heathen savages accepted as social equals. The English in particular were contemptuous of them, treating them as lackeys for the fur trade and despising the French and Spanish who took intermarriage and Indian land rights seriously. Smaller tribes on the East.Coast, the first to recognize this, were destroyed and their people enslaved when they tried to drive the English out. Larger tribes on the interior managed (often by playing their own game of divide and survive among the rival empires) to maintain their self-respect and their independence of action, at least up to the time of the American Revolution. But by siding with the British in 1776, all the Indians east of the Mississippi went down to final defeat. They lost their inde- 'See Malone, pp. 60-83. This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Thu, 01 Nov 2018 01:26:04 UTC All use subject to
372 American Quarterly pendence when the white Americans won theirs. Some of the Indian nations, like the Creeks and Seminoles in the Southeast and the Delawares and Shawnees in the Old Northwest, managed to wage destructive wars against the Americans from time to time thereafter, but even these tribes knew that they would never again have total freedom. They were simply fighting to avoid total extermination. The policy which the new American nation adopted to deal with the de- feated Indians after 1790 was based upon the view that the Indians would give up their old way of life and adapt themselves to the ways of the white man.7 Because American intellectuals like Knox, Washington and Jefferson still held the romantic view of the noble savage, they believed that the Indian was potentially, at least, the equal of the white man. The Indian's problem was not that he was innately inferior, but that he was still a savage. He needed only to be civilized and Christianized to become capable of full citizenship and equality in the American Republic. The Indian policy of the age of Washington and Jefferson was directed toward the ultimate amalga- mation, incorporation or integration of the Indians into white America as equals-a form of extinction, no doubt, as Bernard Sheehan has dem- onstrated, but on the surface a benevolent one, at least in theory.8 But there were two fatal flaws in this policy; first, most Indians opposed it, and second, white frontier Americans opposed it. Frontier whites did not hold the same view of the Indian that Eastern intellectuals did. Far from seeing the Indian as a noble savage and potential equal, they saw him as a degraded savage and an encumbrance on coveted land. From 1790 to 1838 there was a fierce struggle in America between the Eastern elite and the Western frontiersmen over what the proper policy toward the Indian should be. The frontier people wanted to exterminate them or drive them out while the Easterners wanted to civilize them. No one asked the Indian what he wanted.
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