Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics

Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics

David A. Nichols

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 0873518756

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

 “Lincoln and the Indians has stood the test of time and offers this generation of readers a valuable interpretation of the U.S. government’s Indian policies—and sometimes the lack thereof—during the Civil War era. Providing a critical perspective on Lincoln’s role, Nichols sets forth an especially incisive analysis of the trial of participants in the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota and Lincoln’s role in sparing the lives of most of those who were convicted.” 
—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer P rize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“For the Dakota people, the Indian System started with the Doctrine of Discovery and continued  through Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and beyond. The United States was bound to protect the rights of Indian parties. But in the end, the guilty were glorified and the laws for humanity disgraced. This book tells that story, and it should be required reading at all educational institutions.” 
—Sheldon Wolfchild, independent filmmaker, artist, and actor

“Undoubtedly the best book published on Indian affairs in the years of Lincoln’s presidency.” 
American Historical Review

David A. Nichols was vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Southwestern College in Kansas. He is a leading expert on the Eisenhower presidency, and his most recent book is Eisenhower 1956.
















and Sibley had begun to discuss the hangings as soon as it was evident they could win the war. A week before the fighting ended, Pope wrote Sibley, “I altogether approve of executing the Indians who have been concerned in these outrages.” There was a problem, “I don’t know how you can discriminate now between Indians who say they are and have been friendly, and those who have not.” Pope would not bother his conscience too much about that. “I distrust them all,” he said. He thought all should be

American flag—to no avail. Chivington had told his men, “I want no prisoners.” Eyewitnesses reported the slaughter of children, the scalping of women, the butchering of pregnant women, and castrations. The atrocities were, in Agent Colley’s words, “as bad as an Indian ever did to a white man.”34 Chivington and Evans defended their actions. Chivington called his performance “an act of duty to ourselves and civilization.”35 The public did not accept this. Besides the investigations, there was talk

getting rid of a bothersome problem without actually solving it. After the 1862 Indian war, Lincoln demonstrated this in his forgetfulness concerning the Sioux and Winnebagos.36 In this respect, removal performed a similar function as the movement to colonize blacks. Lincoln was a colonizationist. He openly advocated it, obtained appropriations for it, and authorized two abortive experiments in Latin America.37 The subtle link between the colonization movement and removal appears more

removal as a means to protect the Indians. It was racial segregation. It helped ease racial frictions. These all merged, however, into an even more sweeping justification that directly addressed the categorization of the Indian as a “savage.” This great justification was that the Indian had to be removed to make way for the advance of civilization. The Advance of Civilization During the 1860s, civilization was a magic word. It symbolized a dynamic force, moving upward and onward, conquering new

1936–1939. Sheeham, Bernard. Seeds of Extinction. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1973. Smith, Henry Nash. The Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth. Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 1950. Utley, Robert M. Frontiersmen in Blue: The U.S. Army and the Indian. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1967. Whitney, Ellen M., ed. The Black Hawk War, 1831–32. Illinois Historical Collection, 35, 1970. Williams, T. Harry. Lincoln and the Radicals. New York: Alfred A. Knopf,

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