More Than a Trail of Tears

Removing The Natives From Their Home

Pre-Indian Removal Act

Americans had pushed the native people further and further west since they arrived in the New World. They would make treaties and sign contracts deciding the boarders between their own and the native's land. However, in a matter of years, they would steal the land they had sanctioned for the natives. This cycle of "establish then take over" was the norm for a little more than a century before the final nail was put in the coffin.

Furthermore, right before the Indian Removal Act, President Andrew Jackson, wrote a letter to Congress in support of the act in 1830. The letter’s first sentence is "It gives me pleasure to announce...the removal of Indians is approaching to a happy consummation". As an advocate for Indian Removal, Jackson was all too happy to sign the act into law that same year.

The Indian Removal Act

The act was signed into law on May 28, 1830. It gave the President the power to set up districts for the natives in land west of the Mississippi that is not already inhabited by Americans. It also included a few clauses about the protection of the natives and that they have to leave the land already inhabited by Americans. Therefore, in short, the Americans decided the natives had to leave beyond the Mississippi.

However, no matter what the Americans said, many natives refused to capitulate while others just wanted to be heard. The Cherokee wrote a letter to Congress shortly after the Act was passed. The letter divulged the grievances of the Cherokee people from the years of mistreatment upon them from the Americans. The Cherokee chief, John Ross inscribes, "We are overwhelmed...[and] sickened...when we reflect on the condition on which we are placed, by...unprincipled men". Nonetheless, they were among the thousands that made the treacherous journey to Oklahoma.

Post-Indian Removal Act

At this point, the irrevocable effects of the Indian Removal Act was the morose end for the native people. The Trail of Tears was the journey traveled by the Cherokee people over the Appalachian Mountains and through the Mississippi River. More than a third of the natives that began the journey died along the way, hence the title, Trail of Tears.

After decades of pushing the natives off their land and forcing them west, the final push of the American government sent the natives packing into Oklahoma. Once they forced the natives past the Mississippi, there was nothing stopping them from displacing them again, which is exactly what they did. Just a few decades later, the few surviving tribes were living off small reserves in the west, which were later taken by migrating Americans.

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"Cherokee Letter." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2016. Staff. "Trail of Tears." A&E Television Networks, 01 Jan. 2009. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.

H.R., 21st Cong. (1830) (enacted). Print.

Jackson, Andrew. Letter to Congress. 1830. Our Documents. Civics Online, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.

"National Identity and Growth." The American Odyssey. Ed. Morton Keller and Mary Beth Klee. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 296+. Print.