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Andrew Jackson The Indian Removal Act of 1830 A National Disgrace

Updated on March 6, 2017

President Andrew Jackson


Andrew Jackson Is Elected President

In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States. He had promised that if elected he would have the Indians removed. Jackson had always disliked the Indians and had been involved in several brutal attacks on the Creek and Seminole Indians. Gold had also been discovered that year in Georgia, which led to more settlers laying claim to Cherokee land. After Jackson took office he immediately began working on passing a law to remove the Indians. On May 28, 1830, he signed into law "The Indian Removal Act."

This act resulted in two lawsuits being filed with the US Supreme Court. John Ross, the principal Cherokee chief at the time filed one of these suits claiming that the Cherokee were a sovereign nation and therefore the law was illegal. The court decided in favor of the Cherokee, declaring that the Cherokee were indeed a "domestic, dependent nation under the protection of the United States government."

The second case was Cherokee Nation vs Georgia and was decided in favor of Georgia due to the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case. The Supreme Court declared it did not have any authority to hear the case because the Cherokee Nation was not a foreign nation nor were they a state. This decision left the Cherokee vulnerable to President Jackson's "Indian Removal Act."

Cherokee Indian Village Map

 Map showing the Cherokee village of Tomotley, which was once located along the Little Tennessee River in what is now Monroe County, Tennessee, United States. The village's townhouse and a road ("Indian Path") are labeled.
Map showing the Cherokee village of Tomotley, which was once located along the Little Tennessee River in what is now Monroe County, Tennessee, United States. The village's townhouse and a road ("Indian Path") are labeled. | Source

General in Charge of Removing the Cherokee

General Winfield Scott
General Winfield Scott

Politicians Broken Promises and Lies

In May 1838, General Winfield Scott was given the assignment of driving the Cherokee from their homes by burning their homes and killing families if they resisted. Those who did not resist were moved into stockades, also know as forts, which had been built in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina. The stockades had little food, sanitation or even blankets and the water was unsafe for drinking. The Indians were crammed together in unhealthy and overcrowded conditions. The weather was extremely hot that summer and disease such as measles, dysentery and other diseases,spread rapidly and left an estimate of 2000 dead Indians in the camp. The government had promised the Cherokee money for things such as food, blankets, medicine and sanitation needs but the money never arrived for those things. Instead, as in many cases involving the government, it lined the pockets of greedy politicians and military officials.

The Trail of Tears Begins

Some of the luckier prisoners were finally moved by boat, in June and July, while others would be forced to wait months in the camps and then would be forced by the U.S. army to travel by foot with only a few wagons to haul supplies for the trip. In October, the remaining Indians were organized in groups of 1000 to begin the journey west. Many would not live to see their new homeland. They would be forced to travel in horrible winter weather conditions, with little food or warm clothing or even shoes on their feet for the winter months. Thousands would die from starvation, disease, or would freeze to death before reaching their destination. Many of the old would simply die of exhaustion along the way. Death occurred on a daily basis and the dead were buried along the trail. Mothers would be forced to bury their children and then proceed to move westward. This forced removal from their homes and the march of the Cherokee Indians became known as the “Trail of Tears” because of the heartache and the millions of tears shed by mothers and families along the way.

Cherokee Rose

Legend of The Cherokee Rose

As the Cherokee walked the trail to their new home, there were many tears, especially from the mothers. One of the elders of the tribe sought to ease their pain and suffering by praying for a sign. Soon after that, each time a mother's tear fell to the earth, a beautiful white rose with a gold center would grow. It was said that the white represented the mother's tear while the gold center was the gold stolen from their lands. The seven leaves represented the seven Cherokee nations. Today, these beautiful white roses grow wild along "The Trail of Tears."

Cherokee Road Marker


A National Disgrace

This is perhaps one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the United States. Government tyranny, greed and power outweighed common decency and kindness. Basically, our native American citizens were forced into concentration camps, much like Hitler did to the Jewish people. For this, Presidents Andrew Jackson and President Martin Van Buren, who was elected president after Andrew Jackson and finished carrying out Jackson's evil work, will both have to account for all the pain and suffering they were responsible for.

Trail Of Tears History Video


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    • L.M. Hosler profile image

      L.M. Hosler 4 years ago

      Thanks MsDora for the up vote.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      In the midst of this tragedy, the legend of the Cherokee Rose. Doesn't compensate, but it's an inspiration. Thanks for the history lesson. Voted Up!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm a former history teacher, and I don't need to tell you this was just the tip of the iceberg. Nice documentation of what was indeed a national disgrace.