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Adams, Arva Luther; Herziger, Caryl Chandler; Pawlowski, Winifred Anderson (ed.) / A tale of twin cities : or the development of the Fox River Waterway

Herzinger, William F.
Government efforts to "civilize" Indians,   pp. 29-34 ff. PDF (2.1 MB)

Page 29

Government Efforts to "Civilize" Indians
After 1830, a mass emigration to the United States from Europe took place.
Cities in the new nation became overcrowded and slums sprang up. The
Industrial Revolution was gaining momentum on the country's eastern coast.
Investment opportunities were becoming limited and natural resources were less
plentiful. The Northwest Territory had become ripe for Yankee and immigrant
invasion. Water power was unharnessed; the lands were unplowed; the
hardwood forests were virgin; and many natural resources were abundant. The
United States government began to open the territory for settlement in the 1830's
and General Lewis Cass was assigned to survey the Indian lands. In Wisconsin,
the Black Hawk War in 1832 had ended the final threat of further Indian
What to do about the Indians in the Wisconsin Territory remained a major
concern to the United States government. The past one hundred years of fur
trading had made the Indian population heavily dependent on the white man for
his subsistence. The survival skills of his ancestors were being lost and his
movements for hunting and fishing were rapidly becoming restricted. Sizes of the
tribes declined because of European diseases, especially smallpox. Trading
whiskey for furs had turned many of the males to alcoholism. Demoralization and
hopelessness were becoming increasingly evident among Indian people.
Indian matters were left to the Indian Commission of the United States War
Department. The Commission was guided by two policies: to remove the Indian
tribes to the west side of the Mississippi River or to teach them the art of Christian
civilization so that they might become assimilated into the "White Man's Society".
The House Committee on Indian Affairs in 1818 had stated:
Put into the hands of their children the primer and the hoe, and they
will, naturally, in time take hold of the plough and, as their minds
become enlightened and expand, the Bible will be their book, and
they will grow in habits of morality and industry, leave chase to those
whose minds are less cultivated, and become useful members of society.

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