Professor Thomas J. DiLorenzo: Indian Genocide and Republican Power

The Independent Institute tweeted an old article by Professor DiLorenzo, “Indian Genocide and Republican Power“. In a recent post, “Business Idea: A Gold/Silver 100% Reserve Bank“, I made a brief comment about the US government waging war against the Plains Indians in the latter part of the 19th century. DiLorenzo’s article explores this topic in more detail and provides a wealth of resources for further study.

Another reason why this article attracted my attention is my frustration with the attitude of all to many modern day American libertarians proclaiming the late 19th century as the last great laissez faire era of US history. Ironically, as DiLorenzo explains, the Civil War period and is aftermath was when laissez faire conditions began to be replaced by crony capitalism. The era was marked by high tariffs, enormous subsidies to railroads, outright bribery of public officials with railroad stock, and a decades long war against the Plains Indians in support of the railroad companies. This is hardly a society of “economic harmonies” as envisioned by Bastiat.

Not only was the war waged for reprehensible reasons, it was waged with a special type of brutality that started a trend in US warfare which reached its apotheosis in the “strategic” (aka terror) bombing campaigns against Japan and Germany during World War 2. US Army officials viewed Native Americans as “subhuman and racially inferior to whites”. This attitude was passed on to the troops and, in manner similar to the attitude of the Japanese Army towards the Chinese in the 1930s and 1940s, the natural disinclination for humans to kill defenseless humans was obliterated. Inevitably, massacres followed.

I encourage everyone to read DiLorenzo’s article. It is not pleasant reading, but it does reinforce a basic truth which should never be forgotten: government is a criminal, immoral enterprise. Here are some tidbits:

  • … Sherman gave “Sheridan prior authorization to slaughter as many women and children as well as men Sheridan or his subordinates felt was necessary when they attacked Indian villages.”
  • Sherman announced his objective as being “to prosecute the war with vindictive earnestness . . . till [the Indians] are obliterated or beg for mercy.”
  • Upon returning to his fort, Chivington “and his raiders demonstrated around Denver, waving their trophies, more than one hundred drying scalps. They were acclaimed as conquering heroes, which was what they had sought mainly.” One Republican Party newspaper announced, “Colorado soldiers have once again covered themselves with glory.”

Plains Indians. Image from

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