The Legal Ideology of Removal

The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations

Title Details

Pages: 336

Trim size: 6.120in x 9.250in



Pub Date: 11/01/2009

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3417-2

List Price: $32.95

The Legal Ideology of Removal

The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations

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  • Description
  • Reviews

This study is the first to show how state courts enabled the mass expulsion of Native Americans from their southern homelands in the 1830s. Our understanding of that infamous period, argues Tim Alan Garrison, is too often molded around the towering personalities of the Indian removal debate, including President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee leader John Ross, and United States Supreme Court Justice John Marshall. This common view minimizes the impact on Indian sovereignty of some little-known legal cases at the state level.

Because the federal government upheld Native American self-dominion, southerners bent on expropriating Indian land sought a legal toehold through state supreme court decisions. As Garrison discusses Georgia v. Tassels (1830), Caldwell v. Alabama (1831), Tennessee v. Forman (1835), and other cases, he shows how proremoval partisans exploited regional sympathies. By casting removal as a states' rights, rather than a moral, issue, they won the wide support of a land-hungry southern populace. The disastrous consequences to Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles are still unfolding.

Important in its own right, jurisprudence on Indian matters in the antebellum South also complements the legal corpus on slavery. Readers will gain a broader perspective on the racial views of the southern legal elite, and on the logical inconsistencies of southern law and politics in the conceptual period of the anti-Indian and proslavery ideologies.

In recalling our attention to these overlooked decisions and the ideology they emerged from, Garrison has given us an indispensable work of American history.

Alabama Review

Tim Garrison has produced a clear and powerful assessment of southern Indians' legal strategy and the self-interested response of courts in the southern states prior to Removal.

—Malinda M. Maynor, North Carolina Historical Review

Tim Alan Garrison has carefully researched the relatively unexploited and fertile ground of the legal ideology of the southern antebellum state judiciary and its impact on Indian nations and American law. . . . This is a well-crafted study of a fascinating topic that has generally escaped historical scrutiny.

Florida Historical Quarterly

Garrison has already earned his place in Native American history with this fascinating and scholarly volume.

—William L. Anderson, Journal of East Tennessee History

Tim Alan Garrison's book will turn heads and immediately impact the way historians, Native scholars, and lawyers look at important legal concepts and precedents. I cannot remember a better conceived and better written monograph.

—John R. Wunder, author of "Retained by the People": A History of American Indians and the Bill of Rights

About the Author/Editor

TIM ALAN GARRISON is an associate professor of history at Portland State University.