Reviewed Work: Red Gentlemen & White Savages: Indians, Federalists, and the Search for Order on the American Frontier
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Reviewed Work: Red Gentlemen & White Savages: Indians, Federalists, and the Search for Order on the American Frontier

  • Author(s): Thorne, Tanis
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license
Abstract

Red Gentlemen & White Savage,, a first book by David Nichols, is an overview of a very significant and complex subject: the formative era in Ameri­ can Indian policy. The years following the Ameri- can Revolution from 1783 to 1801 were bloody and unstable as thousands of settlers poured across the Appalachian Mountains. In the Old Northwest, a shifting alliance of Woodlands Indian groups, encour­ aged by the British traders still in their forts along the Great Lakes, per­ sistently opposed the settlers moving across the Ohio River in the 1780s and succeeded in winning important military victories in the early 1790s. In the old Southwest, Creeks and Cherokees sought aid from the Spanish in defense of their homelands. On the contested boundaries, both negotiation and force of arms were employed to attain physical and legal right to the soil. A prismatic cast of historical participants were engaged in this power struggle: Revolutionary war veterans with land warrants, land companies, land-speculating politicians, squatters, federal and state officials, Indian groups ranging from friendly to hos­ tile, and the British and Spanish governments. Wartime debt and wide­ spread opposition to enhancing federal power complicated the problem of establishing peace. U.S.-Indian relations, writes Nichols, were "anarchic" (p. 19).

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