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History

History professor Carl Benn publishes Native Memoirs from the War of 1812: Black Hawk and William Apess

Native peoples played major roles in the War of 1812 as allies of both the United States and Great Britain, but few wrote about their experiences in the conflict. Two, however, famously recorded their stories. One was Black Hawk, the British-allied war chief of the still-independent Sauks from the upper Mississippi River. The other was American soldier William Apess, a reservation-based Pequot from Connecticut. In Native Memoirs from the War of 1812, Carl Benn presents and analyses these autobiographies, offering readers in-depth introductions and annotations that make these fascinating memoirs accessible to scholars, students, and general readers, as well as to advance historical appreciation of these men and the controversies surrounding them. The book also includes specially commissioned maps produced by Ryerson Geography student Michael Morrish.

Among the many topics explored are the decisions by Black Hawk and William Apess to take up arms in the War of 1812, their experiences of the fighting, and their views on such critical issues as aboriginal independence and First Nations rights at a particularly formative period in native-newcomer relations in North American history.

Carl Benn joined Ryerson in 2008 after working in the museum field for 34 years, including as Chief Curator of the City of Toronto’s Museums and Heritage Services. In addition, he taught History and Museum Studies courses at the University of Toronto for 17 years. Dr. Benn’s academic interests centre on Euroamerican and First Nations history in eastern North America. He has published extensively in journals and other venues, and his books include Historic Fort York (1993); The Iroquois in the War of 1812 (1998); The War of 1812 (2002); and Mohawks on the Nile: Natives among the Canadian Voyageurs in Egypt, 1884-85 (2009). He is currently completing a book on an early-19th-century Mohawk leader, John Norton/Teyoninhokawaren.

For more information, please contact Dr. Carl Benn at cbenn@ryerson.ca

View Dr. Carl Benn's Bio