Michael Leroy Oberg’s new book Professional Indian: The American Odyseey of Eleazer Williams (2015, Univ. of Pennsylvania Press) follows Eleazer Williams on his odyssey across the early American republic and through the shifting spheres of the Iroquois in an era of dispossession.
Oberg describes Williams as a “professional Indian,” who cultivated many political interests and personas in order to survive during a time of shrinking options for native peoples.
He was not alone: as Oberg shows, many Indians became missionaries and settlers and played a vital role in westward expansion. Through the larger-than-life biography of Eleazer Williams, Professional Indian uncovers how Indians fought for place and agency in a world that was rapidly trying to erase them. Continue reading
In 1862 twenty-one-year-old Morris Brown Jr. left his studies at Hamilton College to take up the Union cause. He quickly rose in rank from sergeant major to captain and acting regimental commander for the 126th New York Volunteers. Fight All Day, March All Night: A Medal of Honor Recipient’s Story (SUNY Press Excelsior Editions, 2012) is the narrative of a young Civil War officer, as told through his letters from the battlefield and edited by Civil War historian Wayne Mahood.
In letters written to his family in Penn Yan, New York, Brown describes his experiences at war: the unseemly carping between fellow officers, the fear that gripped men facing battle, and the longing to return home. Brown’s letters also reveal an ambitious young man who not only wanted recognition but also wanted to assure himself of a financial future. Continue reading