The Notion of Colonialism and Imperialism

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The notion of colonialism and imperialism comes from a need that was apparently deemed so vital that white complacent men who used the color of their skin as superiority over other races, ravaged the homes of thousands of people while enslaving them, raping them, and stealing their culture. Among these needs were acquiring riches and “civilizing” the native people with Christian beliefs. In 1803, the Louisiana purchase sparked Westward expansion and inspired American “pioneers” to avow properties west of the Mississipi river. The Lousiana Purchase birthed the agrarian ideal which was pursued by Jefferson’s belief that the American economy should be encircled around agriculture. In this essay, I will argue that the notions of the Frontier, Manifest Destiny and the Agrarian Ideal served as the foundation of colonialism for the sole purpose of obtaining property, wealth, and power.

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The idea of the Manifest Destiny was sought-after in the 1840 when white men believed that God wanted them to conquest lands due to the expeditious increase of the population and to civilize territories with American ideals. The Manifest Destiny exemplified colonialism because white men took over the lands of the natives because they believed the color of their skin was more superior. In Muir reading, My First Summer in the Sierras, he also emphasized that he was no stranger to the wilderness due to his color, but believed that the Indians were out of place and did not belong there. Americans incorporated the ideas of the Manifest Destiny into going to war for the sole purpose of gaining wealth and land. The true motives behind the Mexican-American War were to acquire lands. After the war, America obtained the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Under Jefferson presidency, America obtained the Louisiana Purchase. It was the ultimate dream of the Manifest Destiny and the Agrarian Ideal because now the geographical size of the country doubled and farmers would have hundreds of acres to the farm which would boost our agricultural production. America drove out and enslaved the many Native American tribes that lived there and colonized their properties. The more land that was acquired, the more labor was required, contributing to the rapid growth of slavery.

The notion of property and wilderness ties into the colonial narrative because since the foundation of this country, we have acquired property wrongfully and tried to civilize the people that lived in the wilderness. The Agrarian Ideal was based upon Jefferson ideology of society revolving around agriculture and property. Jefferson believed that all property should be used by farmers (Jefferson, 1787, pg. 122), which lead to farmers taking lands that belonged to Indians for the sole purpose of farming. This ideology was perhaps inspired by John Locke chapter Of Property because Locke states that whoever labors the land is the rightful owner of it. (Locke, 1689, pg.37). Locke and Jefferson ideology correlated with one another because they both believed that if you poured labor into a land, it automatically becomes yours. However, if a white farmer comes onto the property of an Indian and begins farming on it, does it automatically become his? Indians have always been oppressed by the white man and their ideals when it comes to the subject of property. In A World of Fields and Fences, William Cronon details how the colonists imposed boundaries of the native lands of the Indians. Colonists put fences on other people’s property and divided it up for their advantage. The colonizer’s forced the Indians to maintain the fences and the boundaries they created in people’s homes.

My personal connection with the ideas of colonialism is that not too long ago, my family in India was forced off their property due to British imperialism. Similar to the Manifest Destiny it was God plan that the British take over half the world. My family was removed from their property to live in the ghettos and were enslaved by the British government. In The Meaning of Property, Macpherson states, Property is a claim that will be enforced by society or the state (Macpherson, 1978, pg. 3). This statement expresses the ideas of colonialism and the Manifest Destiny because once the property is claimed by the colonists, it becomes claim that will be enforced”, and the righteous owners have no say. Essentially, the ideas of the Frontier, Manifest Destiny, and the Agrarian Ideal exemplify colonialism because these ideologies lead to the exploitation of native people and imposed American authority over the native people and their properties.

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