Colin Barry

Indian Removal Act (CMC, Thursday, Week 3)


The dark side of American capitalism, part 2...
Enduring issues about how you construct a new nation --- clearly, Native Americans have a legitimate claim to the land. Federal seizure of land constitutes grave injustice and violates principles of American revolution.

=> Echoes of Jefferson vs. Hamilton: Is the role of government to facilitate the most economic prosperity for the most people, at any reasonable cost?
=> Popular opinion: heavily in favor of seizure. Can politicians really oppose this? Is this a problem for American representative democracy?
=> Can a group of disparate bronze-age cultures survive as a "state within a state" adjacent to a bustling, expanding mercantile power? This has almost never worked out well --- failure to intervene invites future violence and discord.

=> Similarities to "eminent domain" --- we generally support the right of government to build a highway through private land, regardless of whether property owners want to sell. But Native-American removal isn't really the same: displacing tribes to build farms and towns, not public goods like roads.

=> Backdrop of Manifest Destiny.

=> Northerners generally less sympathetic to Indian Removal Act. But the Mohegan, Narragansett, and Delaware tribes are already extinct by 1830. Would northern states exist without previous injustices visited upon natives who held claim to land?

Few satisfying answers about how capitalist nations can fairly interact with fundamentally non-capitalist societies.