Democracy or Empire?

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Mon Nov 20 08:40:32 MST 2000

Classified Letter of Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison

 The full letter can be found in "Documents of United
 States Indian Policy" 2nd Edition, Expanded, Edited by Francis Paul Prucha,
 University of Nebraska Press, 1996. pp. 22-23.

 "...but this letter being unofficial and private, I may with safety give
 a more extensive view of our policy respecting the Indians, that you may
 better comprehend the parts dealt to you in detail through the official
 channel, and observing the system of which they make a part, conduct
 yourself in unison with it in cases where you are obliged to act without
 instruction...When they withdraw themselves to the culture of a small piece
 of land, they will perceive how useless to them are their extensive
 and will be willing to pare them off from time to time in exchange for
 necessaries for their farms and families. To promote this disposition to
 exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, for necessaries which
 we have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading houses, and be
 glad to see the good and influencial individuals among them run in debt,
 because we observe that when these  debts get beyond what the individuals
 can pay, they become willing to lop them off by cessation of lands...In
 way our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians,
 and they will in time either incorporate with us as citizens of the United
 States, or remove beyond the Mississippi.  The former is certainly the
 termination of their history most happy for themselves; but, in the whole
 course of this, it is essential to cultivate their love. As to their fear,
 we presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible that they
 must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them."

 (Classified letter of President Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison,
 Feb 27, 1803)

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