President Andrew Jackson and the Removal of Indians

Published: 2022-02-23 07:08:39
President Andrew Jackson and the Removal of Indians
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: Andrew Jackson American history
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1978 words
17 min read
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President Andrew Jackson was born on 15th Mach 1767. He studied to become a lawyer, and he married Rachel Donelson Robards. They did not have any children of their own, but they adopted three sons. Andrew Jackson took office as President of the United States of America in March 1829. This was after an initial failed attempt in 1824 where though he garnered enough popularity votes, he failed to clinch the required electoral majority. His predecessor, John Quincy Adams won the Presidential seat that he then won back four years later in the next general election (Goodwin 2-400). Andrew's rise to politics is attributed to his victory in the Battle of New Orleans in 1812. Even before his rise to Presidency, there was a conflict between the United States and the Indians that had been going on since the Battle of Corn in 1813. This marked the beginning of the Indian Removal that lasted to the 1860's. This paper explores the events leading to the removal of the civilized tribes from their established towns and farms during Presidents Andrew Jackson's regime.

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Five recognized Indians tribes were referred to as 'civilized', and they include the Cherokee, the Chickasaw, the Choctaw, the Creek and the Seminole. They were considered civilized because of their economic activities. Whereas other minor tribes continued their hunting practices in search of food, these civilized tribes had grown to more advanced forms of lifestyles that saw them delve into activities such as mining and farming. Regarding the history of Indian removal, the main reason for this move is attributed to the desire of development by the American people who believed that the Indians were holding their advancements back ("Indian Removal - Andrew Jackson - War, Second"). Also, the land that Indians had settled in was believed to be the most fertile and the whites wanted to claim this land and have slaves work in them to produce high-quality cotton. In another area that the Indians had settled in, there were rich gold deposits that the white wanted to exploit. This led to the proposition of Indian removal and in exchange for their current settlement; they would be relocated to the west of the Mississippi River. As it will soon be explored, some Indians willingly relocated, some relocated reluctantly, and others were forcibly moved while others refused to leave their current settlements completely.

According to Ronald N. Satz, the removal of Indians from their established settlements was as a result of President Andrew Jackson. This eviction of Indians from their homes has forced many researchers to view Jackson as an Indian hater. To some extent, this may be true considering he caused the Indians in Georgia to lose around four thousand men in the conflict between the state and the Indian authorities to arise after they had signed an agreement that would see a peaceful resolution to their antagonism (Durham 248). However, a distinction has to be made between hate and the desire for the wellbeing of a nation. Andrew Jackson's actions led him to believe that his actions were in the best interest of the nation. The reason as for this statement is, during the eviction, he insisted that those Indians that refused to move west of the Mississippi River would be subject to the laws of the state and they would be expected to be governed according to the policies in practice there (Satz 158-166). From this perspective, it may be argued that Jackson had nothing against the Indians and all he wanted was the promotion of the American Empire. However justified his intentions, the Indians could not similarly view his actions. They believed that they were being conquered by the North. This misunderstanding may be the reason for the conflict that led to the Seminole wars.

One of the most historical Indian Removals is that of the Cherokee, one of the five civilized tribes of the Indians. The Cherokee originally resided in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina. There were also some white settlers in these areas, and some of them intermarried with the Cherokee people. Regardless of some of these intermarriages, the white settlers found out that they could exploit the land in Georgia that was rich in gold deposits. Additionally, this land was also found to be fertile for farming. The desire of the white people, driven by their ambitions and goals towards civilization, wanted to take the land from the indigenous settlers and use it for their benefit. Among the white settlers in Georgia was Principal Chief John Ross. After their release by Georgia militia, he alongside Eastern visitor John Howard Payne, went to Washington to protest how they were mistreated. This was not their only agenda for they sort to meet with President Jackson to propose that they buy the land in Georgia from the Indians and further compensate them with land west of the Mississippi River. Just as it was mentioned above, President Andrew Jackson was not an Indian hater, as was expressed by Satz. He rejected Ross' proposition but the Chief was reluctant, and he proposed an ever better offer of $20 million for the land after which the US Senate would set the sale price that they saw best.

Despite Jackson's unwillingness to remove the indigenous settlers form their land, a Treaty was formed behind the backs of the elected tribal leaders. This agreement was instigated by US agent John F. Schermerhorn and a small group of Cherokee people who were not in full agreement with the political structure of their people. They signed an unauthorized document that was to be called the Treaty of New Echota. This treaty faced major opposition from the leadership and many of the Cherokee people. However, when a list of Cherokee people was presented in Washington, DC, the treaty was modified and was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson. This law was the cause of the instruction given to the Cherokee people to leave Georgia and relocate to the Indian Territory that had been set in the west of the Mississippi River.

While the above segment narrates the events that happened to the Cherokee people, the Seminole tribe faced similar treatment, and it was worse in that case because a war named after the tribe occurred. It is imperative to note that there were three Seminole wars; the first, the second and the third Seminole wars. It is noted that these wars were the most expensive and the longest in the history of the United States and President Andrew Jackson was smack right in the middle of the first two wars (Weisman 206). The removal of Indians was first proposed by General George Washington, and over the years, there were several attempts at removing the Indians from their indigenous homeland and relocated to the west of the Mississippi. These attempts were advance strongly by President Andrew Jackson who managed to completely evict the Cherokee in what was called the 'Trial of Tears' (Durham 246). When the endeavour to relocate the Indians began, the agreement was that if they wanted to stay, they would have to learn English, convert to Christianity and practice agriculture. Furthermore, they would be expected to abide by the laws of the Americans and that all would be alright if these conditions were lived up to. This was to spread American dominance and practice, especially civilization. However, the Indians were very cultural people and still are up to date. They would not follow these directives, and this led to manipulation of methods that would see their eviction or their massacre in wars such as the Seminole Wars (Weisman 202)

Of all the opposition brought about by the Indians, the Seminole proved to be a force to be reckoned with. They had planned several attacks on white settlements and plantations, and they succeeded in sending a clear message to the US government that they would not be evicted from their rightfully owned land. The Seminole managed to attack the Bulow Plantation where Major Benjamine A. Putnam had sort refuge alongside the local planters and the refugees. By the end of the first quarter of 1836, several plantations had been successfully attacked, and the Seminole caused the major to have a revelation of the wrong that the US government had done to the Indians. Major Benjamine A. Putnam, wrote down in his journal stating that the Seminole were constantly attacking the whites, their plantations and their settlements because they were showing opposition to the fraudulent treaties the government had signed with the Indians. Despite their success in several battles, the Seminole were outsmarted by Major General Thomas Jesup who successfully drove the Seminole further south of their current location (Schene 330). President Andrew Jackson had managed to get control of the South after the Second Seminole War.

According to Julius W. Pratt, 'manifest destiny' is a term that was commonly used during the establishment of North American territories. It was a term that Americans believed was a directive from God to expand their territories and dominance across Northern America (Pratt 795). It was more of a justification for the actions that the government did in its efforts to spread the extent of their governance. William Weeks postulated that 'manifest destiny' has three elements which revolve around the virtue of American People, their mission to have great dominance and spread their doctrines and finally, the destiny that has been set for them to fulfil God's work. These elements attempt to describe 'manifest destiny' which can then be related to the justification of the atrociousness of some of the actions the US government took (Weeks 50). An example of these actions is the 'Trial of Tears'. The Cherokee people were sad and shamelessly marched out of Tennessee and Georgia because of the modified Treaty of New Echota that directed the Cherokee people to relocate to the west of the Mississippi or be forcibly removed.

In an attempt to elucidate Jackson's actions as they applied to the removal of Indians from their indigenous settlements, 'manifest destiny' can justify the directives her gave that led to the oppression of Indians. First of all, when John Ross approached him with the request of removing the people of Cherokee, in exchange for money plus compensation by reallocating them a different land, he rejected. However, with Ross' persuasiveness, he changed his mind maybe because of the value of the land that he was told about. The question that remains is why did he accept to remove the people of Cherokee when he had initially objected the idea? Secondly, the idea of 'manifest destiny' hinges on the relentless attacks on the Seminole tribe. The Seminole were acting in opposition to the oppression that had been set upon them, but the American government under President Andrew Jackson retaliated and managed to drive out the Seminole from their ancestral land. The postulates of 'manifest destiny' may be used to justify the relentless losses white people had to endure because they had an obligation to spread their dominance.

In conclusion, the actions of President Andrew Jackson during his regime point to the desire he had to leave a lasting legacy for the American people, a task he accomplished. Since the beginning of his career, he enforced the rule of law and led the US to victory in the Battle of New Orleans in 1812. After his victory, he also participated in the first Seminole War in which he emerged victorious as well. In the second Seminole War, through Major Thomas Jesup, he drove the Seminole further South of their location. These actions and more show Jackson's relentlessness in the removal of Indians or rather his gain of control over them.

For the Indians, Jackson's actions showed them the ruthlessness of Americans and their hunger to gain control of everything that they sort beneficial to them. To the white settlers, Jackso...

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