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John Shields Tipton
John Tipton from Who-When-What Book, 1900
United States Senator

In office
Preceded by Robert Hanna
Succeeded by Albert S. White
Personal details
Born August 14, 1786
Sevier County, Tennessee
Died April 5, 1839 (aged 52)
Logansport, Indiana
Political party Democratic
Military service
Service/branch Militia
Unit Yellow Jackets
Commands Indiana Rangers
Battles/wars Tecumseh's War
 • Battle of Tippecanoe
War of 1812
 • Battle of Tipton's Island
 • Siege of Fort Wayne

John Shields Tipton (August 14, 1786 – April 5, 1839) was a US Senator from the state of Indiana.


Tipton was born in what is now Sevier County, Tennessee. His father was killed by Native Americans. His great uncle, also named John Tipton, was a prominent man in the area. When he was an infant, his uncle's house was besieged by supporters of an attempt to create the 14th state in Northeastern Tennessee called the State of Franklin.

At the age of 17, Tipton moved to Harrison County, Indiana. In 1806 he married Martha Shields.[1] He became a farmer. Fighting various Native American tribes, he commanded a militia unit of the Yellow Jackets in the Battle of Tippecanoe campaign in 1811, and served as Major in command of two companies of Indiana Rangers at Fort Vallonia during the War of 1812.[2] When peace was declared, Tipton was promoted to Brigadier-General.[3]

Tipton's marriage eventually fell apart and he was divorced in 1816.[4] He eventually entered politics. He served as a member of the Indiana State House of Representatives from 1819 to 1823. During this time, he founded the town of Columbus, Indiana originally known as Tiptonia, he participated in commissions to establish a new state capital for Indiana and to set the boundaries between Indiana and Illinois. In 1823, he became the United States Indian agent for the Potawatomi and Miami tribes. Also a captain in the militia, Tipton was responsible for rounding up the uncooperative Potawatomi and forcibly moving them to Kansas in what became known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death. In 1825, he married again, this time he married Matilda Spencer, the daughter of Captain Spier Spencer who died at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.[5]

In 1831, Tipton was elected by the state legislature to a seat in the United States Senate from Indiana to fill the unexpired term of James Noble who had died. He was reelected to a full term in 1832. He was a member of the United States Democratic Party and a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson. He served as chairman of the committees on roads and canals and Native American affairs from 1837 to 1839. In 1838, at the behest of Governor David Wallace, Tipton organized the forced removal of 859 Potawatomi from the vicinity of Plymouth and started them on the two-month-long "Trail of Death" to Kansas, which resulted in the deaths of more than 40 of them.

Death and legacy

Tipton declined to run for reelection due to poor health, and his term expired a month before his death. He died in Logansport, Indiana, a town that he helped to found. He is interred in Mount Hope Cemetery in Logansport, Indiana.[6] The towns of Tipton, Indiana,[7] and Iowa,[8] and Tipton County, Indiana are named after him.[9]


  1. Indian Treaty of 1826 - Tipton's Quest, by Carl Leiter
  2. Allison, Harold (1986). The Tragic Saga of the Indiana Indians. Paducah: Turner Publishing Company. p. 246. ISBN 0-938021-07-9. 
  3. Pershing, Marvin W. Life of General John Tipton and Early Indiana History. Tipton literary and Suffrage Club.  Also on
  4. Indian Treaty of 1826 - Tipton's Quest, by Carl Leiter
  5. Indian Treaty of 1826 - Tipton's Quest, by Carl Leiter
  6. "Gen John Tipton". Find A Grave. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  7. "Profile for Tipton, Indiana, IN". ePodunk. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  8. "Profile for Tipton, Iowa, IA". ePodunk. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  9. "Profile for Tipton, Indiana, IN". ePodunk. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Robert Hanna
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Indiana
Served alongside: William Hendricks and Oliver H. Smith
Succeeded by
Albert S. White

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