A masterful and unsettling history of “Indian Removal,” the forced migration of Native Americans across the Mississippi River in the 1830s and the state-sponsored theft of their lands.
In May 1830, the United States launched an unprecedented campaign to expel 80,000 Native Americans from their eastern homelands to territories west of the Mississippi River. In a firestorm of fraud and violence, thousands of Native Americans lost their lives, and thousands more lost their farms and possessions. The operation soon devolved into an unofficial policy of extermination, enabled by US officials, southern planters, and northern speculators. Hailed for its searing insight, Unworthy Republic transforms our understanding of this pivotal period in American history.
About the Author
Claudio Saunt is the Richard B. Russell Professor in American History at the University of Georgia. He is the author of award-winning books, including A New Order of Things; Black, White, and Indian; and West of the Revolution. He lives in Athens, Georgia.
One of the most important books published on U.S. history in recent years and should be required reading for all Americans. — Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University, author of Empire of Cotton
Unworthy Republic is a study in power. It describes, in detail, the coming together of money, rhetoric, political ambition, and white-supremacist idealism. Saunt shows his readers the cost of a racial caste system in the United States.
— David Treuer
"Unworthy Republic" is a powerful and lucid account, weaving together events with the people who experienced them up close.…Saunt has written an unflinching book that reckons with this history and its legacy. — Jennifer Szalai
[A] much-needed rendering of a disgraceful episode in American history that has been too long misunderstood. — Peter Cozzens
[Unworthy Republic] is a haunting story of racialized cruelty and greed, which came to define a pivotal period in U.S. and indigenous history alike. . . As Saunt persuasively observes, we have yet to reckon with them today.
— Caitlin Fitz
[Unworthy Republic] is a major achievement… [Saunt] manages to do something truly rare: destroy the illusion that history’s course is inevitable and recover the reality of the multiple possibilities that confronted contemporaries.
— Nick Romeo
There has been insufficient ‘reckoning with the conquest of the continent,’ Claudio Saunt relays in this excellent new book. In many accounts of U.S. history, the discussion of the mass deportation of native nations during the 1830s remains far too brief. Deportation’s legacies in law, culture, and community continue to this day and find powerful exploration in this important addition to the field. — Ned Blackhawk (Western Shoshone), professor of history and American studies, Yale University
A bold, new, and urgently needed standard for the way we should understand the history of Indian Removal…Saunt demonstrates with searing insight and unparalleled narrative skill how the bureaucratic and blatantly militaristic ‘expulsion’ of 80,000 indigenous people profoundly reshaped the U.S. Republic and forever changed Native American lives. — Tiya Miles, professor of history, Harvard University, author of The Dawn of Detroit
Unworthy Republic offers a much-needed corrective to the American canon, showing how a heavy-handed president, a deadlocked Congress, and a lust for profit combined to construct a shameful national legacy. This book is timely, provocative, heart-wrenching, and original—a riveting story that invites us all to reflect on how we got where we are today.
— Elizabeth Fenn, Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado Boulder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Encounters at the Heart of the World
[T]horoughly researched and quietly outraged. — Charles Hewitt
Saunt presents a stark and well-documented case that Native American expulsion was a political choice rather than an inevitable tragedy. This searing account forces a new reckoning with American history.
A significant, well-rendered study of a disturbing period in American history.