tv Origins of U.S. Policies Toward Native Americans CSPAN November 27, 2020 4:01pm-4:36pm EST
part of being american, these are your collections. and that's why it's so important for us to keep on becoming more accessible. >> michelle, thank you very much for joining us. . >> thank you for having me. it's been a pleasure. you're watching american history tv all weekend every weekend and on holidays too. only on c-span3. up next in the 1830s under president andrew jackson, the cherokee indians were removed from their lands in the southeastern u.s. in what became known as the trail of tears. their museum and the university of oklahoma center for the study of american indian law and policy co-hosted a symposium of chief justice john marshal and the decisions. kevin butterfield looks at the origins of u.s. policies toward
native americans focusing on the aftermath of the revolutionary war and the initiatives of george washington. mr. butterfield is the executive director for the library at mt. vernon. good morning, everyone. good morning. if you all could take your seats, please. happy leap day. what could be better than a bonus day and some real meaningful history content. it's a double win for me. i love it. i'm thrilled to have you all here to your virginia museum of history and culture. i have the privilege of serving as the president and ceo here and i'm going quickly kick us off as we have an all-star lineup of speakers today for this wonderful collaboration. i will point out, since i see now faces that are not our usuals here at this museum that you are gathered today in the
oldest cultural institution in the commonwealth of virginia. we're older than the smithsonian institution. we're older than half of the states of this country. in fact, in -- this is interesting to consider. with the topic we approach today, our first president of the virginia historical society was in fact chief justice john marshal. he served from 1831 until his death just a few years later. but beyond that, and this is -- happens to us so often as we think about the complex history of virginia, this place, this institution has been witness to much of the history, including much of the history we'll discuss today. so think of that and the magnitude of what has developed here in this special place over the years and what it's been witness to in the historical record. what is also interesting and remarkable is the growth of this
place in that period of time. just over 188 years in business, this has turned into quite an institution, as your state history museum. we have nearly a quarter million square foot of space here in this main facility. within in it, stored one of the largest history collections in the nation. more than 9 million historical artifacts stored here. our partners here under our roof, the department of historic resources, is another 5 million-plus artifacts. you're here in the epicenter of a treasure-trove of physical reminders that tell us ability our long history together. let's get under way. it is really a pleasure to have you all here for the new faces i hope that when you have your lunch break, take a moment and sneak upstairs and see some of the exhibitions. if you're not able to come back and see us again, we would love to have you here. we're thrilled to be partnering with our long time dear friends
from preservation virginia. and the center for the study of american law and policy. we're honored to have such distinguished speakers and is to start us in that introduction, it is my pleasure now to welcome forward the board chair of reservation virginia. thank you all for being here. [ applause ] >> very good leaping morning to all of you. we have a very exciting day and i'm so happy to see all of you here this morning. on behalf of our reservation virginia board of trustees, i welcome you to this symposium that we have been planning for 18 months. and particularly with the dedicated guidance of lindsay robe robertson, ed ayers, chief ken
adams and many others that i see here today. preservation virginia is pleased to be partnering with the virginia museum of history and culture and we thank them for their participation and for hosting all of us here today. we're especially honored by the presence of our participants from the virginia tribal nations as well as representatives of the cherokee nation and the poach creek who are here today. i especially want to thank and acknowledge our symposium sponsors who helped make this possible, the dupont fund, davenport and company. for more than a century now, preservation virginia has been the steward of the john marshal house. we've been caring for the house since 1911 and acquiring furn h furnishings and artifacts that help us intercept the legacy of chief justice john marshal. this is a house where marshal lived for 45 years and provides
insights into his life and work not only as a well known and significant american jurist, but also as a man who was a family man, a husband, a father, an engaged citizen, contributing to the civic life of this city, despite his many absences for his extensive public service. and i would like to say that we're very please. may i even say very proud that this time next year, marshal's only known surviving judicial road will have been restored and returned to be on display at the john marshall house. how did we get to today? why have we developed this program? several years ago at one of our board retreats, chief ken adams challenged us to think about a symposium that would focus on the cases heard before the
marshall court and how those cases defined the idea of sovereignty among the indigenous nations. the chief's ideas seemed relevant in light of the long overdue federal recognition of seven virginia tribes. through our speakers, we're going to dive keep into examining the 19th century circumstances that brought these cases forward to the supreme court as well as the consequences and legacies of those decisions and their continued relevance to all of us today. we hope that your experience at the symposium will also inspire you to learn more about john marshall and that you will be visiting his richmond home, very good timing, it opens for the season next friday, march 6th. so we would like to really begin our proceedings now by introducing our first speaker, kevin butterfield.
kevin butterfield is executive director of the fred w. smith national library for the study of george washington at mt. vernon. and he's a historian of the 18th and 19th centuries in the united states. previously kevin was associate professor of classics and let er letters at oklahoma and he also served there as director of the institute for the american constitutional heritage. one of just a few programs in the united states that offers a certificate in constitutional studies. kevin's book, the making of tuckville's america, law and association in the early united states, received the 2016 william nelson foundation book prize, awarded by the american society for legal history. his fellowship includes an endowment for the humanities as
well as grants to codirect summer institutes on westward expansion and the constitution and the early american republic. kevin received his ba in history from the university of missouri. his masters from the college of welcome and mary here in virginia and, his ph.d. from washington university. i'm very pleased to welcome to the podium dr. kevin butterfield. [ applause ] >> thank you. this is a great privilege and an honor to be here and be part of this historical event. i come here today as a historian, to talk to you about the past, talk to you about the early history of u.s. policy towards native americans and i was thrilled to have a personal connection to help make this possible. it was lindsay robertson, my former colleague and still friend at the university of oklahoma who first reached out to me about this exciting event
and i was excited to do it from the first moment i heard about it. in addition to being a historian, i also come as a representative of the washington library in mt. vernon. the mt. vernon ladies association which rescued mt. vernon from ruin in the 1850s and opened it to the public where it remains open today, 365 days a year, also built a library for the study of the 18th century, for the study of george washington and his world and it's in that context to that i come to you to talk about gentleman washington and to the understanding of the origins of american policies towards native americans in the post revolutionary moments. lindsey and i will take us through time to -- i'll talk more about the 18th, he more about the 19th centuries. as a way to understanding some of the background to the important cases that john marshall presided over in the 1820s and 1830s. i have an opportunity too to
introduce you to this man, if you don't already know him. george washington seen here in his first ever portrait, 1772. painted by charles wilson peel. he's in his uniform that he wore in the 1750s. this is the uniform that he wore as serving as commander in the seven year's war which on this side of the atlanta lasted nine years and was called the french and indian war. it's there that washington made his reputation, he first encountered people of diverse cultures, particularly native ones. it's there also that he developed a westward orientation. for himself and ultimately for his country that would shape his entire world view. there's a long history of colonial history stretching long before washington's birth, of peace and war, the taking of native lands. mt. vernon was built on native lands seized before his birth.
but the opportunity with washington to understand the origins of these policies helps us to see how they come out of the revolutionary war and there are certain continuities but certain things that change. i would like to begin the overview not with that initial contact and not really talking about washington in the period of the seven years war, we're talking about this washington. washington as he's resigning his command and exiting the revolutionary war. this is the beginning of a national story. it is this moment in december of 1783 that washington is thinking he's permanently retiring from public office. but over the course of that year, he devotes a great deal of energy to thinking about the future of the nation. on october 12th, 1783, he writes a pair of letters to french correspondents describing the western lands and his open to
explore the western country, to traverse those lines which have given bounds to a new empire. in 1783 as he's looking towards peace, he's thinking about the rest. he writes to lafayette that same day, he was invited to come to new york and visit the european capitals. washington responds he would rather travel the new american empire. he describes this empire and his hopes to travel from detroit, down the mississippi to witness the bounds of this world. his thoughts were that these lands that were claimed and coming out of the revolutionary war were now going to be sort of imagined to be parts of virginia, parts of north carolina, parts of georgia as they looked westward, even if it was simply conceptual at this point. his idea that these were lands that ought to be plowed by american farmers. many of them veterans of the war that he just presided over. just before the peace is declared he had written about the settlement of revolutionary
war veterans in these lands west of the appalachians. hoping to inducing them to relinquish our territory and to move into the regions of the west. this map, the first to be copyrighted in the united states, has the stars and stripes, the first map that has that represented there, shows the western land claims of these new american states. there were large and powerful indian nations living throughout these regions represented on this map. both sided with the british during the war. they remained openly hostile, suspicious of the americans and under the nation's first constitution, the articles of the constitution, it fell to james dwayne of new york to propose a plan for the future.
what he did was to reach out to two people, a few more, but two that had particular influence, for advice. one of them was this man, major general phillip schuyler. he argued against pushing native people's westward. this would play into british efforts to keep them close to the british and to keep them as close allies as a check on the united states. schuyler he advised that american populations would drift westward anyway. there was no need to take on the cost of war. james dwayne takes this advice. he shares the recommendations. he received some earlier sketchy observation from washington and shares schuyler's notes with washington and washington writes a full and remarkably important set of recommendations in september of 1783. this document from september 7th
is remarkably important and i want to share a few experts from it. to the proper line of conduct coincides precisely with those delivered by general schuyler. to suffer a wide extended country, to be overrun with land jobbers, and scattered settlers is inconsistent with the wisdom and policy or that an enlightened people ought to adopt. two things here to note right away in this letter. it deals with practical concerns. but it deals with philosophical ones and you'll see this come up time and time again in this important letter. he proposed that, quote, the indians should be informed that after a contest of eight years for the somvereignty of this country, greeat britain has seeded this land. george washington advised that
congress should explain to the native peoples, as they engage with them diplomatically, that they were going to pursue a policy of peace and one of peaceful coexistence. he was advising the kinds of language that should be used. he shou the language is telling here. as we persuade ourselves that they're convinced from experience of their error in taking up the hatchet against us and that their true interest and safety must depend upon our friendship as the country is large enough to contain us all and as we're disposed to be kind to them and to partake of their trade. we will from these considerations and from motives of compassion, draw a veil over what is passed and establish a boundary live to restrain our people from hunting or settling. interestingly, washington underlines the word endeavor. it might well be a failed
effort. here washington was thinking practically. even if the echoes of that proclamation line of 1783, the british government had tried and unsuccessfully attempted to enforce. george washington's language shifted from this diplomatic advice, what should be communicated, to that of a policy analyst. and the more i read washington's writings, the more i see that we see him obviously as a man of action. but there's a lot of policy analysis that comes through in his letters. he was more of a planner than i gave him credit for before arriving at mt. vernon a year and a half ago. in this policy analyst mode he says that it is the cheapest as well as the least distressing way of dealing with them, the native peoples, none of who are acquainted with the nature of indian warfare and comparing it with the cost of purchasing the lands will hesitate to
acknowledge. in the closing, washington is emphasizing purchase over war, peace over conflict. and washington reiterated that this policy is humanitarian but congress should think of it as a practical path forward. let me read this part. this is where he closes in his letter to james dwayne. i repeat it, again, and i am in clear -- and i'm clear in any opinion the policy and economy point strongly to the expediency upon being in good terms of the indians and purchasing their lands in preference by driving them by force of arms out of their country. as we have already experienced, it's like driving the wild beasts of the forest which will pursue as soon as the pursuit is at an end. he starts shifting in his language from policy analyst to his thoughts about the nature of the peoples that he's engaging with. it will come up in a moment.
he's saying it's doomed to fail. washington's letter is jarring in its language. but also descriptive of u.s. policy in the early days. the gradual extension of our settlements will cause the savage of the wolf to retire. both being beasts of prey, though they differ in shape. there's nothing to be obtained by an indian war than the soil they live on and this can be had at purchase by less expense. these policy proposals would shape congress's posture for the next few years. congress issued the prok la mate to prohibit the settlement, but it was not entirely successful. and peace was the stated goal. even if the ultimate acquisition of the land was also the goal. that language the savage as the
wonderful that would retire, is something that underlies much of the u.s. policies in the 1780s and the 1790s. ideas that the natural outcome of all of this will be the removal west by almost sort of a natural consequence of u.s. settlement. it would, for instance, they set a policy proposal, shape the efforts and draft the treaty with the cherokee. the goal here was peace but at least on the part of the american commissioners, it was conceived of as temporary in nature that the people would move elsewhere. one thing that's often missed in this period. it how american indian national identity was taking shape at this time. we see native peoples that men like washington imagined would flee as their game disappeared in washington's view.
instead, fighting to hold on to this land. struggling to hold on to this land and to maintain their own identity. as american agents pressured them to adopt new ways of believing, many people who fought for their lands fought to be indian. we see a growing sense of both american and native american identity. when george washington is squwo in as president, we see his policy proposals take greater shape in the federal administration that he oversees for eight years. simultaneously, by the way, with the drafting of the constitution, congress, that is the outgoing confederation congress, passes a northwest ordinance. it created a path forward for the political structures that would overlie the west and what
we see also simultaneous with that is a creation of a political framework, more centralized power in a federal government, and george washington would take these policies emphasizing peace but really ultimately disposition forward. he's sworn in in april of 1789. and the policy proposals that he had laid out in 1783 in pursuit of peace became more, not less, urgent in the early 1790s. an important architect of this was this man, henry knox. the secretary of war. he's a boston book seller with no military experience at the outbreak of the revolution and decides he can read enough books to know what to do and actually does quite a good job. he becomes secretary of war both under the articles of confederation and under president washington. and in july of '87, while washington is koiserred in the
constitutional convention, really emphasizes to washington's earlier point of view in 1783 that wars were just too expensive and difficult to execute and peace was the essential path forward. following the inauguration, knox is asked to stay on as secretary of war and he takes the lead in formulating these policies, ones that would accord well that washington had been espousing for years. in reports to congress in june and july of that first year, 178, he spelled out that justice and expediency did a line here. peace and negotiation should be the best path forward and that ultimately the land would become settled by white settlers all the same. it's a good opportunity to mention something that i know lindsey robertson will explore more fully. that's the indians' legal rights
to these lands. knox said, for instance, the indians possess the right to all of their territory which they have not fairly conveyed. they should not be -- this is a quote, divested thereof but in consequence of open treaties. this was understood to be a right of occupancy, not to the underlying title to the land. but it was a legal right all the same. but all of this was undergirded by something else that knox would write in the summer that after 50 years or so, it is most probably that the indians will by the invariable operation of the causes which have existed in their intercourse with the whites be reduce today a very small number. underlining all of this as a sense of inevitability. the acts of first 1790 and then a number of iterations in the
years to follow. these were regulations concerning the modes of white settlement, the purchase of indian lands, all forms of interaction and trade, individuals or even governments other than the united states federal government, were prohibited from purchasing or laying claim to native lands. called for the licensing of traders, the licker traffic was to be curtailed, crimes committed against indians were to be punished severely. this law is signed by president washington. it's based on earlier policies. but they were never quite sure of the permanence of these policies. they wanted to sort of past them on an ad hoc manner. they were tweaked and passed again in again. following washington's concerns expressed in his annual message to congress which we saul the state of the union where he was worried about crimes committed against native people's,
particularly in the southwest, he actually tells congress that to enforce upon the indians the observe vens of justice, there should be justice referred to them. they were attempting to create a structure for this. an act was passed then, made more permanent under jefferson in around 1802. another continue newty that i want to mention that is useful for understanding the u.s. policies towards native peoples in this early people is seen here. these are examples of continuities from older powers, britain, spain, france all had variations on these. and henry knox encouraged the adoption of this practice, of the circulation of peace medals.
you see george washington in uniform, you see a peace pipe, you see a buried tom ma hoahawk see the plowing of a field, a farmhouse off in the distance. these medals were to be distributed and this is something that was a near constant among american presidents. every president between washington and benjamin harrison would have medals like this with the exception of john adams. these medals were to be distributed and often were worn proudly, worn as emblems of a connection. we see red jacket wearing his presented to him by washington personally in philadelphia in the early 1790s. but all of this talk about is a meanting relationships, having peaceful relations that would move towards the removal of native people's westward, i
don't want to miss the fact that war was in fact also a constant during washington's presidency. a series of struggles in the old northwest and places that became ohio and indiana stretched across much of washington's eight year presidency. the u.s. government suffered significant set backs. the u.s. army suffered what they often call the worst single defeat in their history in 1791 when general arthur sinclair took an army into the ohio territory and more than 1,000 men were lost in open battle with a western confederacy of tribes. it was a quarter of the united states armed forces at the time. with the battle of fallen timbe timbe timbers, things changed and a treaty was negotiated seen here in 1795 in which the united states acquired title to some two-thirds of ohio and even a part of what would become
indiana. the struggles in the northwest made even more apparent a search for solutions in the southwest where tribes owned huge swaths of land that the u.s. government wanted to own. but they had no appetite for extending war into the southwest. there was a strong desire for peace that came from philosophical, as well as expedient ideas. from ordinary settlers, state, federal governments, there was was a stronger desire to settle these lands. throughout this formative period that i've been describing, i'm eager now to watch professor robertson take us into the 19th century, the basic object of u.s. policy toward native americans was really the acquisition of land. other aims, like peace, justice, friendship, education, usually couched under the term
civilization, were less successful, but those were goals nonetheless. washington himself -- for himself, and for his nation could not resist thinking about what these lands offered. in this famous image of washington and his family, his wife and his grandchildren, and of course, his enslaved servant william lee, we get a sense of this. the map, by the way, is not representing native lands. it's representing the new national capital that's being planned, ultimately to be named washington and the district of columbia. but to me, it's the westward view behind them that i think underlies washington's vision of a future of a nation. the westward view down the potomac. for this man who genuinely and widely was held to be the father of his country and for that
nation itself, there was a desire to lay claim to the west, for the nation to grow. the challenge of u.s. policy toward native americans was that this desire could not coexist, at least not well, with the other more hopeful ideas of how the united states and its neighbors might relate to one another. the basic challenge would remain and it would remain perpetual. a rapidly expanding united states population. doubling just about every 20 years throughout the time period that we'll be describing this morning, all the way from washington to lincoln. and that growing population could not resist the allure of what to their eyes were sparsely settled and little used lands. the american indians living on these lands would not and could not see them. but that desire and the desire for peace simply couldn't coexist -- or coexist long.
with the purchase from france of new territories in 1803, the louisiana purchase, the challenges and the possible solutions grew to a grander scale. how best to effect it, was something that was still being contemplated in the same ways that we see in the 1780s and 1790s, through policy proposals and thoughtful analysis of what the future might hold and yet, underlying those sorts of thoughtful and i would say optimistic and hopeful ideas, there were realities, there were truths including the inability to contain them. i'm excited to learn from the other speakers today. our next speaker will be introduced now and he'll tell us what happened in the follow-up of this establishment of a u.s. policy towards native peoples and take us into the john marshall era. thank you. [ applause ]
in you like american history tv, keep up with us during the week on facebook, twitter, and youtube. learn about what happened this day in history and see preview clips of upcoming programs. follow us at c-span history. next, oklahoma university law professor lindsay robertson examines chief justice john marshall and the supreme court's decision in cases involving the cherokee nation. in the 1830s, the cherokee indians were removed from their lands in the southeastern u.s. in what became known as the trail of tears. this talk took place in richmond, virginia, as part of a daylong symposium. >> good morning. it's my great honor to serve as the ceo of preservation virginia and to introduce our next speaker. lindsay robertson is the