Dangers Old and New

Success with Mexico could be rightly touted, yet an old enigma lingered to muffle boasts of “Manifest Destiny.” Years of confrontation, years of conciliation, years of butchery tangled Anglo-Indian relations into a remorseless tragedy. From early days at Jamestown, Indians tried to stop the flood of white invasion with everything from friendship to deception, terror, torture, hostile alliances, and war. In the end, nothing worked, and tribal lands shrank against the spreading stain of conquest.

Tecumseh’s defeat at the Thames in 1813 muffled Indian problems until the Black Hawk War in 1832—an attempt by Sauk leader Black Hawk to move 2,000 of his people across the Mississippi into Illinois. U.S. militia and regulars went against him. This melancholy affair ended with a ruinous militia attack that drove exhausted Sauk survivors to final defeat and to a reservation. As a result, other midwestern tribes also left their homelands and moved west.

In the South various Creek tribes coalesced to stem the flood of white encroachment. Their gathered forces were nearly annihilated in Alabama by Gen. Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in March 1814. Sporadic Cherokee resistance eroded, and in the late 1830s remnants were pushed westward on the shameful Trail of Tears. Florida’s hardy Seminoles waged a series of wars against the whites in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s. Some hung on in the swamps and glades; most, though, were rounded up and moved to reservations somewhere in the dry, inhospitable West.

“Reservation” is a noun with varied definitions, two of which applied aptly to the American Indians: “the act of keeping back, withholding, or setting apart”; “the act of making an exception or qualification.” These places of segregation and deprivation grew increasingly in what would become Oklahoma—supposedly far enough from white settlement to solve the Indian problem. So it seemed at the end of the Mexican War.

Continuing settlement, though, confounded the Indian solution. In 1848 an engulfing human tsunami flooded California. Gold! Where the yellow ore beckoned came good men and bad, artisans, engineers, sailors, rich and poor, harlots and wives in a wash of humanity that banished all conventions in a terrible greed for ground. The immediate victims were the fragmented local Indian tribes—they were pushed aside or slaughtered in various wars. As one historian said, “[I]f EuroAmericans committed genocide anywhere on the continent against Native Ameri

-25-

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How America Goes to War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - The Whiskey Rebellion 1
  • Edging toward Peace 7
  • 2 - Mr. Madison’s War 11
  • Evolution of an Army 17
  • 3 - The War with Mexico 21
  • Dangers Old and New 25
  • 4 - The Civil War 31
  • Last Days of the Old Army 39
  • 5 - The Spanish-American War 43
  • "Go Bind Your Sons to Exile" 47
  • 6 - The Great War 51
  • "In Patience to Abide" 57
  • 7 - The Second World War 63
  • The Truman Doctrine 71
  • 8 - Korea 75
  • "Peace Itself Is War in Masquerade." 83
  • 9 - Vietnam 89
  • "In Our Day Wars Are Not Won by Mere Enthusiasm, but by Technical Superiority." 97
  • 10 - The Cold War 99
  • "What a Beautiful Fix We Are in Now- Peace Has Been Declared." 107
  • 11 - New War, Old Cost 111
  • Insecure Security 119
  • 12 - The Fifth Horseman 127
  • "Ye Shall Hear of Wars and Rumors of Wars." 139
  • Afterword 141
  • Notes 145
  • Further Reading 149
  • Index 151
  • About the Author 157
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