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End Of A Native Empire Essay

2149 words - 9 pages

The Indian Removal Act was passed in May 1830 by the administration of President Andrew Jackson. It empowered the president of the United States to move eastern Native Americans west of the Mississippi, to what was then "Indian Territory"; now Oklahoma. It just passed through Congress by a single vote. President Andrew Jackson was convinced that the only solution to the Indian "problem" was the complete removal of all natives beyond the Mississippi and now he had the law with which to accomplish it. No people would be more affected by this than the Cherokees. The Choctaw, Creek and Chickasaw moved reluctantly but the Cherokee decided to fight for their lands in court. The Supreme Court ...view middle of the document...

And when resident peoples sought to thwart that westward expansion, the same Washington officials decided that these peoples were to be rounded up by the U.S. Army and restricted to these reservations by force. That, in essence, was the point of the Plains Indian Wars, which raged during the last half of the 19th century, ending with the slaughter of Sioux men, women, and children, as well as the soldiers of the U.S. 7th Cavalry, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890.When Andrew Jackson was elected president in 1828, his popularity and successive election were largely attributed to his pro-Indian removal platform. Once in office he began to allow whites to move onto Cherokee land. He also allowed Georgia to extend its state law to include the Cherokee Nation. This decision questioned Cherokee sovereignty and declared their government and laws void.In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. Gold had been discovered on what was Cherokee land in western Georgia and the white settlers wanted to get the Cherokee out of the way. In Jackson's own words, "It (referring to the Indian Removal Act) will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters." Jackson painted a picture of the Cherokee as illiterate, uncivilized "savage hunters" even though ninety percent of the Cherokee Nation could read and write in Cherokee. Many could also read and write in English and they were also farmers.The Indian Removal Act was very popular among voters. Though, not everyone supported Indian removal. The Act's strongest opponent was Congressman Davy Crockett, but the Act was passed regardless. Once passed by Congress, President Andrew Jackson quickly signed the bill into law. Thus, the Indian Removal began.Andrew Jackson was pleased with the passage of the law because in addition to enabling the States to "advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power" he believed the law would also help the Cherokee and other Indian tribes. In his Second Annual Message to Congress in December of 1830, Andrew Jackson stated, and I quote: "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." Jackson's attitude may have been paternalistic and patronizing toward the Native Americans, as he described them as children in need of supervision. He believed the removal act was beneficial to all Native Americans. Mostly all white Americans thought that the United States would never extend beyond the Mississippi. Removal would save Indian people from the assimilation of whites, and would...

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