Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in History


Arch Dalrymple III Department of History

First Advisor

John R. Neff

Second Advisor

Anne S. Twitty

Third Advisor

Sheila Skemp

Relational Format



The history of the Cherokee Nation from 1866 to 1907 provides a new framework for the story of Reconstruction that expands the periodization and geographical scope of the effects of the postwar period on both mainstream America and those regulated to its margins. Although the historical narrative marks the end of Reconstruction with the political compromise of 1877, the process continued in the Cherokee Nation until Oklahoma statehood was achieved in 1907. The Cherokee Nation serves as a window of analysis that demonstrates how the process of Reconstruction was a national phenomenon. The experience of the Cherokee people and their leaders during Reconstruction bridges the gap between the historiography of the postwar period and the postwar conquest of the west, and also contributes to recent works detailing the centrality of race and slavery to the lives of nineteenth-century southeastern Indians. This dissertation project strives to contribute to the story of the struggle of the Cherokee to negotiate their place within the postwar United States through an examination of the problems of freedom unleashed in the Cherokee Nation with emancipation. Investigations of the relevant secondary literature combined with an analysis of personal correspondence, governmental reports and letters from the holdings of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cherokee laws, Cherokee leaders' correspondence, and Cherokee Nation protests and memorials against federal government intervention in their affairs discussed in this project reveals that the Cherokee adapted the prevailing racial classifications of nineteenth-century America in an effort to use these categories of difference to assert their uniqueness and independence as a sovereign and legitimate nation. Chapter one examines the Treaty of 1866 with an analysis of the document and its many stipulations. The second chapter looks at the struggle of Cherokee leaders to defeat numerous bills introduced in Congress to extend federal control over Indian Territory. Chapter three explores the important and contentious issue of Cherokee citizenship and its connection to native sovereignty. The final chapter reveals that federal protection of Cherokee freedmen continued beyond the official end of Reconstruction.

Included in

History Commons



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