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Forgotten Allies
Cover of Forgotten Allies
Forgotten Allies
The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution
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Combining compelling narrative and grand historical sweep, Forgotten Allies offers a vivid account of the Oneida Indians, forgotten heroes of the American Revolution who risked their homeland, their culture, and their lives to join in a war that gave birth to a new nation at the expense of their own. Revealing for the first time the full sacrifice of the Oneidas in securing independence, Forgotten Allies offers poignant insights about Oneida culture and how it changed and adjusted in the wake of nearly two centuries of contact with European-American colonists. It depicts the resolve of an Indian nation that fought alongside the revolutionaries as their valuable allies, only to be erased from America's collective historical memory. Beautifully written, Forgotten Allies recaptures these lost memories and makes certain that the Oneidas' incredible story is finally told in its entirety, thereby deepening and enriching our understanding of the American experience.


Combining compelling narrative and grand historical sweep, Forgotten Allies offers a vivid account of the Oneida Indians, forgotten heroes of the American Revolution who risked their homeland, their culture, and their lives to join in a war that gave birth to a new nation at the expense of their own. Revealing for the first time the full sacrifice of the Oneidas in securing independence, Forgotten Allies offers poignant insights about Oneida culture and how it changed and adjusted in the wake of nearly two centuries of contact with European-American colonists. It depicts the resolve of an Indian nation that fought alongside the revolutionaries as their valuable allies, only to be erased from America's collective historical memory. Beautifully written, Forgotten Allies recaptures these lost memories and makes certain that the Oneidas' incredible story is finally told in its entirety, thereby deepening and enriching our understanding of the American experience.


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  • Copyright © 2006 by Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin. Published in October 2006 by Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
Prologue:
 
THE REVOLUTION’S
JUBILEE, THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE,
AND SELECTIVE HISTORICAL MEMORY
 
Not yet twenty years old, the Marquis de Lafayette, a starry-eyed member of the French nobility who had volunteered his services for the rebel cause, sailed to North America for the first time in 1777. For this young idealist, the American Revolution represented an opportunity to strike a blow for human liberty, fulfill his desire for personal glory, and secure a measure of revenge against his nation’s archrival, Great Britain. The Continental Congress, after much wrangling, had commissioned him a major general, hoping this appointment would further strengthen ties with France and become another reason for that nation to join the rebellious American patriots in a formal military alliance.
 
George Washington took an instant liking to Lafayette, whose full name was Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier. Despite Lafayette’s youth and inexperience, Washington came to respect his abilities and soon entrusted him with important command responsibilities. Some of these assignments brought Lafayette into contact with members of the Oneida Indian nation, who were also informally allied with and fighting on the side of the American rebels.
 
In January 1824, nearly forty-one years after the American Revolution officially ended, President James Monroe invited Lafayette to return to his second home, the nation he had helped forge. As part of a number of fiftieth anniversary–related activities, the president, an aging Revolutionary War veteran himself, believed that Lafayette and the peoples of the United States should have one last opportunity to see each other before the ever-relentless sands of time completely swept away the hallowed Revolutionary generation.1
 
Always garrulous and charming in his persona but with a tincture of vanity thrown in, Lafayette gladly accepted Monroe’s invitation. With a small coterie of traveling companions, including his son, George Washington Motier de Lafayette, the marquis arrived in New York City in mid-August 1824 and began a tour that took him through all twenty-four states before he sailed home to France in September 1825.
 
Everywhere Lafayette went, large, enthusiastic crowds welcomed him. On his first day in New York City, some thirty thousand people turned out to see the aging hero. So it was at all his appearances. Crowds cheered him, politicians coddled him, old friends hugged and cried with him. Three former presidents whom he had known long ago—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison—hosted him. Congress voted him the lavish sum of two hundred thousand dollars to recognize his personal sacrifices in fighting to secure America’s liberty and independence.2
 
Once more, it seemed, Lafayette had arrived when the American people needed him. Divisive politics, especially over slavery, were pulling the young American nation apart. As the last living Continental Army major general, Lafayette allowed citizens north and south to put their differences aside, even if only for a few moments, and harken back to what some viewed as more purposeful times. In that spirit of selective nostalgia, the marquis’s tour became a celebration of what the young republic had managed to accomplish, of the sacrifices of Lafayette and his comrades in arms.3
 
For the people of Utica, New York, and other towns in the western Mohawk Valley, Lafayette’s visit to their region was a great honor. Even though the citizens of Utica would have only a few hours with him, they were anxious to show...
About the Author-
  • Joseph T. Glatthaar is the author of six books and teaches history at the
    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus Reviews

    Praise for Joseph T. Glatthaar's Forged In Battle:

    "This is a book that will surprise and delight anyone interested in American history. It reveals in vivid scrupulously researched detail a hitherto unknown side of the War for Independence."--Thomas Fleming, author of Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge

    "Riveting from its deft opening of Lafayette's return, Forgotten Allies is a brilliant history of the Oneida Indian Nation and its complex participation in the American Revolution. Masterfully framing the cultural and political struggles of the time before plunging us into the American Revolution, this book has a message for every generation; history is relevant." --Jack Leustig, Producer, Director, Writer, Award-Winning CBS Television Documentary, 500 Nations

    "Two accomplished historians tell the sad, neglected, yet fascinating story, rich in detail and well written, of the Oneida, one major Indian group who backed the 'winning' side in the American Revolution." --John Shy, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan

    "A vividly revealing chronicle of the Oneidas' thankless role in the American Revolution." -- Chrispatsilelis, Houston Chronicle

    "Two scholars seamlessly combine forces to tell a little-known but important and ultimately shameful story from an unlit corner of the colonies' battle for independence . . . Much research and erudition underlie a sad tale of fidelity betrayed."

  • Georgia Historical Quarterly "The fullest account we have of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), those black soldiers and white officers who contributed so mightily to Union victory."
  • Los Angeles Times "Both a biography and an extended meditation on the ironies of the Revolution, Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero is in many ways a remarkable example of the historian's craft . . . [an] indispensable guide."
  • Journal of Military History "Martin's thorough primary-source research--the best in any biography of Arnold to date--underpins convincing explanations for both Arnold's intense revolutionary zeal and his subsequent betrayal. The book offers essential lessons to modern military officers."
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Forgotten Allies
Forgotten Allies
The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution
Joseph T. Glatthaar
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