Thomas L. McKenney

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Thomas Loraine McKenney.

Thomas Loraine McKenney (21 March 1785 – 19 February 1859) was a United States official who served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1824–1830.

McKenny was born on March 21, 1785, in Hopewell, Maryland. He was the oldest of five boys was raised and received his education at Chestertown, Maryland. McKenney was a Quaker which influenced his approach to interactions with Native Americans.[1]

After the abolishment of the U.S. Indian Trade program in 1822, then Secretary of War John C. Calhoun created a position without legislation within the War Department entitled Superintendent of Indian Affairs (this later became part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs). McKenney was appointed to this position and held it from 1824-1830. McKenney was an advocate of the American Indian “civilization” program and became an avid promoter of Indian removal west of the Mississippi River. President Andrew Jackson dismissed McKenney from his position in 1830 when Jackson disagreed with his opinion that “the Indian was, in his intellectual and moral structure, our equal.”

McKenney died in New York City in February 1859.


  • McKenney, Thomas L. Memoirs, Official and Personal: Thomas L. McKenney. [1846] With Introduction by Herman J. Viola. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973.
  • Viola, Herman J. Thomas L. McKenney: Architect of America’s Early Indian Policy: 1816-1830. Chicago: The Swallow Press Inc., Sage Books. 1974.

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