Tag Archives: Native Americans

Expansion and “Indian Removal”

From the earliest days of the United States, westward moving settlers came into conflict with Native Americans. Government policy was to purchase Native land and, in return, grant tribes land further west, hopefully out of the way of white settlers. This excerpt from President Andrew Jackon’s 1830 State of the Union address is typical of white American attitudes toward Native Americans during  this period.

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Democracy and the Second Party System

Andrew Jackson at the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. His military reputation was just one factor in his popularity.

Andrew Jackson at the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. His military reputation was just one factor in his popularity.

The Rise of Democracy
From the late 1820s to the 1840s, changes to voting regulations throughout the United States increased the number of men able to vote. Almost exclusively, the right to vote was restricted to white males with a relatively small number African-American males being able to vote in states of the northeastern US). Property requirements, however, had largely gone by the wayside during this time and by 1840, more than 90% of white men were eligible to vote.

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Native American Policy in the Indiana Territory

Throughout the 1790s and early 1800s the United States sought to organize territory in the west. Often, this required buying land from Native American tribes who occupied the area. These purchase treaties often took advantage of conflicts between different tribes and, sometimes, were negotiated with tribes that did not have any claims to the land in question.

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The Chesapeake: Class Conflict

 Bacon’s Rebellion, a Virginia uprising led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676, was an example of the growing class divisions in the colonial Chesapeake as well as the continuing conflict between Native American tribes and the Virginians. This document details the rebels’ demands.

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Captivity Narratives: A Window on Native/English Relations

During the late 1600s, there was increasing conflict between the New England colonies and Native American tribes.  Much of this conflict resulted from the New Englanders’ enormous appetite for land and increasing Native desperation to not see their way of life extinguished. The most devastating of these conflicts was Metacom’s War (also known as King Philip’s War).

One example of the evidence we have about life during this time were “captivity narratives.” These were accounts of the kidnapping and eventual ransom of (generally) English women by hostile (to the English) Natives. This excerpt, by Mary Rowlandson of Massachusetts who was a captive during Metacom’s War, is one of the most well-known.

Rowlandson organized her account as a series of “removes”–each discussion one location of her long, mobile captivity.

Note: this is a longer-than-usual excerpt, so allow yourself plenty of time to get through it!
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European/Native Relations: the French

The relationship between the French and the Native American tribes they encountered was a product of the French goals in North America. Unlike the Spanish they did not arrive with large armies or attempt to enslave the Natives. Unlike the English, the French did not attempt to establish large-scale settlements. In many, but not all, cases, the relationship between the French and the Native tribes was based on mutual gain–the French gained access to natural resources such as beaver pelts and the Natives gained access to high quality European goods.

Cultural differences did exist, however, as evidenced by this account from a leader of the Micmac tribe, recorded by a French priest named Chrestian LeClerq.

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