Born March 15, 1767 on the Carolina frontier, Andrew Jackson would eventually rise from poverty to politics after the War of 1812 where he earned national fame as a military hero. Jackson won the popular vote in the 1829 election and became the seventh United States President. As President, Jackson sought out to be a representative of the common man. Jackson remarks in his veto message of July 10, 1832 that, “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” Andrew Jackson put in place the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This act forced Natives off their homelands and onto the lands west of the Mississippi River. They encountered a journey, called the Trail of Tears, where they traveled by foot to what would be their new homes, which transformed the lives of thousands of Native Americans. The President’s intentions were to move all Natives west of the Mississippi River to open up the land to American settlers.
“The decision of the Jackson administration to remove the Cherokee Indians to lands west of the Mississippi River in the 1830’s was [less] a reformulation of the national policy that had been in effect since the 1790’s [and more] a change in that policy.”
The validity of this generalization can be evidenced by the moral, political, constitutional and practical concerns that shaped national Indian policy between 1789 and the mid-1830’s.
Andrew Jackson believed that the only way to save the Natives from extinction was to remove them from their current homes and push them across the Mississippi River. “And when removal was accomplished he felt he had done the American people a great service. He felt he had followed the ‘dictates of humanity’ and saved the Indians from certain death.” Jackson saw his plan as good for both the Americans and Natives alike. In reality the Removal Act caused the death of about one hundred thousand Native Americans on the treacherous Trail of Tears. Before Jackson took office the main policy toward natives included leaving them to assimilate into American culture.
“That the Cherokee Nation may be led to a greater degree of civilization, and to become herdsmen and cultivators, instead of remaining in a state of hunters, the United States will from time to time furnish gratuitously the sad nation with useful implements of husbandry.”
This statement argues that the Cherokees can become more civilized with assistance from the United States. Robert V. Remini points out in his essay, “Brothers, Listen...You Must Submit” that,
“the Founding Fathers convinced themselves that men of reason, intelligence and good will could resolve the Indian problem. In their view the Indians were ‘noble savages,’ arrested in cultural development, but they would one day take their rightful place beside white society. Once they were ‘civilized’ they would be absorbed.”
The administrations prior to Jackson saw the future of the natives in becoming part American culture....