ISSUE 9: Did Andrew Jackson’s Removal Policy Benefit Native Americans?
The election of Andrew Jackson as the seventh President of the United States is regarded by many as a watershed moment in the history of Indian-White relations in the United States.1 Prior to his election as President, Jackson had already decided to treat the numerous Indian tribes, and their citizens, within the borders of the United States as citizens of the United States rather than as sovereign and independent nations. Remini argues that while the Indian Removal Act, and the subsequent Trail of Tears, was a horrible event, there was no other viable alternative than removal if the Indians were to survive in America. Remini, while defending the necessity of Jackson’s policies and decisions, clearly describes how Jackson had a disdain for Indians while growing up, saying that Jackson “believed America’s security depended on the elimination of the Indians from civilized society.”18 It is interesting to note while Remini makes a clear connection between Jackson’s personal beliefs and his policies against the Indians he does not go into great detail regarding the connection and stops short of accusing Jackson of being a racist or letting his personal beliefs affect his political life.
Alfred A. Cave describes, at length, the Indian Removal Act, motivations behind the removal, as well as Jackson’s personal beliefs on the Indian tribes and his blatant refusal to acknowledge Indian treaties.25 While Professor Cave provides numerous references to Jackson’s refusal to deal with the Indian population, the most important aspect of his work, as it deals with this study, is his analysis of the final votes taken in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Professor Cave provides a geographic breakdown of the vote tally taken in Congress. Although it is not discussed at length, his research does briefly show that the vote was split geographically North versus South....
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