Native American Power in the United States, 1783-1795

Native American Power in the United States, 1783-1795

Native American Power in the United States, 1783-1795

Native American Power in the United States, 1783-1795

Synopsis

This book is a study of the role of Native Americans in the physical and political development of the United States during the first few years of its existence. An evaluation of the function and operation of power both within Native American groups and their relations with outsiders, which informed their diverse and complex strategies of resistance to white westward expansion, forms a central component of the study. That resistance, strengthened by alliances with the British on the northern frontier and Spain in the south, did more than just physically prevent the United States from occupying its western territories. It fostered early federal-state antagonism, stimulated east-west sectionalism, and heightened international tensions on the continent almost to the point of war. The new republic of the United States was based on a precarious and as yet unformed political structure, its integrity threatened by both foreign interference and domestic fragmentation. The Native American contribution to the fragility of the union during this period made them key players in the struggle to create a stable and enduring union. Celia Barnes is currently working as Director of Studies at the Piccadilly School of English in Bolzano, Italy.

Excerpt

This book BEGAN AS AN EXAMINATION OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF Native Americans on the political development of the United States in the 1820s. As my research progressed, however, it became evident that Native Americans had played an important role in the nation's development since its foundation. Their presence, their relationship with each other and their neighbors, and their resistance to the white advance not only had implications for the nation's westward expansion but exposed weaknesses in the Union and influenced issues ranging from domestic political cohesion to international relations. The diverse and ubiquitous nature of Native American power, expressed in ways often incomprehensible to white contemporaries, had far-reaching consequences for the difficult early years of the United States.

The study begins in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris between the United States and Great Britain and ends in 1795 with the conclusion of the Treaty of Lorenzo between the United States and Spain. The twelve-year period between these two diplomatic events forms a distinct period of Indian resistance, underlining the link between Indian affairs and U.S. foreign relations.

Studies of white—Native American relations in the 1780s and 1790s have largely been explored from a single-issue perspective, focusing, for instance, on early attempts at formulating a national Indian policy, the birth of the U.S. army, or the difficulties posed by tribal alliances with Britain and Spain. These works have been an invaluable aid in my research, as sources herein will reveal. This book differs from these works, however, in that it offers an overall integrated account of the significance of Indian affairs. The link between the Native American issue and the fragility of the Union gives a broad perspective on the problems experienced by the young nation and shows that Native Americans were active participants in the early development of the United States. The Native American issue had such serious implications for the domestic turbulence and international tensions that characterized this period of U.S. history that it merits the focus given it here.

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