Creek Paths and Federal Roads

Creek Paths and Federal Roads: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves and the Making of the American South

Angela Pulley Hudson
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 272
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Creek Paths and Federal Roads
    Book Description:

    InCreek Paths and Federal Roads, Angela Pulley Hudson offers a new understanding of the development of the American South by examining travel within and between southeastern Indian nations and the southern states, from the founding of the United States until the forced removal of southeastern Indians in the 1830s.During the early national period, Hudson explains, settlers and slaves made their way along Indian trading paths and federal post roads, deep into the heart of the Creek Indians' world. Hudson focuses particularly on the creation and mapping of boundaries between Creek Indian lands and the states that grew up around them; the development of roads, canals, and other internal improvements within these territories; and the ways that Indians, settlers, and slaves understood, contested, and collaborated on these boundaries and transit networks.While she chronicles the experiences of these travelers--Native, newcomer, free, and enslaved--who encountered one another on the roads of Creek country, Hudson also places indigenous perspectives squarely at the center of southern history, shedding new light on the contingent emergence of the American South.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0400-8
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Introduction OLD PATHS, NEW PATHS
    (pp. 1-10)

    In a 1774 talk to British Indian agent John Stuart, a party of Upper Creek leaders observed: ‘‘When a path is new made it does not at once become a great path.’’¹ The path in question was a new north-south trading route between Upper Creek towns on the Tallapoosa River and the port of Pensacola. They assured Stuart that this “new made’’ path would not supplant the ‘‘old path,’’ an east-west route that had connected them to traders in Carolina for decades.² The Creeks had long pursued a policy of neutrality and openness that allowed them to maintain diplomatic and...

    (pp. 11-36)

    On a bright sunny day in early November 1779, a Creek leader known to outsiders as the Tallassee King rose to speak to an assembly of Indians, traders, and American officials at the Savannah River plantation of trader and de facto Indian agent George Galphin. He took a white eagle feather in one hand and a string of white beads in the other and said these items signified ‘‘that the path may be kept perfect Clain and white from heare to the Nation.’’¹ In Creek cosmology, the color red is associated with action, aggression, and/or defense and often signifies affairs...

    (pp. 37-66)

    As a result of competing claims by state, federal, and indigenous interests, a shifting maze of boundary lines made figuring out whose side one was on a tricky proposition. Once boundaries were agreed upon in treaty conventions and the various documents delivered to each party, there still remained the problem of how to make the newly determined lines legible to the people who lived on the southern frontiers. ‘‘Marking the land’’ was not just an expression describing the process of surveying tracts; it literally meant marking the posts, trees, and rocks that lined the boundaries and paths between the Americans...

    (pp. 67-90)

    In the opening months of 1806, the Creek delegation returned from Washington to the fields and forests of their homelands during the height of the deer-hunting season. In their absence, many Creek men and women had proceeded with their winter tasks, largely unacquainted with the profound changes proposed in the Treaty of Washington. Ranging farther to find enough game, Creek hunters were more and more likely to encounter Americans in their territory. Over the preceding decade, travel into and through the Creek Nation had increased at a relatively stable pace as Americans made their way across traces and paths, much...

    (pp. 91-120)

    When the dust finally settled from the New Madrid aftershocks, Creek people saw clearly that American travel through their homelands had increased since the end of 1811. The transformation of what was once a narrow post path to a broad wagon road meant that more people could enter the nation faster. At least 3,700 people passed through Creek country from October 1811 to March 1812, including 120 wagons, 80 carts, 30 chairs, and 3 four-wheeled vehicles.¹ Considering that this was all ill-advised wintertime travel, the numbers for the drier months (April through September) must have been even higher. While not...

    (pp. 121-144)

    On his journey through the southern states in 1817, writer James K. Paulding remarked, ‘‘I had heard much of the continued migration from the Atlantic coasts to the regions of the west. . . . I have now had some opportunity of witnessing the magnitude of this mighty wave which knows no retrograde motion, but rolls over the land, never to recoil again.’’¹ Indeed, the period following the close of the Creek War was one of massive and continued emigration into the Trans-Appalachian region. In this increasingly agrarian west, the primary enterprises were cultivating staple crops like cotton, corn, and...

    (pp. 145-166)

    Continued American expansion into former Indian homelands north and south of the Ohio River sparked a renewed passion for what American politicians called ‘‘internal improvements.’’ In addition to roads, canals seemed particularly promising. In 1825, the opening of the Erie Canal heralded a new era in commercial transportation, and nearly overnight it made Cleveland an Atlantic port by connecting it to the valuable New York trade network. Equally significant were the improvements in steamboat navigation that united Cleveland’s rival Cincinnati with New Orleans in a tight bond of corn, pork, and cotton exchange. The push for improved roads to connect...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 167-172)

    In mid-March 1830, a young man named Richardson turned up on the doorstep of one Mr. Harris, who lived near the Georgia-Creek border. He was covered in blood. He recounted a journey into the Creek Nation where an elderly Creek man overtook him on the road. To the old man’s remarks, young Richardson made no reply, since he did not speak the Creek language. He passed by only to be ambushed later by the same Creek man and two others, who stabbed him in the throat. Rumors suggested that the attack was retaliation for a white traveler’s assault of a...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 173-224)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-242)
  14. Index
    (pp. 243-252)