Once again, Louise Littleton Davis has produced from her store of knowledge and understanding of Tennessee history a collection of engrossing stories about the people and events that went into the making of that great state. This book spans two centuries, from pre-Revolutionary days into the 1800s.
The reader will now meet many more of early Tennessee’s colorful characters, often in unexpected places. Pious and profane, noble and notorious, all of these historical figures emerge as real men and women who worked, fought, and prayed a young state into being.
Accounts of incredible land deals dramatize the tragedy of American Indians pushed west by the white man’s greed. Tribute is paid to John Ross, the most notable of all Cherokee chiefs, whose lifelong struggle for the rights of the Indians ended with the infamous “Trail of Tears,” a death march for many of the 17,000 Cherokees forced by U.S. Army troops to walk from Tennessee to Oklahoma.
Frontier criminal justice, shocking by today’s standards, reveals a rugged society that considered horse thievery worse than murder and administered punishment accordingly. The strict, often harsh, religious structure that ruled frontier communities is reflected in accounts of church trials concerning many matters now handled by civil courts.
Tennessee was not without its dissidents, however. Colonel Thomas Butler defied an Army order to trim his ponytail locks. Ironically, the hero of the Revolutionary War found that his appeals for support to Washington met the same resistance as did the Cherokees’ pleas for their land.