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Mania for FreedomAmerican Literatures of Enthusiasm from the Revolution to the Civil War$
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John Mac Kilgore

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469629728

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469629728.001.0001

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Shaking Hands with the Prophet

Shaking Hands with the Prophet

The War of 1812 and Native American Enthusiasms

(p.98) Chapter Three Shaking Hands with the Prophet
Mania for Freedom

John Mac Kilgore

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the War of 1812 era and Native American resistance to US imperialism. It documents how the politics of enthusiasm, understood as religious fanaticism, was mobilized to discredit the rise of a multi-tribal Native American confederation and its right to resistance. Tenskwatawa, or the Shawnee Prophet, figures centrally in this cultural criticism, and the author analyzes available accounts of the Prophet and his brother Tecumseh, highlighting indigenous dissent as a performance of enthusiasm. Subsequently, the chapter turns to obscure War of 1812 novels (Samuel Woodworth’s The Champions of Freedom, Don Pedro Casender’s The Lost Virgin of the South, and James Strange French’s Elkswatawa) in order to show how American literature absorbed Native American enthusiasms. In these novels it becomes apparent that a pro-American vision of the War of 1812 requires the white imagination to displace and appropriate Native America’s rightful struggle for independence. The chapter ends with a reading of the Pequot American Indian, William Apess, and his response to the War of 1812. Apess is unique for defending an indigenous enthusiastic politics in sympathy with the multi-tribal confederation, and he invents a Native American literature of enthusiasm in the process.

Keywords:   War of 1812, Native America, Shawnee Prophet, War of 1812 fiction, William Apess

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