Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Francis Jennings  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1918 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania

Died: November 17, 2000 in Evanston, Illinois

-- Francis Jennings on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Francis Jennings libved in the Chicago area from 1976 until his death in 2000.

Biographical and Professional Information

Francis Jennings was the director of the Newberry Library Center for the History of the American Indian, Chicago, Illinois, from 1976-81, emeritus, 1981- 2000, senior research fellow, 1990-93; He was also an adjunct professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, Chicago, 1978-81.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (Norton Library)
ISBN: 0393008304

W W Norton & Co Inc. 1976

Studies the cultural devastation of Atlantic coastal Indian tribes by European civilization, particularly New England Puritans, and the creation of an ideology to justify the cruelty

The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies
ISBN: 0393303020

W. W. Norton & Company. 1990

Winner of the Distinguished Book Award of the Society of Colonial Wars.

Empire of Fortune: Crowns, Colonies, and Tribes in the Seven Years War in America (Reprint)
ISBN: 0393306402

W. W. Norton & Company. 1990

“A riveting, massively documented epic [that] overturns textbook clichés…. This impassioned study throws valuable light on our history.” ―Publishers Weekly

Empire of Fortune focuses on the so-called “French and Indian War”―the bitter last-ditch struggle between the British and the French empires in the New World. Challenging traditional historians, Francis Jennings reveals in absorbing detail the political and military realities behind the myths.

Empire of Fortune: Crowns, Colonies & Tribes in the Seven Years War in America
ISBN: 0735100217

Replica Books. 1998

Examines the Seven Years War in the context of imperial aggressions, Indian tribes incited to raid, and British colonists' resistance

The Founders of America
ISBN: 0393312321

W. W. Norton & Company. 1994

"We have lived upon this land from days beyond history's records." These are the words of a Pueblo man, words that describe the experience of Native Americans. They underlie the long work and philosophy of Francis Jennings―the scholar who has done the most to change our view of the relationship of Native Americans and the European settlers.

Jennings describes the experience of the first pioneers of the North American continent, who migrated from Siberia across what is now Beringia―nomadic people who traveled over the continents and islands of the Americas, establishing networks of trails and trade and adapting the land to human purposes. He tells of the rise of imperial city states in Mexico and Peru, and of the extension of cultures from Mexico into North America he describes the multitude of cultures and societies created by the Native Americans, from simple kin-structured bands to immense and complex cities. Jennings shows that Europeans did not "discover" America they invaded it and conquered its population. We grew up on history written from the point of view of the victor. Here now is the rest of the story, by the acknowledged dean of American Indian history. It is strong, eye-opening, and timely.

Benjamin Franklin, Politician: The Mask and the Man
ISBN: 0393039838

W. W. Norton & Company. 1996

"No historian surpasses Francis Jennings in uncovering the seamier intrigues that brought wealth and power to some of our colonial forebears. Here is the secret history of an egomaniacal Benjamin Franklin's ruthless pursuit of political dominance in pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania―a fascinating follow-up to Jenning's fine works on colonial Indian affairs." ―Anthony F. C. Wallace

A distinguished historian of early America sees Franklin's influence on the course of the revolutionary movement in a new light. Benjamin Franklin was a man of genius and enormous ego, smart enough not to flaunt his superiority but to let others proclaim it. To understand him and his role in great events, one must realize the omnipresence of this ego, and the extent to which he mirrored the feelings of other colonial Pennsylvanians. With this in mind, Francis Jennings sets forth some new ideas about Franklin as the "first American." In so doing, he provides a new view of the beginnings of the American Revolution in Franklin's struggle against William Penn. By striving against Penn's feudal lordship (and therefore against King George) Franklin became master of the Pennsylvania assembly. It was in this role that he suggested a meeting of the Continental Congress which, as Jennings notes, flies in the face of historical opinion which suggests that Boston patriots had to drag Pennsylvanians into the revolution. Franklin's autobiography omits discussion of his heroic struggle against Penn and, in so doing, robs history of his true role in the making of the new country. It is through an accurate accounting of what Franklin did, not what he said he did in his autobiography (which Jennings likens to a campaign speech), that we understand the author's use of the term "first American."

The Creation of America: Through Revolution to Empire
ISBN: 0521662559

Cambridge University Press. 2000

In the standard presentation of the American Revolution, a ragtag assortment of revolutionaries, inspired by the ideals of liberty and justice, rise to throw off the yoke of the British empire and bring democracy to the New World. It makes a pretty story. Now, in place of this fairytale standing in for history, Francis Jennings presents a realistic alternative: a privileged elite, dreaming of empire, clone their own empire from the British. Jennings shows that colonies were extensions from Britain intended from the first to conquer American Indians. Though subordinate to the British crown, in the opposite direction they ruled over beaten native peoples. Adding to this dual nature, some colonists bought Africans as slaves and rigidly ruled over them within their colonies. To justify conquests and oppression, they invented the concept of racial gradation in a system of social castes. We live with it still. In this full scale reconception, the experience of tribal Indians and enslaved Blacks is brought into the whole picture. The colonists were enraged by efforts of crown and Parliament to forbid settlement in tribal territories. Especially Virginians rose under great speculator George Washington to seize the western lands in defiance of the crown's orders. We witness the founders' invasion and attempted conquest of Canada and the "conquest" of Pennsylvania as Quakers and German pietists were deprived of citizenship rights and despoiled of property through armed force and legal trickery. British sympathies were so strong that George III had to hire Hessians as soldiers because he could not trust his own people. And Britain also had movements for reform that won freedom of the press and refusal to legislate slavery while the Revolutionaries tarred and feathered their opponents and strengthened the slavery institution. Revolutionary rhetoric about liberty and virtue is revealed as war propaganda. Illegal "committees" and "conventions" functioned like soviets of the later Russian revolution. The U.S. Constitution was the fulfillment of the Revolution rather than its "Thermidor." The work is meticulously documented and detailed. By including the whole population in its history, Jennings provides an eloquent explanation for a host of anomalies, ambiguities, and iniquities that have followed in the Revolution's wake.