Performing Archive

In the Words of His Peers

Ulia Gosart, Independent scholar

John James Marshall (1755 – 1835), fourth Chief Justice of the United States:

“…Though the Indians are acknowledged to have an unquestionable…right to the lands they occupy until that right shall be extinguished by a voluntary cession to our Government, yet it may well be doubted whether those tribes which reside within the acknowledged boundaries of the United States can, with strict accuracy, be denominated foreign nations. They may…be denominated domestic dependent nations. They occupy territory to which we assert a title independent of their will, which must take effect in point of possession when their right of possession ceases. Meanwhile, they are in a state of pupilage. Their relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian. They look to our Government for protection rely upon its kindness and its power; appeal to it for relief to their wants; and address the President as their great father. They and their country are considered by foreign nations as well as by ourselves as being so completely under the sovereignty and dominion of the United States that any attempt to acquire their lands, or to form a political connection with them, would be considered by all as an invasion of our territory and an act of hostility.” (Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia, 1831). 

Roger B. Taney, (1777- 1864), fifth Chief Justice of the United States:

“The native tribes who were found on this continent at the time of its discovery have never been acknowledged or treated as independent nations… On the contrary, the whole continent was divided and parceled out, and granted by the Governments of Europe as if it had been vacant and unoccupied land, and the Indians continually held to be, and treated as subject to their dominion and control. It would be useless at this day to inquire whether the principle thus adopted is just or not.. It is due to the United States, however, to say that while they have maintained the doctrines on this subject which had been previously established by other nations.. from the very moment when the General Government came into existence to this time, it has exercised its power over this unfortunate race in the spirit of humanity and justice, and has endeavored by every means in its power to enlighten their minds and increase their comforts, and to save them if possible from the consequences of their own vices.”  (United States v. Rogers, 1846). 

Walt Whitman (1819-1892), American poet:

…From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental blood intervein'd;
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern, Pioneers! O pioneers!

O resistless, restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult—I am rapt with love for all, Pioneers! O pioneers!
(from Pioneers! O Pioneer! published in Leaves of Grass (1900). 

 Theodore Roosevelt (1858 –1919); 26th president of the U.S.:

“In the West Indies and the Philippines alike we are confronted by most difficult problems. It is cowardly to shrink from solving them in the proper way; for solved they must be, if not by us, then by some stronger and more manful race…. The twentieth century looms before us big with the fate of many nations. If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world.” (The Strenuous Life, 1899). 

John W. Daniel (1842-1910), Senator of Virginia:

“There is one thing that neither time nor education can change. You can change the leopard’s spots, but you will never change the different qualities of the races which God has created in order that they may fulfill separate and distinct missions in the cultivation and civilizations of the world. The Indian of one hundred and twenty-five years ago is the Indian of to-day - ameliorated, to a certain extent civilized, and yet the wisdom of our forefathers, when, in the Constitution, they set them apart as one people, separate and distinct from the great dominant race which had come to take this land and to inhabit it, is indicated in what we are still doing and must forever do with them so long as they maintain their tribal relations and so long as they are Indians. Racial differences, differences of religion, differences in mode of thought, differences in psychology, the subtle analyses of man have put them asunder.” (The Effect of Annexation of the Philippines on American Labor, 1899). 

Alpheus Snow (1859-1920), American legal scholar: 

“It is only when the problem of the contact between civilized and uncivilized races is considered as distinct from its relation to any one civilized state, and as a matter of common interest to all civilized states that the word "aborigines" is coming into general use. As a Latin word it fits into all languages. The Englishman, accustomed to the word "natives," the American thinking in terms of "Indians," the Frenchman using invariably the term indigenes, and the German employing the word eingeborenen..”  (The Question of Aborigines in the Law and Practice of Nations, written upon the request of the U.S. Department of State, 1921) 

New Standard Dictionary (ed. of 1913): “Aboriginalism - The doctrine that savage races may be civilized, and hence should be respected.” 

Charles Darwin (1809-1882), English naturalist:

“At some future period, not very distant if measured by centuries, the civilized races of men will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.” (The Descent of Man, 1871).

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), American industrialist, philanthropist:

“Man was not created with an instinct for his own degradation, but from the lower he had risen to the higher forms. Nor is there any conceivable end to his march to perfection…Humanity is an organism, inherently rejecting all that is deleterious, that is, wrong..” (The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and The Gospel of Wealth, 1889). 

Covenant of the League of Nations (1919-1946), an intergovernmental organization, a predecessor of the United Nations:

“To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.. The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.” (Covenant of the League of Nations Art. 22, 1919).

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