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The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier

by Adam Jortner

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-19-976529-4
Publisher: Oxford Univ.

A dual biography that also serves as a myth-busting history of Indian-Caucasian relationships within what became the continental United States.

Jortner (History/Auburn Univ.) deeply into the lives of Tenskwatawa, a Shawnee Indian leader, and William Henry Harrison, a Virginia-bred aristocrat accumulating power as the governor of the Indiana Territory, leading all the way to the White House in 1840. Tenskwatawa had been seen as a relative non-entity among Indian tribal councils until 1806, when he seemed to conjure up a miracle by predicting a total eclipse of the sun. With a new following, Tenskwatawa and his eventually more famous brother Tecumseh persuaded Indians from numerous tribes to resist the encroaching Caucasians throughout the Midwest—which was considered the Western frontier in those days. Harrison expressed determination to expand the Caucasian dominion. The warriors fought with words for years; Jortner explains how those warring words were grounded in widely divergent beliefs about the nature and grand plan of the earth's creator. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cold war eventually went hot with the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, and indirectly caused the warrior wing of American government to fight British troops in what would become known as the War of 1812. When Harrison sought entry to the White House decades later, he cited Tippecanoe as confirmation of his role as a great battlefield general and patriot. Jortner convincingly demonstrates that nobody won the battle of Tippecanoe—both sides would have been stronger if they had avoided battle.

A well-researched, skillfully written history.