Americans Recaptured: Progressive Era Memory of Frontier by Molly K. Varley

By Molly K. Varley

It used to be at the frontier, the place “civilized” women and men faced the “wilderness,” that Europeans first turned Americans—or so experts from Frederick Jackson Turner to Theodore Roosevelt claimed. yet because the frontier disappeared, american citizens believed they wanted a brand new mechanism for solving their collective identification; they usually came across it, historian Molly okay. Varley indicates, in stories of white american citizens held captive through Indians.

For american citizens within the revolutionary period (1890–1916) those tales of Indian captivity looked as if it would end up that the violence of nationwide enlargement were justified, that electorate’ person discomfort were heroic, and that settlers’ touch with Indians and wasteland nonetheless characterised the nation’s “soul.” in addition, within the act of memorializing white Indian captives—through statues, parks, and reissued narratives—small cities came upon a fashion of inscribing themselves into the nationwide story.

By drawing out the connections among genuine captivity, captivity narratives, and the memorializing of white captives, Varley exhibits how Indian captivity turned a way for innovative period american citizens to seem ahead by means of in retrospect. neighborhood boosters and cultural commentators used Indian captivity to outline “Americanism” and to resume these frontier traits deemed important to the survival of the kingdom within the post-frontier international, reminiscent of individualism, bravery, ingenuity, enthusiasm, “manliness,” and patriotism. In Varley’s research of the revolutionary period mentality, touch among white captives and Indians represented a level within the evolution of a brand new American humans and affirmed the modern concept of the United States as a melting pot.

Revealing how the recitation and interpretation of those captivity narratives replaced over time—with transferring emphasis on brutality, gender, and ethnographic and historic accuracy—Americans Recaptured shows that stories of Indian captivity have been not more fastened than American id, yet have been always used to provide that id its personal necessary, ever-evolving shape.

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