On December 6, 1830, Andrew Jackson used his second State of the Union address to defend the Indian Removal Act, the administration’s sole legislative victory. He described the law promulgating the expulsion and resettlement of southeastern Native American tribes as the “happy consummation” of U.S. Indian policy. To his critics who “wept over the fate of the aborigines” — and who, it turned out, accurately predicted the horrors of the forced migrations known collectively to history as the Trail of Tears — Jackson offered an archeology lesson.
“In the monuments and fortifications of an unknown people, we behold the memorials of a once-powerful race,” said Jackson, “exterminated to make room for the existing savage tribes.”
This reference to a “once-powerful race” was not lost on the American public of 1830. Every schoolboy and girl knew it to be the Lost Race of the Mound Builders, believed to be the continent’s original Caucasian inhabitants. From the colonial era into the twentieth century, it was widely accepted that certain earthen structures and burial grounds proved the existence of “white” or Indo-European peoples who settled North America only to be wiped out by the arrival of Jackson’s “savage (Asiatic) tribes.”
As the country expanded west, the “Moundbuilders” myth had obvious utility: If the Indians destroyed earlier waves of (white) settlers, their own extermination was just another turn of history’s wheel.
Of course! That’s it! The mound builders came before and had a very large, complex civilization. They, therefore, must have been white!
Gods, this is what the far right believes today? It’s no wonder they’ve been taken in by a con man who know exactly what to spout, loudly.