Daily Class OutlineDaily Class QuestionsDaily Class Web LinksDaily Class Notes

Question for Discussion: What are the major
arguments whites used to justify taking Indian
land and denying Indian rights?

Reading: Loewen, pp. 75-97, 115-121; John Winthrop
letter (web)
; Sullivan "Manifest Desinty" (web);
Benton "The Destiny of the Race (web) ; Anglo-
American values (web)
; Indian Values (web);
Map of Indian America,1600 (web)

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader , Password to read document: cclewis

Video: How the West was Won

Daily Class Web Links

Indians in North America before European Discovery:

Anglo-Europeans Settle Indian America

The First English Colonies in America

Indians and Anglo-Europeans in North

Daily Class Outline

1. Criticizing American History: Are we being Unpatriotic?

" But liberals are out to change all that. They want, above all, to prevent Americans from feeling any sense of righteous fury. How dare we, when we were responsible for slavery, imperialism, racism and an inadequate minimum wage? The liberals have cultural hegemony on their side, but neither logic nor facts....

But others will swallow it whole and emerge from their miseducation as "men without chests," as C.S. Lewis prophesied. They are learning so little about what America has done right in its history, so little about what made generations of our ancestors lay down their lives for this nation; this experiment in ordered liberty. Can most students tutored by the NEA think of a reason Abraham Lincoln would call this "the last best hope of Earth" when we held slaves and mistreated the Indians? We call the passengers on Flight 93 heroes, but do the kids understand why the White House or the Capitol is worth a battle with cutthroats? Do they realize that tolerance is not the only virtue?

The liberal hold on our education system amounts to a kind of moral disarmament of the nation. Before there can be an army, navy and air force capable of protecting us, there must be a citizenry that believes we are worth defending."

Mona Charen, "Moral Disarmament" Aug. 30 '02

Irony: Irony occurs where there is a disjunction
between what we were trying to do and
what we, in fact, achieve. Irony often involves
our unintended creation of the very event or situation we were trying not to create, for
example, during the Cold War we tried to
prevent war by being prepared to "fight
and win" the very war we were trying to

Ironic Understanding of History: involves
recognizing the limits of human power, virtue,
and wisdom and accepting the ironic and even
tragic outcomes of human efforts to exercise
their power, virtue, and wisdom to create a
better world. The folly of these human efforts
often leads to laughter, which, as Niebuhr
argued, "is truly ironic if it symbolizes mercy
as well as judgement" and humility in the
face of human weaknesses.

Reinhold Niebuhr , The Irony of American History

1. What was the Indian population of the Americas
before European settlement?

2. What were the larger goals of European
settlement of America?

3. How did the White Settlers treat the Indians?
Can we explain their behavior based on an
understanding of their cultural values?

4. Why do we celebrate the Pilgrims as the
Founding Americans?

5. Does the popular Pilgrim history, or more
accurately Pilgrim mythology, serve to conceal
the truth about English settlement of America?

Daily Class Questions

1. When was America first settled? Who first settled America?

2. According to Loewen, why were Europeans unable
to "settle" China, India, Indonesia, Japan, or much
of Africa?

3.  According to Loewen: What are current estimates
of the Indian population in the United States and
Canada before contact with Europeans?

4. What was the most important factor that allowed
European settlement of America?

5. Why do textbooks underestimate the size of Indians
populations in America?

6. Why do textbooks and Americans generally
celebrate the Pilgrims as the first settlers of America?

7. What was the major cause of White-Indian warfare
between 1600 and 1900?

8. Why do textbooks minimize White-Indian wars
throughout our early history?

9. What role do Indians play in the early colonial wars
between France, Britain, and Spain?

10. What are the major differences between Indian
and Anglo-European values?

11. Would early American history have been radically
different if the Indians had understood the real
intentions of European settlers?

12. How many names of Indian tribes in America in
1600 did you recognize? How many of these names
are names of states, streets,cities, counties, and
national parks?

Daily Class Notes

"the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions....)...is too evident to leave us in doubt of the manifest design of Providence in regard to the occupation of this continent. "
John Sullivan, "Manifest Destiny" (1845)

"It would seem that the White race alone received the divine command, to subdue and replenish the earth! for it is the only race that has obeyed it-the only one that hunts out new and distant lands, and even a New World, to subdue and replenish.....
Civilization, or extinction, has been the fate of all people who have found themselves in the track of the advancing Whites, and civilization, always the preference of the Whites, has been pressed as an object, while extinction has followed as a consequence of its resistance."
Thomas Hart Benton, "The Destiny of the Race"

The following discussion is taken from--Williams, William Appleman, Empire as a Way of Life, "The Myth of Empty Continents" ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 25-33.

Williams asks how did European settlers in America
justify taking Indian land and displacing Indian
peoples. The two primary explanations involved
religion and race. The Europeans believed that
Christianity was a superior religion, and God was
on their side. In addition, the white European race
was racially and culturally superior to non-white,
Indian and African peoples. Williams notes that
European peoples had developed these arguments
for their superiority during the crusades while fighting
Islamic people for control of Jerusalem and the Holy
Land. The European crusaders saw the Moslems as
infidels, savages, and inferior peoples. The success
of European settlers in America only justified their
belief in their religious and racial superiority. They
believed that God and race were on their side.

Williams makes a rather implausible distinction
between soft and hard imperialists. Soft imperialists,
he argues, respected the Indians but still wanted
to civilize them and bring Christianity to them, f
eeling that once reformed Indians could be a part
of European society. While hard imperialists saw
the Indians as racially inferior and unable to
become a part of their society. I think settlers
held both hard and soft imperialists views at
the same time, depending on whether they were
allies or dependent on the Indians in question.
They reserved hard imperialism, which often
justified genocide, for the Indians who refused
to accept European domination and control.

For Williams, the real question is: What was the
larger goal of European empire and settlement in America? The driving force behind empire is the
need to expand "wealth and liberty" for imperial
peoples. Williams concludes that empire "is the
child of an inability or an unwillingness to live
within one's own means. Empire as a way of life
is predicated upon having more than one
needs." (p. 31)That is, instead of living within
their means using the resources and people of
their own country to create a high quality of life,
imperial peoples insist on exploiting the wealth,
resources, and people of other countries.

The truth about English imperial intentions in
America can be seen in the settlers actions.
The settlers first settled on "the land cleared
and cultivated by the First Americans." (p. 31)
The leader of the Puritan colony, John Winthrop,
justified these actions by lying.   Winthrop
claimed that the Indians "inclosed noe land
neither have any settled habitation." (p. 31)
Williams concludes that "no superior peoples
would weary themselves by clearing the brush
and forests  rifles would drive the First
Americans from land already prepared." (p. 32)

Williams concludes that "the First Americans made
enormous contributions to the way of life developed
by their conquerors. Their concern and generosity
ensured the survival of the first English settlements."
(p. 33) If this is the case, why don't Americans
formally recognize the vital place of Indians in our
history and culture? We could not do so without also
recognizing the reality of empire. English settlers
came to a land already settled and imposed their
way of life and rule upon it.

Loewen, "The Truth about the First Thanksgiving"
(pp. 75-93)

The larger question Loewen poses in this chapter is:
Why do college students believe that the United
States was first settled in 1620 by the Pilgrims,
when this is patently untrue? Loewen argues that
the myth of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrim settlement
enables Americans to forget and deny their real
past, which many Americans would find troubling and

When the first settlers arrived in America they
found thousands and thousands of dead Indians
and abandoned villages. It was precisely in these
cultivated and cleared Indian lands that the
English settled. American Indians had been
decimated by European diseases such as small
pox, flu, and measles. Instead of seeing this as
a tragedy, in part caused by their settlement, the
leaders of English settlements like John Winthrop
argued that God sent a plague to the Indians
in order to clear the land for English settlers. As
a result of the plague of diseases brought by
Europeans, the settlers would face no real active
challenge to their settlement for fifty years.
Historian Karen Kupperman argues that "if
Indian culture had not been devastated by
the physical and psychological assaults it had
suffered, colonization might not have proceeded
at all." (p. 82)

William McNeil argues that the population of the
Americas was 100 million in 1492. While William
Langer argues that Europe had only about 70
million in 1492. (p. 83) Current estimates of the
Indian population in the United States and
Canada range from 10 to 20 million. (p. 85) As a
result of the plague, 90 to 95 percent of Indian
peoples in the America died in the 200 years after
European settlement. Historian Richard White
argues that "this was the greatest human
catastrophe in human history."

Loewen concludes that without the plague
European empires could not have conquered
and settled the Americas. He argues that "the
European advantages in military and social
technology might have enabled them to
dominate the Americas, as they eventually
dominated China, India, Indonesia, and Africa,
but not to "settle" the hemisphere. For that,
the plague was required." ( p. 83) Loewen
argues that America  was "not a virgin
wilderness, but recently widowed." (p. 85)

But this does still not explain why the textbooks
focus on the Pilgrims as the first American settlers.
In fact, the first successful English settlement was
the Jamestown colony in Virginia in 1607. Loewen
argues that the Jamestown settlers do not make
ideal, mythic American settlers. The Jamestown
settlers came to America seeking wealth and
riches, stole from the Indians, enslaved Indians,
killed and abused the Indians. As a result of
their un-American behavior these settlers are
often ignored by history textbooks.

Instead of Jamestown, the textbooks focus on
the Pilgrim settlement in Plymouth. But the account
of the Pilgrims is also sorely lacking. The Pilgrims
settled on Indian land, stole from Indian graves,
and stole supplies from Indian houses. Squanto
helped the settlers survive their first years. According
to William Bradford, the leader of the Plymouth
colony, Squanto was "a special instrument sent
of god for their good beyond their expectation.
He directed them how to set their corn, where to
take fish, and to procure other commodities, and
was also their pilot to bring them to unknown
places for their profit." (p. 92) Like the
Jamestown settlers, profit was the primary reason
most Plymouth settlers came to America.

Loewen argues that Thanksgiving is "the
occasion on which we give thanks to God as
a nation for the blessings that He hath
bestowed upon us." (p. 93) Before the Pilgrims
had left England, the King of England, King
James, gave thanks to "Almighty God in his
great goodness and bounty toward us...for
sending this wonderful plague among the
savages." (p. 86) We celebrate Thanksgiving
as if America was God's gift to us. We ignore
the larger, uglier history, because to face the
truth would be to acknowledge the reality of
empire. English and European settlers came
to America seeking wealth, opportunity, and
freedom which came at the expense of the
cultures and lives of the First Americans,
the Indians.

John Winthrop, "Reasons to be Considered and Objections with Answers" (1629) handout

Winthrop's arguments defending settlement illustrate
the larger reality of empire in English settlement.
Facing critics in England who challenged the English
and Puritans' right to settle in America because
America was already settled and developed by
Indian people, Winthrop lays out the logic of the
American empire.

Winthrop first argues that settlement will "be a service
to the Church of great consequence to carry the
Gospel into those parts of the  world." In addition, due
to the growing problems facing the Church in England
and English society, "God hath provided this place to
be a refuge for many whome he meanes to save out
of the general calamity." Thus, God is leading and
protecting his peoples and guiding them into the
American wilderness.

Winthrop now argues that England is crowded, poor,
dirty, and full of despair and strife. Given this poverty
and desperation, God intended for the English to
settle America. Winthrop argues that God ordered
man to "increase and multiply, an replenish and
subdue" the Earth. God has encouraged the
English to settle "the whole Continent." He now
argues that because the "natives in New England,
they inclose noe Land, neither have any settled
habitation, nor any tame Cattle to improve the
land...so as if we leave them sufficient for their
use, we may lawfully take the rest, there being more
then enough for them and use." Winthrop even
argues that the Indians will have more "benefit,
then all that Land which we have from them" after
the settlers teach them how to use and profit from
the land. In other words, the settlers deserve the l
and in return for their showing the Indians how to
properly use it.

But if the purpose of Puritan settlement is to spread
Christianity and teach the Indians how to farm and
profit from the land, why do they celebrate the fact,
as Winthrop does, that "God hath consumed the
natives with a great Plague in those partes, soe as
there be few inhabitants left"? Winthrop can't have it
both ways, unless, of course, spreading Christianity
and civilization to the Indians are just excuses for
taking Indian land and English profiting from Indian
resources and labor. Winthrop's defense of settlement
thus illustrates both sides of what Williams calls hard
and soft imperialism. English settlers will help
themselves to Indian land in return for bestowing
Christianity and Civilization on them. Those who
refuse these benefits will be treated as enemies,
to be killed, enslaved, or placed on reservations.
And this is, in fact, the larger, real history of
English and later American settlement in America.

What does the map of Indian America in 1600 before
English settlement tell us about the reality of English
empire and settlement? Using the "Anglo-American
and Indian Values" handout, how would Indians
respond to English and American arguments
justifying settlement and empire? Do the
fundamental differences in cultural values make it
impossible for English and Indian peoples to fully
understand each other? What cultural assumptions
do the English use to justify empire? Do you think
if the Indians knew what the English really intended
to do that they would have fought much harder
to protect their culture, land, people, and way of

European Hierarchy of Life European Hierarchy of Civilizations


European Civilization

Angels Asian Civilization
Human Beings Islamic Civilization
Animals Hindu Civilization
Plants Barbarism--Aggressive
Warrior Tribes
Dead Earth Savagery--Small, scattered Bands

* European Culture understands the world and life in
terms of a hierarchy of life--from the Supreme God to
the dead material environment--and a hierarchy of Civilizations--from European Civilization to Savagery

European Racial, Cultural, and Religious Hierarchies:*

Racial Hierarchy Cultural Hierarchy Religious Hierarchy
White Anglo-Saxon English Protestant
French French Catholic
Italian, Spanish, Irish Italian,     Spanish, Irish Jewish
Asian Asian Islamic
American Indian American  Indian American Indian
African African African

*These hierarchies justify European control and domination over other non-European peoples.


© 2002 by Chris H.  Lewis, Ph.D.
Sewall Academic Program; University of Colorado at Boulder
Created 7 August 2002:  Last Modified: 3 Sept. 2002
E-mail: cclewis@spot.colorado.edu
URL:    http://www.colorado.edu/AmStudies/lewis/2010/settling.htm
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