can you do a post on how each of the founding fathers felt about native americans?
I couldn’t find enough information to make a formal presentation- which I initially tried at first (which it took me to long to answer this- I apologize!) But I typed it up instead.
Benjamin Franklin, felt sympathy for the Native Americans. He had acquired this first by publishing treaty accounts, then by taking part in treaty councils. On December 14, 1763, fifty-seven vigilantes from Paxton and Donegal, two frontier towns, rode into Conestoga Manor, an Indian settlement, and killed six of twenty Indians living there. Two weeks later, more than 200 “Paxton Men” (as they were now called) invaded Lancaster, where the remaining fourteen Conestoga Indians had been placed in a workhouse for their own protection. Smashing in the workhouse door as the outnumbered local militia looked on, the Paxton Men killed the rest of the Conestoga band, leaving the bodies in a heap within sight of the places where the Anglo-Iroquois alliance had been cemented less than two decades before. Franklin responded to the massacres with the an enraged piece of writing- A Narrative of the Late Massacres in Lancaster County of a Number of Indians, Friends of this Province, by Persons Unknown. It displayed a degree of entirely humorless anger that Franklin rarely used in his writings.
“But the Wickedness cannot be Covered, the Guilt will lie on the Whole Land, till Justice is done on the Murderers. THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT WILL CRY TO HEAVEN FOR VENGEANCE!”
Franklin went on to defend the Native Americans who were massacred. Franklin continued to develop his philosophy with abundant references to the Indian societies he had observed so closely during his days as envoy to the Six Nations. Franklin’s writings on Native Americans were remarkably free of ethnocentricism, although he often used words such as “savages,” . Franklin’s cultural relativism was perhaps one of the purest expressions of Enlightenment assumptions that stressed racial equality and the universality of moral sense among peoples. His writing seemed like he admired the simple life that the Native Americans lived.
George Washington’s presidency established much of the basis for the federal Native American policies we have today. Like others who were not Native Americans of this era, he viewed them as a vanishing people, or at least a people who at some time in the near future would cease to exist in the United States. Native Americans were to either die out, migrate, or become totally assimilated. Near the beginning of his first term as President, George Washington declared that a just Indian policy was one of his highest priorities, explaining that,
"The Government of the United States are determined that their Administration of Indian Affairs shall be directed entirely by the great principles of Justice and humanity.“
Congress proceeded to approve a treaty with seven northern tribes (the Shawnee, Miami, Ottawa, Chippewa, Iroquois, Sauk, and Fox).
This agreement, however, lacked meaningful protection of tribal land. Members of the northern tribes believed it was necessary to use force to prevent further incursions. Washington’s sent American military response. In 1790 and 1791, Washington dispatched armies to confront native forces, and in both instances the Americans were defeated. Washington sought to provide safe havens for native tribes while also assimilating them into American society.
Washington believed that if they failed to at least make an effort to secure Native American land, their chances of convincing Native Americans to transform their hunting culture to one of farming and herding would be undermined. As the two reluctantly came to recognize, however, it was the settlers pouring into the western frontier that controlled the national agenda regarding Native Americans and their land.
During John Adams’s presidency, in his first annual message to Congress, Adams referred to relationships with the Indians as, “this unpleasant state of things on our western frontier.” Foreign agents, he said, were trying to “alienate the affections of the Indian nations and to excite them to actual hostilities against the United States.”
The same year, the newly formed Tennessee legislature informed Adams that the Cherokee Indians were occupying their territories as “tenants at will,” or at the forbearance of whites. In response, Adams sent a letter to “his beloved chiefs, warriors and children of the Cherokee Nation,” explaining that squatters had gone beyond the boundary established in a 1791 treaty and had protested when the federal government tried to remove them.
In the letter, Adams asked the Cherokee to acknowledge the “sincere friendship of the United States,” but said his “stronger obligations” were to “hear the complaints, and relieve, as far as in my power, the distresses of my white children, citizens of the United States.” The result was the 1798 Treaty of Tellico, in which the Cherokee ceded more of their homelands in eastern Tennessee.
The treaty was the last of four enacted during Adams’ four years in office, from 1797 to 1801. He also oversaw treaties with the Mohawk, Seneca and Oneida, who relinquished all their lands in the state of New York. His first encounter with Native Americans occurred when he was a boy and leaders of the Punkapaug and Neponset tribes called on his father. In a letter penned to a friend, Adams called Natives “blood hounds” who, let loose, could scalp men and butcher women and children. Much like the other founding fathers, Adams held conflicted beliefs about Natives and their role in the nation’s future.
In his inauguration speech, Adams pledged himself to a spirit of “equity and humanity” toward the Indians. He promised to “meliorate their condition by inclining them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them.” But Adams also ignored existing treaties and established the Indiana Territory in 1800.
Thomas Jefferson viewed American Indians or Native Americans as subjects of intellectual curiosity or saw them in political terms as enemies in war or partners in peace. Jefferson’s long public career during a time period allowed him to shape the relations between the United States and the various Native American nations.
“I beleive the Indian then to be in body and mind equal to the whiteman,“
Only their environment needed to be changed to make them fully American in Jefferson’s mind. Even though many American Indians lived in villages and many engaged in agriculture, hunting was often still necessary for subsistence. Jefferson believed that if American Indians were made to adopt European-style agriculture and live in European-style towns and villages, then they would quickly "progress” from “savagery” to “civilization” and eventually be equal, in his mind, to white men.
Thomas Jefferson believed Native American peoples to be a noble race. Nevertheless, Jefferson developed plans for Indian removal to lands West of the Mississippi. Before and during his presidency, Jefferson discussed the need for respect, brotherhood, and trade with the Native Americans. Yet beginning in 1803, Jefferson’s private letters show increasing support for a policy of removal.
Jefferson was fascinated with the Indian culture and language. His home at Monticello was filled with Indian artifacts obtained from the Lewis and Clark expedition. He had compiled a dictionary and assorted grammars of the Indian language. Jefferson refuted these notions in his book, Notes on the State of Virginia, where he defended American Indian and their culture. Andrew Jackson is often credited with initiating Indian Removal. But Jackson was merely legalizing and implementing a plan laid out by Jefferson in a series of letters that began in 1803, although Jefferson did not implement the plan during his own presidency. Jefferson advocated for the militarization of the Western border, along the Mississippi River. He felt that the best way to accomplish this was to flood the area with a large population of white settlements.
In his first Inaugural Address upon assuming office, James Madison stated that the federal government’s duty was to convert the American Indians by the, “participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state.” Like most American leaders at the time, Madison had a paternalistic and discriminatory attitude toward American Natives. He encouraged American Native men to give up hunting and become farmers and supported the conversion of American Natives to a European way of life.
Yet for a president who “pushed hard” for expansion, Madison rarely spoke about Indians. Privately, however, Madison was skeptical of the beliefs behind federal Indian policy, which at that time focused on civilization, or transitioning Indians from their “savage” state to agricultural societies. Madison believed that Indians would resist civilization.
The Hamilton-Oneida Academy in Clinton, New York was created with the idea of educating Indian and white children side by side to build cultural understanding. The charter for the academy was granted in 1793. Hamilton was incorporated as a trustee and a namesake of the school soon after. Hamilton had an equally enlightened opinion of Indians even after some of them, in the pay of the British, threatened to attack the home of his father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, in Albany in 1781 while Hamilton’s pregnant wife was living there. The Native Americans and their fellow British raiders were scared off when one of the Schuyler women bluffed that a group of rebel soldiers was on its way (by the way- it was Margarita “Peggy”).
In spite of their presence in the raiding party, Philip Schuyler negotiated with neighboring tribes to keep them neutral during the war. After the war, when speculators wanted to push Indians out of western New York, Hamilton warned that only friendly relations with the natives would guarantee peace. He also became a trustee of what was later named Hamilton College, a school that accepted Indian students as well as whites.
James Monroe during his presidency recommended that Indians who wanted to own land as individuals should be allowed to do so and should be given a fee simple title to their land. This would, of course, break up the communal land holdings of the tribes and allow lands to be acquired and developed by non-Indians.
In 1824, President James Monroe presented Congress with a plan for “civilizing” Indians by sending them voluntarily west of the Mississippi River.