Home Research PapersIntroduction he served as major general in the War

Introduction he served as major general in the War

Introduction

In 1795, George
Washington said that if the US government wanted peace with the Indians then it
had to be given to them (“Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 8, 1795”).
Washington was a consistent supporter of the acculturation of Indians (Perdue
52). Thomas Jefferson’s policy then built off of Washington’s proposition and
allowed the “Five Civilized Tribes” to live in the east of the Mississippi River
as long as they adopted to American principles and behavior (“Jefferson’s
Indian Policy”). Ironically, on May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed
The Indian Removal Act which legally authorized him to negotiate with Indian tribes
for their relocation to federal territory west of the Mississippi River for
their current lands (“Primary Documents in American History: Indian Removal Act”).
?The Indian Removal Act established the basis of tribal sovereignty and was
instigated by a conflict which was caused by political bias in treaties, the
compromise in Supreme Court cases that proved to be futile, and consequently
caused the mass movement and near extinction of the Cherokee. 

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General Andrew Jackson and the Indians

       Before Andrew
Jackson became the President, he served as major general in the War of 1812,
Battle of New Orleans, Creek War, and the First Seminole War (“The War of 1812
and Indian Wars”). On June 18, 1812 Congress officially declared war on Britain
which started the War of 1812 (“An Act Declaring War Against UK and Ireland”). Jackson
leads an army of 2,071 Tennessee volunteers to New Orleans but is instructed to
stop at Natchez, and then Secretary of War, John Armstrong sends a message
ordering him to turn over his force to Wilkinson. Jackson obeys and also
promises to march them back to Nashville and face numerous hardships on the
journey back but pays for all of the provisions and earns himself the respect
and praise of the people of Tennessee (“The War of 1812 and Indian Wars”). On
August 30, 1813 a group of Creek Indians executed the Fort Mims massacre where
hundreds of American settlers were killed. As a result, Jackson, with 2,500
men, is ordered by Tennessee’s governor to engage in warfare against the Creek
Indians lead by Red Eagle and Peter McQueen and then leads a mass slaughter of
the residents at the Creek village of Talluschatchee and claims it as a
retaliation for the Fort Mims slaughter (Willentz 25). Jackson and his men are
forced to retreat to Fort Strother with 2,000 troops after they are attacked in
the Battles of Emuckfaw and Enotachopo in January 1814. Consequently, on March 27,
1814, Jackson engaged the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend where
they were successful and three weeks later, it ended with Red Eagle’s surrender
(Remini 215). These endeavors and subsequent treaties led by Jackson will serve
as foundation and be a supplement to his philosophy when he proposes the Indian
Removal Act and will be a predilection for future decisions.  

President Andrew Jackson’s Treaties and Policy

         Jackson
was nominated as a candidate for the U.S. presidency by the Tennessee
legislature in October, 1825 and wins the election against John Adams and is inaugurated
into the office on March 4, 1829 (“Pursuing the Presidency”) (Refer to Appendix
A for Election Results). In his first annual message to Congress he states that
Indians still have retained their “savage” habits and if they do not move west
of the Mississippi River or submit to state law, then they will face extinction
as did the Delaware or Mohegan (“First Annual Message”). In this message, he
clearly states the intentions that during his presidency he will be a strong
proponent in either moving the Indians or having them legally bound to the
state law and the land west of the Mississippi River will be set aside for the
Indians. His statement also highlighted that the remaining tribes that had
already been established as autonomous nations would face extinction if they
did not submit to Jackson’s constraints. Eventually, President Jackson signed
the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830.

Prior to the signing
there had been conflict within the Senate as people spoke out against the
legislation like Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen and Congressman Davy Crockett (Howe
345). In their view they believed that the Government honored Indian rights to
land and independence included in past treaty agreements and presidential
proclamations, and for the federal government to provide the protection, security,
and monetary payments provided for in the treaties (Refer to Appendix B for
Senate Debate). However, amendments to the bill that would support these
actions were all rejected (Senate 383). As said previously, Jackson had lead
treaties that earned the US major parts. After the Creek war had ended in the
Battle of Horseshoe Bend, they were forced to cede approximately 23 million acres
of their land in the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814 Jackson dictated the terms of
the treaty and from the way the terms were it looked like it was almost as an
act of revenge as the treaty stated that prior to Jackson’s military expedition
of that part of the Creek Nation, they were hostile towards the Americans and
many sins and aggressions were committed by the Creeks against the Americans (“Treaty
with The Creeks, August 1814”). This was a tone set by Jackson and his negotiation
strategies that would be almost identical when land was being negotiated with
the Seminoles or Cherokees. Jackson was able to relocate the Chickasaw and
Choctaw but experienced trouble with the Seminoles. They still resisted because
of the suspicious ways the Treaty of Payne’s Landing was signed (Meltzer 76).
Another treaty that gave them the right to stay in their current location was
the Treaty of Moultrie Creek in which the Seminoles had given up all their
claims to the Florida Territory in return for a reservation in the center of
the Florida peninsula which gave them the legal right to stay there (Missal
63-64). Despite the facts, the U.S. still engaged in conflict with the
Seminoles which turned into the Second Seminole War which lasted for over six
years starting in 1835 (Graff 110). This shows of how even though the Seminoles
could legally live in their current area, they were unjustly forced off of
their home.

         Shortly
after Jackson became President, the Georgia legislature passed a series of laws
abolishing the independent government of the Cherokee which destroyed some of the
goals in the Washington and Monroe Administration had in making the Indian
tribes autonomous nations that peacefully interacted with the Americans (Graff
89). Eventually the actions regarding the treaty moved forward and the Treaty
of New Echota was signed on December 29, 1835. The terms that were established
were that the Cherokee Nation ceded all of its territory and move west.
However, the treaty was not approved by the Cherokee National Council, as they
were deemed to be legally illegitimate by the U.S. government, or the Principal
Chief John Ross (Ehle 45). John Ross was a particular opponent to this treaty
because he protested to Congress in 1836 and said that the Cherokee were
peaceful and happy and even under the constraints of treaties and by
stipulations of the Government, they still prospered and have made advances in
their civilization in multiple fields, and it will be unjust to have them
wander in undiscovered lands and into a savage life. He also states that the
treaty that was drafted and signed was fraudulent and made by unauthorized
individuals against the wishes of the Cherokee people (“Chief John Ross’
Memorial and Protest to Congress 1836”). This protest explicitly highlights the
fact that the actions that were taken regarding the treaty were falsified and
they did not receive the full consent of the Cherokee people to ratify the
treaty and this shows how a compromise was reached unjustly even after the
multiple occasions they were treated unfairly.

 

 

Supreme Court Cases

         Prior
to the Treaty of New Echota, there had been two main Supreme Court cases,
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and Worcester v. Georgia. In 1829, gold was
discovered in Georgia and a gold rush occurred, and this increased the people’s
determination to remove the Cherokee from their homeland (Williams 3). Following
the discovery of gold, the Georgian legislature forbade the Cherokee to dig
gold and in the following session they stripped them of all of their land
besides their residences where they lived. Even if state judges interfered in these
actions they were denied jurisdiction in such cases. (Perdue 104). This clearly
shows that there was political bias and the state government was acting
reactively instead of acting proactively and looking at the losses the Cherokees
would face. This then instigated the case Cherokee Nation v. Georgia. In June
1830, a delegation of Cherokee led by John Ross and William Wirt, attorney general
in the Monroe Administration, were selected to obtain a federal injunction
against laws that were passed by the Georgia state legislature depriving them
of their rights within the state borders (“Cherokee Nation v. Georgia”). They claimed
that Georgia created laws that “go directly to annihilate the Cherokees as a
political society,” and since they were a foreign government, Georgia’s laws
were not legally binding to them. As a counter, Georgia was trying to make the point
that the Cherokee Nation was not a foreign government because they did not have
a constitution or a strong central government The primary request that was
being made was to void all laws that Georgia was making against the Cherokee,
but the Supreme Court did not rule on any decision because they declared that
according to the Constitution, the Cherokee Nation was not a foreign state and
cannot officially make or maintain an action in the Supreme Court, but they
might rule in favor of the Cherokee if they had a proper case. (“Cherokee
Nation v. Georgia 1831”).

         ­Samuel
Worcester, a minister, and eleven other missionaries had met at New Echota and
published a resolution to go against an 1830 Georgian law prohibiting all white
men from living on Indian land without a state license (Mize “Worcester,
Samuel Austin”). Governor George Gilmer then ordered the militia to arrest
Worcester and the others and after two trials they were all convicted (“Worcester
v. Georgia 1832”). The Cherokee then decided to take this case to the Supreme
Court which then was Worcester v. Georgia. In this case, the Supreme Court removed
the conviction of Samuel Worcester. Interestingly, Georgia did not send anyone
to represent them as they said, “no Indian could drag it into court.” Supreme
Court Justice John Marshall clearly established the relationship between the
Indian tribes, states, and the federal government, stating that the federal
government had the sole authority to deal with Indian nations (“Worcester v.
Georgia”). This then nullified the Geogia statue prohibiting non-Native
Americans from being present on their land without a state license. It also
declared the Cherokee as a sovereign nation thus nullifying all laws that Georgia
imposed on it (Ehle 24). This case would be cited and be used as a precedent in
the future when the laws of tribal sovereignty and reservation system was being
established.  However, President Jackson blatantly
ignored the ruling and responded in a famous quote, “John Marshall has made his
decision, now let him enforce it!” (“Worcester v. Georgia 1832″).

Cherokee Relocation

         Following
the decision of Worcester v Georgia, President Jackson disregarded it and still
wanted to relocate the Cherokee. However, he feared that if he continued his
actions he might start a civil war between federal troops and the Georgia
militia, so he needed another legal way to justify their movement (Worcester v.
Georgia and the Nullification Crisis”). The Indian Removal Act gave Jackson the
power to negotiate treaties with the Indians, he then used the conflict that
was created from the Worcester v. Georgia case to coerce the Cherokee to sign
the treaty that would remove them from their homelands and get relocated (Prucha
212). In his speech to Congress on Indian Removal he said in his speech that “it
will enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude
institutions; will retard the progress of decay-to cast of their savage habits
and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community” (“Andrew Jackson’s
Speech to Congress on Indian Removal”). His belief that it would be beneficial
for the Indians garnered support especially from the people who would
economically benefit primarily because of the gold previously discovered in
Georgia. The problem augmented when the state only recognized individual titles
and clearly drew the line between the rights of white and non-white settlers.
As a result, the military actions were enacted by Jackson’s and Van Buren’s administrations
which then caused the harsh journey that the Cherokees would have to face (Prucha
97).

          The entire movement was coined as the Trail of
Tears (For the Map of the Movement Refer to Appendix C), and it lasted from
1831-1850 (Ehle 1). As said previously the Seminole were relocated after they
had lost in the Second Seminole War, and the Creeks were relocated after they
gave up their claims to the land. The mass movement of Indians was the result
of the multiple wars and conflicts the Indians and Americans had and even with the
compromise that was reached in court cases, they were still relocated because
of Jackson’s strong desire and goal to relocate the Indians for colonial and
economic expansion.

         The
treaty to relocate the Cherokee was imposed by President Van Buren and an armed
force of 7,000 men under General Winfield Scott were ordered to relocate 13,000
Cherokees (Mooney 130). In the winter of 1838, they began the 1,000-mile
journey with very little clothing and because of disease, they were not allowed
to go into any towns or villages, so this meant they had to travel a
significantly longer distance to go around them (Ehle 34). After they crossed
Tennessee and Kentucky, they faced a challenge at the Ohio River where they
were not allowed to cross until everyone else who wanted to cross went on the
ferry, so they were forced to take shelter under a bluff where many died
because of the poor conditions like disease and the temperature (Ehle 48). A
soldier from Georgia who was on the journey said, “I fought through the War
Between the States and have seen many men shot, but the Cherokee Removal was
the cruelest work I ever knew” (Remini 169). The Cherokee unfortunately
sustained the most casualties on the trek through southern Illinois because of
the freezing temperatures. The Cherokee sustained about 4,000 casualties (Ehle
64).

Conclusion

         The
Indian Removal Act was the result of a strong philosophy that was formed by
years of policy and debate especially from the Jefferson and Jackson
administration, and it was set in stone after General Jackson had numerous
encounters with Indian negotiations and conflicts and when he entered the
Presidency, he made it his goal to relocate the rest of the Indian tribes west
of the Mississippi River for colonial and economic expansion. When numerous
people like Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen, Congressman Davy Crockett, Cherokee
Chief John Ross, and Samuel Worcester had written petitions, debated, and taken
cases to court to reach a compromise, it was ruled in the Cherokee’s favor, but
because of political bias and desire, they were still forced to relocate and
embark on a treacherous journey. This has left a mark in our history as it
established the laws of tribal sovereignty and the reservation system that is
seen today.

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