In Thomas Jefferson's time, white Americans were bedeviled by a moral dilemma unyielding to reason and sentiment: what to do about the presence of black slaves and free Indians. That Jefferson himself was caught between his own soaring rhetoric and private behavior toward blacks has long been known. But the tortured duality of his attitude toward Indians is only now being unearthed.
In this landmark history, Anthony Wallace takes us on a tour of discovery to unexplored regions of Jefferson's mind. There, the bookish Enlightenment scholarcollector of Indian vocabularies, excavator of ancient burial mounds, chronicler of the eloquence of America's native peoples, and mourner of their tragic fatesits uncomfortably close to Jefferson the imperialist and architect of Indian removal. Impelled by the necessity of expanding his agrarian republic, he became adept at putting a philosophical gloss on his policy of encroachment, threats of war, and forced land cessionsa policy that led, eventually, to cultural genocide.
In this compelling narrative, we see how Jefferson's close relationships with frontier fighters and Indian agents, land speculators and intrepid explorers, European travelers, missionary scholars, and the chiefs of many Indian nations all complicated his views of the rights and claims of the first Americans. Lavishly illustrated with scenes and portraits from the period, Jefferson and the Indians adds a troubled dimension to one of the most enigmatic figures of American history, and to one of its most shameful legacies.
Anthony F. C. Wallace was University Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Logan's Mourner
The Land Companies
The Indian Wars
Notes on the Vanishing Aborigines
Native Americans through European Eyes
In Search of Ancient Americans
Civilizing the Uncivilized Frontier
President Jefferson's Indian Policy
The Louisiana Territory
Confrontation with the Old Way
Return to Philosophical Hall
Conclusion: Jefferson's Troubled Legacy
List of Illustrations
List of Documents
What People are Saying About This
Anthony F. C. Wallace, one of our premier historical anthropologists, has written a sober and troubling reassessment of Thomas Jefferson and the American Indian. Only a scholar as alive to paradox and tragedy as Wallace is could have written such a fine book on such a difficult subject.
Gary B. Nash
Wallace's study of the always enigmatic Jefferson will shock many but enlighten all. This masterful account of how the admirer and student of Indian languages and character was also the architect of removal policy and the grand rationalizer of cultural genocide is a must-read for all who teach American history. The master lesson of this absorbing book is how Jefferson's love of minimal government and maximal individual freedom, combined with his insatiable appetite for land, became the perfect formula for seizing Indian land and rationalizing the frontiersmen's ethnic cleansing. Gary B. Nash, University of California, Los Angeles
Anthony F. C. Wallace, one of our premier historical anthropologists, has written a sober and troubling reassessment of Thomas Jefferson and the American Indian. Only a scholar as alive to paradox and tragedy as Wallace is could have written such a fine book on such a difficult subject. Sean Wilentz, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University
Many have written ably on Thomas Jefferson and the Indians, but none has succeeded in bringing together as thoroughly and effectively as this book so many different, relevant dimensions of that topic. This is a rich, multidimensional book that offers a complex and utterly convincing interpretation of Jefferson and the first Americans. Anthony Wallace has succeeded in taking a fresh and engaging look at the subject. His approach and perspective are unique. Drew McCoy, Clark University
Patricia Nelson Limerick
A good, thorough, fair, balanced, detailed, illuminating, clearly written, eminently sensible book. How to appraise Thomas Jefferson--especially how to reconcile his soul-stirring rhetoric with his less soul-stirring actions--is a subject of constant, if sometimes fevered, interest. The interpretive talents of Anthony F. C. Wallace give us every good reason to rejoice in the publication of this book. Patricia Nelson Limerick, University of Colorado, Boulder