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Daniel J Tortora

Daniel J Tortora is an assistant professor of history at Colby College and speaks on the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War eras. He leads battlefield and historic tours, contributes to films, archaeological projects, and exhibits.

Tortora is a historian of the American Southeast who has written several works on Cherokee history and culture. His latest is Carolina in Crisis: Cherokees, Colonists and Slaves in the American Southeast, 1756-1763.


About the Author

Daniel J Tortora is an assistant professor of history at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He teaches courses in American and Native American history and is a frequent speaker on the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War eras. He leads battlefield and historic tours and contributes to archaeological projects, exhibits and films. He is also a member of the Fort Halifax Park Implementation Committee.

In Carolina in Crisis, Tortora narrates the violent breakdown of relations between British and Cherokees in South Carolina during the Seven Years' War, a conflict that is often overlooked by scholars focusing on the north. Drawing on original correspondence, newspaper accounts, speeches, and other sources, he reconstructs the Cherokee-British conflict from an Indigenous perspective. He argues that the deterioration of Cherokee-British relationships destabilized the colony and led to the rise of revolutionary sentiment among its elites.

While Tortora's analysis of the Cherokee War is well-researched, it misses a great deal of nuance in its focus on Revolutionary South Carolina. White colonists, especially the Charleston elites, are portrayed as increasingly anti-British throughout the book, and this leads to a very two-dimensional depiction of their plight.

Tortora's use of primary sources, particularly the oral testimonies of Cherokee people, provides an insightful and thoroughly entertaining narrative of Cherokee-British relations during this period. The resulting narrative is both grand and compelling, and will appeal to readers of all levels of interest. A masterful storyteller, Tortora has written an important and timely work. He should be applauded for the scope of his project and for engaging an oft-overlooked part of the American Southeast.


Publications

Tortora is an assistant professor of history at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He has authored two books, co-authored an article in The Journal of American History and has appeared on several television programs including National Geographic and CBS news. He leads battlefield and historic tours and has been recognized for his exemplary stewardship of the historic Fort Halifax in Winslow, Maine. He is part of the team that has brought the aforementioned fabled landmark back to life.

The aforementioned aptly named Fort Halifax was a harbinger of the French and Indian War and is home to a multitude of museums, restaurants, historic sites, art galleries and the like. During its heyday the fort hosted the likes of Paul Revere, Aaron Burr and the famously spirited Benedict Arnold.


Research

Research is defined as the "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It includes the collection, organization and analysis of evidence to improve understanding of a topic, often characterized by an attentiveness to controlling sources of bias and error. This enables new knowledge to be generated and used in real-world applications.

Daniel J Tortora's research focuses on early American and Native American history, particularly the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War eras. He speaks on these eras extensively and leads battlefield and historic tours. He has also contributed to films, archaeological projects, websites and exhibits. He is the author of Fort Halifax: Winslow's Historic Outpost and Carolina in Crisis: Cherokees, Colonists, and Slaves in the American Southeast, 1756-1763.

In Carolina in Crisis, Tortora reexamines the events that led to a series of violent conflicts between the British and Cherokee peoples in South Carolina during the mid-eighteenth century. He uses a wealth of primary documents – including newspaper accounts, military and diplomatic correspondence, and the speeches of Cherokee people – to show how rifts between white colonists and Indians shaped South Carolina in the years leading up to the Revolution.

Tortora provides readers with an engaging, well-researched history that is largely free of partisanship and jargon. It reexamines the experiences of Indian peoples, white colonists, and African Americans in South Carolina in a time period that is typically overlooked by historical narratives. It is an important addition to the canon of Native American studies. It will appeal to students and general readers alike.

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