“Richly detailed and well-researched,” this story of one Native American chief’s resistance to American expansionism “unfolds like a political thriller” (Publishers Weekly).
Toward the Setting Sun chronicles one of the most significant but least explored periods in American history—the nineteenth century forced removal of Native Americans from their lands—through the story of Chief John Ross, who came to be known as the Cherokee Moses.
Son of a Scottish trader and a quarter-Cherokee woman, Ross was educated in white schools and was only one-eighth Indian by blood. But as Cherokee chief in the mid-nineteenth century, he would guide the tribe through its most turbulent period. The Cherokees’ plight lay at the epicenter of nearly all the key issues facing America at the time: western expansion, states’ rights, judicial power, and racial discrimination. Clashes between Ross and President Andrew Jackson raged from battlefields and meeting houses to the White House and Supreme Court.
As whites settled illegally on the Nation’s land, the chief steadfastly refused to sign a removal treaty. But when a group of renegade Cherokees betrayed their chief and negotiated their own agreement, Ross was forced to lead his people west. In one of America’s great tragedies, thousands died during the Cherokees’ migration on the Trail of Tears.
“Powerful and engaging . . . By focusing on the Ross family, Hicks brings narrative energy and original insight to a grim and important chapter of American life.” —Jon Meacham
Hicks (Raising the Hunley) revisits U.S. treachery and deceit toward Native Americans in his study of John Ross, the Cherokee chief who for 20 years led his people in defense of their lands. As the population of the fledgling U.S. grew, so too did pressure on the Cherokees to quit their land. Foremost among the advocates of Cherokee removal was Andrew Jackson, who used every power at his command including eventually the power of the presidency to see Cherokee land settled by whites. Against this formidable foe stood an unlikely champion, trading post owner John Ross. Only a fraction Cherokee, Ross nevertheless felt a powerful connection to the people and their cause, journeying repeatedly to Washington to plead their case and gain some sort of protection from the depredations of settlers and overzealous politicians. Ultimately defeated, he turned to doing what he could to ease the brutality of the long, bitter, and for many thousands of Cherokee fatal march on foot into the West along what came to be called the Trail of Tears. Richly detailed and well-researched, the heartbreaking history unfolds like a political thriller with a deeply human side.