Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War
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Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War

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by A. J. Langguth
     
 

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By the acclaimed author of the classic Patriots and Union 1812, this major work of narrative history portrays four of the most turbulent decades in the growth of the American nation.

After the War of 1812, President Andrew Jackson and his successors led the country to its manifest destiny across the continent. But that expansion unleashed

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Overview

By the acclaimed author of the classic Patriots and Union 1812, this major work of narrative history portrays four of the most turbulent decades in the growth of the American nation.

After the War of 1812, President Andrew Jackson and his successors led the country to its manifest destiny across the continent. But that expansion unleashed new regional hostilities that led inexorably to Civil War. The earliest victims were the Cherokees and other tribes of the southeast who had lived and prospered for centuries on land that became Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

Jackson, who had first gained fame as an Indian fighter, decreed that the Cherokees be forcibly removed from their rich cotton fields to make way for an exploding white population. His policy set off angry debates in Congress and protests from such celebrated Northern writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson. Southern slave owners saw that defense of the Cherokees as linked to a growing abolitionist movement. They understood that the protests would not end with protecting a few Indian tribes.

Langguth tells the dramatic story of the desperate fate of the Cherokees as they were driven out of Georgia at bayonet point by U.S. Army forces led by General Winfield Scott. At the center of the story are the American statesmen of the day—Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun—and those Cherokee leaders who tried to save their people—Major Ridge, John Ridge, Elias Boudinot, and John Ross.

Driven West presents wrenching firsthand accounts of the forced march across the Mississippi along a path of misery and death that the Cherokees called the Trail of Tears. Survivors reached the distant Oklahoma territory that Jackson had marked out for them, only to find that the bloodiest days of their ordeal still awaited them.

In time, the fierce national collision set off by Jackson’s Indian policy would encompass the Mexican War, the bloody frontier wars over the expansion of slavery, the doctrines of nullification and secession, and, finally, the Civil War itself.

In his masterly narrative of this saga, Langguth captures the idealism and betrayals of headstrong leaders as they steered a raw and vibrant nation in the rush to its destiny.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
USC professor of journalism Langguth (Union, 1812) maintains America's first civil war occurred during the 1830s when Andrew Jackson expelled Indian tribes from the Deep South. Recounting the events from 1825 through the Civil War (which forced the Cherokees to choose between North and South), he puts in context the expulsion of the Cherokees from the South and their tragic Trail of Tears. Langguth proceeds through chapters that each focus on one figure in the drama, from John Calhoun to Cherokee chief John Ross. By 1820, wars and draconian peace treaties had already eliminated many Indians from the South. Exhorted by Southern white leaders to move to Oklahoma territory, some complied, but many refused; some became Christian. The end came when Andrew Jackson overcame Northern opposition to the 1830 Indian Removal Act. The army ejected reluctant Indians and with little planning for the long trip, 25%–50% percent of the 50,000 deportees died of disease and starvation. Readers of this engrossing, profoundly depressing history may not consider the fight over Indian removal civil war, but few will doubt that it represents a bitter North–South conflict in which the bad guys won. B&w photos. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
Advance Praise for

DRIVEN WEST

“A.J. Langguth’s Driven West is American history at its absolute finest. The sad legacy of Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal policy is expertly re-examined with literary verve and deep scholarship. Langguth is a master of the narrative history. Highly recommended!”

—Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior

“Jack Langguth has adopted a distinctive and hugely satisfying approach in recounting the fate of the Cherokee Indians, crushed by the exuberance of Manifest Destiny in the three decades from Jackson to Lincoln. In weaving the Cherokee story into the broader tapestry of American politics of that time, he renders a dramatic pictorial filled with powerful and sad figures, the clash of cultural impulse, and the force of human tragedy. The story is heart-breaking, as history so often is.”

—Robert Merry, author of A Country of Vast Designs

Praise for Union 1812

“The vivid retelling of the story of a war that still has everything to do with who we are and how we got this way.”
—Jon Meacham, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Praise for Patriots

“History as it should be written—with illuminating insight into character, a sweeping narration of events, and a splendid eye for detail.”
—Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

“A grand, irresistible book.”

The Washington Post Book World

Library Journal
This revisionist account of Andrew Jackson's presidency and policies lays out the immense human and political impact of Jackson's forced removal of Native Americans, the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Langguth (journalism, emeritus, Univ. of Southern California; Union 1812) goes beyond traditional accounts of Jackson and the Cherokees, such as Robert Remini's Andrew Jackson and His Indian War, by examining antebellum politics of slavery, the Mexican War, and the doctrine of states' rights in relation to the forced relocation of the Cherokee from Georgia and North Carolina to the western Indian Territory. Langguth argues that Jackson's refusal to respect Cherokee land rights, even after the Supreme Court decision that upheld those rights, fed the flames of political violence and civil conflict, which ultimately climaxed in Southern secession and war. VERDICT A story told with players from 1825 to 1865 and including (in addition to Jackson) such politicians as Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun; Cherokee leaders Major Ridge, John Ross, and Elias Boudinot; and the intriguing socialite Margaret Eaton, this work is sure to be controversial among western expansion and Civil War scholars and as such is highly recommended for individuals with interests in Cherokee and Civil War history. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/10.]—Nathan E. Bender, Laramie, WY
Kirkus Reviews

In this history of the four decades preceding the Civil War, Langguth (Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence,2006, etc.) argues that Andrew Jackson's handling of the Cherokees sowed the seeds of secession.

The author organizes the narrative around a series of individual portraits, one per chapter. Some are well-known, including presidents, generals or senators such as Clay and Calhoun. Others, including Cherokee leaders Major Ridge and John Ross, will be new names to most readers. The author focuses mostly on the Cherokees, whose expulsion from Georgia has gone down in infamy as the Trail of Tears, one of the greatest blots on American history. The Cherokees were one of the "Five Civilized Tribes," many of whom had adopted an agricultural, settled lifestyle in many ways identical to their white neighbors, right down to the use of slaves to work their fields. It was their misfortune to occupy territory coveted by white plantation owners, the prime cotton-growing lands of the Deep South. They believed Jackson, whose allies they had been during his campaigns against the British, to be their protector. But Jackson was playing a more complex game, in which sectional disputes and party politics threatened to tear apart the young nation while the likes of Clay and Adams tried to hold it together. Southerners, suspicious of any limitation on slavery, opposed Jackson's policies with threats to secede and with the doctrine of nullification, giving states the right to void federal laws they disliked. Supporting the Georgians in their desire to expel the Cherokees, Jackson allowed the South to expand and strengthen its main asset, agricultural wealth. Langguth puts the backroom deals, Washington gossip and tribal politics into the larger context of the expulsion of the Cherokees from their homeland. By giving in to the Georgians, writes the author, Jackson made the Civil War inevitable. The final chapters, leading up to the eve of the war, are somewhat rushed compared to the full treatment of the events of the 1830s and '40s.

A disturbing reconsideration of a key period of history and a powerful indictment of its main actors.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416548591
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
11/09/2010
Pages:
466
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

A. J. Langguth (1933–2014) was the author of eight books of nonfiction and three novels. After Lincoln marks his fourth book in a series that began in 1988 with Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution. He served as a Saigon bureau chief for the New York Times, after covering the Civil Rights movement for the newspaper. Langguth taught for three decades at the University of Southern California and retired in 2003 as emeritus professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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