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Red Gentlemen and White Savages

Indians, Federalists, and the Search for Order on the American Frontier
David Andrew Nichols

BUY Cloth · 272 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813927688 · $43.50 · Dec 2008

Red Gentlemen and White Savages argues that after the devastation of the American Revolutionary War, the main concern of Federalist and Indian leaders was not the transfer of land, but the restoration of social order on the frontier. Nichols focuses on the "middle ground" of Indian treaty conferences, where, in a series of encounters framed by the rituals of Native American diplomacy and the rules of Anglo-American gentility, U.S. officials and Woodland Indian civil chiefs built an uneasy alliance. The two groups of leaders learned that they shared common goals: both sought to control their "unruly young men"-disaffected white frontiersmen and Native American warriors-and both favored diplomacy, commerce, and established boundaries over military confrontation. Their alliance proved unstable. In their pursuit of peace and order along the frontier, both sets of leaders irreparably alienated their own followers. The Federalists lost power in 1800 to the agrarian expansionists of the Democratic-Republican Party, while civil chiefs lost influence to the leaders of new pan-Indian resistance movements. This shift in political power contributed to the outbreak of war between the United States, Britain, and Britain's Indian allies in 1812, and prepared the way for Indian Removal.


Red Gentlemen and White Savages is clearly and cogently written, well organized, and supported by ample research and wide reading in the relevant secondary literature. It is an original and substantial contribution to work on the Federalists and Indians, and the best book on this subject to date.

Alan TaylorUniversity of CaliforniaDavis, author of The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution

"Anyone who thinks that the American Revolution came to a military conclusion at Yorktown must now consider the continuing pattern of military, diplomatic, and cultural encounters that David Nichols chronicles so thoroughly in this fresh and engaging book. With an appreciation of complexity, but also with great clarity, he shows us how the American Revolution never really ended in the frontier regions of North America, at least not when the 'rest' of the Revolution did. In doing so, he challenges us to locate the Revolution in a much larger chronological and cultural context and, above all, to see it not just as a two-sided conflict between the Crown and the colonies, but as a multi-sided series of struggles that enveloped Native Americans and Euro-Americans long after the formal treaty in 1783. Nowhere is that large historical landscape displayed more comprehensively than here in Nichols's work.

Gregory NoblesGeorgia Institute of Technology, author of American Frontiers: Cultural Encounters and Continental Conquest

About the Author(s): 

David Andrew Nichols is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Indiana State University.

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