Indian Removal Essay

Not to be confused with Indian Relocation Act of 1956.

The Indian Removal Act was signed by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. The law authorized the president to negotiate with southernIndian tribes for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their lands.[1][2][3]

The act enjoyed strong support from the non-Indian peoples of the South, but there was a large amount of resistance from the Indian tribes, the Whig Party, and whites in the northeast, especially New England. The Cherokee worked together as an independent nation to stop this relocation. However, the Cherokee were unsuccessful in their attempt to keep their land and were eventually forcibly removed by the United States government in a march to the west that later became known as the Trail of Tears.


In the early 1800s, the United States government began a systematic effort to remove American Indian tribes from the southeast.[4] The Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole, and original Cherokee Nations[5] had been established as autonomousnations in the southeastern United States.

This acculturation was originally proposed by George Washington and was well under way among the Cherokee and Choctaw by the turn of the 19th century.[6] In an effort to assimilate with American culture, Indians were encouraged to "convert to Christianity; learn to speak and read English; and adopt European-style economic practices such as the individual ownership of land and other property (including, in some instances, the ownership of African slaves)."[7]Thomas Jefferson's policy echoed Washington's proposition: respect the Indians' rights to their homelands, and allow the Five Tribes to remain east of the Mississippi provided that they adopt behavior and cultural practices that are compatible with those of other Americans. Jefferson encouraged practicing an agriculture-based society. However, Andrew Jackson sought to renew a policy of political and military action for the removal of the Indians from these lands and worked toward enacting a law for Indian removal.[8][9] In his 1829 State of the Union address, Jackson called for removal.[10]

The Indian Removal Act was put in place to give to the southern states the land that Indians had settled on. The act was passed in 1830, although dialogue had been ongoing since 1802 between Georgia and the federal government concerning such an event. Ethan Davis states that "the federal government had promised Georgia that it would extinguish Indian title within the state's borders by purchase 'as soon as such purchase could be made upon reasonable terms'".[11] As time passed, southern states began to speed up the process by posing the argument that the deal between Georgia and the federal government had no contract and that southern states could pass the law themselves. This scheme forced the national government to pass the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830, in which President Jackson agreed to divide the United States territory west of the Mississippi into districts for tribes to replace the land from which they were removed.

In the 1823 case of Johnson v. M'Intosh, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision which stated that Indians could occupy and control lands within the United States but could not hold title to those lands.[12] Jackson viewed the union as a federation of highly esteemed states, as was common before the American Civil War. He opposed Washington's policy of establishing treaties with Indian tribes as if they were foreign nations. Thus, the creation of Indian jurisdictions was a violation of state sovereignty under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution. As Jackson saw it, either Indians comprised sovereign states (which violated the Constitution) or they were subject to the laws of existing states of the Union. Jackson urged Indians to assimilate and obey state laws. Further, he believed that he could only accommodate the desire for Indian self-rule in federal territories, which required resettlement west of the Mississippi River on federal lands.[13][14]

Support and opposition[edit]

The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, especially in Georgia which was the largest state in 1802 and was involved in a jurisdictional dispute with the Cherokee. President Jackson hoped that removal would resolve the Georgia crisis.[15] Besides the Five Civilized Tribes, additional people affected included the Wyandot, the Kickapoo, the Potowatomi, the Shawnee, and the Lenape.[citation needed]

The Indian Removal Act was controversial. Many Americans during this time favored its passage, but there was also significant opposition. Many Christian missionaries protested it, most notably missionary organizer Jeremiah Evarts. In Congress, New Jersey Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen and Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett spoke out against the legislation. The Removal Act passed only after bitter debate in Congress.[16]

Jackson viewed the demise of Indian tribal nations as inevitable, pointing to the advancement of settled life and demise of tribal nations in the American northeast. He called his northern critics hypocrites, given the North's history. Indian tribes had become nearly extinct, Indian hunting grounds had been replaced with family farms, and state law had replaced tribal law. If the Indians of the south were to survive and their culture be maintained, they faced powerful historical forces that could only be postponed. He dismissed romantic portrayals of lost Indian culture as a sentimental longing for a simpler time in the past, stating that "progress requires moving forward."[17]

Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country and philanthropy has long been busily employed in devising means to avert it, but its progress has never for a moment been arrested, and one by one have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth.… But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another.… Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?[18][19][20]

According to historian H. W. Brands, Jackson sincerely believed that his population transfer was a "wise and humane policy" that would save the Indians from "utter annihilation". Brands writes that, given the "racist realities of the time, Jackson was almost certainly correct in contending that for the Cherokees to remain in Georgia risked their extinction". Jackson portrayed his paternalism and federal support as a generous act of mercy.[17]


On April 24, 1830, the Senate passed the Indian Removal Act by a vote of 28 to 19.[21] On May 26, 1830, the House of Representatives passed the Act by a vote of 101 to 97.[22] On May 28, 1830, the Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson.


Main article: Indian removal

The Removal Act paved the way for the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of American Indians from their land into the West in an event widely known as the "Trail of Tears," a forced resettlement of the Indian population.[23][24][25][26] The first removal treaty signed was the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek on September 27, 1830, in which Choctaws in Mississippi ceded land east of the river in exchange for payment and land in the West. The Treaty of New Echota was signed in 1835 and resulted in the removal of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears.

The Seminoles and other tribes did not leave peacefully, as they resisted the removal along with fugitive slaves. The Second Seminole War lasted from 1835 to 1842 and resulted in the government allowing them to remain in the south Florida swamplands. Only a small number remained, and around 3,000 were removed in the war.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^The U.S. Senate passed the bill on April 24, 1830 (28–19), the U.S. House passed it on May 26, 1830 (102–97); Prucha, Francis Paul, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians, Volume I, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984, p. 206.
  2. ^The Congressional Record; May 26, 1830; House vote No. 149; Government Tracker online; retrieved October 2015
  3. ^"Indian Removal Act: Primary Documents of American History". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 12, 2011. 
  4. ^"Indian Removal". PBS Africans in America: Judgment Day. WGBH Educational Foundation. 1999. 
  5. ^These tribes were referred to as the "Five Civilized Tribes" by Colonial settlers.
  6. ^Perdue, Theda (2003). "Chapter 2 "Both White and Red"". Mixed Blood Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South. The University of Georgia Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-8203-2731-X. 
  7. ^"Trail of Tears". A+E Networks. 2009. 
  8. ^Jefferson, Thomas (1803). "President Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison, Governor of Indiana Territory". Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  9. ^Jackson, Andrew. "President Andrew Jackson's Case for the Removal Act". Mount Holyoke College. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  10. ^"Andrew Jackson calls for Indian removal – North Carolina Digital History". Retrieved 2015-04-07. 
  11. ^Davis, Ethan. "An Administrative Trail of Tears: Indian Removal". The American Journal of Legal History. 50 (1): 50–55. 
  12. ^"Indial Removal 1814–1858". Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  13. ^Brands, H.W. (2006). Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times. Anchor. p. 488. ISBN 978-1-4000-3072-9. 
  14. ^Wilson, Woodrow (1898). Division and Reunion 1829–1889. Longmans, Green and Co. pp. 35–38. 
  15. ^"Indian Removal Act". A&E Television Networks. 2011. Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  16. ^Howe pp. 348–52.
  17. ^ abBrands; (2006); pp. 489–93
  18. ^Brands; (2006); p. 490
  19. ^"Statements from the Debate on Indian Removal". Columbia University. Retrieved March 21, 2014. 
  20. ^Steven Mintz, ed. (1995). Native American Voices: A History and Anthology. 2. Brandywine Press. pp. 115–16. 
  21. ^"To Order Engrossment and Third Reading of S. 102". GovTrack. 2013-07-07. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  22. ^"To Pass S. 102. (P. 729)". GovTrack. 2013-07-07. Retrieved 2013-10-21.  
  23. ^Robert E. Greenwood PhD (2007). Outsourcing Culture: How American Culture has Changed From "We the People" Into a One World Government. Outskirts Press. p. 97. 
  24. ^Rajiv Molhotra (2009). "American Exceptionalism and the Myth of the American Frontiers". In Rajani Kannepalli Kanth. The Challenge of Eurocentrism. Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 180, 184, 189, 199. 
  25. ^Paul Finkelman and Donald R. Kennon (2008). Congress and the Emergence of Sectionalism. Ohio University Press. pp. 15,141,254. 
  26. ^Ben Kiernan (2007). Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur. Yale University Press. pp. 328, 330. 
  27. ^Foner, Eric (2006). Give me liberty. Norton. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

President Andrew Jackson called for an American Indian Removal Act in an 1829 speech.
Congressional debates concerning Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, April 1830
Andrew Jackson's December 1830 message to Congress, justifying the relocation of southeastern American Indian tribes allowed by the Indian Removal Act

+ All Indian Removal Essays:

  • Indians Vs. The Constitution
  • Impact of Fii on Indian Economy
  • American Manifest Destiny and the Genocide of the American Indian
  • Indian Money Market & It’s Trend Analysis
  • Ancestral Puebloans: The Southwest American Indians
  • Indian Telecom Industry - Microeconomic Perspective
  • Role of Press in Indian Freedom Struggle
  • The Suppression of the Indian Religion and Culture in the New World
  • “the Self” According to Indian Philosophy
  • What Would Adam Smith Do about Indian Gold Market Issue
  • Attrition Analysis – Indian Organized Retail Sector
  • “Role of Fdi & Fii in Indian Economic Growth”
  • Loyalty Programs in Indian Telecom Industry
  • Indian Thought in Emerson Thoreau and Whitman
  • Foreign Brands in the Indian Market
  • Indian Encounters:The Turks, The Mongols, and Islam
  • Indian
  • Case Study on the Rise of the Indian Automotive Industry
  • Major Works of Anita Desai, the Indian Novelist
  • Online Shopping Lifts Aramex Profits by 4% and Rent Cap Removal Hits Abu Dhabi
  • Taking a Look at the Indian Mutiny
  • Financial Inclusion - the Scope and Effect in Indian Economy
  • Indian Premier League
  • Individual Cultural Communication: Study of Indian Culture
  • Judicial Activism and Empowerment of Indian Women Towards Equality
  • Structural Changes and the Role of Services Sector in Indian Economy
  • Porter Five Force Analysis of Indian Food Processing Industry
  • Indian Civil Service: Grievance Redressal Mechanism
  • Romanticizing the Native American Indian: Pocahontas
  • Indian School Days
  • The Journey of India Through History in The Argumentative Indian by Dr. Amartya Sen
  • French And Indian War
  • Transformations to Indian Classical Music
  • Cultural Aspects of the Navajo Indians
  • The American Indian Movement
  • Comparing the Cultures of The Ik, The Pomo Indians, and The Nayar Society of Southern India
  • Indian Bpos Waking Up to the Philippines Opportunity?
  • Seneca Indians: Allies And Enemies
  • Adventures of an Indian Princess, Analysis
  • The Indian Ocean Trade
  • The Apache Indians
  • Ikea’s Global Sourcing Challenge: Indian Rugs and Child Labor
  • Colonists and Indians Fight for Mutual Interests on the American Frontier
  • Comparing the Role of Women in Indian Camp and Shiloh
  • West Indian Peasantry
  • Differences Between Indian and American Culture
  • Indian Society
  • The Lost Inca Indian Culture
  • The Toltec, Aztec, and Mayan Indian Tribes
  • European Settlements and the Decline of Indian Power in America
  • Cheyenne Indian Tribe
  • The Importance of Family in the Indian Culture
  • Indian Political System
  • Indian History
  • Emergence of Feminism in Indian Literature: An Overview
  • The Indian Lubricant Market: Survival of the Slickest
  • The Difficulty of English- Indian Friendship in "A Passage to India"
  • Dilemmas of American Indian Studies
  • Indian Fiscal Policy Impacts
  • Indian Culture in Punishment by Rabindranath Tagore
  • Workforce Diversity in Indian Organization
  • The Removal of Native American Tribes from Their Indigenous Lands: An Analysis of Arguments and Legalities
  • Indian Oil Corporation Ltd-a Case Study
  • Health Promotion in American Indian and Native Alaskan
  • Indian Culture
  • Ancient Indian and Chinese Philosophies: Differences and Historical Significance
  • Health Disparities: American-Indians and Diabetes
  • Lakota Indians
  • Indian Economic History
  • Women´s Language: A History of Indian-English Women Writers
  • American Indian Stories
  • Cherokee Indians
  • Native Indians: The Captivity and Restoration by Mary Rowlandson
  • Gandhi`s Passion Towards Helping Indians
  • Caste System, The Scourge of Indian Civilization
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • The Status of Indian Women
  • Capital Punishment - Indian Perspective
  • Indian Nationalsim
  • American Treatment of the Indian Tribes
  • Indian Ayurvedic Treatment
  • “Article 23 of the Indian Constitution – Tool of Protection Against Exploitation”
  • The Saga of the Tigua Indians
  • A Report on Overview of Indian Two Wheeler Industry and Bajaj Automobile Ltd.
  • Overview and Challenges of Indian Gaming in San Diego


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *