President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and A Great American Land Grab

Book - 2015
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Five decades after the Revolutionary War, the United States approached a constitutional crisis. At its center stood two former military comrades locked in a struggle that tested the boundaries of our fledgling democracy. One man we recognize: Andrew Jackson--war hero, populist, and exemplar of the expanding South--whose first major initiative as President instigated the massive expulsion of Native Americans known as the Trail of Tears. The other is a half-forgotten figure: John Ross--a mixed-race Cherokee politician and diplomat--who used the United States' own legal system and democratic ideals to oppose Jackson. Representing one of the Five Civilized Tribes who had adopted the ways of white settlers--cultivating farms, publishing a newspaper in their own language, and sending children to school--Ross championed the tribes' cause all the way to the Supreme Court. He gained allies like Senator Henry Clay, Chief Justice John Marshall, and even Davy Crockett. In a fight that seems at once distant and familiar, Ross and his allies made their case in the media, committed civil disobedience, and benefited from the first mass political action by American women. At stake in this struggle was the land of the Five Civilized Tribes. In shocking detail, Jacksonland reveals how Jackson, as a general, extracted immense wealth from his own armies' conquest of native lands. Later, as president, Jackson set in motion the seizure of tens of millions of acres in today's Deep South. This is the story of America at a moment of transition, when the fate of states and nations was decided by the actions of two heroic yet tragically opposed men.--From publisher description.
A renowned journalist and cohost of NPR's Morning Edition presents a thrilling narrative history of President Andrew Jackson and Cherokee Chief John Ross--two heroic yet tragically opposed men whose actions decided the fate of states and Indian nations in America at a moment of transition.
Publisher: New York, New York : Penguin Press, 2015
ISBN: 9781594205569
Branch Call Number: 973.56 INSKEEP
Characteristics: 421 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 25 cm


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May 15, 2016

Inskeep, the NPR Morning Edition reporter, has written a very informative historical account of the US in the early 19th century. Well researched, very well written, something most Americans should (but probably won't) read. Is there a reason that so many activists pushed to have Andrew Jackson's image removed from the $20 bill? Easy to see if you read the book, although this is me, Jim, saying this, not Inskeep.
It was a land grab, largely unscrupulous, and the Trail of Tears wasn't the only relocation of Native Americans from the Deep South and Florida to west of the Mississippi. John Ross, a Cherokee, fought brilliantly but legally and peacefully to use the White Man's laws and customs to achieve his ends and in the end largely failed. The fact that the vote(s) were very close regarding Cherokee relocation helps to make the entire book a compelling read. Plus it is easy to see how the racial discrimination of the 1820s and 1830s led directly to the Mexican American War, the US Civil War, the war against the Plains Indians and US adventurism in the Carribean, Hawaii, the Philippines and continues to this day. Inskeep doesn't go beyond the 1840s in Jacksonland but I hope he will in the future.


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