The year 2011 is off to a strong start in the field of Jacksonian studies. I’m currently reading Haynes’ book and hope to get a chance to review it and the others in the near future. (All book descriptions are excerpted from History Book Club.)
Patricia Brady, A Being So Gentle: The Frontier Love Story of Rachel and Andrew Jackson
The 40-year love affair of Rachel and Andrew Jackson not only parallels a tumultuous era in American history, it is also one of the most extraordinary of the many important White House partnerships. In A Being So Gentle, Patricia Brady sets this relationship against the backdrop of a country in transition, confronted with new challenges and a new view of itself in the world.
Sam W. Haynes, Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World
The War of 1812 is often seen as the second war for independence. The young American republic ill-prepared for a war against a superpower nevertheless battled to a status quo ante draw. We know, although Americans then could not, that the United States and Great Britain would never again fight each other. Thus for the decades following the Treaty of Ghent Americans viewed Great Britain enviously and warily. Some Americans, especially in New England, were unabashed Anglophiles, looking east for standards of taste, literature and moral encouragement on slavery. Many more saw Great Britain as a threat to the republic’s security and economic well-being. These dualities are the compelling story of Sam W. Haynes’ Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World. It is a history of the United States through 1850 as told through the prism of American concerns about Great Britain.
Brian Hicks, Toward the Setting Sun: John Ross, the Cherokees, and the Trail of Tears
The forced removal of the Cherokee Indians from their homelands in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina has troubled the conscience of many historians and writers. Thomas Jefferson wanted to remove the Cherokees from Georgia as early as 1802, but the final push that forced nearly all the Cherokees to live west of the Mississippi River came during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. This tragic chronicle has numerous complex subplots that require a talented storyteller such as Brian Hicks. His absorbing narrative focuses on two important Cherokee families—the Rosses and the Ridges. John Ross, the elected principal chief of the Cherokees, persistently opposed removal only to be betrayed by his political mentor, Major Ridge and his mentor’s son, John Ridge.
A.J. Langguth, Driven West: Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears to the Civil War
Enacted by President Andrew Jackson, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 foreshadowed the crises that were to beset the Union in the years to come. Despite the 1832 Supreme Court ruling by Chief Justice John Marshall that entitled Native tribes to federal protection from individual states’ infringement on their sovereignty, Jackson decreed that the Indians of Georgia be forcibly removed to make way for the exploding white population. Jackson’s policy, made largely to quell growing Southern sectionalism, set off angry debate in the Senate among such giants as Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster, and protests from such Northern writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, who represented the growing abolitionist movement. Southern slave owners understood that those protests would not stop with defending a few Indian tribes, and would eventually find their target in the issues of slavery and states rights.