Dr. Dawn Peterson in ‘Slate’ on “Andrew Jackson’s Adopted Indian Son”

Illustration from John Frost's 1860 biography, A Pictorial History of Andrew Jackson.

Illustration from John Frost’s 1860 biography, A Pictorial History of Andrew Jackson – Internet Archive 

Professor Dawn Peterson was recently interviewed for a piece in Slate by Rebecca Onion. Prompted by discussions following the decision to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, the article hones in on one piece of Jackson’s life frequently cited by those who defend his legacy: his adoption of a infant Creek boy in 1813. Peterson offers historical context for the adoption of Lyncoya (the name given by Jackson to the orphaned boy) and the practice in southern society more broadly. These insights derive from Peterson’s recent research and especially her forthcoming book Indians in the National Family: Adoption and the Politics of Antebellum Expansion (Harvard University Press in 2017). Read an excerpt from the piece below and check out the full article here.

Though they adopted native children, slaveholders like Jackson imagined “they were assimilating Native people and their lands into the confines of the United States. They believed that what they were doing was a benevolent act, but also understood it as a form of cultural genocide.”