Historical Contexts of The Last of the Mohicans: The French and Indian War, and Mid-1820s America
Presented at the 17ᵗʰ Cooper Seminar, James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art at the State University of New York College at Oneonta, July, 2009.
Originally published in James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art, Papers from the 2009 Cooper Seminar (No. 17), The State University of New York College at Oneonta. Oneonta, New York. Hugh C. MacDougall, editor. (pp. 12-18).
Copyright © 2011, James Fenimore Cooper Society and the College at Oneonta.
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In The Last of the Mohicans and his other historical fiction, Cooper looked to the past in order to understand his present and the future. In my reading, the title, The Last of the Mohicans, is a metaphor for the future fate of Native America; and the tragic death of the Indian romantic hero, Uncas, and the part white, part black heroine, Cora, speaks to a racial dilemma that had haunted American history and confounded even the most thoughtful Americans in Cooper’s day. In this paper I will explore two historical contexts of The Last of the Mohicans: its setting during the French and Indian War, and the mid-1820s when it was written.
In developing his metaphorical title, The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper was more concerned with Indians in general than with particular Indians. In The Last of the Mohicans, he intentionally simplified and distorted tribal histories and Indian/European alliances. Cooper’s fictive version provided literary clarity by organizing Indians into two well-defined camps: neutral or pro-Anglo-American Algonquin speakers (i.e. Delawares, Lenni-Lenape, Mohicans) and pro-French Iroquoian speakers (i.e., Huron, Iroquois, Mingos, Six Nations). ¹ Historically, alliances between Indians and Europeans were complex, situational, shifting, and sometimes pitted closely related Indian groups against each other. ² In The Last of the Mohicans, Delaware Indians and Mingos exchanged historical places. Initially, the Delaware are neutral. Later they join Uncas, who turns out to be a Delaware chief, on his rescue mission. In the conclusion they are very sympathetic hosts at the funeral for Cora and Uncas. Historically, however, Delaware Indians sided with the French in the early years of the war, helping to defeat Braddock and capture Fort William Henry, before later switching sides. ³ Delaware religious revitalization oratory was the source of Magua’s speech about the color-coded characteristics of the three races. But in Cooper’s novel Magua is a Huron, and sometimes simply another Mingo. In The Last of the Mohicans and The Pathfinder, the other Leather-Stocking novel set during The French and Indian War, “Mingos” are generic enemy Indians, allied with the French. Historically, however, Mingos could be found on either side. In the dispute over occupation of the upper Ohio Valley, an alliance between the Mingo Half King, Tanaghrisson, and a young Virginia lieutenant colonel, George Washington, was particularly fateful. On May 28, 1754, the Half King tomahawked and scalped Joseph Coulen de Jumonville, the leader of a French military delegation, while a letter he had just presented to Washington was being translated. The murder of the French envoy, Jumonville, followed by the massacre of his troops by the Half King and his warriors was the spark that ignited the French and Indian War in America (1754-1761) and the larger Seven Year’s War (1756-1763) which was fought in Europe, Africa, Asia, the West Indies, and the Philippines. ⁴
Despite playing fast and loose with Indian alliances, the novel that Cooper wrote was a serious effort at understanding an important chapter in American history, and in many respects he was an excellent historian. By complicating the responsibility for the massacre and showing that all parties in the conflict engaged in savage warfare, Cooper’s novel challenged the prevailing historical memory. Modern scholars have been especially attentive to his detailed examination of the Battle of Fort William Henry and the causes of the ensuing massacre, and found much to commend. ⁵ But the most fundamental historical question about The Last of the Mohicans has not been answered or even asked. Does the historical context really matter? In other words, is there a meaningful historical connection between the massacre at Fort William Henry, the French and Indian War, and the “last of the Mohicans,” Cooper’s metaphor for the destruction of American Indians? I believe the answer is yes, the historical context matters, and the key lies in the nexus of two very different and seemingly incommensurable historical facts: (1) Anglo-Americans were the victims of the massacre at Fort William Henry; and (2) they were the victors in the larger war.
In recent years historians have written about the importance of Anglo-American victimization during the French and Indian War and the Anglo-American victory at war’s end in shaping the future history of American Indians. No one would reasonably expect an early nineteenth-century novelist to understand the full significance of an eighteenth-century war that professional historians would not flesh out until the beginning of the twenty-first century. But Cooper was certainly on the right track. In the opening pages of The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper anticipates the importance of victimization, and sets the stage for the geopolitical transformation that the victory will produce.
During the French and Indian War American colonists were victimized by numerous “massacres” as well as other “substantial evils,” Cooper readily acknowledged. Anglo-American victimization plays an important role in The Last of the Mohicans. Yet Cooper also understood that the frightened colonists magnified the real dangers “by a thousand fanciful and imaginary dangers.” With the endless repetition of Indian horror stories, the “alarmed colonists” came to believe “that the yells of the savages mingled with every fitful gust of wind that issued from the interminable forest of the west,” he wrote, while “mothers cast anxious glances” at their sleeping children even “within the security of the largest towns.” As the Indian scare invaded the colonial psyche, according to Cooper, there appeared to be no safe haven in the countryside or even in urban centers. He understood that frontier areas were extremely vulnerable. However, he condemned the colonists” runaway paranoia and disgraceful behavior. “In short, the magnifying influence of fear began to set at naught the calculations of reason,” wrote Cooper, rendering “those who should have remembered their manhood, the slaves of the basest of passions” (13). Their “fear” overwhelmed “reason.” Acting irrationally, forgetting their “manhood” and shaming themselves, the colonists became “slaves” to the most vulgar and ignoble “passions,” such as cowardice, hatred, and vengeance, ultimately using their victimization to justify their transformation into victimizers.
Cooper was historically correct. Victimization was a central trope in the Anglo-American understanding of the French and Indian War, particularly in middle colonies like New York and Pennsylvania. As an important chapter in a larger horror story, the massacre at Fort William Henry exemplified the perilous character of life on the frontier and the incredible barbarity of the native people. First reported by survivors, news of the August 10ᵗʰ massacre was quickly picked up by urban newspapers, emphasizing and often exaggerating the gory details. ⁶ By October, this gruesome story was reported in The London Magazine. In its telling, once the British left the fort, the French “most perfidiously let their Indian blood-hounds loose upon our people.” After noting that “most were stript stark-naked” and many “were killed and scalped,” grim details were provided of women’s “throats” that “were cut,” “belies ript open,” “bowels torn out”; and of children “taken by the heals, and their brains beat out against the trees or stones.” ⁷ In Our Savage Neighbors (2008), Peter Silver has written about the climate of terror that enveloped the middle colonies during the French and Indian War. By the late 1750s, the white frontier population of the most vulnerable middle colonies, especially Pennsylvania, had been decimated, with streams of survivors heading east for safety, bearing horror tales that replicated what happened at Fort William Henry over and over again. Newspapers and pamphlets, poems and plays, and sermons and speeches were filled with grisly tales about victims of scalping and horrific torture. It is hard to overstate the magnitude of the contagion of fear, dread, and panic that spread throughout the land. ⁸ The reaction might be likened to September 11, 2001, but even stronger; and like 9/11 politicians skillfully manipulated public fears, enhancing their political power, while demonizing the enemy. The legacy of this red scare, according to Silver, was an “anti-Indian culture” steeped in “dreams of Indian treachery and American suffering” that continually recurred among power hungry politicians and land hungry pioneers as Anglo-Americans forced their way across the continent. ⁹ Victimization provided a mandate for dispossession. Victory made the implementation of this mandate possible.
The Last of the Mohicans opens with Cooper observing that a “wide, and, apparently, an impervious boundary of forests” once “severed the possessions of the hostile provinces of France and England” (11). The space between the French and English colonies was “Indian country.” To most European-American observers, including Cooper, the in-between territory appeared to be a wilderness hunting ground for roving bands of Indians; in truth, it was a landscape of woods and fields and loosely confederated villages, whose independence was maintained by its native inhabitants throughout much of the colonial period by a combination of martial prowess and mutually beneficial military and economic alliances with France or England. ¹⁰ Cooper points out that on the eve of the French and Indian War, the dividing line between the imperial powers stretched from Lake Champlain to the “Horican” or Lake George, site of the Battle of Fort William Henry, all the way to the “gorges of the Alleghany” (11, 12), the source of the dispute between Washington and Jumonville. This stretch of wilderness, he explains, was “the bloody arena in which most of the battles for the mastery of the colonies were contested. Forts were erected at different points that commanded” military advantage, he points out, only to be “taken and retaken, rased and rebuilt,” as Britain and France fought fiercely for “possession of a country, that,” ironically, “neither was destined to retain” (12).
In 1763, the Peace of Paris ended the larger war. With a stroke of the pen, to borrow a well worn but apt phrase, North America changed. ¹¹ For well over a century, the French and British imperial presence in North America had produced a geopolitical stasis. American Indians shared power with the British and the French, skillfully manipulating both European colonizers to meet their own political, economic, and military needs. In this arrangement, Anglo-American westward expansion was out of the question. With France’s exit from the continent in 1763, the series of opposing forts that Cooper described in the opening pages of The Last of the Mohicans — that had supported Indian sovereignty over Indian country, as well as French and British imperial claims, and provided a western barrier to further settlement — ceased to exist, leaving Indian country exposed and vulnerable. The British tried unsuccessfully to stem the tide of colonial westward migration by reworking Indian alliances. With the British exit after the Revolution, there was little motivation for the leaders of the new republic to curry favor with the Indians. Lacking European allies, the position of the Indians became untenable. During the first 150 years of colonization, Anglo-America had been confined to a narrow strip of the continent within a few hundred miles of the Atlantic coast. Less than a century after the war ended, Anglo-America was firmly entrenched along the Pacific coast. The irresistible westward movement of Anglo-America was the legacy of the French and Indian War victory, and it was a disaster for Native America.
The tragic aftermath was the product of the combination of victory and victimization. The historian Fred Anderson writes: “In bringing to an end the French empire in North America, the French and Indian War undermined, and ultimately destroyed, the ability of native peoples to resist the expansion of Anglo-American settlement. The war’s violence and brutality, moreover, encouraged whites — particularly those on the frontier — to hate Indians with undiscriminating fury.” ¹² Indians responded with a fury of their own, fighting back with a newfound, racially-charged sense of urgency. “It would take more than fifty years for White Americans to win, and Indian Americans to lose” full possession of this land, Daniel K. Richter explains, thus “conclusively” recasting “eastern North America” as “White” instead of “Indian country.” However, “the increasingly powerful idea that the continent must become one or the other — and nevermore both — was the cultural legacy of 1763.” ¹³ The long-range outcome of the French and Indian War, Anderson bluntly concludes, was “the wholesale destruction of native peoples.” ¹⁴ The judgment of Anderson, Richter, and other major historians of the consequences of this war would seem to confirm Cooper’s choice of the French and Indian War as the historical context for The Last of the Mohicans and the metaphorical destruction of Native America. ¹⁵
In twenty-first century scholarship, it has become axiomatic that the immediate context for The Last of the Mohicans was the national debate over Indian removal. While this is not altogether wrong, it is misleading. In the mid-1820s, when the novel was written, Indian removal was a heated topic in Congress and public discourse. In recent scholarship, the debate is sometimes presented as simply the backdrop for the novel, without delving into the particulars of Cooper’s actual position in this debate; and at other times Cooper is sharply criticized for his racist stand in support of removal. ¹⁶ Like the outcome of the French and Indian War, the Indian removal explanation helps us understand the symbolic death of Uncas, the romantic hero of the novel, but neither seems to help us understand Uncas’ connection to Cora, the part white, part black heroine, and her symbolic death.
In The Making of Racial Sentiment (2006), Ezra Tawil gets around this problem by arguing that in frontier literature in the 1820s, American Indians are racial stand-ins for the other racially-despised group, African Americans. If racism toward Indians in Cooper and other frontier novelists is just as much about racism toward blacks, then, according to Tawil, the onus on racial mixing with Indians speaks to the onus on mixing with blacks, and the fear of Indian warfare is just as much about the nightmare of slave rebellion. While Tawil admits he has no direct evidence for his claim, he insists that “everybody knows” that this is true, and then he bolsters his claim by calling upon literary theorists (Althusser, Foucault, Jameson, and Lėvi-Strauss, etc.). ¹⁷ Exemplifying the new wave of critics who believe that Cooper occupies an important place in the history of American racism, Tawil provides a window of understanding into twenty-first-century academic culture, however, he is less helpful if our project is reconstructing the historical moment in which Cooper lived and worked.
Cooper did need the subterfuge of frontier novels such as The Last of the Mohicans to discuss African-American slaves, racial mixing with blacks, and the prospect of slave uprising. In 1826, soon after The Last of the Mohicans appeared, Cooper moved to France. In response to European criticism of America, he laid out his own views about African Americans, slavery, slave rebellion, and racial mixing in an essay titled “Slavery in the United States” that appeared in Revue Encyclopédique in 1827. 18 In 1828, in Letter XXXIII in Notions of the Americans, he provided additional commentary on these topics; and in Letter XXXIV, he discussed Indian removal and racial mixing among Native Americans and European Americans. (Notions is written as the first person narrative of a European traveler. I will call him Cooper.)
In his essay on slavery and his book about American notions, Cooper repeatedly stated that slavery was “evil.” ¹⁹ However, he opposed immediate abolition. The stumbling blocks for him were states’ rights and property rights. He noted that the northern states had pointed the way, and naively assumed that southern states would shortly follow.
In both “Slavery in the United States” and Notions of the Americans, Cooper more convincingly reassured his readers that the threat of slave rebellion was overstated. While granting that local slave uprisings could occur, in both documents he observed that white Americans are far more numerous, far better armed, and far better trained in warfare. Given the “prodigious” white “superiority” in “every thing that constitutes force,” he concluded, “to talk of danger to the Republic” from a slave rebellion “is absurd.” ²⁰ As he did in the opening pages of The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper confronted racial hysteria over the dire consequences to American civilization of a massive attack by non-white people, in this case calling the prospect “absurd.” His fear of Indian warfare on the frontier did not speak to his fear of a slave uprising. Quite clearly, he feared neither.
Moreover, Cooper did not evade the topic of racial mixing with blacks, as Tawil contends. “I would not willingly hurt the feeling of any of that people, who have, already, experienced but too much contumely,” he wrote in “Slavery in the United States,” finding it “difficult to write intelligibly on the subject of the amalgamation of the two races without giving offence.” ²¹ Yet he wrote directly on the subject. He variously says that amalgamation is not “likely very soon to occur,” it will be “a long time to come,” and the “time” is “still remote.” ²² He does not rule out racial amalgamation in the future, but the time was not yet right. The reason for this is that most blacks are “ill educated” and belong to an “inferior class.” Cooper believed that people were shaped by social class. But he knew that color prejudice was a powerful determinant of social class for nonwhite Americans. So the problem involved caste and class.
On the abolition of slavery, Cooper counseled patience; on the amalgamation of blacks and whites, Cooper noted its acceptance elsewhere, but not in his country. He responded differently to the Indian question. In Notions of the Americans he advocated removal and amalgamation.
Unlike abolition, he thought the federal government was the proper authority to institute removal. Removal is necessary because Indians obtain the vices but not the virtues of civilization. Those that live “in or near settlements,” in his words, are a “much degraded race.” He characterized “a recent” plan for removal as a “great, humane,” and “rational project.” Its object is “to bring the Indians within the pale of civilization.” In this proposal Indians would have their own territory in the West, which would include the “right to send delegates to Congress, similar to that now enjoyed by other Territories.” The goal, Cooper explained, is to provide Indians a territorial domain where they may “advance in civilization to maturity.” ²³ Moreover, Cooper observed, since “there is little reluctance to mingle the white and red blood,” the amalgamation of the races would quite naturally occur. ²⁴ In so saying, Cooper makes it clear to us that his discussion of racial mixing with Indians was not a stand-in for what he thought about racial mixing with blacks. He supported red/white amalgamation, but did not think that white America was ready for black/white amalgamation.
Cooper’s discussion of race, removal, and amalgamation in “Slavery in the United States” and Notions of the Americans elaborated on and also criticized ideas that were circulating in America in the 1820s: most especially, Samuel Stanhope Smith’s treatise on race, An Essay on the Causes of the Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species, first published in 1787, and revised and greatly expanded in 1810; and a movement that supported benevolent colonization. Smith’s study of race and the benevolent colonization movement concerned both blacks and Indians, and provided the immediate historical context for The Last of the Mohicans, a novel about the future of reds and blacks in white America.
The Reverend Samuel Stanhope Smith, President of the College of New Jersey, later renamed Princeton, would have been a household name in the Cooper family in the years immediately before James left for Yale. William, James’ older brother, boarded with President Smith during his abbreviated college career in New Jersey, and, due to disciplinary problems, was the topic of numerous exchanges between the President and their father. ²⁵ At least through the 1820s, Smith’s book on Causes of the Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species was the most widely accepted study of human variety in the United States and Great Britain. ²⁶ Writing from a scientific and theological perspective, Smith opened with a proclamation of the “unity of the human race” despite the “diversity of colour, and form” that “appears in different portions of the globe.” ²⁷ He rejected the notion of separate species, insisting that human variety — what we might call racial difference — was caused by the physical, cultural, and social environment. Yet human variety represented degeneration. Given a level playing field, Smith believed that variety — in effect, racial difference — would be eliminated, and lesser varieties, such as people with red skin or black skin, would rise to the level of white people. Because of their “habitual sense of inferiority” and white “contempt,” such elevation for former slaves might best occur in “the unappropriated lands” of the West, he suggested elsewhere, and he thought intermarriage between whites and blacks would aid the process of boosting nonwhites to the level of whites. ²⁸
Smith was proposing benevolent colonization. Enlisting some of the proponents of Indian removal, benevolent colonization brought together people and organizations concerned with the plight of both American Indians and African Americans. ²⁹ Smith was almost alone in proposing racial amalgamation of whites and blacks, but a variety of prominent advocates of benevolent colonization — including Thomas Jefferson, Jedidiah Morse, and James Fenimore Cooper — supported intermarriage between whites and Indians. ³⁰ Twenty-first century scholars frequently assume that removal was a wily scheme of white racists to rid the country of people of color. The actual history of the benevolent colonization movement does not substantiate their interpretation. Benevolent colonization was backed by some black and Indian leaders and by many concerned whites who felt that racism was too deep seated for racial minorities to achieve their human potential in the established states. Such colonies would provide the strong supportive environment that Samuel Stanhope Smith believed would enable people of color to overcome their degenerate condition.
Cooper agreed with Smith about the fundamental unity of humanity and the equal potential of diverse people despite the color of their skin. The death of Cora and Uncas in The Last of the Mohicans spoke to the inhospitality of the future United States to people of color and to racial mixing. Cooper supported benevolent colonization for American Indians and racial mixing with whites, but did not directly address benevolent colonization of African Americans and did not support the call for racial mixing within his own country. In Notions of the Americans he noted that blacks were more likely to be upwardly mobile and successfully pursue “their fortunes in countries where they are not daily and hourly offended by the degradation of their caste.” The “West-Indies,” “Mexico,” and “the South-American States,” where “a commingled population already exists,” might offer a more level playing field, he thought. In America, by contrast, “caste” is a fixed condition. “All people having black blood,” he explained, “are enumerated as blacks.” ³¹ This would include Cora Munro, the tragic heroine of The Last of the Mohicans, who is painfully aware of “the curse” of her “ancestors” (305). When we meet her in Cooper’s novel, she is a black woman who is passing as white. The burden is heavy. Only by concealing her race can she enjoy the prerogatives conferred by her father’s status, her cultural refinement and social sophistication, her own natural beauty, and her extraordinary character. Her life might have been different in the West Indies where she was born.
Placed in its historical contexts, the tragic conclusion of The Last of the Mohicans speaks to the author’s well-founded pessimism about racial amalgamation and the position of American Indians and African Americans in American society in the foreseeable future. Had he been able to look beyond the foreseeable future, into the twenty-first century, he might have been wonderfully surprised to see that one of the most respected Americans was a mixture of white, black, American Indian, and Asian; and another was an equal mixture of white and black. He might have been less surprised to learn that most Americans thought of Tiger Woods and Barack Obama as great African Americans.
1. In his 1831 introduction to The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper explained: “In these pages, Lenni-Lenape, Lenope, Delawares, Wapanachki, and Mohicans, all mean the same people, or tribes of the same stock. The Mengwe, the Maquas, the Mingoes, and the Iroquois, though not all strictly the same, are identified frequently by the speakers, being politically confederated and opposed to those just named”; James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans; A Narrative of 1757, hist. introd. by James Franklin Beard, text established with explanatory notes by James A. Sappenfield and E. N. Feltskog (1826; New York: SUNY Press, 1983), 6.
2. For especially helpful discussion of Indian alignments in Cooper’s novel, see John McWilliams, “The Historical Contexts of The Last of the Mohicans,” afterword to James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 355-363; Robert Clark, “The Last of the Iroquois: History and Myth in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans,” Poetics Today, 3 (Autumn 1982), 115-134. For discussion of the Indians who joined Montcalm at the Battle of Fort William Henry, see Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), 187-189; Ian K. Steele, Betrayals: Fort William Henry and the “Massacre” (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 78-95. For discussion of Indian alliances during the French and Indian War, see Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 223-268.
3. A handful of Delaware were among the thirty-three Indian nations that joined forces with Montcalm for his assault on Fort William Henry: see Fred Anderson, Crucible of War, 187-189; Steele, Betrayals: Fort Willliam Henry and the “Massacre”, 81.
4. On Washington, the Half King, and the massacre of Jumonville and his troops, see Fred Anderson, The War that Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War (New York: Viking, 2005, 37-52; and Anderson, Crucible of War, xix.
5. On Cooper and the Battle of Fort William Henry, see David P. French, “James Fenimore Cooper and Fort William Henry,” American Literature, 32 (March 1960), 28-38; Thomas Philbrick, “The Sources of Cooper’s Knowledge of Fort William Henry,” American Literature, 36 (May 1964), 209-214; Steele, Betrayal: Fort William Henry and the “Massacre”, 169-170; John P. McWilliams, The Last of the Mohicans: Civil Savagery and Savage Civility (New York: Twain, 1995), 92-102.
6. William M. Fowler, Jr., Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754-1764 (New York: Walker & Co., 2005), 129; Steele, Betrayals: Fort William Henry and the “Massacre”, 150-151.
7. The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer (Oct. 1757), 495.
8. Peter Silver, Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007), 39-94. Also see Anderson, The War that Made America, 152-162.
9. Silver, Our Savage Neighbors, 160, 291. Also see Anderson, The War that Made America, 264-265.
10. My discussion of “Indian country” is particularly indebted to Daniel K. Richter’s Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001) and White’s The Middle Ground. Richter’s concept of “Indian country” in a French/English imperial world is similar to White’s concept of the “middle ground.” Both refer to autonomous Indian territory. White’s book is primarily a study of the Ohio Valley/Great Lakes region. While not the focus of his book, White states that “a middle ground” also “began among the Iroquois and the Hurons during a period earlier than the one this book examines.” See White, The Middle Ground, x. This would have included the upstate New York setting of The Deerslayer, The Pathfinder, and The Last of the Mohicans.
11. While this phrase has been applied to other treaties, scholars have found it particularly useful to get at the momentous geopolitical ramifications of the Peace of Paris. Looking at the treaty from the victor’s point of view, in The War that Made America, 229, Anderson writes: “With a few strokes of the pen, Britain acquired all France’s North American possessions east of the Mississippi River (save New Orleans), as well as Spanish Florida, consisting of the peninsula and the Gulf Coast as far west as the Mississippi.” Looking at the treaty from an Indian perspective, in Facing East from Indian Country, 187, Richter writes: “the structural framework upon which the modern Indian politics had depended for two generations imploded with a few strokes of European pens.” One recent book chose a variation of the phrase for its title; see Colin G. Calloway, The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
12. Anderson, The War that Made America, vii-viii.
13. Richter, Facing East from Indian Country, 191.
14. Anderson, The War that Made America, viii.
15. See especially Silver’s Our Savage Neighbors, and White’s The Middle Ground. While White emphasizes the importance of the geopolitical transformation produced by the Anglo-American victory, Silver emphasizes the significance of victimization.
16. For examples of the former, scholars who view removal as the general historical backdrop or catalyst for the creation of the novel, see Joshua David Bellin, The Demon of the Continent: Indians and the Shaping of American Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 158; Debra J. Rosenthal, Race Mixture in Nineteenth-Century U.S. and Spanish American Fictions: Gender, Culture, and Nation Building (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 4; Eric J. Sundquist, Empire and Slavery in American Literature, 1820-1865 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2006). For examples of the latter, those who sharply criticize Cooper’s support of removal, see Patrick Brantlinger, Dark Vanishings: Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races, 1800-1830 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), 13, 67; Betsy Erkkila, Mixed Bloods and Other Crosses: Rethinking American Literature from the Revolution to the Culture Wars (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), 13; Elise Lemire, “Miscegenation”: Making Race in America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 49.
17. Ezra Tawil, The Making of Racial Sentiment: Slavery and the Birth of the Frontier Romance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 5-7, 69-91, 129-151.
18. “Slavery in the United States” is the title in Robert E. Spiller and Philip C. Blackburn, ed., A Descriptive Bibliography of the Writings of James Fenimore Cooper (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1934), 198. Robert E. Spiller had previously published the essay with an historical introduction under the umbrella of “Fenimore Cooper’s Defense of Slave-Owning America” in The American Historical Review, 35 (April 1930), 576. I will use the more specific title, “Slavery in the United States.”
19. See Cooper, “Slavery in the United States,” 578; James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans: Picked up by a Travelling Bachelor, text established with hist. introd. and textual notes by Gary Williams (1828; Albany: SUNY Press, 1991), 471, 475, 476.
20. James Cooper, “Slavery in the United States,” 581; Cooper, Notions of the Americans, 481.
21. Cooper, “Slavery in the United States,” 581.
22. Cooper, Notions of the Americans, 476, 481.
23. Cooper, Notions of the Americans, 490, 489.
24. Cooper, Notions of the Americans, 490.
25. See Wayne Franklin, James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 39-41; Alan Taylor, William Cooper’s Town: Power and persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), 334-337.
26. On the importance of Smith book, see Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), 99; Winthrop D. Jordan, Introduction to Samuel Stanhope Smith, An Essay on the Causes of the Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species (rev. ed. 1810; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), xvi-xvii; Colin Kidd, The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 105-106.
27. Samuel Stanhope Smith, Essay on the Causes of the Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species. ed. Winthrop D. Jordan (rev. ed. 1810; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), 7.
28. The Rev. Samuel Stanhope Smith, The Lectures, Corrected and Improved, Which Have Been Delivered for a Series of Years, in the College of New Jersey; on the Subjects of Moral and Political Philosophy , 2 vols. (Trenton: Published by Daniel Fenton, 1812), II, 176, 177.
29. On the interconnection between benevolent colonization advocates for African Americans and American Indians, see Nicholas Guyatt, “’The outskirts of Our Happiness’: Race and the Lure of Colonization in the Early Republic,” Journal of American History, 95 (March 2009), 986-1011.
30. Guyatt, “’The Outskirts of Our happiness,’” 994-96; Cooper, Notions of the Americans, 489-490.
31. Cooper, Notions of the Americans, 467, 477, 478, 468.