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Indian Removal Act Essay

In 1791, the Cherokee Nation was allocated land in Georgia during a treaty with the U.S. In 1828, whites wanted to reclaim this land not only for settlement purposes, but because of the discovery of gold. President Jackson and the U.S Congress passed a policy of Indian removal for all lands east of the Mississippi River; this was known as The Indian Removal Act of 1830. As Georgia tried to reclaim this land, the Cherokee protested and took their case to the U.S Supreme Court, known as Worcester vs. Georgia. The act was instituted to authorize the Native Americans to move west. Native tribes included Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Seminole. While some tribes agreed to move west, many refused. The Native Americans resisted with great force as well as the Cherokee Indians being a significant part of the disagreement with the Supreme Court and Jackson. The Supreme Court favored the Cherokee Nations calling it “unconstitutional,” which caused controversy between Georgia officials. In turn, the Georgia officials with the support of Jackson led to a forced march in 1838 with the removal of all Cherokee Indians known as The Trail of Tears. This march is also known to the Cherokee’s as “The Trail Where They Cried,” because approximately 4,000 died. Federal troops were given orders to remove 15,000 Cherokee people to their new home in Indian Territory, today known as Oklahoma. This removal violated the Supreme Court’s Decision. The repercussions of this removal led to many deaths of Native Americans, not only from the force of removal, but from disease, starvation and the cold during their transition to their new home west of the Mississippi. Poverty of many relocated Indians lasted close to 100 years. The resources they gained while living in the land that they were stripped from, not only led to this poverty, but the livelihood of many natives were broken. International treaties were broken because of Jackson’s decision to go against the Supreme Court. It took over 30 years to removal all native tribes west.

The Seminoles refused to leave calling the Act “unjust.” This resulted in the Second Seminole war lasting 7 years from 1835-1842. Jackson spent millions of dollars during his administration for this to succeed. “By the end of his presidency, Jackson had signed into law almost seventy removal treaties, the result of which was to move nearly 50,000 eastern Indians to Indian Territory—defined as the region belonging to the United States west of the Mississippi River but excluding the states of Missouri and Iowa as well as the Territory of Arkansas—and open millions of acres of rich land east of the Mississippi to white settlers (U.S. Department of State, 2014).” While some including the natives view this Act and unconstitutional to the treaties in which were implemented, others view this as a necessity to continue to make the government prosper. Many natives lost their lives. America is what it is today because of the mast amount of treaties and Acts placed upon us by our historical leaders. Although this Act went against the rights of settlers, domestic and international trade may not be what it is today if this was not forced by the powers of the Jackson administration. This takes us to the controversy of moral character and rights vs. the prosperity of the American people. Politics and economic infrastructure should be based upon both good moral character as well as the implementation of governing laws to ensure our prosperity as a nation.


Murrin, J., Johnson, P., McPherson, J., Fahs, A., Gerstle, G., 2011. Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People. Fifth Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning: Boston, MA

U.S. Department of State: Office of the Historian, 2014. Indian Treaties and The Removal act of 1830. Retrieved from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1830-1860/indian-treaties

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