About the Author(s)
John Suval is a Research Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, serving as an Assistant Editor of The Papers of Andrew Jackson.
"In Dangerous Ground, John Suval insightfully explores a compelling mystery: how, during the mid-nineteenth century, did the disreputable squatter become transformed into the patriotic pioneer of expansion and the arbiter of the nation's future? With broad research and in clear writing, Suval reveals how opportunistic politicians encouraged and exploited squatters to dispossess Native peoples and play the dangerous game of sectional confrontation in the run up to the Civil War." -- Alan Taylor, author of American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850
"This is an uncommonly good and sweeping study of the vast, destabilizing roles white 'squatters' on western lands played in American political culture in the decades before the Civil War. Using a striking array of sources, Suval demonstrates how figures once commonly associated with illicit land grabs became a central force in Jacksonian politics and, eventually, key players in the clashes over slavery and its expansion. Ranging from the Mississippi Valley in the 1830s to Gold Rush California and the contested prairies of Bleeding Kansas, the author shows how the figure of the squatter was transformed from a frontier scourge into the main actors of a fraying nation's most serious crisis." -- Jonathan Earle, author of Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil,
"John Suval's groundbreaking book refines the catch-all category of settler colonialism into the more specific variant of squatter colonialism. After reading this bold reinterpretation of antebellum politics, I wondered if the 'Age of Jackson' might be better cast as the 'Age of Squatters." -- Stephen Aron, author of Peace and Friendship: An Alternative History of the American West
"In his pathbreaking new book, John Suval proves that Jacksonian Democrats used the image of the hearty squatter and his large family to manipulate the partisan debate in favor of land grabbing, continental expansion, and the ruthless removal of Native peoples. Like today's paeans to the hardworking, self-made man, the squatter magically stood in for everyman: planter elites, small-scale speculators, and artful politicians all pretended that they and the poor white man were essentially equal in social endowment. Suval's insightful and richly researched book reminds us that American democracy was as much about land, wealth, and the populist cant of opportunity as it was about voting rights." -- Nancy Isenberg, author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in