Rebel Chief The Motley Life of Colonel William Holland Thomas, C.S.A. : William Holland Thomas, a Southerner, has a story that embodies much of the dark side of the American dream in the nineteenth century. At an early age he was adopted by a local Cherokee tribe as he engaged in trade to support himself and his mother. As the "frontier" moved farther west, he acted on behalf of the tribe in their negotiations with the U.S. government. Part Indian agent, part politician, he negotiated their treaties and was named a chief. During the Civil War he organized them into a fierce counterinsurgent guerilla band responsible for protecting the mountain passes of North Carolina from Union infiltration. And then after the war it was all downhill. The government continued its enforced debilitation of the Indian nations and reneged on its previously negotiated treaties, leaving the tribe no choice but to hold Thomas legally responsible. His own business holdings "went south," and, pressed by debts and personal hardships, he was committed to an asylum until his death years later. His life serves as a perfect backdrop to the government's actions around the border states during the Civil War as well as its programs against the American Indian.
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