The presidency of Andrew Jackson from 1829-1837 and his support of Indian removal raised controversy not only with the Indian tribes

The presidency of Andrew Jackson from 1829-1837 and his support of Indian removal raised controversy not only with the Indian tribes, but also among America as a whole. Andrew Jackson had always supported the moving of Native Americans west of the Mississippi River. Jackson believed that the government had the control to decide where Native Americans could live. The federal government ordered Jackson to make treaties with the Native Americans of the region; These treaties forced the move of these tribes, and the government gained large areas of land. His view was that Native Americans had one of two choices; they could either adopt white customs and become citizens of the States or they could move into the Western territories.
After the discovery of gold, more settlers began to move onto the land of the Native Tribes. Many Southern states including Georgia passed laws that gave them the right to take over Native American lands. When the Cherokee and other tribes protested, Jackson continued to support the settlers of different states. Jackson requested Congress to pass a law that would require Native Americans to either move west or submit to state laws. Both the white settlers and the Cherokees had different thoughts on The Indian Removal Act, some opposed, and many supported it. He thought his policy was fair and generous and would allow Native Americans to still keep their way of life. Instead, his policy caused a lot trouble and changed relations between whites and Native Americans. As settlers invaded their homelands, many Indians had no other choice but to sign treaties exchanging their land for land in the West.
Andrew Jackson justified this act by claiming that it was aimed at creating new land so that citizens of the United States would be able to settle on the land. Further justification was given by saying that there would be repayment for the Native Americans. However this was not always the case as repayment was in some cases not done in a fair way and this as a result lead to destruction of the tribes. The passing of this act was focused on opening up land for settlements for the American settlers and from moving those Native Americans that were settled in states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and several others.
President Andrew Jackson claimed that the move would strengthen the southwestern boundaries and that relocating the Indian population from other states like Mississippi, Georgia, and North Carolina would give an opportunity for those states to be able to develop faster. Jackson also justified his decision by saying that it would enable the Native Americans to move to land where they would be able to govern themselves peacefully and avoid attacks from any white settlers. The president’s attitude towards Indians was considered to be demeaning and disgraceful.
Some Americans supported the Indian Removal Act, saying that somehow the act would not only benefit them, but also the Natives as well. By pushing the Natives out west, they would be able to return to the culture they knew and would be able to not confine to the white culture they were being forced to absorb. By moving the rest of their people elsewhere, the Native population would be able to regrow and save their culture. It might sound odd, but even some Native Americans supported the Indian Removal Act. They didn’t want to relocate, but if it meant an end to disputes between the white settlers and Natives, they would move out of the boundaries.
Supporters argued that moving the Indians to another area would allow America to expand itself. The eastern lands once belonging to the Indians would allow the frontier to support communities if the land was give to foreign settlers. These newly settled communities would be permitted to succeed without fear of Native attacks. Another reasoning that was used to support the Indian Removal Act was that Americans rightfully claimed the Native land. They thought they could claim this land because it was viewed as unsettled. This land was considered highly valuable to the settlers because farming meant a profit from cash crops. Before this act passed, there was arguments as to which government, federal or state, had the power to create laws regarding border disputes. After the act, there would no longer be any confusion about which government held this power, as the federal government was had this power.
As with many acts that pass, there will always be people opposed it. Americans against the act had many arguments about the unconstitutionality of the Indian Removal Act. One argument made against the act was that the act went against what the base of America was built off of, specifically the Constitution. Treaties previously signed with the Natives regarding their right to possess their own land was neglected. And within these treaties were promises such as the freedom to be a disconnected community, and the government’s word to not interfere in the lives of the Natives. Also the government promised to use its own military to defend the Native tribes. That promise was neglected, as well.
The five civilized tribes, of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes were considered civilized due to their adaptation to the American culture. If the government was to banish the Natives outside of US boundaries, the Natives would be forced to return to a savage life, which would be unfamiliar to most. Many considered this to be immoral, as they would become strangers to a life that their ancestors once knew. They would have to adopt a new culture all over again. Everyone knows that the Indians had settled on American soil before the first European settlers and even before America was established. This was one of the most common argument used by the opposition. Natives had the right to their land and of course they didn’t want to leave their land. “Many of these Indians had homes, representative government, children in missionary schools, and trades other than farming.” (Britannica, 2016) The Natives did not voluntarily leave their land to make way for new settlers. Native tribes had an attachment to their land and the last thing they wanted to do was to pick up and move to a totally different territory. Opponents to the Removal Act viewed this considerable action as extremely cruel and harsh to the Natives.
“In September 1830, Choctaws became the first tribe to sign a treaty and voluntarily relocate to the territory that would become the state of Arkansas. Seminoles refused to leave their ancestral lands in Florida, sparking the Second Seminole War in 1835… Chickasaws agreed to leave their lands in exchange for a monetary settlement of $3 million, which the United States refused to pay until almost 30 years later. The Creek had been forced to cede over 20,000 acres of their ancestral lands in the Treaty of Fort Jackson following the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in the War of 1812… As for Cherokees, a small faction had signed a treaty with the US government in 1835, but that faction did not represent Cherokee leadership, who refused to leave their lands voluntarily. As a result, Cherokees were forcibly relocated to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.” (Dr. Michelle Getchell, n.d., “The age of Jackson”)
Under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, thousands of Natives Americans were forced to make the journey to land west of the Mississippi River through harsh weather conditions. The journey then received the name of the Trail of Tears. Many died on the journey to their new homes and the conditions on the Trail of Tears were terrible. The Trail of Tears was a period of endless misery and hopelessness among the Native Americans. During the trail, the Indians passed through horrible conditions that were unbearable. The Indians slept in the dirt and mud, lacked shelter, and ran out of food. If the poor living conditions didn’t kill them, severe disease outbursts killed most of the Indians. Thus, the Trail of Tears resulted in massive deaths among the Indians apart from damaging the Native American spirit and respect.
The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, states were eager to gain access to lands occupied by the five indian tribes. Along with other states, Georgia was mainly involved in a dispute with the Cherokee nation and President Jackson hoped removal would resolve the crisis. The Indian Removal Act was also very controversial. Most people, whether they were in favor of the Indian removal act or not, realized that the act meant the predetermined removal of most Indians from the states. Some Native American leaders who had formerly resisted removal now began to reconsider their decision, especially after Jackson’s re-election in 1832.
The history of Native Americans is one of a kind, yet at the same time tragic. It’s unique because the Indians were the original residents of America and had survived all the periods of new settlers since the first thirteen colonies, and it ended with the expansion to the west. It is tragic because the conflict between Native Americans and white settlers is a repeat of the experience of other nations whose traditions had come into conflict with the development of society. Despite these times, the Native Americans continued to preserve their true identity and culture despite the invasion of their modern civilization; And in the end, those still in favor of the Indian Removal Act just saw the opportunities for America to increase its territory, political power and influence, and a better economy.
In my opinion, I think there were many positive and negative outcomes from the Indian Removal Act. It was a horrific experience and time for the Native Americans but some tribes sold their land and received a lot of money to move, they moved to land away from the settlers and banded tribes together against the government, and it made the settlers look completely foolish for the unethical decision they made. On the other hand, the white settlers were able to explore more of the gold mines, take pre-built farms, move westward, receive fertile land from the Native Americans, and obtain cheap land. The negative outcomes for the Native Americans was many died of exposure, malnutrition, increased distrust of Americans, lost ancestral land, were discriminated against, and by the scattering of tribes it made affirming to their ancestry cultural backgrounds difficult. For the Americans it showed political corruption, increased distrust of Indians to the Federal Government, laws became complicated to pass, Indians refused to cooperate even more, and it was somewhat impossible to make treaties with Indians. In conclusion, I think the removal of the Indians could have happened in a more constitutional and collective way, but the United States was able to expand and become one of the top powerful countries in the world.