Indian Removal Act of 1830

The Indian Removal Act

The Indian Removal Act of 1830:
Tami Gilford

            In May of 1830 the Indian Removal Act was passed by the United States Congress and made a law by President Andrew Jackson. The Act was harshly disputed in Congress by several key members of the Cherokee Nation, particularly that of John Ross, who drafted the Cherokee Nation Constitution. Once The Indian Removal Act was passed, President Jackson, along with the negotiators he had appointed, began a cruel act of manipulation to compel several tribal leaders to sign the treaty to remove the Indians from their lands. What began as an act of fairness and equality became an unfair practice that resulted in tragic deaths of thousands of Cherokee Indians, as well as that of other Indian tribes. The Trail of Tears caused the death of several thousand Indians, mainly from hunger and the cold weather they experienced during their 800 plus mile walk to safer lands.  In 1838 the Federal Government forcibly and cruelly removed as many as 16,000 Cherokee Indians from their lands located within Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. In essence, what land belonged to the Indians as their right to occupy was inferior to the United States’ right of “discovery”. The Indians merely wanted to guard and protect what was left of their own land. The federal government, still in its infancy, slowly began to abolish Indians rights and promoted slaughter and cruelty, under the guise of democracy. The Cherokee Indians were forced to leave their homes, their lands and everything that was familiar to them.   These Indians were sent west of the Mississippi River to relocate in Oklahoma, known as ‘Indian territory.” As a result of The Indian Removal Act of 1830, thousands of Cherokee Indians, as well as other Indian tribes, perished from the long trip to the west. The Indian Removal Act was a complete violation of their legal, their political and their human, God-given rights.

The Cherokees’ freedoms and their land were essentially taken away without their permission.  The Indian Removal Act ordered the military and its’ soldiers to capture and imprison Indians. The Cherokee Indians had no way to change this as they had no power in the Federal Government. According to the statements of Chief Justice John Marshall who said “…an Indian tribe or nation within the United States is not a foreign state in the sense of the constitution” The Cherokee and other Indians were citizens of the U.S. but had no rights to the same. Thus, their political rights were in violation. The Cherokee Indians’ legal rights were violated by the manner in which they were coerced and manipulated through deceitful treaties, which resulted in the Federal Government literally stealing lands from the Indians. Such treaties gave the Indians a guarantee of peace and privileges and assured them that they could live where they had been born. While John Ross, tells a much different story about the false treaties. Mr. Ross tells of how the Cherokees continued to be looted, injured or killed, regardless of the treaties. John Ross, the principle chief of the Cherokee nation, tells us of how the Cherokee Indians were victims of document fraud. Regarding their human rights, the Cherokee Indians were not treated as human. The Cherokee Nation was measured as inferior to the white man and the Federal Government.

President Andrew Jackson, who made the Indian Removal Act of 1830 law, continually referred to Indians as savages and uncivilized, lower than livestock. Regarding his defense of the Indian Removal Act, he is quoted as stating It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community. These consequences, some of them so certain and the rest so probable, make the complete execution of the plan sanctioned by Congress at their last session an object of much solicitude.” When asked about the inhumane conditions the Cherokee Indians were exposed to, Private John. G. Bernett of 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Mounted Infantry says I saw the helpless Cherokees arrested and dragged from their homes, and driven at the bayonet point into the stockades. And in the chill of a drizzling rain on an October morning I saw them loaded like cattle or sheep into six hundred and forty-five wagons and started toward the west….On the morning of November the 17th we encountered a terrific sleet and snow storm with freezing temperatures and from that day until we reached the end of the fateful journey on March the 26th 1839, the sufferings of the Cherokees were awful. The trail of the exiles was a trail of death. They had to sleep in the wagons and on the ground without fire. And I have known as many as twenty-two of them to die in one night of pneumonia due to ill treatment, cold and exposure…” With this testimony we can conclude that the Cherokee Indians human rights were in severe violation. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was not only unjust and unfair but was a clear contradiction to the values and the morals that the United States was said to be founded upon. And what makes the U.S. what it is today.

Works Cited:
Weiser, Kathy “Native American Legends: Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Nation” September 2010    http://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-johnross.html.

Council of the Cherokee Nation “Legislative Act No. 10-98: An Act Creating a Constitution Convention      Commission” July 27, 1998 http://www.cherokee.org/Government/237/Page/default.aspx.

“People & Events Indian removal 1814 – 1858.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2959.html. Africans In America.
Simkin, John “Spartacus Educational”  http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WWindianremove.htm.

 U.S. Government “The Indian Removal Act of 1830” 1830  http://www.civics online.org/library/formatted/texts/indian_act.html. Civics Online.

LeBeau, Patrick “term Paper Resource Guide to American History” 2009

Red Hill Productions and Community Television of Southern California. “Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil and the presidency” 2007

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