The Removal of the Cherokee
The Cherokee, whose journey was known as the ‘”trail of Tears””, and the four other civilized tribes, Chickasaws, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole, were forced to emigrate to lands west of the Mississippi River, to what is now day Oklahoma, against their will. During the journey westward, over 60,000 Indians were forced from their homelands. Approximately 4000 Cherokee Indians perished during the journey due to famine, disease, and negligence. The Cherokees to traveled a vast distance under force during the arduous winter of 1838-1839. This is one of the saddest events in American history, yet we must not forget this tragedy.
In order to understand the lack of morality on the part of the United States, the actions taken by the group in favor of removing the Indians and their opponents needs examining. The seeds of the Indian Removal Act of 1 830 are rooted in colonial times and continued to grow during the early years of the American republic.
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To comprehend this momentous tragedy we must first examine the historical background of the Indian ‘”problem”” and seek rationale for the American government”‘”s actions.This includes looking at the men who politically justified the expulsion of the Cherokee nation and those who argued against it. The Cherokee lived along the eastern part f the Tennessee River thriving in the bottomless from Virginia southward, and built their houses in villages, which were separated by daylong walks. Their houses were made of wood and stone, fields planted, nuts and berries gathered, game cured, and tobacco was smoked. The Cherokees predominantly relied upon hunting as their sole source of food, and lived peacefully with the Creek tribe, with whom they shared hunting grounds.
Their hunting grounds extended from the Mississippi River to the Blue Ridge Mountains and from Central Georgia all the way north to Ohio River. The Cherokee””g’s first glimpse of white people was during the Spanish exploration in the when they openly traded with the foreign invaders and began peaceful negotiations. Life was never the same after the Spaniards arrived. The Spaniards brought foreign diseases, horses, chains, knives, and guns to America. The Spaniards did not settle the area north of the ROI Grandee because Spanish explorer Despot did not discover gold.Spain reacted to news of Despot'””s failure by blaming the Indians for his defeat. The Spanish developed a prejudice against the Indians, which others followed.
# During the American Revolution the Cherokees, discontented with the colonists””‘ expansionist habits sided with the British. In the early periods of the Revolutionary War Southern militia attacked the Cherokee people. A peace treaty with the Cherokee”‘”s was made on May 20, 1777, acknowledging defeat at the hand of the Americans.Consequently, the Cherokee Nation ceded large amounts of land in the Carolinas and Eastern Georgia to the United States. After the Revolution General Elijah Clarke of the Georgia Militia attacked the Cherokee nation on behalf of the American ‘”‘ revolutionaries. ‘”‘ In 1787 he defeated Indians at Jack’s Creek and prompted the Cherokee nation to cede more land in Northeastern Georgia. To thank Clarke for his service the Georgia House of Assembly granted him a plantation, which was located on old Indian land.
After the Revolutionary War the Cherokee Nation ‘”placed itself under the protection of the united States and agreed to specified boundaries for its territory”” by the Treaty of Hopeful in 1 785, which was written under the Articles of Confederation. Later the opponents of Indian Removal Act would try using the Treaty of Hopeful to nullify any acts of removal. The first treaty with the Cherokee under the Constitution of the United States was signed in 1793; George Washington, the first President of the United States, guaranteed the same rights obtained in the Treaty of Hopeful. With the presidency of Washington, the American government began to alter its policies towards Indians. The basic problem was how to get the Indian Territory. The Washington Administration viewed four possibilities for the Indians. First, extermination was often favored but impractical.
Second, isolation was equally impossible. Third, citizenship many believed the Indians should come citizens, but the Indians refused this. Fourth, removal was at first rejected by the Indians but became the only alternative. The Washington Administration first tried regulating the Indians under the Secretary of War, Henry Knox. The administration then began a policy of ‘”Landis civilization. ‘”‘ It wanted to create a race of Indian people that relied less on hunting and more on agriculture. The Washington Administration continually entertained the notion that once the Indians were proficient in agrarian sciences, they would be able to cede their lands in the east and move westward.
Certain Cherokee refused to assimilate into the ‘”tithe'”‘ agrarian way of life and voluntarily immigrated to the western regions of the country.These Cherokee were a minority, for most Cherokee stayed in their homelands and worked toward a more ‘”civilized'”‘ way of life. In 1802, the Jefferson Administration made a pact with Georgia (the Georgia pact of 1 802), in which the sale of Georgians western lands to the united States for $1 was agreed upon. The Compact stated that the US would forfeit her treaty rights with Native American tribes in Georgia, and Georgia would gain legal title to Cherokee lands as soon as the United States could buy the land from the Cherokee Nation through peaceful treaty terms. In 1806 president Thomas Jefferson, with no intention to disregard the Cherokee”‘”s rights of humanity, sent Lieutenant Zebu Montgomery Pike and Lieutenant James B. Wilkinson on an expedition to explore the western regions of the Arkansas River to evaluate the area for settlement. Jefferson however lost interest in helping solve the Indian problem when international pressures caused by the British and French arose; thus, Indian removal was postponed.
# In 81 6, Andrew Jackson, then a United States General and Indian Commissioner, started negotiations to see fifth whole Cherokee Nation would move to the west.The Cherokee were divided on the Issue of emigration. The Lower Cherokee of Georgia favored removal, while the Upper Cherokees of Tennessee were adamant about keeping their homelands. The negotiations led by Jackson ended with the Cherokee Treaty of 1817, with the Cherokee ceding their lands to Georgia. However, in the following two years the two bodies of Cherokee had a complete reversal of opinion. The upper Cherokee began to move west, while the Lower Cherokee minded in Georgia. The Cherokee council, wishing to stay on their land, put forth a plea to the united States.
Brother: We wish to remain on our land, and hold it fast. We appeal to our father the President of the United States to do us justice. We look to him for protection in the hour of distress. # President James Monroe declared that the Cherokees who had previously ceded their land could legally remain on their land in Georgia. The federal decision to allow the Cherokees to remain in Georgia made Georgia furious, and prompted her to promulgate cries of tyranny at the hands of the US government. Georgia maintained the opinion that it was sovereign over actions within its state.Georgia held that the United States government could not violate the rights of their state, and the Georgia Compact of 1 802 had not been fulfilled.
While the Monroe Administration tried to peacefully remove the Cherokee Indians, the state of Georgia was growing impatient with not owning the Cherokee lands. Through an attempt to purchase the entire Cherokee landholdings in Georgia, President James Monroe in 1 820 approached the Cherokees concerning the possibility of ceding their lands and titles to the state of Georgia and moving heir people westward.The Cherokee Nation replied that having seen the suffering of their brethren as they traveled west, they would reject any possibility of ever emigrating. John Ross, the Chief of the Eastern Cherokee wrote President Monroe that: The Cherokee Nation have now come to a decisive and unalterable conclusion not to cede away any more lands, the limits reserved by them under the treaty of 1 819 is not more than sufficient for their comfort and convenience, taking into consideration the great body of mountains and poor lands which can never be settled.It is gratifying truth, hat the Cherokees are rapidly increasing in population, therefore it is an incumbent duty on the nation to preserve unimpaired the rights Of posterity to the lands of their Ancestors. # Georgia became enraged at the Cherokee assertion that their sovereignty would not be recognized. President Monroe met with John Ross and other tribal leaders in Washington, receiving them with diplomatic status; this enraged the Georgian government.
Georgia asserted that too much time had transpired and now the Indians were farther away from removal than in 1817. Georgia also asserted that, if a peaceful negotiation that prompted theCherokee'””s forfeit of their land could not be arranged, the Cherokee Nation should be immediately removed and compensated for their land. Monroe refused to answer Georgia'””s demands and stated that the Federal Government was no longer obligated to provide Georgia with the Cherokee lands. Georgia Governor George M. Troop insisted that the Cherokee Nation had no right to impede any discussions of ceding their land to the sovereign state of Georgia. #O Despite the growing political debate that ensued between Georgia and the Cherokee Nation, the Cherokee began to truly assimilate themselves into a ‘”civilized”” way of life.In 1821, Sequoias, a half blood Cherokee with the loyalty of a full blood, developed the Cherokee alphabet.
Sequoias had no formal schooling, but brought the power Of literacy to the Cherokee Nation. #l In 1826, the Cherokee wrote a constitution modeled after the United States Constitution. The constitution stated that the Cherokee Nation was an independent and sovereign nation, and that it would only abide by the laws that were made by representatives of the Cherokee government.This assertion implied that Georgia'””s laws were not applicable within the borders of the Cherokee Nation, an assertion that romped Governor Troop to verbally assault President John Quince Adams””‘ administration. Troop maintained that the IIS government was not acting “”in good faith towards Georgia””#2 Troop continued to assert that: Deal the lands, appropriated and inappropriate, which lie within the conventional limits Of Georgia belong to her absolutely; that the title is in her; that the Indians are tenants at her will , . ND that Georgia has the right to extend her authority and her laws over her whole territory and to coerce obedience to them from all descriptions of people, be they white, red, or black, who may reside within her limits. 3 President John Quince Adams refused to address Georgia””g’s demands and the question of the sovereignty was unanswered during the duration of Adams””‘ Administration.
Georgia declared that the government was undermining its integrity, since the federal government had aided Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina in obtaining cessions of Indian land.Due to the inactivity of the United States government, Georgia passed a law on December 29, 1828, that declared all Cherokees to be subject to Georgia law and that the Cherokee constitution was not a recognized document. The law also made it illegal for any man, including missionaries who had not taken an allegiance to the state of Georgia or who did not possess a legal license, to live within Cherokee boundaries. #4 Before any debates on the legality of the law ensued, gold was discovered on the disputed Cherokee land in July of 1829.This led nearly 3,000 men from all over the United States to flock to the Cherokee lands. #5 The invasions by these men on to Cherokee land were illegal within the frameworks of three governments: the United States, the State of Georgia, and the Cherokee. United States law prohibited any man from riding or settling within Indian Territory without a special license, while government held that these men were illegal intruders within own jurisdiction.
The Cherokee asserted that no man could seek settlement or trade within their boundaries without their approval.This created a problem within the infrastructure of the three governments. The invasion of Cherokee land by settlers caused an outrage in the North and amongst religious leaders. Jeremiah Averts, a Boston clergyman, and others demanded, “”that the federal government protect the tribesmen from white intruders”” #6 In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected President of the United States. Jackson Was completely different from his predecessor Adams and continually sided with Georgia.President Jackson believed Georgia to be “”the sovereign power within the entire border of her State. “”#7 Jackson, a former Indian fighter and venerable frontiersman believed that: “”the federal government .
. .Could not prevent the states from extending their jurisdiction over Indian Territory. “”#8 Jackson”‘”s presidency was a blow to the Indian cause. Jackson asserted that he was only following past precedent and was not instituting any new mechanisms in handling Indian land cession; however, his was not the case.Traditional policies of past administrations were to purchase Indian lands before forcing their removal, yet Jackson endorsed Georgia””g’s proclamation that Cherokee lands were the property of Georgia, without a substantial treaty or financial restitution. In Andrew Jackson first annual report to Congress, he said ‘”tit has long been the policy of Government to introduce among them [Indians] the arts of civilization, in the hope of gradually reclaiming them from a wandering life.
‘”‘ #9 Jackson believed that, despite any efforts to civilize the Indians they would retain their page ways and only take away from the ideals of “”Manifest destiny. ” Jackson would not recognize any Indian nation as a sovereign entity and proclaimed that the Indians only had two options, to ‘”emigrate beyond the Mississippi or submit to the laws of these Jackson justified his policies towards the Indians through traditional precedent. He asserted that the Indians were once unobstructed masters of their own destiny, yet a new time of American dominance had surfaced. He put forth that certain Indian tribes were becoming extinct and the population of others was radically diminishing.It became apparent that the only solution was to accept the inevitable and endorse the removal of Indian tribes to the west. They may be secured in the enjoyment of governments of their own choice, subject to no other control from the United States than such as may be necessary to preserve peace on the frontier and between the several tribes. There the benevolent many endeavor to teach them the arts of civilization, and, by promoting union and harmony among them, to raise up an interesting commonwealth, destined to perpetuate the race and to attest the humanity and justice of this Government.
1 It became apparent that President Jackson would never recognize the Cherokee Constitution and he continually denied the Cherokees any right within the domain of Georgia”Isis jurisdiction. The proponents of Indian removal pressed their removal bill into Congress. Jackson continually supported Georgia in it”‘”s attempts to suppress the Cherokee Nation as a recognized political state. The debate for the congressional bill started at the same time statute began nullifying the Cherokee constitution.The topic of removal was contestable and the proponents of the bill knew that Jackson would undoubtedly help them win the passage of the bill. Jackson adamantly wanted the adoption of this bill, although he knew of its controversial nature. Jackson had already informed several Southern governors of his intentions.
The War Department deployed numerous delegates to the Southern tribes to encourage endorsing removal. Jackson knew that if Georgia was overly vocal or passed any new laws against the Cherokees the removal bill would be defeated.Jackson “”wanted relations with the southern Indians to remain ‘””quiet and peaceful'”””” until they could “”build sufficient public support for removal'”‘ #2 The primary proponent of the removal bill was Representative Wilson Limpkin from Georgia. He asserted that Northern members of Congress could not truly understand the Indian problem, for they were sheltered from all or relatively little Indian contact. Representative Limpkin, a frontiersman from Northern Georgia, said “”amongst my earliest recollections are the walls of an old fort, which gave protection to the women and children from the tomahawk and scalping knife of the Indians. “‘ #3 Limpkin asserted that Georgia was being unlawfully blamed for false humanitarian crimes. Limpkin believed others states that had possessed substantial Indian populations had been helped by federal government intervention.
Limpkin declared that Georgia did not have the outright intentions of abolishing the Cherokee, yet twenty-eight years of government subsidies to promote their growth had proved futile “”at the expense of Georgia. “”#4 Similar to other states in the union, Georgia was attempting to define her sovereignty; no other state in the Union had their sovereignty questioned by an Indian Nation.Limpkin claimed that the states, such as Tennessee, had somewhat eradicated their Indian problem by forcing the Cherokees into Georgia. Limpkin said “”They have actually forced the Cherokees from their lands in other States, settled them upon Georgia lands, ND aided in furnishing the means to create the Cherokee aristocracy. “” #5 mumping asserted to the delegates of the states who believed Georgia to be inhumane that they were the inhumane ones, not Georgia.He proclaimed that: Georgia, it is true, has slaves; but she did not make them such; she found them upon her hands when she became a sovereign State . .
. Elf she has ever owned an Indian slave, it has never come to my knowledge; but more than one of the other States of this Union have not only reduced Indians to a state of slavery, but have treated them as brutes, destitute of human rights.. Holding out rewards for their scalps, and even giving premiums for the raising of a certain breed of dogs, called bloodhounds, to hunt savages.. Sir, compare this legislation with that of Georgia, and let the guilty be put to shame. #6 This assertion was brilliant it shifted the question of humanity from the Georgians and to the issue at hand, the removal of Indians.
Limpkin held a vested interest in the debate, yet he shifted the emphasis from Georgia””g’s prior actions to what most frontier citizens desired, to expel the Native Americans, and to demolish the Native Americans influence. The opponents of the bill primarily concentrated on two issues that they felt were necessary to defeat the bill.Senator Theodore Frighteningly, of New Jersey, was the most prolific speaker for the opponents of the bill. He utilized the questionable humanity of the bill and past governmental treaties as the justification for his cause. Frighteningly was a very pious man who had devoted much of his time to humanitarian and religious reform. His opposition to the Removal Bill promoted Christian benevolence for the Indians and simultaneously attacked what he referred to as “Jackson’s hypocrisy. ‘”#7 His speech reaffirmed the Southern Indian””g’s right to remain in his ancestral homeland.
Frighteningly asserted that intention was not to force the removal of Indians, but to ‘””””rescind, modify, or explain away our public treaties”‘” with the Indians. “”#8 Frighteningly maintained that because of past treaties the actions of the US government and Georgia were unethical and intolerable. He questioned how they could turn their backs on a race of men whom they depended upon during the early years of their nation, whom they had fought with in the Revolution. Frighteningly was unable to envision turning his back on the Indians, for he loud not turn his back on any man.He saw that the past treaties declared that the United States would protect the Indians political and civil rights, and now the United States wanted to endanger those very rights. Frighteningly asked Do the obligations of justice change with the color of skin? Is it one of the prerogatives of the white man, that he may disregard the dictates of moral principles when an Indian shall be concerned? #9 Frighteningly was appalled that the issue Of Indian Removal was even raised, for the American people were in the same predicament only fifty-five years earlier with the oppression of the British.He asked And how was the tea tax met, Sir? Just as it should be.
There was lurking beneath this trifling imposition of duty, a covert assumption of authority, that led directly to oppressive exactions [sic]. “No taxation without representation,”” became our motto.. .Our fathers buckled on their armor, and from the water”‘”s edge, repelled the encroachments of a misguided cabinet. We successfully and triumphantly contended for the very rights and privileges that our Indian neighbors now implore us to protect and preserve to them. 0 Frighteningly blamed Georgia for this whole problem; he cited Georgia”‘”s actions as intolerable.
Frighteningly felt that the fact that Georgia attempted to usurp the political powers of the Cherokees undermined the entire political system. He questioned how one could justify that certain laws of morality and justice are only applicable to certain people. Along with Frighteningly the Removal Bill, was opposed by frontiersman and Congressman, David Crockett of Tennessee.Crockett also attempted to address the compassion of the American people, and asked if any Christian person would ever impose these sanctions on an entire race of people. The compelling argument that Crockett raised in opposition to Limpkin is that he too, was from the frontier. mumping used his frontier ‘”status'”‘ as a justification for removal, yet Crockett could not fathom this rationale. Crockett stated ‘”they [Indians] had been recognized as such [an independent people] from the very “”foundation of this government, and the United States were bound by treaty to protect them.
” #1 Crockett believed that the only Christian way of dealing with this decision was to offer the correct financial compensation to the Indian, and then the choice was his. Compulsory expulsion was wicked and was intolerable in a moral government. Crockett simply stated that the US has gotten everything they should have ever desired. They wrote the treaties and the Cherokees signed them; the US dictated their allegiance after the Revolutionary war, and the Cherokees obeyed. It was ludicrous to ever expect any more of the Cherokee.Crockett””s pleas were not productive to the debate. Realizing defeat on the removal bill, Frighteningly proposed an amendment that would make it mandatory for the government to recognize the treaty rights of the Indians wishing not to emigrate and to guarantee a safe journey for those who emigrated to the west in exchange for heir Southern holdings#2 Frighteningly wanted to delay the removal campaign until Congress could publicly declare that western sites would be suitable for those who emigrated.
Despite the efforts of Frighteningly and his colleague'””s efforts, the Indian Removal Act passed by a margin of 1 02 to 97 in the house. The Senate consented to the same terms as the House and the bill became a law on May 28, 1830. Many viewed the passage of the Indian Removal Act as inhumane. This prompted the creation of the “”Memorial Of the Cherokee Nation,”” an essay that showed the utter horror ND inhumanity of expelling the Cherokees from their ancestral homes.It conveyed the same message as speech, which questioned what rationale could ever proliferate the Indian Removal Act of 1830. It asserted that the Cherokees never defied their treaties with the United States, and solely wanted to remain peaceful. #3 In an attempt, to remain a separate political entity within the bounds of Georgia, the Cherokee Chiefs, led by John Ross, filed suit against the state of Georgia.
The case went directly to the Supreme Court for the Cherokee nation filed the suit as a separate state. In the case of Cherokee Nation v. E State of Georgia (1831) John Ross asserted that the laws of Georgia are not applicable within the domain of the Cherokee confederacy. . It will be remembered that in the course of the last winter I served a notice upon the Governor [George R. Gilder] & Attorney General of the State of Georgia, that a motion would be made by the Cherokee nation thro’ their Counsel [William Writ] before the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of injunction to restrain that state from the enforcement of her laws within our territorial limits.The motion was accordingly made and the agreements heard, and upon the simple question whether the Indian Tribes within the limits of the United States are to be viewed as a foreign State in the sense of the constitution, or not#4 Cherokees thought that Chief Justice John Marshall would entertain their notions of sovereignty based on the past treaties between the United States and the Cherokee nation.
Chief Justice Marshall was opposed to the politics of Andrew Jackson, who disregarded the institution of the courts as a legal entity of government. Chief Justice Marshall also continually maintained the rights of individuals and of property, thus it appeared as though the Cherokees still maintained a fighting chance. The outcome of the trial brought little hope to the Cherokees, as the Court decided that Cherokees were a separate domestic, dependent nation within the United States. Georgia was the guardian and the Cherokee Nation the ward. 5 Chief Justice Marshall acknowledged the views Of the Cherokee when he wrote his consenting opinion, yet in his opinion he decides against the legitimacy of Cherokee independence by saying: Elf it be true that the Cherokee nation have rights, this is not the tribunal which those rights are to be asserted. If it be true that wrongs have been inflicted, and that still greater are to be apprehended, this is not the tribunal which can redress the past or prevent the future. #6 By this Marshall asserted the Cherokee Nation grievances would need to be brought before the Georgia court of law.
The charges were never heard in a Georgia courtroom. The Cherokee Nation forged ahead in defiance of Georgia. The Cherokee Chiefs sent a letter to both the governor of Georgia, George Gilder and to President Andrew Jackson relaying that they wished to remain on the land of the ancestors. The Cherokee believed that the treaties of the past guarantied them the right to stay. #7 The Cherokee nation then faced a setback; the Georgia Statute Of 1830 reestablished the law that any white person residing in Cherokee territory without an oath of allegiance to the State, or an authorized license was there illegally.Twelve missionaries were living in Cherokee territory without the approval of Georgia or the United States. These missionaries held a meeting at New Echoed, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation, in which they passed declarations protesting Georgian laws over the Cherokees.
The state of Georgia arrested the twelve missionaries. The council pleaded the case on the premise that Georgia law over the Cherokees was unconstitutional. The missionaries temporarily were released on the basis that the men were agents of the United States.