The native American is in some respects a proud and a sensitive being, and is not wanting in reflective powers. When brought in contact with civilization, he recognizes his inferiority, and appreciates his inability ever to overcome it. He feels that he cannot live with the stranger, except as an inferior, and, inspired by his native pride, he would rather cease to be than to do this. He appreciates his inevitable doom. He ceases to hope, and then comes despair, which contributes more than all else to hasten the result which he foresees. While all have seen from the beginning that the aborigines melt away and die out before the advance of civilization, in spite of the most humane efforts to produce a different result, we may not have appreciated all the causes which have contributed to this end. Those which have been the most readily understood, because the most patent are the vices and diseases and poisonous drinks which the white race has introduced among them from the very first. If these were the only causes we might deem it possible, by municipal regulations, to remove them. While this would be a great boon which civilization undoubtedly owes to the original owners of the soil where we are so rapidly expanding into a great nation. I am satisfied it would not secure the great end which philanthropy must most ardently desire.... (25)

Perhaps the truest and the best justification which we can plead for insisting upon taking the land of the aborigines whenever we wish them, using no more force than is necessary to accomplish what we deem necessary--whether the owner is willing to sell them or not--is that a few useless savages, who can do no good for the world at large, and little good even for themselves, must not stand in the way of the march of civilization; that God made the earth and all that is upon it for His own honor and glory, and that both they and we are but tenants at His will; and that it is His undoubted right, whenever in His good pleasure He sees fit, to eject those who in His estimation do Him no honor, and replace them by those who may contribute more to His glory, and that thus He is working out His great scheme conceived from the beginning of all time. I say, if we can but thus console ourselves that in what, to the superficial observer seems to be spoliations of the weak by the strong, we are but instruments in the hands of the Almighty to work out His great purposes and to execute His solemn decrees, then, indeed, we may feel that we have washed our hands in innocency. (29)

The finger of fate seems to be pointed alike at the most civilized and the most savage. Final extinction is the end of the way down which all are swiftly rushing, and it would seem almost practicable to calculate with mathematical certainty, the day when they will live only in memory and in history. (31)

The Last of the Illinois and a Sketch of the Pottawatomies (1870)
John Dean Canton