William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest
Born to Anglo-American parents on the Appalachian frontier, captured by the Miami Indians at the age of thirteen, and adopted into the tribe, William Wells (1770–1812) moved between two cultures all his life but was comfortable in neither. Vilified by some historians for his divided loyalties, he remains relatively unknown even though he is worthy of comparison with such famous frontiersmen as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. William Heath’s thoroughly researched book is the first biography of this man-in-the-middle.
A servant of empire with deep sympathies for the people his country sought to dispossess, Wells married Chief Little Turtle’s daughter and distinguished himself as a Miami warrior, as an American spy, and as an Indian agent whose multilingual skills made him a valuable interpreter. Heath examines pioneer life in the Ohio Valley from both white and Indian perspectives, yielding rich insights into Wells’s career as well as broader events on the post-revolutionary American frontier, where Anglo-Americans pushing westward competed with the Indian nations of the Old Northwest for control of territory.
Wells’s unusual career, Heath emphasizes, earned him a great deal of ill will. Because he warned the U.S. government against Tecumseh’s confederacy and the Tenskwatawa’s “religiously mad” followers, he was hated by those who supported the Shawnee leaders. Because he came to question treaties he had helped bring about, and cautioned the Indians about their harmful effects, he was distrusted by Americans. Wells is a complicated hero, and his conflicted position reflects the decline of coexistence and cooperation between two cultures.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Chapter 1 Life and Death on Beargrass Creek
Chapter 2 Becoming Miami
Chapter 3 Warpaths
Chapter 4 Little Turtle Triumphant
Chapter 5 William Wells American Spy
Chapter 6 Scouting for Mad Anthony Wayne
Chapter 7 Interpreting Peace
Chapter 8 Civilizing the Indians
Chapter 9 Confronting Tecumseh
Chapter 10 Death at Fort Dearborn
Other editions - View all
agent American army arrived asked attack August battle Blue British brother called camp captives chiefs Clair Clark command conduct council Dearborn December Defeat Delaware Detroit enemy Eustis fight fire five followed force French friends frontier gave give ground Hamtramck hands Harmar Harrison head Heald Historical horses hundred hunting Indians James January Jefferson John Johnston Journal July June Kentucky killed knew Knox land later letter Little Turtle live March McKee Messages Miami Michigan militia Narrative never noted November October officers Ohio party peace person Potawatomis present prisoners Prophet Quakers received reported returned River savages sent September Shawnee shot side Smith Spirit taken Tecumseh Territorial told took town treaty tribes troops United village Vincennes Wabash wanted warriors Washington Wayne Wilkinson women wounded wrote young