Though the tragedy of the Trail of Tears is widely recognized today, the pervasive effects of the tribe's uprooting have never been examined in detail. Despite the Cherokees' efforts to assimilate with the dominant white culture—running their own newspaper, ratifying a constitution based on that of the United States—they were never able to integrate fully with white men in the New World.
In An American Betrayal, Daniel Blake Smith's vivid prose brings to life a host of memorable characters: the veteran Indian-fighter Andrew Jackson, who adopted a young Indian boy into his home; Chief John Ross, only one-eighth Cherokee, who commanded the loyalty of most Cherokees because of his relentless effort to remain on their native soil; most dramatically, the dissenters in Cherokee country—especially Elias Boudinot and John Ridge, gifted young men who were educated in a New England academy but whose marriages to local white girls erupted in racial epithets, effigy burnings, and the closing of the school.
Smith, an award-winning historian, offers an eye-opening view of why neither assimilation nor Cherokee independence could succeed in Jacksonian America.
Daniel Blake Smith is the author of An American Betrayal, The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown, Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth Century Chesapeake Society, and many articles on early American history. Formerly a professor of colonial American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a screenwriter and filmmaker.
The Cherokees' tragic saga commenced ironically on a note of progress. The new national government in 1789 that George Washington presided over was determined to reframe the nation's relationship with native peoples. The federal government, Washington insisted, would no longer treat Indians as conquered enemies without any legal rights to their ancestral lands.
Daniel Blake Smith on writing An American Betrayal
Daniel Blake Smith discusses An American Betrayal on the John Batchelor Show.
Daniel Blake Smith discusses An American Betrayal on NPR's Talk Of The Nation.
Daniel Blake Smith discusses An American Betrayal on St Louis Public Radio.
Author Daniel Blake Smith gives us a look inside his new book An American Betrayal.
Daniel Blake Smith discusses An American Betrayal at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe (CSPAN).