…fated to be overwhelmed by a civilized society

According to their late-eighteenth-century perspective on the future of the nation they were inventing, there could be no remorse over the Indian’s¹ disappearance from the American frontier, the place where, as the historian Frederick Jackson Turner would write from that mythical space in the national consciousness, civilization met savagery. White Americans really were not to blame for the fact that the “Savage as the Wolf” was fated to be overwhelmed by a civilized society of cultivators who claimed a superior sovereignty and rights over the land of hunters and gatherers. The Founding Generation Americanized the Scottish School‘s socioeconomic discourse of human society’s progress as part of a great national mythology. In the language of savagery embedded by the Founders into the United States’ first Indian policy, this great American creation myth tells the story of Indian tribalism’s ultimate doomed fate when confronted by an expansion-minded form of civilization.

Robert A. Williams, Jr., Savage Anxieties: The Invention of Western Civilization, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, p.217

¹: “Indian” is used here to describe Native American and First Nation Peoples from the viewpoint of 18th Century Europeans, and not as a perjorative


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