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Thomas Jefferson Defines American Indian Policy

In his First Annual Message to Congress, President Thomas Jefferson spelled out the principles that he said would define his Indian policy:

Among our Indian neighbors, also, a spirit of peace and friendship generally prevailing and I am happy to inform you that the continued efforts to introduce among them the implements and the practice of husbandry, and of the household arts, have not been without success; that they are becoming more and more sensible of the superiority of this dependence for clothing and subsistence over the precarious resources of hunting and fishing; and already we are able to announce, that instead of that constant diminution of their numbers, produced by their wars and their wants, some of them begin to experience an increase of population.

What was the goal of Jefferson’s Indian policy?

In an 1803 letter to William Henry Harrison, the governor of Indiana Territory, Jefferson spelled out the objectives of his policy in greater detail:

Read President Thomas Jefferson letter to William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, 1803

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