Henry Knox: Letter to President George Washington

In examining the question how the disturbances on the frontiers are to be quieted, two modes present themselves, by which the object might perhaps be effected; the first of which is by raising an army, and (destroying the resisting] tribes entirely, or 2ndly by forming treaties of peace with them, in which their rights and limits should be explicitly defined, and the treaties observed on the part of the United States with the most rigid justice, by punishing the whites, who should violate the same.

In considering the first mode, an inquiry would arise, whether, under the existing circumstances of affairs, the United States have a clear right, consistently with the principles of justice and the laws of nature, to proceed to the destruction or expulsion of the savages…. The Indians being the prior occupants, possess the right of the soil. It cannot be taken from them unless by their free consent, or by the right of conquest in case of a. just war.

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To dispossess them on any other principle, would be a gross violation of the fundamental laws of nature, and of that distributive justice which is the glory of a nation. But if it should be decided, on an abstract view of the situation, to remove by force the … Indians from the territory they occupy, the finances of the United States would not at present admit of the operation. “

Document C Source: President Thomas Jefferson, letter to Andrew Jackson, major general of the Tennessee militia (1803) “The Indian Tribes … ave for a considerable time been growing more and more uneasy at the constant diminution of the territory they occupy, although effected by their own voluntary sales, and the policy has long been gaining strength with them of refusing absolutely all further sale on any conditions…. In order peaceably to counteract this policy of theirs and to provide an extension of territory which the rapid increase of our numbers will call for [they should be led to an agricultural way of life, thus lessening their need for land]. In leading them thus to … ivilization … I trust and believe we are acting for their greatest good. ” Document D Source: General Andrew Jackson to George Graham, secretary of war (July 8,1817) “I believe every native of the nation left to themselves, would freely make this election [to remove].

But they appear to be overawed by the council of some white men and half breeds, who have been and are fattening upon the annuities, the labours, and folly of the native Indian, and who believe, that their income would be destroyed by the removal of the Indians. Document E Source: The Intercourse Act (March 30, 1802) “Be it … enacted, that if any such citizen -or other person, shall go into any country which is allotted, or secured by treaty … to any of the Indian tribes south of the river Ohio, without a passport [that person] shall forfeit a sum not exceeding fifty dollars, or be imprisoned not exceeding three months. ” Document F Source: General Andrew Jackson, treaty negotiator, to President James Monroe (March 4, 1817)

I have long viewed treaties with the Indians an absurdity not to be reconciled to the principles of our Government. The Indians are the subjects of the United States, inhabiting its territory and acknowledging its sovereignty, then is it not absurd for the sovereign to negotiate by treaty with the subject. . . .” Document G Source: President James Monroe, First Annual Message to Congress (December 17,1817) [“Because of these purchases of Indian land,] it is our duty to make new efforts for the preservation, improvement, and civilization of the native inhabitants.

The hunter state can exist only in the vast uncultivated desert. It yields to the more dense and compact form and greater force of civilized population; and of right it ought to yield, for the earth was given to mankind to support the greatest number of which it is, capable, and no tribe or people have a right to withhold from the wants of others more than is necessary for their own support and comfort. ” Document H Source: John C. Calhoun, secretary of war, letter to Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Representatives January 15, 1820)

While many of the Indian tribes have acquired only the vices with which a savage people usually become tainted, by their intercourse with those who are civilized, others appear to be making gradual advances in industry and civilization …. The Cherokees exhibit a more favorable appearance than any other tribe of Indians. There are already established two flourishing schools among them …. Besides reading, writing, and arithmetic, the boys are taught agriculture and the ordinary mechanic arts; and the girls, sewing, knitting, and weaving.

Although partial advances may be made under the present system to civilize the Indians, I am of an opinion that, until there is a radical change in the system, any efforts which may be made must fall short of complete success. They must be brought gradually under our authority and laws, or they will insensibly waste away in vice and misery. ” Document I Source: Cherokee alphabet invented by the Cherokee Sequoyah (c. 1825) Document J Source: John C. Calhoun, secretary of war, to President James Monroe (March 29, 1824)

It cannot be doubted that much of the difficulty of acquiring additional cessions from the Cherokee nation and other southern tribes, results from their growing civilization and knowledge, by which they have learned to place a higher value upon the lands than more rude and savage tribes. ” Document K Source: Chief Justice John Marshall, majority opinion in Worcester v. Georgia (1832)

“From the commencement of our government Congress has passed acts to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indians; which treat them as nations, respect their rights, and manifest a firm purpose to afford that rotection which treaties stipulate. AR these acts … manifestly consider the several Indian nations as distinct political communities, having territorial boundaries, within which their authority is exclusive, and having a right to all the lands within those boundaries, which is not only acknowledged, but guaranteed by the United States. . . . The Cherokee Nation, then, is a distinct community … in which the laws of Georgia can have no force, and which the citizens of Georgia have no right to enter but with the assent of the Cherokees them- selves or in conformity with treaties and with the acts of Congress.. . .”

Document L Source: President Andrew Jackson, First Annual Message to Congress (December S. 1829) “It has long been the policy of Government to introduce among them the arts of civilization, in the hope of gradually reclaiming them from a wandering life. This policy has, however, been coupled with another wholly incompatible with its success. Professing a desire to civilize and settle them, we have at the same time lost no opportunity to purchase their lands and thrust them farther into the wilderness.

A portion, however, of the Southern tribes, having mingled much with the whites and made some progress in the arts of civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an independent government within the limits of Georgia and Alabama. Under these circumstances the question presented was whether the General Government had a right to sustain those people in their pretensions …. Georgia became a member of the Confederacy which eventuated in our Federal Union as a sovereign State, always asserting her claim to certain limits, which, . . . he has ever since continued to enjoys except as they have been circumscribed by her own voluntary transfer of a portion of her territory to the United States in the articles of cession of 1802 …. “

Actuated by this view of the subject, I informed the Indians inhabiting parts of Georgia and Alabama that their attempt to establish an independent government would not be countenanced by the Executive of the United States, and advised them to emigrate beyond the Mississippi or submit to the laws of those State. ” Document M Document N “Liberty Follows”.

Notes for Teachers: This question was one of the last old-format DBQs which required no outside evidence while offering an almost overwhelming number of documents for student analysis. However, both the phraseology and the half-century scope of the question’s chronology invite closer student analysis of the terms of the question before any perusal of the documents. A student must be clear about the distinction between a reformulation of policy (the reiteration or continuation of a previous policy statement or system) and a change in policy to attack this question.

Or, put another way, did Jackson’s decisions essentially continue a series of policy precedents (reformulation) or were they a significant departure (change) from previous administrations? To make a judgment about continuity or change, students must first define “the national policy that had been in effect since the 1790’s. ” They can then move to the “decision of the Jackson administration . . . “, his Indian policy, as represented relatively consistently over a 15-year period in Documents H, 0, and Q.

As if the definition of terms (the word reformulation is archaic enough to have disappeared from the latest American Heritage Dictionary) and the identification and comparison of policies were not enough, students are further required to consider the role of “moral, political, constitutional and practical concerns” in the shaping of these policies and their permutations through time. Professor Alden Vaughan of Columbia University, the chief faculty consultant at the time and a specialist in colonial English-Indian relations, helpfully classified this question as a two-by-four matrix.

He suggested that students might construct a grid with the four concerns on one axis and Jackson’s policies compared with their antecedents on the other (with a resolved thesis: continuity, change, both, neither). Students could then grid their evidence and construct their answers making reference to all four of the question’s categories. (This system of essay organization within a matrix can be applied to any question with several variables or areas of consideration. See 1981’s Northern Middle-Class Women DBQ for another example. )

There may be no DBQ in this entire collection that illustrates the difficulties of context and evidence that face the historian more obviously than this question does. After wrestling with the complex causality implied in the question itself, students will experience no relief with a highly inconclusive set of documents. Several public moralities are clearly at work here, as are inconsistent Indian policies which sometimes protect and sometimes condemn. Jackson’s policy direction, however, seems clear whether serving his country as a treaty negotiator or as, President charged with executing Indian policy within his Department of War.

But there were other “national” administrations and there were other relations with the Indians. Documents B and C, for instance, are from the Washington administration; D, E, and F are Jeffersonian; and G, H, 1, J, M, and N are policies of President James Monroe. Also implied in Documents E, N, and 0 is the intention of the state of Georgia to remove all Indians from lands within state borders. The construction of a national policy, and policy trends, from four different federal administrations, one state government and, (if the map in Document A graphically represents policy,) the British and colonial Georgia governments is no simple task.

Many students may want to give up on that basis, look at the map in A, and suggest an eventual squeezing out of the Cherokee, as the steady, inexorable national policy. To arrive at that point and not examine the other documents would deny them an exposure to the complexity and intensity of the national debate that raged for years, even if their superficial conclusion drawn from the map of territorial cessions was correct. Documents K, L, M, and 0 also clearly suggest the significant assimilation of the Cherokee to the “American” way of life.

Some students would argue back into the nineteenth century against the concept of tribal ownership as inconsistent with the Indian’s adopted way of life which included plantations, slaves, newspapers, and a democratic government. Collective ownership of property stood in the way of individual growth and the American entrepreneurial spirit, so the argument would go, and was an impractical and unfair way to hold title to property, particularly after gold was discovered. Some other students – whoever your humanitarian coalition might be – would argue just the reverse.

Having adjusted their culture and having accepted this new way of life wholeheartedly, the Cherokee deserved to live peacefully within Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina as law-abiding citizens who contributed successfully to economy and polity alike. They did not fight, they did not flee, they only wanted to become “American” and live like their adopted other Americans. It shouldn’t take too much imagination to see how this discussion could lead to the larger issues of Indian policy from the colonial period to the present and perhaps even to the rights of the minority in any ethnically mixed civilization.

As a political sidebar, Documents 0, P, and Q shed light on one of the more interesting tests of the balance of power within the federal system. Despite the Supreme Court’s insistence that only the federal government had any jurisdiction in Cherokee territory, the state of Georgia continued to plunder Indian land and power piecemeal without any sanction from President Jackson, himself the nominal executor and defender of federal law as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

He even goes so far in Document Q as to call the decision in Document P “still born” insulting Chief Justice John Marshall and his colleagues (although in private correspondence). This brief glimpse at the defiant character of Andrew Jackson might lead students to a study of his frontier heritage and, in the preceding DBQ, his presidency in a broader policy context. In the case of the Cherokee, however, Jackson’s judgment was ultimately and irrevocably unfavorable, a “tragic mix of egalitarianism and racial prejudice,” in the opinion of historian Sean Wilentz.

Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal (1980 DBQ) Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park today often enter that western North Carolina wilderness by Cherokee. There, surrounded by ersatz totem poles and neon-feathered war bonnets, they shop for souvenirs on an “Indian reservation” without realizing that its very existence represents the refusal of a small band of defiant Qualla Cherokee to submit to President Andrew Jackson’s removal decree 160 years earlier.

Instead, they fled their Georgia farms for the remote hills of North Carolina to avoid arrest and deportation until their new territory was eventually recognized by federal treaty. Dense forests and the highest promontories east of the Rockies protected the Cherokee much as the swampy mazes of the Everglades defeated armies in pursuit of the Seminole. Less protected Native Americans were less fortunate. Particularly, inhabitants of the “old” Northwest Territories, the Sauk and the Fox, were embattled and driven west across the Mississippi even as their Southern counterparts sought refuge.

The removal of other Southern tribes, living more peaceably with greater assimilation in a less settled region, was more problematic for the government. The Cherokee especially had become an agrarian nation and more prosperous tribal members lived on plantations and owned slaves. Conversion to Christianity was common and literacy was widespread using a native alphabet. A constitutional republic, modeled after the United States, was framed in 1827. The Cherokee simply could not be cast as savages threatening the safety of white settlers as easily as the Sauk and the Fox were during the Black Hawk Wars.

President Andrew Jackson, a frontiersman and a veteran himself of India ‘n campaigns, knew the Cherokee and their civilization only too well. In 1817, as a treaty negotiator for the War Department, the Great Smoky Mountains National he had been outsmarted by Cherokee resolve. After eliminating tribal ownership of their Georgia lands by decree, the federal government, through Jackson each individual Cherokee head of household the choice of 640 acres in Georgia with no tribal affinity or a new, larger tribal homeland further west.

However, nearly every Cherokee stayed put Andrew intermixed, and intermarried with white Georgians. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 gave the newly elected President Jackson broader-gauged executive new power to deal with Native Americans collectively, rather than tribe-by-tribe or individual-by-individual. His Congressional charge was to move them all west of the Mississippi to open up Trans-Appalachian southeast for a flood of settlers for a flood of settlers who had been spilling over that chain of mountains from the earliest days of the republic.

The Cherokee fought back with legal briefs and lawsuits rather than bullets, and two Supreme Court decisions in the early 1830s upheld their independent nationhood against the physical and legal encroachment of the state of Georgia. The Treaty of New Echota in 1835 undermined their legal last stand. The three principal tribal signatories, virtually alone in a pro-removal minority, were later murdered by tribesmen for their betrayal, but the consequences were inevitable.

Over the next few years, more than 10,000 Cherokee traveled west to the Indian Territory of modern Oklahoma, suffering severe winter weather and the loss of a quarter of their number on the Trail of Tears. Winfield Scott and his command of 5,000 troops were ordered to force the removal, yet all but a handful of the Cherokee left peacefully and policed their own relocation to a barren plain hundreds of miles from their prosperous Appalachian homeland.

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Henry Knox: Letter to President George Washington. (2017, Jan 05). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/henry-knox-letter-to-president-george-washington/