“Ultimately, for Jefferson, it made no difference whether Indians were removed to the Rocky Mountains, ‘extirpated from the earth,’ or allowed to remain in the United States. Indians as Indians could not be tolerated in the republican civilization the American Revolution had created. The new nation must have a ‘homogeneous’ population. ” After the American Revolution, the newly formed United States of America refocused their attention from deciding on what kind of society they wanted, to how they were going to get this society.
Thomas Jefferson was the mastermind behind the raptors of a republican society, a society rooted in a civilization made up of people that were homogeneous and virtuous, centered on pure morality. However, now that America was a multiracial society, with the presence of Blacks and Native Americans, a new conflict arose. How could Americans produce a homogeneous population despite the existence of “non-Americans”? Jefferson had a complex relationship with the Indians and believed that a homogeneous population would only be attainable by fully changing the ways of Native American life.
Although Jefferson had notable seasons for his opposition of Indians, he failed to recognize that his goals were far too unrealistic and the problem of obtaining a pure republican society would not be hindered by the presence of Indians, but rather, hindered by the American people themselves. Jefferson was a strong advocate for removing the Indians from their natural habitat, whether it was by exterminating them, shipping them somewhere else, or striping them of their culture and forcing them to become “White. There were many proponents for this idea and had convincing reasons as to why Native Americans were unfit for American society. The main supporting argument was that Native Americans were too deficient as human beings to function in society. Their undeveloped intelligence, uncleanness, and lack of self-control were all seen as hindrances in transforming them away from savagery and towards an urban civilization lifestyle through agriculture and commerce.
A people so reliant on their environment, where it was the norm to wear animal skin and hunt for food that was eaten by their hands, were being forced to adapt to the Americans’ way of living, where it meant raising domestic animals, wearing cloth and adapting to manufacturing processes and houses. Assimilating them would be a difficult task because although Jefferson wanted them to “amputate their way of life” and adopt the expansion of white agrarian society, Native Americans were children of nature and would not easily be changed (Attack 60).
Jefferson fault lay in his belief that Native Americans living in the uncultivated wilderness would leave their identity, culture, and land so readily, Just so that they could help Americans expand civilization, without any worthy compensation in return. Another reason supporting he removal of Indians was their intelligence. An important criterion for a republican society was having the same language. The lack of communication between Indians and Americans was Justified by the belief that the Indians were too dumb to converse, making them a liability in creating an educationally rich society.
However, this was where Jefferson complex feelings for Native Americans came in. He believed that the only thing that made an “Indian ‘equal’ or potentially so was his intelligence” (Attack 58). He believed that unlike Blacks, Indians could be educated enough so that they could live among whites. In his mind, “they had the intelligence capable of development which would enable them to carry out the commands of their moral sense” (Attack 58). This high expectation of Indians was impractical because Jefferson never asked the Indians if they would be willing to learn English.
In fact, Jefferson never asked the Indians if they would be willing to assimilate in the first place. Although the United States had an upper hand in this matter, and could result to force to get what they wanted, it is ridiculous that they never gave the Indians an option that had more benefits than losses. A mistake during this attempt to create a republican society was failing to communicate with the Indians directly. Yes, there was trade between the two groups and alliances during the war; however, a civil and proper discussion about the issues at hand was not made.
The constant struggle the Native Americans had with staying true to their own culture and keeping their own language, while being bombarded by American culture brought tension between the Indians and white civilization, making it exceedingly difficult to integrate hem amongst the Whites. While the struggle between assimilating and exterminating Native Americans from civilization was occurring, Jefferson was also debating on what was needed to support his republican ideology. He grounded this idea on civic virtue, also known as republican virtue.
This was the hope that citizens would act responsibly, be sober- minded and morally right, behaving virtuously, honorably, and purely. The democracy struggled with this goal because it was a long tug-of-war between the belief that the people themselves should be responsible for their own lives and the belief that the overspent should step in and bring in laws. This brought up the conflict of maximizing liberty while still maintaining some type of order and control. While this push and pull was occurring, America was also focused on creating a homogeneous population.
The word “homogeneous” was used often while the government was exploring what they wanted in a society. Homogeneous meaner “composed of parts or elements that are all of the same kind” or “have the same kind or nature” (dictionary. Com). In other words, Jefferson wanted a society where everyone would be equal, unchanging, and essentially, all the same. If the United States was a Utopian society, where everything was perfect socially, politically, and morally, a homogeneous population would definitely be possible; however, the people did not realize that being identical would never be possible, even without the presence of Indians.
The first thing Jefferson wanted in a citizen was the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. This would be easier said than done. Having a moral sense was what he thought “something man felt within him… In short, his conscience” and that this moral perfection was something attainable by all whites (Attack 37). Did he also insider all the temptations that came with this world, including women, alcohol, gambling, and pure lust for luxury? Did he really think that all men could be perfect? Yes, he did. Although having some predispositions, he still maintained faith in his people.
He strongly trusted that all men and a conscience and would use it wisely. This was faulty on his part because even though he knew his men could be morally grounded, he didn’t contemplate the possibility that not all men were as righteous as Jefferson himself, and may not be able to realize what is right from wrong, and possibly not even care if their actions were immoral. Failing to keep tabs on his own people, he incorrectly focused his attention on making sure the Indians would be able to gain a moral sense. Now that the need for luxury was slowly growing, Jefferson urged everyone to be industrious and active.
If a man was busy and preoccupied by responsibilities, Jefferson believed that this would distract him from losing focus. He believed that through proper education and training to “restrain vigilantly their passions,” order would be maintained (Attack 39). The main threat he found to be disastrous was women. The female power on men was too strong, but Jefferson emphasized that the “passions had to be governed” (Attack 40). One faulty thing he did here was not taking enough action. He solely told Americans what to do, having trust in them that they would oblige. Just by saying “hey, don’t get tempted by the ladies! Or “no drinking on Sundays! ” was not enough to secure order and restrain on his men. Jefferson did not ensure that the Americans were educated and could maintain control over their own actions, but rather focused more specifically on how he would educate the Native Americans. Another quality Jefferson needed in order to create a republic was an agrarian ultra, where ownership of property would provide stability in American homes and further develop civilization. Private property and laboring on land would create a self-governing and self-disciplined people, Jefferson believed.
However, he forgot to consider the possibility that not all men could maintain their own property or the fact that some could not even obtain their own property. Jefferson had high expectations for his people, but did not take into consideration the different type of men in his society, some that might not be interested in supporting this law and order system e was attempting to create. This homogeneous population that Jefferson dreamt about would only be attainable if everyone was converted into “Lockers or what Dry. Rush called ‘republican machines” (Attack 39).
Peace would only exist in this ideal republic if every single person came to a consensus on the rules, values and interests of the country and in order to lay a solid foundation. The main flaw in his plan was the fact that he did not take into account the diversity of society. Because there were three succinct groups of people ?Whites, Blacks, and Native Americans?he used skin color as the primary ND only division between people. He did not believe in diversity, and rather found it as a threat to a republican society.
Little did he know that homogeneity was unreachable because although Whites were all the same color, they were all individual. Diversity should have been seen as a strength, and homogeneity as a weakness. Forcing Americans into a single mold would be ineffective and would only deprive each American from his or her own identity and require them to settle and tolerate the governmental rules. Every white had his own opinions and views of the overspent, preventing the creation of Jefferson ideal “White America. Although faulty in his thinking, Jefferson had a strong and respectable goal, in eliminating injustice in society and giving power back to the people, rather than the government. Fearing tyranny, en wanted to maximize individual libel w e Alexander Hamilton wanted to have a greater federal power and restrict some liberties. Blacks and Indians were seen as hindrances in creating an equal population and a threat to the formation of a republic, but many people forgot to also focus on themselves, and see how they could change before changing others.
Self- intro and rational command were definitely attainable in everyone, but not concretely possible. Homogeneity would only strip away the individual importance of each citizen and give no unique value to him. Jefferson wanted a perfect society, centered on the rule of reason and absence of enemies that would prevent this. Instead of focusing on outsiders, he should have realized that the transformation into a republic was for the people, led by the people, and therefore, should have started within the people. Sources Attack, Ronald T. Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th-Century America. New York: oxford up, 1990. Print.