How The U.S. Took Over An Eighth Of The World
In treaty discussions, US troops often intimidated the negotiators, federal agents misrepresented the terms of agreement, and land speculators bribed participants. In desperate times, Indians signed away their homes in order to feed themselves and their families. In the 1850s, US presidents began using a second legal instrument to secure land, the executive order, and this prerogative grew in importance after 1871, when the federal government unilaterally stopped making treaties with native peoples. The power of the president to seize land by executive order may appear contrary to the sanctity of private property, one of the great legacies of the American Revolution, but white Americans never set Indian land title on the same footing as their own. Nor did they recognize the irony of their presumptions.