Films of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
“Make His Paths Straight”: Removing the Indian Obstacle to US Expansion: Jordan Jennings
The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward, and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the US, to send them to a land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual.
—Andrew Jackson, “Second Annual Message to Congress,” 6 December 1830
With the simplistic paternalism that was a hallmark of his presidency, Andrew Jackson summarized what would later become one of the most lamented, enduring, and complex policies in US history. The picture painted by Jackson, and accepted by most,1 was a white society whose industrious nature made its expansion both inevitable and necessary; by contrast, Jackson classified the indigenous peoples of America in a single bloc without regard for cultural differences between the tribes. As if this blanket generalization were not dehumanizing enough, he utilized the symbol of the savage hunter to paint them as uncivilized and uninteresting people, yet not so thoroughly base as to be beyond pity and the protection of the federal government. In this regard, Jackson both shared and pandered to the prevailing sentiments among many settlers that North...
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