Taming the Territory: Women, Settler Colonialism, and Indian Removal in Florida

TitleTaming the Territory: Women, Settler Colonialism, and Indian Removal in Florida
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsClark, Laurel A.
Academic DepartmentAmerican Studies
Number of Pages281
Date Published2008/05/18
UniversityThe George Washington University
CityWashington DC

This dissertation examines how women and gender shaped U.S. expansion into Florida in the early nineteenth century. The author argues that representations of women shaped national policies in Florida, and that women negotiated with those policies in ways that benefited them and supported national expansion. In the society that Americans hoped to install in Florida, proper domesticity signified their racial and cultural superiority. Thus, white women's household and slave property were integral to Americanizing Florida. In stories about Indian attacks on white homes, military policy, and federal land settlement policies, the presence of women and children signified and guaranteed the need to protect and defend American homes in Florida, which justified and sentimentally reworked Indian removal into a nationalist paternalism. Using social history methods, this dissertation traces individuals and groups over time, while it also pays close attention to cultural representations in order to examine how people changed, and were affected by, discourse. The author also follows individual women in Florida during this period, as they took advantage of government aid and free land programs, demonstrating their importance in the ideological and material aspects of national expansion. 

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