The Gods of Prophetstown by Adam Jortner
The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier

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It began with an eclipse. In 1806, the Shawnee leader Tenskwatawa ("The Open Door") declared himself to be in direct contact with the Master of Life, and therefore, the supreme religious authority for all Native Americans. Those who disbelieved him, he warned, "would see darkness come over the sun." William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory and future American president, scoffed at Tenskwatawa. If he was truly a prophet, Harrison taunted, let him perform a miracle. And Tenskwatawa did just that, making the sun go dark at midday.
In The Gods of Prophetstown, Adam Jortner provides a gripping account of the conflict between Tenskwatawa and Harrison, who finally collided in 1811 at a place called Tippecanoe. Though largely forgotten today, their rivalry determined the future of westward expansion and shaped the War of 1812. Jortner weaves together dual biographies of the opposing leaders. In the five years between the eclipse and the battle, Tenskwatawa used his spiritual leadership to forge a political pseudo-state with his brother Tecumseh. Harrison, meanwhile, built a power base in Indiana, rigging elections and maneuvering for higher position. Rejecting received wisdom, Jortner sees nothing as preordained-Native Americans were not inexorably falling toward dispossession and destruction. Deeply rooting his account in a generation of scholarship that has revolutionized Indian history, Jortner places the religious dimension of the struggle at the fore, recreating the spiritual landscapes trod by each side. The climactic battle, he writes, was as much a clash of gods as of men.
Written with profound insight and narrative verve, The Gods of Prophetstown recaptures a forgotten turning point in American history in time for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Tippecanoe.

About Adam Jortner

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Adam Jortner teaches history at Auburn University. His essays have appeared in The Journal of the Early Republic and Early American Studies.
Published November 14, 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA. 320 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cold war eventually went hot with the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, and indirectly caused the warrior wing of American government to fight British troops in what would become known as the War of 1812.

Jan 21 2012 | Read Full Review of The Gods of Prophetstown: The...

Publishers Weekly

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Auburn University historian Jortner offers a stimulating perspective on the frontier war that culminated in 1811 against the Shawnee at Tippecanoe.

Oct 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Gods of Prophetstown: The...


Authors have produced an avalanche of books about the latter conflict, including The Gods of Prophetstown, Adam Jortner's dual biography of the clinically ambitious William Henry Harrison and the Shawnee spiritual leader Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet.

Nov 02 2012 | Read Full Review of The Gods of Prophetstown: The...

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