Century of Dishonor

Helen Hunt JACKSON

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[JACKSON, Helen Hunt]. A Century of Dishonor. A Sketch of the United States Government's Dealings with Some of the Indian Tribes. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1881. Octavo, original gilt-stamped brown cloth.

First edition of this "impassioned account" of the United States government’s crimes against indigenous communities, written to raise awareness and generate a push for legislative reform and ethical change in society at large. This copy presented in the year of publication to William Saunders, who was the U.S. Department of Agriculture's first botanist and landscape architect, and who designed the Washington, DC park system.

"In 1879, while visiting in Boston, Jackson attended a reception for representatives of the Ponca and Omaha Indian tribes who were touring the East in an attempt to arouse public indignation over the confiscation of their tribal lands by the U.S. government. Jackson had never shown any interest in reform movements, nor had her experiences in the West sparked any concern for Indian rights, but suddenly she was transformed… Her dedication to the cause of justice for Indian tribes resulted in a well-researched exposé of Indian mistreatment published in 1881 as A Century of Dishonor" (DNB). "Her greatest achievement was her pioneering work for Indian rights [A Century of Dishonor]… a copy of which Jackson presented to every U.S. Congressman. This is an impassioned account of the various tribes since white contact, beginning with a discussion on the rights of sovereignty and occupancy, and ending with massacres of native peoples. It shocked the public, and within a year, the powerful Indian Rights Association was born, followed by the Dawes Act of 1884" (Blain and Grundy). A Century of Dishonor also served as an inspiration to later activists. Organizations including the Indian Rights Association and the Women's National Indian Association relied heavily on the work in their speeches. With three leaves of advertisements. BAL 10444. Gift inscription on the front flyleaf dated in the year of publication reads, "Helen Rae requests William Saunders' kind acceptance of the accompanying memento as a slight acknowledgement of affectionate remembrance on the anniversary of his birthday, June the 16th 1881." Saunders was the U.S. Department of Agriculture's first botanist and landscape architect, and as such he pushed for tree plantings throughout the United States. He also designed the Washington, DC park system.

A clean, near-fine copy.

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