Monday, November 30, 2015

Lewis and Clark Expedition: Respectful or Disrespectful to the Natives

In 1803, Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for 15 million dollars. This caused Jefferson to organize the Corps of Discovery in 1804 which was run by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and was meant to find a water route across the country. The preponderance of evidence suggests that Lewis and Clark were not respectful to the Native Americans they met on their journey because they brought diseases, eventually pushed Native Americans off their lands, and killed some Native American warriors. To begin, in the article by Time Magazine, published in 2002, it states, “Whites brought diseases that killed as many as 90% of some tribes’ members.” This proves that whites brought disease to the Native Americans by showing saying that the diseases killed as many as 90% of some tribe members. This all happened because of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Also, in the article written in 2006 called “Discovering Lewis and Clark” by Teaching Tolerance magazine, a Native American named BlueHorse remarked, "Within 100 years of Lewis and Clark passing through here, every Native nation they encountered was displaced from their traditional lands and put on reservations." The fact that all Natives that were encountered by the expedition were put into reservations indicates that Lewis and Clark were not respectful of the Native Americans. Lastly, in the PBS article named “Blackfeet Indians” that was published in 1997, it claims that, “Lewis and Reuben Field each killed a Blackfeet warrior. The incident marked the first act of bloodshed between the western Indians and representatives of the United States.” This means that during the expedition, Meriwether Lewis and Reuben Field both killed Indians. While it is true that the expedition was nice to some Native tribes such as the Mandans, that does not mean that Lewis and Clark’s interactions with the Natives they encountered should be considered anything but disrespectful because they brought with them diseases, were the main cause for Indians being put on reservations, and ended up actually killing some Indians themselves.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Constitution: Racist or Not

The Constitution, as it was written in 1787, should be considered an anti-slavery document because it did not enforce the law that made escaped slaves be returned, it stopped slavery from spreading throughout the country, and it also made the slave trade stop. Sean Wilentz, a historian from Princeton University, stated, “Yet the clause was a measure of slavery’s defensiveness, prompted by then landmark Northern gradual emancipation laws, and was so passively worded that enforcement was left to nobody.” This proves the Constitution is anti-slavery because the law that pro-slavery delegates made that allowed for escaped slaves to be returned was never followed and was not an enforced law. Next, Wilentz wrote, “James Madison (himself a slaveholder) opposed the ardent pro-slavery delegates and stated that it would be “wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.” The Constitutional Convention not only deliberately excluded the word “slavery,” but it also quashed the pro-slavery effort to make slavery a national institution, and so prevented enshrining the racism that justified slavery.” This shows that the Constitution was anti-slavery because some of the slave owner delegates did not like the idea of a man being thought of as property and also the constitution stopped slavery from being a national institution.” Lastly, Wilentz claimed, “The pro-slavery delegates desperately wanted the Constitution to bar the national government from regulating the Atlantic slave trade...But antislavery Northerners erupted in protest and proposed that the new government have the power not only to regulate the trade but also to abolish it after 1800. The pro-slavery the date extended to 1808…” This proves that the Constitution is anti-slavery because if it was pro slavery, the government would have not made an effort to stop the Atlantic Slave trade. While it is true that the constitution allowed slavery to continue, that does not mean that the Constitution should be considered anything but anti-slavery because it did not enforce the law that made escaped slaves be returned, it stopped slavery from opening out to the whole country, and it also abolished the slave trade.