Nice Day for a Genocide: Shocking Quotes on Indians By US Leaders,

George Clymer Chapter, NSDAR The Sullivan Expedition was led by General John Sullivan against the Iroquois in 1779. This marker is in Athens, Pennsylvania.

ICT editorial team

From Ben Franklin to Thomas Jefferson, the view on American Indians was not a kind one

These quotes about Indians from American leaders span from the 1750s to 1817.

Be sure to read Nice Day for a Genocide Pt 2 as well.

Benjamin Franklin, from his autobiography, 1750s

“If it be the design of Providence to extirpate these Savages in order to make room for cultivators of the Earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means.”

Benjamin Franklin (Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis (1725-1802)/Wikipedia)

Orders of George Washington to General John Sullivan, May 31, 1779

“The immediate objectives are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops in the ground and prevent their planting more.”

George Washington (Thinkstock)

Governor William Henry Harrison, of the Indiana Territory (1800-1812) while defending displacement of the Indians

“Is one of the fairest portions of the globe to remain in a state of nature, the haunt of a few wretched savages, when it seems destined by the Creator to give support to a large population and to be the seat of civilization?”

William Henry Harison Daguerreotype. (wikipedia)

John Quincy Adams, 1802, when rationalizing territorial imperatives as God’s will

“What is the right of the huntsman to the forest of a thousand miles over which he has accidentally ranged in quest of prey? Shall the fields and vallies, which a beneficent God has formed to teem with the life of innumerable multitudes, be condemned to everlasting barrenness?”

Library of Congress John Quincy Adams

President Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, December 29, 1813

“This unfortunate race, whom we had been taking so much pains to save and to civilize, have by their unexpected desertion and ferocious barbarities justified extermination and now await our decision on their fate.”

Wikipedia Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale in 1800.

James Monroe, in a letter to Andrew Jackson, October 5, 1817

“The hunter or savage state requires a greater extent of territory to sustain it, than is compatible with the progress and just claims of civilized life, and must yield to it. Nothing is more certain, than, if the Indian tribes do not abandon that state, and become civilized, that they will decline, and become extinct. The hunter state, tho maintain’d by warlike spirits, presents but a feeble resistance to the more dense, compact, and powerful population of civilized man.”

Wikipedia Portrait of James Monroe, 1819. This story was originally published July 10, 2013.

Comments (10)
No. 1-7
Jim G
Jim G

What a disingenuous site and story. How about you actually cite the Ben Franklin quote in context? It implies nothing about him believing that Indians should be exterminated by means of Rum. In fact, he tells the story of a group of Indians who demand more rum, despite the Anglo Americans being leary to providing it, due to the negative consequences they have seen in the past. The "American" settlers initially balk at the request, but eventually do provide some rum, after which the Indians supposedly cause a great disturbance.

A more accurate (full) version of the quote by Franklin you cite, reads (I have added in a clarification with [xxx]:

"The next day, sensible they had misbehav’d in giving us that disturbance [due to the rum], they sent three of their old counselors to make their apology. The orator acknowledg’d the fault, but laid it upon the rum; and then endeavoured to excuse the rum by saying, ”The Great Spirit, who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he design’d anything for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when he made rum, he said, ‘Let this be for the Indians to get drunk with,’ and it must be so.“ And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea-coast.

Franklin is basically saying that booze (rum) may be the downfall of Indians (which we have seen in recent years is certainly negatively affecting Native American communities). He is in no way implying any "racist" sentiment, and he is merely echoing his legitimate observations and personal experience and also essentially relaying what the Native Chief/Leader supposedly said about rum. To not quote the letter in full or to provide the context shows an irresponsible way with the "truth" and a misleading use of historical documents/quotes. It is hard to believe much of what else is said on this site based on this modern day manipulation of the facts.

I'm sure there certainly were many who conspired to hurt or subjugate the Native Americans in present day USA, but it's terrible of you to co-opt quotes without providing any context and mislead readers. It certainly de-legitimizes your cause.

Here is a full reproduction of the Franklin Letter. Just search "ctrl+F" for "rum" to find the relevant passages:


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Your outrage seems strange to me. Benjamin Franklin was negotiating a treaty at the time. None of these treaties were ever kept. And white men supplied the rum for the occasion. It seems to me, Franklin was complicit and shrugged it off with his suggestion about the "inevitability" of native extinction. All of the founding fathers talked about this inevitability which was a way for them to justify broken treaties, massacres, scorched earth, rapes, AND introducing alcohol to weaken them. If their demise was inevitable, they did not have to take responsibility for it. As Roxanne Ortiz-Dunbar, states in her "Indigenous History of the US" - alcohol was in the colonists' toolkit to subjugate the populations.


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Thank you so much for this post I felt really great after reading it