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History: The Indian Removal Act Essay

1260 words - 5 pages

The early 1800’s was a very important time for America. The small country was quickly expanding. With the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition, America almost tripled in size by 1853. However, even with the amount of land growing, not everyone was welcomed with open arms. With the expansion of the country, the white Americans decided that they needed the Natives out.
There were several motives for the removal of the Indians from their lands, to include racism and land lust. Since they first arrived, the white Americans hadn’t been too fond of the Native Americans. They were thought to be highly uncivilized and they had to go. In his letter to Congress addressing the removal of the Indian tribes, President Jackson states the following:
“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.” (Jackson).
The settlers had used their land so much for farming, that it was no longer as good and fertile as new soil. However, being hunters, the Indian tribes had plenty of land suitable for harvest. In 1828, gold was found in the Cherokee lands of Georgia. This, along with the desire for more land, gave settlers incentive to remove the Natives.
In 1830, President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act. This let him negotiate with the Native Americans for their lands. Although the signed treaties state that the tribes could not be moved forcibly, the pressure put on them made it inevitable. The act consisted of eight sections that defined, in detail, what could be expected. They let him maintain control over the tribes, even though they moved. Five tribes, the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creeks, and Seminoles, agreed to sign treaties to leave their homes and move west (Copeland 195). However, Andrew Jackson left a few pieces of information out:
“What the Removal Bill did not do was as significant as what it did. It did not define precisely the constitutional rights of any tribe that had been removed. It did not make mandatory the allocation of funds for tribal assistance if Congress wanted the money for anything else. It specified no machinery for carrying out the removal. Also, it made no mention that in 1828 gold had been discovered on Cherokee land at Dahlonega, Georgia, and it drew no lines between state or federal rights” (Jahoda 41).
If this information was placed in the bill, it could have put risk on the agreement between Jackson and the tribes. It possibly may have made it more difficult to get the Indians to agree to it.
In 1831, the Cherokee nation went to court against the state of...

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