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Lincoln and the Indians: CIVIL WAR POLICY AND POLITICS Paperback – December 16, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (December 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252068572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252068577
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,104,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[A] fine volume. The author makes his case with clear prose, impressive research, and thoughtful analysis that illuminates the historical process at its best. This excellent volume should be acquired by Illinoisans interested in the Lincoln Presidency and should be required by professors as supplemental reading for college students." -- Raymond E. Hauser, Journal of Illinois History "Undoubtedly the best book published on Indian affairs in the years of Lincoln's presidency." -- Henry E. Fritz, American Historical Review "[Nichols] does a superb job of probing the multiple factors and the complex interrelationship of events that produced Lincoln's Indian policy during the Civil War." -- American Indian Quarterly "Provocative and original... Nichols has given us a valuable study of a wretched side of the Lincoln era, one that specialists and generalists alike can no longer ignore." -- Stephen B. Oates, Journal of American History

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a paperback reprint of a book published in 1978. The message today is as timely as it was then -- or, for that matter as it was during Civil War America. Professor Nichols book is a good overview of Indian policy during the Civil War-- an often overlooked part of the Lincoln story.
The book begins with an overview of the system of Indian administration as it had developed by 1860. It was dominated by the political spoils system and by corruption resulting from the power accorded to the Indian agents. As a master of the art of pragmatic politics, Lincoln used the system -- as he needed to do--to hold the Union together-resulting in tragedy for too many of our country's Indian wards.
The book discusses the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma (then Indian territory) and their relationship to both the Union and the Confederacy. The story picks up focus, though, in the discussion of the Minnesota Sioux rebellion, the summary trials and capital sentences of over 300 Sioux Indians, and Lincoln's remission of the death sentence in all but 39 cases. Nichols tells this story well, perhaps giving Lincoln's actions less credit and less courage than they may deserve.
The book discusses Lincoln's attempts in 1862 to reform Indian policy, which were defeated by War exegencies and by Congressional inaction.He discusses a famous meeting held between Lincoln and the Indian chiefs in 1863 in the White House, again perhaps undervaluing Lincoln's intentions and the difficulties he faced.
He discusses the policy resulting from the Sioux war of concentrating the Indians under the control of the military with unsuccessful and inhumane results in Arizona and New Mexico. The book also includes an account of the too little known Sand Hill Massacre in Colorado in 1864.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marcus DeValentino on December 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lincoln and the Indians is powerful, heart wrenching, and scholarly. My book review and supporting research paper is for the major of Diplomacy and Military Studies, My Civil War Professor will appreciate my sourcing this text as well. Finding a specific literary source to cover "Why the Indians Fought On the Side of the Confederacy" was difficult. Even with this text, I had to change my strategy and reference the "Indian Office" as the factor. The material covers the full spectrum nevertheless. I did not expect the text to be a double feature in repeating the same story in the second half, but, with a more detailed chronology so, having already covered the history, I felt the time crunch albeit, the complete review is appreciated. This book should become an academic requirement for serious history students and universities. It is "The Missing Link" on Lincoln/Indian Civil War Policy and how it affected the Union victory and the Native American legacy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While Abraham Lincoln's Administration was consumed by the Civil War it is important to note that there were several side incidents. There was a tussle with Japan, there were some issues with France over their troops in Mexico, and there were terrible Indian wars, the worst being in Minnesota.

This book is the doctoral thesis of Professor David A. Nichols. He writes about Lincoln's Indian Policy. To sum it up, Lincoln's Indian Policy was a continuation of the policy of his predecessors. The Government made treaties with the Indians in exchange for land, moved the Indians to a reservation, and paid the tribe for the treaty. The payments were managed by Politically appointed Indian Agents. Most of these agents used their post to further their political power and line their pockets and the pockets of their friends and families. The welfare of the Indians was a secondary concern.

Nichols argues that the Indian Agents and their corruption was the cause of the Sioux Uprising of 1862. He also discusses a little known refugee crisis in Kansas caused by the Civil War's influence on the Indian Tribes in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). There is also some discussion of the treatment of the Navajo also. This book is critical of military policy towards the Navajo. Interestingly, T.R. Fehrenbach argues in his history of the Comanche the treatment of the Navajo by the military was considerably better than other tribes under other policies.

The book is focused on policy, so there is heavy emphasis on telegrams, white papers, statements by bureaucrats, and other movers and shakers in government. There is no accounting of the battles, no description of the organization, tactics and equipment of the units involved in the fighting. The Indians themselves are scarcely described.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karen Krueger on February 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is time to learn what really happened in our nation's history. David Nichols has done an excellent job teaching about Minnesota History and particularly how it brought so much suffering and devastation to the Dakota People.
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