William Clark: Indian Diplomat by Jay H. Buckley

William Clark: Indian Diplomat by Jay H. Buckley


William Clark: Indian Diplomat by Jay H. Buckley


For three decades following the expedition with Meriwether Lewis for which he is best known, William Clark forged a meritorious public career that contributed even more to the opening of the West: from 1807 to 1838 he served as the U.S. government's most important representative to western Indians. This biography focuses on Clark's tenure as Indian agent, territorial governor, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis.

Jay H. Buckley shows that Clark had immense influence on federal Indian policy and on Indian-white relations in the trans-Mississippi region. As an agent of American expansion, Clark actively promoted trade and friendship over military conflict. He was responsible for one-tenth of all Indian treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate. Although he sympathized with the Indians' fate and felt compassion for Native peoples, Clark was ultimately responsible for dispossessing more Indians than perhaps any other American.

Drawing on treaty documents and Clark's voluminous papers, Buckley analyzes apparent contradictions in Clark's relationship with Indians, fellow bureaucrats, and frontier entrepreneurs. William Clark: Indian Diplomat is the complex story of a sometimes sentimental, yet always pragmatic, imperialist. Buckley gives us a flawed but human hero who, in the realm of Indian affairs, had few equals among American diplomats.


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