Whiggery in the Wilderness: The Politics of Indian-hating in Robert Montgomery Bird’s Nick of the Woods (1837)

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Abstract

This article offers a re-assessment of Robert Montgomery Bird’s 1837 novel Nick of the Woods, the chief example of a distinct subgenre of American historical romances of the antebellum period—the Indian-hating narrative. Bird’s hostile depiction of Native Americans has dominated critical responses to the novel, which has always been understood as an endorsement of the expansionist ideology of Jacksonian America. However, this essay reads Nick of the Woods in the light of its author’s allegiance to the American Whig party, arguing that the novel’s extreme racism is actually a function of Bird’s advocacy of consolidation rather than expansion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-226
Number of pages31
JournalLiterature in the Early American Republic: Annual Studies on Cooper and His Contemporaries
Volume3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Frontier literature
  • Native Americans
  • American Literature
  • Nineteenth-century American literature
  • Robert Montgomery Bird

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