The Trail Of Tears Essay

1880 words - 8 pages

“Quantie’s weak body shuddered from a blast of cold wind. Still, the proud wife of the Cherokee chief John Ross wrapped a woolen blanket around her shoulders and grabbed the reins.” Leading the final group of Cherokee Indians from their home lands, Chief John Ross thought of an old story that was told by the chiefs before him, of a place where the earth and sky met in the west, this was the place where death awaits. He could not help but fear that this place of death was where his beloved people were being taken after years of persecution and injustice at the hands of white Americans, the proud Indian people were being forced to vacate their lands, leaving behind their homes, businesses and almost everything they owned while traveling to an unknown place and an uncertain future. The Cherokee Indians suffered terrible indignities, sickness and death while being removed to the Indian territories west of the Mississippi, even though they maintained their culture and traditions, rebuilt their numbers and improved their living conditions by developing their own government, economy and social structure, they were never able to return to their previous greatness or escape the injustices of the American people.
Prior to 1830 the Cherokee people in the Southern states were land and business owners, many owned plantations and kept slaves to work the land, others were hunters and fishermen who ran businesses and blended in well with their white neighbors, but after Andrew Jackson took office as President, the government adopted a strict policy of Indian removal, which Jackson aggressively pursued by eliminating native American land titles and relocating American Indians west of the Mississippi. That same year, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which gave the President the authority to negotiate removal treaties with the various Indian tribes. Many Americans saw this act as the government sanctioning of brutality and inhuman treatment of the Indian people and actively protested its passing.
President Jackson thought of the Indians as children who needed his guidance and justified their removal as a way of protecting the Indians from the hatred and harassment of the white Americans and as a measure that would allow them to govern themselves in a new land. A passage from the Removal Act reads as follows, "no state could achieve proper culture, civilization, and progress, as long as Indians remained within its boundaries". This statement gives a more accurate description of how the American Congress and the President thought of all Indians in America and the Removal Act gave them the justification to further American expansion into Indian tribal lands.
By the late 1830s, more than 40 treaties were signed by what was then called the Five Civilized Tribes, which consisted of the Cherokee, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles. Many of these tribes exchanged over 40,000 miles of land in seven states. Three-quarters of Alabama and Florida,...

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