Jackson and the Removal of Natives: Analysis of Indian Removal Act

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In 1830 the president of the United States Andrew Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal act. This act would give the white settlers land they wanted in the south, and moved the Natives east of the Mississippi river. That meant that the Natives would have to go from their southern land all the way to the Midwest. This event took eight long years to play out as some of the Natives tried to fight back, but in the end the government prevailed. President Jackson’s actions will be looked at deeper to understand what he did to affect the natives. Through understanding what Jackson did will help in understanding the natives actions and emotions. In the beginning years of the United States people yearned for power and would do whatever they felt necessary to achieve their goals. The want to take was strong and in the end the natives fell victim to this want by President Jackson with the Indian Removal act.

From the day the Europeans began colonizing the United States there had been conflicts with the Native tribes already living on the land. As time when on and more Europeans came over and spread out over the land. There came a time when the two groups of people started to run into each other causing problems. This caused a lot of conflicts for both groups and treaties where forged over the years between each other. There still came a time when it wasn’t enough for the European settlers and they still wanted land that the natives were living on. The Natives were not just going to give up their land and with that president Andrew Jackson brought to the government the Indian removal act of 1830. The basis of Andrews address to congress about the natives was “To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement” (“Transcript of President Andrew Jackson's Message to Congress 'On Indian Removal' (1830)”., .n.d.). In his speech to congress and indirectly to the people he was leaving out many parts that made this act undesirable. The events that stemmed from this act did not have much legal ground because what was actually done was not what the agreement explained, but that was overlooked.

During Jackson’s life the year of 1830 was not his first legal dealing with the Natives, and there were many treaties developed in the past between the natives and European settlers. Jacksons“ Indian Removal Act passed by Congress in 1830 neither authorized the unilateral abrogation of treaties guaranteeing Native American land rights within the states, nor the forced relocation of the eastern Indians” (Cave., 2003). This is showing that the Indian removal act was not used as written by government, but they had more power over the natives that they just could not override. When understanding the pain this act caused so many people it all stated with false promises and abuse of power. The two groups of people were very separated and in the end Jackson seemed to be only doing what he thought was best for the European settlers. In doing so “he broke a number of federal treaty commitments to Indians, including some that he had personally negotiated” (Cave., 2003). He deliberately discarded these treaties to get what he wanted for his people building the already high amount of distrust the natives had for the settlers. With the choices he made on how to use this act it directly effected the native people in a negative way causing them harm both physically and mentally.

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There were many tribes that were forced to move to the west of the Mississippi but they did not all leave at the same time. Some tribes went with out much a fight but others tried there hardest to stop the removal and stay on their land. During this hard long journey “As many as 4,000 died along the way from dehydration, tuberculosis, whooping cough, and other hard- ships” (Blackburn., 2012). At many stops the Natives would have “a dozen or more” people to bury at a time (Blackburn., 2012). These numbers are staggering to think about when there wasn’t a truly decent reason for this event to happen. While the natives were moved hundreds of miles “they left behind highly coveted land that was, even as they walked, being divided up among white land speculators” (Blackburn., 2012). It can be difficult sometimes to think of how selfish the settlers where but they clearly only wanted one thing and that was land. There was not care for the lives of the people who had what they wanted. The leader of their country was heading this operation and they were following getting valuable land. All of these lives where changed through sickness and pain from loosing their land which was very important to them and they viewed it more as a home then property.

To better understand more of what the natives were experiencing through this event there is one source that goes in depth with what the Chickasaw people felt when they were forced to move. The natives had a different culture then the European settlers and one of the main differences was how they viewed their land. They had a deeper connection to their land because they “loved our forests and our fields” (Hogan., 2015). They valued what the land did and having that taken from them was like losing a piece of their tribe. They “ lived with the night calls of animals, the sounds of running waters, and in a close relationship between humans and the natural world” (Hogan., 2015). They valued everything it gave them from the plant life to the animal life that lived with them on the land. It could be considered that these two parts “made up one singular community” and now part of the community is being taken away because of pure greed (Hogan., 2015). They had to leave there well known land they built for one that was unknown and possibly less giving. The European settlers were getting “the forests about Chickasaw settlements had always been well tended and cared for, as were as the gardens, berries, and the many medicinal plants” (Hogan., 2015). Now these valuable sources were being left to people who did not care for them the same and that also had to be hard for them.

Jackson and his community did not give thought to this aspect of the natives and their lives. Of course there had been conflicts in the past between both groups of people but they at this time could not coexist. The native tribes had been there longer then the European settlers and because of that they found areas that were plentiful. Jackson and his people began to realize what they had and decided a way to get what they wanted. They did not take the time to understand even a little bit what their culture was, and in return did not understand what their land meant to them. Jackson felt that his culture was superior to the rest, and what he believed was correct giving no room for anything that differed. Because of these thoughts it caused destruction to the natives leaving them in a new land with a injured tribe.


  1. Blackburn, M. (2012). Return to the Trail of Tears. Archaeology, 65(2), 53-64. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=1af5320c- 0e0d-4c30-a873- beabe051b6af%40sessionmgr4008&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l 0ZQ%3d%3d#db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.41781370
  2. Cave, A. A. (2003). Abuse Of Power: Andrew Jackson And The Indian Removal Act Of 1830. The Historian, 65(6), 1330-1353. doi:10.1111/j.0018-2370.2003.00055.x
  3. Hogan, L. (2015). New Trees, New Medicines, New Wars: The Chickasaw Removal. Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne De Littérature Comparée, 42(1), 121-129. doi:10.1353/crc.2015.0007
  4. Transcript of President Andrew Jackson's Message to Congress 'On Indian Removal' (1830). (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2019, from https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=25&page=transcript
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