This Thanksgiving, Give Thanks for American Colonialism
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson had a vision of a peaceful and prosperous future for American Indians. He believed that the blending of settlers and natives would create a harmonious society.
“[I]n truth the ultimate point of rest & happiness for them is to let our settlements and theirs meet and blend together, to intermix and become one people, incorporating themselves with us as citizens of the US,” Jefferson wrote.
Unfortunately, the nineteenth century did not unfold as Jefferson had hoped. U.S. federal agents broke treaties, lied, and made war. The infamous “Trail of Tears” in 1838 marked the end of Jefferson’s vision.
So why should we give thanks for American colonialism? And how can we do so without disregarding the suffering of Native Americans?
The answer to the second question is simple. Giving thanks for American colonialism does not mean ignoring or justifying historical injustices. The atrocities committed by U.S. citizens and their ancestors against Native Americans deserve condemnation.
However, these horrors do not tell the whole story. American colonialism presents a complex narrative that goes beyond a simplistic oppressor-oppressed framework.
Recognizing this complexity allows us to reject the shallow and dishonest Marxist narrative that categorizes all individuals as either oppressors or oppressed.
The very fact that American colonialism is a complex story is reason enough to be grateful. It challenges the binary narrative and opens up space for nuanced understanding.
Moreover, when we delve into the details of this complex story, we find another reason for gratitude. Things could have turned out much worse.
Three significant details highlight this point:
American colonialism, in the context of Thanksgiving, primarily refers to the 13 British mainland North American colonies that eventually formed the United States. It is important to remember that not all European colonizers came from the same places or shared the same ideas and interests. Europeans fought amongst themselves, just as Native Americans fought amongst their tribes.
Depending on the starting point, the English settlers in North America were not initially in a position of strength. Other European powers, such as Spain and France, had a stronger presence. The English colonies emerged as a dominant force through a series of historical events.
The relations between English settlers and Native Americans were diverse and defied a simple oppressor-oppressed narrative. Different tribes had different interactions with the English. Some tribes allied with the settlers, while others resisted. Indians were not a monolithic group, and their actions cannot be generalized.
These examples demonstrate that history is more complex than a binary narrative allows. It prompts us to consider what might have happened if events had unfolded differently.
Would North America have been better off under French, Spanish, or Dutch rule? Given the subsequent history of each nation, it is worth considering whether English and American colonialism had positive outcomes.
This Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for American colonialism. Let us appreciate the complexity of history and reject simplistic narratives. And let us extend gratitude not only to the English settlers but also to the Native American tribes who played a role in shaping the course of events.
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What specific advancements in technology, agriculture, and infrastructure were brought about by American colonialism?
Form of settlement and expansion, led to the formation of the United States as we know it today. Without the efforts of the colonists and pioneers, the country would not have been able to establish its identity, form a government, and develop into a global power.
American colonialism brought about advancements in technology, agriculture, and infrastructure. The settlers introduced new farming techniques, established trade networks, and built roads, bridges, and cities. These developments laid the foundation for the country’s economic growth and prosperity.
American colonialism created a diverse society. As settlers came from various European countries, they brought with them different languages, cultures, and traditions. This diversity has enriched American society and contributed to its vibrant and dynamic nature.
By acknowledging these positive aspects of American colonialism, we can give thanks for the progress and accomplishments that have resulted from it.
However, it is important to emphasize that giving thanks for American colonialism does not imply celebrating or glorifying the suffering and injustices inflicted on Native Americans. Rather, it is about recognizing the complexities of history and appreciating the positive outcomes alongside the negative ones.
Additionally, giving thanks should go hand in hand with a commitment to addressing the consequences of colonialism. This includes acknowledging and reparating the historical injustices, supporting indigenous communities, and advocating for equality and justice for all.
In conclusion, this Thanksgiving, let us not shy away from discussing the complexities of American colonialism. By recognizing the positive aspects and being aware of the negative ones, we can give thanks for the progress and achievements that have resulted, while also working towards a more inclusive and just future.
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