February 18, 2008

Jefferson sought to remove Indians

May I Suggest ... 'Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and Manifest Destiny,' by Robert J. MillerThe same man who wrote to the Marquis de Chastellux "I believe the Indian then to be in body and mind equal to the white man," methodically plotted an aggressive policy toward American Indians.

Jefferson told his agents never to coerce tribal nations to sell their lands; the lands were theirs as long as they wished. But in a letter to Indiana Territory Gov. William Henry Harrison, Jefferson suggested that if the various nations could be encouraged to purchase goods on credit, they would likely fall into debt, which they could relieve by selling their lands to the government. Trading posts were established on the frontier to further that aim.

When some tribal nations resisted efforts by the United States to acquire their land, Jefferson asked in a confidential letter to Congress for money to establish more trading posts "[i]n order peaceably to counteract this policy of theirs." Ultimately, 28 government trading posts operated on the frontier. Jefferson was also the earliest architect of a plan to remove all American Indians east of the Mississippi.

Miller's book shows that Jefferson was disingenuous. "Jefferson was the most aggressive, expansionist president we ever had," Miller wrote. "He had ulterior motives: to get [American Indians] out of the way as fast as possible and acquire their land."
Comment:  For more on Jefferson and Indians, see Fun 4th of July Facts.


dmarks said...

Perhaps the Democrat party should now stop honoring Jefferson from their Jefferson-Jackson Dinners. Then they can honor only Jackson from now on.

Rob said...

All the presidents have been flawed. If you study them, you find they had only a few great achievements each. None of them were consistently great.

Historical rankings of the presidents:


Three presidents—George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt—are consistently ranked at the top of the lists. Usually ranked just below those three are Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. The remaining top 10 ranks are often rounded out by Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Andrew Jackson. Ranking at the bottom of most polls are Warren G. Harding, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan.