ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Native Americans During The 19th Century

Updated on March 25, 2015

Early raids, during the 17th century, on Indian villages by white, Jamestown settlers was an ominous sign of what was yet to come. The arrival of the Europeans to the New World started an age of exploration as well as subjugation of the natives who populated the continent. Although this mistreatment continued throughout several hundreds of years, it had its greatest impact on the United States during the 19th century. Fresh from its victory against England along with the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, the United States was ready to settle the lands to the west. In this territory, however, lived the surviving tribes of Native Americans. Their life during this time was one of great suffering and injustice. They were forced off the lands which they had lived in for thousands of years. The reason behind this had to do with the political, economical, and cultural situation of the United State at the time.

Henry Knox
Henry Knox
Seminole Indians
Seminole Indians


There was a brief time after the Revolution in which the government of the United States was actually in favor of respecting the territorial boundaries of the Native Americans. According to Howard Zinn in his book, “A People’s History of the United States”, Secretary of War, Henry Knox, agreed that, “The Indians being the prior occupants, possess the right of the soil” (Zinn 126). As people continued moving west, the government came under pressure to open up new lands. It was then that president Jefferson offered the Native Americans two choices: they would either become part of white society or they would migrate west across the Mississippi. They had to give up their lands one way or another. This was more heavily enforced later on with Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Bill which simply stated that Indians, “…shall be free to go or stay as they please” (White 93). Most of the native tribes didn’t want to move so other measures were taken. Military force was used against many tribes like the Creeks, who ended up losing 22 million acres of land and the Seminoles living in Florida which, according to Jacson, “…was a sanctuary for escaped slaves and for marauding Indians” (Zinn 129). Treaties made with the government fooled the Native Americans into giving up their land in exchange for false hopes. While the government had their reasons for Indian removal, so did the people who were looking for wealth.

Tobacco plant.
Tobacco plant.
Cotton plant.
Cotton plant.


The fact that Native Americans lived there didn’t stop the land-hungry whites who were after private property and profit. The removal of the Native Americans was needed for, “…the opening of the vast American lands to agriculture, to commerce, to markets, to money…” (Zinn 126). With the age of industrialization growing rapidly, new land was required for the manufacturing and exporting of goods that would strengthen the country’s economy. Cash crops such as cotton and tobacco produced a lot of money but they also drained the soil of nutrients faster than other crops which meant that new land was needed for planting every few years. The increase in plantations meant an increase in slave labor which at the time was a profitable business. An additional factor to the need for more land was the continued growth of the population which nearly doubled from 5.3 million in 1800 to 9.6 million in 1820. The treatment of the Native Americans during this period of time wasn’t entirely for materialistic reasons but instead had some cultural justification as well.


European settlers always thought of themselves as being racially superior to the “primitive” Native Americans, when in fact they were, in their own way, just as advanced as the Europeans. The Native Americans developed their own form of government, built great civilizations, spoke over 2,000 different dialects, and they considered themselves equal in society; they had practically achieved utopia. Nevertheless, early Puritan settlers still though them to be heathens and savages who needed to be “civilized”. The governor of the Michigan Territory during the 1830s, Lewis Cass, ignorantly claimed that he was an expert on the Indians. In his article in an 1830 edition of “North American Review”, Cass stated that we must not regret “…the progress of civilization and improvement, the triumph of industry and art, by which these regions have been reclaimed, and over which freedom, religion, and science are extending their way” (Zinn 132). Cass wished that it could have been done with a smaller sacrifice when he himself took millions of acres from the Indians. In addition, Andrew Jackson stated that Indian removal would offer advantages to everyone. For white settlers it would disperse the dense population throughout the acquired lands and for Indians it would, “…cause them, gradually, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community” (Zinn 140). White settlers also feared the Native American’s religious ideas which, in the case of the prophet Tenskwatawa spoke “…of the superior virtues of Indian civilization…and the corruption of the white world”.

The treatment of the Native Americans during the 19th century was justified by the actions of the United State government, the growing economy of the nation, and the white people’s opinion about the Indians. As the Native Americans were pushed off their homelands, many put up a resistance. Despite their best efforts they were forced to migrate; the main reason behind it being “human progress”. Over 200 years later, their lands which once consisted of millions of acres have now been reduced to minuscule reservations. One can only wonder if it could have been different, if white settlers and Native Americans could have learned from one another to create a lasting peace between them.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This website did not help me at all. Stop posting usless information of your stupid life and history.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 

      6 years ago from Southern Clime

      Throughout world history mankind has fought others and have taken land, water sources, human beings for slaves, wealth, and other property that they found useful to them. It has continued to this very day.

      It seems that the world has never been big enough for many peoples' desires, so they seek and take by force what they want. Sometimes I wonder if the world's definition of "civilized" is misconstrued.

      This is certainly an interesting hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      so is it judge in your eyes to almost wipe out a whole species for gain of wealth?

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 

      9 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Bob. Precisely my point.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Of course, Zinn and his other Marxian adherents of history, as well as others, never mention that American Indian nations dominated, made war, took other tribe members as slaves, and generally committed the same outrages that they accuse and blame the Europeans for doing. The basic difference was that Native Americans lacked the technology to accomplish their economic domination of other tribes/Indian nations as efficiently as the "White man".

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 

      9 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      It was always the same sadly, when a more militarily powerful grouping came in contact with a less technologically advanced one. We had spanish and aztecs + incas, americans and indians, anglo saxons and celts, english and irish, romans and gauls. The list is almost endless. Such is the way of human history. It is still happening all over the world.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)