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A visiting historian will offer a new perspective on how people of color navigated United States imperialism during the Jacksonian era in a talk at 5 p.m. Monday, October 23.

Christina Snyder
Christina Snyder

The Department of History will host Christina Snyder for a lecture titled “Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson,” which is based on her new book. The address is part of the annual Charles O. Jackson Memorial Lecture Series.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Room 103 of UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Snyder is the McCabe Greer Professor of the History of the American Civil War Era at Pennsylvania State University. During her lecture, she will examine how US imperialism during the era of Indian removal reshaped the geography of the freedom—or lack thereof—of certain Americans, and how it brought conflicting ideologies of race and slavery into contact. The talk also will explore the strategies that people of color developed to navigate the shifting landscape.

Snyder’s book uses as a case study Great Crossings, an experimental community in Kentucky where America’s diverse peoples intersected and shared new visions of the continent’s future. The town got its name in the previous century, when bison habitually crossed Elkhorn Creek at a shallow spot. By the 19th century, the bison had disappeared and Great Crossings had become a different kind of meeting ground—home to the first federal Indian school, Choctaw Academy, and a famous interracial family.

The story of this community is a microcosm of the large-scale forces shaping the continent between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The community itself experienced those changes, which also influenced national policies in the United States and in Indian country.

Snyder is a historian of colonialism, race, and slavery, with a focus on North America from before indigenous peoples’ contacts with European cultures through the 19th century. Her first book, Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America, was published by Harvard University Press in 2010 and earned numerous accolades. Her latest book, Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson, was released by Oxford University Press this year. Snyder’s work has been featured on PBS and NPR and in Slate.

The Charles O. Jackson Memorial Lecture honors the career of the late Charles O. Jackson, a scholar of American culture and society whose wide-ranging works explore American ideas about death and sexual deviance, food and drug legislation, and the social and military history of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Jackson was an esteemed member of UT’s history department from 1969 to 1997.


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