctaw were awarded the largest territory of any removed tribe. It was located in the fertile, forested southeast corner of what is now Oklahoma. For his part in the treaty negotiations, the US government gave LeFlore title to one thousand acres (4 km²) of land in Mississippi; he did not move to Indian Territory with other Choctaw.

LeFlore's accomplishments in unifying and strengthening the Choctaw people are still honored. His pragmatic approach to their removal from ancestral lands has been controversial. Some Choctaws felt LeFlore let them down because he was one of the leading chiefs involved in the treaty, and they thought he could have refused removal.

LeFlore as a U.S. citizen

In the 1840s, LeFlore was elected Mississippi representative and senator. He was a fixture of Mississippi high society and a personal friend of Jefferson Davis. He represented his county in the state house for two terms and served as a state senator for one term.

The Latin language was popular among the educated elite, and from time to time, politicians used it in their discussions at the capital. In defense of his heritage, LeFlore spoke in Choctaw and asked the floor of the legislature which was better understood.

Civil War

LeFlore spoke against secession. When LeFlore's mansion was set on fire by opponents, enslaved African Americans put out the fire. During the American Civil War, LeFlore remained loyal to the Union. He refused to acknowledge the Confederate States of America and did not pay taxes to its government.

During the Civil War, LeFlore lost his stores of cotton, all his slaves, and other valuable property.


Malmaison, Greenwood LeFlore's home

Malmaison, LeFlore's Carroll County home, burned in 1942. Only a few pieces of crystal and silver, and some chairs were salvaged from the ruins. The horse carriage used to transport LeFlore to visit Andrew Jackson and other Washington D. C. visitors had been saved and was preserved.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Campbell, Will. Providence. Atlanta, Georgia: Long Street Press.  
  2. ^ Morrison, James. "Red Meets White". The Social History of the Choctaw Nation: 1865-1907. p. 11. ISBN 0-917634-28-4.  

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