The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 361
those of the first secretary of the interior, Thomas Ewing. Indian policy
under the Democrats and the Whigs is linked to the larger political scene
and the differences between the two parties are contrasted, thereby placing
Indian policy in these years in better perspective than had been true before.
The earlier studies of Alban Hoopes and James Malin, both long out of
print and difficult to come by, are in large part superceded by this book.
Trennert's individual chapters on Indian policy in Texas, New Mexico,
Kansas-Nebraska, and the upper great plains are fine syntheses of the
available literature, enlightened by new archival discoveries. Above all, the
book is carefully organized, clearly reasoned, and well written.
At the same time there are puzzling questions which are not answered
in Trennert's study. If the idea of Indian reservations originated in the
experiences of men working in the four areas of the West which Trennert
has selected, why was it that the first reservations were created in Minnesota,
California, and Oregon? Put another way, why did Trennert not investigate
federal activity in these areas? And why did he end his investigation in the
year 1851 with the signing of the Fort Laramie treaty? Surely the passage
of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 was a more important event in the
evolution of the reservation policy than the vague treaty signed with the
warriors of the high plains. By one of those cruel tricks of the publishing
business, most of Trennert's original dissertation has just been paraphrased
by Wilcomb E. Washburn as chapter eight in The Indian in America, a
volume in the New American Nation series.
Edmund Danziger's book, originally entitled "The Peculiar Service:
Problems in the Administration of Federal Indian Policy During the Civil
War," seeks to catalogue the difficulties besetting the Indian service during
the Civil War rather than to chart the direction of federal policy. In my
judgment, the choice of this problem-oriented method was a distinct mis-
take. Not only does it result in a laborious and tedious listing of well known
problems--white land hunger, greedy miners, bureaucratic incompetence,
preoccupation by Washington in the greater war, the whiskey trade, tribal
cultural disintegration--but it seriously detracts from the importance of the
archival material which the author has painstakingly unearthed.
Danziger's analysis is also marred by the artificial division of the book
into two parts: the "nomadic people," characterized by the Cheyennes, and
the "reservation people," symbolized by the Santee Sioux. The purpose of
this division, it is explained, was to avoid a "chapter-by-chapter analysis of
the administrative problems in each superintendency" examined, a venture
which would have been "too repetitive and would bog down the text in
detail" (p. 17). The result is, however, that we are given two lengthy and,
Here’s what’s next.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/406/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.