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The Indian Removal Act Of 1830: Corrupt From The Outset

1805 words - 8 pages

The Trail of Tears was one of the deadliest and most gruesome act of violence ever carried out in the 19th century. It would result in the death of 4000 Indians in a forced relocation of 15000 Cherokee. This march was directly carried out by the United States Government and the Jackson administration. It was characterized at the time as a humanitarian alternative to letting the Native Americans die at the hands of land hungry white settlers. However, this event was inherently evil as it was purely based on greed, racism, and the unspoken purpose of prolonging southern society; it was also unconstitutional in multiple aspects.
In the vast collection of Indian tribes that the United States would encounter in its gradual expansion, the Cherokee would be considered to be one of the most “civilized” in that they mostly adopted western culture and practices that white settlers had introduced to them. “Many Indians sent their children to schools operated by white missionaries, and some had embraced the Christian religion. Cherokees had devised their own written language and published a newspaper in English and Cherokee.” (Watson 106). All this change was encouraged by white settlers who hoped that the rapid development would allow for the gradual opening up of Indian lands for purchase. When the Cherokee continued to hold fast and refused to sell their ancestral land, the state of Georgia exercised its supposed sovereignty over the region and took away Cherokee land. This move was solely motivated by the greed for the rich black soil that the tribe lived on. The Cherokee’s relative development and familiarity with American society led them to take one of the most American approaches to check American encroachment: they sued. Despite these consistent examples of Native American advancement and development, Jackson and his allies would continue to hold the view that inherent racial superiority granted whites access to Indian land. Northerners however protested the obviously thinly veiled land grab; Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen would embody this view when he said, “Do the obligations of justice change with the color of skin?” (Watson 109) Southern proponents of Indian removal were quick to respond, affirming their racial superiority. John Forsyth, a senator sympathetic with Jackson’s views, would go on to say Indians “were a race not permitted to be equal to the rest of this community”. (Watson 111). The combination of entrenched racism and greed coalesced to allow citizens to accept one of the greatest tragedies of the 19th century.
The Supreme Court is the branch of government that reserves for itself the right to interpret and reinterpret the Constitution. Giving it almost a “final say” in Constitutional matters. However, in one case, the ruling of the Supreme Court wasn’t just met with disdain, it was flat out ignored. As Southern plantation society was reaching a point of stagnation; social mobility effectively was eliminated for...

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