Since only a small percentage of Americans have much sense of American history (if any), these articles which have been highly researched and factual are a must read for any concerned American
In 1823, Monroe gave a speech to the U.S. Congress that became the Monroe Doctrine. While his rhetoric sounded impressive, the reality was that he staked out Latin America as the United States’ arena of influence, with no European powers allowed. Monroe virtually declared the United States a hemispheric empire in 1823, although there was still plenty of work to be done. History has borne that notion out. Between 1798 and 1945, the United States sent its soldiers abroad in 168 separate events. Of those 168 events, 85 times the troops were sent to what was or is known as Latin America.
Andrew Jackson was America’s first president not from the Eastern Oligarchy, although he was another slave owner. The son of Scotch-Irish immigrants, Jackson was born after his father died and was raised in today’s Carolinas. A fighter and brawler from a young age, he fought in the Revolutionary War at age 13, and all of his immediate family members died in the war, leaving him on his own at age 14. Jackson became a lawyer, and in 1796 he became Tennessee’s first U.S. Congressman. While in office, he aligned with Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and went on the record, calling Washington’s policy toward the Native Americans too lenient. Jackson left Congress in 1798 and became a judge, retiring from that position in 1804. Still having the fiery temper he displayed as a boy, Jackson brawled and dueled regularly. Jackson’s violent, belligerent reputation got him elected to head the Tennessee militia in 1802, and when the War of 1812 broke out, Jackson offered to invade Canada, but was instead ordered to defend the imperial outpost of New Orleans. His men were forced to return when their orders were reversed, and short-provisioned by government inadequacy, Jackson looked out for his men on the march back to Tennessee, earning their admiration and the nickname “Old Hickory.”
By that time, Native Americans were virtually extinct in today’s Northeastern United States. Washington’s plan was highly successful. William Henry Harrison, the governor of Indiana Territory, spent the first decade of the 19th century swindling the natives out of their treaty-provided lands, as he had been ordered to do. The great Shawnee leader Tecumseh tried uniting Native Americans against the white invaders. Tecumseh was at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, but his resistance was more to not let the white men get any more Indian land. The natives he influenced were following Jefferson’s prescription: settle down and adopt the white man’s ways. Jefferson’s advice was apparently more on the rhetorical level, seeming impressive, but to be avoided in practice.
Tecumseh did not believe that any tribe should cede lands without the consent of the others. Tecumseh, returning the Founding Fathers’ racism in kind, adopted a cosmology that saw whites as a variety of pond scum. His brother reformed himself from being a drunken Indian to turning his life around and becoming “The Prophet” to his people. William Henry Harrison was surprised when the natives following Tecumseh’s teachings refused whiskey. The natives were acting far too responsibly for Harrison’s liking, and were forming a united front. Uniting the American colonies had won them independence from British rule, and a united native front might thwart U.S. imperial designs. When faced with dwindling prospects of swindling the natives, and the appearance of an effort that could resist further white invasion, Harrison launched a pre-emptive strike in 1811, while Tecumseh was away on a recruiting mission. Harrison led an army to Tippecanoe, Tecumseh’s headquarters. Tecumseh’s brother, in charge while his brother was away, acted rashly and fell into Harrison’s trap, and after a bloody battle that saw more white casualties than native, the whites drove the Indians away and burned Tippecanoe. Tecumseh returned months later to the ashes of his dreams.
In post-9/11 America, white people might begin developing some comprehension of what North American natives were facing back then. History has shown that cultures unravel when subjected to catastrophes that kill off large fractions of the population, such as what the Black Death did to Europe in the 1340s. Although Osama bin Laden and gang is biting the hand that fed them, nobody seriously thinks that waves of Islamic settlers will be coming across the oceans, to invade and exterminate Americans; Native Americans faced just that. By the American Revolution, the natives of Eastern North America clearly saw the trends, with many eastern tribes already extinct, and an inexorable march westward by the white invaders, destroying everything in its path in the name of “progress.” Not only were the woods, creatures and natives disappearing under the boots and axes of the white juggernaut, but also there was active, exterminatory hatred directed at the natives from the very beginning of the white invasion…and it was successful. Invasion, disease and environmental devastation were inflicted in never-ending waves upon the natives. Miantonomi was perhaps the first North American native to figure it out, but was far from the last. The Delaware sages clearly saw the disintegration of Native American culture, and as they were violently dispersed from their homelands, they influenced many inland tribes, Pontiac’s Ottawa tribe among them. Pontiac’s efforts influenced Tecumseh’s, and the confederacy the tribes tried creating during the American Revolution.
Tecumseh died in the War of 1812 a couple of years later. He was about the Indian equivalent of George Washington, so his corpse was eagerly scalped by the American troops, and the frenzy to get pieces of him was heated. One soldier contented himself with seizing a dime-sized piece of Tecumseh’s flesh, attached to a mere tuft of hair, which he produced in an interview seventy-three years later. After being stripped and scalped, one enterprising soldier flayed Tecumseh’s body, cutting his skin into foot-long strips to make razor straps for his pals.
While Tecumseh was pursuing the shards of his shattered dreams in America’s Midwest, Old Hickory was making progress in America’s Southeast. From the very beginning of the European invasion of the New World, even on Columbus’ first voyage, it really did not matter much if the natives were friendly or hostile; they all eventually died under the European boot. Sometimes friendliness meant they were the first to be exterminated (such as scalps of friendly natives being easier to obtain than scalps of hostiles), and sometimes it meant they were the last to fall to their state (such as the Tlaxcalans). The Cherokee tale is important. Not only are they the largest surviving North American tribe, their journey demonstrates how even the most U.S.-friendly natives were doomed, if they lived on land the whites wanted. The Cherokee were one of the “five civilized tribes,” which included the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole.
The Iroquois lived at the north end of the Appalachians, and the Cherokee at the south end. The higher elevation of their lands probably spared them the worst of the early diseases that Europeans introduced. While the Iroquoian people engaged in the short-lived fur trade (the beaver was extinct in the Hudson River Valley by 1640), the Cherokee traded in deer skins for Europe’s manufactured goods. In the early 1700s, England, Spain and France were jockeying for position in the region, with the English settlers doing their usual land grabbing, which led to numerous wars. The natives were largely battling for survival, and allied however they could. In the early 1700s, the Tuscarora were completely eliminated from their homeland in today’s North Carolina. The survivors fled north and joined the Iroquois Confederation. The Shawnee were also losers, first being kicked out of Ohio during the late 1600s by the Iroquois, with most of the scattered tribe moving to today’s Southeast U.S. The wars down there saw many of them flee back to Ohio, and the English invasion of the Ohio River Valley inspired Tecumseh to try uniting his Shawnee with other tribes, to form a united front. Other tribes simply disappeared in the mayhem.
In pre-Columbian times, the Cherokee probably controlled at least 100,000 square miles of territory, and may have had more than a half million people. America’s Southeast was the most densely populated part of North America, and warfare and empire building were not unknown. The Cherokee lived in palisaded towns in their heartland. Soto was the last European to see those lands in close to their 1491 condition. The Mississippian cultures built large mounds, as palaces, cemeteries and temples. Those types of structures have only been built in densely populated regions. By the time Soto saw those lands, the populations had probably already been reduced by European disease. After Soto visited that desolate former empire, his entrada wandered through territory that was partly the Cherokee’s, as well as other tribes. After Soto, a few more smallpox epidemics made their way through the area before the English began invading the region.
The Cherokee have an Iroquoian language, and probably migrated from the Great Lakes region, as did the Tuscarora, at least several centuries before Soto showed up. Iroquoian civilizations were matrilineal. The high status of women is generally the sign of a healthy and vibrant society. The other “civilized” tribes are from the Muskogean language family, and they also had matrilineal societies.
By 1700, Florida’s original inhabitants were nearing extinction. The largely hunter-gatherer Calusan and Timucuan peoples became extinct in Florida before 1800. The Apalachee people lived in northern Florida and were largely farmers, and did not become quite as extinct as the Timucuan and Calusan peoples. During the destruction of numerous tribes of America’s Southeast, survivors joined with others, and the Seminole people are an amalgamation of tribal fragments of largely Muskogean peoples. Even former African slaves joined the Seminole. The word “Seminole” may be derived from the Spanish word for “runaway.”
South Carolina was England’s early slave coast in the New World. Just as the European slavers had done in Africa, the English armed coastal natives, turning them into pawns of the slave trade, encouraging them to use the English’s superior weaponry to invade inland and capture neighboring tribes. Slave trains from inland were making their way to Charleston as early as the 1670s, to be sold into Caribbean slavery. The English slave trade quickly decimated the natives, and fragments of tribes came together to make new “tribes,” such as the Westos, who made a brief living enslaving other intact tribes. When their utility expired, the Westos also became extinct. The English enslaved the Cherokee as early as 1681, and in 1693 the Cherokee sent a delegation to South Carolina’s Royal Governor to ask for protection from the native slave raiders. The year before, the Shawnee, who the Cherokee welcomed (to become a buffer tribe – it was not a completely humanitarian act) to their lands, destroyed a Cherokee village while the men were away hunting, and sold the women and children into slavery. It was an act of treachery that the Cherokee never forgot, and the Shawnee were eventually expelled back to the northern lands, with the Cherokee happy to see them go.
Because of South Carolina’s continued pursuit of the flesh trade, the tribes united and began a war against South Carolina in 1715. The Cherokee began fighting as English allies as early as 1689, in England’s imperial struggles with France. After the war of 1715 briefly interrupted their relationship, the Cherokee signed their first treaty in 1721, which ceded land to British colonists.
Similar to the Iroquois, the Cherokee were a democratic people. In 1730, there were less than 50,000 Cherokee left, and the English at Charleston tried making one of them an “emperor.” Some young braves visited King George II in England, and supposedly gave fealty to the King, but those boys did not run the Cherokee people, although one of them subsequently became prominent. In 1738, a slave ship to Charleston brought smallpox, and killed off at least a quarter of the remaining Cherokee, while also sweeping through other local tribes, such as the Catawba. By 1730, the Cherokee were as low as ten percent of their numbers of two centuries earlier, and another large fraction was taken away in one swoop in 1738. Another devastating plague swept through in 1753, bringing the Cherokee population to perhaps 25,000 (estimates vary, going as low as 10,000 in 1780), where it would largely remain until they were forcibly removed during the 19th century.
Largely because of epidemics, widowed lands were easier to give up than occupied ones, such as the Wampanoag welcome to the Puritans. The wars, epidemics and continually encroaching settlers created massive displacements among the native tribes. Tribes were forced away from the eastern coastline, and intruded upon neighboring tribes. Sometimes inland tribes would allow the coastal tribes to settle with them, and other times they might resist or otherwise give less than a friendly welcome. Surviving tribes would be crowded together, and formerly friendly relations would degenerate into hard feelings and warfare, as each tribe tried surviving. The Creek and Cherokee shared hunting grounds in today’s northern Georgia, but settler pressures led to them fighting a war that began in 1752.
The British were arrogant, with a predilection for murder, and few natives liked them much, but they made the best trade goods, and were cheaper than what the French offered. The French had greater regard for the natives, and did not try imposing their notions of what people should be like, at least not nearly to the degree that the British did. The Cherokee were the region’s dominant tribe, and the British worked hard at maintaining a good relationship with them.
The British were soon allying with the Creek to fight against the Spanish settlements, eventually laying siege to St. Augustine. The French were also in the picture, trying to form alliances with tribes, to fight the British. The French generally allied with the Algonquin tribes of the north, and they were able to ally with the less-warlike Choctaw in the south (the Choctaw-French alliance also split the tribe). The Chickasaw were bitter enemies of the French, as the French tried dominating the Mississippi River for trade purposes, and tried exterminating the Chickasaw during the early 1700s. The French never successfully penetrated the Cherokee region, largely because of Chickasaw resistance, which helped bring an end to France’s imperial designs in North America.
When the Cherokee-Creek war ended in 1755, with the Cherokee victorious, the Cherokee then supported the British in the French and Indian Wars, at least for a time. The Cherokee fought alongside the British during the wars, but there was continual uneasiness, as the colonists always coveted Indian land. The British built forts in Cherokee lands to protect the colonists, supposedly from the French and their allies, but the British always suspected the Cherokee of having French sympathies. There were sporadic conflicts with the Cherokee and white settlers, although the British tried hard to maintain the peace, at least while the Cherokee were useful.
In 1758, a Cherokee war party was traveling with British forces through Virginia when the Cherokee lost their provisions while crossing a river. Their “allies” abandoned them, leaving them to get home on their own. Some angry braves then helped themselves to local provisions, such as Virginian horses. Skirmishes broke out, with Virginians killing Cherokee warriors and selling their scalps for the Virginia bounty. An Indian scalp brought fifty pounds in Virginia, the equivalent of a year’s income for a Virginian farm, and bounty hunters sold the scalps of “friendlies” as “hostiles” regularly. Attacks and counterattacks occurred along the Cherokee frontier, and angry braves prevailed over the chiefs who sought peace. The British were beating the French by that time, had less use for their native “allies,” and a war broke out between the Cherokee and British in 1759. The British soldiers, who had been drunkenly raping the local natives, kidnapped a Cherokee peace delegation, then murdered them when Cherokee braves attacked the fort where they were held and killed one of the rapists. Those events inflamed matters. The killing escalated, with the Cherokee laying siege to Fort London, and Amherst sending a huge expedition to the region in 1760. The Cherokee chiefs were dismayed that their English allies were making war against them. The Cherokee made several attempts to gain native allies against the English, but were unable to. After massacres on each side, and an English expedition that destroyed many Cherokee villages, a “peace” was negotiated in 1761, where the Cherokee ceded huge chunks of land along the Carolina frontier. Thousands more Cherokee died in the war.
Watching the British turn on their allies made a deep impression on the natives along the northern frontiers, and helped lead to Pontiac’s “rebellion.” The British inflicted genocide on the Abenaki people at the same time, which made their intentions clear. Even so, the Cherokee became British allies again, even as greedy colonists ignored the Royal Proclamation. Daniel Boone’s penetration of Cherokee hunting grounds led the Cherokee elders to give in to the inevitable, “selling” the lands in Kentucky and Tennessee to the speculators in 1775. The Cherokee chief Attakullakulla, who was the “emperor” that visited King George II in 1730, and who was raised in the Cherokee village that Tennessee is named after, acquiesced to the inevitable. He saw the teeming hordes of England and the writing on the wall. His son, however, did not. A young warrior who survived smallpox epidemics, with his skin heavily scarred, he defied the treaty, making the following prophetic speech before leaving.
“Where now are our grandfathers, the Delawares? We had hoped that the white men would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains, and have settled upon Cherokee land. They wished to have that usurpation sanctioned by treaty. When that land is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them upon other land of the Cherokees. New cessions will be asked. Finally the whole country, which the Cherokees and their fathers have so long occupied, will be demanded, and the remnant of Ani-Yunwiya, “The Real People,” once so great and formidable, will be compelled to seek refuge in some distant wilderness. There they will be permitted to stay only a short while, until they again behold the advancing banners of the same greedy host. Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Cherokees, the extinction of the whole race will be proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risks, and incur all consequences, rather than submit to further laceration of our country? Such treaties may be all right for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will have our lands.”
Attakullakulla’s son waged a guerilla war against the white invaders, in today’s Tennessee, for the next generation. When the American Revolution began, the Iroquois Confederacy and other hostile tribes such as the Shawnee saw where events were headed. If the colonists succeeded in breaking away from their mother country, the Indians would be more certainly doomed. A delegation was sent to the Cherokee in 1776, as part of an effort to unite all tribes from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico against the colonists.
By that time, the British colonies had taken on characteristics that could be discerned during the next century, dynamics that can be easily seen in the United States today. From the earliest days of the Spanish invasions, the losers of European society came to the New World. Europe’s upper classes rarely made trips to the New World or other imperial lands, unless they were royal representatives. European sovereigns did not go abroad to survey their realms. The lower class invaders turned themselves into local elites, and Europe’s rulers continually tried undermining colonial aspirations, and made grand pronouncements in Europe about respecting native lives. The colonists mostly laughed at the proclamations and laws, which was particularly evident in the Spanish and English colonial experience. English subjects even sold themselves into slavery, called indentured servitude, to gain passage to the New World.
Even though early Jamestown “settlers” ran off and lived with the natives, and Morton had high appreciation for the native way of life, and the spectacle of the “Unredeemed Captive” played itself out in the early 18th century, by the time of the American Revolution, the new elites had carved out estates in the settled east, and were the forerunners of today’s Eastern Establishment. The opportunities for free land and dreams of estates lay on the frontiers of English/British encroachment, and was pursued by the losers of colonial life. Trappers, traders and soldiers were the early English vanguard, followed by settlers. While frontiersmen might wear buckskins and take native wives, they rarely thought like Indians, and the native ideal of harmony with nature was in stark contrast to how frontiersmen behaved. Eastern North America was completely deforested by those frontier settlers, which wiped out both native humans and animals. The white invaders would rarely make enlightened contact with the natives, and the genocidal aspirations in Amherst’s letters to his men (a sentiment that was missing in his writings about his French adversaries) were more literate versions of the scalp-hunting attitudes of frontier settlers.
Attakullakulla’s son waged warfare against the intruders, but his was the minority opinion among the Cherokee. Attakullakulla’s niece married a white trader and distinguished herself in battle against the Creek. She sought peace with the whites, and even warned them about the plans of Attakullakulla’s son. In the big picture, guerilla warfare by tribal minorities provided justification of slaughter and dispossession of entire tribes. When the northern delegation came in 1776, Attakullakulla’s son gladly accepted the war belts, while the Cherokee elders held a sad silence. By 1777, the rebel colonists had overrun the Cherokee once more, launching extermination raids against Cherokee villages, mostly neutral ones. The elders then sued for peace, and signed a treaty at gunpoint that gave up nearly all their lands in the Carolinas. Another treaty in 1781 took more land. Most Native American tribes sided with the British, or more properly, against the rebel colonists. Not the Cherokee.
Although Washington’s secret plan of 1782 made U.S. goals evident, the first tribe the United States made a post-revolution treaty with was the Cherokee. The 1785 Hopewell Treaty was about the only one that did not make land cessions a part of it. High-minded happenings in Washington translated poorly to the frontier. White invaders had zero respect for the Hopewell Treaty, and the breakaway “state” of Franklin ran the Cherokee off their lands, and in 1788 murdered several elderly chiefs under a truce flag. Although natives could perform atrocities, it was nearly always provoked, and a disinterested frontier observer remarked that the settlers were “in the wrong four times out of five.”
Another of Attakullakulla’s sons participated in the 1791 annihilation of the American Army in the Ohio River Valley, but in 1794, all Cherokee factions signed another treaty with the U.S. In 1792, the United States allocated funding to begin trying to turn the Native Americans into European peasants, and the Cherokee were the logical tribe to begin the experiment on. The U.S. began providing plows, spinning wheels and other European technology. It was not exactly an altruistic move. Sedentary farmers and craftsmen needed far less land than hunter-gatherers, and the Cherokee adopted the white man’s ways in order to survive. That transformation caused upheaval within the Cherokee people, as many of the white man’s ways were disgusting to native sensibility. Nevertheless, the Cherokee adopted European methods to such an extent that the name “civilized” was applied to their tribe, and others who adopted similar practices. The Cherokee became cotton growers and cloth weavers instead of deer hunters and skinners. Apparently, George Washington genuinely tried the assimilation policy on the Cherokee, especially after the 1791 disaster.
The Cherokee kept ceding lands in “treaties,” in 1798, 1804, 1805 and 1806. Some pro-French Cherokee migrated to today’s Arkansas in 1763, after the French lost the war against the British and the Spanish granted them land. Pro-British Cherokee also began migrating there in 1782. After the United States “bought” the land by the Louisiana Purchase, in an 1817 treaty it officially recognized the Western Cherokee. Under pressure from white settlers, the Western Cherokee were induced to move to Oklahoma in 1828.
The Eastern Cherokee kept assimilating the white ways and giving up their lands. With white influence came tribal corruption, with lying and greed making their appearance among the warriors and chiefs, which was something new to the Cherokee. The more traditional Cherokee (usually the full-bloods) migrated to the western reservation, and the Eastern Cherokee adopted the white ways. In the 1806 treaty, the Cherokee ceded ten million acres, an area half as large as today’s South Carolina. The chief who negotiated the treaty, and got rich in the process of selling out his people, was assassinated by a faction of young men, led by a brave named Ridge. The chief was so hated that even his relatives did not mind his murder.
Ridge became a prominent Cherokee leader, and led the effort to assimilate the white culture. The assimilation brought on problems that no society could easily manage. The entire fabric of Cherokee existence was under siege. Women were to stop tending plants in the fields and become textile makers, while the men performed plow agriculture. Native concepts of reciprocity and the concept of sufficiency did not mesh with the “greed-as-a-virtue” attitudes of whites, who grabbed whatever they could and always wanted more. Try imagining a female American president that dismantles the military, declares holidays to bake bread, Christianity is discarded as a male aberration, and she declares a Goddess-based, nature-worshipping religion as the national religion. The culture shock the Cherokee underwent was greater, but they underwent it, and it presented them with a chance to survive.
By 1811, more than 1000 traditional Cherokee had migrated west, and Ridge and others who favored adopting the white man’s ways dominated the Eastern Cherokee. Great rifts rent the “civilized” tribes. During 1811, Tecumseh toured Eastern North America, trying to unite all tribes against the white invasion. Tecumseh gave symbolic red sticks to the tribes he spoke to. The sticks were prepared by his brother, the Prophet, and were to help tribes mark time until their uprising, each stick representing a moon cycle. Although his brother was known as The Prophet, prophetic ability was apparently a family talent, and Tecumseh had prophesied for several years that a great earthquake would mark the time when the tribes should make their move to present a united front to the whites. Tecumseh was born on the night of a “shooting star,” and also prophesied that a shooting star would also be a sign that the Great Spirit supported his efforts.
At a huge meeting at the Creek capital, in present-day Alabama, attended by five thousand natives from numerous tribes, Tecumseh spoke of his plan, and the red stick bundles were only three moons large. At that meeting, Ridge threatened to kill Tecumseh if he came to speak to the Cherokee. A Creek chief challenged Tecumseh, and Tecumseh told the chief his blood was white and that when he went home to Tippecanoe, he would stomp on the ground and shake the land, to let the tribes know the truth. On November 7, 1811, the battle of Tippecanoe was fought, which was Harrison’s pre-emptive strike against Tecumseh’s efforts. On November 16th, a great meteor was seen in the sky, supposedly informing the natives that Tecumseh’s efforts had the Great Spirit’s approval, but Tippecanoe’s ashes said otherwise. A month later, while traveling back to Tippecanoe, at a camp near New Madrid, Missouri, Tecumseh received word of the disaster of Tippecanoe. That same night, December 16, 1811, the first New Madrid quake hit, which was a series of quakes that are the strongest in U.S. history, measuring more than eight on the Richter scale, which caused church bells to ring in Boston. It stands today as a most curious testament to Tecumseh’s alleged ability. Because of Tippecanoe, Tecumseh (some say it was his brother) also allegedly cast a curse on the United States, where every president elected in a year ending in zero would die in office. Harrison was the first to fall to this alleged curse, being elected in 1840 and dying soon after coming to office.
With the destruction of Tippecanoe, The Prophet lost standing among the natives, Tecumseh’s plans were ruined, and he died in battle against the Americans a couple years later. Many Creeks took his message to heart, and they dyed their war clubs red, becoming known as the Red Sticks. The last New Madrid quake was the most devastating, occurring on February 13, 1812. In June the War of 1812 began, and Tecumseh’s alliance was in ruins. The Red Stick faction, acting on its own, initiated a civil war among the Creeks, warring against Creek villages that had adopted the white man’s ways. The Spanish armed the Red Sticks, and in 1813, a group of U.S. soldiers stopped and looted a Red Stick pack train, which ignited war with the Red Sticks. The Red Sticks then laid siege to Fort Mims in Alabama, and about 250 settlers were killed, which made huge news that swept the U.S.
The Cherokee elders advocated neutrality in the latest white man’s war, and wanted no part of the Creek civil war. Ridge however, was violently opposed to Tecumseh’s movement, and he gathered hundreds of men and joined Andrew Jackson’s motley crew. While “Old Hickory” gained the respect of his men during the march back from the aborted trip to New Orleans, as time wore on, with his men weary and under-provisioned, they lost their morale and wanted to go home. Old Hickory then became draconian, executing a teenage soldier who became unruly, making an example of him. He took on Ridge’s braves, about five hundred strong, and made Ridge a major in the Tennessee Militia, and Ridge called himself Major Ridge for the rest of his life. The Cherokee were much better fighters than the white soldiers, something Jackson readily admitted. Friendly Creeks also were part of the fighting force. Jackson did not trust his Cherokee fighters, but willingly used them as high-grade cannon fodder.
In March 1814, a force of 2000 whites and 500 Cherokee and Creek cornered the Red Stick army at what is today called Horseshoe Bend, on the Tallapoosa River in Alabama. Jackson had never led a battle before, and his strategy amounted to firing cannons at their fortifications. The action would have probably ended in failure if not for the Cherokee braves who swam the river and attacked the Red Sticks from the rear. Their efforts divided the Creek defense, and the whites then laid siege to the fortifications. In that fierce battle, eight hundred of the thousand Red Sticks died. The aftermath was as brutal as they come. The whites were not content with mere scalps. They skinned Red Stick bodies to make bridle reins, belts and other fashionable items. Jackson ordered cutting off the noses of dead Red Sticks to get an accurate body count. He later gave body parts to the “ladies of Tennessee” as souvenirs. Davy Crockett, who fought at Horseshoe Bend, as did Sam Houston, wrote that the troops ate potatoes that had been basted in the fat of Red Stick warriors. That battle made Jackson an American hero. Part of the Cherokee logic was that if they adopted the white man’s ways and fought with him, they might be able to survive without being eliminated from their lands, as most other tribes had already suffered. On the way home, the Tennessee volunteers passed through Cherokee lands and ravaged them. When the Cherokee complained, Jackson was furious with them for making the scandal a public matter.
Although the Creek saw the Red Stick War as a civil war among the Creek and not against the U.S., Jackson got himself appointed the treaty commissioner, and forced the Creek to cede the largest single cession the natives of the South ever made: 23 million acres, an area substantially larger than South Carolina. Even land of the white-friendly Creeks, Creeks who had fought with Jackson, was taken from them. Part of the “ceded” land the Creek and Cherokee had shared. Jackson and his friends bought up the choice lands that he forced the Creek and Cherokee to cede. It was an early example of Jackson’s theory of government, where the winner gets the “spoils.” Jackson should not be treated too harshly here; George Washington did virtually the same thing, speculating in lands that his troops violently wrested from the natives. The Cherokee protested Jackson’s claim on the land they shared with the Creek, and Jackson acted typically: he bribed most of the Cherokee chiefs into acquiescence. Where Washington’s plan called for negotiating with tribes individually, to play divide-and-conquer, Jackson introduced a new tactic, breaking up tribal lands into individual plots, then being able to bribe and coerce individual landowners, cutting out the tribes altogether. Bribery and threat of attack were Jackson’s two primary methods of dealing with the Indians, especially when stealing their land, something that Jackson openly admitted, saying that treaties were secured by playing to the Indians’ “avarice or fear.”
Jackson’s tactics were openly fraudulent, and characterized the legal treatment that the U.S. imposed on the natives. During the century that the U.S. entered into treaties with native tribes, a common tactic was getting the chiefs roaring drunk, and when they had sobered up, they realized that somebody got them to “sign” a treaty that ceded their lands. Treaties entered into at gunpoint, outright forgery of a chief’s signature onto treaties (not a difficult task, when a chief did not know how to read or write), straight bribes to a “chief” who was not empowered to negotiate for his tribe – those were typical U.S. tactics. When Major Ridge and another prominent chief discovered what the chiefs had “negotiated” with Jackson, the head chief was stripped of his powers. They protested, but the U.S. Senate ratified the fraudulent treaty. Jackson only got one million of the two million acres that he and his cronies set their sights on. Jackson was not happy. Even back then, Jackson’s goal was the removal of all Indians. He did not believe that any Indian could ever become “civilized,” so removal or extermination was his goal. In that instance, Major Ridge and John Ross successfully lobbied the U.S. government and got the treaty rescinded, for the first time ever.
Jackson became a war hero again when his defense of New Orleans trounced the British a couple of weeks after the War of 1812 had ended. After beating Napoleon, the British came in a little too arrogant, and the militia-types slaughtered them as they marched across an open field, thinking the “rabble” would scatter when seeing lines of marching soldiers coming at them.
The fragments of destroyed Muskogean tribes fled to Florida, amalgamating with the Apalachee remnants, and became the Seminole. On his own initiative, Jackson attacked and took the British fort at Pensacola on the way to New Orleans. He wanted Florida, and was dismayed that he did not get it after the Battle of New Orleans. Not to be thwarted, Jackson invaded Florida in 1818, which was a Spanish possession at the time. John Quincy Adams was James Monroe’s Secretary of State when Jackson invaded Florida. Jackson had no authority to invade Florida as he had. Jackson had committed an unprovoked act of war against Spain, prosecuted with exceptional brutality. Jackson, like Underhill and others before him, cited Old Testament stories to justify his actions, imagining that he was some kind of avenger for Jehovah.
Jackson’s invasion appeared less than godly, and more like a land-grabbing, bloody invasion of conquest, with the invasion’s leader getting rich off the lands he stole. John Quincy Adams stood alone in the Monroe administration, defending Jackson’s invasion, casting blame on the Spanish. Adams performed a remarkable Orwellian somersault, calling Jackson’s invasion, “defensive acts of hostility.” All the surviving ex-presidents approved of Adams’ gymnastics. Adams became the sixth U.S. president, followed by Jackson. Adams was the primary architect of the Monroe Doctrine, and he became president in 1825. Jackson handpicked his successor, Martin Van Buren, who was his Secretary of State and campaign adviser.
Jackson might have died at Horseshoe Bend, if not for the daring efforts of his Cherokee warriors, and Jackson led the swindle of the Cherokee. Today, many Cherokees refuse to use twenty-dollar bills, because Jackson’s face is on them. From Washington’s original subsidy of civilizing them, to the 1830s when Jackson was president, the Cherokee engaged in what may be history’s most astonishing feat of cultural change.
The Cherokee were liberal in adopting people into their tribe, which is partly why they are the largest surviving tribe today. John Ross was only one-eighth Cherokee. There were blond haired and blue-eyed Cherokee. A Western Cherokee, the reclusive Sequoya, performed one of the greatest intellectual feats of all time by creating a Cherokee alphabet. It was easy to learn, and most of the tribe became literate by 1825, with a literacy rate higher than most of the world, even the United States. The Cherokee created a true nation, with a constitution, electing John Ross as its “Principal Chief.” By 1828, they had a national weekly newspaper, published in Cherokee and English. The Cherokee were out-whiting the whites. The Cherokee were more prosperous than the whites in the vicinity, with their groomed lands and society being the envy of its neighbors. They even had African slaves (the Cherokee’s slaves were largely treated better than African slaves of whites). Subsequent events betrayed the racist foundation of the white invasions and exterminations of Native Americans. Gold was found in northern Georgia in 1828 and 1829, creating a gold rush in Cherokee lands, with the white miners flooding in. History has rarely recorded a baser breed of people than gold rush miners, as greed and desperation are their most salient characteristics, whether it was 16th century Spain or 19th century America. The Georgia gold rush foreshadowed the gold rushes that propelled the invasion and “settlement” of whites west of the Mississippi River. With a new lure of greed, the Georgia government then began plotting the Cherokee expulsion in earnest.
Andrew Jackson was the first president to bring the frontier mentality into the White House. His Indian-killing reputation got him elected. While all the previous presidents were dishonest land-grabbers, they at least adopted a “civilized” veneer to their murderous criminality. Jackson often dispensed with even that. Jackson openly bribed people, and adopted the “spoils” system of governance, where party loyalists were appointed to government posts. His reputation was so well known that people stayed at his inauguration until the wee hours, hoping that if they hung around long enough, they might be appointed to government positions. Jackson’s tenure marked the rise of machine politics in America.
When he ascended to the presidency, Jackson soon pressed his “Indian Removal” dreams. After he was elected but before he took office, Jackson wrote to a Georgia Congressman about the Cherokee, “Build a fire under them. When it gets hot enough, they’ll move.” Indian removal was the biggest issue of his presidency. In seven of his eight annual addresses to Congress, he talked about the “Indian Problem.” Jackson pushed through his Indian Removal Act in 1830, which was called at the time the greatest issue ever to come before Congress, except for matters of war. Although Jackson was its architect, he was a master of political doubletalk, and feigned powerlessness when Cherokee delegations called on their “great friend” to aid their plight. A fraudulent subterfuge played out. Native American tribes were always forced to deal with the U.S. government, even though the U.S. never kept up its end of the deal. Now, Jackson played the “states’ rights” card, telling the Cherokee that the U.S. government was powerless in the face of the claims made by Georgia. Jackson pushed through his Indian Removal Act, but when meeting the Cherokee delegates, he wrung his hands in impotence, when faced with Georgia’s might. It was a genocidal con game, and helped lead to the American Civil War.
The Cherokee kept playing in the rigged system, and even won in the U.S. Supreme Court, with Chief Justice Marshall issuing his famous 1832 ruling on Worcester v. Georgia, where he ruled that the federal government had jurisdiction over native lands, not the states. Jackson made the infamous reply to Marshall’s ruling, stating, “John Marshall has made his decision; let him enforce it now if he can.” Beginning in 1836, the civilized tribes were removed from their homes at gunpoint, interned in concentration camps and force-marched several hundred miles (in the winter) to their new “homes” west of the Mississippi, in a dynamic that would foreshadow how the Nazis treated the Jews during the 1940s. That forced removal is known as the Trail of Tears. Jackson left office, in 1837, and his successor, Martin Van Buren, presided over the removal of the Cherokee. White historians and scholars can be counted on to continually underestimate or ignore the body counts caused by their kind. The death toll of the Trail of Tears (including internment, transport and resettlement) used to be estimated at only 15% to 25% of the removed populations, but the most recent and thorough study of the Cherokee removal estimates a 55% mortality rate, a rate that probably roughly applies to the other tribes that were force-marched. The “first lady” of the Cherokee, John Ross’ wife, died on the march.
Major Ridge, who could not be bought when younger, and said he would kill anybody who sold off Cherokee lands, ended up signing the fraudulent “treaty” that led to the Cherokee’s forced removal. The case can be made that Ridge, similar to other Cherokee elders over the generations, was simply succumbing to the inevitable, but when he signed it, he said he was signing his own death warrant. He was right. His cadre relocated with the Western Cherokee before the Trail of Tears, but when Trail of Tears survivors were finally delivered to the Western Cherokee, Ridge died by his own code, being assassinated along with others who had signed away Eastern Cherokee land. The Seminole fought removal, beginning in 1835, and the U.S. waged a war of attrition against them for several years, with the Seminole finally surrendering in 1842.
As with Las Casas and other Spaniards of conscience, there were some American observers whose humanity would not allow them to keep silent. John Burnett was a U.S. soldier who participated in the Trail of Tears, and later wrote,
“School children today do not know that we are living on lands that were taken from a helpless race at the bayonet point to satisfy the white man’s greed…
“I fought through the Civil War and have seen men shot to pieces and slaughtered by thousands, but the Cherokee removal was the cruelest work I ever knew.”
Land grabbing and dispossessing the natives was how America was built, and was the essence of Jackson’s career, but future CIA-asset Arthur Schlesinger won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1945 Age of Jackson, and in it there is no mention of Jackson the land grabber, no mention of the Trail of Tears, no mention of his slave ownership, no mention of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, which made him famous and won him the presidency. That is how a great deal of American “history” has been fabricated, by simply white washing over the greatest feats of the early robber-baron presidents, acting as if they never happened, and winning awards for doing so. Schlesinger is also the most prominent person to fabricate the Camelot image of the Kennedy presidency. The cultural awakening of the 1960s has helped ameliorate such nationalistic revisionism.
While Jackson and friends were securing the South, the Northwest boundary was being expanded. The Fox were nearly exterminated by a French-led alliance in 1730. They barely survived, and lived with the Sac tribe in today’s Illinois and Wisconsin. A century later, after Tecumseh died and settlers began flooding into today’s Midwest, the Sac and Fox chiefs were made drunk and “signed” a “treaty” that ceded their lands east of the Mississippi. They acquiesced to the fraud and tried eking out a life in present-day Iowa, but many starved to death in the winter of 1831-1832, and the Sac chief Black Hawk led about two thousand of his people back to northern Illinois in early 1832 to plant crops, and the whites quickly began organizing a militia against them. When faced with the mounting military effort, Black Hawk tried surrendering, but the militia fired on his people and the “Black Hawk War” thus began. The Sac and Fox peoples then went on a fruitless quest to avoid the white troops, with braves raiding frontier farms and villages as they fled. The Sac and Fox tried to go settle with other tribes that had already been forced west of the Mississippi, but the white army caught them trying to cross the Mississippi in 1833, and even though the natives tried surrendering, the whites engaged in an outright extermination of the Sac and Fox peoples, virtually completing what the French could not accomplish. Two future presidents took part in the Black Hawk War, Zachary Taylor as an officer, and Abraham Lincoln as a foot soldier. Black Hawk was captured and then sent around the United States as an exhibit of a “humbled savage.” After Black Hawk died, his remains were disinterred and put on display as trophies in an Iowa museum, which later burned down. The tiny remnants of the Sac and Fox got a postage-stamp-sized reservation in Iowa, in return for officially “ceding” their last six million acres of land.
The Spanish government allowed Americans to settle in Texas beginning in 1820, and the Mexican government foolishly allowed the practice to continue the next year. The deal was for only American Catholics to settle Texas, but the American whites only pretended to be Catholic. As the fake Catholics flooded in, they quickly wore out their welcome, especially as they brought African slaves with them, and Mexico opposed slavery. The whites began trying to take Texas from Mexico as early as 1826, with its Fredonian Rebellion. The rebellion caused the Mexican government to forbid more white settlement in Texas. Afraid that Mexico would abolish slavery in Texas, the white settlers revolted, and stole Texas from Mexico in 1836.
By 1840, except for tiny Iroquois reservations in New York and the few Seminoles who were holding out in Florida, the Native American was virtually extinct east of the Mississippi. The vast tract of land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River, which the British set aside for native tribes in 1763, was now completely in the hands of white Americans. The tiny remnants of the Eastern Woodlands’ tribes were living largely in today’s Arkansas and Oklahoma, although the trend was forcing all of them into Oklahoma, which was about the most inhospitable land then known and available. Every single American president to 1840 was an unabashed, land-grabbing empire builder. As the “frontier” kept being pushed back, killing Indians was the American way to fame and fortune. During the 19th century, being known as an Indian fighter was the quickest way to garner votes, a trend that would continue after 1840.
In 1840, there were about seventeen million Americans, as compared to less than four million in 1790, when the first U.S. census was taken. The 1840s saw the U.S. in the midst of trends that define its character today. Between Napoleon and World War I, European soil was largely free of warfare. That was partly because the United States acted as a safety valve for poorer Europeans. British subjects and Germans were the most common immigrants, and the Africans who came against their will as slaves. Early industrialization in Europe was a hellish experience, with Britain leading the way. British factories were known as “satanic mills” and dismal British urban life of the late 18th and early 19th century is epitomized by the work of Charles Dickens. His Christmas Carol was published in 1843.
The United States began a rapid industrial development, but Britain’s was even faster. In 1830, the United States’ industrial output per capita was higher than any other nation in Europe, except for Britain, which was nearly twice as high, and was more than three times higher in 1860. The era of the corporation was on the rise. Cornelius Vanderbilt began making his fortune as a war profiteer during the War of 1812, getting the government contract to supply the forts guarding New York Harbor. He quickly built a shipping empire, then began building a railroad empire, and he was worth $20 million when the Civil War broke out, when the robber barons really began their ascent in America. The du Pont commercial empire was begun in 1802, by a pupil of Lavoisier. The du Pont company provided gunpowder during the War of 1812. Warfare and monopolies became the American way to build fortunes, which led to the Gilded Age in the late 19th century.
The Great Potato Famine of the 1840s caused millions of hungry Irish to leave for the New World, and millions of Germans and British also came during those years. Large families and greater life expectancy also contributed greatly to America’s population increase. Slave populations, unless they are worked to death as the Native Americans were, tend to have life expectancies not far removed from the master population, which led to a phenomenon unique to the United States: the ability to breed slaves. By the Civil War, there were about 6 million Africans in the United States, but only about a half million slaves were brought to what became the United States.
By 1870, the U.S. population tripled from its 1830 population, to 39 million. American xenophobia also began during that time. The natives had been exterminated or removed, and African slaves largely accepted their lot, and Anglos dominated, especially in the Eastern Establishment. The immigrants did not get the red carpet treatment, although their horrid living conditions were better than what they left in Europe. American life expectancy was far greater than Europe’s early on, as the whites plundered such a rich continent. The United States became a relief valve for Europe’s huddled masses. By 1900, the United States had 76 million people in it, nearly all of whom were of European extraction, except for the 9 million Africans.
Native Americans were virtually extinct by 1900, as were many of their fellow creatures. The period from 1700 to 1900, when the English/American Empire expanded across North America, is arguably the most single-minded and sustained effort of environmental destruction that any species has ever inflicted upon this planet. John Adams wrote that his family cut down more trees than any other family in America. As one author wrote, the ax was the appropriate symbol of the early American attitude toward nature. North America probably had earth’s greatest store of environmental wealth, and the English and Americans ruthlessly plundered it. Eastern North America had the world’s largest temperate forest, and the old saying that a squirrel could have run from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, without ever touching ground, was not very fanciful. Eastern North America was almost completely deforested by those “pioneers.” The passenger pigeon, which may have flown in the greatest flocks our planet has seen, was on the brink of being driven to extinction in 1840, in capitalistic fashion. Expanding railroads in the 1850s allowed for a short-lived industry of killing the pigeons in the Midwest and transporting them to East Coast markets. Passenger pigeons numbered in the billions, and migrating flocks turned day into night, but by the 1880s their populations had collapsed, and the last passenger pigeon died in captivity in 1914. The woodland bison, which roamed today’s Eastern United States, was rendered extinct by the early 19th century.
The single greatest cause of the explosion of world human population, which began growing with increasing rapidity during the last half of the 1700s, was probably the introduction of New World crops to the rest of humanity. For providing human-digestible calories, New World crops were superior in significant ways. Maize is earth’s hardiest seed crop, and Native Americans developed more than three thousand varieties of it, so it could thrive from northern forest to arid desert, from mountaintop to seashore. Northern China came to subsist on the sweet potato. Ireland, Russia and other harsh climates came to rely on the potato, which provided nearly double the calories of a wheat crop in half the time for less work at cultivation. It was a healthier food than wheat (people can subsist solely on the potato) and was not as subject to the vagaries of weather. The cassava root and maize became the staple of Africa, which led to its population increase that began during the 19th century. When New World crops were introduced to Old World agriculture, famines decreased and populations exploded, in Malthusian fashion. With the introduction of the potato, Ireland grew from 3.2 million in 1754 to 8.2 million in 1845, while an additional 1.75 million migrated to the New World. Today, more than half of the world’s crops are of New World origin.
Native Americans developed more than three thousand varieties of potato, and the white man made fatal errors in adopting New World crops. The Irish came to depend solely on one variety of potato, which made the Irish subsistence crop vulnerable, and in 1845 a blight ripped through not only the Irish mono-crop, but also Europe’s, leading to a famine. The Great Potato Blight and subsequent famine reduced Ireland’s population by more than a million, and initiated another great wave of migration to the New World.
End of Part 2