The Indian Removal Act
Within a year of taking office, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830. A longtime supporter of removing Indians from the lands they occupied, Jackson’s Indian Removal Act gave him the authority to negotiate directly with Native American Indian tribes to exchange their land with land west of the Mississippi River. Within ten years of the signing of the Act more than 70,000 Indians were relocated, many with force, and thousands died during the process. Those that benefited most from the Indian Removal Act were the State of Georgia, the Country as a whole and Indians.
Twenty-five million acres of land east of the Mississippi that had been occupied by Indians became available due to the Indian Removal Act. The State of Georgia had a particularly contentious relationship with the Cherokee Indians occupying land within their state. The State of Georgia pushed the Federal government to remove the Cherokee Indians from their state because they wanted the land due to the recent discovery of gold and the desire to expand cotton production within the state (PBS Online, 1999). The Cherokee did not leave without a fight. The Supreme Court ruled in two separate cases, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and Worcester v. Georgia (1832), that the State of Georgia did not have the power to establish laws over the Cherokee Indians (Frank, 2007). Georgia and the federal government ignored these rulings and the Cherokee Indians were relocated from Georgia to Indian Territory.
Americans had a deep seeded fear of Native Americans. They were considered savages that were merely occupying land with no title to it. Jackson explained to Congress in 1830 that the Country as a whole would benefit from removing the Indians because it would provide land that would generate increased wealth for white Americans. Additionally, Seminole Indians in Florida were known to provide refuge to fugitive slaves and Americans viewed them and other tribes as a threat. Jackson explained that...