To Marry an Indian: The Marriage of Harriett Gold and Elias Boudinot in Letters, 1823-1839

To Marry an Indian: The Marriage of Harriett Gold and Elias Boudinot in Letters, 1823-1839

by Theresa Strouth Gaul

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When nineteen-year-old Harriett Gold, from a prominent white family in Cornwall, Connecticut, announced in 1825 her intention to marry a Cherokee man, her shocked family initiated a spirited correspondence debating her decision to marry an Indian. Eventually, Gold's family members reconciled themselves to her wishes, and she married Elias Boudinot in 1826. After the marriage, she returned with Boudinot to the Cherokee Nation, where he went on to become a controversial political figure and editor of the first Native American newspaper.

Providing rare firsthand documentation of race relations in the early nineteenth-century United States, this volume collects the Gold family correspondence during the engagement period as well as letters the young couple sent to the family describing their experiences in New Echota (capital of the Cherokee Nation) during the years prior to the Cherokee Removal. In an introduction providing historical and social contexts, Theresa Strouth Gaul offers a literary reading of the correspondence, highlighting the value of the epistolary form and the gender and racial dynamics of the exchange. As Gaul demonstrates, the correspondence provides a factual accompaniment to the many fictionalized accounts of contacts between Native Americans and Euroamericans and supports an increasing recognition that letters form an important category of literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807876350
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 03/08/2006
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Theresa Strouth Gaul is associate professor of English at Texas Christian University.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

The marriage of Elias Boudinot and Harriett Gold was important not only to the principals, but also to their families and to the Cherokee Nation as it went through one of the greatest periods of turmoil in its history. This collection of letters gives us a glimpse into the Indian-white dynamics of the time from the most human perspective possible.—James W. Parins, Sequoyah Research Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Anyone interested in epistolary practices, miscegenation, or Cherokee studies will find To Marry an Indian a valuable read.—American Indian Culture and Research Journal

Full of interesting information about middle-class American life in the 1820s and 1830s. . . . This slight volume is at once a lesson in American history, sociology, and psychology.—Library Journal

As presented by Theresa Strouth Gaul, these letters break new ground in the study of racial and gender boundaries in America. They also read as a surprising and poignant epistolary novel.—Phyllis Cole, author of Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism: A Family History

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