To my fellow Bourbon Democrats and interested Mugwumps,

I write to you from the Badlands of South Dakota. Two years ago, soldiers from the 7th Cavalry Regiment, armed with aether oscillators, corralled a group of Lakota right here on their own Pine Ridge Reservation. In attempting to disarm the Natives of their few hatchets, a melee erupted, leaving scores of Indians and white men dead. Most of the Lakota deceased were women, children, and unarmed men.

In the wake of this disaster, an impassioned debate arose about how best to settle the West. Had President Harrison admitted too many Western states too quickly? Should Congress outlaw the production and use of aether weaponry? The only thing sensible people could agree on was their utter disgust with our treatment of the Natives.

Yet here in South Dakota, some have had the gall to suggest that white men have not yet visited enough atrocities on the Indians in our care. Consider these alarming words from the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, penned just weeks after the massacre by war-mongering editor Mr. L. Frank Baum: "The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends on the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the earth."

Wipe the Indians from the earth? Balderdash! I've heard more sensible ideas from the inhabitants of the Flying Monkey Pavilion at the Philadelphia Zoological Garden! Perhaps we ought to lock Mr. Baum up with the avian apes for a season, to see if they can bring him up to their level.

We are entrusted with the guardianship of the Indians, as much as of our own children. And as with children, we are to raise them rightly and correct them gently, that they might smoothly join civilized society. Let us therefore bury the ways of war at Wounded Knee. May the hatchets be turned into shovels, and the oscillators beaten into plowshares!

Grover Cleveland