Indian Superintendent Felipe S. Delgado 1865-1866
Shortly before he was assassinated, Abraham Lincoln named Felipe S. Delgado Superintendent of Indian Affairs

The UNM library has a vast number of letters on microfilm of letters sent to Felipe S. when he was Superintendent of Indian Affairs. There are a few letters from him. In the file is a letter from President Johnson who had heard that Indians were held in slavery in New Mexico.

This is the letter of appointment from Washington:

Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, March 18, 1865.

Sir. I have to inform you that you have been appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to be Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of New Mexico, in place of Michael Steck, removed. The Superintendency is located at Santa Fé, where it will be continued until otherwise directed from this Office.

Should you accept the appointment, you will execute a bond (the form of which I enclose) in the final sum of Fifty thousand Dollars, with two or more sureties, whose sufficiency must be certified by a Judge or a District Attorney of a District court of the United States: and before such Judges, or a Justice of the Peace, you will take the oath of office (of which a form is attached to the bond) --if before the latter, his official character must be certified by the proper Court or officer under seal. You will attach to our bond a one Dollar Internal Revenue Stamp.

After executing your bond and taking the oath of Office, you will deliver the same to Honorable Kirby Benedict, Chief Justice of the Territory of New Mexico for transmission to his Office. He will be advised of your appointment and your Commission be sent to him, with instructions to deliver the same to you on the receipt of your bond, duly executed as above directed and delivered to him, a satisfactory bond with the oath of office, to deliver to you all the books, papers, property, monies and effects appertaining to said Superintendency. He will also be requested to render you such advice and assistance and may be necessary to the entering upon the duties of your office, and on the receipt of your bond at this office, all necessary instructions in regard to the duties of your superintendency will be given from here.

Your compensation will be at the rate of $2000 per annum, to commence at the time you relieve Superintendent Steck of the duties of the superintendency. Very Respectfully, Your obedient Servant, M. P. Dole Commissioner, Felipe Delgado, Esq., Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A newspaper clipping from the 40s reads:

"Signature of Abraham Lincoln on Delgado Family Document. The coming of Lincoln's birthday is a reminder that the signature of the great President, on one of the last official papers signed before his assassination, is in the possession of a Santa Fe family. On March 8, 1865, only a little more than a month before his death, President Lincoln signed the commission of Don Felipe Delgado of Santa Fe as Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Territory of New Mexico.

The commission, which is now one of the prized possessions of Don Felipe's granddaughter, Mrs. Margaret Ortiz, bears the name "Abraham Lincoln" in the very legible but somewhat angular handwriting that seems to speak of the rugged and direct character of the Great Emancipator. He names Don Felipe as Superintendent of Indian affairs for four years from March 8, 1865.

Don Felipe Delgado, who was born in 1829 and died in 1895 was a descendant of the first Delgado to come to New Mexico, a Captain in the Spanish army who settled here with his family in 1778 (this date is wrong, c.o.h.). Don Felipe was a merchant trading between Santa Fe and Chihuahua, in Old Mexico. At that time the home of the Delgado family was on San Francisco St., where the Lensic Theater now stands.

A daughter and a son of Don Felipe are still living in Santa Fe. They are Sister Gertrude of the Sisters of Loretto, and Emilio Delgado. Many of his grandchildren are living in the Ancient City, including County Clerk Margaret Ortiz, Mrs. Frank Lucero, Mrs. Antonio Baca, Mrs. Stella Armijo, Adelina Delgado, Freddie Delgado, Arthur Delgado, John Valdez, Felipe Valdez and Conrad Valdez."

From "The White Mesa Utes, Utah Native Americans" by Robert S. Mc Pherson and Mary Jane Yazzie, published on the internet: "Perhaps the most dramatic proof of Ute, Paiute, and Navajo cooperation occurred in September 1866 when a group of Capote and Weenuche Utes and a few Mexicans met to plan a trap for some Navajos who had avoided capture and were living in northern Arizona. They intended to invite the Navajos to live nearby, but when they arrived the Utes would kill the men, enslave the women and children, and capture the livestock. However, upon hearing this plan, Cabeza Blanca, a Weenuche leader, disagreed with the others, saying that he had friends among those Navajos whom he did not want to have killed. A fight ensued during which the Capotes killed Cabeza Blanca and then fled to Tierra Amarilla for protection. After exacting revenge, the Weenuche, according to a government report, "then left, joining as is supposed the Wymin and Pah Utes who had made friends with the Navajos in the meantime. The whole party of Wymin, Pah Utes, and Navajos then left that region and went to the neighborhood of Rio Dolores, Sierra Salir [La Sal Mountains], and Sierra Orejas [Bears Ears] ." The reference cited is Major Albert Pfeiffer to A. K. Graves, Dec. 10, 1866. Felipe Delgado to Office of Indian Affairs, January 7, 1866, Record Group 75, Letters received by Office of Indian Affairs, New Mexico, Superintendent 1866 and 1868.

On June 9, 1865, President Andrew Johnson wrote to him regarding Indian slavery in New Mexico. This was published in the newspaper:

About Captive Indians
Executive Mansion
June 9, 1865

It is represented to me in a communciation from the Secretary of the Interior that Indians in New Mexico have been seized and reduced into slavery and it is recommended that the authority of the Executive branch of the Governement should be exercised for the effectual suppression of a practice which is alike in violation of the rights of the Indians, and of the provisions of the organic law of the said Territory.

Concurring in this recommendation, I do hereby order that the heads of the several Executive Departments do enjoin upon the subordinates, agents, and employés under their respective orders or supervision, in that Territory, to discountenance the practive aforesaid, and to make all lawful means to suppress the same. ANDREW JOHNSON

On August 5, 1865, Felipe S.Delgado published this statement in the newspaper:


In consequence of the contents of the foregoing communication and in obedience to the law upon the subject, all United States Indian Agents in this Territory are hereby positively instructed and required not to allow any citizen of this Territory to purchase or trade for, or sell any captive Indians of whatever tribe, as the transaction would be essentially in violation of the law and against the spirit of liberty of our system of Government. At the same time, all white citizens are notified not to continue said trade in Indian captives. All my efforts will be herafter employed in abating and preventing the traffic referred to and in carrying out the law and my instructions on the subject. Felipe Delgado, Supt. Indian Affairs, New Mexico

Direct descendent of Felipe S., Bernadett Charley Gallegos obtained a copy of the following letter from Felipe S.

Office Supt. Ind. Affs.

Santa Fe July 16, 1865


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of [--] [--] enclosing a communication from the Secty of the Interior and an order from His Excellency the [--] of the United States, in reference to the enslaving of Indians in New Mex.

In reply allow me to say that the representations made to the Government upon this subject have been greatly exaggerated. It is true there are among the Citizens of this Country a large number of Indian Captives belonging to various tribes, that have been allegedly purchased from the Utahs, Navajo, and some other tribes, but the object in purchasing them has not been to reduce them to slavery, but rather from a Christian piety on the part of the whites to obtain them, in order to instruct and educate them in civilization and at the same time to leave them at full liberty whenever the Indian [--] it. In some cases to remain until they were twenty one years of age.

This has been the practice of this country for the last century and a half and the result arising from it has been to it the captives, favorable, humane and satisfactory. When those Indians wish to marry their guardians do not object but rather treat them as their adopted children and give them [p--] aid at the time of marriage. When the guardian dies they usually leave something to the captives.

But in my official capacity I am always ready to obey the laws and comply with the order of my superiors. With this motive in view I hope you will give me such further instructions as may seem proper on the subject. I have already given orders to the several agents under my charge that under no pretext whatsoever will Indians be hereafter permitted to be sold and held as slaves.

I will employ all my vigilance to the end that this practice may be forever discountenanced.

Very respectfully

Yr Obdt Sert

Supt. Ind. Aff.

Hon. W. P. Dole

Comm. Ind. Affr.

Washington City

Felipe was only Superintendent of Indian Affairs for one year. Abraham Lincoln was assasinated shortly after Felipe's appointment.

In Old Santa Fe, Twitchell cites an article of the Santa Fe Gazette which calls the superintendent of Indian Affairs Don Felipe Delgado, an officier before whose integrity and honesty of purpose a certain antagonist of his would appear as blackness does before white (p. 354).

Felipe did not keep this job for a full year and there is reason to believe that his tenure was controversial. I believe that he was the only Spaniard to have been named to the post. On p. 350 of the "Frank Warner Argel's Notes on the New Mexico Territory", Arizona and the West, Lee Theisen (ed.), there is this entry: "Delgado F. Santa Fe, I think reliable --Great church man. According to the 1880 census Felipe Delgado was 51 years old. He had been a merchant in New Mexico since 1846 and served as superintendent of Indian Affairs (1865-66). In 1866 an investigator from the Bureau of Indian Affairs recommended the removal of Delgado from his post as Indian superintendent. He was "incapable of discharging the responsibilities of his office and could neither read nor write English." Delgado also refused to take a strong stand against Indian peonage. He served as territorial treasurer (1865, 1869), and a member of the legislature (1862-65, 1880-81). New Mexico, Tenth Census, 1880, T 9, roll 804; Haines, History of New Mexico, 293-94; Lansing P. Bloom (ed.), "Historical Society Minutes, 1859-1863," NMHR, XVIII (July 1943); 274; Gerald Thompson, Army and the Navajo: The Bosque Redondo Reservation Experiment, 1863-1868 (U. of Arizona, 1976), 107."

In notes in her papers in the Southwestern Reading Room of the UNM Library, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert states that the Delgados never owned slaves.