President Jackson was tasked with a difficult decision: leave the Indians be, avoiding conflict but hampering progress and growth, or force them to move west of the Mississippi so that settlers, merchants, and other trailblazers can take their place, allowing for a greater degree of expansion. Obviously, Jackson chose the latter option. This decision was not Jackson’s alone, however. As president, his responsibility was to implement policies that properly reflected the attitudes, beliefs, and sentiments of the American people at the time.Thus, the decision of the Jackson administration to move these Cherokees and other Indian tribes west was able to be morally justified y both himself and the majority of the American people at the time, even if the decision garnered a great deal of criticism, especially today.
The most famous and sweeping of these relocations was aptly named the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears, essentially, was the path taken by most Indians to get to their homes on reservations across the Mississippi River (Wallace 221-223).This Trail of Tears led to almost 2,000 deaths for the Cherokees alone, which were the largest of the Indian tribes and, thus, one Of the most affected by the Trail of Tears (Purdue and Green 139). The Trail of Tears, therefore, was just as much of a political and emotional plight for the Cherokee and other Indian tribes as it was a physical one, especially in terms of the sheer body count, in addition to being forced from their homes.However, while the decision to relocate the Indians was a difficult and unfortunate one, it was not, necessarily, taken without cause. The prevailing reason for believing this is because Jackson’s decision to move the Cherokees west, along with many other native American tribes, resulted from necessity, rather than mere politics. As such, this decision was viewed as a generally favorable one, even if a number of people were saddened that these Native Americans were being uprooted.
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However, just as Jackson’s decision to relocate the Cherokee had implications for his own administration, it would also have implications for every citizen of America at that time, both in direct and indirect ways. For example, if the Cherokee leave their currently inhabited land, more farmers can use that land to grow crops and raise cattle, and as a result, the price of goods will, theoretically, be reduced, allowing for easier living (Purdue and Green 47-48). This is just one of many reasons that the decision to relocate the Cherokee was made, and it was not made lightly.Even though it was a regrettable decision, it was one that America stood by. The removal of the Indians was symbolic for the American people as well, however. Although many Cherokee and Indians from other tribes died on this trail, Americans considered this removal of the Indians, for better or worse, to only be the start of American colonization of the country, and, as a result, many Americans took this philosophy to an extreme after the Indians had been ousted from their native homelands.This change of sentiment seemed to occur practically overnight, because although the Jackson administration’s decision to relocate the Cherokee reflected popular notions at the time, these notions changed even more after they had been relocated, making the relocation something of a spark that ignited pro-American sentiment in much of the population.
These actions, initially, were a response to increasing conflicts between settlers and Native Americans, yet, by the end of the relocation of the Cherokee, the sentiment itself had been reformed to that of devout manifest destiny.The Jackson Administration ;s decision to relocate the Cherokee was indeed more of a reformation of national policy and sentiments. The simple reason for this is that there are clear differences in both policy and sentiments prior to, during, and after the relocation, and this shift in sentiments and policy are what greatly contributed to an increase in Native American relocation efforts during this general time period (Pierce 22-25).This state of mind is considered by many to be callous and has led to a great amount of criticism as to the actual methods utilized to remove the Indians. Counter-arguments o this mode of thinking cite the increasing tensions and conflicts that were arising between settlers and Indians prior to their removal. In many respects, the removal of the Indians was done for their own good, in order to prevent continued casualties on both sides.In any case, the morality, or lack thereof, of the Trail of Tears, along with all other Indian removal and relocation efforts, will be debated for centuries to come.
What cannot be debated is the tragedy that was the Trail of Tears. Relocation or no, the death toll for what should have been a simple relocation was far too high. Obviously, alternative solutions should have been more seriously considered, such as segmenting the trail, as well as the exodus itself, into more manageable and regulated groups, minimizing deaths and improving (if only slightly) relations with these Indians.As it is, the Trail of Tears is considered to be one of the deadliest events in the 1 9th century, and, ironically, there was little blood actually spilled by other men. The prominence of the Trail of Tears within American history is almost more of a philosophical inclusion, as it reflects many of the worldviews held by Americans during this mime, especially regarding manifest destiny, xenophobia, and the superiority Of the white man.