Long before the smokestacks and factories of industrial Akron rose from Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley, the region was a place of tense confrontation. Beginning in the early 19th-century, white settlers began pushing in from the east, lured by the promise of cheap (or free) land. They inevitably came into conflict with the current inhabitants, American Indians who had thrived in the valley for generations or had already been displaced by settlement along the eastern seaboard. Here, on what was once the western fringe of the United States, the story of the country’s founding and development played out in all its ignominy and drama, as American Indians lost their land, and often their lives, while white settlers expanded a nation.
Historian and novelist John Tully draws on contemporary accounts and a wealth of studies to produce this elegiac history of the Cuyahoga Valley. He pays special attention to how settlers’ notions of private property—and the impulse to own and develop the land—clashed with more collective social organizations of American Indians. He also documents the ecological cost of settlement, long before heavy industry laid waste to the region. Crooked Deals and Broken Treatiesis an impassioned accounting of the cost of “progress,” and an insistent reminder of the barbarism and deceit that fueled the rise of the United States.