Claudio Saunt
AUTHOR

Claudio Saunt

I teach and write about early American and Native American history at the University of Georgia. My newest book is Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory. On May 28, 1830, Congress authorized the expulsion of indigenous peoples in the East to territories west of the Mississippi River. Over the next decade, Native Americans saw their homelands and possessions stolen through fraud, intimidation, and murder. In Unworthy Republic, I make three related arguments: The state-administered mass expulsion of indigenous people was unprecedented, it was a turning point for indigenous peoples and for the United States, and it was far from inevitable. Moving well beyond the Trail of Tears, I show how expulsion became national policy, passing in Congress by only five votes, how native peoples fought against it, and how the federal bureaucracy, overwhelmed by the logistics of deporting eighty thousand people, failed at every turn. By the end of the 1830s, when thousands of US troops were wading through Florida swamps to eliminate Seminole families, the policy of expulsion had turned into a policy of extermination.

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