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Reviewed by Robert W. Venables, American Indian Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

This fine book continues the many significant contributions to Iroquois and American Indian studies that Laurence M. Hauptman has made for three decades. Professor Hauptman, who won the John Ben Snow Prize for this book, surveys the eras between the American Revolution (1783) and the eve of the Civil War (1860). In convincing detail, Conspiracy explains exactly how various New York State’s politicians, Christian missionaries/educators, civic leaders, government representatives and businessmen cooperated and usually personally profited at the expense of the Iroquois, who lost most of their homelands.

The primary weapon used to bludgeon the Iroquois into submission were “treaties” whose legality Hauptman continually challenges, always supporting his opinions with facts. No matter what their political party or “moral” positions, the instigators of the treaties and other negotiations used their economic and political networks to steal most of the lands of the Iroquois so that they and their cronies could speculate in land and profit by building a transportation corridor of canals and railroads over the ceded lands. The aftermath of the Revolution initiated an era of self-interest: “In the words of the Federalist William Cooper {father of James Fenimore Cooper}, it was the age of the ‘art of Hook and Snivey,’ namely the art of trickery and deceit (pp. 94-95). Such men and their successors held the firm belief that what was good for them would be good for New York State. They were correct in an economic sense, but at a disasterous cost for the Iroquois and at great moral cost for their own nation. Their east-west transportation corridor, along with its many branches, made the Empire State powerful; led to the emergence of important cities such as Utica, Syracuse, and Rochester; and made Buffalo, the western terminus of this corridor, the ninth largest city in the United States by 1860.

Conspiracy of Interest: Iroquois Dispossession and the Rise of New York State. By Laurence M. Hauptman. (Syracuse University Press, 1999, PP 304  $19.95.)