Indian Removal
The presence of Native Americans represented a
challenge or impediment to westward expansion.
To the growing white majority of the Western frontier, the presence of any
Indians at all, “civilized” or not, was unacceptable.
While white planters and land speculator continued to pour in, hungry for
new acreage on which to raise cotton and expand the slave system, and
relentlessly pressed the federal government to remove the Cherokee as well
as the other Southeastern tribes and open their territories to settlement, every
perceived failing was dredged up to discredit the Cherokee.
The crisis for removal reached a crescendo following the discovery of gold
on the edge of Cherokee territory in 1828.
The “Indian Problem”
The first option was genocide (extermination)—no doubt some contemporary Americans agreed with Henry Clay who
said in 1825 that the disappearance of the Indian “from the human family will be no great loss to the world.”
Fortunately, no one in the Jackson administration never advocated exterminating Native Americans, rather viewing it
as unthinkable.
As for the second option—assimilation—neither Indians nor whites favored it. Most whites were racist and regarded
Indians as inferior exhibiting either fear or outrage at the thought of miscegenation. Furthermore, Native Americans
wished to preserve their unique identity as a people, having their own laws, religion, constitution, and society.
Assimilation meant becoming cultural white people—a prospect they totally rejected.
The third option, military protection, was an utter impossibility considering the greed and avarice with which Americans
coveted Indian land—land that would have been taken regardless since it would have taken an armed force larger
than anything available to the government at the time to keep whites out of Indian territory.
Removal, which probably originated with Thomas Jefferson and was the option the Jackson administration adopted,
was, according to Jackson, the only policy to pursue if Indian tribes and their culture were to survive.
According to one twentieth century historian of Native Americans, Francis Paul Prucha (right), the United States
government had little choice in its policy toward the Indians.
Of the four courses of action open, the only viable option was removal since each of the remaining three options
posed certain problems.
Hindsight will show that those tribes that did remove exist today whereas other tribes in the east disappeared.
Nonetheless, removal (as implemented) proved to be a ghastly price to pay for the survival of Native Americans.
Removal

The idea of removal was not a new
one—Thomas Jefferson, among
others, had advocated moving all
Indians west of the Mississippi River
until they became accustomed to
white ways.
In his Annual Message to Congress in 1817, President James Monroe called for the removal of
Indians, arguing the hunter should make way for the farmer.
Indian Bureau
FROM 1824 TO 1830, THOMAS MCKENNEY SERVED AS SUPERINTENDENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
MCKENNEY’S TRANSACTIONS WITH THE “CIVILIZED” SOUTHERN TRIBES HAD, AT ONE TIME, PERSUADED
HIM THAT INDIANS MIGHT BE ABLE TO ADOPT WHITE VALUES.
AS TROUBLING AS SUCH EXPERIMENTS MUST APPEAR TO US, THE ALTERNATIVES, IN MCKENNEY’S
VIEW, WERE FAR WORSE: INDIANS WHO DID NOT ASSIMILATE, OR MOVE BEYOND THE MISSISSIPPI
RIVER, WERE DOOMED.
IN 1829 MCKENNEY WROTE: “WE BELIEVE IF THE INDIANS DO NOT EMIGRATE, AND FLY THE CAUSES,
WHICH ARE FIXED IN THEMSELVES, AND WHICH HAVE PROVED SO DESTRUCTIVE IN THE PAST,
THEY MUST PERISH!”
IN 1830 THE JACKSON ADMINISTRATION DISMISSED MCKENNEY FOR NOT BEING IN SUFFICIENT
HARMONY WITH ITS INDIAN POLICY. BUT THE PREVAILING VIEW––THAT INDIANS MUST BE “CIVILISED”
IF THEY WERE TO SURVIVE WAS APPARENTLY NOT IN DISPUTE.
MCKENNEY APPEARS TO HAVE HOPED THAT THE RELOCATION OF THE INDIANS COULD BE
ACHIEVED BY PERSUASION, WHILE JACKSON WAS DETERMINED TO USE FORCE.
Thomas L. McKenney, 1856,
by Charles Loring Eliot
PRESIDENT JACKSON ALSO ORDERED THE WAR DEPARTMENT TO REMOVE THOSE INDIAN BOYS
MCKENNEY BROUGHT TO HIS FARM, WESTON, ON GEORGETOWN HEIGHTS FOR SCHOOLING FROM SCHOOL, AND
TO RETURN THEM TO THEIR PEOPLE.
Andrew Jackson long advocated
Indian removal west of the Mississippi
River—Jackson considered this one of
the most cherished goals on becoming
President.
Jackson became so certain that
removal was the only answer to the
Indian problem that upon his election
as President he gave enactment of a
removal bill the highest priority.
Removal would (1) protect the
American people by averting a further
clash of cultures; (2) provide greater
security for the U.S. by literally
removing a potential fifth column in
the event of an attack or invasion; (3)
prevent the almost certain annihilation
of Indian life and culture that would
have occurred if Indian tribes
remained within the jurisdiction of
Eastern States; (4) remove obstacles
and impediments to progress.
Jackson objected to the existence of
sovereign Indian nations within the
boundaries of the United States,
fearing they might make their own
alliances with Spain or England, which
still posed a real threat to America’s
national ambitions.
Removal
SOUTHERN AND WESTERN BAPTISTS WERE ALSO FOR REMOVAL AND WERE
LED BY CLERGYMAN ISAAC MCCOY OF INDIANA WHO TOURED THE EAST IN
1829 TO PROMOTE INDIAN REMOVAL.
WITH GOOD INTENTIONS, MCCOY BEGAN IN 1823 TO ADVOCATE THAT THE
INDIAN NATIONS OF THE EAST BE MOVED WEST "BEYOND THE FRONTIERS OF
THE WHITE SETTLEMENT."
HE BELIEVED THAT GETTING THE TRIBES TO THEIR OWN, ISOLATED PLACES,
AWAY FROM THE REACH OF WHISKEY TRADERS AND OTHERS WHO WERE
EXPLOITING THEM, WOULD GIVE THEM A BETTER CHANCE OF SURVIVING AND
BECOMING CHRISTIANIZED.
MCCOY'S IDEAS FOR REMOVAL OF THE INDIANS WERE NOT NEW, BUT HE
PROMOTED THE IDEA THAT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SHOULD FUND
"CIVILIZATION PROGRAMS" TO EDUCATE THE INDIANS AND TURN THEM INTO
FARMERS AND CHRISTIANS.
MCCOY EXPANDED HIS CONCEPT LATER TO PROPOSE THE CREATION OF AN
INDIAN STATE MAKING UP MOST OF THE LAND AREA OF KANSAS,
OKLAHOMA, AND NEBRASKA.
Andrew Jackson’s 1st Annual Message to Congress (1829)
“HUMANITY AND NATIONAL HONOR DEMAND” THAT THE GOVERNMENT SAVE THE INDIANS FROM “WEAKNESS AND
DECAY” BY SEPARATING THEM FROM WHITE MEN.
JACKSON POINTED OUT THE CONTRADICTORY INDIAN POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES.
ALTHOUGH COMMITTED TO ASSIMILATING INDIANS INTO WHITE AMERICAN CULTURE, SUCCESSIVE
ADMINISTRATIONS ALSO NEGOTIATED DOZENS OF TREATIES IN WHICH INDIANS CEDED LAND AND RETREATED (I.E.
REMOVED THEMSELVES) WEST.
SINCE THE JEFFERSON ADMINISTRATION, PRESSURE MOUNTED TO REPLACE THIS PIECEMEAL POLICY (IN WHICH
ONLY SELECT TRIBES WERE REMOVED) WITH A NEW PROGRAM THAT WOULD REMOVE ALL INDIANS OCCUPYING
EASTERN LANDS TO THE WESTERN BANKS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
THERE WAS NO DOUBT WHERE JACKSON STOOD ON THE INDIAN QUESTION—LIKE MANY WHITE AMERICANS AT THE
TIME, HE CONSIDERED THE INDIANS INFERIOR AND ASSUMED A PATERNALISTIC ATTITUDE TOWARD THEM.
JACKSON APPOINTED STRONG SUPPORTERS OF INDIAN REMOVAL, SUCH AS EATON AND BERRIEN, TO IMPORTANT
POSTS WITHIN HIS ADMINISTRATION WHILE PUBLICLY PRESSING THE CREEKS AND CHEROKEES TO MOVE WEST.
JACKSON’S POLITICAL FRIEND, CARROLL, ASSERTED THAT THE PRESIDENT’S INDIAN POLICY WAS BOTH “CORRECT
AND HUMANE” SINCE THE UNDISCIPLINED INDIANS WANTED NO PART OF WHITE RULE WHILE FURTHER POINTING
OUT THAT THE INDIANS DID NOT LIKE THE WHIPPING POST AND THE OTHER “LAWS OF CIVILIZED SOCIETY.”
Andrew Jackson’s 2nd Annual Message to Congress (1830) followed passage of the Indian
Removal Act on May 28, 1830 and its acceptance by “two important tribes” (the act authorized
congressional appropriations for the removal of the Five so-called “Civilized Tribes”)
“THE CONSEQUENCES OF A SPEEDY REMOVAL WILL BE IMPORTANT TO THE UNITED STATES, TO INDIVIDUAL STATES AND TO THE INDIANS
THEMSELVES. THE PECUNIARY ADVANTAGES WHICH IT PROMISES TO THE GOVERNMENT ARE THE LEAST OF ITS RECOMMENDATIONS. IT
PUTS AN END TO ALL POSSIBLE DANGER OF COLLISION BETWEEN THE AUTHORITIES OF THE GENERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS ON
ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS. IT WILL PLACE A DENSE AND CIVILIZED POPULATION IN LARGE TRACTS OF COUNTRY NOW OCCUPIED BY A
FEW SAVAGE HUNTERS. BY OPENING THE WHOLE TERRITORY BETWEEN TENNESSEE ON THE NORTH AND LOUISIANA ON THE SOUTH TO THE
SETTLEMENT OF THE WHITES IT WILL INCALCULABLY STRENGTHEN THE SOUTHWESTERN FRONTIER AND RENDER THE ADJACENT STATES
STRONG ENOUGH TO REPEL FUTURE INVASIONS WITHOUT REMOTE AID. IT WILL RELIEVE THE WHOLE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI AND THE
WESTERN PART OF ALABAMA OF INDIAN OCCUPANCY, AND ENABLE THOSE STATES TO ADVANCE RAPIDLY IN POPULATION, WEALTH,
AND POWER. 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. 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
EMBELLISHED WITH ALL THE IMPROVEMENTS WHICH ART CAN DEVISE OR INDUSTRY EXECUTE, OCCUPIED BY MORE THAN 12,000,000
HAPPY PEOPLE, AND FILLED WITH ALL THE BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY, CIVILIZATION AND RELIGION? THE PRESENT POLICY OF THE
GOVERNMENT IS BUT A CONTINUATION OF THE SAME PROGRESSIVE CHANGE BY A MILDER PROCESS. THE TRIBES WHICH OCCUPIED THE
COUNTRIES NOW CONSTITUTING THE EASTERN STATES WERE ANNIHILATED OR HAVE MELTED AWAY TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE WHITES.
THE WAVES OF POPULATION AND CIVILIZATION ARE ROLLING TO THE WESTWARD, AND WE NOW PROPOSE TO ACQUIRE THE
COUNTRIES OCCUPIED BY THE RED MEN OF THE SOUTH AND WEST BY A FAIR EXCHANGE, AND, AT THE EXPENSE OF THE UNITED STATES,
TO SEND THEM TO LAND WHERE THEIR EXISTENCE MAY BE PROLONGED AND PERHAPS MADE PERPETUAL….RIGHTLY CONSIDERED, THE
POLICY OF THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT TOWARD THE RED MAN IS NOT ONLY LIBERAL, BUT GENEROUS. HE IS UNWILLING TO SUBMIT TO
THE LAWS OF THE STATES AND MINGLE WITH THEIR POPULATION. TO SAVE HIM FROM THIS ALTERNATIVE, OR PERHAPS UTTER
ANNIHILATION, THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT KINDLY OFFERS HIM A NEW HOME, AND PROPOSES TO PAY THE WHOLE EXPENSE OF HIS
REMOVAL SETTLEMENT.
IN INSISTING UPON THE REMOVAL OF THE INDIAN, PRESIDENT JACKSON
BELIEVED THAT IT WAS THE ONLY COURSE OF ACTION BY THE
GOVERNMENT IF THE INDIAN WAS TO BE SPARED CERTAIN
ANNIHILATION.
NOT THAT HE WAS MOTIVATED PRINCIPALLY BY HIS CONCERN FOR THE
SAFETY OF NATIVE AMERICANS.
HIS MAIN CONCERN WAS THE SAFETY OF THE UNITED STATES, AND HE
FIRMLY BELIEVED THAT THE INDIANS CONSTITUTED A DANGER AND
THREAT TO THAT SAFETY.
BUT HE WAS ALSO CONVINCED THAT IF INDIAN LIFE AND CULTURE WERE
TO BE PRESERVED THEN THEY MUST REMOVE THEMSELVES FROM THE
PRESENCE OF WHITE SOCIETY.
Comparing Opinions on the Indian Resettlement Act of 1830
President Jackson—supporter of the act
Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen (NJ)—
opposed to the act
“A portion…of the Southern tribes, having mingled
much with the whites and made some progress in the
arts of civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an
independent government within the limits of Georgia
and Alabama. These states, claiming to be the only
sovereigns within their territories, extended their laws
over the Indians, which induced the latter to call upon
the United States for protection….I informed the
Indians inhabiting parts of Georgia and Alabama that
their attempt to establish an independent government
would not be countenanced [approved] by the
Executive of the United States, and advised them to
emigrate beyond the Mississippi or submit to the laws
of those states….I suggest…the propriety of setting
apart an ample district west of the Mississippi, and
without the limit of any State or Territory now formed,
to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes as long as they
shall occupy it, each tribe having distinct control over
the portion designated for its use….This emigration
should be voluntary….”
“…Our ancestors found [the Indians] far removed from
the commotions of Europe, exercising all the rights,
and enjoying all the privileges, of free and
independent sovereigns of this new world. They were
not a wild and lawless horde of [bandits], but lived
under the restraints of government….How is it possible
that even a shadow of claim to soil, or jurisdiction, can
be derived, by forming a collateral issue between the
State of Georgia and the [federal] Government?
[Georgia’s] complaint is made against the United
States, for encroachments on her sovereignty….The
Cherokees…hold [the land] by better title than either
Georgia or the Union….True,…[the Indians] have
made treaties with both, but not to acquire title or
jurisdiction; these they had before….They [made
treaties] to secure protection and guarantee for
subsisting powers and privileges….”
The Removal Act caused a storm of national controversy: the Indians had many
champions among white Americans—traders, missionaries, even planters and politicians
who applauded their efforts to assimilate.
Nonetheless, the pressure(s) for removal had been building momentum for decades,
focused especially on individual state governments.
The case of the Cherokees
The Cherokees
Took the new ideas of republican
government and blended them
with their own tradition of tribal
councils.
Progressive Cherokee leaders
attempted to construct a model
society.
The new Cherokee capital in GA,
New Echota, established a 32member legislature, wrote a
Constitution in 1827 similar to the
U.S. Constitution, framed a judicial
system, and published a
newspaper (The Cherokee
Pheonix).
Propelled by the popularity of The
Cherokee Phoenix, the literacy
rate among their people was
higher than that in surrounding
American communities; The
Cherokee Phoenix enjoyed a
readership well beyond the tribal
homelands.
The Cherokees also established
their own schools, owned slaves,
and spoke a highly developed
language (thanks to the genius of
Sequoyah).
“Where now are our grandfathers,
the Delawares? We had hoped the
white man would not be willing to
travel beyond the mountains; now
that hope is gone. They have
passed the Mountains, and have
settled on Cherokee lands….The
remnant of the Ani-Yunwiya, the
Real People, once so proud and
formidable, will be obliged to seek
refuge in some distant wilderness.”
-Dragging Canoe
Cherokee, 1768
He was an illiterate Arkansas Cherokee who spoke no English and
knew nothing of writing except that it existed and the “talking
leaves” gave whites who could read them man advantages. In
English he was called George Guess or Guest; his Cherokee name
was Sequoyah. His leg, withered since birth, consigned him to a
reflective life. He became a fine silversmith and had a gift for
drawing. About 1809, after an argument with friends on the
nature of writing, Sequoyah began from curiosity to devise signs
for words. It became an obsession. He neglected his farm and his
family; he ignored those who laughed at him; he kept going
when his wife and neighbors threw his early work into the fire. In 12
years he trod much of the ground covered by entire civilizations
over centuries. At length he discovered that by breaking words
into syllables, every sound in the Cherokee language could be
represented by 86 characters. These were initially of his own
design; later he took letters from the Roman and Greek alphabets
to allow easy use by a printing press. The result was the first full
writing system ever devised by a native North American. It proved
easy to learn; most Cherokees mastered it in days, and it was
soon adapted for use in other native languages. At one stroke he
had broken the monopoly of letters enjoyed by whites and a
select few Indians. In 1826 one of the latter, a brilliant young
Cherokee named Elias Boudinot, began raising funds for a
printing press with Sequoyan type. He got it, and in 1828 Boudinot
began publishing his groundbreaking weekly, The Cherokee
Phoenix, filling it with incisive articles and editorials—many of
which were reprinted by sympathetic papers across the country.
For the first time, a native voice reached a wide audience
through the printed page.
Sequoyah
When Harriet Ruggles Gold, the daughter
of Protestant parents from Cornwall,
Connecticut, announced her intention to
marry Elias Boudinot (a Cherokee student
at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall),
a public outcry ensued and reaction was
swift. The girls’ choir at the Golds’ church
wore black armbands on their white robes
in protest. Harriet’s family received hatfilled letters from neighbors. Officials of the
mission school circulated a notice
condemning “this evil.” The night before
the ceremony, in March 1826, Harriet, her
mother, and Elias were burned in effigy on
the village green as a mob voiced its
disapproval. Harriet, however, voiced no
regrets at her decision: “The place of my
birth is dear to me, but I love this people
and with them I wish to live and die.”
Cherokee Indian cases (1830s)
Cherokee Nation versus Georgia

The issue of Indian Removal came to a head in the landmark legal
confrontation: Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia (1831) when the
Cherokees brought suit in court against the State of Georgia for its
attempt(s) to impose its laws over the Cherokee Nation.

The background:

In 1828 the GA state legislature passed a bill denying Indians the
right to testify against whites in court (the Cherokees realized this
measure would effectively
deny them all legal protection and
allow whites to seize Indian lands at will).
By the time the case Cherokee Nation versus Georgia reached the Supreme
Court, the Removal Act of 1830 had been passed, so the Cherokee asked
the court for a ruling on its legality as well.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 passed by one vote .
The act authorized the President to give the Five Civilized Tribes land in Indian
Territory, later named Oklahoma, in exchange for the Southeastern lands
they now occupied (the carrot).
The stick was a provision that the new law could be enforced, if necessary,
with military action.
The Cherokees were led in their battle against removal by their principal chief, John Ross (born in
1790 to a Cherokee-Scotch mother and a Scottish father), the de facto head of government at
New Echota (the Cherokee capital). Ross was educated in white schools—nonetheless, he was
adamantly opposed to Jackson’s removal plan.
Ross asserted that the Cherokee were a sovereign nation whose territory the federal and state
governments must respect.
Among the white prominent politicians Ross gained the support of were Senators Henry Clay and
Daniel Webster.
Still, Ross was not able to win over all his own people.
Among those who disagreed with Ross was a Cherokee Council speaker called The Ridge (aka
Major Ridge), who believed it was in the tribe’s best interest to negotiate with Washington—that is,
to make the best deal possible and move West.
It is worth noting that Ridge also wanted to replace Ross as the tribe’s principal chief.
Major Ridge was supported by his son, John, as well as his cousin, Elias Boudinot (editor of
The Cherokee Phoenix), and Boudinot’s brother, Stand Watie (collectively, they comprised
what is known as “the Ridge Faction”).
Unfortunately, only a few hundred others within the tribe favored accommodation
(nevertheless, internal divisions gave single-minded white expansionists a valuable
opening to exploit).
John Marshall (Cherokee Nation v. Georgia)
Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that Indian tribes
were “domestic dependent nations” (i.e. wards of
the federal government) and, as such, had no right
to file suit in court.
In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Marshall
reasoned that Indians were not subject to State law;
nor were they independent. Rather, they were wards
of the federal government (i.e. “domestic
dependent nations in a state of pupilage.”)
“John Marshall” by Henry Inman,
1832
Indian reaction(s) to removal:
IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE SUPREME COURT RULING, CHEROKEES DID NOT SUBMIT TO GEORGIA LAW.
MEANWHILE, THE STATE OF GEORGIA REFUSED TO RECOGNIZE THE COURT RULING, OPTING INSTEAD TO ENACT A STATE
LAW IN DECEMBER 1830 PROHIBITING WHITE MEN FROM ENTERING INDIAN TERRITORY AFTER MARCH 1, 1831.
RESULT: APPROXIMATELY A DOZEN MISSIONARIES WERE ARRESTED FOR VIOLATING THIS LAW (ALL BUT SAMUEL
A. WORCESTER AND DR. ELIZUR BUTLER WERE PARDONED ON CONDITION THEY STAYED OUT OF INDIAN
TERRITORY— WORCESTER AND BUTLER REFUSED THE CONDITION).
WORCESTER AND BUTLER SUED FOR THEIR FREEDOM IN WORCESTER V. GEORGIA
THE U.S. SUPREME COURT RULED AGAINST THE STATE OF GEORGIA AND REMANDED THE
CASE BACK TO THE STATE SUPERIOR COURT OF GEORGIA WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO RELEASE
WORCESTER AND BUTLER.
THEN, IN A SECOND CASE (WORCESTER V. GEORGIA), THE COURT HELD FOR THE
CHEROKEE, DECLARING THEM TO BE “A DISTINCT COMMUNITY, OCCUPYING ITS
TERRITORY” WHICH THE PEOPLE OF GEORGIA HAD NO RIGHT TO ENTER WITHOUT
CHEROKEE CONSENT.
THE CONFLICT WAS RESOLVED WHEN JACKSON PRESSURED THE GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA TO PARDON THEM
(THE TWO WERE RELEASED ON JANUARY 14, 1833) WHILE THE CHEROKEES WERE URGED BY THEIR FRIENDS IN
CONGRESS TO REMOVE.
Indian reaction(s) to removal contd.
THE PRINCIPAL CHIEF OF THE CHEROKEE NATION, JOHN ROSS, WHO WAS ACTUALLY A SCOT WITH ONLY ONE-EIGHTH
CHEROKEE BLOOD IN HIS VEINS, HAD ACTIVELY AND PERSISTENTLY THWARTED JACKSON’S DETERMINATION TO
REMOVE HIS TRIBE BEYOND THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
ROSS HOPED TO FORESTALL JACKSON (WHOM THE CHEROKEES REFERRED TO AS “GREAT FATHER”) FROM
DISPATCHING THE REVEREND JOHN F. SCHERMERHORN TO THE CHEROKEE NATION TO WORK OUT A TREATY
WITH THE “RIDGE FACTION” WHEN HE MET WITH THE PRESIDENT ON FEBRUARY 5, 1834.
JACKSON PREFERRED TO WORK WITH THE RIDGE FACTION BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTOOD HIS
DETERMINATION TO EXPEL THE CHEROKEES FROM THEIR EASTERN LANDS.
AT LENGTH, WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE RIDGE TREATY PARTY, THE REVEREND SCHERMERHORN NEGOTIATED
THE TREATY OF NEW ECHOTA—BY WHICH THE CHEROKEES CEDED TO THE UNITED STATES ALL THEIR LANDS EAST
OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN EXCHANGE FOR $4.5 MILLION AND AN EQUIVALENT AMOUNT OF LAND IN THE
INDIAN TERRITORY.
THE TREATY OF NEW ECHOTA WAS THEN APPROVED BY THE CHEROKEE NATION (THROUGH FRAUD AND
CHICANERY) BY THE INCREDIBLY SMALL VOTE OF 79-7.
WHEREAS THE U.S. CONGRESS ACCEPTED THIS FRAUDULENT VOTE IN RATIFYING THE TREATY, ITS
MEMBERS IGNORED THE PETITIONS IT RECEIVED BY OVER 14,000 CHEROKEES PROTESTING THE TREATY
AFTER THE FACT.
Indian reaction(s) to removal
UPON SIGNING AWAY THE REMAINING CHEROKEE LANDS FOR TERRITORY WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI AT
NEW ECHOTA, MAJOR RIDGE RECALLED A CHEROKEE LAW OF 1829 THAT DECREED DEATH TO
ANYONE SELLING LAND WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF ALL CHEROKEE PEOPLE.
RIDGE GRIMLY REMARKED AT THE SIGNING CEREMONY: “WITH THIS TREATY, I SIGN MY DEATH
WARRANT.” (HE WAS RIGHT—FOUR YEARS LATER RIDGE, HIS SON, AND ELIAS BOUDINOT WERE PUT TO
DEATH FOR THEIR ACTIONS).
ON JUNE 22, 1839, MAJOR RIDGE, HIS SON JOHN, AND ELIAS BOUDINOT WERE STABBED TO
DEATH BY UNKNOWN ASSAILANTS, THEIR PUNISHMENT FOR SIGNING THE INFAMOUS 1835
TREATY OF NEW ECHOTA.
AMNESTY WAS SUBSEQUENTLY OFFERED TO OTHERS WHO SIGNED AND THE UNIDENTIFIED
EXECUTIONERS.
TO FORCE COMPLIANCE WITH THE ILLEGAL TREATY OF NEW ECHOTA, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SENT
OVER 7,000 TROOPS INTO CHEROKEE COUNTRY. STATE MILITIAS SWELLED THE OCCUPATION ARMY TO
MORE THAN 9,000 MEN.
Removal
“Removal” meant relocation
beyond white settlements in
Indian Territory (later Oklahoma)
whereupon each tribe could
function independently and
without interference from the
United States.
The Cherokee called the
tragedy of removal oosti
ganuhnuh dunaclohiluh (“the
trail where they cried”).
The Trail of Tears by
Robert Lindneux (1942)
Tsali, Cherokee
shaman:
“The Great Spirit is displeased with you for
accepting the ways of the white people.
You can see for yourselves—your hunting is
gone and you are planting the corn of the
white men….You yourselves can see that
the white people are entirely different
beings from us; we are made from red
clay.”
While awaiting execution in 1838, Tsali,
Cherokee Shaman is purported to have
said: “I have a little boy….If he is not dead,
tell him the last words of his father were
that he must never go beyond the Father
of Waters [the Mississippi River], but die in
one’s native land and be buried by the
margins of one’s native stream.”
Among the Five Civilized Tribes, the Choctaw were the first to
leave the soil of their ancestors, moving from Mississippi to
eastern Oklahoma in large groups (1830-1846), some by boat up
the Arkansas River and others overland. The Chickasaw began
their migration from northern Alabama and Mississippi in 1837,
after purchasing land in Oklahoma from the Choctaw (most
went by boat). As soon as they arrived they were challenged by
Plains Indians who claimed the newcomers had stolen land from
local tribes (it would be years before they knew peace).
Removal of the Creek began in 1836—still, Eneah Emathala (a
Creek in his 80s who fought with the Red Sticks during the War of
1812) refused to move along with about 1,000 followers who
took refuge in Alabama back country. Emathala was finally
caught by General Winfield Scott and arrested/designated as a
“hostile.” Emathala and the thousand men, women, and
children who resisted removal with him were shackled hand and
foot and marched 75 miles across Alabama to Montgomery. Its
job not finished, the federal government then forcibly removed
some 14,000 more Creeks (a process finally completed in
December 1837).
The Seminoles (who were the next to leave) did
not go quietly or gently. When, in 1831, a
drought struck Seminole crops in central Florida
resulting in widespread famine by the Spring of
1832, U.S. agents swiftly moved in with offers of
food and clothing in exchange for an
agreement among the Seminoles to emigrate
west to available land alongside the Creeks in
Indian Territory. Dispirited by the drought, a small
group of chiefs reluctantly signed two treaties
agreeing to removal of the Seminole by 1835.
But one Seminole refused to budge: Osceola.
“You have guns, and so have we. You have
powder and lead, and so have we. You
have men and so have we. Your men will
fight and so will ours, till the last drop of the
Seminole’s blood has moistened the dust of
his hunting ground.”
Osceola, Seminole, 1836
“They could not capture me except under
a white flag. They cannot hold me except
with a chain.”
Osceola, Seminole, 1838
Portrait of Osceola by George Catlin
(made during Osceola’s last weeks)
When the army came after Osceola, he took his warriors into the Florida swamps. There they abandoned guns (to the contrary of the quote above) in favor of
bows and arrows so that they could hunt without being detected. Seminole fighters attacked government forces when they least expected it, harassing and
frustrating the troops with resourceful guerilla (hit and run) tactics. In the fall of 1837, General Thomas S. Jesup asked Osceola to meet him under a flag of
truce. When the Seminole came to talk, Jesup arrested him and threw him into a federal prison in South Carolina where Osceola died three months later. This
act of treachery only deepened Seminole resolve, and the conflict raged for another seven years, until at last in 1842 a series of treaties officially ended it.
About 4,000 Seminole survivors were duly moved
west to Indian Territory, where U.S. authorities, citing
their Creek heritage, settled them in Creek lands—
among people some Seminoles regarded as
enemies.
Before long, Creek slaveholders in Oklahoma
charged that the Seminoles were luring Africans from
Creek farms with promises of freedom.
When news of this was received back East, some of
the Seminoles still in Florida refused to move.
Like Osceola’s warriors, they retreated into the
Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp and eluded
the federal troops that came for them.
Several thousand of their descendants live in Florida
to this day, unmoved and immovable.
1957 oil painting by Pawnee artist Brummett Echohawk
commemorating the trek to Oklahoma
By 1850 the Five Civilized Tribes
had been relocated on the
distant soil of Oklahoma.
Externally, much of the region in
which they had been relocated
was inhabited by bands of Plains
Indians, fast-moving hunterwarriors to whom the
Southeastern tribes were as alien
and unwelcome as white
farmers.
In the North the Sac and Fox Indians had been
resettled west of the Mississippi but decided to
return to their homes in Illinois when they found
more difficulties than they anticipated on the
great plains. White settlers panicked when the
Indians appeared and soon state and federal
troops were called in to expel the invaders.
Under the leadership of Chief Black Hawk the
Indians resisted and fought bravely and well. But
the Black Hawk War lasted only a few months
and by 1832 the Indians had fled back across
the Mississippi River and Chief Black Hawk was
taken prisoner whereupon he was hauled
before President Jackson in Baltimore and
chastised prior to being paraded around like a
trophy.
Chief Black Hawk
“My Father. My ears are open to your words. I am glad to
hear them. I am glad to go back to my people. I want to
see my family….I ought not to have taken up the
tomahawk. But my people have suffered a great deal.
When I get back, I will remember your words. I won’t go
to war again. I will live in peace.”
Chief Black Hawk
Removal did not end with the Five Civilized Tribes. Northern tribes like the Sac and Fox Indians, were also expelled from “civilized society.” The Chicago
Treaty of 1833 with the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes provided the United States with valuable land in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
Some ninety odd treaties were signed during the Jackson adminstration, including those with the Miami, Wyandot, Saginaw, Kickapoo, Shawnee, Osage,
Iowa, Delaware, and other tribes. By the close of Jackson’s term in office some 45,690 Indians had been removed west of the Mississippi. The United States
acquired about 100 million acres of land for about $68 million and 32 million acres of western lands.
The Creek moved in along the Arkansas and
Canadian rivers, cleared the land, and planted
crops. The Cherokee laid out a new capital,
Tahlequah, and revived their constitution. John
Ross won reelection as principal chief. A public
school system was in operation by 1841. The
Cherokee Advocate, first newspaper in Indian
Territory, appeared in 1844 and was soon joined
by publications from other tribes. The Choctaw
and Chickasaw nations drew up constitutions of
their own, modeled on U.S. political procedures.
More schools were established, and missionary
societies were invited to open churches. The
Seminole at length were recognized as a tribe and
in 1856 given territory separate from the Creeks.
Nearly a century after Removal, the Green Corn
Dance was still being performed not only by tribes
in Oklahoma but by the Eastern Band Cherokee of
North Carolina, descendants of those Cherokee
who eluded white troops and found sanctuary
deep in the Appalachians. Despite their recovery,
their struggle was not done.
Having overcome the trauma of
being forcibly removed from the
land of their ancestors and the
internal divisions within the tribes
removal aroused, the surviving
Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw,
Creek, and Seminole exiles began
to re-create their communities with
remarkable speed and get on with
their lives.
The theft of their lands in the
Southeast did not rob the Five
Tribes of their ambitions.
They built substantial homes, reestablished their own institutions
and laws, printed newspapers and
books in their own languages,
opened schools based on Christian
principles they had embraced,
and established themselves as
successful farmers and ranchers.
THE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT (PREDOMINANTLY CONGREGATIONALISTS AND PRESBYTERIANS) OPPOSED REMOVAL ON
MORAL AND HUMANITARIAN GROUNDS.
FROM A LARGER VANTAGE POINT, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS WERE ALARMED BY THE EMERGING MATERIALISM AND VIOLENT NATURE OF
THE NEW POLITICS AND THE MARKET ECONOMY—PARTICULARLY BECAUSE THEY SEEMED TO CONFLICT WITH OLD CHRISTIAN WAYS.
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS WERE LONG-TIME SUPPORTERS OF EFFORTS TO CIVILIZE AND CHRISTIANIZE THE INDIANS.
CONGREGATIONALISTS AND PRESBYTERIANS COMPRISED THE PRIMARY BASE OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR
FOREIGN MISSION BASED IN BOSTON.
THIS ORGANIZATION LED THE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN FIGHT AGAINST REMOVAL (PARTICULARLY JACKSON’S PROGRAM).
THIS ORGANIZATION DEVELOPED AN EXTENSIVE PROGRAM FOR CIVILIZING THE INDIANS.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE SPOKESMAN (AND CORRESPONDING SECRETARY) OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR
FOREIGN MISSIONS) WAS JEREMIAH EVARTS (BELOW RIGHT).
BEGINNING IN AUGUST 1829, EVARTS PUBLISHED A SERIES OF 24 ESSAYS OPPOSING REMOVAL IN THE DAILY NATIONAL
INTELLIGENCER UNDER THE PSEUDONYM OF THE FORMER QUAKER “WILLIAM PENN”.
INDIANS ALSO ENJOYED LONG-STANDING QUAKER SUPPORT.
Why did Native Americans and Europeans react to one another as they did?
IN LIGHT OF THE NEARLY INEXHAUSTIBLE LITANY OF INJUSTICES,
ATROCITIES, AND PROVOCATIONS INFLICTED UPON THE AMERINDIANS,
IT IS EASY TO DESPISE THE SO-CALLED PERPETRATORS WHILE CHEERING
THOSE INDIANS WHO EXACTED RETRIBUTION ON CUSTER (LITTLE BIG
HORN) AND OTHERS LIKE HIM AS A FORM OF CATHARSIS.
YET, AS CONAWAY POINTS OUT, “TO HOLD THE PARTICIPANTS TO
PRESENT STANDARDS, TO INSIST THAT INEQUITY IS THE ONLY THING OF
INTEREST IN EVENTS OF SUCH PASSIONATE COMPLEXITY IS TO MISS THE
POINT….”
CONAWAY CONTINUES: “PEOPLE OFTEN DO NOT LIKE THOSE WHO ARE
DIFFERENT FROM THEMSELVES. THIS IS LAMENTABLE AND CAN LEAD TO
INJUSTICE AND ATROCITY….BUT LAMENTATION ALONE IS INSUFFICIENT
TO THE CREATIVE TASK. IT CANNOT ADEQUATELY PRESENT THE SALIENT
ASPIRATIONS OF CONFLICTING CULTURES THAT THE MAKERS OF 500
NATIONS CHOSE AS THEIR ORGANIZING PRINCIPLE.”
500 Nations VI: Removal of War and Exile in the East
ACCORDING TO JAMES CONAWAY, THE “REAL SUBJECT OF 500
NATIONS IS THE [CENTURIES-LONG] CONFLICT BETWEEN INDIGENES
AND INTRUDERS.”
Descargar

Document