In Creek Paths and Federal Roads: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves and the Making of the American South, Angela Pulley Hudson describes the creation of the Federal Road and its impact on Indian – American relations.
She begins by explaining the differences in Native American and Euro-American understandings of roads and mobility and how that was reflected in diplomatic language. Like other understandings of the world around them, Native Americans associated roads and travel with spiritual elements. This is reflected in their political rhetoric by the use of words like ‘straight’, ‘white’, and ‘clean’ when speaking with American officials. Those were words of peace. ‘Crooked’ and ‘red’ were associated with treacherous serpents. It can be seen throughout the book how American language in treaties undermines Native American rights.
The rest of the book focuses on the land disputes between Native Americans and Americans. She gives a detailed history of the treaties that were signed which gave rights to the Natives, set boundaries, took land, and took rights. Initial official boundaries were set out by surveying teams including Native Americans and American officials. They carved ‘C’ on the left side of trees and ‘US’ on the right side. Continued need for expansion and communication throughout America meant the boundary lines were continually receding.
After the Louisiana Purchase, the Federal Government requested the Native Americans open up the roads within their territory for mail to pass through. Eventually they agreed creating the Federal Road, and others, which allowed mail carriers to pass. However, these roads began to grow and were eventually traveled by families and slaves heading West, as well as Jackson’s military during the Creek War. In the beginning, the Native Americans had the rights to build taverns and inns along the road but soon white people began taking over these roles.
Hudson highlights the ways in which the Federal and State governments selectively interacted with the Native Americans. They mostly regarded them as a collective group, however, when it was beneficial they would acknowledge individual towns. This manner of dealing with the Native Americans ensured Americans could get what they wanted. The 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs signed by William McIntosh, without a group consensus, agreed to Creek removal. Hudson argues that this had lasting impact on the South, especially Georgia. The following year, James Madison had the Treaty of Washington signed, which voided the Treaty of Indian Springs. Alabama and Georgia refused to acknowledge the Treaty of Washington, beginning the argument over states rights years before other states.
This sounds like a really interesting book! Did the author mention why they put “C” and “US” on certain sides of trees? Or did the Natives Americans continually carve the trees as their lands receded?
The sides with ‘C’ marked Creek lands, and the ‘US’ sides marked American land. This was the best way they had to demarcate the boundaries. Before this, the Native Americans had marked their paths by carving trees.
In A Voting Rights Odyssey: Black Enfranchisement in Georgia, Laughlin McDonald tells the struggles and triumphs of blacks to vote and hold office from emancipation to the present. The author provides detail for different voting strategies and the responses of whites regarding these issues. McDonald uses the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as the crux for discussing black voting rights throughout Georgia and the nation.
The author starts his argument relating the circumstances blacks faced immediately after emancipation. Many whites used white supremacy to deter black voters and candidates. During the beginning, whites required blacks to meet certain requirements when registering to vote. As time progresses, whites continue developing ways to prevent blacks from registering to vote, including violence during peaceful voter registration drives. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education to outlaw segregation in public schools. The court decision led to later Civil Rights Acts, which changed and interpreted differently over several years starting with 1957. Whites opposed these acts because they wanted to maintain control of who took office and did not want blacks to take over.
Starting in 1962, federal courts ruled in favor of several changes to Georgia’s voting system. McDonald cites the first change as “one person, one vote,” which modified voting practices. Whites did not condone the alterations in voting procedures because they feared blacks would take over their political system. The author also describes different voting methods that allowed whites to win most elections. When a black appeared to have a majority of votes, a runoff election would ensue guaranteeing a white person won.
Another issue McDonald expounds on is redistribution of voting districts. Three different type of districts formed majority-white, majority-minority, and majority-black. Because many whites wanted control, they often contested majority-black districts. These conflicts let to gerrymandering districts, spreading out districts to include the correct percentage of black and white citizens. The author concludes the book describing Keysville, Georgia. It exemplifies the importance of black voters in showing their resilience and accomplishments to whites.
What were the requirements that blacks had to meet to vote?
Some of the requirements they had to meet were having military service or a family member who had served in the military, having good character and understanding of citizenship, be literate, and own at least forty acres. Many would also have to pay a poll tax to be able to vote.
Archaeology of the Funeral Mound: Ocmulgee National Monument, Georgia
Charles H. Fairbanks
(I didn’t realize this was the archaeology report until I had gone too far.)
The 2003 edition of this report offers 2 introductions. The 2003 introduction by Mark Williams offers more information about Charles Fairbanks. He also explains problems with the archaeology of the original report which was written in the 1950s. He accounts for more recent scholarship which renders Fairbanks’ assumptions inaccurate.
The 1980 introduction discusses the changes in archaeological approach in regards to Ocmulgee. During the original excavation, archaeologists were more or less first learning about Native Americans and therefore gathering facts. In 1980, they had begun to look at Native American culture and their relationship to the environment.
The report gives background information about the physical location of Ocmulgee, the process of excavation, and analysis of the findings. The Ocmulgee site was situated near multiple sources of flora and fauna to provide food and materials to manufacture. The site was occupied for many years. Fairbanks dated a few artifacts to the archaic period, but believed that the site was barely occupied until around the Mississippian Period.
The excavation took places as part of the Civil Works Administration. Because of the long history of occupation at the site, excavators found many artifacts belonging to Americans covering the site. There was even remnants of a possible Civil War fortification.
There was evidence of Native American settlement around the mounds, which is where the majority of artifacts were located. The mounds themselves did not contain that many artifacts. Most contained burials and funeral goods. Fairbanks believed that burials were made throughout the phases of constructions on the mounds.
The excavators unearthed thousands of pottery shards that show multiple construction and design styles, such as Deptford or Swift Creek. As suggested by the differences in archaeology in the 1980 introduction, Fairbanks does not link the variety of pottery types to trade.
In The Wild Man from Sugar Creek, William Anderson tells the political aspirations and career of Eugene Talmadge. The author gives the context for Talmadge’s entrance to politics by conveying his background and reasons for becoming involved in politics. The majority of the book concentrates on Talmadge’s time as governor of Georgia.
Anderson begins the book explaining the legacy of farmers in the Talmadge family. Because his father wanted a better life for him, Talmadge attended boarding school and college to have a better career than farming. He decided after much deliberation to become a lawyer. Several years after graduating, he married Mattie “Mitt” Thurmond Peterson and moved to a small Georgia town to practice law.
During Talmadge’s struggles as a small-town lawyer and outsider, the author writes that Talmadge realized a political career would make him happy. He started by running for county commissioner in McRae, Georgia. After loosing this race, Talmadge became determined to win a political race. According to Anderson, Talmadge’s determination and fresh approach to politics by appealing to the common people won him his first elected office as agricultural commissioner.
As Talmadge grew in his political aspirations, he later became governor of Georgia. Anderson relates the influence this man had on Georgia politics. Known for sympathizing with the public, sometimes Talmadge’s ideas seemed unorthodox, but because of this, his constituents adored him. Even though the Georgia population largely supported Talmadge as governor, his further ambitions of being U.S. senator or President did not work.
Later in his career, Talmadge faced defeat again because of his desire to keep Georgia universities segregated. His stance allowed education to surface in his campaign, leading to accreditation issues in the Georgia university system. In addition to this situation, racism played a role in Talmadge’s final gubernatorial race. These situations marked the end of Talmadge’s political career. He died of hepatitis shortly after winning his last gubernatorial race.
One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928 by Matthew J. Mancini portrays the prison system in most of the Southern states following the Civil War. The author divides the book into three sections by first discussing the details of convict leasing, then the states roles in the system, and lastly the end of leasing.
In the first section and throughout the book, Mancini equates the actions of convict leasing with slavery. The author explains different forms of convict leasing, using Australia as an example. Although the system in Australia had similar characteristics, Mancini emphasizes that Southerners required more for their leases and did not treat laborers as humanely. Different types of labor include fieldwork, brickmaking, mining, and other activities similar to slave labor. Prisoners stayed in different camps with had rolling wagon prisons. They generally only had one set of clothes and bathed once a week.
In the next section, the author describes the history of each Southern state involved in convict leasing. Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, and the Carolinas all participated in this leasing system. Each state made an impact on leasing in some respect. Alabama became the last state to abolish leasing and one of two states that started before the Civil War. Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana all tied for being the worst states to be a leased convict. Tennessee and the Carolinas started penitentiaries after leasing ended in their states. Although the conditions of each state did not mirror others, some places gained reputations for their horrible conditions.
The last section of the book discusses the abolition of convict leasing. Mancini cites other historians’ accounts of the leasing system. In addition, the author recounts the difficulties of ending the practice of leasing prisoners in Georgia and Alabama specifically. Concluding the book, Mancini states the importance of those opposing leasing and the situations surrounding it that eventually led to its demise.
Question in response to The Georgia Gold Rush summary:
Did the author mention if the federal government purposely told the Cherokee they had to leave because of the gold or was it just ironic that gold was found around the same time Andrew Jackson and the government started a big push for the Cherokee to be removed?
According to the author, Jackson was motivated by his desire for he and his associates to make a fortune in land speculation. There were conflicts, often violent, between the Cherokees who lived on or near land where gold was discovered and the white miners who encroached on the land. Jackson used the conflicts as a veiled excuse for removing the Cherokees “for their own good”.
Did the author say why Auraria and Gainesville sprung up? I went to college in Gainesville and lived there for 4 years but I have never heard of Auraria. Did the area become economically depressed after the gold started to give out? And Gainesville seems like a pretty long distance to travel if there was still a Native American presence in the area.
What made a citizen qualified to take part in the land lottery?
Auraria is about 6 miles southwest of Dahlonega and is now a ghost town with only 2 wooden buildings in it; it’s just a tourist attraction now. (A tidbit in the book I found of interest: when the western gold rush struck, three Auraria residents moved to Colorado and established a settlement there which they named after their previous hometown. Auraria, CO later was joined with another town to form Denver, CO.) Auraria, originally named Nuckollsville, was between the Chestatee and Etowah rivers, located in the heart of Georgia’s richest gold finds and was the seat of Lumpkin County.
Gainesville was already the largest town bordering the Cherokee Nation, and the lucrative Elrod Mine, 8 miles north of Gainesville was discovered in 1830. For about one year, Templeton Reid operated a mint in Gainesville where miners could exchange their gold for stamped coins.Gainesville served as a center for trade and the entry point for the gold region.
After the county seat was moved to Dahlonega in 1833, Auraria declined. Businesses and county offices moved to Dahlonega, selling or abandoning town lots.
When the gold started to give out, hundreds of miners relocated to California in their quest for fortune. The Dahlonega mint remained open, partly as a symbol of pride, but also because the mint provided local jobs.
People qualified for the land lottery by virtue of being a WHITE male at least 18 years old or deaf/dumb/blind, a widow, or an orphaned family unit, and had been a resident of Georgia for 4 years (3 years to qualify for the 40-acre gold district lots.) Residents of the Cherokee Nation were prohibited. People who had won land grants in previous lotteries, and convicted felons were excluded. Anyone who mined gold after then Governor Gilmer made it illegal (for natives or whites) in June 1830 (Gilmer’s motivation was to squash violent episodes and prevent was with the Cherokees) was also left out of the lottery.
I meant WAR with the Cherokees in the last line! Typo.
The Swift Creek Gift: Vessel Exchange on the Atlantic Coast
In the Swift Creek Gift, Neill J. Wallis argues that Swift Creek pottery was an important part of social interactions by Woodland Native Americans. While other archaeologists and anthropologists believe that Swift Creek Complicated Stamp practices deserve to be defined as a culture, Wallis believes that Swift Creek was not a culture in and of itself. Rather, he believes it was a set of practices used by multiple societies. He suggests that both large and small communities produced Swift Creek Complicated Stamp Pottery, the archaeological record is skewed because some sites might not have been as well preserved as others.He also examines the pottery of mounds in the Altamaha River area in Georgia and at the mouth of the St. Johns River in Florida to support his idea. The use of Swift Creek Complicated Stamp is used on multiple vessel types. These vessels were used in the area before Swift Creek became popular, suggesting that it was not a shift in cultural practices.
He also goes through great length to define both the idea of gift giving and what significance Swift Creek pottery and decoration had in gift giving. He thinks of gift giving as part of social interactions. Gifts are not just objects, but they are part of a social context. Gifts are loaded with “symbolic density”, they represent ideas, people, places, etc. Wallis addresses the symbolism behind Swift Creek decorations. He suggests that Swift Creek potters believed in split representation. The images carved into the wood and then stamped on the pot did not make representations of an animal. The transfer of the design on the paddle to the pot made the pot that animal. Wallis argues that split representation was significant in the trade of Swift Creek gift exchange. Pots were split representations of people. They carried the spirit, values, and ideas of a specific person, possibly people, from one location to the next.
He also suggests that the pottery process might have been co-authored. Women were thought of as uncontrolled forces and associated with water. Men were thought of as structured and controlled and were associated with fire. He suggests the process could have been split into a process paralleling biological reproduction. Women would have worked wet clay into a vessel shape, and men would have finished the decoration and firing process.
Wallis believes that vessel decoration was significant to mortuary practices. The pot sherds found in mortuary mounds in the Altamaha River and St. Johns River areas show that vessels with domestic uses are not locally made. Domestic pottery was brought to funeral mounds, suggesting the decorations of these pots were a split representation of a person who lived far away.
Did the split representations on pots contribute to the exchange of ideas (you mentioned this in a summary from another book on the Swift Creek) from different locations or did the different locations refer to the mortuary practices of the Swift Creek?
Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel by C. Vann Woodward tells the political biography of the Georgia politician, Tom Watson. The author includes other information about political history during the period, but mostly focuses on Watson’s career.
Woodward begins the book by giving a background of Watson’s life. Watson grew up in a rural area and went to college at a young age. The author implies that Watson’s background allowed him to become involved in politics. Watson studied to be a lawyer and eventually involved himself in politics.
Through a variety of situations, Woodward describes Watson’s dislike of the Democratic Party after serving in the U.S. Senate. Through this experience, the author portrays the start of the Populist or People’s Party and Watson’s role in prolonging this party. In explaining the Populist Party’s actions, the author relays the various conventions and elections to choose Populist candidates for the Georgia Assembly and Presidency. During Watson’s time in politics, he started two different magazines, the People’s Party Paper and Tom Watson’s Magazine.
After several years of promoting the Populist Party, Watson decided to leave the public atmosphere. During these years, he wrote several scholarly historic books and one novel. He also experienced the death of his children over several years, which affected his temperament later in life. Slowly, Watson emerges from his hiatus of politics. He began to support the slowly dying Populist Party and their candidates. During this time, Watson ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He won the seat and served until his death in 1922. The author illustrates Tom Watson as a versatile character who promoted Populism throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s.
What kind of situations happened during his term(s) in the Senate that made him dislike the Democratic Party?
During his first term of office as a senator, Tom Watson introduced a couple of bills to Congress regarding railroads and corporations. Both bills died before being introduced to a vote. This had a profound influence on Watson as a congressman. He later left before finishing his term. From my understanding, this situation caused Watson to realize that his political beliefs differed from the Democratics, leading him to be involved with the People’s Party.
In Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, Jacqueline Jones tells the often forgotten story of black women from slavery to the present. The author divides the book into several different sections of history. She covers several main themes of work, family, and environment throughout each chapter.
The first part of the book discusses the rigors of life for black women during slavery and their adjustments to life following emancipation. Jones illustrates the varying gender roles for slave’s work. In mentioning family life during this period, the author explains courtship practices, living arrangements, and divisions of labor at home. The chapter on Reconstruction shows the difficulties of black women in adjusting to being free, but bound to work done in slavery.
The next several chapters focus on work done in the country, in the city, and during the Great Depression. Work for black women living in rural areas involved sharecropping. Jones discusses the plight of these women’s working conditions as being similar to slavery. In city atmospheres, women worked for whites by doing laundry or working as a maid in their home. On rare occasions, some worked in factories. The Great Depression made poor conditions worse for poor black women. Many of these women suffered during this time because of exclusion from most federal work programs, but used this time to connect with their communities to find jobs.
In the last part of the book, Jones focuses on the effect of World War II, Civil Rights Movement, and developments through the 1980s. The author shows in these events how women hardened and became their own advocates. They worked in factories during the war, helped organize efforts during the Civil Rights Movement, participated in the black feminist movement, and obtained some equality with the adoption of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Jones finishes the book by providing a summary of black women’s progress by the year of the book’s publication in 1985.
This sounds like a really interesting book. I’m curious about when the African-American matriarchal family developed. Were black women considered the head of the household during Reconstruction, the Great Depression, and/or the Civil Rights eras? Which women in particular stood out to you as heroines?
The matriarchal family develop during slavery because many of the enslaved men would live on different plantations than their wives. Also, because of white masters taking advantage of their slaves women would end up having children and would have to care for their family. From my understanding, women were never really considered the head of the household, but would be in charge because their husband had taken a job far away or they were a single parent. The author did not really list specific women during these periods, but I think the “heroines” would probably be the women who endured immediately after the Civil War and emancipation. They had so much to adjust to and did all they could to keep their families together.
In Marching Through Georgia: The Story of Soldiers and Civilians During Sherman’s Campaign, Lee Kennett describes the events and details of General Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and subsequent March to the Sea during the American Civil War. He divides the book into three sections: “Invasion,” “Atlanta,” and “the March.” As the title suggests, the author uses the experiences of the soldiers and civilians to assist in telling the story.
In the first section, Kennett explains the background of Georgia in 1864 leading up to Sherman’s campaigns. The author describes the historical influences of attacking Georgia. In illustrating the environment, Kennett makes a comparison between the Union and Confederate troops in Georgia at the time. The end of this section focuses on the tactics Sherman and his army made coming into Georgia and starting their assault.
The second section replays the details of Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. The author describes the Southerners experiences preparing for and enduring the battle. One chapter focuses on what many of the soldiers endured as they attacked Atlanta and their feelings of being in trenches the majority of the time. Another chapter in this section describes the varying points of view involved in battle, both how it was done and what soldiers went through as a result.
As the last section suggests, the author spends time recounting events of the March to the Sea. Although Sherman did not treat Atlanta well during their previous campaign, it is during the March that Kennett describes the start of destruction by Sherman’s army. The author recounts the army’s burning and pillaging that lasted all the way to Savannah. Kennett also dedicates a chapter to the slaves and women along the march and their experiences at having Union troops come through their town. In the last chapter, Kennett sums up the significance of Sherman’s campaigns in Georgia and its affect on those closest to the fighting.
What sort of documents did the author use? Especially for the chapter on women and slaves.
The author used a variety of soldier’s diaries, history of soldier regiments, newspapers, unpublished documents/papers/diaries, and secondary sources. The chapter focusing on the women and slave victims used the same type of sources.
Overseers were white men who were paid to supervise the entire plantation, crops, and slaves. Drivers were black slaves, chosen for their traits of loyalty, leadership, strength, and operations knowledge. Drivers were assigned to be in charge of a specific group of taskers, usually divided by acreage. Although some overseers eventually saved enough money to become planters themselves, and there were a few that stayed with one planter for as much as 9 years, in general, the job was not a choice one in terms of ease and pay level. If one year’s crop was not as successful as the planter had hoped for, the planter had no qualms about non-renewing the overseer’s contract and hiring a replacement who he hoped would yield more profits. The overseer was only one step removed from the owner. Since the owner wanted to maintain his paternalistic stance and also because he deemed that the black drivers would be more fair and less brutal to fellow blacks than a white overseer would be, he insisted that only the driver inflict punishment IF the overseer ordered it.
I think the planter wanted the overseer to be the middle man – not as fatherly nor as powerful as the owner himself, but as a representative of the owner, so that the slaves, including drivers, would fear him enough to follow his orders.
A World Engraved: Archaeology of the Swift Creek Culture
edited by Mark Williams and Daniel T. Elliott
The Swift Creek people lived mainly in Georgia and parts of surrounding states. They are thought to have lived between 100 and 750 AD. They are set apart from other Woodland Period societies by their pottery which was stamped with carved wooden paddles. The editors of the book suggest that because carved wooden paddles were used on their pottery, the Swift Creek people were some of the world’s greatest wood carvers at the time. Early excavations which unearthed Swift Creek artifacts were not until the 20th century, some of which done by the Works Progress Administration.
The book relies heavily on archaeological information and is full of technical jargon. Almost every chapter is dedicated to a specific region in which Swift Creek artifacts have been excavated. Collectively the chapters put Swift Creek culture into context within the Woodland Period and surrounding cultures. Unlike the Early and Late Woodland Periods in which societies were closed off to outside interaction, the Swift Creek were open to an exchange of ideas.
Multiple chapters address the interaction between Swift Creek sites, which can be seen through analysis of pottery shards. Extensive examination of the stamped patterns shows the same pattern at multiple sites. Analyzing the make up of the pottery, it can be determined that pots were transported from one site to another. Frankie Snow, has extensively studied the patterns stamped on the pots. He was able to distinguish shards that were created by the same paddle, sometimes in different locations. He explains this by movement of the actual pottery, but he also suggests that the paddle used on pots was used at different sites. The potter could have moved sites or the paddle could have been traded. Most likely the potter would have moved which suggests social mobility within the region.
Snow also suggests that the concentric circular patterns, which could be abstract representations of animals or plants, represent Swift Creek world views.
The book also discusses the distribution of mounds associated with the Swift Creek people. The mounds are located 10-30 kilometers apart. David Anderson suggests that the location of mounds was linked to the shell trade. Societies farther inland placed a high demand for shells from the coastal regions. Anderson believes that mound sites are located along the trade routes between inner and coastal regions.
It sounds like the creation of Swift Creek pottery was complex. Does the author say whether this particular pottery was used by the Natives for ceremonial use only, or was it also used on an everyday basis for food storage, etc.? Where was the Swift Creek region located, were their sites throughout the state?
They suggested that even everyday pottery was decorated. Actually, the reason the editors thought the Swift Creek people were such great wood carvers is because they decorated their everyday pottery with these design.
I tried to find a map online, but the entire state of Georgia was in the Swift Creek region as well as small portions of surrounding states. About half of Alabama was in the region too. Dr. Hebert mentioned the Leake Site in Bartow County. Archaeologist have found Swift Creek pottery there.
Did the editors of this book say how far the Swift Creeks would go outside of their “area”? What types of ideas were exchanged between Creek tribes?
They discuss how far people within the Swift Creek area traveled, but as an example, the Leake Site in Cartersville can be linked to Indiana. The Hopewell Interaction Sphere shows other societies existing at the same time interacted. I have a link to a handy-dandy map of these cultures.
Archaeologist note that these societies shared some broad ideologies. They have similar decorative motifs, material goods and mortuary practices. I’ve seen some other maps that show the distribution of mound sides that lines up to the above map.
Apparently we can’t post images. So here’s the link to the map:
I have always been fascinated by prehistoric pottery. Do the patterns represent more than just an association with a particular village and/or location? Do the patterns possess symbolic meaning? Or is this something that arch. have not speculated about?
I haven’t seen anything that links any significance to designs from any specific sites. I think in the Swift Creek area they all used similar designs and symbolism. Frankie Snow has done extensive study on the symbolism of the patterns. He suggests there is cosmological meaning behind the designs. Some of the designs are human masks, animal representations, an eye motifs, suns, and references to the four winds.
As a side note, because my mind is still blown by this, by analyzing the individual patterns and any flaws or unique features in the pattern on a sherd, Snow can trace pots to a single paddle. By analyzing the mineralogy of the sherds at different sites, archaeologists can tell if the pot was traded or if it was made on site with a paddle from another site.
Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilization
In Hidden Cities, Roger G. Kennedy discusses the prehistoric inhabitants of America. Much of the book is an attempt to alter Euro-American centered thoughts about mounds. He begins by defining the mounds in terms of architecture. By doing this, he is able to make early Native American societies more comparable to other global societies, which is a common element throughout the book.
The timeline of the book is nonlinear, Kennedy jumps back and forth between pre- and post-contact. In doing so he creates an idea of how large and established Native American societies were before European contact. But he also gives the reader a better understanding how big a difference there was after contact. He discusses Euro-American understandings of Native Americans. He makes a point that the Founders had little knowledge of ancient Africa and America, which meant they were less likely to attribute great works to slaves and Native Americans.
For a portion of the book, Kennedy turns away from directly discussing early Native American cultures. Instead discusses Native Americans through the lens of early American politics. The book discusses the views of political leaders and Thomas Jefferson’s archaeological pursuits.
Kennedy also discusses some misconceptions about the mound builders in depth. One area he chooses to discuss is mound building in Mormonism. The tablets Joseph Smith unearthed in a mound in New York held religious secrets including the history of the mound builders. The mounds in America were the building projects of the people who had followed prophets out of Israel.
The book ends by discussing Native American societies more in depth to explain the cultural reasons for mound building. In this part he ties back to the beginning of the book to give an understanding of the strength and advancements of societies that populated American before Europeans.
It seems to be a dichotomy for Thomas Jefferson to be interested in Native American archaeological sites and for him to be the force behind the Trail of Tears. Did Jefferson respect the sites and did his discoveries bring him to any new understandings and/or appreciation for the culture?
Kennedy suggests that while Jefferson as interested in Native Americans he never felt they had a culture worthy of preservation. He always felt they should assimilate or be swept aside. Kennedy does suggest that as Jefferson aged he gained a little more “respect” (I’m not sure that’s the best word) for them. He still thought of them as the other, but around the age of 40 he wrote Native Americans were possibly “formed in mind as well as in body, on the same module with the ‘Homo Sapiens Europaeus'”.
You mention that the author wanted to “alter Euro-American centered thoughts about mounds.” Do you think the author was successful in his appeal? What specific ideas was he trying to counter?
I personally found his approach pretty successful. The thought of mounds as architecture put things in a new perspective. He really tried to make the reader abandon thoughts of these societies being primitive. The extensive trade routes and construction projects suggest they were very advanced, but they just didn’t have some of the advancements we associate with the major societies of the time, such as the Romans who had written language and money.
If mounds are a form of architecture, which I believe they are, what are some of the mound types and styles that existed. Did individual moundbuilding cities design their mounds in specific forms that are distinguishable and reflect some degree of longterm planning? I am thinking about the thousands of house types that exist to describe buildings. What are some mound types?
I believe at some point Kennedy argues against the use of “mounds” because it is so general. There were cones, octagons, hexagons, flat top , truncated pyramids, and even some in the shapes of animals, just to name a few.
I haven’t read anything about that degree of planning. The Swift Creek book did mention that there was a pattern in distance between mound sites, however, the author never really gave a reason for why that was. There was also conjecture, in both books, about mounds being specifically for religious purpose, so there would have been some planning in that.
Because the rice planters relied on the productivity of their slaves to turn a profit, they invested in their medical care. Slaves were a valuable commodity and an appraised asset. Overseers were required to promptly treat and/or obtain medical care for any slave who took ill or was injured. Physicians were eager to work for the planters for the remuneration and for the opportunity to study the “peculiar” illnesses of blacks. All of the examples Smith gives in the book are of physicians contracted by one planter to treat all slaves on his plantation (or all of his plantations, if he owned more than one) for a year. Initially, the annual fee was stipulated in the contract agreement; after 1811, a fee bill system was put in place, adopted by the Georgia Medical Society.
It was customary for larger plantations, where slaves numbered 70 or more, to have a slave hospital on the plantation grounds. The hospital was located near the owner’s residence to enable the plantation’s mistress to supervise the slaves’s condition. In 1832 the Georgia Infirmary, a public “Negro” hospital, was built in Savannah, and slaves working on small plantations and freed blacks had access to its services.
Yes. Duffels were a coarse, woolen cloth suitable for use as wearable blankets and overcoats and used by the Creeks as winter wear. They were either white, red, blue, or striped.
Native American women were indeed present in the trade economy. Native women accompanied the Creek hunters on the hunt to carry baggage, gather firewood, water, and nuts, cook the meals, and process the deerskins for trade.
Natives traded for silk ribbons, brilliantly colored fabrics, kettles, metal hoes, scissors, and needles desired by Native women. Widowed Native women traded garden vegetables and domestic chores (cleaning, washing, cooking) for the traders’ goods.
Native wives of white traders served as facilitators, the go-between for her husband’s trade business and her tribe. She also worked in her husband’s business, helping to collect debts, dressing unprocessed deerskins, and minding the store when her husband was away. In return, the Native wife had access to and/or control of her husband’s trade goods which she often gave away to her relatives; this access to goods also gave her prestige in the Creek community.
In The Mound Builders, Robert Silverberg gives a historiography of Euro-American interactions with the mounds. Initially he begins by addressing the myths that surrounded the mounds. He argues that the myths were developed by colonist to create a grand, romantic American history that could rival Ancient Greek and Roman legacies in Europe. While early Spanish explorers were more or less unimpressed by the mounds, American colonists looked for complicated explanations. Silverberg never goes in depth to any specific myth. Instead he explains how certain myths developed and became popular. Myths were popularized from everything through scholarly pursuits to literature to religion. Silverberg describes the roles mounds play in the creation of Mormonism.
The myths were also used to discredit Native American claim to land while possibly easing American consciences during removal. Because Americans thought the mounds were a sign of an ancient, extinct race, the Native Americans had no claim to the land. The idea of Native Americans driving the mound builders from the land, Silverberg suggests, allowed Americans to more easily convince themselves that removal was warranted approach in dealing with the Native Americans.
Silverberg spends much of the book addressing the history of archaeology at mound sites. He shows that despite erroneous conclusions, these early archaeologists professionalized archaeology in America through mound excavation. During the 17th and 18th centuries, antiquarians excavated the mounds out of curiosity, but also to prove or disprove the myths of the mound builders. Archaeological evidence was often misinterpreted or, in some cases, purposely interpreted to fit preconceived notions.
The last section of the book discusses Adena and Hopewell cultures, as well as the Middle Woodland and Mississippian Periods, as a way to assert Native American ownership over the mounds. Instead of a single theory that covers all of the mounds, Silverberg explains the differences in time periods and cultures that account for the differences in location, style, and purpose of mounds.
I am interested in the connection between the mound myths and the rise of Mormonism. Could you expound upon the author’s description of this?
Joseph Smith was suppose to have found the plates in a mound. When I get back to my apartment I’ll look in the book to give you a better answer.
I find it interesting that Mormons fund millions of dollars in archaeological research annually in search of discoveries to support their beliefs.
Does the author explain any of the reasons why the American colonist had more interest in the mounds than the Spanish? And why did the Spanish choose to ignore them?
The Spanish thought of the mounds as defensive structures. I don’t think they actively ignored them, they just didn’t think they were unusual. The author didn’t say this outright, but I think you can infer that the societies were still building mounds when the Spanish arrive. Plus I think the Spanish weren’t interested in the land like the colonists were. He references multiple instances when the Spanish interacted with the tribes to get what they wanted.
The colonists, on the other hand, were more interested in taking the land and not asking questions. My favorite point of the book was also that they colonists wanted their monuments, like the Parthenon in Greece or the Pyramids in Egypt. Basically they wanted something to make them feel special.
The contact between the Europeans and the Natives was very much a cunning game. De Soto wanted their food, slaves, and information to guide him to the next leg of his journey. The Natives were quite rightly suspicious and often pretended to acquiesce while taking stock of the situation and weighing whether or not they would come out ahead in a battle. Also, some (such as the people of Guachoya) used the Spaniards to instigate warfare against their own enemies (Anilco.)
If the Native chief decided the odds were against them and provided De Soto with what he wanted, that spared the risk of doing battle and losing more men & horses, even if the Europeans eventually overcame the Natives in a skirmish. If the Native chief did not “play ball”, De Soto was more than willing to take what he wanted without giving thought to the welfare of the Natives; the Spaniards prided themselves on being conquerors.
Why were the Spaniards so prideful in their role as conquerors? What motivated their actions beyond just a search for gold, if anything?
In 1492, King Fernando & Queen Isabel’s army conquered the Moors in Granada and drove the Moors and Jews from Spain. Columbus’s expedition, funded by the King & Queen, discovered the New World. Spain was at the height of European power and wealth. The romance of adventure was further fueled by their devout Catholicism.
Although Hudson does not address this in his book, concentrating more on De Soto’s discovery of the Mississippi River and his contact with ancient chiefdoms, beyond the search for gold, De Soto was also seeking a northern ocean passage to China in order to trade the New World gold.In addition to the desire for wealth, sixteenth century Spaniards sought fame and power – the honors and titles that were bestowed upon military leaders.
Creeks and Seminoles: the Destruction and Regeneration of the Muscogulge People by J. Leitch Wright, Jr. portrayed the history and trials of the Muscogulge people as European powers emerge into the New World. The book started with a history of the Southeastern Muscogulge and ended with their removal to the West. The author discussed many different themes, such as trade, blacks, European relations, wars, and removal.
Wright described the history of the Creek and Seminole nations or the Muscogulge people, by pointing out some differences between the nations and the independent tribes. The British named the “Creek” nation to categorize the scattered southeastern tribes. Seminoles were mainly non-Muskogee speaking and lived primarily in present-day Florida. Fur trading became a lucrative business in the late eighteenth century. It changed the Muscogulge society by having men hunted for trade, rather than subsistence. Trading companies used marks for each pelt, which translated into money or essentials. Some black slaves fled to the Muscogulge peoples, leading to groups of Black Muscogulge. Intermarrying caused problems of distinguishing between blacks and natives. Relations with European nations of Britain, France, and Spain led to treaties, which eventually took away the native’s lands.
The Creek and Seminole wars (early to mid 1800s) caused strife between Muscogulge people and the United States. The first Creek War and corresponding Creek upheavals led to distrust of treaties and Creek leader, William McIntosh, who the Creeks massacred for unauthorized selling of their land. The Seminole Wars took place in the Florida region and showed frustrations between the natives and Americans, eventually leading to removal. Removal of the Muscogulge people started as early as the 1820s and lasted several decades afterward. Because of severe resistance, it took many decades to remove the majority of these natives. By the early twentieth century, most of the Muscogulge people had relocated to the West, but some remained in the southeast. Even though many died during removal, the Creek and Seminole nations prospered in their new environment.
Did the Creeks and Seminoles see themselves as united peoples of the larger tribe (Muscogulge)? or did distance and/or language separate them from banding together for their common interests? Did the removal of the Muscogulge involve any promises by the American government to award land shares in the west or pay any travel/settlement expenses, as in the case of the Cherokee Nation?
The Creeks and Seminoles were actually groups of different individuals tribes. The Indian nations of Creeks and Seminoles were actually named by Europeans as a way to categorize the individual tribes. The name Muscogulge was a name for the individual people of the Creek and Seminole nations. According this book, most of the Indians spoke similar, but different languages so they did not band together.
The author does not allude to any information in regard to particular settlement areas for these Indians, although he does mention them settling in Oklahoma and some in Texas. So, the removal of the Creeks and Seminoles was different than for the Cherokee nation.
Good summary. Why did some the the Muscogulge people move west earlier than others? Who exactly were the Seminoles? What kinds of sources did the author consult?
1.Some of the Muscogulge people left earlier because they were part of the McIntosh family and wanted to leave after the Creek war ended in 1815. The author does not specifically state why they left, but I think it might be because they were tired to dealing with the state and federal government. It might also have to do with the Treaty of Indian Springs that was signed by William McIntosh after the Creek War.
2. The Seminoles was the name given to the lower, southern region of Indian tribes (modern day Florida) that usually spoke a different language than that of the Indian tribes further north described as Creeks.
3. Some examples of the sources used include: Manuscripts of letters and unpublished personal papers; newspapers; and a variety of secondary and primary source book(personal letters/correspondences, memoirs), and unpublished papers and dissertations.
Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun by Charles Hudson discussed Hernando De Soto’s exploration of the southeastern part of the United States and the background of many Southern Indian tribes during the mid-1500s. Experiences in Central and South America conquering natives and a desire for wealth propelled De Soto to follow in the steps of other conquistadores and subjugate the peoples of La Florida (modern-day southeastern United States).
The journey to La Florida began with final preparations in Cuba, where De Soto was welcomed as the governor. After the arriving in La Florida, the group faced problems obtaining a good translator and guide. De Soto often captured locals or tribe chiefs to use as guides as they traveled to different settlements. In describing the areas De Soto and his men encountered, Hudson explained some history of late Mississippian tribes, the Spaniards encountered. This allowed the reader to understand the Indian attitudes toward the encroachment of Spaniards on their civilization.
The book’s turning point occurred when the Spaniards encountered a group of Indians at Mabila. A battle ensued, dampening the spirits of De Soto and caused him to realize the rare possibility of finding valuables in La Florida to bring to the King of Spain. De Soto later became ill from his despondency and exhaustion and did not recover. After his death, Luís de Muscoso took De Soto’s role of leader, and led the Spaniards back to Mexico, ending their journey.
Hudson concluded the book with a summary of occurrences following the journey through La Florida. Roughly half of the group survived the journey, and many returned to Europe with no desire of returning to the New World. The author also discussed the effect of the Spaniard’s expedition on the Indians. European disease and battles between Indians and Spaniards caused many Indians to die. Overall, the De Soto’s mission to conquer and establish a colony in La Florida failed, but it did open the area to colonization by others.
Thanks for this summary Susan.
So what od you think the author would say was the most significant result/affect of the Desoto expedition? Would American history be any different without the DeSoto expedition? Can you describe any potential motivations for DeSoto beyond just gold (if any were discussed in the book)?
1. I think the author would say the most significant result or affect of De Soto’s journey would be that it opened up the area to more European exploration, ultimately leading to the founding of St. Augustine. The expedition also greatly affected the Native peoples they encountered by causing great decimation among these people.
2. I think American history could definitely have been different if De Soto had not explored this area, but Cabeza de Vaca had already explored the southwestern part of what we know as the U.S., so if not De Soto, someone else from Spain or another European power would have explored this region.
3. Other motivations for De Soto in conquering and exploring this area of the New World also included his desire to be in charge of a nation. He wanted to be a marques. He was with Francisco Pizarro when they invaded Peru and De Soto was disappointed about not being in a situation of authority. De Soto definitely wanted power and wealth.
Week Two Discussion Instructions
1. Post a 300 word summary of your book (click reply below to post summary)
2. Read the summaries posted by other students
3. Post questions for each student (click reply on their post)
4. Reply to questions posed to you (click reply on their questions)
5. Respond to any questions posed by the course professor (click reply on my questions)
Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun by Charles Hudson
Summary by Nancy Hart
This book is a reconstruction of Hernando De Soto’s expedition across the southeastern U.S. and his encounters with the South’s ancient chiefdoms of Native Americans. Hudson draws on a vast number of sources, primary and secondary, in his socio-historical narration of De Soto’s journey. Perhaps the most reliable source is the official journaling of Rodrigo Rangel, De Soto’s secretary.
In his tireless, brutal, lengthy exploration of this wild, unstable region, De Soto certainly exhibited the three G’s of European motivation – Gold, God, and Glory. He comes across as a man who thirsted for and thrived on adventure. Gold would be glorious – especially for the investors who risked life and limb to join him; God was a good excuse for the European nobility back in Spain; Glory (should riches and a suitable colony be found) would only add to his standing; but for De Soto, the adrenaline rush of adventure was king.
As De Soto comes into contact with many different Native American tribes, the humanity and inhumanity of both the Spanish and the Natives is revealed. Fierce battles, as well as temporary truces, ensue and paint a vivid picture of various chiefdoms, ways of life, and the nature of southeastern lands and waterways that no longer exist. Illustrations, ancient maps, and charts illuminate what the Europeans saw during their exploration.
Neither gold (despite traveling so close to the north Georgia hills of gold) nor colonization was the outcome of the expedition. De Soto died of an unknown illness before making the return to Mexico, leaving Luis de Moscoso to lead what was left of the expedition (decimated by half) to the Gulf of Mexico and to Spanish occupied territory. Sadly, De Soto’s body was cast overboard in the muddy Mississippi River. His quest, inspired by previous European explorations, gave impetus for future ventures into the wild, untamed southeast.
What stood out to you about the way De Soto and his men approached the Native Americans? Did they act the same toward all of them or do you think the Spaniards may have instigated some of the battles or behavior exhibited by the Natives?
British Drums on the Southern Frontier: the Military Colonization of Georgia, 1733-1749 by Larry Ivers told the story of Georgia’s founding by detailing the role of James Oglethorpe and the British military as they provided a buffer zone for the colonists in South Carolina. The author provided information regarding the reasons for colonization of Georgia and the various battles between the eclectic military of Georgia and the Spaniards.
The first half of the book discussed a summary of life in South Carolina with Indian invasions and fear of the Spanish attacking. A plan formed to begin a colony called Georgia in the south between Spanish Florida and South Carolina, which James Oglethorpe spearheaded with the assistance of a group of British trustees. Upon arriving, Oglethorpe decided the best course of action to protect the people of South Carolina from the Spanish. He chose almost immediately to take control of the Indian trading, requiring all traders in Georgia to have a license to trade. This caused major divisions between South Carolinians and Georgians, who both wanted to profit from Indian trading. During this time, Oglethorpe attempted to organize as best he could an army of soldiers to defend the area from the Spanish.
The second part focused on the military skirmishes and battles between the British and Spanish. In these chapters, the author highlighted the role of Oglethorpe in leading the military, showing both the failures at Fort Mosa and successes against the Spanish advances on Georgia. Dress of the military, which included Scottish Highlanders, rangers, and some Creeks, showed the individuality and personality of the troops. The conclusion included Oglethorpe’s contributions to Georgia’s founding and the events that ended the military colonization of Georgia. Overall, the book highlighted the British military’s role as a protector and means of support against the Spanish until 1749.
SOunds like a good book.
In the book does Oglethorpe come off as an effective military leader? Did the book note any problems with his military leadership that might have adversely affected his political leadership in the colony?
These are the answers to your questions, I could not reply to your post.
In most respects Oglethorpe does come off as an effective military leader, but sometimes his subordinates did not listen to his orders. The author does mention that when the British army went to Fort Mosa to attack the Spanish, discord among the soldiers eventually led to blame on Oglethorpe for essentially putting two men in charge. This battle was a failure and it did affect Oglethorpe in his military actions. The author does really mention how it affected the political aspect of Oglethorpe rule until he goes back to England. At this point, Oglethorpe lost his interest and respect for Georgians because of military actions near Scotland.
You mention that South Carolina faced threats from Native Americans and the Spanish. Were the Native Americans not as big a threat in Georgia, which allowed Oglethorpe and the British to focus more on Florida? Or was Georgia just economically less significant than South Carolina, allowing them to to focus on military action?
The reason Oglethorpe and the British focused on Florida was so they could protect South Carolina. Some of the Native Americans, I think it was the Yemasee were Natives in Florida that sided with the Spanish. The Creeks in Georgia actually assisted the British in fighting the Spanish and hostile Natives. The author did not specifically mention any Indian problems in Georgia at this time. As this point in time, Georgia was just a buffer zone and was not as significant economically as South Carolina, which is why the British decided to start the Georgia colony in the first place.
Deerskins & Duffels
Braund, Kathryn E. Holland
Deerskins & Duffels is a study of the trading relationship between the Creek Indians and the Anglo-American settlers in the southeastern United States. Deerskins were the commodity desired by the British, to be exported to England and manufactured into clothing. Duffels, a Belgian made cloth, was one of the commodities desired by the Creeks, or Muscogulges; other items besides textiles were metal utensils & tools, beads, muskets & ammunition, and perhaps most prized of all, rum.
Braund divides the text into three sections: the first introduces the characteristics and lifestyle of the Creeks and of the Indian traders and gives a history of the trading economy. Section II details the Creek side of hunting for trade, the established British traders and the renegades who followed them, and the mixed families which resulted from unions between white traders and Creek women. Section III examines the effect of trade on Muscogulge society, and Anglo-American – Indian alliances, agreements, and land cessions both pre- and post- Revolutionary War.
It is remarkable to learn how quickly the Native Americans embraced consumerism. All of the characteristics of modern day capitalism were present in the deerskin trade system: supply and demand, price gouging, profit, power, deregulation, credit and resulting debt, competition, disregard for the environment, and violence. Attempts to regulate trade, ensure fairness for the Creeks and honest white traders, and make the southern colonies safer for settlers, such as John Stuart’s proposals, failed. The British government refused to make funds for enforcement available, and once the revolutionaries began to rebel, the political climate was one of general instability.
The Creek nation, once the most dominant Indian nation because of its trade alliance with the Anglo-Americans, began to decline. The vast quantities of rum had driven the younger males away from their traditional upbringing. The intermixing of Creeks and white traders and the influx of black slaves during the Revolution moved many Creeks from a matrilineal heritage to a paternalistic one as their offspring acquired the characteristics of different cultures. Ancient hunting grounds had either been devastated by overhunting, or given to the Anglos as debt repayments. The Creek War of 1813, led by Andrew Jackson, effectively ended the deerskin trade and the alliance between Muscogulges and Anglo-Americans.
Did the author mention why the Creeks desired duffels, the belgian-made cloth, so much? Is it what they used for clothing?
Considering the differences in gender expectations between the Native Americans and Anglo-Americans societies, I would be interested to know how Native American gender roles influenced trade. Were women present in the trade relationship? Did they have a say in what items were acquired by the Native Americans?
The American Revolution in Georgia, 1763-1789 by Kenneth Coleman narrated a comprehensive examination of Georgia’s involvement in the American Revolution. The author included events of the revolution in Georgia by describing the events leading to revolution, military and political actions during the war, and aftereffects of the war.
The author started by depicting Georgia’s state of affairs leading to rebellion and revolution against the British. Included in these chapters, the author illustrated the displeasure of colonists following the acts and taxes placed on colonial items without adequate representation in Parliament. Other issues of the colonists consisted of political rivalries involved in setting up a provincial government apart from the British. Royal Governor James Wright played a significant role in attempting to keep British control of the colony.
Once revolution began, Coleman related events of military interactions during the war. The prominent position of the Whigs in establishing government and the involvement of South Carolinians in Georgia battles assisted the Georgians in their fight against the British. Because of the large numbers of Loyalists and the preoccupation of Indians in Georgia, Britain regained control of Savannah and surrounding areas before the end of the war.
Following British control of Savannah, the author expounded Wright’s role in reestablishing power over the people of Georgia. These arrangements showed the waning power of Wright and the British. As the revolution ended, the British evacuated Savannah, and Georgians faced the difficult road of establishing their own rule and cooperating with the rest of the newly freed states. Concluding the book, Coleman cited problems and ways in which the Georgians acclimated to varying economic, financial, social, political, and Indian affairs as they set up their own government. In the final chapter, the author summed up his thesis by explaining the process of change in Georgia during their time of revolution.
Did the author mention if after the war there was a division between the northern and southern regions of Georgia based on the Loyalist and British occupation in Savannah?
The author does not specifically state any divisions. He did mention, though, that all the British evacuated before the war was over and that many of the Loyalists moved away from Georgia or might have moved out to the countryside if they returned. Some of the Loyalists actually moved to Nova Scotia, England, or Bahamas (Caribbean area).
Slavery and Rice Culture in Low Country Georgia 1750-1860
Smith, Julia Floyd
This book describes the culture of Georgia’s tidewater region during the mid-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries. The economic driving force was the growing, processing, and exportation of rice (access to fresh water affected by ocean tides made the low country ideal for rice production), although many Sea Island planters also maintained a cotton crop.
Smith details the labor intensive process of rice cultivation, the expenses in maintaining a rice plantation, and the profits gleaned by the planters, factors, and marketers. The task system of slave management is clearly illustrated as the most efficient means to produce the highest yield of rice. Although the author doesn’t make reference to it, due to the hot, humid climate of the low country, along with the intolerable swarms of mosquitos that descend at dusk, that the slaves could foreseeably complete the day’s task by 2:00 PM must have made them healthier and more productive. Most plantation owners spent the majority of their time with their families at their primary residence, often located in Savannah. Although not constantly on site, most owners made frequent visits to their rice plantations to check on the well-being of their slaves and the progress of their crop. Overseers were contracted employees, and on the majority of plantations, an overseer stayed only a year or two, to be replaced by a new contractor. Most contracts explicitly stated that physical punishment of slaves was the duty of the driver and the overseer was forbidden to punish the slaves himself. Drivers were selected by the planter on the basis of their potential leadership ability, strength, and talents.
A riveting part of the book is the section on slave culture on the Georgia coast. Rice plantation slaves, all things considered, had a better life than mid-Georgia plantation slaves, which preserved at least a glimmer of dignity. It was to the rice planter’s advantage to keep his labor force in reasonably good condition. In addition to the basic food and clothing rations doled out by the owner, thanks to the time afforded by the task system as well as the region’s natural resources, the rice slaves were able to fish, shrimp, hunt, raise chickens, and grow vegetables and fruits. Medical care was accessible to the slaves, and some plantations had their own slave hospitals on site. Due to the larger workforce required for rice production, and because the slaves were not greatly acclimated to the white culture (absentee owners); they were able to maintain a rich Afro-American culture encompassing artistry, music, cuisine, religious beliefs, and strong familial ties. This heritage still exists today in the Gullah society of low country Georgia and South Carolina.
You mentioned that medical care was accessible to slaves. I have never heard of this before, it sounds really interesting. Did the author expound on how this took place? Were their doctors contracted to the plantation or one for a few plantations? What about the slave hospitals?
You mention overseers and drivers. What was the difference? Why were overseers on such limited contracts? Wouldn’t it have been better for the overseer to create a report with the slaves in place of the absentee plantation owner? Especially since punishment was done by the drivers. Or was it to discourage attachment to the overseer instead of the plantation owner?
Overseers were caught between a rock and a hard place in their relations with masters and slaves. If they were too soft on the slaves, they would be dismissed for coddling. If they were too strict, slaves would complain and resist and production on the plantation would suffer and again the overseer would be fired. Few overseers lasted more than a handful of seasons.
Parties, Slavery, and the Union in Antebellum Georgia by Anthony Gene Carey chronicled the history of political parties in the 1820s until the state seceded from the Union in 1861. The first several chapters discussed the framework of Georgian society at and the influence of the Whig party on the States Rights and Democratic parties. The fifth chapter discussed details of the formation and influences of these political parties. Lastly, the remaining chapters showed the slavery’s significance in politics and its influence in Georgia’s decision to secede from the Union.
The author focused on the effect of Jacksonian policy on the formation of political parties in Georgia. Many of the factions were either for or against Jackson’s views on politics. Whigs, States Rights, and the Democratic parties faced many differing issues through 1848. Two major issues involved nullification and Texas annexation. Carey focused specifically on the state and national elections on his discussion of party dynamics. Martin Van Buren, John C. Calhoun, John Tyler, Alexander Stephens and several others feature dominantly in this narrative of political history.
In the middle of the book, the author provided detail about the reasons for the rise and eventual fall of the Whig party, specifics of party organization, and legislature apportionment concerning parties. In the last chapters, Carey illustrated the issues of slavery in party politics by relating to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and secession. Slavery caused the Whigs, Democrats, and smaller third parties to reevaluate the organization of these parties. This issue continued with “Bleeding Kansas” and caused deep political rifts, which contributed to secession. The author expressly stated that slavery contributed to the Georgians desire to leave the Union. Although Georgians waited until most of their Southern neighbors seceded, it dominated the forefront of discussion months before Georgians decided to join the Confederacy.
Carey’s book was a direct response to a work written by Michael Johnson, Toward A Patriarchal Republic. In Johnson’s book, he describes secession as the result of an elite dominated undemocratic process that essentially forced Georgia out of the Union against the will of its voters. How does Carey’s book contest Johnson’s central argument? What process did Georgia endure en route to secession? Who was at the lead? What motivated these men politically? Good summary of a complex book.
Carey focused on the role of political parties in Georgia during this times to show the role of slavery in leading the state to secession. After Lincoln was elected to be the next President, two groups emerged in Georgia: immediate secessionists (those who would seceded without hesitation) and cooperationists (those who wanted to form a cooperation between the Southern states against the Republicans and their antislavery views). These groups argued their points extensively at a convention to determine what Georgia would end up doing (at this time several Southern states had already seceded). When they ended up voting, the immediate secessionists barely won with 44,152 against 41,632 for cooperationists. Alexander Stephens, Herschel Johnson, and Benjamin Harvey Hill and headed the cooperationists while Robert Toombs and Howell Cobb headed the immediate secessionists. Regardless of their view on secession, slavery seemed to be the motivating factor for each of these groups. They were against the Republican and their view of antislavery and abolition.
The American Revolution in Georgia 1763 – 1789
Kenneth Coleman sets out on the story of a burgeoning colony and its place in the birth of a nation. It is a tale of the tug-of-war between British imperialists and cockeyed optimistic frontiersmen.
Beginning with life in Georgia under Royal Order, and concluding with the new state’s struggle to overcome post-war depression and find its place in the United States, Coleman’s book lays out the political, military, social, and religious history of revolutionary times in the South.
Before 1764, the settlers in Georgia’s colony were fairly content. Their focus was on developing land, finding religious freedom, and fighting off Indians. With the enactment of the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Revenue Acts, and the Intolerable Acts, however, colonists began a period of disillusionment. Although many had no objection to British rule, they did object to having no voice in policies that affected their pocketbooks and well-being. Strong leadership in the form of Royal Governor James Wright held off serious rebellion for a time.
As the Continental Congress came to fruition, Georgians, influenced by the other colonies, propaganda groups like the Sons of Liberty, and their desire to be part of the quest for a liberated nation, joined in the revolution. Partisan conflicts between the Whigs and the Tories erupted in Georgia. The Whig faction took to tarring and feathering of Tory sympathizers.
Despite financial hardships and disjointed local civil government, the Whig victory at Kettle Creek in upper Georgia secured Augusta, and the British were permanently routed out of Savannah in 1782. Following the end of British occupation in Georgia, the upcountry continued to gain in political prominence and rapid population growth, setting the stage for social and economic equality among Georgians. Land grant restraints were removed, making it easier and cheaper for settlers to obtain more land. Methodist and Baptist churches were established as the faith of the frontiersmen. A public school system and a state university were formed.
Although the road was a bumpy one, Coleman’s book clearly shows that Georgia not only survived the nation’s birthing pains, but had a significant role in the making of a nation.
The Georgia Gold Rush
This book is a narrative of the Georgia Gold Rush which began in 1829 when the Dahlonega Gold Belt was discovered in the area of Cherokee territory. The Georgia Twenty-Niners, as the miners and fortune hunters were christened, were the forefathers of the more famous California Gold Rush Forty-Niners.
Although the origins of the southern gold rush are wrapped in controversy, most regard Benjamin Parks, a young hunter-farmer, as the first white man to find gold in the region. The Native Americans did not prize gold highly enough to mine it significantly, and the early Spanish explorers failed to fully realize their dreams of vast, easily obtainable precious treasure.
Gold fever brought a tide of adventurers to the Georgia mountains. The federal government, under Andrew Jackson, was already seeking to remove the Cherokees in an effort to secure all the lands it could. Georgia’s current Governor, George Gilmer, championed to have the entire region turned over to the state for it to run the gold mines. With the election of his opponent Wilson Lumpkin to Governor in 1831, Georgia was ready instead for the land lottery of 1832 which awarded plots of land in the gold district and surrounding areas to qualified citizens, some of whom either started mining companies or sold their lots to the companies. Boomtowns, like Auraria, Gainesville, and Dahlonega, sprang up to accommodate the sudden population swell. The purity of the gold mined in north Georgia was second only to Australia’s. Miners, including some free blacks, worked hard to accumulate all of the gold they could find – panning for gold in rivers and streams, running dirt, gravel, and sand through cradle rockers, sluice boxes, and gum rockers, to separate gold particles. Some landholders who were wealthy to begin with, such as John Calhoun, and owners/investors in mining companies, possessed the necessary resources to efficiently mine veins and made a good fortune. However, the typical independent miner was lucky to achieve $5.00 worth of gold a day.
Against this backdrop, the federal and state governments proceeded to push the Cherokees out of their territory on a permanent basis. That gold existed on these lands further fueled the desire of the whites to remove any Natives from them and take full possession. With strong, often violent, dissension present in the Cherokee Nation (the leaders of the opposing factions were Major Ridge and Chief John Ross), resistance proved futile and the Cherokees began the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma in October 1838. Ironically, the gold mines of Georgia started to pan out by early 1840 and most of the gold hunters moved on to California for a second chance. There was a brief resurgence of interest in Georgia’s gold hills in the 1930’s, but the mines proved to be unproductive.
Georgia’s northern mountains still attract visitors anxious to hear the history of the gold rush and to try their own luck at panning. Geologists, residents, and descendants of the twenty-niners believe that rich gold veins still exist deep in the foothills, but are so nearly impenetrable that retrieval costs would outweigh the value.
Marching Through Georgia
Kennett, Lee B.
Kennett’s military history of General William Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea campaign is uniquely told, not via war room observations, but rather through the eyes of those who directly experienced its wrath – the soldiers on both sides of the conflict and the civilians who were caught up in it.
The book describes Georgia under the rule of Governor Joseph E. Brown, a staunch supporter of states’ rights who often differed with Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Confederate Army officers. Already suffering from the effects of Civil War, Sherman’s advance took its toll on Georgians from North Georgia to Savannah. Since the campaign called for an impressive force of three armies – the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and the Ohio – to transverse a wide swatch without benefit of a supply line, army foragers or “bummers” commandeered food and livestock from citizens. The traditional image of the fragile Southern belle doesn’t appear here – women left alone to safeguard the family and home are to be admired for withstanding the terror of invaders and doing the best they could with meager supplies.
During Sherman’s campaign, which took place from May to December 1864, the city of Atlanta was seized, its rail and telegraph lines destroyed, and the city was left virtually in ruins. Skirmishes regularly took place, but the Union Army steadily advanced, demoralizing the Confederates and the population in general. Kennett’s frequent use of excerpts from personal letters, diaries, and memoirs of both Union and Confederate personnel and supporters are a telling, vivid portrait of the ground-level battle. The horrors of the bloodiest war are seen through the eyes of those who witnessed it, making it come to life in the most effective manner.
Kennett is an unbiased observer of the general who masterminded the March to the Sea. Sherman was intelligent, a dedicated militarist, who was human but would take a hard stand when it came to any interference with his strategies.
Included in the book is a collection of photographs: of Sherman, Governor Brown, young soldiers on both sides, women, pictures of occupied Atlanta and of the prison at Camp Lawton in Millen. It’s interesting to note that” the devil” Sherman doesn’t have a particularly threatening appearance!
In November 1864, Governor Brown had made an effort to secure more soldiers for the Georgia army and solicited convicts from the penitentiary in Milledgeville to fight for the Confederacy in exchange for a pardon. Kennett mentions that the convicts who volunteered formed Roberts’s Guards, headed by “celebrated burglar Dr. Roberts.” This intrigued me, and since Kennett only makes that brief mention, I would be curious to know if anyone has more information about this.
Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow
Jacqueline Jones’s book stems from her professorship in teaching a course in women’s history, and coming to the realization that there was a dearth of published material about the history of black working women. In addition, she perceived that her students did not comprehend the differences that race played in woman’s struggle for equality. Jones traces the history of black women’s work (which is indelibly tied to family) from slavery, Reconstruction, the rural South, the urban South, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights era up to 1984.
Throughout history, black women faced a double whammy – they were always going to be under the rung of white women, and always under the lower rung of black men. The role of black women in work for centuries was one of servitude – cleaning, cooking, laundry – for white people and for white industries; work they had to accept to keep their family unit together. Since white males predominated the workforce, often a black man was unable to find work sufficient to support his family. A black woman’s family life consisted of the same routine of servitude – but doing for her family made her proud. Black women had to fight for decades before they could even hope to obtain low-paying clerical and sales jobs that had opened up to white women in the early 1900s. The climate for black women in the North was no better than for their counterparts in the South – the tide of skilled Eastern European immigrants made employment prospects dim for blacks of both sexes. (Of course, it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk for them either; my paternal grandmother was forced to leave school in fourth grade to work at a shirtwaist factory to help support her family; my maternal grandmother emigrated from Ireland in her teens on her own and worked as a housemaid.) What sustained black women in slave days and the hard years to follow were their strong motivation for their children to do better than they had; a devotion to extended kin; and reliance on religious beliefs.
This book is most interesting because it affords us the opportunity to view this history from today’s perspective. The world, nation, and the region have moved and changed swiftly from 1984 to 2011. Jones was quite perceptive in her remarks about how future economic situations would affect women, black and white. She foresaw the erosion of the middle class and spoke of the solution to be a coalition of black men and black women and white women to redefine national policies to reflect the needs of breadwinners and nurturers.
I know this is a summary, but I can’t help throwing my two cents in. Black women who are employed are now protected against racial discrimination on the job; employers today are very reluctant to dismiss or play laissez-faire with labor laws when a black employee is involved, fearful of the governmental recriminations. The problems facing black women in the workforce today are the same as white women: we’re both very likely to be heads of households, we both make career and financial sacrifices for the sake of being effective parents to our children, we both exist paycheck to paycheck, and agonize about our children’s future. Yes, we need to learn all we can about each race’s, and each gender’s, historical background, but not in an effort to divide. Instead, we need to respect where the other came from and join together to formulate a better future for all of us.
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