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In August 1862, after decades of broken treaties, increasing hardship, and relentless encroachment on their lands, a group of Dakota warriors convened a council at the tepee of their leader, Little Crow. Knowing the strength and resilience of the young American nation, Little Crow counseled caution, but anger won the day. Forced to either lead his warriors in a war he knew they could not win or leave them to their fates, he declared, "[Little Crow] is not a coward: he will die with you." So began six weeks of intense conflict along the Minnesota frontier as the Dakotas clashed with settlers and federal troops, all the while searching for allies in their struggle. Once the uprising was smashed and the Dakotas captured, a military commission was convened, which quickly found more than three hundred Indians guilty of murder. President Lincoln, embroiled in the most devastating period of the Civil War, personally intervened in order to spare the lives of 265 of the condemned men, but the toll on the Dakota nation was still staggering: a way of life destroyed, a tribe forcibly relocated to barren and unfamiliar territory, and 38 Dakota warriors hanged--the largest government-sanctioned execution in American history. Scott W. Berg recounts the conflict through the stories of several remarkable characters, including Little Crow, who foresaw how ruinous the conflict would be for his tribe; Sarah Wakefield, who had been captured by the Dakotas, then vilified as an "Indian lover" when she defended them; Minnesota bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple, who was a tireless advocate for the Indians' cause; and Lincoln, who transcended his own family history to pursue justice.Written with uncommon immediacy and insight, 38 Nooses details these events within the larger context of the Civil War, the history of the Dakota people, and the subsequent United States-Indian wars. It is a revelation of an overlooked but seminal moment in American history.
Grand Avenues tells the riveting story of Pierre Charles L'Enfant and the creation of Washington, D.C. from the seeds of his inspiration to the fulfillment of his extraordinary vision. L'Enfant's story is one of consuming passion, high emotion, artistic genius, and human frailty. As a boy he studied drawing at the most prestigious art academy in the world. As a young man he left his home in Paris to volunteer in the army of the American colonies, where he served under George Washington. There he would also meet many of the people who would have a profound impact on his life, including Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe. And it was Washington himself who, in 1791, entrusted L'Enfant with the planning of the nation's capital and reluctantly allowed him to be dismissed from the project eleven months later. The plan for the city was published under another name, and for the remainder of his life L'Enfant fought for recognition of his achievement. But he would not live to see that day, and a century would pass before L'Enfant would be given credit for his brilliant design. Scott W. Berg recounts this tale, richly evocative of time and place, with the narrative verve of a novel and a cast of characters that ranges from Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers to the surveyor who took credit for L'Enfant's plans, the assistant who spent a week in jail for his loyalty to L'Enfant, and the men who finally restored L'Enfant's reputation at the beginning of the twentieth century. Here is a fascinating, little-explored episode in American history: the story of a visionary artist and of the founding of the magnificent city that is his enduring legacy.
Grand Avenues: The Story of Pierre Charles l'Enfant, the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C.by Scott W. Berg
In 1791, shortly after the United States won its independence, George Washington personally asked Pierre Charles l'Enfant--a young French artisan turned American revolutionary soldier who gained many friends among the Founding Fathers--to design the new nation's capital. L'Enfant approached this task with unparalleled vigor and passion; however, his imperious and unyielding nature also made him many powerful enemies. After eleven months, Washington reluctantly dismissed l'Enfant from the project. Subsequently, the plan for the city was published under another name, and l'Enfant died long before it was rightfully attributed to him. Filled with incredible characters and passionate human drama, Scott W. Berg's deft narrative account of this little-explored story in American history is a tribute to the genius of Pierre Charles l'Enfant and the enduring city that is his legacy.
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