ANDREW JACKSON AND HIS INDIAN WARS

Robert Vincent Remini, Author . Viking $26.95 (317p) ISBN 978-0-670-91025-0

"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. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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