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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing, 1815-1850
The Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing
Topic: Culture of the Common ManTopic: Cult of DomesticityTopic: ReligionTopic: ExpansionTopic: America in 1850
Topic: Expansion
Overview of Triumph of Nationalism
Resource Menu: Expansion
Text 1. Charles Sellers
Text 2. Hezekiah Niles
Text 3. Elias Boudinot
» Reading Guide
•  Link

Text 4. Lewis Cass
Text 5. James Glover Baldwin
Text 6. George Fitzhugh
Text 7. Henry David Thoreau
Text 8. Harriet Beecher Stowe

RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
3.  Elias Boudinot, "An Address to the Whites," Philadelphia, May 26, 1826

Charles Sellers calls Native Americans "people of the land par excellence," and much of the argument about their place in the expanding American nation revolved around their perception and use of the land. Even though Indians exploited natural resources, they saw the land and the animals and plants it supported as a complex, unified living entity that no human could own or fully control. Whites, on the other hand, typically viewed the natural world as a commodity that was not only meant to be exploited but also bought, sold, owned, and in general ordered through manmade systems of law and government. Elias Boudinot's "Address to the Whites" and Lewis Cass's "Removal of the Indians," which follows, explore, among other topics, the Indians' place in the relationship between westward expansion and the market economy.

Elias Boudinot was born Gallegina Watie in the Cherokee nation in 1802. (He was better known as Buck Watie.) He was educated in mission schools, including the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions school in Cornwall, Connecticut. That experience led him to adopt the name of one of the school's benefactors, Elias Boudinot. In 1826 the General Council of the Cherokee Nation sent him on a tour to raise money for a school and for printing equipment. During that tour he delivered his "Address to the Whites." His success propelled him into the editorship of the Cherokee Phoenix, the first newspaper published by American Indians. In "An Address to the Whites" Boudinot asserts that the efforts to "civilize" the Cherokee are succeeding. Like a good fundraiser he argues that with additional help, i.e., money, they will achieve their goal. Implicit in the concept of civilizing the Indians was their inclusion in the market economy. Boudinot addresses that issue early in his speech and then goes on to discuss civilizing in broader terms and in the process makes a case for placing Indians under federal rather than state control. Should you choose this text, we recommend that you also select Lewis Cass's "Removal of the Indians," for a comparison of the two will generate much profitable discussion. Could be used with students. 7 pages.

Discussion questions
  ·  What rhetorical strategies does Boudinot use to win the sympathy of his audience? What are the broad goals of his speech? ("An Address to the Whites" can be profitably compared with Frederick Douglass's "What to a Slave Is the Fourth of July?,"available in the "America in 1850" section of this toolbox.)
  ·  What images of the Indian does Boudinot present?
  ·  How does Boudinot characterize the Cherokee's use of the land?
  ·  Compare the way Boudinot describes the Indian response to the demise of game to the way Cass describes it.
  ·  What does Boudinot hope to prove through the statistics he presents?
  ·  To what extent does Boudinot agree with Lewis Cass? To what extent does he disagree?
  ·  According to Boudinot, what role can the Indians play in extending American civilization westward?

Reading highlights
  ·  Note his rhetorical use of religion.
  ·  Note how he relates the fate of the Cherokees to that of other tribes.

» Link

Topic Framing Questions
  •  How did the various people living in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century respond to the emergence of a national market economy?

Toolbox: The Triumph of Nationalism / The House Dividing
Common Man | Cult of Domesticity | Religion | Expansion | America in 1850

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