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Lecture 8

ANT 2000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Samuel Wharton, Louis Agassiz, Indian Removal Act

Course Code
ANT 2000
Elyse Anderson

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Race & Racism (Video = “Race: The Power of An Illusion”)
TJ = Thomas Jefferson
NA = Native American
Race = isn’t about the way you look; it’s about people assigning a meaning to the way you look
People should realize race is a socially constructed idea, not an inherent fact of science
TJ helped write the Declaration of Independence, yet he owned slaves himself
Argued that TJ was the first person to define/give a theory about race
How could TJ possibly own slaves himself and still talk about freedom for everyone?
TJ’s idea of race evolved with the new concept of the need for physical labor = started to include
not just color but wealth and religion, too (social class/power was changed to reflect these new
opinions; almost always the African-Americans were the lowest class no matter what)
Very gradual process though
Basically Africa = ideal labor source because could always just get more, also already knew how
to grow rice and tobacco, also couldn’t blend into society like Native Americans
White people are not going to be complicit with the system unless they benefited somehow; in
this case, prestige and status
Gave idea that black = automatically associated with Africa; then became normal to assume a
person’s color automatically meant a certain status or power, part of the problem because
became too normal
Native Americans (interestingly enough) were considered closer to white people than Africans
because they maintained their independence and freedom; TJ especially thought that they
weren’t equivalent to whites but they had potential to be so
TJ himself didn’t have much interaction with the natives though; so he was just ruminating
Thought best method to get along with Native American neighbors and eventually acquire their
land = to “civilize” them by steadily integrating European culture into their lifestyles
TJ believed it seems that Native Americans could definitely assimilate into white culture while
Africans definitely could not
TJ calls on science to specifically ask how/why science makes blacks inferior to whites
Science and slavery would help propel thoughts on ideas of black people (what happened as time
went on and America developed); inevitably Native Americans got involved, too, in this analysis
because of their lands
As LA Purchase occurred, plenty of good land was still owned/used by Native Americans (land for
crops like tobacco, cotton, etc.); so basically NAs were constantly under pressure to give up that
(1818???) Native Americans had sold around 90% of the land they had owned covering the
Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama
NAs switched from hunter/gathering to farming; also taught Christianity to their young in schools
run by monks
Georgia promised in 1802 to complete Georgia by taking it from the NAs; 25 years later,
Cherokees were still really/even more entrenched in the land
People were determined to get the NAs out of GA
Basically happened on Andrew Jackson’s running platform of “providing opportunities for the
common man” which meant the NAs would be evicted pretty soon/immediately
(1830) Indian Removal Act passed; basically legalized the removal of the Indians from their lands
(1838) US Army forced Cherokees to leave their homes at gunpoint; ¼ died in camps in process
of moving out; became known as “The Trail of Tears”; tens of thousands relocated
During/after the Mexican-American War, Mexicans were deemed inferior, too, like NAs; another
case of looking down on someone else
(1848) Mexican-American War ended and America gained 1/3 of Mexico’s lands
Again, people became highly interested in proving scientifically the ideas of race
(1840s) abolitionism grew in strength because of question of annexing more land in the west
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