Thomas Jefferson and the Indian Policy

Thomas Jefferson was known as a well-respected man and an overall role model, but some of his policies were controversial. Jefferson was the United State’s first president to introduce the idea of a formal Indian Removal plan. He states that he “felt it [is] my duty to communicate the views which have guided me”(Jefferson, Message) to strongly believe in the Indian policy. Jefferson wrote letters to political leaders revolving around how to acquire Native Americans’ lands in a peaceful manner, not for their own good, but for selfish intentions; he wanted to expand the United States and follow through with westward expansion.

Jefferson had several of motives and reasons for establishing an Indian policy. In the letter to William H. Harrison, Jefferson suggested that if the multiple Native American nations could be encouraged to purchase goods (for example, tobacco, whiskey, hemp, cotton, etc.) on credit, they would likely fall into debt, which “they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands”(Jefferson, Letter to Harrison). This would be beneficial for both nations but mainly furthered white interest in the regions. These trade practices defined the mechanism of Manifest Destiny, a theme which embodied a major role in the Indian policy. This was an attitude that, for a period of time, fueled westward expansion from coast to coast and eventually helped push Indian removal. According to Jefferson, the more land that the United States acquired, the more rich and powerful it would become. Therefore, Jefferson’s mission was to confiscate as much land as he could get his hands on.

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Jefferson’s original course of action was to intimidate Native Americans into giving up their own cultures, religions, and lifestyles for western European culture, Christian religion, and “draw [the indians] to agriculture, to spinning, and weaving”(Jefferson, Letter to Harrison) lifestyle. Jefferson purposed the guidelines to an India…



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