Monday, February 16, 2009

Saying Good-bye on the Trail of Tears

Several months ago, I became interested in old Georgia history textbooks. As I've said here before, history ain't what it used to be, and you'll come across some stuff in these old books that looks awfully strange today.

Take, for example, the picture below. It's from the first page of the chapter that discusses the removal of the Cherokee from Georgia in the 1830s.

(click for bigger image)

Last week, as we discussed Cherokee removal in my Georgia history class, I put this image up on the screen in front of the classroom. The students loved it. One asked when the book was published. 1950s, I said. Didn't they use the phrase "Trail of Tears" back then? Yes, they did. Another student suggested that perhaps the illustrator thought the phrase meant "tears of joy."

from Ruth Elgin Suddeth, Isa Lloyd Osterhout, and George Lewis Hutcheson, Empire Builders of Georgia (Austin, TX: The Steck Company, 1957), 141. Thanks to my colleague Stephen Bartlett for the image.