Unworthy Republic

Unworthy Republic

The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory

Book - 2020 | First edition.
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"A masterful and unsettling history of the forced migration of 80,000 Native Americans across the Mississippi River in the 1830s"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : W. W. Norton & Company, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780393609844
Characteristics: xix, 396 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm


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2020 National Book Award finalist, Nonfiction

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Apr 13, 2021

The author recounts in detail, from much research, the dispossession of the fertile lands in the Eastern US from the Cherkoees, Creeks, and Choctows and their expulsion to "Indian Territory" in the West. He starts with the debate put forward by both Northern and Southern politicians about why these Indian groups should or should not be removed from their homelands. He identifies the strong views held on both sides of the debate by influential policitians, providing readers with many quotes of their exact words. He certainly points at the finger at white plantation-politicans in the South (ie Georgia) who supported the Indian expulsion because they saw the rich lands that they could use for their own financial benefit. The author supports this view with statistics and maps to show the increased cotton output these lands produced when the white plantation owners moved West to occupy these fertile lands once occupied by the Indians. He also delineates the avarice of northern bankers who speculated on the vacated Indian lands in the East (northern Georgia, Mississippi) and who had become wealthy upon selling that land, at huge profits, to southern plantation owners who then moved onto those lands with their slaves. He is also not shy in describing the bungling of the expulsion of the Indians by the army who was commissioned to "chaperone" these captured peoples, at times with bayonets drawn, to the designated Indian Territory in the West - beyond the Mississippi River. The author uses statistics to show the numbers of captives on the march who died and in what circumstances - to disease, to starvation, to lack of shelter in freezing weather. There was no mercy shown for the elderly who couldn't walk the hundreds of miles often in the winter months, to children, babies, or to sickly captives. The author includes the resistance of the Seminole Indians in Florida against the US army who was sent to expel them from those lands. He ends his book with a chapter showing what became of the participants who led this expulsion in the 1830's in the southern States - from the idealists who saw the expulsion as giving the Indians their Canaan, to the wily plantation politicians who coveted Indian land, to the army leaders, and the head of the US government who did not uphold their treaties with these Indians. There are many lessons to be learned from this book, especially about unscrupulous politicians. The author's many notes, with detailed bibliographical info and many primary sources, are astounding.

Nov 06, 2020

This book is a top choice for 2020 according to Publishers Weekly.


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