The real story of the ordeal experienced by both settlers and Indians during the Europeans' great migration west across America, from the colonies to California, has been almost completely eliminated from the histories we now read. In truth, it was a horrifying and appalling experience. Nothing like it had ever happened anywhere else in the world.
In The Wild Frontier, William M. Osborn discusses the changing settler attitude toward the Indians over several centuries, as well as Indian and settler characteristics--the Indian love of warfare, for instance (more than 400 inter-tribal wars were fought even after the threatening settlers arrived), and the settlers' irresistible desire for the land occupied by the Indians.
The atrocities described in The Wild Frontier led to the death of more than 9,000 settlers and 7,000 Indians. Most of these events were not only horrible but bizarre. Notoriously, the British use of Indians to terrorize the settlers during the American Revolution left bitter feelings, which in turn contributed to atrocious conduct on the part of the settlers. Osborn also discusses other controversial subjects, such as the treaties with the Indians, matters relating to the occupation of land, the major part disease played in the war, and the statements by both settlers and Indians each arguing for the extermination of the other. He details the disgraceful American government policy toward the Indians, which continues even today, and speculates about the uncertain future of the Indians themselves.
Thousands of eyewitness accounts are the raw material of The Wild Frontier, in which we learn that many Indians tortured and killed prisoners, and some even engaged in cannibalism; and that though numerous settlers came to the New World for religious reasons, or to escape English oppression, many others were convicted of crimes and came to avoid being hanged.
The Wild Frontier tells a story that helps us understand our history, and how as the settlers moved west, they often brutally expelled the Indians by force while themselves suffering torture and kidnapping.
"From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
William M. Osborn was born and educated in Indiana and Michigan. He practiced law in Indiana for many years. Upon his retirement several years ago, he began researching this book about settlers and Indians, in part because the Massachusetts home of one of his father's ancestors was burned by Indians in colonial days and, according to family tradition, one of his mother's ancestors, a settler on the frontier, married a Cherokee named Lydia. That research resulted in The Wild Frontier. Osborn and his wife, Pat, spend half their time in Indiana and half in Florida.
"This is a deeply provocative book. It will disturb many people and anger others, and that is all to the good. Its unvarnished account of the darkest side of relations between Indians and whites tells us much that we would prefer not to know, or that we have deliberately forgotten, about the longest and most complex conflict in American history."
—Fergus M. Bordewich, author of Killing the White Man's Indian
"William Osborn's The Wild Frontier shows the dark side of our national history, a side that many people will find disturbing. Nevertheless, it is a story that must be told in order for us to achieve a better understanding of ourselves and our past."
—Charles M. Robinson III, author of The Men Who Wear the Star