The View from Headquarters…

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Drapetomania was a psychiatric diagnosis proposed in 1851 by physician Dr. Samuel A. Cartwright, of the Louisiana Medical Association, to explain the tendency of black slaves to flee captivity. While not terming it a disease, Gen. Phil Sheridan helped create and enforce an involuntary “cure” for the Plains Indian Problem. Here, he prescribes the reservation system as the only way to achieve “the management of Indians”…

I may say in reference to the management of Indians, the reservation system is the only one offering any prospects of success, but all experience has shown that the wild Indian will not adopt it until he is forced to do so. All the tribes on the Northern Pacific coast had to be subdued and forced on the reservations, which was accomplished between the years 1855 and 1860. Then peace ensued. [Actually the US Civil War - ed.] Latterly the same policy has been pursued in regard to the Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, and Arrapahoes.

After the wild Indians are put upon the reservations, a strong military force will have to be kept there to protect the agents and others required in the work of civilization, and also for the subordination of the Indians, and their protection against the encroachments of the white settlers, who otherwise would take possession of their lands.”

Gen. Phil Sheridan
Chicago, Illinois