United States Manifest Destiny and the Genocide of the American Indian
Manifest Destiny is a phrase used to express the belief that the United States had a mission to expand its borders, thereby spreading its form of democracy and freedom. Originally a political catchphrase of the nineteenth-century, Manifest Destiny eventually became a standard historical term, often used as a synonym for the territorial expansion of the United States across North America towards the Pacific Ocean. The United States government believed that the Native Americans were a problem that was hindering Manifest Destiny from being fulfilled (or at the very least, used the idea of Manifest Destiny to gain land and resources the Indians possessed), and would do everything in their power to exterminate the “Indian Problem.” The U.S. government, along with the majority of the U.S. population, eradicated this problem through lies, forced removal, and murder. This eradication nearly wiped out a race of people, whose only crime was mere existence in a land they had lived on, respected, and cherished for hundreds of years. The U.S. government had three main ways of solving the “Indian Problem”. They would remove them, kill them, or segregate them from the “civilized” white man by placing the Indian on reservations. The Indians soon learned that the U.S. government could not be trusted, and fought fiercely against the harsh injustices that were being administered. Tragically, the Indians would eventually have their spirits broken, living out their meager existence in the terrible homes called reservations.
The U.S. Government sponsored solution to the “Indian Problem” started in the early nineteenth century among the southern states. This area was home to the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations. Eager for land to raise cotton, the southern settlers pressured the U.S. government to acquire Indian Territory. The Seminole nation in Florida, one of the tribes being targeted for removal to areas west of the Mississippi, violently resisted the acquisition. The ensuing war cost the U.S. upwards of twenty million dollars, and ended in the death of fifteen hundred American soldiers. In the end, almost three thousand Seminole had been relocated forcibly across the Mississippi, and countless others killed. This relocation was an idea that had already been proposed by previous U.S. presidents, as George H. Phillips points out in his book, Indians and Indian Agents (1997): “With the end of Seminole resistance, the goal of relocating eastern Indians to the west, suggested by Thomas Jefferson, proposed by James Monroe, and implemented by Andrew Jackson, largely had been achieved.”
This goal of relocation, and the annihilation of Indians that would come along with it for years to...