We welcome a guest post today from Daniel J. Tortora, author of Carolina in Crisis: Cherokees, Colonists, and Slaves in the American Southeast, 1756-1763. In his engaging book, Daniel J. Tortora explores how the Anglo-Cherokee War reshaped the political and cultural landscape of the colonial South. He chronicles the series of clashes that erupted from 1758 to 1761 between Cherokees, settlers, and British troops. The conflict, no insignificant sideshow to the French and Indian War, eventually led to the regeneration of a British-Cherokee alliance. Tortora reveals how the war destabilized the South Carolina colony and threatened the white coastal elite, arguing that the political and military success of the Cherokees led colonists to a greater fear of slave resistance and revolt and ultimately nurtured South Carolinians’ rising interest in the movement for independence.
In today’s post, Tortora makes the case for bringing the history of the Anglo-Cherokee War to Hollywood.
History-based films serve as a teaching tool, spark an interest in the past, and provide perspective on issues in modern society. But I have yet to find a gripping, historically accurate film on eighteenth-century southern history.
It is time that Hollywood takes notice of the Anglo-Cherokee War. And here’s why.
Like Carolina in Crisis, a film depiction can:
- Promote a more accurate understanding of Indians
A modern film can take viewers into Cherokee town houses and villages, humanizing Indians and revealing the richness of their culture.
A modern film will show Cherokees struggling to preserve and honor their culture and sovereignty, and working for a better future—all familiar themes today.
- Offer a realistic and nuanced view of race relations in the eighteenth century.
The Patriot (2000), albeit exciting and emotive, whitewashes African American slavery. Let’s see African Americans disembarking from slave ships in Charleston harbor, toiling as laborers on plantations and in British armies. Let’s see them fighting for freedom against the odds—like Abram, the enslaved messenger.
A film can show how British policies pit Indians against each other in the eighteenth century.
A film can also powerfully capture the voices of the white defenders of Cherokee rights and sovereignty and those who challenged the status quo when it was unpopular to do so. And it can expose the legacy of eighteenth-century racism.
- Clarify the southeastern origins of the American Revolution.
A film can introduce viewers to the diverse cast of characters who played a role in the proceedings in the Revolutionary Era. Let viewers see mobs jeering British soldiers in Charles Town—nearly a decade before the Boston Massacre. Introduce them to Christopher Gadsden, the conservative firebrand who would later design a flag appropriated by the Tea Party movement.
- Garner interest in historical sites and boost tourism.
For seven years I have crisscrossed the Southeast researching and investigating, leading tour groups and giving presentations. A film would attract visitors to my favorite can’t-miss destinations: Fort Loudoun State Historic Area; Cherokee, North Carolina; Historic Charleston; Macon County, North Carolina; and Ninety-Six National Historic Site.
What would such a film look like? Continue reading ‘Daniel J. Tortora: Why Hollywood Should Take Notice of the Anglo-Cherokee War’ »