On December 29, 1890, five hundred American troops massed around hundreds of unarmed Lakota Sioux men, women, and children near Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota. Outnumbered and demoralized, the Sioux posed no threat to the soldiers and put up no resistance. But in a chaotic scene, the Americans opened fire with howitzers, killing nearly three hundred Sioux in what would become known as the Wounded Knee Massacre. In this definitive account, acclaimed historian Heather Cox Richardson shows that the origins of this quintessential American tragedy lay not in the West but in Washington, where would-be lawmakers, locked in a desperate midterm-election battle, sought to drum up votes through an age-old political tool: fear.
Heather Cox Richardson is a Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Author of West from Appomattox, The Greatest Nation of the Earth, and The Death of Reconstruction, she lives in Winchester, Massachusetts.