Is it worth fighting a battle that you might never win? The Cherokee was a native American tribe that had lived east of the Mississippi River on some of Georgia’s richest farmland. White settlers had wanted the land for themselves, and their yearning only increased when gold was discovered on the land. At first, the Cherokee tried to fit in with the Americans: creating their own written language, wearing similar clothing to Americans, converting to Christianity, and intermarrying with whites.
They even went as far as to adopt the system of slavery, wealthy Cherokees often owning plantations worked by African American slaves. However, despite their attempts to make peace between the two different groups, everything they had done was in vain. The Georgians still wanted their land and the Cherokee were denied many rights. Soon after, President Andrew Jackson of the United States had established the Indian Removal Act, to rid the American territory of Native Americans. President Jackson believed that the Cherokee and other Indian tribes were in the way of American “progress”.
Although some people believe that the Cherokee should resist the demand to move west, they should accept the offer that President Jackson gave them because if they were to accept, they would receive five million dollars and protection from other settlers trying to take over their new land among many other things. A very important reason as to why the Cherokee should accept and move because if they do so, there are many things that will benefit them. According to Source Document #5 written by Major Ridge addressing the Cherokee Nation, it states”We love the lands of our fathers.
But we must leave. I would die to eep our lands, but if we use force, we will lose not only our lands, but also our lives and the lives of our children”. This quote provides evidence that the need to move was recognized by those of the Cherokee themselves. Major Ridge, a very influential Cherokee leader, states that the Cherokees must give up the land that their forefathers had given them and move west of the Mississippi River, simply because there is no point in resistance. In that same document, Major Ridge says “There is only one way we can remain a Nation. Sell the land. Give up these lands and go over beyond the Great Father of Waters, the Mississippi River”.
He knows that if the Cherokee were to stay, they would be stripped of their land permanently, and lose their lives in the process. Another reason why the Cherokee should accept and move is that if they choose to not accept, they would be forcibly removed by the white settlers themselves. What is the point of resistance if there is a guarantee that if they do so, the consequences would be much more dire and everything they had done to prevent the move was in vain? In President Andrew Jackson’s letter to the Cherokee from 1832, it says “It is better for you and your people to leave Georgia.
Contact with the white men can only bring you trouble. We will pay you for the land and give you land in the West. If you insist on remaining, you will only be driven off”. It is a much better choice to choose to leave and take the money that is offered for the land, rather than risking your lives, being punished, and driven off. The Cherokee had tried to avoid the inevitable removal of their people, going as far as adopting American customs, wearing American clothing, converting to Christianity, trying to minimize the differences between themselves and the settlers in hopes that the latter would take pity on them.
It was useless. In Source Document #1 written by John Ridge, it states “You [the U. S. Government] asked us to give up hunting and fighting. We did so. You asked us to form a republican government. We did so. We used your own government as a model. You asked us to cultivate the earth. We did so. You asked us to learn to read. We did so. You asked us to worship your God. We did so. And what is happening? Our people are being hunted and thrown out of their own homes… The State of Georgia is planning to hold a lottery to divide the Cherokee lands among the whites.
This quote strongly suggests that even though the Cherokee attempted to fit in, they were not accepted by the white settlers. John Ridge is admitting that there is no point in resisting against whites, and that even though they had tried their best to minimize the differences between themselves and the settlers, they were not accepted and their fate had not changed. This further implies that it would be sensible to move west of the Mississippi River, being that it is one of the only choices that they have.
Some might argue that it is a better choice for the Cherokee to remain and resist the Indian Removal Bill because if the Cherokee were to move west of the Mississippi River, they would see only failure leading up to their impending doom. In a Source #2, a newspaper article from 1839, it says “We wish to remain on the lands of our fathers… if we are compelled to leave our country, [then] we see nothing but ruin before us. ” This reasoning is flawed, because on the contrary, the Cherokee as a nation would ultimately prosper from the move. They would be gifted not only land, but with the land comes money and protection as well.
They would be able to start a new life there, away from settlers and President Andrew Jackson himself. Remaining on their land would only lead to more suffering and capture. While on the land, the Cherokee had been humiliated, viewed as less than human, stripped of their homes, violated of their rights, and disregarded as a whole. The Cherokee had tried their best to stay, even going as far as to present the Supreme Court with their problems. Even though the Supreme Court ruled in their favor, this ruling was ignored by the president himself! Why stay when there is absolutely no good reason to?
The president of the United States, a leader and an authority figure, had entirely dismissed the opinions of the Cherokee. If even the president ignored them, who else would listen to them and enforce the laws that the Supreme Court laid out? The white settlers had more strength, more men, more weapons, and could have easily tore the Cherokee Nation apart if they wanted to just to obtain the rich farmland that the natives had built their lives around. If the Cherokee chose to accept President Jackson’s offer, they would leave with no problems and a loan to start their new life.
If they chose to not do so and remain, they would be forcibly removed, possibly killed, and the grant that they were offered would have been retracted. In conclusion, there were two main reasons that the Cherokee should have accepted President Andrew Jackson’s offer. One of the reasons having to do with the large sum of money and protection that they would be gifted if they were to accept and move west of the Mississippi River, the other being that if they chose not to, they would be removed by force, and possibly lose their lives in the process.
It is important to study this topic because the Indian Removal Act was a huge issue in the times of early America. Innocent natives were being stripped of the land that they were rightfully entitled to, and they had no way to fight back or resist. They were given an option, and if they chose to ignore it, they would die. Those who valued their life chose to accept President Jackson’s offer and survived, building a new civilization west of the Mississippi River.