Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars

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9780142001288: Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars

The expulsion of Native Americans from the eastern half of the continent to the Indian Territory beyond the Mississippi River is one of the most notorious events in U.S. history and the single most controversial aspect of Andrew Jackson's presidency. Preeminent Jacksonian scholar Robert Remini now provides a thoughtful analysis of the entire story of Jackson's wars against the Indians, from his first battles with the Cherokees and Creeks to his presidential years, when he helped establish the Indian Territory in Oklahoma and, as a result, the Trail of Tears. This is at once an exuberant work of American history and a sobering reminder of the violence and darkness at the heart of our nation's past.

"Vividly written and often harrowing . . . Remini recounts Jackson's exploits . . . with riveting narrative prose." (Michael Holt, Chicago Tribune)

"When it comes to Jackson . . . there are few who have such a masterly command of the sources as Mr. Remini [who] kept me up late at night reading and causing me to wonder why, with narrative history such as this, anyone bothers to read historical novels." (Roger D. McGrath, The Wall Street Journal)

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Review:

Like many of his Scots-Irish contemporaries on the western frontier of the early United States, Andrew Jackson grew up despising and fearing his Indian neighbors. He proved to be a formidable enemy, campaigning against the Cherokee, Creeks, Chickasaws, and other peoples, some of them former allies against England in the Revolution and the War of 1812. In doing so, he established precedents that his compatriots would follow for the rest of the 19th century.

Robert Remini, the National Book Award-winning biographer of Jackson, here turns his attention to Jackson's relations with the Indian nations of the American South. Those relations, he writes, were tempered by the racism of the day, but, as both general and president, Jackson was also unusual in enforcing rights guaranteed to those nations by treaty, even in instances when he disagreed with the terms. Despite his sense of justice, Jackson kept to his conviction that "Indians had to be shunted to one side or removed to make the land safe for white people to cultivate and settle," and during his tenure as president he pursued a policy of forced removal through which the Indian nations were relocated to the so-called Indian territories west of the Mississippi River, which in turn would be overrun only a few years later.

Though critical of Jackson's policies and actions, Remini suggests that removal saved many of the eastern Indian nations from almost certain annihilation. That view, while capably argued, is controversial, and some scholars of American Indian history are sure to take issue with it. Still, this is a valuable addition to the historical literature, one of interest to general readers as well as Remini's fellow historians. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Robert V. Remini is professor emeritus of history and the humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to his National Book Award-winning three-volume biography of Andrew Jackson, he is the author of numerous other books.

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