Does Civilization Require Wealth?


“We use the word “civilization” to mean “materially wealthy” and technologically advanced, even though material wealth and technology are often used for uncivilized, unethical ends, he explained. It is the only lesson from junior high that I remember.”

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise

James Monroe and Friendly Assimilation

November is Native American Heritage month. The following is one of a series of historic Presidential quotes on Native American rights and the political relations between the United States government and the first nations of this continent.

Fair warning: Most of these statements are not nice and, at times, can be difficult to read. They also make excellent starting points for a research paper.

The most striking thing about this quote is the fact that it is a really long speech (REALLY long) and this single sentence is the only mention of Native Americans. Also, by this point in USA history, ‘civilization’ was code for forcing Native Americans (and all other colonized cultures around the globe) to learn and wholly participate in European (primarily British) culture, religion, beliefs and politics. In short, assimilation or death (literally).


With the Indian tribes it is our duty to cultivate friendly relations and to act with kindness and liberality in all our transactions. Equally proper is it to persevere in our efforts to extend to them the advantages of civilization.

United States Presidents’ Inaugural Speeches by United States. Presidents.