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By Thomas W. Dunlay

Often portrayed by means of previous historians because the maximum consultant and Indian fighter within the West, package Carson (1809–68) has develop into lately a old pariah—a brutal assassin who betrayed the Navajos, an unwitting dupe of yankee enlargement, and a racist. Many historians now query either his attractiveness and his position within the pantheon of yankee heroes. In Kit Carson and the Indians, Tom Dunlay urges us to re-examine Carson another time. To Dunlay, Carson used to be easily a guy of the 19th century whose racial perspectives and activities have been very like these of his contemporaries.

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When he was sick, Kit had cared for him “as tenderly as a woman,” giving Beale the last drop of water from his canteen. “Oh, Kit! 41 Jessie Benton Frémont, the explorer’s wife, was another writer of purple prose, and she too was impressed with more than the obvious “manly” virtues in Carson. ” She also remembered the kindness he showed when her firstborn son Kit’s godson died as an infant. “You were the first to warn me that my oldest boy could not live,” she wrote to him years later. ”42 These admiring contemporaries and later biographers share one other characteristic with those who despise Carson as a racist and a 16 will the real kit carson please stand up?

Kentucky and Tennessee were gone, and so were large parts of the Old Northwest; portions of the tribes from those territories had moved west of the Mississippi to maintain their way of life. In 1804 the Sacs and Foxes had signed a treaty giving up much of their land east of the Mississippi and a portion of Missouri. The tribes were losing their economic self-sufficiency, becoming dependent on trade goods; in return for tribal annuities, the government induced leaders to sign away large tracts of land.

4 Alexander Carson took himself and his family to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, perhaps between 1738 and 1748. Like so many North Britons, he settled in the “backcountry,” the western frontier of the British colonies from Pennsylvania on south. His son William moved to North Carolina before 1761, and William’s son Lindsey would eventually move to Kentucky. ” Fischer notes that the backcountry was a “debateable land,” like the British borderlands, where proud Indian nations with warrior traditions of their own disputed possession with the newcomers.

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