The Rise and Fall and Rise of Civilizations: Indian Intellectual Culture during the Removal Era
U.S. Indian policy changed dramatically during the Jacksonian era. Earlier, George Washington’s secretary of war instituted a “civilization policy.” Underwritten by the environmental theory of race—the notion that culture, not biology shaped identity—the policy sought to remake Indians in the image of white Americans, encouraging Christianity, English literacy, economic reform, social change, and more. Ultimately, the federal government sought to use the policy to incorporate Indian nations into the United States and thereby gain their land. Jackson’s removal policy, established in 1830, also targeted Indian land, but its underlying logic and tactics departed sharply from civilization policy. Lewis Cass, later appointed by Jackson to oversee Indian affairs, wrote an influential 1830 essay in the North American Review. How did Cass characterize the civilization policy? How did he justify Indian removal?
Consider how citizens of two different Indian nations, Creeks and Cherokees, responded to the policy shift. What did the authors or petitioners choose to emphasize? How did they critique removal?
The Cherokee Phoenix, a bilingual newspaper established by Cherokees in 1828, advocated for Indian rights. Read the June 17, 1829, issue—particularly the editorial on page 2, middle column under “New Echota.” Though unsigned, it was written by Elias Boudinot (alias Gallegina Uwati), the paper’s editor: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/sn83020874/1829-06-17/ed-1/seq-2/