Soul Care–On United States History

  For my own mental and spiritual health I will in the future have a moment of contrition every time I touch a $20 bill, which carries the image and inscription of the homicidal and genocidal Andrew Jackson, the 7th and most popular to that date president of the United States.

Jackson, who rose to fame and power by terrorist attacks on America’s indigenous inhabitants, said to the few survivors, after decimating the Muskogee (Creek) Nation in Alabama territory, 1814: “We bleed our enemies in such cases to give them their senses.” (p. 100, AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, 2014.)

As a spiritual discipline in this COVID-19 time I am trying to learn American history, because I believe that we can know neither where we are or where we are going if we do not know where we have come from.

About the book I am now reading, Robin D. G. Kelley said, “This may well be the most important US history book you will read in your lifetime.”  At 78 I think it is time for me to be reading the most important US history book.

There are facts in USA history which need to replace self-congratulatory myths and cover-ups if we are to think honestly about who we have been and are.  This paragraph from AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is the first of a few thoughts I will share from this history published in 2014. 

Neither superior technology nor an overwhelming number of settlers made up the mainspring of the birth of the United States or the spread of its power over the entire world.  Rather, the chief cause was the colonialist settler-state’s willingness to eliminate whole civilizations of people in order to possess their land.  This trend of extermination became common in the twentieth century as the United States seized military and economic control of the world, capping five hundred years of European colonialism and imperialism.  The canny Prussian Otto von Bismarck, founder and first chancellor (1874-90) of the German empire, was prescient in observing, ’The colonization of North America has been the decisive fact of the modern world.”  Jefferson was its architect.  Andrew Jackson was the implementer of the final solution for the Indigenous peoples east of the Mississippi.”  (p. 96). 

John K. Stoner