Essay on The Trail of Tears
Most American citizens would admit that our government is far from perfect. This is fairly obvious. Try as we might, we cannot do everything right all the time.
However, there are several events throughout American history that should never have happened, despite how far from perfect we may be. The Trail of Tears is one of them.
What is the Trail of Tears, you ask? In this paper, we will investigate the events leading up to the Trail, during the Trail, and after the Trail.
Andrew Jackson did not like the Native Americans, although he did covet their land. This became quite obvious throughout the years. As a highly influential man in the South, he was responsible for two major battles against various Native American tribes, both of which resulted in his takeover of their territory. The first was the Creek War of 1814. As the name states, this war was against the Creeks. Jackson bribed the nearby Cherokees with government companionship if they would be so kind as to attack the Creeks from the rear and drive them off their land. The plan worked beautifully, and Jackson was rewarded with over 50% of the former Creek territory.
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The second battle was the war against the Seminoles in 1819. The Seminoles lived in Florida at the time, which was still ruled over my Spain. Jackson insisted that the area was a hideout for slaves and murderous Natives. He invaded Florida later, destroying forts and killing many. His actions obligated Spain to sell this territory to the US. Soon after, Jackson was named Florida’s first governor. Five years after this war, Jackson ran his first election for presidency. The 1824 Election was later known for the large amount of negative campaigning taking place, especially between John Adams and Andrew Jackson. In the end, the election was in neither favor. Neither Adams nor Jackson got the majority of the electoral votes, but while Jackson, with 43.1% of the vote and 99 electoral votes, had the claim to the office, another of the candidates used his influence in the government to help Adams pull a victory. Jackson was not easily deterred, and ran again in 1828. This election was even more vicious than in 1824. Rumors were circulated for both Adams and Jackson. It was said that Jackson’s mother was an English prostitute and that his wife was a dirty adulteress. Adams was accused of putting gambling devices in the White house and it was also claimed that he gave an American girl to Czar Alexander I for sexual purposes. In the end, though, Jackson managed victory with 178 electoral votes. Although the actual Trail itself did not occur until 1838, work on removing the Indians from Southeast America began almost immediately. The Indian Removal act was passed in 1830. In it, the removal of five tribes was specified.
These tribes, known as the Civilized tribes, were the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminoles. These five tribes had adopted European customs and were not unlike the white man in most cases. The Cherokee even had a civilized government and individual nation. This small nation’s resistance was futile, however, and with the passing of the Treaty of New Echota, Jackson had the legal power to remove them.
Jackson worked methodically and had them removed in groups. First to be ousted were the Choctaws. Around 15,000 Choctaws were moved from Mississippi to Arkansas in 1835.
Chickasaws and Creeks came next. They too were taken from their homes in the Southeast and moved farther westward into newly conquered territory. Last, the Cherokees were removed. This was the actual event that came to be known as the Trail of Tears because of the amount of damage done to these people. In 1838, thousands of Cherokees were forced over Tennessee and Kentucky and over the Ohio and Missouri rivers. Though this process did not take much more than a year, the amount of suffering was immense. In each removal, the Indians were made to walk the entire time. Only the very lucky or very ill were allowed to ride a horse or in a wagon.
The worst part about the whole situation is that it was all committed out of greed. Most of it was greed for land. In the time from Jackson’s election to 1840, over 40 treaties were signed that ceded their territory to the United States government. The Cherokee tribe gave up 90% of their lands, and once the land had been taken over, the US army was sent into the territory to weed out any straggling Indians that may have been left. Apart from land, the government was also after gold. In 1830, gold was discovered in Cherokee land. The government ignored the fact that it belonged to the Cherokees and gave away large portions of the space in a lottery.
In the end, the loss was tremendous. In all, thousands of Native Americans died. Out of the Cherokees, 4,000 were killed. That made up around 1/5 of the Cherokee nation. Out of the Choctaws, 3,500 were killed approximately. Of all the losses, the most grief went towards Quatie Ross, the beloved wife of John Ross, the Principle Chief of the Cherokee nation. She died on the first of February 1838, in Little Rock Arkansas. She had given her only blanket to a cold child, thus dying of the cold.
However, despite the damage, the Cherokees managed to rebuild. After John Ross was selected as Principle Chief, they began to found their nation once more. Tahlequah Oklahoma was chosen as the capital city, and they started the attempt to go back to normal. Today, tribute is given to help commemorate this tragedy. Old Cherokee buildings and other sites are being preserved, and in 1987, Congress opened a Historical Trail of Tears Trail that people are allowed to visit. The government has also granted money to the Cherokee groups around today. The Cherokee nation itself still exists, though the numbers have dwindled over the years. Also, the 1,000 Cherokees who escaped the Trail formed together to create the Eastern Band of Cherokees, which is receiving relief funds today.
The Native Americans suffered greatly throughout American history, and the Trail of Tears is a tragic example of it. The support and sympathy from today’s government may never be able to compensate for what has happened, but the effort is most likely greatly appreciated by the descendants of the members of those five tribes.
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…The Trail of Tears stands for one of the most tragic periods in the history of the US. It was the beginning of extermination of Indian tribe – the Cherokee. The Cherokee lived in what became the United States hundreds of years before the first European set foot in the New World. Related to the Iroquois, they had migrated lo the southern Appalachians from the Great Lakes region. Following t American Revolution and the birth of the United States the Cherokee were considered a separate nation a count within a country. Though living apart, they were committed to peaceful coexistence with their white neighbors.
Their neighbors, were more interested in land than in peace. Pressured by white settlers eager to occupy valuable and productive Cherokee land, the United States govern¬ment began a very long campaign— distinguished by raise promises ,broken treaties, racist attitudes, and threats of military force—to oust the Cherokee off their territory and out of their homes and to resettle them to the “Great American Desert” west of the Mississippi River.
This was not the first time the Cherokee were relocated off their Lands. The white men who came from across the sea pressed further into the Cherokee Nation for many- years, taking over great traces of land as they advanced. Often, the incursion of the white settlers was followed by violence. From time to time settlers assaulted and robbed the Indians and burnt their houses and other buildings. Those were not only settlers who oppressed the Cherokee. The treatment of the United States government, which promised to protect the Indians, was cruel. By 1838 no one even bothered to make empty promises and vows of friendship. Instead, troops were sent to force Cherokee to leave. The expelling of the Cherokee from their native lands was going to start. 4 000 Cherokee were about to suffer from cold, hunger and disease during the forced walk to Oklahoma. The Cherokee were about to embark on the Trail of Tears.
The removals started in 1830 when Andrew Jackson was the president of the United States. Thus Indian removal is an idea associated with his name. The idea actually began with President Jefferson in 1802.
In December 1802 and February 1803, Jefferson stated a secret Indian policy in two letters, one To Henry Dearborn, the U.S. secretary of war and the other to William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory. The ideas stated in those two letters forecast what would happen in thirty years on the southeastern Indians.
Andrew Jackson’s was not the only one who wanted to remove Indians. Many white settlers on the border also called for the Indians to move west of the Mississippi River. Some families who were neighbors of the Cherokee for a long time and had got aid and support from them during hard times departed from Jackson’s plan but they were not many in number. Settlers in Georgia demanded the removal. Later Cherokee were made to give up land in West Virginia, the Carolinas, the Tennessee. A greater part of Cherokee Nation migrated to Georgia and concentrated there. The white settlers of the state prompted the government that the United States had promised to bring to naught Indian claims to all property in Georgia. They wanted the federal government to force ill Indians to leave the state.
The Louisiana Purchase An unexpected event in 1803 made Indian accelerated Indians removal. France offered the United States to sell the Americans a great territory, then known as Louisiana, west of the Mississippi River. President Jefferson readily accepted the offer. Before the end of the year, the Americans possessed an area, stretching to the Rocky Mountains. Now there was enough land to which Native people could be deported…
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