A People's History of the United States Questions and Answers
by Howard Zinn

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What is the major theme in chapter 7?

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Of all the oppressed people that Zinn has highlighted prior to the nineteenth century, he argues that Native Americans could be dealt with by pure force (along with temporary paternalism) because they were the most "foreign" and "exterior." Yet he argues that their oppression was central to the growth of the United States as a nation. American growth and expansion went hand in hand with the annihilation of Native Americans. It "cleared the land" Zinn writes, for American economic and territorial development:

...for white occupancy in the Appalachians and the Mississippi, cleared it for cotton in the South and grain in the North, for expansion, immigrations, canals, railroads, new cities, and the building of a huge continental empire west to the Pacific Ocean.

This chapter goes on to highlight example after example of this tragic process. The American Revolution paved the way for expropriation of Indian lands in the eastern states and along the frontier. The War of 1812 led to the defeat...

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