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A New Order of Things: Property, Power, and the Transformation of the Creek Indians, 1733-1816 (Studies in North American Indian History)

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521669436
ISBN-10: 052166943X
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Editorial Reviews


"Claudio Saunt's new book is the best interpretation of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Creek and Seminole history extant. With rare insight and flashes of brilliance, Saunt has given us an idea of the Creeks in a period of momentous historical complexity that is riveting, sensible, and compelling. Without a doubt, however, Saunt's is a well written, fascinating, and important book. I welcome it, and him, to the debate and know that our understanding of this rich and complex history will only be enhanced." American Historical Review

"Saunt offers a fine-grained and persuasive analysis of relationships between cultural change and political conflict within the Creek Nation in a critical period of transition." Georgia Historical Quarterly

"[Saunt's] analysis is brilliant. He also masterfully weaves gender and race, topics often segregated and marginalized even by scholars who include them in their works, into his compelling narrative of economic and political disparity. This book, in other words, contains many gems..." Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This is a splendid book. Claudio Saunt has written a thought-provoking ethnohistory of the Creek Indians focusing on the three decades following the American Revolution. He has offered fresh and compelling insights into the effects of colonial expansion in the Deep South and how Native Americans reacted and were swept away by it...This reviewer highly recommends A New Order of Things." Alabama Review

"We have long known that Creek life underwent a profound reorganization following the American Revolution. A New Order of Things presents a sophisticated and challenging retelling of this story." Western Historical Quarterly

"A well-written analysis from the valuable perspective of the native culture itself." Choice

"This book is a must-have for every scholar with an interest in the Creek people and the early South." Kathryn Holland Braund, The Journal of American History

"Saunt does an excellent job of documenting the mestizo acceptance of the European- American economic system...Claudio Saunt's monograph significantly expands our current understanding of the intricate intra- and inter- group relationships...Beacause it is well documented and succinctly argued, scholars will find this book useful and enlightening, and the general public will enjoy its fluid and uncomplicated." Indigenous Nation Studies Jrnl Fall 2000

Book Description

Claudio Saunt vividly depicts a dramatic transformation in the eighteenth century that overturned the world of the powerful and numerous Creek Indians and forever changed the Deep South. As the Creeks amassed a fortune in cattle and slaves, new property fostered a new possessiveness, and government by coercion bred confrontation. A New Order of Things is the first book to chronicle this decisive transformation in America's early history, a transformation that left deep divisions between the wealthy and poor, powerful and powerless.

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in North American Indian History
  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052166943X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521669436
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #525,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I teach and write about early American and Native American history at the University of Georgia.

My most recent book, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 (W.W. Norton, 2014), invites readers to extend their bounds and discover the continent beyond the British colonies. It explores nine American places in 1776. The settings are diverse, stretching from the Aleutian Islands to San Diego, and from the Florida Gulf Coast to the Saskatchewan River. Yet, there are surprising connections between them, sometimes through trade networks that intersected in distant warehouses, at other times through imperial administrators who plotted far-flung colonies on maps that contained more fiction than fact. As West of the Revolution illustrates, Americans across the continent faced revolutionary changes that were diffuse but powerful, unmanageable and often beyond the comprehension of participants.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Scott Coltrain on March 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Claudio Saunt has provided a scholarly exploration into the causes of the dramatic changes that took place within the Creek Confederacy during the latter portion of the 18th Century. Using primary sources, Saunt shows that it was the influence of the mestizos (children produced by marriages of Creek women with British and American traders) that introduced revolutionary concepts such as leadership through force and government by coercion, private property, reliance on plantation economy rather than hunting-trade for subsistence. No other mestizo accelerated the transformation than the brilliant leader Alexander McGillivray. Even though Saunt's work is scholarly, it is an easy read. It is certainly a must read for those who are interested in Creek History or an understanding of the Southeast during the latter half of the 18th Century and early 19th.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nicole M. on January 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Often when the authors of history texts write about the history and culture of Native Americans the cultural analysis ends with the introduction of European settlers. While authors since the 1970's have acknowledged the cultural richness and depth of Native Americans before the European explorers touched the New World, suddenly with the introduction of the explorers and the subsequent colonists, hunters become bloodthirsty warriors, women fade into the background, chiefs and elders are naively duped by educated politicians, and eventually the cavalry moves in to conquer and annihilate or force migration to reservations. These authors tell the archaeological history of the Native Americans and the story of their conquest, but tend to leave out or gloss over the transition in between. To most historians the story of Native American culture ends with the ravages of disease and the brutality of a modern army against primitive weapons, but Claudio Saunt fills in the gap in between. In an in-depth analysis of the Upper and Lower Creeks Saunt argues that the children of Creek mothers and European fathers brought the concepts of property ownership and political power to the Creek Indians during the period shortly after the American Revolution, and thus divided the tribes into two factions; those who wanted to maintain their culture and those who wanted to enrich themselves by accepting the European-styled economy and power structure that was beginning to dominate the Southeast. Drawing from American, British and Spanish primary sources, Saunt traces in detail the history of the Creek struggle and transition as it unfolded from 1733 to 1816.
Saunt has done excellent work in detailing the transition of the Creeks and the loss of their culture to the domination of the invading European way of life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on March 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provides a unique look at how the Muscogee Nation (called Creek by the Europeans) developed into a culture after the arrival of Europeans. The author provides an excellent start to the research available on this subject by looking at the aspects that affect Creek culture following not only the coming of Europeans but the United States as well. Saunt looks at religion, trade, the role of women, and the most importantly how private property changed the conception of what the Creek believed. European viewpoints became infused with Indian ones creating a "new order" that changed the Indians lives. The final part of the book looks at the response to the New Order through the redstick war and the British support during the war of 1812. This is popularly remembered in American history as Andrew Jackson's war against the Creeks. The war was vicious and the slaughter was great on both sides. Saunt does an excellent job of capturing the significance of the war and not getting caught up in the gory details. Although as other revierws point out the book lacks a conclusion it is a great start to the understanding of the people that make up the Muscogee Nation.

This book comes after years of hard work looking at primary sources. The current trend especially with the creek is for those who read not only the British and American sources but the Spanish as well. The Spanish kept excellent records that were well preserved and have offered many valuable insights into Indian culture. When writing an enthnohistory such as this it is always very difficult to capture the Indian voice and not sound like everything is coming from a European and Saunt does this well. The reader feels as though they are included in what the Indians were thinking and going through.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. phillips on October 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A well respected historian and I have been discussing this book of late and this is what I wrote to him recently. I will attempt to explain what I wrote.

"I think Saunt has written an important book with very impressive research but as most books its flawed and this one is filled with almost venomous predjudice and a lack of fairness to many players involved. In his writing I hear the voice of an angry, poor, alienated, and bitter Creek Indian who claims innocence for his own bad choices. This attitude clearly colors his descriptions of people like McGillivray and Hawkins and gives us a distorted view of them and who and what they represented.
He is dreaming that the world of the Creeks would not change and the male warriors could go on forever hunting deer with bows and arrows to assert their male gender roles and the females would go on forever in their female roles making food, pottery, clothes, and tanning hides in the same fashion. In other words...the culture does not change.
In short, his view is one sided and naive." ( end of my letter)

Again, This is an important book done with very impressive research.
It is about the final , convulsive years of the Creek Nation in the Southeast roughly from the time of death of Chief Alexander McGillivray (1793) and the final days of the Creek Civil Wars (1812-1814) which results in its sad dispossession of lands and removal to West of the Mississippi. Saunt's thesis is that a New Order brought down the Creek Nation. He gives an impressive presentation of how a "New Order" came about.

I recommend you buy and read this book but suggest that you read with care. I respect anyone who does this much research and work.
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