Before Andrew Jackson, the Americans were living in a world served by the elites, but the election in 1828 was viewed as a new era for the country. This was seen as a new democratic era but others argue that the country was falling to despotism, which the present government called democracy. The Native Americans were more threatened with the trial sovereignty and increased uncertainty to their political survival. The Indians were viewed as barriers to expansion and Jackson was celebrated for the removal of the Indian Act. The success of the Indian Removal Act was an amalgamation of the act and the unlawful state legislation.
The Indian Removal Act soured the relationship between the U.S. and the Native American tribes following the forceful action of President Jackson to remove the Five Civilized Tribes to the west of the Mississippi. Jackson was fully supported by the expansionists, populists, and the white supremacists. The perspective of President Jackson before his entry to the office on the Indian Removal favored the process. The president believed that treaty-making was invalid to the challenges facing the southerners. According to Jackson, the Natives could only be relocated following the authority of the executives and Congress.
The agenda was pushed by the appointment of pro-Removal politicians to varying governmental organizations and boards. This led to the formulation of the first draft of the Indian Removal Act by Congressman John Bell and Senator Hugh White. The president argued that the strategy was out of mercy for the Indians to save them from the state rule implication on their lives. During the period between American colonies and the Native Americans, the country had eliminated many tribes. Remaining in the South part of the country was likely to cause the extinction of the southern tribes. Jackson believed that the Five Civilized Tribes were at risk of land-hungry whites and their protection was only through military force. However, due to his aversion of blood shedding for the whites against that of Indians, Jackson promoted the Indian removal.
The Southern United States was inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes who included the Seminole, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Cherokee Indian tribes. The majority of the tribes supported the British during the American Revolutionary War, which increased the rage of the Americans. However, following the end of the war, the U.S. and the tribes formed a peace treaty in 1777. This was followed by increased progress between the Indians tribes. After the signing of the Indian Removal Act, the tribes that were led to the west were now known as Oklahoma, which was their new territory. The tribes acquired the name, Five Civilized Tribes as they continued to follow the adopted western culture and the name was a distinction from the indigenous tribes in Great Plains region.
While in the west, the tribes acculturated themselves to illustrate to the whites that they could take care of themselves. They adopted the way of the whites where they drafted their constitution, worshipped the Christian God, owned slaves, and engaged in agricultural activities. Although at the time they were independent, they continued to follow the customs of the whites. Their self-government and the Federal treaties protected their land rights but the opponents of Jackson’s government advocated their brisk removal.
The south states that were part of the Indian Removal process included the Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, as well as the Florida territory. The most active individuals were the whites living in the regions due to their proximity to the Indians. The Indians were relocated due to varying reasons. The first reason was due to the racism directed to the native communities by the whites. The second reason followed the seizing of lands by the whites due to the rise of white expansionism, populism, and nationalism during Jackson’s presidency.
The natives were also relocated due to envy and spite, as they had adopted the white ways of life. Besides, the communities had attained education and commerce experience. For example, the British had established missionary schools among the Indians. Many whites thought the educated and well-organized natives posed a threat to the national security of the country. There was a heavy belief that the constitution formed by the Indians was indistinguishable to open declarations of rebellion. Jackson’s presidency believed that the Removal of the Indian was mitigation for the issue. The Removal was also not founded on humanitarian concern but rather an imaginary perspective. Proponents argue that the relocation was protection towards the Native Americans from the white societies who were full of expansionists and racists. This is why some of the proponents supported the Indian Removal Act.
Several justifications were held on the need for the Removal due to the 1802 Compact. The compact postulated the cession of Georgia’s land to the federal government. The ceded land is what is currently known as Mississippi and Alabama. In return, the Federal government attained all the land in Georgia that was owned by the Native Americans. One aspect to note is that the federal government failed to honor their promise and in 1802, Jackson announced that the Indian land belonged to Georgia.
History can be defined as the study of why and how things happened. For this assignment, the author will explore the aspects of the Indian Removal Act and the reasons it resulted in a “Trail of Tears,” full of discrimination, racism, and ethical concerns. In particular, the study will explore the process of the removal of the policy and its impact. The assignment explores the Indian Removal context to illustrate that the Indian Removal was a “Trail of Tears,” with its discrimination, racism, and ethical concerns. The white racists believed that Anglo American was a pinnacle for mankind attainment. The study will bring to light that the superiority of the whites during the 19th century, their greed for Indian lands, as well as their view of the Indians as minors, children and savages, Indian sovereignty, and Indian title were elements of concern.
The Indian Removal Act will be explained using the displacement perspective, which will be a tool to explain how atrocity perpetrations form the future typology of Displacement Atrocities. This section will argue that the Indian Removal process was a form of Displacement Atrocity (DA). There are five elements of DA: the sufficient and necessary variables for a DA label, the distinction between indirect and direct killing, a displacement over a large territory, and a defined targeted group, as well as responsibility for deaths. For perpetrators to destroy a group, they have a peculiar view of that group. The group identity is mostly through the differences in nationalism, race, and ethnicity. For example, the whites chose the Indians who were distinguishable through ethnicity.
The second element is the responsibility for deaths, which are either termed as war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocides. In this, it is possible to identify if a crime is unintended, intended, or born out of recklessness. This is attained by denying the victims’ f their basic needs. For example, the Indians were denied service from institutions like education and churches. The third element is a displacement from the open territory, which is not part of metropolitan regions. This land is mostly termed as underdeveloped as it has low resources to be used by the inhabitants. In the Native Indians case, they were living in forests and their economic activities were hunting. However, the whites introduced activities like farming and herding where they displaced the group and were left with large tracts of land to use.
The displacement perspective also distinguishes between direct and indirect killing. Direct killing is theoretically termed as a secondary feature to atrocity perpetration while indirect killing methods as practices that do not use physical violence from perpetrators but apply systematic deprivation that destroys the victims. Such practices may include inhumane maltreatments, exposure to natural world elements, forming conditions conducive to the spread of disease, and dehydration or starvation. For example, the perpetrators of the Cherokees trail tears walked for more than 1,900 kilometers from the Carolinas to Illinois to Oklahoma.
There is a need to understand the Cherokee Trail of Tears as a form of colonial genocide in America. The colonial forces tried to use their force to attain vast and fertile lands. The Indian tribes were more civilized and tended to live like the whites and the U.S. government prepared territories to illustrate their loyalty to the way of life of the Indians. One strategy that the colonialist employed was disarming the Indians through the enactment of the legislated removal process by the United States military forces. President Jackson allowed the disarming of the Cherokee Nation in 1836. The American military forces confiscated the weapons that the Indians could have fought against the displacement process. It is argued that the disarming process was not peaceful, which is illustrated by undocumented executions and shootings.
The aspect of social disruption can also be explored in the displacement atrocity theory. For example, in the Cherokee trail tears, their leadership was excluded by circumventing the true leaders of the Indians region. The government applied undue legislative processes to exclude and silence legitimate Cherokee representatives. One strategy that the U.S. government applied was initial displacement operations where the majority of the Indians were displaced and a thousand lost their lives through diseases and hunger. Resisting the forces led to the use of force by the military forces. Initially, it was suggested that the Cherokees were to be transported using water but it was later termed as a logistically difficult and expensive process. Out of the 1,681 persons displaced, there were a hundred of deaths not accounted for.
The aspect of displacement was through unduly environments where the groups were transported through the overloaded canvas. Before the process, the government had promised to provide the Indian territories with funds and resources to use on the way. However, the 16,000 deportees were not provided with sufficient funds and there were no resources during the transitioning process. During the process, the deportees experienced intentional maltreatment, neglect, and mismanagement, which led Chief Ross to take over to reduce the harms rendered by the soldiers in the caravans.
It can be argued that the U.S. led to the killings and the deaths of Cherokees during the deportation, which resulted in the aspect of Trail of Tears. The government of America, however, failed to keep its promises, as it did not deliver the required funds to displace the tribes completely. Therefore, the American government is the cause of the problems, pain, and the deaths of the Trail of Tears
On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. The Act authorized the president to grant the unsettled land in the Western part of Mississippi in place of the Indian lands. The president argued that removing Indians to the West side of Mississippi would create a perfect America. Cave explains that the Indian Removal Act provided the federal government with the power to negotiate treaties with the native Indians. However, it resulted in controversies and conflicts between the government and the Indians. Generally, the Indian Removal Act resulted in the displacement of the Five Civilized Tribes of the southeastern U.S. and many Native Americans lost their lives. The assignment will explore the reasons for the Indian Removal Act and its impact on “Trail of Tears”.
The Indian Removal Act was proposed and signed during a contradictory moment where nations were aiming to expand democratic institutions while others illustrated the challenges of democracy. For example, a majority of States prohibited property restrictions on voting, which in turn opened more opportunities for white settlers. Nonetheless, this was different for the Native Americans who lived on the White’s land. For example, the Cherokees took over the majority of white institutions but they faced problems from majority tyranny where they were forced against their will to the west.
Before the Act, the American government assimilated the Native Americans through civilization and integration to their culture. One of the major Native American communities was the Cherokees who were forcibly removed irrespective of their poignancy and significance in the country. In comparison to other Native Americans, the Cherokees highly adopted the Anglo-American culture. Through this, the group was able to transform and modify their traditional culture to conform and embrace the United States policies, as a way of preserving their tribal integrity and retain the White politicians’ expectations.
The Cherokees reorganized their social and spiritual world to follow the civilization policy. To conform to the civilization policy, Cherokees ended clan revenge, formed written laws, and started schools. The Cherokee men started farming practices and agricultural practices while the women started weaving and spinning. Molden adds that the Cherokee started buying slaves and constructed columned plantation houses. On January 15, 1820, the secretary of war, John C. Calhoun wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Henry Clay, ‘The Cherokees exhibit a more favorable appearance than any other tribe of Indians. They have already established two flourishing schools among them.” The reason why the Cherokees adopted the white culture was a search for white respect and also as a way to prevent the extinction of their native culture and more loss of their land.
Surprisingly, some of the Cherokees alleged that civilization was better than their traditional way of life. The aspect of civilization led to the Cherokees seeking education, established a Supreme Court, formed a constitution similar to that of the U.S., formed the bicameral legislature, and wrote many laws. The achievements were more than expected for the group by U.S. presidents like Andrew Jackson and George Washington. Before the removal of the Cherokees from the west, the majority of Americans viewed the group as the most civilized natives in the country.Why were the Cherokees removed and forced to abandon churches, schools, and homes?
The core reason why President Jackson’s administration removed the Cherokee Indians was due to national policy reformulation. Many believed that the Indians were removed as a change of policy but it was reformulation. This is because, in the early years of America, civilization among the natives was through the seizure of Indian land. The aspect was established first on July 2, 1791, through Henry Knox who was the secretary of War of George Washington. Knox signed a policy where the Indians land was seized in an attempt to change their way of life from hunters to cultivators and herdsmen. Changing their way of life would benefit the Indians as well as the nation.
HouseShoe Bend (1814-1817)
Following the 1812 war, the Indian policy was influenced by three realities. The first reality in American nationalism is a resurgence. This was followed by the introduction of the American statesman in the political realm who secured the legacy of John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, and John Quincy Adams. The 3rd reality was the diverse change of the relationship between the five Indian tribes and the United States. The three realities led to a reduced evolution of the policy, which caused the culmination of their removal.
The significance of the Revolutionary and nationalism legacy to the Indian Removal was popular following the war after the public officials started articulating and envisioning the future of the U.S. in terms of empire. The majority of the whites viewed the Indians as obstinate obstructions to continental dominion. This resulted in a dramatic and sudden change in the association between the Indians and the Americans. Following the two frontier battles that occurred in six months, the U.S. established the financial, diplomatic, and military hegemony of the east of Mississippi River. The governor of the Indian Territory, General William Henry Harrison, defeated Henry Procter who was in the British force while in Upper Canada near the Thames River. Harrison’s victory led to securing of the South of Great Lakes in the U.S. but also caused Trail of death. He was a charismatic chieftain in Shawnee who planned the pan-Indian confederacy, which would have expanded the boundaries to the present Middle West and South.
In March 1814, Andrew Jackson led to the evolution of Indian Removal policy Horseshoe Bend, in Alabama. The whites argued that their fight was for borderline security. There was a divided view where some Creek Indians viewed it as an inter-tribal war where they believed the whites’ auxiliaries while others thought they were interlopers. There was an occurrence of a battle at Horseshoe bend where violent cases increased. President Jackson was furious after the abduction of one white near Nashville and the killing of nine whites in 1812.
The anger was heightened when in 1813, 700 Creek warriors who were called the Red Clubs or the Redsticks irritated with religious zeal, overran and attacked civilians and white men at garrisons in Fort Mims along the junction of Alabama and Tombigbee rivers. Although there lacks statistics of the number of people who lost their lives, the army indicated that they buried 246 corpses alongside the smoldering area. The agitated Jackson selected 800 recruits at Fort Strother and in two months the army was 3,000. The troop comprised of six hundred Indian allies, regular Army soldiers, and white volunteers.
On March 27, 1814, the start of the end of the Creek confederacy commenced where Jackson’s army attacked thousands of Red Clubs. The battle was on Sunday at Tahopeka, which is at Tallapoosa River and area termed by the whites as Horseshoe Bend. The peninsula was approximately 100acres and had spiritual and military significance to the Creeks. Jackson led the army to carry out an insolence act as they had attacked the white settlers. However, Thomas Pinckney was seeking peace with the Creeks. In terms of ranks, Pinckney was superior to Jackson, as he was a major general in the United States Army and former governor of that state.
Opening up the aspect of the factory system led to the full distinguishing of the Indian civilization plan. This led the Americans and the Indian agents to introduce the Indians to the white’s way that they emulated. This was a form of assimilating the Indians to the whites’ way of doing things that were prepared to the American citizenship path. Calhoun wrote a report, which had three assertions which were what was used to describe the American Indians. According to Calhoun, the Indians could not determine their best interests, they were not yet independent, and that they would fall into extinction if they failed to conform to the whites’ way of life. Calhoun discussed with the president where he approved the improbability of civilizing the program. However, it was proposed that the process would take approximately a generation for the approval of the program.
The Trail of Tears
The U.S. Senate with one vote ratified the treaty of New Echota, and on May 23, 1836, President Jackson proclaimed its effect. This was an end for the voluntary exodus of the Indians from their land to the west of Mississippi. After May 23, 1938, any remaining Indian was removed by force. At this period, the president told the secretary of war John Ross that no more Cherokees legislative were recognized and no other individual including Ross would question the Removal Treaty. However, the community and the congressional representatives continued to fight towards a change of the system with the belief that justice would prevail before the date of relocation.
The enforcer of the treaty was General John Ellis Wool who was the commander for the troops in the U.S. Upon the commencement of the disarming process to the Cherokees, Wool was met with a memorial that had been signed by council members, who were in protest to the disbarment process and the treaty. In September 1836, Wool attended a council meeting where he got the revelation of the New Echota story from the Cherokee’s:
[I]t is, however, vain to talk to people almost universally opposed to the treaty and who maintain that they never made such a treaty. So determined are they in their opposition that not one … would receive either rations or clothing from the United States lest they might compromise themselves regarding the treaty. … The whole scene since I have been in this country has been nothing but a heartrending one, and such a one as I would be glad to get rid of as soon as circumstances will permit (p165)
It led Wool to seek resignation from the mission and Brigadier General R.G. Dunlap was reassigned. Dunlap headed the Tennessee troops to start constructing stockades that were to be used by the U.S. Army in the enforcement of the removal. The troop also constructed containment pens that held Cherokees who failed to leave willingly. However, this resulted in a challenge, as the troop worked in proximity to the Cherokee’s homes and communities.
It opened a socialization ground between the Tennessee troops and the Cherokees. Contrastingly, the Cherokees’ sophistication – their young girls had received formal education from the mission Christian schools, which led the prepared wooden pens to strike the soldiers rather than the Cherokees. This led Dunlap to seek resignation from the commission instead of assisting the removal of Cherokee. He argued that treaty enforcement on the New Echota was a disgrace to his home state and his men.
15% is the approximate number of Indians who moved out of their land willingly to the West of Mississippi. Some of the individuals who willingly went to the west were Treaty Party members. However, President Jackson remained firm despite the whites backing from his orders. Due to this, Jackson commanded his agents that none would communicate to John Ross about the treaty in writing or speech. After serving his second term, his successor, and vice president Martin Van Buren announced his stand of following and implementing Jackson’s policies after taking the office in March 1837.
After the Cherokees were prohibited to meet in the New Echota by the state of Georgia, they gathered in August 1837 at Red Clay. In the meeting was a U.S. agent who was to deliver the message of the whites that resisting moving was a waste of time and resources. However, the speech agitated the Cherokees and George Featherstonhaugh who was a visitor from the British left more sympathetic to the Cherokees than to the U.S. government. This led him to write a memoir, A Canoe Voyage up the Minnay Sotor where he sketched the whole process of Indians removal;
A whole Indian nation abandons the pagan practices of their ancestors, adopts the Christian religion, uses books printed in their own language, submits to the government of their elders, builds houses and temples of worship, relies upon agriculture 56 THE TRAIL OF TEARS AND INDIAN REMOVAL for their support, and produces men of great ability to rule over them. … Are not these the great principles of civilization? They were driven from their religious and social state then, not because they cannot be civilized, but because a pseudo set of civilized beings, who are too strong for them want their possessions! (p171)
At the beginning of 1838, John Ross, as well as other leaders of Cherokee including Whitepath and Elijah Hicks, visited Washington D.C. With them were 15,665 signatures from the Cherokee in protest of the New Echota Treaty. They were told that the Indian Senate Committee had voted to sanction the plans of the president to conduct the treaty. This irritated citizens who sent messages on behalf of Cherokee cause. Nevertheless, an order was called by Van Buren to assemble 7,000 soldiers to prepare for the removal. The military roundup of the Indians started on May 23, 1838.
‘‘Old Fuss and Feathers’’ (Major General Winfield Scott) was elected as the military commander and replaced John wool. Major General Winfield Scott was a veteran of the Seminole Wars, Blackhawk War, and War of 1812 and was once against President Jackson’s presidency. There was no enthusiasm with Scott mission after realizing the interest of the Georgia troops to kill and remove the Cherokees from their land. However, this turned chaotic and he ordered his troops and the Cherokees. To the Cherokees, he presented a speech as a plea and a warning on the need to voluntarily concede to the removal.
In May and June, several military operations removed approximately 17,000 Cherokees from Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. However, the process was not peaceful but at gunpoint, as these individuals were gathered in containment camps that were built as Cherokees’ prisons. Nonetheless, the prisons were unsatisfactory as they were surrounded by fenced pens without basic sanitation and little shelter from the elements. The conditions in the living arrangements led many to be separated as husbands, wives, and children lived separately.
John G. Burnett who was a U.S. soldier in the roundup stated that the operation was a cruel process where men, women, and children were separated, whipped and dragged from their houses by troops who used a language different from their own. His opinion is similar to a Confederate Colonel volunteer, George who stated that although he had participated in the Civil War and witnessed men shot and slaughtered to deaths, none was comparable to the removal of the Cherokee in terms of cruelty. The issue was worsened by the drought that reigned the Southeast at a similar time as the start of the roundup. Due to inadequate facilities and supplies, the camps became a breeding area for dysentery and other illnesses. The unhealthy conditions were worsened by the issue of heat.
The group that was greatly affected by the process was the elderly people and the young. It is argued that approximately more than one-third of the deaths that occurred on the Trail of Tears were as a result of the camp conditions but these are not facts but speculations. The camps were grouped into three military groups where each group planned how to remove the Indian Territory involving water and land routes. One group was stationed on the Hiwassee River (at Calhoun, Tennessee) on the Cherokee Agency. The second group was located in Gunter’s Landing (at Guntersville, Alabama) while the last group was positioned in Ross’s Landing (at present-day Chattanooga, Tennessee), and the two last groups were along the Tennessee River. Each group was required to travel to the west either by water or land. The groups walked for long distances as none followed a direct passage. All the groups experienced disastrous conditions with sickness and heat and many lost their lives in the journey.
Scott attempted to watch the Georgia troops and campaigned for better treatment from the soldiers. However, his attempts were unsuccessful. Evan Jones a Baptist missionary who worked and lived among the Cherokees explained that the Indians faced inhumane treatment in a brutal and unfeeling way. After failing to successfully appeal against removal, John Ross appealed that General Scott would at least wait for the weather conditions to cool and made a request that the remaining relocation logistics be given to the Cherokee Council who were for the better interest of the Indian community. General Scott conceded and Ross took the flag to lead the Cherokee in the removal process.
On August 28, 1838, there was the formation of organized Cherokee marches. Ross subdivided the Cherokee into 13 groups with each group having approximately 1,000 individuals and slowly they traveled to the west. Throughout the journey, Ross carried the records and the laws of the Cherokee Nation, as he left with the last group of infirm and sick men in December. Nonetheless, before crossing the Mississippi River, thousands of the Cherokees were ensnared by the harsh winter season, which led to the death of more individuals. The situation affected Ross’s wife who died and was buried together with others on February 1, 1839. All the Cherokee arrived at their destination in late March of 1840.
It is hard to determine the cost of the Trail of Tears of the Cherokee in terms of life. For example, while under the guidance of General Scott, the soldiers under-reported the deaths of the Cherokees. Originally, the government reported that only four hundred persons lost their lives in the first phase of the removal. However, after possessing the removal process, the Cherokees were more concerned about preserving lives rather than record keeping the number of persons who died. According to approximations, the Cherokees who lost their lives were approximately 4,000 who died due to violence, whooping cough, dysentery, exposure, hunger, and other factors in the Trail of Tears. Unrelatedly to the exact number of deaths, the removal process (Trail of Tears) caused a toll to the Cherokee group.
It is challenging to determine the exact number of Cherokees who lost their lives, which creates a greater challenge to reconstruct the black slavery experiences who followed the Trail of Tears with their Cherokee owners. It is estimated that more than 2,000 black slaves were removed together with their masters. Before the formation of the United States, the economic elite in Cherokee adopted slavery from English colonials while adopting the Southern plantation system. Thus some elite families among the Cherokees had black slaves who were victims of the Removal process.
Some of the Cherokees with slaves moved their belongings to the slaves’ homes during the period between the Treaty of New Echota and the forced removal campaign. Although this was not the best move for the Cherokee, it was better than moving from their land to Mississippi. Other slaves joined their masters in the movement and experienced the deadly impact and experience of the Trail of Tears. For example, John Ross who owned slaves moved his household and family during some of the most traitorous of conditions. Regardless of the failure of the U.S. system to the Cherokees, after arriving in their Indian Territory, the group continued to follow the ways of the white. One was constitutional and the second slavery that led to the enforcement of the whites’ way of life. For example, the end of slavery among the whites also brought an end to slavery in the Cherokee Nation.
The Cherokees experienced fatigue and exposure to non-conducive environments during the Removal process, which weakened their immune system and exposed the group to diseases like respiratory diseases, dysentery, whooping cough, and measles. The exact statistic of the number of individuals who lost their lives during the journey remains unknown. In an estimate, more than 4,000 Cherokees lost their lives, which is approximately 25% of the total Cherokee Nation. John Ross throughout the journey during his commandership recorded 182 desertions, 69 births, 424 deaths at the removal of 13,149 individuals. On arrival to the Indian Territory, the number of the Indians as counted by a U.S. official was 11,504, which provide a 1,645 discrepancy in comparison to the people that left the East. Russell Thorton argues that between 1835 and 1840, the Cherokees lost approximately 10,000 individuals, a number inclusive of the children who would have been born during the period. This is an indication that the general demographic effect of the Cherokees is more than the actual number of deaths.
After the arrival of Ross impartialities in the 1839 spring season in the Indian Territory, they faced a challenging moment trying to meld with the Treaty Party who transited voluntarily. The deportation negatively shook the matrix of the Cherokee society, which ripped them from their ancestry rights, shaking the infancy of their governmental institutions. Following the division of the Cherokee Nations, the political chasm resulted in the eruption of the Civil War. The community fought the bloody Civil War, which led to the reemergence of the old clan revenge system.
However, the impending political crisis that was solved at the Takatoka Camp Ground saw approximately 6000-7000 Cherokee assembled in June 1839. During this time, John Ross campaigned that the Cherokee maintain their government system. At the time, the community had an elaborate law code, written constitution, government, and constituted a significant majority. With time, the Treaty Party was viewed by the U.S., as patriots, recent immigrants were viewed as savages, while Ross was seen as a villain.
Before the end of the meeting, the men agreed to compromise and set a date where voting was to occur. However, during the time, 150 of the men secretly met and agreed that the Cherokees who signed the New Echota Treaty were traitors who violated the Cherokee law. The Cherokee law prohibited the members to sell their land without authorization.
Generally, the Americans civilized the natives in a philanthropic approach where they would enjoy the benefits of civilizing the groups. The core reason to wrest the Indian land was to change their way of life (hunting), which would produce surplus cultivation land. The land would be exchanged by providing education to the Indians. The process of acculturation was accelerated by the coercion of the Indians to cede their hunting areas as they would concentrate on cultivating the land rather than living in forests. Thomas Jefferson who succeeded Henry Knox in 1801 shared the same belief.
After taking power, Jefferson applied more aggressiveness where he made orders that his followers would apply more pressure to the Indians to sell more large pieces of land. One strategy followed by Jefferson was allowing his agents to apply bribery, intimidation, and threats to attain the pieces of land. Through President Jefferson, it is clear that the aspect of civilization was not to benefit the Native Americans but his policy was a masquerade to eliminate the Native Americans. This indicates that the cause of the Indian Removal Act was not from Andrew Jackson’s signature in 1830 but rather was a culmination in the early 19th century.
Nonetheless, President Jackson signed the Act due to the emergence of scientific racism, the concept of state’ rights, and the discovery of gold in the Indians land. This led to the Americans speculators to covet approximately 5 million acres of land after the Indians refused to sell the land. The whites sought after the Indian land for settlement purposes, as the land was a measure of wealth for southerners. During that time, the cultivation of cotton was a lucrative business and many southerners desired more land for cultivation. In 1829, there was a discovery of gold in the Cherokee land, which gave the government more reason to take the land and remove the Indians.
This led to the murder of John Ridge who was dragged while asleep by a group of these men. Major Ridge was shot by another group while he was traveling along Arkansas road and he died instantly. In the same period, Elias Boudinot was instantly attacked by a third group in his house where his head was split using a tomahawk. In response to the killings and attacks, the Treaty Party continued to oppose all government conquered by the National Party. This led to the formation of the Cherokee Council, which elected delegates and sent them to Washington. The delegates were sent protection from the Federal government and demanded that the individuals who led to the killings be killed. The majority of the Treaty Party members resisted the act of bitterly and union in opposition to any business to the National Party, which widened to the political chasm.
Nonetheless, as long as ratification of the Treaty of New Echota was disallowed by the National Party, the Cherokee’s nationalities could not receive payments of its fund and annuities from the Federal government. The Treaty Party members prospered, which kindled latent antipathies of the impoverished Cherokees who experienced the non-conducive condition and inhumane acts of the whites. This led Ross to press for renegotiation of the fraudulent Treaty of New Echota as a way of alleviating the suffering of his people and their sovereignty. However, during the period, while Ross was still in Washington for negotiation, violence increased where the Treaty Party members killed any individual who they thought was involved in the killing of their leaders.
Cherokees citizens who were identified with the National Party were murdered, which led to a challenge for the government to distinguish whether the actions were a common crime or political violence. For example, the Starr gang coalesced the signatory of the Treaty of New Echota who was called James Starr. Through the facade of political resistance, the sons of Starrs together with other troops coerced the Cherokee citizens. In 1843, Starr’s and his sons, as well as other members burned the house of Ross’s daughter and also killed a white visitor on their land. This gave the federal government reasons to maintain troops at Fort Gibson, to meddle more on the Cherokees issues, and decry the efficiency of the Cherokee government in their nation. The federal were blaming Ross, which gave the Treaty Party members a new strategy of undermining the capability of Ross in peace maintenance.
The Cherokee wrote several letters during the civil period, which illustrated their anguish and fear. For example, the daughter of Chief John Ross, Jane Ross Meigs “The country is in such a state just now that there seems little encouragement for people to build good houses or make anything. I am so nervous I can scarcely write at all. I hope it will not be long you will be at home but I hope that the country will be settled by that time too.” However, following the enforcement of the tribal factions from the U.S. government led to an uneasy peace in the community. The U.S. government forced that a treaty agreement is signed in 1846 Washington. As a leader, Ross portrayed that the Cherokees were a sovereign in their nation.
The agreement led to economic recovery due to the introduction of the per capita payments. Nonetheless, the treaty also resulted in various contradictions. For example, they argued that if the whites left their affairs they were in a better position to self-manage their government. However, this was impossible as the Cherokee Nation was poor economically and they relied on the federal government for finances and an overreliance on American funds. Nevertheless, while seeking for peace following the treaty, the Cherokees could not eliminate their past fears that haunted them. The community still feared that the whites would drive them from their new land, as they drove them from Georgia. This caused an attitude of distrust among the U.S. government, which persists in the community to date.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 resulted in the Trail of Tears as a result of discrimination and racism towards the Indians. The causes of this policy are vast where some may view it as a form of genocide following the displacement atrocity. Following this theory, Andrew Jackson displaced the Indians from their land geographically where many of the Indians perished due to the untoward weather and treatments from the U.S. troops. Although many may argue that President Jackson did not advocate for the mass extinction of the Cherokees and other Indian groups, from the study, it is clear that he was a staunch supporter of the U.S. sovereignty. He also failed to deny the Georgia resident a right to the extensive tracts of Indians land.
After the displacement, the war did not end and the Trail of Tears continued, as the Treaty Party members and National Party members reverted to their old clan revenge warfare. This resentment persisted between the two groups. Before the Indian Removal Act, the Indians had adopted the way of the whites’ society, which was a sign of civilization. The group prided in these facts, a culture that they carried on even after deportation. However, the violence and killings caused by the Treaty of New Echota illustrated clan warfare among the kinsmen. Ross after seeking negotiation led the Cherokees to start seeking dependence even though they continued to rely on the federal financial assistance, which gave the U.S. government the mandate to control the community.
In general, the Trail of Tears from the United States perspective was a turning point. First, it signified a radical end of the previous U.S. policy. Before this, the U.S. viewed the natives in terms of Indian civilization where they were expected to adopt and assimilate the political, economic, and cultural ways of life while fostering the adoption of European institutions, education, trade, agriculture, and Christianity. In terms of the Indians, the deportation was a start of the change in U.S. policy, which was accompanied by blood-shedding and war in years that followed. It was a turning point for the Indians where they lost not only their land but their freedom, culture, and loved ones.
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