Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Elizabeth Warren Ancestor Rounded Up Cherokees For Trail of Tears

Warren’s story gets entangled in one of the US’s sorriest moments.

But the most stunning discovery about the life of O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford is that her husband, Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandfather, was apparently a member of the Tennessee Militia who rounded up Cherokees from their family homes in the Southeastern United States and herded them into government-built stockades in what was then called Ross’s Landing (now Chattanooga), Tennessee—the point of origin for the horrific Trail of Tears, which began in January, 1837.

This new information about Ms. Warren’s true heritage came as a direct result of a lead provided to me by William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection, who in turn had received the information from one of his readers. Jacobson, who has questioned Warren's explanation for her law faculty listing, calls this discovery "the ultimate and cruelest irony" of the Warren Cherokee saga.

Jonathan Crawford, O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford’s husband and apparently Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandfather, served in the East Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteer Militia commanded by Brigadier General R. G. Dunlap from late 1835 to late 1836. While under Dunlap’s command he was a member of Major William Lauderdale’s Battalion, and Captain Richard E. Waterhouse’s Company.

These were the troops responsible for removing Cherokee families from homes they had lived in for generations in the three states that the Cherokee Nations had considered their homelands for centuries: Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. 

Elizabeth Warren Ancestor Rounded Up Cherokees For Trail of Tears


Steve Caldwell said...

And the relevance of an 1837 story to politics in 2012 is what exactly?

JMP said...

No one is responsible for what their ancestors did.

Bill Baar said...

I think it's fascinating story. A candidate claims Native American heritage, in part to network with fellow Native Americans, only to find her real ancestors took part in one of the saddest moments in Native American history ...on the non-native side.

Read What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 by Daniel Walker Howe for a great chapter on Unitarians and the explosions of the Chorekees. It's one of our prouder moments I think.

We talked about this in one of our Churches groups on racism and a women burst into tears at the end not knowing anything about the story. Her explaination was she felt so personally responsible for all of this. I thought that misplaced, but it's a true feeling for some.

Bill Baar said...

PS via http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1061128808

I can't think of a weirder twist to this...

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, fending off questions about whether she used her Native American heritage to advance her career, said today she enrolled herself as a minority in law school directories for nearly a decade because she hoped to meet other people with tribal roots.

“I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it and so I stopped checking it off,” said Warren.

Charlie Talbert said...

You pointed out in an earlier post that "Lizzy" "wants everyone in the 1 percent to feel guilty about their success" even though she has wealth. http://pfarrerstreccius.blogspot.com/2012/01/1-elizabeth-warren-cant-have-it-both.html

With that intriguing speculation into her intention to make people today feel guilty, you've now reported on her ancestral connection to a great historical injustice.

Are there other relevant dots, and can these disparate two be connected?

Bill Baar said...

I don't know about dots.

I know American history is heavy baggage for many UUs and I think that's compounded by being a very American Religion.

It could be Warren's claim on ancestry was just a raw cynical play, but I sort of doubt it paid many dividends.

I suspect it was more of a wish to be in solidarity with the oppressed and then woe and behold, the real connection is to the oppressor, and not just a figurative cultural one, but the real thing: a guy rounding up the Cherokees and sending them on their way.