Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version

Winter 2005

Document Type



Documentary Editing, Volume 27, Number 4, Winter 2005. ISSN 0196-7134


2005 © the Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


In 1825, the community of Cornwall, Connecticut was in an uproar over the impending marriage of Harriett Gold, the daughter of one of its leading citizens, to Elias Boudinot, member of the Cherokee Indian Nation and former student of the town's assimilation-focused Foreign Mission School. The second white woman in the community to establish a relationship with a Foreign Mission School student, Harriett's determination to marry Elias resulted in an exchange of heated correspondence among her family members. Theresa Strouth Gaul's book, To Marry an Indian: The Marriage of Harriett Gold & Elias Boudinot in Letters, 1823-1839, affords a fascinating and personal glimpse into nineteenth-century attitudes toward intermarriage, the complexity of the assimilation movement, and the Cherokee removal policies. As Gaul states, the "letters in this volume restore richness and vitality to a family story played out on the larger stage of two nations' histories."! In spite of the dissenting voices of Harriett's family-her brother Stephen burned her in effigy on the village green-Harriett and Elias married and subsequently relocated to the Cherokee Nation in Georgia. Their letters to family members back home offer insight into Harriett's adjustment to life among the Cherokee people, Elias's employment as editor of the Cherokee Phoenix and promoter of the removal Treaty of New Echota, and the couple's contented marriage.