University Libraries’ Authors @Alden series to feature Mary Stockwell highlighting Ulysses S. Grant's policies towards the American Indians

Published: March 20, 2023 Author: Mimi Calhoun

Retired professor of history at Lourdes University Mary Stockwell will be speaking at the Ohio University Libraries Authors @Alden series about her book “Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians,” which addresses “the genesis, failure and lasting legacy” of President Ulysses S. Grant’s comprehensive policy towards American Indians.

The book focuses on Grant's policy towards American Indians, which was developed in-part by Ely Parker, a member of the Seneca and the first Native American Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who served during Grant’s administration. Stockwell theorizes that Grant’s policies acted as a bridge between President Andrew Jackson’s efforts to push American Indians out of the American experience and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt to welcome them back in.

The event will take place Tuesday, March 28, at 1 p.m. in Alden Library’s 1951 Lounge on the fourth floor. The event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served. A hybrid version will be streamed as well. 

Stockwell’s inspiration for the book came when she researched and wrote, “The Other Trail of Tears: The Removal of the Ohio Indians.” While researching her book, Stockwell came to see Grant as trying to restore presidential authority over the nation’s policy’s towards Native Americans, which Jackson had overturned. 

“I got my chance when the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library asked me to write a book in a new series called 'The World of Ulysses S. Grant' for the Southern Illinois University Press,” Stockwell said. “I said, ‘Yes, I want to write about Grant and the American Indians,’ little knowing that I would discover so much that had gone unnoticed or ignored since Grant’s presidency.”

In today’s political climate, Stockwell believes it’s important to recognize Grant’s Policy towards Native Americans, which she sees as being sincere and respectful, even if it did produce the opposite effect for many Native American peoples. 

Stockwell mentioned that Grant’s story resonated with her because her own ancestors immigrated to the United States from Ireland, Poland and Bohemia during the time of his presidency.

Brian Schoen, department chair of history in the College of Arts and Sciences, will conduct an interview with Stockwell and participate in the discussion during the series.

Schoen said that he believes we as a nation struggle with the historical events and treatment of Native Americans, and that Stockwell’s writing opens new perspectives and gives background to how political figures approached that topic in their own day.

“Stockwell's book, like much of her recent writing, sheds light on that relationship during one of its potentially transformative moments,” Schoen said. “It personalizes the decisions and choices that were made while showing how even good intentions can flounder amidst political rivalries and a lack of cultural empathy.”

Schoen also praised Stockwell as an author, and he mentioned his excitement for her to visit OHIO.

“Stockwell is a gifted and prodigious writer whose narrative style is very engaging,” Schoen wrote. “Her visit to Athens will feature an opportunity for people to engage [in] the substance of her important and timely work, but also the ability to learn something about her writing process and what leads her to the subjects she has tackled.”

In addition to the Libraries’ Authors @Alden event, Stockwell will also deliver the Central Region Humanities Center’s annual lecture based on her book, “Unlikely General: ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America.” The event will take place later that afternoon at 4 p.m. in Baker Center 240/242. On March 29, she will be speaking at the Athens branch of the Athens County Public Libraries where she will discuss her book, “The Other Trail of Tears: The Story of Ohio's Deportation of Indigenous Peoples.”

For more information about the Authors @Alden event or to request accessibility accommodations, email Jen Harvey, library events coordinator.