15 November 2012

War of 1812 - Turning Point

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, 1995, Excerpts

The most important cause of the War of 1812 was land – Spanish land [Florida], British land [Canada], but most of all Indian land. The War of 1812 cannot be understood so long as its Indian origin is obscured. Whites along the frontier wanted the war, and along the frontier most of the war was fought, beginning in November 1811 with Harrison’s attack on the Shawnees and allied tribes in Indiana, called the Battle of Tippecanoe. The United States fought five of the seven major land battles of the War of 1812 primarily against the Native Americans. One reason the War of 1812 was so unpopular in New England was that New Englanders saw it as a naked attempt by slave owners to appropriate Indian land.

The result of the War of 1812 was the loss of part of our history. After 1815 Indians could no longer play what sociologists call the role of conflict partner so Americans forgot that Indians had ever been significant in our history. Even terminology changed: until 1815 the word Americans had generally been used to refer to Native Americans; after 1815 it meant European Americans.

From 1815 on, instead of spreading democracy, we exported the ideology of white supremacy. Gradually we sought American hegemony over Mexico, the Philippines, much of the Caribbean basin, and, indirectly, over other nations. Although European nations professed to be shocked by our actions on the western frontier, before long they were emulating us. British exterminated the Tasmanian aborigines; Germany pursued total war against Namibia. Hitler admired our concentration camps for Indians in the west and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination – by starvation and even combat as the model for his extermination of Jews and Gypsies.

In 1823 Chief Justice John Marshall of the United States Supreme Court decreed that Cherokees had certain rights to their land in Georgia by dint of their “occupancy’ but whites had superior rights owing to their “discovery.” How Indians managed to occupy Georgia without having previously discovered it Marshall neglected to explain.

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