The pressures of white expansionism led the United States Government to find ways to remove the Native Americans from their fertile lands. Spurred by this pressure, and the need to fulfill his campaign promise to open Indian land for settlement, Andrew Jackson pushed through Congress the Removal Act. The Act allowed the government to negotiate treaties with the various Native American tribes, pay them for their lands, relocate them to western lands, and support the tribes for one year after removal. President Jackson, more than anyone else, was responsible for the fate of the five civilized tribes of the southeast. When the state of Georgia annexed the Cherokee Nation’s land within Georgia territory against all treaties the Federal Government had with the Cherokee Nation, Jackson support it, even going as far as to ignore the Supreme Court when it ruled the Georgia annexation unconstitutional and the Cherokee Nation as an Independent Domestic Nation.
In another era Jackson’s actions would have been deemed treasonousand a total abuse of executive power but in the 1830’s, the growing population, the need to expand to accomodate this growth and perhaps Congress’ reluctance to submit the country to constitutional debate of power led to the removal of the indians.Indian Reaction The leaders of the Cherokee Nation and other tribes knew that fighting the white settlers would gibe the national and state governments an excuse to send in troops and take away land.The Cherokee nation responded with diplomacy. Several chief went to Washington to plead their case, pointing out the legal treaties between the Cherokee Nation and the United States gauranteeing them their land. The removal issue was hotly debated in Congress. Support forth tribes by Henry Clay, Davy Crockett, Daniel Webster and other prominent statesmen feel on deaf ears. The issue was also being fought in the legal system.
In Worcester vs.Georgia, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the laws of Georgia were invalid in Cherokeeland and that The Cherokee land belongs to the Cherokee. The ruling was not enforced by the Executive branch with President Jackson refusing to do so. Dishearten and divided the Cherokee Nation broke into two factions, for removal or against. John Ross, Cherokee Nation chief, led the larger group against removal while MajorRidge led the smaller group for removal. Major Ridge and his faction sighneda treaty with the United States Government for five million dollars.
The government was fullyaware that ridge didnt represent the majority of the Cherokee Nation, but they validated the treaty anyway. With this, the fate of the tribe was sealed. Several of the other civilized tribes were removed ahead of the Cherokees. The Choctaws removal was tragic. The journey west was badly planned and badly carried out.
An enormous number of Indians died in their removal. The Cherokee’s removal was just as trajicculminating in the death of over four thousand Cherokees in what has come to be known as the trail of tears. Reasons for such a tragic outcome are numerous. Contaminated food and water supplied by government contractors accounted for a large portion of the deathtoll. The government and the contractors were, as always, motivated by economic variables.
The cost of the removal was first and foremost on their agenda. Fatigue, poor logistical planning, to outright negligence are also contributing factors. The United States removed the first few thousand Cherokees by boat, but that proved to be so tragic that John Ross convinced the government to allow the tribe to manage the removal themselves and to allow them to make the journey acrossland. This proved not to be the answer as thousands more died of starvation,illness, and the elements as the US Army marched them across the western frontier. The Seminoles fought their removal from their lands by warring with The United States,but to no avail. The Seminoles were the only one of the five civilized tribes to resist American culture.
They were fiercely independent. At the outset of the indian removal, the Seminoles split into factions, just like the Cherokees, opposing and favoring removal. They fought against each other and against their evictors, the US Army. Jackson’s insistence that the Seminoles live under Creek rule in the west provoked the resistance amoung the Seminoles. Jackson’s resistance in allowing the Seminoles to live independently out west precipitated hostilities which led to the Second Seminal War.
The Seminoles held their own against the US. Army, mainly due to the fact that they used guerrilla tactics. Even after the majority of the tribe was captured, few were allowed to stay in order to end hostilities.Indian Acceptance The American Indians attempted to prevent their extermination by co-existing with europeans and ceding large portions of their land. Land that was considered by the various tribes as having spiritual significance. Indian cultures were connected to the land.
Thier preception that the land needed to be protected, and worshipped were at odds with Europeans since first contact. Europeans were different, they viewed the land as lifeless, to be manipulator subjected to the whims of the white man. Europeans came to America to us its vastwilderness, to conger and exploit it’s natural wealth for private gain. The in satiable greed that Europeans had for the land prompted them to take the Indians land. The primary concern of the American Indians was survival. By the 1800’s,survival ment ceding land, incorporating American culture into their own and ultimately accepting removal to anew and strange place.
Small bands of Indians may have put up some resistence, but the only manner in which the Indians could was through warring with the United States. A war that was impossible for them to win unless all the nations banded together. For the United States was far too strong for one, two, or even three nations to consider a combineresistence. A combineindian effort was not forthcoming simply because the various nations did nougat along and because of varying self-interests. This was not the first time that a people have witnessed thier successful society brutally assaulted by an ugly destructive force, nor will it be the last.