Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears
The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians was written by Anthony F.C. Wallace. In his book, the main argument was how Andrew Jackson had a direct affect on the mistreatment and removal of the native Americans from their homelands to Indian Territory. It was a trail of blood, a trail of death, but ultimately it was known as the “Trail of Tears”.
Throughout Jackson’s two terms as President, Jackson used his power unjustly. As a man from the Frontier State of Tennessee and a leader in the Indian wars, Jackson loathed the Native Americans. Keeping with consistency, Jackson found a way to use his power incorrectly to eliminate the Native Americans. In May 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal Act. This act required all tribes east of the Mississippi River to leave their lands and travel to reservations in the Oklahoma Territory on the Great Plains. This was done because of the pressure of white settlers who wanted to take over the lands on which the Indians had lived. The white settlers were already emigrating to the Union, or America. The East Coast was burdened with new settlers and becoming vastly populated. President Andrew Jackson and the government had to find a way to move people to the West to make room. In 1830, a new state law said that the Cherokees would be under the jurisdiction of state rather than federal law. This meant that the Indians now had little, if any, protection against the white settlers that desired their land. However, when the Cherokees brought their case to the Supreme Court, they were told that they could not sue on the basis that they were not a foreign nation. In 1832, though, on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokees were a “domestic dependent nation,” and therefore, eligible to receive federal protection against the state. However, Jackson essentially overruled the decision. By this, Jackson implied that he had more power than anyone else did and he could enforce the bill himself. This is yet another way in which Jackson abused his presidential power in order to produce a favorable result that complied with his own beliefs.
The Indian Removal Act forced all Indians tribes be moved west of the Mississippi River. The Choctaw was the first tribe to leave from the southeast. Three years later the Chickasaw joined them. The Creeks were forced off their land in 1836. In the spring of 1838, the Cherokee became the last of the great southeastern nations to leave their eastern lands. In 1838 and 1839, the United States Army removed the Cherokee people by force with dragnets and held in wooden stockades, except for a few hundred that hid in the mountains in North Carolina. The Cherokees could take only what they could easily carry. The items that a few did take were often ordered to be left behind along the way. People were driven off their land at bayonet or gunpoint. Many of the old and the children died on the road due to the pace, exposure and bad food. They traveled by walking, sometimes without shoes or moccasins, horses, or covered wagons. Transportation was given only to those who could pay for it. Their clothing was thin and their bedding was light. There was not much medical attention because it took them so long to travel this trail. What food supplies were given had been rejected by the whites. Rotten beef and vegetables were the main provisions. The journey on which the Indians traveled brought many deaths. Approximately four thousand of the thirteen thousand Cherokees died on their way due to exposure to the bitter cold, disease, and starvation. This trail was better known as the “Trail of Tears”.
The hardships of the Indian Nations were due to the signed Indian Removal Act that resulted in the Trail of Tears. Anthony F.C. Wallace believed that Jackson’s personal emotions toward the Indian Nations directly contributed to the pain and suffering that the Indians had to endure throughout the “Trail of Tears”. Wallace’s facts and point of views are credible because his is a well-known historian as well as a psychological anthropologist. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950 and taught there from 1951 to 1988. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Growth of an American Village in the Early Industrial Revolution (1978) was one of his most important works. In his other books he compares religion as a movement of “social revitalization” among the American Indians and in modern times. Wallace made on interesting comment when interviewed by Robert S. Grumet. He stated, ” things like unfair treaties, the Trail of Tears, and The Black Hawk War, for instance, remain part of “Now” from which many Native Americans view their place in time today.” His words ring so true because even today many Native American refuse to celebrate Columbus Day. Why honor the person who brought the white man to the New World?