During the early to mid-1800s, the relationship between Americans and Native Americans became severely strained. Many Americans believed the western land was completely their own through the devastating concept of manifest destiny. Among the people carefully observing this issue were not just people who were supportive of forcefully taking Indian land, but also those who were opposed to it. This clashing conflict between the two groups intensified as their differences developed. Americans believed the Indians absolutely could not become assimilated and civilized instead than savage.
Native Americans would no longer be idle and acquiesce to the treaties forced upon them, nor would they meekly accept the abuse. A notable supporter of Indian Removal was Andrew Jackson, a president elected in 1828. Jackson quickly spread his influential ideas and policies. Sadly, his statements were extremely destructive and oppressed Native Americans. Others rightfully disagreed with illegally forcing Native Americans and seizing their lands. The opposers fervently wrote about this issue to hopefully elicit sympathy from Jackson and other supporters.
However, Jackson did not give up his stance whatsoever as he proposed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. Later, it was passed in 1831. A year later, Chief Ross of the Cherokee respectfully took the issue to court. The court ruled in favor of the Cherokee Nation, but Jackson was relentless and ignored the court’s ruling. He progressed with the removal of Indians. In 1835, the Treaty of New Echota went into effect. It stated that the Native Americans would calmly give up their land and immediately move west. However, this act was illegally signed by fraudulent people who certainly did not have the authority to do so.
In 1836, Jackson’s two terms were finally over, but his impacting ideas stayed with the Americans. The succeeding president, Martin Van Buren, carried out the forced removal of Indians throughout 1836. The Trail of Tears soon followed. This left Native Americans with faltering happiness as their most earnest efforts at justice for their own people had not succeeded. Some Americans had believed the prompt removal of Native Americans was a necessity, but others had felt that, morally and legally, expulsion was a cruel option that could be easily avoided.
Some Americans believed the removal of Native Americans was practical and necessary for the future prosperity of the nation. Jackson’s plans of removal were favored by many because he continued to promote the idea that it was in the best interest for Native Americans. These cruel ideas did not r in the mindset of Americans when lackson was elected. Moreover, he simply carried out things in what he believed to be a “milder process”. The idea of removal had been an issue for awhile, but as Americans got closer, action had to be taken.
“Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. , wrote Jackson, expressing his belief that Americans were generously providing Indians with blessings. Jackson stated that he had given them many incentives to leave. He arrogantly refers to these motives as “obvious advantages”. In addition, giving Native Americans motivation to move was necessary because “they can not live in contact with a civilized community and prosper”. He specified these incentives in an imperious statement, “The General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement”.
It is important to note that Jackson wrote about the Government’s offer and called it kind because he surely believed they were imparting benevolence on Native Americans. Native Americans would be “furnished gratuitously with provisions for the period of a year after their arrival at their new homes”. Jackson believed that this was a practical resolution to the issues between the two nations. He acknowledged that the intrusion of Americans onto western land was occurring, but he did not believe that it was a genuinely terrible situation.
He also wrote in 1835, “A barrier has thus been raised for their protection against the encroachment of our citizens, and guarding the Indians as far as possible from those evils”. Therefore, Americans could freely claim the land of Native Americans and relocate the people to the west without any qualms. Americans could do so because they believed that their actions were for the better good-the two groups could not coexist, so moving them at the “expense” of the United States was the wisest choice.
On the other hand, there were people, both American and Native American, who strongly opposed the constant abuse and oppression of Native Americans. Among them was Chief Ross of the Cherokee Nation. Despite the practicality in the perspective of the Americans, removal of Native Americans was absolutely illegal. The Treaty of New Echota was a strong point in Ross’s argument. An incident occurred where false deputies who did not have the right to represent the Cherokee Nation signed the treaty itself. Therefore, after receiving word of this fraudulent occurrence, the treaty should have been voided.
Yet, the government did not. Ross desperately stated, “We are stripped of every attribute of freedom and eligibility for legal self-defense. ” It is important to remember that translators were scarce and that exploitation of Native Americans was vital in the plans of Americans to cede western land. So, Ross solemnly expresses his disdain with the illegal treaty and exploitations as he wrote, “and our acquiescence in its requirements demanded (… ) and the threat of summary compulsion in case of refusal”. Ross woefully described the forcefulness of Americans onto them.
This meant that if Native Americans did not accept the treaty and move, they would be painfully forced off their dear land in due time. Additionally, Ross fervently wrote more about the exploitation of his people. “And we are constrained solemnly to declare, that we cannot but contemplate the enforcement of the stipulations of this instrument on us, against our consent, as an act of injustice and oppression. ” Despite the best efforts of Native Americans, their fate was still decided by Americans. Moreover, it was also immoral to take the fate of an entire race and do what they wanted with it just because they had the powerful force to do so.
As a result, Ross described dreadful situation, “On your sentence; our fate is suspended; prosperity or desolation depends on your word”. He truly expresses the desperation and grief of not having control of their own fate. They had lived and prospered on the western lands for countless years, but now they must give it up. They must take their already disappearing culture and simply leave the land of their ancestors. Even if they could not “coexist”, forcing an entire race to leave their lives behind and move to new land was immoral and unjust.