Attitude Towards Native Americans

Were the policies and actions towards Native Americans justified?

During the 1800’s and the period of Manifest Destiny Americans
sought to move westward to gain a piece of independence, a plot of
land to live on. After the Civil War the migration of Americans
westward grew. For many Americans this was the American Dream. Far
from the cities, where your neighbor couldn’t be seen of heard from
without a half days journey. What most failed to consider is that
whenever we moved anywhere we encroached upon lands already occupied
and sustaining the lives of people who had been there for perhaps
thousands of years. Americans viewed these people, Native Americans,
as a horse might regard a fly… or a scorpion.

The passage below by American author James Fenimore Cooper clearly
depicts American feelings towards Native Americans.

The Last of the

By James Fenimore Cooper

“More than two thousand raving savages
broke from the forest at the signal, and threw themselves across the
fatal plain with instinctive speed. We shall not dwell on the
revolting horrors that succeeded. Death was everywhere, and in his
most terrific and disgusting aspects. Resistance only served to
inflame the murderers, who inflicted their furious blows long after
their victims were beyond the power of their resentment. The flow of
the blood might be likened to the outbreaking of a torrent; and, as
the natives became heated and maddened by the sight, many among them
even kneeled to the earth, and drank freely, exultingly…. of the
crimson tide.”

While many attitudes about native Americans were present, most
viewed them as blood thirsty savages, a depiction which was clearly
untrue. This attitude was driven by an American desire to move
westward and conquer the lands to the west. While Manifest Destiny
was the justification used by many for the removal of native
Americans, it was the Homestead Act of 1862, the issuing of
Land Grants and the California Gold Rush of 1849 that
provided the fuel for the push.

– The Homestead Act promised free land to all settlers
who staked a claim out west.

– The Land Grants were vast tracts of land given to the railroads
so that a trans continental railroad would be built.

– In 1849 hundreds of thousands of speculators rushed west after
gold had been found in California.

Each of these acts sped up what was most likely bound to be an
inevitable process, the removal of native American from their
ancestral lands. The superior technology of the white man who
possessed guns,and railroads made the defeat of the native American