Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief
The Life of William Holland Thomas
- Author(s): Godbold, E. Stanly, Jr., and Mattie U. Russell
- Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
- Publication Date: 0000-00-00
- Status: Active
- Available in Paper: Price $26.95 | Buy Now
“William Holland Thomas’s life reflects the history of early western North Carolina. Godbold and Russell admirably capture the essence of his life and the complexities of the period in Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief.”—Theda Perdue, University of Kentucky
“There were many remarkable people in the nineteenth-century South, not the least among them William Holland Thomas, a white man who became a leader of the Cherokee Indians, an advocate of economic development in a section usually regarded as devoted to agrarian values, and a civilian who became a high-ranking officer in the Confederate army. Stan Godbold and Mattie Russell have done us all a valuable service with this fine account of his life.”—Richard M. McMurry
William Holland Thomas (1805-1893) was a unique transcultural figure. A white man from western North Carolina, he was adopted by a small Cherokee Indian band and later became its chief. Equally at home in a drawing room or at a Green Corn Dance, Thomas served as agent for the Oconaluftee Indians in Washington, protecting them from removal to the West in 1838 along the infamous Trail of Tears. Thomas was also a frontier merchant, a builder of railroads and turnpikes, a wealthy owner of land and slaves, a state senator, and a Confederate colonel in the Civil War, in which he commanded a legion of Cherokees and white Appalachians.
In this first published biography of Thomas, the authors depict nineteenth-century America at a turning point and document a human tragedy. An influential businessman and politician who enjoyed a storybook courtship and marriage, Thomas came to ruin when—as a member of the North Carolina secession convention—he committed his loyalty toward his people, family, and region to the hopeless cause of the Confederacy. This investigation of Thomas’s life also reveals much about the culture and plight of the Cherokees, their experience with removal, their legal battle to “legitimize” themselves as citizens of North Carolina, and their role in the Civil War.
Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief will be of interest to students of the Civil War and of Native American, North Carolina, Appalachian, and Southern history.
The Authors: E. Stanly Godbold, Jr., is a professor of history at Mississippi State University and coauthor of Christopher Gadsden and the American Revolution. Mattie U. Russell was curator of manuscripts in the William R. Perkins Library at Duke University.