As I have pounded away at the Southern History Series for the past four months now, I have occasionally reviewed some books which are broader in scope. I have been including those articles in the American History Series. I have mostly written a few articles about New England.
Wouldn’t it be fun though to start exploring the history of the American West in the same way that I have done with the South? What happened to the millions of White Southerners who left Dixie to settle in the West? What is the demographic makeup of the Western states? Tellingly, the Western states had their own version of Jim Crow until the aftermath of the Second World War. I’ve long been curious about the ethnic and cultural origins of Westerners, but I haven’t found the time to dig that deep into the subject. We’re going to be branching out into the history of the West in the months ahead.
The following excerpt comes from Anne F. Hyde’s book Empires, Nations and Families: A New History of the North American West, 1800-1860:
“If we gave a prize for the scariest reputation attached to western Indian tribes, the Comanches would nearly always win it. John Wayne, playing Texan Ethan Edwards in The Searchers (1958), just has to say the word “Com-manch,” and we know his captured niece’s life is over. Mothers in New Mexico villages scared their children into good behavior by threatening that “los comancheros” would get them. In the movies and in real life the Comanches did capture settlers, soldiers, women, and children. Some they tortured, some they sold as slaves, and some they assimilated. Without warning, they raided and burned settlements. They stole cattle, oxen, and mules and often simply slaughtered them. The Comanches took hundreds of thousands of horses from Apaches, from Navajos, from New Mexican villagers, and from Anglo-Texans. No government entity – Native, Mexican, or U.S. – seemed able to blunt these attacks, and the Comanches were indeed lords of the Southern plains by the early nineteenth century.”
Wait a minute.
Aren’t the Comanches what we now call “People of Color” or “Native Americans”? They didn’t see themselves that way back in the day and equally terrorized all their neighbors.
“Such treaties appalled white Texans, who saw any accommodation with the Comanches as wrongheaded and dangerous. Like the situation in the Pacific Northwest, settler communities on the Texas frontier near Comanchería had suffered enormously from raiding in the late 1840s. Many settlers had been forced to retreat to Austin and San Antonio. Texas politicians argued forcefully that the only limitation white Texans faced in their ambitions came from the “Comanche barrier” and that the only solution was a military one. Unlike most places in the West, Texas made no attempt to make treaties with the Comanches or to consider exchanging or ceding land. Because they were unwilling to imagine any part of Texas as off limits to white settlement, the solution of creating reserves came too late. By 1850 border skirmishes and raids had turned into a full-scale war of extermination between Comanches and white Texans, with Native allies on both sides, mostly fought by the informal militia called the Texas Rangers but supported by the U.S. Army.”
The area that is now the heart of Central Texas in the Southern Great Plains – Comanchería – was only won after a full blown race war between the Comanches and Anglo Texans in the 1850s.
“In the early 1850s the U.S. Army built a line of posts manned by nearly two thousand troops to divide Native Texas from white Texas, but it reached far into the traditional borders of Comanchería. The raiding had mostly stopped, except for some horse and food stealing, but Texas newspapers, as a way to sell papers and to increase federal spending on troops in Texas, still reported that hundreds of white Texans were being butchered. …
In spite of this apparent progress a new wave of raiding swept Texas in 1855. It came out of Comanche and Apache anger at the continual raiding on their communities by the Texas Rangers, who targeted camps and families. At the same time troop numbers in the Texas forts dropped considerably as trouble with the Sioux and with white Kansans drew federal soldiers north. With the Comanches using the rations and guns they got as annuity payments at Bent’s Fort and using the new reservation on the Brazos as a pit stop, the northern Comanches poured into Texas. Citizens along the Brazos frontier demanded help from the state in “our exposed and dangerous condition.” These raids, though successful at first from the Comanche perspective, proved to be very costly. The line of federal forts meant that troops could be deployed quickly, and the Texas Rangers who had formed militias in each small settlement had matured into being particularly effective killers.”
According to the True Cons, America is an idea based on the eternal principles of classical liberalism. Americans aren’t a race or a culture. In spite of all that talk about Manifest Destiny, we have NOTHING in common with the German idea of blood and soil nationalism even though Hitler’s expansionist race-based foreign policy was based on the precedent of the Anglo-American conquest of the American West. Hitler even borrowed Nordicism and eugenics from the United States.
“After three very bloody yaers, the same years that brought such devastation to the Pacific Northwest, the army and the Rangers mounted a unified offensive against the Comanches. The army, now equipped with effective cavalry, had come to share the view of white Texans that the Plains tribes had to surrender or be exterminated. To achieve this goal the army defined any Comanches found anywhere off the tiny reservation as hostile, and “hostiles” could be hunted down and killed. In 1858, accompanied by Caddo, Wichita, and Tonkawa auxiliaries, who also had scores to settle with the Comanches, the army organized into small, quickly moving groups and struck at the heart of Comanche country. These bold strikes shocked the Comanches, who awoke in their camps to discover their horses stampeded, cavalry guns firing, and their families in grave danger. Men, women, and children died by the hundreds. The Comanches fled north into the relative safety of the high plains between the Canadian and Arkansas rivers. It was cold there in the winter, and many of their horses died, but perhaps ten thousand people remained there.”
Oh … so that was how we conquered and settled Central and West Texas? It had nothing to do with all this Eastern conservative nonsense about classical liberalism. Instead, the reality of it was more like all the classic Western movies below which depict tough Anglo-Saxon men like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne defending the honor of White women and fighting with the Indians.