By Dr. Gregory A. Waselkov Ph.D.
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Extra info for A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1814
Historical writings, from Pickett in 1851 up to today, have consistently assumed that southeastern women exercised absolute freedom of choice in decisions of marriage and divorce. That overly romantic view ought to be tempered with some awareness of the role of the lineage and particularly the role of clan uncles in arranging (and rearranging) marriage alliances. In the matrilineal society of the Creeks, relationships between men were established principally through women, while women could in®uence, shape, and dissolve old lineage alliances and form new ones.
According to Benjamin Hawkins. 26 In 1803 Charles Weatherford assisted Benjamin Hawkins, the American agent, by helping apprehend the English-American loyalist adventurer William Augustus Bowles. Beginning in 1783, Bowles tried repeatedly to organize and lead an autonomous Creek state, which he called the Muskogee Nation. He imagined Muskogee could, if allied to Britain, challenge Spanish and American claims to the interior Southeast. Although Bowles never achieved a large following among the Creeks, nor managed to create a Muskogee state, through personal force of will and sheer audacity he kept the Southeast in turmoil for two decades.
In two years, parties of axemen transformed the old Lower Creek Trading Path and other trails into the Federal Horse Path (eventually known as the Federal Road, which Interstate 65 parallels today across southern Alabama). Express riders were contracted to carry the mail from Benjamin Hawkins’ Creek Agency, in central Georgia, to Fort Stoddert in three days, a goal seldom achieved. 42 To inform his administration of the “imperfectly known” settlements on the Tombigbee and Tensaw recently acquired by the United States, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Ephraim Kirby as commissioner of public lands and dispatched him to Fort Stoddert (Figure 5).