Drawing on four decades of New York Times editorials, Robert Hays demonstrates the magnitude of the conflict between Native American and white European cultures as settlers and adventurers spread rapidly across the continent in the post–Civil War period.
From 1860 through 1900, the Times published nearly a thousand editorials on what was commonly called “the Indian problem.” Selecting some of the best of these editorials, Hays gives readers what current accounts cannot: contemporary writers’ perspectives on the public images of Native Americans and their place in a nation bent on expansion. Some editorials express the unbridled bitterness and raw ambition of a nation immersed in an agenda of conquest, while others resonate with the struggle to find a common ground. Still others evince an attitude of respect, which set the tone for reconciling national ambition with natural rights. American history demonstrates time and again the price of Manifest Destiny.
Many of the issues confronting nineteenth-century Native Americans remain alive today: unemployment, infant mortality, suicide, crime, alcoholism, and poverty. In presenting the authentic and urgent voices of a national newspaper’s daily record, Hays illuminates the roots of our current challenges.