The Indian Removal Act
“We are overwhelmed; our hearts are sickened; our utterance is paralyzed, when we reflect on the condition in which we are placed by the audacious practices of unprincipled men…” (Moulton, 1985). Cherokee Nation Chief John Ross expressed his sorrow that his people would have no land, no home, and no resting place because of the actions of an American president and congress. The fact that any schoolchild knows the Indian population lived in a large portion of North America even before European contact, is proof to many of the Eastern Indians absolute birthright to all rights and citizenship in the new world. Despite the obvious presence of the Indians prior to European colonization, and in defiance of the Supreme Court, on May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. The Indian Removal Act and its repercussions, remain as one of the most unnecessary and shameful times in U.S. history.
The Beneficiaries of the Indian Removal Act
Long before becoming president, Jackson was an active supporter of Indian removal. Between 1814 and 1818, Jackson was in charge of the military forces that waged war with the Creek and Seminole Indians. Consequently, the Creek Indians lost 22 million acres in Georgia and Alabama, and the Spanish owned Florida, where the Seminole Indians lived, was back in the United States possession as Spain retreated and sold its interests (Weiser, 2014). Once Jackson had won the presidency, he began earnestly to have the Indians removed. The United States was expanding past its original land space and saw the Indians as a big obstacle in their desire to establish more cotton farms in the Southern United States. In an effort to save as much of their land as possible, many tribes adopted white practices such as farming, educating their youth, and owning slaves in the hope that assimilation would save their land (PBS, 2014). Their efforts were not rewarded and the slow and often brutal process of removing the Indians began.
There were many who benefitted from the forced removal of the Indians, but both past and present history shows the Indians themselves did not realize any benefit, despite promises of fairness and land equity. In President Jackson’s message to Congress in 1830, his agenda was clearly stated -- “What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms…occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people…” (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 2014). Adding more insult to the situation, Jackson boldly proclaimed the Indians should...