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Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars

4.2 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0142001288
ISBN-10: 0142001287
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"I want to assure the reader that it is not my intention to excuse or exonerate Andrew Jackson for the role he played in the removal of Native Americans west of the Mississippi River. My purpose is simply to explain what happened and why": so writes Remini, who won the National Book Award for his three-volume biography of the seventh president. This provocative book is sure to create controversy for scholars, the Native American community and lay historians, among others. Jackson was the president who "removed" the five "civilized" tribes from the South and forced them westward across the Mississippi River. Existing studies portray Jackson as a villain. Not so, says Remini, who examines Jackson's life to show that he was a product of his age, nothing more, nothing less. Indian tribes sided with the British during the Revolution, then repeatedly confronted the first generation of settlers who moved into the western frontier Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi. Jackson vaulted to national prominence when he bloodily crushed the British-allied Creek tribe in 1814 during the War of 1812. Then, with or without presidential approval, Southern District Commander Jackson invaded Spanish-held Florida; acting as an "Indian commissioner," he proceeded to lever indigenous people off their ancestral lands in exchange for territory farther west. The idea, Remini says, was first espoused by Thomas Jefferson and was supported by the vast majority of frontier Americans. Despite or, indeed, because of its grave, catastrophic results, Jackson's policy deserves to be judged in light of early 19th-century America, argues Remini. He further contends that Jackson's removal policy may have actually saved the tribes from being exterminated. Expert reviewers, pundits and descendants may feel otherwise. Maps not seen by PW.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (June 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142001287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142001288
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Although Americans are prone to refer to Jackson as "Old Hickory" or, in his day, as "the Hero", the Indian tribes of his day gave him the nickname of "Sharp Knife". This nickname was based upon Jackson's unrelenting warfare against the Creek Indians, particularly at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. Professor Remini shows in his careful and thorough study of Jackson and the Indians that the sobriquet was indeed well deserved. The book is a thorough and careful exposition of the cruelties practiced on the Indians during the Jacksonian Era culminating in their removal from their homes and their relocation west of the Mississippi River during and subsequent to Jackson's Presidency.
Remini is a master of his materials. He has written a National Book Award winning biography of Jackson together with many other works on the Jacksonian Era of our history.
After a brief introductory chapter summarizing Jackson's early years, Remini plunges into the story of Jackson's Indian wars. Prior to his Presidency, Jackson conquered the Creeks, Cherokees, Chickasaws and Seminoles in fierce no-quarter fighting. Jackson was resolute in his wish to remove the Indians from the Southeastern United States.
In addition to his leadership on the battlefield, Jackson was a participant in many treaties with the Indians in which the ceded large portions of their ancestral domain in return for small tracts of land and small sums of money. Here too, Jackson was a domineering, seemingly irresistible figure intent on opening the Southeast to the onrush of white settlement, with little regard for the effect of his actions on the Indians.
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Format: Paperback
This is a magnificent look at Andrew Jackson's war with the Native Americans. So many biographers bury their subject and forget that most readers what to know who their subject *was*, not merely what they *did.* Remini doesn't fall into this trap. He gives the reader a well-grounded and detailed look at Andrew Jackson as a man: his foibles, passions and prejudices, as well as his extreme ambition and vacillating brilliance.
Remini strikes a beautiful balance when examining Jackson's private life and military/political life. His examination of the Trail of Tears is absolutely riveting, and he weaves Jackson in and out of the narrative with rare poise and skill. The reader can actually picture Jackson in the midst of this conflict, feel his emotions and understand the decisions he made. When a biographer can paint such a vivid picture, the reader will always be rewarded.
This is an excellent book for the entire spectrum of people interested in Jackson. Whether you are a neophyte or an established Jacksonian historian, there is much to enjoy, as well as new material. The footnotes and bibliography are excellent resources and lead to additional sources for the reader. The minute I finished this, I bought the second volume, "Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832," also available here. This volume is truly an outstanding book
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Format: Hardcover
Let me start with a disclaimer: Prof. Remini was both my instructor in a history course and my Master's seminar advisor when he was a visiting professor at Columbia in 1959-'60. He approved my Master's Essay; I received my M.A. that year.
While his book is, as one would expect from Prof. Remini, clearly written and well-documened, it has a fundamental flaw which leads to my low rating. Not only is Remini unpersuasive in justifying Jackson's relentless efforts to remove the Indians, but he is also internally inconsistent. He argues: "There was no way the American people would continue to allow the presence of the tribes..." yet immediately before this assertion Remini had acknowledged that removal had barely passed Congress. Why was Congress so divided? Because - according to Remini himself - the American people had pressured Congress to protect the Indians' rights.
Not only does Remini have nothing to say to shoot down his own evidence showing wide popular support for the Indians, but he also fails to even discuss why the President who was ready, even eager, to use military force to compel obedience from a rebellious South Carolina at the time of the tariff/nullification controversy would be cowed by supposed popular opposition to the Indians removal.
I've long felt that Jackson had a generally very impressive administration but that his brutality towards the Indians was his greatest flaw as President. (His support for slavery was very wrong, of course, but it was not an issue in which he played a decisive role - as he did regarding the Southeastern tribes.) I wanted to read Remini's book because I thought that he, as the pre-eminent Jacksonian scholar, might at least provide a reasoned explanation for Jackson's actions. As I've made clear, he completely failed to do so.
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Format: Hardcover
The list of Remini's work at the beginning of the book shows that he has devoted the better part of his career to studying and writing about Andrew Jackson. For me, that makes this work infinitely more valuable than a "popular history" written by someone who has dealt with everyone from Crazy Horse to General Patton. It enables the author, in dealing with this one aspect of Jackson's career--his wars and treaties with American Indians--to show how it all meshes with his personal and political outlook. He also adds ample insight into the American culture of the time.
I was very impressed that a person who had spent so much time with his subject was able to treat him so even handedly. He did not, in any way, make Jackson into the hero he was believed to be in his own lifetime. The author shows that, at times, Jackson could be a dictatorial maniac. He is also not depicted as being highly intellectual. However,Remini makes it clear that Jackson was just the kind of person America needed at the time, to accomplish its goals (no matter how inhumane they might have been).
In fairness to potential readers, I must admit that this was not the kind of book that "I could not put down." Even though I read quite a bit of history, especially dealing with the many Indian Wars, I didn't really get drawn into this until the point where Jackson got more involved in his political career and closer to the presidency. Though I don't know if this is due to the writing, or simply my personal interests. Even so, this did spark an interest, for me, in the life and career of Andrew Jackson, and I now look forward to reading some of Remini's other works on the man.
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