"In drawing our attention to these protagonists and to their complicated histories, Snyder has produced a work of importance to scholars of American history as well as of comparative Indigenous histories more generally. Great Crossings is a nuanced text ... This compelling work is, at its heart, a story about the conditions of liberty and citizenship that prevail over and through diversity within an imperial state." - Ben Silverstein, Australasian Journal of American History
"Great Crossings warrants attention from a wide multidisciplinary readership. From the short-lived experiment at Choctaw Academy, Snyder offers new insight into race, class, slavery, education, and other aspects of antebellum American society. She even shares a foreshadowing glimpse into what would become the United States' Indian boarding-school system later in the century. This book, moreover, contributes plenty to our understanding of how integral and intricate Indigenous experiences have been throughout American history." - Daniel Usner, Native American and Indigenous Studies
"In Great Crossings, Christina Snyder tells a compelling story with a diverse cast of vivid characters. At a Kentucky school for Indians run by a white visionary with an enslaved common-law wife, Snyder finds a more inclusive, revealing, and hopeful vision of the America we call Jacksonian. Written with clarity and verve, Great Crossings is the work of a great historian." - Alan Taylor, author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 "
"Great Crossings is a rare gem, a story that confounds assumptions about the American past. This is nuanced, personal, heartbreaking history with surprises at every turn. It will change the way we teach about Jacksonian America." - Elizabeth A. Fenn, author of Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People"
"Great Crossings is a beautifully told story that offers us an intimate and engaging perspective on the large-scale forces and pressures shaping the United States between the Revolution and the Civil War. Snyder succeeds in bringing her readers into the Choctaw Academy and the lives of the diverse and fascinating individuals who lived there. The school transformed how all involved viewed the United States, its past, and its future. Snyder's wonderful book will do the same for readers." - Joshua Piker, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture"
"From the opening scene of Choctaw children reciting Cicero at a barbeque overseen by war hero politician Richard Mentor Johnson and his enslaved common law wife Julia Chinn, this book will change how you see nineteenth-century America. Deeply researched and vividly told, Christina Snyder's book shows how various Native, black, and white Americans came together at Great Crossings in a realistic attempt to create a multicultural life for themselves and future generations, as the rest of United States moved in the opposite direction." - Kathleen DuVal, author of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution "
"In Great Crossings, Christina Snyder vividly brings to life a moment when Blacks, whites, and Natives came together in a fragile experiment designed to chart a new destiny for North America and its diverse peoples. The story of the extraordinary Choctaw Academy reveals in poignant detail the paths not taken as the United States transformed itself from a struggling new nation to a continental empire." - Karl Jacoby, author of The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire"
"What Snyder has found in the story of a modest school is the perfect confluence of the ethnic cleansing of Native America, the absolute manacling of black America, and the consequent creation of white America's modern United States. This historiographically rich, meticulously researched, and accessibly written book makes an important contribution. Yet Great Crossings also attests to the triumph of the racial thinking whose rise it narrates and subjects to such intricate criticism." - James Taylor Carson, Journal of American History
"Some stories are too incredible not to be true. The tale of Richard Mentor Johnson and his Choctaw Academy would tax the imagination of a novelist. The Indian academy becomes a triracial mixing ground and finally a cauldron, where all of Jacksonian America's complexities and contradictions of race, class, and gender play out in public view. The story is true, and Christina Snyder's Great Crossings tells it exquisitely. Snyder relates this fascinating tale with sensitivity and insight, in a narrative alive with personality and vignette. She wisely resists the temptation to typecast heroes and villains, or to frame the story in simple declensionist terms." - Daniel Feller, H-AmIndian, H-Net Reviews
"Christina Snyder's Great CrossingsiR enhances the historiography of the Native South by opening a window into a fascinating world where Indian, white, and black social intimacies took shape, sometimes freely and productively, sometimes violently and with terrible consequences, especially for the enslaved. Through her detailed account, Snyder seeks to narrate as well as complicate a period in U.S. history associated with Indian removal rather than Indian initiative. In so doing, she presents a cast of Native actors whose interwoven biographies come alive in a study that simultaneously presents broader political and cultural developments in Indian nations (especially, but not solely, the Choctaw Nation) as well as in the United States." - Tiya Miles, American Historical Review
"A well-researched, engagingly written, and remarkable work of scholarship." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The Choctaw Indian Academy at Great Crossings, Kentucky, which existed from 1825 to 1848, represented dreams for a future for the US that never materialized. The Choctaws hoped that establishing a school for their children outside of their homelands with the US War Department would signal that they were 'civilized' and deserved a place in the nation....Snyder...details how Great Crossings became an anachronism in a US bent on the removal of all American Indians westward in order to facilitate a massive expansion of the South's plantation economy built on African and African American slave labor. Highly recommended." - CHOICE