The Removal of the Cherokee
The tragedy of the Cherokee nation has haunted the legacy of Andrew Jackson"'"s Presidency. The events that transpired after the implementation of his Indian policy are indeed heinous and continually pose questions of morality for all generations. Ancient Native American tribes were forced from their ancestral homes in an effort to increase the aggressive expansion of white settlers during the early years of the United States. The most notable removal came after the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Cherokee, whose journey was known as the '"'Trail of Tears'"', and the four other civilized tribes, Chickasaw, 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 1830 are rooted in colonial times and continued to grow during the early years of the American republic. 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 of the Tennessee River thriving in the bottomlands 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"'"s first glimpse of white people was during the Spanish exploration in the 1500"'"s 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 Rio Grande because Spanish explorer Desoto did not discover gold. Spain reacted to news of Desoto"'"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...
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