Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In the two decades prior to Cherokee Removal, Georgians discussed removal as a way for the state to create and maintain order, a cluster of ideas that revolved around a social system that championed white superiority, a political system that adhered to republican thinking, and a legal system that prevented lawlessness. To create a well-ordered society, Georgia’s leaders believed that authority flowed from white settlers to civil institutions, which benignly administered over the idealized society. In the Cherokee-Georgia borderlands, no single political entity could claim sovereignty, so the Cherokee Nation, federal government, and state of Georgia each sought to impose its own laws over the territory. Instead of a peaceful settlement, Georgia’s leaders had to regulate the social landscape of the borderlands, or impose social control through violence. A multitude of groups, including a multiracial vigilante group, the Slicks, a state sponsored military unit, the Georgia Guard, and a large-scale use of federal troops and state militiamen, all sought to regulate the social landscape of the borderlands. In the highly partisan world of the antebellum south, state politics and a democratic ethos collided with the violent actions of local, state, and federal actors in the borderlands crucible. Whiteness became less of a negotiated identity as state legislators sought to safeguard and codify the rights of white citizens. The use of violence in the backcountry served political and social ends, but it left ambivalent legacies. State-sponsored violence against “disorderly whites” showed just how comfortable the state was with using violence in its pursuit of order. That state militiamen showed restraint during Cherokee Removal in 1838 showed just the opposite. Still, two decades of violence aimed at the expulsion of the Cherokee demonstrated the earnestness white Georgians felt when they discussed the extension of the white republic.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Foster, Gaines M.



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