Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson. By Christina Snyder. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. 402. Cloth, $29.95.) Christina Snyder’s new book, Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson, simultaneously tells a small story—that of Richard Mentor Johnson’s Choctaw Academy—and the biggest story in U.S. (and possibly modern global) history—the birth of the empire that would eventually transform the world. Snyder masterfully illustrates how the community of Great Crossings, Kentucky, the home of Johnson’s acad- emy, “embodied the meeting of space, cultures, and time that distinguished the period between the War of 1812 and the coming of the Civil War” (15– 16). The “adolescent empire,” she argues, offered optimism and possibility, but ultimately “coalesced around principles of intolerance, exclusion, and racial injustice” (317). The Choctaw Academy was founded in 1825 as a collaborative effort between the federal government and the Choctaw Nation, and at the time it was one of only two schools under the purview of the War Department (the other being West Point). While there were thirty-eight additional Indian schools in operation, the Choctaw Academy differed in that it was the only one not run by missionaries.
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Mar 1, 2019