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The Second Creek War

Interethnic Conflict and Collusion on a Collapsing Frontier

John T. Ellisor

Publication Year: 2010

Historians have traditionally viewed the “Creek War of 1836” as a minor police action centered on rounding up the Creek Indians for removal to Indian Territory. Using extensive archival research, John T. Ellisor demonstrates that, in fact, the Second Creek War was neither brief nor small. Indeed, armed conflict continued long after “peace” was declared and the majority of Creeks had been sent west. Ellisor’s study also broadly illuminates southern society just prior to the Indian removals, a time when many blacks, whites, and Natives lived in close proximity in the Old Southwest. In the Creek country, also called New Alabama, these ethnic groups began to develop a pluralistic society. When the 1830s cotton boom placed a premium on Creek land, however, dispossession of the Natives became an economic priority. Dispossessed and impoverished, some Creeks rose in armed revolt both to resist removal west and to drive the oppressors from their ancient homeland. Yet the resulting Second Creek War, which raged over three states, was fueled not only by Native determination but also by economic competition and was intensified not least by the massive government-sponsored land grab that constituted Indian removal. Because these circumstances also created fissures throughout southern society, both whites and blacks found it in their best interests to help the Creek insurgents. This first book-length examination of the Second Creek War shows how interethnic collusion and conflict characterized southern society during the 1830s.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Indians of the Southeast


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Title Page

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p. iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv

Table of Contents

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p. v

List of Maps

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p. vi

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Introduction: The Second Creek War?

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pp. 1-8

Whoever heard of the Second Creek War? Certainly the event never appears in history textbooks, though one may occasionally encounter the term Creek War of 1836, but without any meaningful description of what that conflict actually entailed. Other accounts, monographs on Creek history or Indian removal, say a bit more, but even here the ...

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1. Creek Politics and Confinement in New Alabama

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pp. 9-46

In September 1810 Tecumseh appeared on the square of Tuckabatchee with an entourage of northern warriors. They were an impressive sight: handsome men sporting eagle feathers in their hair, buffalo tails hanging from their arms and waists, faces painted solid black to signal the seriousness of their business. They marched around the square several ...

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2. The Cusseta Treaty of 1832

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pp. 47-96

On March 24, 1832, the delegation of Upper and Lower Creek headmen, advised by the Creek agent, John Crowell, and an Indian country trader and planter, John Brodnax, met with War Department officials in Washington and put their marks and signatures to a document known to Alabamians and Georgians as the Cusseta Treaty of 1832. Under the ...

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3. Commodifying the Creek Domain

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pp. 97-139

Officials in Washington expected that most of the Creeks would sell their allotments as soon as they received them and move to the Western Territory. Consequently, the secretary of war appointed four officials to oversee the process of Creek land sales, instructing each to witness every transaction and see to it that the Natives received fair prices for their ...

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4. Resistance

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pp. 140-181

While some Creeks reached an accommodation with the new economic order and others found themselves overwhelmed by it, still more resisted all the exploitation from the start. This resistance, in turn, set the stage for the outright armed rebellion to come. Not surprisingly, resistance was strongest among the disheveled Lower Creeks, who had always lived...

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5. Rebellion

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pp. 182-227

The Creek rebels had a major advantage: the fragmented and disorganized enemy they faced. The Creek rebels also had a major disadvantage: the fragmented and disorganized nature of the Creeks. Indeed, both rebels and settlers sprang from the same pluralistic atmosphere where corruption, violence, and economic exploitation kept both Native and ...

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6. The Federal Response

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pp. 228-263

Secretary Cass set the federal operation in motion by marshaling a supply of money and troops. On hearing of the Creek rebellion, he sent a requisition to Congress calling for an appropriation of five hundred thousand dollars to finance the Seminole War and to suppress the uprising. Congress approved the appropriation almost immediately. Cass ...

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7. Flight through Southern Georgia

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pp. 264-296

Local observers were correct: the Creek war was not finished. Because the Alabama and Georgia troops did not execute Scott’s strategy, a significant number of rebels remained in the wild. Many of these people now set out for Florida, winding their way through the south Georgia swamps to the Seminoles, attacking settlers and...

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8. Recriminations

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pp. 297-334

Despite the fears of an even larger war with Creeks and Seminoles in southern Georgia and Alabama, the late summer and fall of 1836 brought a temporary cessation of armed hostilities — a lull in the eye of the storm. Yet conflict did not end. In the aftermath of fighting between Indians and whites, the whites continued to engage in an ...

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9. The War Revives in New Alabama

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pp. 335-370

The months of peace following the federal operation against the Lower Creeks, coupled with the removal of so many Indians during the fall of 1836, stimulated a new rush of people into New Alabama. Many of these people were returning settlers, those who could afford to rebuild destroyed homes, replace stolen property, and start afresh. However, ...

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10. Seeking Refuge in West Florida

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pp. 371-415

The movement of Creeks south into Florida in 1837 was the culmination of a migration that had been going on by fits and starts for well over one hundred years. In part, this migration was a natural aspect of Creek expansionism: the disease, colonial warfare, and slave trade caused by the entry of Europeans and their economic system into the Southeast ...

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Epilogue: The Legacy of the Second Creek War

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pp. 417-432

The fight against the Creeks and their Seminole cousins was a costly affair in terms of both money and lives. Between the years 1835 and 1843, Congress appropriated between thirty and forty million dollars for the suppression of Indian hostilities in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. It is hard to draw the line between Creek and Seminole war ...


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pp. 433-477


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pp. 479-490


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pp. 491-497

E-ISBN-13: 9780803234215
E-ISBN-10: 080323421X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803225480
Print-ISBN-10: 0803225482

Page Count: 512
Illustrations: 7 maps
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Indians of the Southeast
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OCLC Number: 693762040
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Second Creek War

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Southwest, Old -- Ethnic relations.
  • Creek Indians -- Relocation.
  • Creek Indians -- Government relations.
  • War and society -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Creek War, 1836.
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