May 28th, 1830 – Jackson’s Indian Removal Act

Today-In-History

In the early 1800s, the United States government began a systematic effort to remove Native American tribes from the southeast. The Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole, and original Cherokee Nations — referred to as the “Five Civilized Tribes” by Anglo-European settlers in reference to the tribes’ adoption of aspects of colonial culture — had been established as autonomous nations in the southeastern United States.

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The infamous Trail of Tears

The acculturation proposed by George Washington was well under way among the Cherokee and Choctaw by the turn of the 19th century. In an effort to assimilate with white American culture, Native people 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 in the South, African slaves).” Thomas Jefferson‘s policy echoed Washington’s proposition: respect the Native Americans’ rights to their homelands, and allow the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee nations to remain east of the Mississippi provided they adopt Anglo-European behavior and cultural practices. Jefferson encouraged practicing an agriculture-based society.

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Andrew Jackson (March 15th, 1767 – June 8th, 1845)

However, Andrew Jackson sought to renew a policy of political and military action for the removal of the Native Americans from these lands and worked toward enacting a law for Indian removal. In his 1829 State of the Union, Jackson called for the removal.

The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress on May 28th, 1830, during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. The law authorized the president to negotiate with Indian tribes in the Southern United States for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their ancestral homelands.

The act enjoyed strong support from the non-Indian peoples of the South, who were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. Christian missionaries, such as Jeremiah Evarts, protested against the law’s passage.


 

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