President Jackson and the Removal of the Cherokee Indians “The decision of the Jackson administration to remove the Cherokee Indians to lands west of the Mississippi River in the 1830’s was more a reformulation of the national policy that had been in effect since the 1790’s than a change in that policy.” The dictum above is firm and can be easily proved by examining the administration of Jackson and comparison to the traditional course which was carried out for about 40 years. After 1825 the federal government attempted to remove all eastern Indians to the Great Plains area of the Far West. The Cherokee Indians of northwestern Georgia, to protect themselves from removal, made up a constitution which said that the Cherokee Indians were sovereign and not subject to the laws of Georgia. When the Cherokee sought help from the Congress that body only allotted lands in the West and urged them to move. The Supreme Court, however, in Worcester vs. Georgia, ruled that they constituted a “domestic dependent nation” not subject to the laws of Georgia.
Jackson, who sympathized with the frontiersman, was so outraged that he refused to enforce the decision. Instead he persuaded the tribe to give up it’s Georgia lands for a reservation west of the Mississippi. According to Document A, the map shows eloquently, the relationship between time and policies which effected the Indians. From the Colonial and Confederation treaties, a significant amount of land had been acquired from the Cherokee Indians. Successively, during Washington’s, Monroe’s, and Jefferson’s administration, more and more Indian land was being commandeered. The administrations during the 1790’s to the 1830’s had gradually acquired more and more land from the Cherokee Indians.
Jackson followed that precedent by the acquisition of more Cherokee lands. According to Document B, “the first of which is by raising an army, and [destroying the resisting] tribes entirely or 2ndly by forming treaties of peace with them”, “under the existing circumstances of affairs, the United States have a clear right, consistently with the principles of justice and the laws of nature, to proceed to the destruction or expulsion of the savages.” The use of the word savages, shows that the American had irreverence toward other ethnic backgrounds. Henry Knox wanted to destroy the cherokee tribes inorder to gain land for the United States, although he questions the morality of whether to acquire the cherokee land, his conclusion forbode’s the appropriation. According to Document C, “That the Cherokee Nation may be led to a greater degree of civilization, and to become herdsmen and cultivators, instead of remaining in a state of hunters, the United States will from time to time gratuitously the said nation with useful implements of husbandry.” The statement made by Henry Knox shows an ethnocentric view toward the indians. Knox viewed them as savages, and said that the role of the United States is to propagate their evolution into herdsmen and cultivators instead of hunters. What Knox did not realize was that he was attempting to change the culture of the Cherokee Indians, and that would be an infringement upon their sovereignty.
According to Document E, “[In exchange for Georgia’s cession of claims to certain western lands] . . . the United States shall, at their own Expense, [obtain for] the Use of Georgia, as early as the same can be peaceably obtained on reasonable terms, the indian Title . . .
to all the other Lands within the State of Georgia.” The statement above, explains how the United States is being avaricious in expanding the State of Georgia into cherokee lands. Manifest Destiny and irreverence toward the Cherokee Indians can be explained by this. According to Document F, “The Indian tribes . . .
have for a considerable time been growing more and more uneasy at the constant diminution of the territory they occupy, although effected by their own voluntary sales, and the policy has long been gaining strength with them of refusing absolutely all further sale on any conditions . . . . In order peaceable to counteract this policy of theirs and to provide an extension of territory which the rapid increase of our numbers will call for [they should be led to an agricultural way of life, thus lessening their need for land], In leading them thus to .
. . civilization . . .
I trust and believe we are acting for their greatest good.” Thomas Jefferson believed that some people were dependent(slaves, women, indians) and some people were independent (White males), he believed that the independent of society should help the dependents to become independent. Jefferson was attempting to be benevolent toward the indians, but Jefferson was only trying to acquire the land for the United States. Precedent was reinforced in the United States not respecting rights of sovereignty of the Cherokee Indians. According to Document H, “I have long viewed treaties with the Indians an absurdity not to be reconciled to the principles of our Government. The Indians are the subjects of the United States, inhabiting it’s territory and acknowledging it’s soverignty, then is it not absurd for the soverign to negotiate by treaty with the subject.
. . .” Andrew Jackson had made the assumption that the Indians were subjects to the united states, which is not factual. Jackson is explaining that subjects should not have to negotiate a treaty, and that taking the land should be a right of the master (U.S), upon his slave (Cherokee Indians). According to Document N, “…[I am] deeply impressed with the opinion that the removal of the Indian tribes from teh lands which they now occupy . .
. is of very high importance to our unio, and may be accomplished on conditions and in a manner to promote the interest and happiness of those tribes . . . For the removal of the trives within the limits of the State of Georgia, the motive has been peculiarly strong, arising from the compact with that State, whereby the United States are bound to extinguish the Indian title to the lands within it, whenever it may be done peaceably and on reasonable conditions.” Again, the United States is expanding upon Cherokee land, which Monroe believes that will benefit the Indians and benefit the Americans.
The statement is a contradiction because Monroe as well as the president’s before him, believe that they are helping the Indians, but are actually oppressing the Indians According to Document O, “It has long been the policy of Government to introduce among them the arts of civilization, in hope of gradually reclaiming them from a wandering life.” Converting the Cherokee Indians from hunters into cultivators, seems like the object of Jackson’s speech, but the underlying reason for the movement is for gold which was found in Georgia. “Actuated by this view of the subject, I informed the Indians inhabiting parts of Georgia and Alabama that their attempt to establish an independent government would not be countenanced by the Executive of the United States, and advised them to emigrate beyond the Mississippi or submit to the laws of those States.” Jackson gives the Cherokee Indians an ultimatum, whereby either the Cherokee Indians move west of the mississippi or they will have to abide by the laws of Georgia and the United States. The Cherokee Indians seeking their independent sovereignty, moved west of the Misssissippi, while almost half of their tribe had been decimated (The Trail of Tears). Again, The United States is violating the soverignty of the Cherokee Indian land and is following precedent of the past policies toward the irreverance of Indian Lands. According to Document P, “The Cherokee Nation, then is a distinct community.
. . in which the laws of Georgia can have no force, and which the citizens of Georgia have no right to enter but with the assent of the Cherokees themselves or in conformity with treaties and with the acts of Congress . . .
.” The statement made by John Marshall is correct by saying that the territorial boundries and land of the Cherokee Indians is soverign to the Cherokee Indians. Marshall announced that the laws of Georgia are not applicable within the Cherokee Lands, and the constitution acknowleges the soverignty of it’s bordering territories. Since the Supreme Court couldn’t enforce this opinion, Jackson carried through his act of moving the Indians west of the Mississippi. All in all, from the early 1790’s to the late 1830’s, the policy that Jackson set forth reinforced the precedent which shaped national Indian policy between 1789 and mid 1830’s.