Due Sunday night, Jan. 21 by 10pm.
As we study Andrew Jackson’s legacy with regards to the Native Americans, one thing to keep in mind is the long-term legacy that white Americans have to own with regards to Native Americans. Jackson and Van Buren expelled the Indians, the Five “Civilized Tribes” of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, Choctaw, and Creek tribes – under the Indian Removal Act. They were relocated to lands west of the Mississippi River where they would be allowed to roam free, the thinking went. In the video we saw this week, Andrew Jackson: The Good, Evil, and the Presidency, Natives suffered tremendously. But that was only one act in this long drama between white Americans (and previously before them, white Europeans) and Native Americans.
The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress in 1830, in order to remove the five tribes from areas of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Historian and noted Jackson scholar Robert Remini said that the Indians were removed from the eastern United States because they presented a direct threat to the country, having been used as sabotuers by foreign invaders in the past three wars that America had fought (French and Indian War, the Revolution, and the War of 1812). Remini saw this act as improving the homeland security of the nation. Other historians see the act within the context of the grab for new farm land in the cotton-growing frenzy that gripped the nation – the Indians were moved because the land they lived on was coveted by white farmers so that they could add to the cotton kingdom. This act was unconstitutional because the Indians were seen as sovereign nations living within the U.S. in Article IV, Section 3, and even the Supreme Court affirmed that the Cherokee couldn’t be moved in Worcester v. Georgia. Historian H.W. Brands states that President Jackson felt that this removal policy was “humane” and saved the Indians from annihiation from the crushing forces of white encroachment.
From there, however, Manifest Destiny charged ahead, damn the torpedoes, so to speak, and the Indians were in the way again. Whether it be farm land, gold and silver mines, railroads, or the destruction of the buffalo, Native Americans became an easy target for white Americans moving westward. The tribes were pushed aside and put onto reservations, or as the speaker in the TED talk below, Aaron Huey, calls them, “prisoner of war camps”. Some Indians like Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, just to name a few, fought back and succeeded at slowing down the demographic tide.
For most American history books, we see that they talk about the Indians almost always when they are being pushed off of their land by Europeans (King Philip’s War, Powhatan War, Seminole War, Indian Removal Act) or when they fight back (Battle of Little Bighorn, Red Cloud’s War) or after being indiscriminately massacred (Sand Creek and Wounded Knee Massacres). Few cover the decimation of disaeases that faced the Native Americans when the Europeans first arrived. Even fewer touch on 20th Century issues and laws regarding education, reservation (and sale of Indian land), tribal recognition, citizenship, Termination policy in the 1950s or other Indian policies like the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Our textbooks might talk about AIM or the standoff at Wounded Knee in 1973, but just as an inclusion of many minority groups in the chapter on the late 1960s / early 1970s. There might even be something about the seizure of Alcatraz Island by Native Americans. But rarely anything is heard after that.
In the following disturbing and moving video, photographer Aaron Huey lists the many things done (in the name of America) to the Lakota Sioux tribe. He juxtaposes the litany of broken treaties and promises and horrific things with his own photos of the Lakota tribe at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Aaron Huey’s wish is that the American government honor the treaties and give back the Black Hills. To atone for America’s sins, to use such a phrase, can anything truly be done? Where, if anywhere, should Americans start to make up for what has been done to the Native Americans? Is it right that we should speak in such manner as atoning for sins or asking for forgiveness? Or do you feel that you have nothing to ask forgiveness for since these things had been done before you were born? What responsibility do we have to Native Americans?
One major thing to consider is that though we may not have been personally responsible for oppressing the Native Americans, we benefit from the results of past policies of our government towards Native Americans (and even from past colonial practices).
Should we replace Columbus Day with Indigineous Peoples’ Day?
Should we push Congress to rescind the Medals of Honor distributed to the 7th Cavalry handed out after the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890?
Should reservations be abolished? Or should those that exist still remain yet receive generous help?
Should the Washington football team, the Cleveland Indians, or Atlanta Braves be forced to take new mascot names?
What can we learn from Canada and the way they have treated and honored their Native Americans?
Should we continue to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline (since President Trump has rescinded President Obama’s cancellation of it)?
Should Native Americans be given back their religious ceremonial artifacts, tens of thousands of which sit in museums, some on display, others locked in vaults? (for an upclose perspective, see the recent PBS film, What Was Ours here).
In finishing up the research for this blog (including reading chapters of the book, “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) I found that Congress passed, as part of an appropriations bill, a resolution called the Native American Apology Resolution in 2009. Introduced by Republican senator from Kansas, Sam Brownback, he said the reason he did this was “to officially apologize for the past ill-conceived policies by the US Government toward the Native Peoples of this land and re-affirm our commitment toward healing our nation’s wounds and working toward establishing better relationships rooted in reconciliation.”
The Apology Resolution states that the United States, “apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States.”
The Apology Resolution also “urges the President to acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land.”
The Apology Resolution comes with a disclaimer that nothing in the Resolution authorizes or supports any legal claims against the United States and that the Resolution does not settle any claims against the United States.
The Apology Resolution does not include the lengthy Preamble that was part of S.J Res. 14 introduced earlier this year by Senator Brownback. The Preamble recites the history of U.S. – tribal relations including the assistance provided to the settlers by Native Americans, the killing of Indian women and children, the Trail of Tears, the Long Walk, the Sand Creek Massacre, and Wounded Knee, the theft of tribal lands and resources, the breaking of treaties, and the removal of Indian children to boarding schools.
Extended quotes come from the blog: https://nativevotewa.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/president-obama-signs-native-american-apology-resolution/
Crash Course – Market revolution. – https://youtu.be/RNftCCwAol0?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s
Crash Course – Age of Jackson – https://youtu.be/beN4qE-e5O8?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s
Crash Course – Age of Reforms – https://youtu.be/t62fUZJvjOs?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s
Crash Course – Women in 19th Century – https://youtu.be/fM1czS_VYDI?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s
above image – stereotypical images of the Irish immigrants from the 19th Century.
We Shall Remain – Trail of Tears – https://youtu.be/fM1czS_VYDI?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s
God in America, part 2 – http://www.pbs.org/video/1610731418/ We watched from about 20 minutes in to the end. Take notes in Questions / Facts / Hashtags format.
When I look back at the chapter on Andrew Jackson, I try not to judge the guy too harshly using our 21st Century point of view. This “Age of Jackson”, the 1820s – 1830s, seems to be an era of change with the Market Revolution (mass production and factories) occurring with the movement of people out West. Plus, it was a time period when almost all white males were able to vote. It seemed like a time of progress.
Yet, we see that Jackson destroyed the BUS (Bank of the United States) with a veto in 1832, and removed the Indians of the “Five Civilized Tribes” from the East Coast of the country across the Mississippi where they were thought to be no more of a threat. He illegally seized Florida from the Spanish while a general in 1818. He also vetoed (among his record 12 vetoes) national spending bills on canals, roads (Maysville Road), and bridges that would have improved transportation and lowered costs. He thwarted Henry Clay’s American System at practically every turn. These “evil schemes” were seen by AJ as a way to make “rich men… richer by acts of Congress” and deny the fundamental American principle of “equal protection and equal benefits.”
Thirteen polls of historians and political scientists between 1949 and 2009 list AJ as one of the top ten Presidents in history. He’s on our currency ($20). Yet, he’s not known for any foreign policy initiatives like the Monroe Doctrine. His domestic “achievements” are more known for whom he harmed or disabled and not creating positive, groundbreaking laws. Yet, he got us through the nullification / tariff crisis of 1833 without resorting to war or violence in South Carolina. He stood for Union and against secession. And, he (with the help of V.P. Martin van Buren) helped “meld” his followers into the “most successful and durable political party,” the Democratic Party.
To quote the Miller Center: “Jackson’s own character polarized contemporaries and continues to divide historians. Some praise his strength and audacity; others see him as vengeful and self-obsessed. To admirers he stands as a shining symbol of American accomplishment, the ultimate individualist and democrat. To detractors he appears an incipient tyrant, the closest we have yet come to an American Caesar.” Is it possible that Jackson was a contradiction embodied in one man? Or do historians see the best / worst of their times in Andrew Jackson because he so symbolized his time period?
So, where do you see President Jackson’s legacy? Was he a patriot or a tyrant? Both? Did his presidency have a more positive impact than negative? Explain.
The War of 1812 is called America’s 2nd War for Independence by our textbook, “but a footnote to the mighty European conflagration…with huge consequences for the United States” (Kennedy 222). The reasons are numerous:
1. America, as a young nation, gained a newfound respect from the European belligerents through the “hot breath of their [ships’] broadsides” and the defeat of the British army at the Battle of New Orleans (Andrew Jackson video). This was a diplomatic and military victory for our country (222). After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, Europe receded into a “peace of exhaustion…[with a] return to conservatism, illliberalism, and reaction” (222).
2. “Sectionalism…was dealt a black eye” and exhibited the “folly of sectional disunity” in which the biggest casualty was the Federalist Party b/c of its association with New England’s support for the British. In a way, the war helped unify the country by getting rid of one party and ushering in the Era of Good Feelings.
3. American manufacturing exploded b/c of the embargo, and in a sense, this war gave America a stronger sense of economic and diplomatic independence and less dependent upon European manufactured goods.
4. Kennedy, et. al. felt that the development of American nationalism was the “most impressive by-product” of the war. This nationalism showed itself in a national literature like Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. A tide of national pride also helped with the renewal of the Central Bank of the U.S. in 1816 and more capital was invested in the burgeoning economy.
These are all good and valid reasons why they call the War of 1812 another American war for independence. But, these reasons are all short term gains for the United States and neglect much more severe long term effects that have more dramatic consequences for the country.
1. By the time of the Civil War, the American military was still a small force but was much better educated because of the West Point Academy where most of the CW officers were trained. That a ragtag band of Americans won at New Orleans in 1815 is testament to not only the great leadership of Andrew Jackson but of poor leadership of the British generals as well. These West Point grads were seasoned on the battlefields of Mexico and out West fighting the Indians as America grasped to the Pacific Ocean for land.
2. Sectionalism never died, it predominantly moved South. I think that this is the most ridiculous of their arguments – that sectionalism faded away. Yes, the Federalist Party died, but the Whig Party emerged within 15-20 years after disagreements over federal spending projects.
– Sectionalism soon flared up in 1819 and 1820 when it was time to figure out what to do w/ Missouri and the rest of the Louisiana territories when determining their slave status. It would rear its ugly head almost every time slavery came up – the tariff issue in 1832-33, the Mexican War, the Wilmot Proviso, Compromise of 1850, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott decision, Lecompton constitution, Lincoln-Douglas debates, Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and then the 1860 Election w/ 4 candidates.
3. Though American manufacturing grew stronger during the war, the British dumped their excess cheap goods on the American market in a crude version of economic warfare. The economic battle eventually led to the tariff fight of 1828-1833 and America’s first brush w/ nullification and secession.
4. Nationalism is an important aspect of a country’s development like a nation’s literature or its economy. However, the Central Bank was dismantled by Andrew Jackson in the 1830s soon to be followed by the Panic of 1837. The loss of this bank may have hindered the development of American capitalism before and after the Civil War and could have prevented or forestalled the Depressions of 1877 and 1897.
5. Overall, America’s main goal of this war at the very beginning was to capitalize on Britain’s attention being directed at France and therefore we had hoped to seize Canada as part of our next great American land grab. Since that goal was thwarted by 1815, American attention turned southward towards Mexico, Cuba and other territories. Remember, the Mexican War didn’t start because innocent American soldiers were fired upon while they were walking along the Rio Grande River. They were acting on direct orders of the president to invade the disputed border area of Texas when they were fired upon. The War of 1812 set a dangerous precedent in American foreign policy with our country acting as the imperialist. We have invaded smaller, weaker nations to exploit their economic, geographic or physical resources since the Mexican War, and it could have started in 1812 if the Canadians hadn’t stopped us.
6. Lastly, the War of 1812 left the Native Americans to fend for themselves with the American government and the ever-expanding U.S. ppopulation. Our need for land rubbed against Indian sovereignty, and as historian Robert Remini explained in his book, Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, the removal of the Native Americans from the East Coast was also a homeland security issue. 3 times in the past 75 years had various native tribes risen up amongst us and sided with American foes when those European forces invaded our shores (F & I War, Revolution, and 1812). To prevent this internal security threat from happening again, reason said that they needed to be moved far away from the coast where they wouldn’t be much of a threat (and as an added bonus, more valuable land was freed up for settlement in the process).
What do you think?
Was this War of 1812 a 2nd war of American independence? Or was the war the beginning of American expansionism / opportunism that flew in the face of Washington’s advise to stay out of foreign entanglements? Or is there another interpretation for the war of 1812 that could combine both? Explain.