Critical Thinking Example - The Market Revolution and Jacksonian America

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555 words
Sewanee University of the South
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Critical thinking
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On 8th December 1829, United States President Andrew Jackson delivered a speech to Congress that was the first annual message in his case for the Removal Act. During his administration, one of the cruelest acts ever done on humanity managed to get support through his brilliant rhetorical style. He was able to have his Indian Removal Act pass through and spur Americans into action with the use of carefully chosen words that would unite his audience. For example, Jackson states in the speech that Our conduct toward these people is deeply interesting to our national character. In this statement, he is allowing his listeners to think the people of America have a national character that will enable them treat the Indians accordingly. Clearly, he is applying epidictic rhetoric that is merely persuasive in words but not strong in terms of facts. Another strategy he applies is to draw attention to words such as liberal and just. Here, he is trying to make listeners think that their nation was founded upon these words and thus are the ideal ones to be applied when dealing with the Indians. Also, Jackson uses the phrase consistent with habits of our Government to give listeners false hope of giving Native Americans a human treatment while making them believe that it is what their nation stands for. In addition, President Jackson used the rhetorical style to form two opposite polar sides between the Indians and the American citizens. He uses words such as the feelings of our people and our government with the aim of uniting his audience. However, by doing this, he is actually segregating the Indians as if they are outsiders in the very area they have lived in for centuries.

As Long As Grass Grows or Water Runs is the seventh chapter of the book A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It explores how US President Thomas Jefferson set in motion the great purchase of the Indiana Territory, a move that almost doubled the United States size. He then informed Congress that it would be a good idea to encourage the Indians to stop hunting, to practice farming in small pieces of land, to take part in trade with whites, and to accumulate debts that would force them to repay using large tracts of land. However, President Andrew Jackson had other ideas. For one, he instructed a certain army major to inform the Choctaws and Cherokees that they would be allocated land not within the state of Mississippi. In that area, they would enjoy freedom, with Jackson offering them protection as their white father. He said that the Indians could keep the land as long as grass grows or water runs. All in all, this turned out to be one of the many lies by the US government as the Indians were once again forced to move, and that was not even the last time that they would do it. The chapter highlights the shocking manner in which the Indians were mistreated. Hence, it is not surprising that most of them decided to fight on the British side when the Revolutionary War broke out. To many whites, the Indians were perceived as savages. Thus, lying to them and then confiscating their land did not mean much to the US government and the whites in general.

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