Michael S. Green

Sep 22, 2022

Lincoln and Native Americans

Southern Illinois University Press 2021

President Abraham Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution of Indigenous people in American history, following the 1862 uprising of hungry Dakota in Minnesota and suspiciously speedy trials. He also issued the largest commutation of executions in American history for the same act. But there is much more to the story of Lincoln’s interactions and involvement, personal and political, with Native Americans, as Michael S. Green shows. Lincoln and Native Americans (Southern Illinois UP, 2021) explains how Lincoln thought about Native Americans, interacted with them, and was affected by them.

Although ignorant of Native customs, Lincoln revealed none of the hatred or single-minded opposition to Native culture that animated other leaders and some of his own political and military officials. Lincoln did far too little to ease the problems afflicting Indigenous people at the time, but he also expressed more sympathy for their situation than most other politicians of the day. Still, he was not what those who wanted legitimate improvements in the lives of Native Americans would have liked him to be.

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