History: The Indian Removal Act

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The early 1800’s was a very important time for America. The small country was quickly expanding. With the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition, America almost tripled in size by 1853. However, even with the amount of land growing, not everyone was welcomed with open arms. With the expansion of the country, the white Americans decided that they needed the Natives out. There were several motives for the removal of the Indians from their lands, to include racism and land lust. Since they first arrived, the white Americans hadn’t been too fond of the Native Americans. They were thought to be highly uncivilized and they had to go. In his letter to Congress addressing the removal of the Indian tribes, President Jackson states the following: “It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.” (Jackson). The settlers had used their land so much for farming, that it was no longer as good and fertile as new soil. However, being hunters, the Indian tribes had plenty of land suitable for harvest. In 1828, gold was found in the Cherokee lands of Georgia. This, along with the desire for more land, gave settlers incentive to remove the Natives. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act. This let him negotiate with the Native Americans for their lands. Although the si... ... middle of paper ... ..."Seventh Annual Message," December 7, 1835. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. Copeland, David A. "The Trail of Tears, 1838." The Antebellum Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1820 to 1860. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2003. 195-206. Print. Ellis, Jerry. Walking the Trail: One Man's Journey along the Cherokee Trail of Tears. New York, NY: Delacorte, 1991. Print. Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1953. Print. Jahoda, Gloria. The Trail of Tears. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975. Print. President Jackson's Message to Congress “On Indian Removal”, December 6, 1830; Records of the United States Senate, 1789-1990; Record Group 46; Records of the United States Senate, 1789-1990; National Archives and Records Administration.
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