FATHERS AND CHILDREN: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian by Michael Paul Rogin

FATHERS AND CHILDREN: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian

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Rogin attempts to do for settler-Indian experience what others have attempted to do for black-white relations in the South--examine the qualitative, psychological dimensions behind the rational self-interest of oppression. In this case, not sexual fear but infantile rage is involved. The settlers' frustrations at being separated from mother-provided ""oral bliss"" were projected onto the ""childlike"" Indians, along with fantasies of primitive violence. Fortunately, the book is hung on a specific peg--the Indian-fighting, land-grabbing and self-boosting Andrew Jackson. For the most part, Rogin's insight into Jackson seems to apply to almost anyone: he was mother-dominated and craved property as a magical substitute for control of his surroundings. Rogin views Jackson's on-and-off paternalism toward the Indians as not simply a ploy for purposes of negotiations, but part of his military and presidential character; this paternalism makes an intriguing contrast to Jackson's egalitarian populist image. The book provides an extended scrutiny of Southern frontier life and its clan structure (giving a new angle on Jackson's licit/illicit relations with his wife Rachel). It also compiles an intricate account of land speculation maneuvers and the national debate over debt. This extension of Rogin's inquiry into the early American character reaches beyond the Indian question to discuss Jackson's war against the Big Bank as something other than old-fashioned agrarianism. The book is written in a sort of dark, epigrammatic style which may open new lines of thought for the reader or may come to seem a gloss on the obvious. Everywhere Rogin has assembled a good deal of useful material which shows the Indian/frontier theme to be less worn out than one had thought.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1975
Publisher: Knopf