Dawes, Henry Laurens

Dawes, Henry Laurens,

1816–1903, U.S. Senator (1875–93), b. Cummington, Mass. He was U.S. district attorney for W Massachusetts (1853–57) and a Republican member of the House of Representatives (1857–75). He performed his most important service as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and gave his name to the Dawes ActDawes Act
or General Allotment Act,
1887, passed by the U.S. Congress to provide for the granting of landholdings (allotments, usually 160 acres/65 hectares) to individual Native Americans, replacing communal tribal holdings. Sponsored by U.S. Senator H. L.
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 and the Dawes CommissionDawes Commission,
commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, created by the U.S. Congress in 1893 under the Dawes Act with H. L. Dawes as chairman. Its aim was the reorganization of the Indian Territory by securing the assent of the chiefs to the extinguishing of tribal land
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.
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Dawes, Henry Laurens

(1816–1903) U.S. representative/senator; born in Cummington, Mass. A lawyer, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (Rep., Mass.; 1857–75) and to the U.S. Senate (1875–93); in the latter he served as chairman of the senate committee on Indian affairs. He wrote the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 which granted homesteads and citizenship, after 25 years, to those Native Americans who renounced their tribal holdings. He then served as chairman of the Dawes Commission (1893), which was set up to resolve problems with the Five Civilized Tribes who lived in the Indian Territory.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.