I've always liked the way the US refers to Canada as "our good neighbors to the North".
I was therefore surprised to learn that in 1812 the US started a war of aggression
against Canada. This was in line with its doctrine of "Manifest Destiny" in
which the US thought that it was destined to rule the entire continent of North America.
Although the US outnumbered Canada 15 to 1, the US could make no headway, and
after two years the current border was agreed upon. So, I guess you could say
they are our "good neighbors" just because we tried to beat them into
submission, and failed.
In 1823 the US issued the "Monroe Doctrine" which basically said to
other countries: "Leave us alone! And we'll leave you alone!" It's
too bad the last part of this statement evidently didn't apply to the nations of
indigenous people in the US, or to the people in African countries, or to many
other countries for that matter (as we'll see). The Monroe doctrine in practice
just makes all the more plain the double-standard of "Leave us alone! And
we'll do whatever we like to you!"
Andrew Jackson led his troops against peaceful settlements of indigenous people.
He called these people "savage dogs" and boasted that "I have on
all occasions preserved the scalps of my killed." After killing them, he
mutilated their corpses, cutting off their noses and slicing long strips of flesh
from their bodies which he then made into reigns for his horse.
Jackson advocated the systematic killing of all indigenous people: men, women and
children, in order to complete their extermination.
In 1828 this sick excuse for a human being was elected president!
In 1830, the Indian Removal Act was passed. It mandated that all indigenous
people east of the Mississippi River must move to the area now known as
This resulted in long, grueling, forced marches of men, women, and children
across the plains. Many died along the way.
The Cherokee nation fought for their right to live in their homelands. They did
so peaceably: by taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court. Atypically,
the court decided in their favor in two key cases:
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia (1832), with Justice
John Marshall writing the ruling. According to
the highest court in the land, the Cherokee then had every legal right to stay on
Unfortunately, unlike the real democracy practiced by the indigenous people
(in which everyone got together, figured out the right thing to do, and then did it),
the United States government was a complex republic of "checks and balances".
When Andrew Jackson heard of the ruling, he drily commented: "John Marshall has
made his decision, now let him enforce it." Knowing full well that the court
had no direct means of enforcement. So Jackson just ignored the law and sent federal troops
to forcibly evict the Cherokee and others off their land (albeit now it was
officially illegal to do so).
The Cherokee were removed in 1838 during harsh winter conditions resulting in
significant hardship and loss of life; the Cherokee remember this time as the
"Trail of Tears." Out of 18,000 people who started the journey, 8,000 died
along the way from exposure and starvation. The troops purposely took the people
through areas where it was known that cholera and other epidemics were raging.
They were driven on, barefoot, through freezing rain, mud, and frozen ground.
When they fed them at all it was with rancid meat and spoiled flour.
A Georgia volunteer, who later served in the Confederate army, had this to say
I fought through the Civil War and have seen men shot to pieces and slaughtered
by the thousands, but the Cherokee removal was the cruelest work I ever knew.
What is now Texas was originally part of Mexico. Mexico had encouraged immigration,
and by 1835 over 30,000 white people from the US had settled there (along with
their slaves, of course, to work the land.) Then the settlers decided they wanted
the country for themselves. They drew up a state constitution along US lines, and demanded
separate status from Mexico! Their audacity was incredible: imagine if Russians
moved in next door to you and demanded that the neighborhood henceforth was no longer
part of the US, but Russian country!)
In March of 1836 they occupied the fort at the Alamo in San Antonio. The Mexican
army laid siege to it, and eventually killed 186. Six weeks later, US Troops
attacked the Mexican Army, slaughtering 600 with the cry, "Remember the Alamo!"
And that's how the US stole the area now known as Texas from the country of Mexico.
To this day this deed is recalled with reverence as if the US had done something
Not content with having stolen Texas from Mexico, President Polk tried to buy all
of the land west of Texas to the Pacific coast. (At the time, all of that land was part of Mexico.)
The Mexican Government did not want to sell, so the US declared war on Mexico.
By 1846 the US had defeated Mexico, and then forced them to sell the land.
Now, of course, US citizens make a big fuss about "illegal aliens" sneaking
across the border from Mexico into "our" country in search of work.
But to me this seems a rather backwards way of looking at it:
shouldn't "theft" be illegal rather than the taking back of what was
taken from you?