The Indian Removal Paper
One of the first official interactions between the US Government and Native American tribes was the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Removal of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River began in earnest following its passage as White Americans were anxious to settle, plant, and mine Indian lands, especially in the southeast. While some Indians accepted the inevitable and signed treaties with the United States, others protested, and some, like the Cherokees, appealed to the courts. Americans were split on the idea. Many supported Indian removal and saw it as beneficial to themselves and to the Indians, but others championed the rights of the Indian tribes. The Civil War and Reconstruction delayed these interactions for a time but as the economic crisis of 1873 worsened and the need for resources increased, Americans shifted their focus west and its inhabitants. The Removal Act of 1830 set a precedent for future dealings and although this class will focus on those dealings from the late 1870s through 1890, this Act provides critical background information.
Your task in this paper is to write a letter to the editor of America’s oldest newspaper, The Connecticut Courant (now know as The Hartford Courant) either in support of or opposition to the policy of Indian removal. You can write in the first person as though you were in this time period. Write a well-supported paper, using evidence from THREE of the documents provided, as well as information discussed in class. Date your letter sometime in 1836
Is Andrew Jackson’s policy of Indian removal a responsible effort for the benefit of all or is the policy a violation of Constitution?
Read and underline the documents
Develop your point of view toward the policy
Answer the guiding question in a well-developed paper
Write a clearly-worded thesis
Provide ample and specific evidence from the included documents
Your paper must use specific evidence from THREE documents
Organize the paper’s body paragraphs around the evidence you have chosen as support.
Set the stage for the reader by providing background information; briefly explain what the Indian Removal Act is and what it purports to do
Strongly and clearly worded thesis statement regarding your position on the policy. Your thesis statement should be the last sentence of your introduction. This thesis should include an “evidence” clause.
Support your thesis with explanation and evidence.
Each of these paragraphs (probably three) should begin with a topic sentence that also serves as a transition
To support your main points you must use evidence from at least THREE (3) of the documents provided (Jackson, Cass, Ross, Ladies of Steubenville, Treaty of New Echota)
Be sure to set-up your quotes, react to them, and clearly tie them to your argument
Provide a wrap-up sentence that clearly relates your paragraph to your thesis—your argument
Begin with a thesis reminder of the purpose of your paper.
Remind the reader of the major evidence presented in the body paragraphs.
This is your last chance to be convincing so answer the big “So what?”
Andrew Jackson, Annual Message to Congress
December 6, 1830
Even before he was elected President, Andrew Jackson had been instrumental in forcing Native Americans out of the South. Once in office, he continued this policy at an accelerated pace. The Cherokee nation was one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" in the southeast, and like all other tribes existing east of the Mississippi River, their removal was essential to Jackson's plan. Andrew Jackson's Second Annual Message, was delivered on December 6, 1830 to U.S. Congress. He informs them of his progress with the removal plan, stating that is moving ahead smoothly and explaining how it benefits everyone involved.
SUMMARY: This talks about how moving the Native Americans would help the U.S. The U.S.A. would “civilize” the Native Americans. Jackson asks how any “good man” can prefer the Native Americans way of life over that of the Americans. Eventually he would make the Native Americans see how the American way of life would help them. (Assimilation)
…It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages.
The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.
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?
The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward, and we now propose to
acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual. Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from everything, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, developing the power and facilities of man in their highest perfection. These remove hundreds and almost thousands of miles at their own expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and support themselves at their new homes from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.
And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.
From: A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908, Volume II, by James D. Richardson, published by Bureau of National Literature and Art ,1908
Petition by Ladies in Steubenville, Ohio, to Congress, 1830
Oopposition to the removal of Cherokees in Georgia came from Congress where the Indian Removal Act itself passed by a small margin, over the objections of well-known members like Henry Clay of Kentucky. Others, such as famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson and groups of people, such as the Quakers, championed the rights of the Indians. These women from Steubenville, Ohio, used their only political right, the right of petition, to protest the Cherokee removal and to argue in favor of Native American natural rights. Their petition was ignored.
SUMMARY: The Women are asking congress to give Native Americans their rights back.
21st Congress, [Rep. No. 209.] Ho.of Reps.
MEMORIAL OF THE LADIES OF STEUBENVILLE, OHIO,
Against the Forcible removal of the Indians without the limits of theUnited States
February 15, 1830
Read:– ordered that it lie upon the table.
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States.
The undersigned, residents of the state of Ohio, and town of Steubenville,
…It is readily acknowledged, that the wise and venerated founders of our country’s free institutions have committed the powers of Government to those whom nature and reason declare the best fitted to exercise them; and [we] would sincerely deprecate any presumptuous interference on the part of their own sex with the ordinary political affairs of the country, as wholly unbecoming the character of the American females. Even in private life, we may not presume to direct the general conduct, or control the acts of those who stand in the near and guardian relations of husbands and brothers; yet all admit that there are times when duty and affection call on us to advise and persuade, as well as to cheer or console. And if we approach the public Representatives of our husbands and brothers, only in the humble character of suppliants in the cause of mercy and humanity, may we not hope that even the small voice of female sympathy will be heard?
…When, therefore, injury and oppression threaten to crush a hapless people within our borders, we, the feeblest of the feeble, appeal with confidence to those who should be representatives of national virtues as they are the depositaries of national powers, and implore them to succor the weak and unfortunate. In despite of the undoubted national right which the Indians have to the land of their forefathers, and in the face of solemn treaties, pledging the faith of the nation for their secure possession of those lands, it is intended, we are told, to force them from their native soil, to compel them to seek new homes in a distant and dreary wilderness. To you, then, as the constitutional protectors of the Indians within our territory, and as the peculiar guardians of our national character, and our counter’s welfare, we solemnly and honestly appeal, to save this remnant of a much injured people from annihilation, to shield our country from the curses denounced on the cruel and ungrateful, and to shelter the American character from lasting dishonor.
And your petitioners will ever pray.
[Signed] Frances Norton, Catharine Norton, Mary A. Norton, M. J. Hodge, Emily N. Page, Rachel Mason, E. Anderson, S. Ashburn, A.Wilson, S. J. Walker, E. J. Porter, A.Cushener, M. J. Kelly, Frances P. Wilson, Eliza M. Rogers, Ann Eliza Wilson, Sarah Moodey, Mary Jenkinson, Jane Wilson, Editha Veirs, Mary Veirs, Nancy Fuston, Sarah Hoghland, Nancy Laremore, Nancy Wilson, Elizabeth Sheppard, Mary C. Green, Anna Woods, Anna Dike, Margaretta Woods, Margaret Larimore, Maria E. Larimore, Sarah S. Larimore, Martha E. Leslie, Catharine Slacke, W. D. Andrews, P. Lord, Eliza S. Wilson, Sarah Wells, Rebecca R. Morse, Hetty E. Beatty, Caroline S. Craig, Elizabeth Steenrod, Elloisa Lefflen, Lucy Whipple, N. Kilgore, C. Colwell, E. Brown, M. Patterson, R. Craig, J. M. Millan, Betsey Tappan, Margaret M. Andrews, Sarah Spencer, Mary Buchannan, do., Rebecca J. Buchannan, do., Hetty Collier, Eunice Collier, Elizabeth Beatty, Jane Beatty, Sarah Means, Elizabeth Sage.
From: Robert V. Hine and John Mack Faragher, The American West, A New Interpretive History ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 176; Mary Beth Norton et al, A People and a Nation; A History of the United States. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986), 287-290.
The Cherokee Nation’s Appeal to the American People
Niles Weekly Register, August 21, 1830
The Cherokee Nation fought the Indian Removal Act by first sending a delegation to appear before Congress and President Jackson. Meeting with little success, the Cherokee then published a direct appeal to the American people on July 17, 1830. As you read this excerpt, notice how the Cherokee felt about leaving their homeland.
SUMMARY: The Cherokee are trying to say that it’s against the constitution to kick them off their land. The Cherokee Indian tribe was enraged at the U.S government for trying to kick them off their land. They fell that if they leave their territory, they won’t be able to survive. They disagree with the U.S government’s point of view as to how they should be treated.
We wish to remain on the land of our fathers. We have a perfect and original right to remain without interruption or molestation. The treaties with us, and laws of the United States made in pursuance of treaties, guaranty our residence and our privileges, and secure us against intruders. Our only request is, that these treaties may be fulfilled, and these laws executed.
But if we are compelled to leave our country, we see nothing but ruin before us. The country west of the Arkansas territory is unknown to us. From what we can learn of it, we have no prepossessions in its favor. All the inviting parts of it, as we believe, are preoccupied by various Indian nations, to which it has been assigned. They would regard us as intruders, and look upon us with an evil eye. The far greater part of that region is, beyond all controversy, badly supplied with wood and water; and no Indian tribe can live as agriculturalists without these articles. All our neighbors, in case of our removal, though crowded into our near vicinity, would speak a language totally different from ours, and practice different customs. The original possessors of that region are now wandering savages lurking for prey in the neighborhood. They have always been at war, and would be easily tempted to turn their arms against peaceful emigrants. Were the country to which we are urged much better than it is represented to be, and were it free from the objections which we have made to it, still it is not the land of our birth, nor of our affections. It contains neither the scenes of our childhood, nor the graves of our fathers….
It is under a sense of the most pungent feelings that we make this, perhaps our last appeal to the good people of the United States. It cannot be that the community we are addressing, remarkable for its intelligence and religious sensibilities, and preeminent for its devotion to the rights of man, will lay aside this appeal, without considering that we stand in need of its sympathy and commiseration. We know that to the Christian and to the philanthropist the voice of our multiplied sorrows and fiery trials will not appear as an idle tale. In our own land, on our own soil, and in our own dwellings, which we reared for our wives and for our little ones, when there was peace on our mountains and in our valleys, we are encountering troubles which cannot but try our very souls. But shall we, on account of these troubles, forsake our beloved country? Shall we be compelled by a civilized and Christian people, with whom we have lived in perfect peace for the last forty years, and for whom we have willingly bled in war, to bid a final adieu to our homes, our farms, our streams and our beautiful forests? No. We are still firm. We intend still to cling, with our wonted affection, to the land which gave us birth, and which, every day of our lives, brings to us new and stronger ties of attachment. We appeal to the judge of all the earth, who will finally award us justice, and to the good sense of the American people, whether we are intruders upon the land of others. Our consciences bear us witness that we are the invaders of no man’s rights – we have robbed no man of his territory – we have usurped no man’s authority, nor have we deprived any one of his unalienable privileges. How then shall we indirectly confess the right of another people to our land by leaving it forever? On the soil which contains the ashes of our beloved men we wish to live – on this soil we wish to die….
Secretary of War Lewis Cass, Annual Report, 1831
During this period, the War Department was responsible for administering the federal government’s relations with Indians. It was Jackson’s Secretary of War, Lewis Cass (1782-1866), therefore, who was responsible for overseeing the relocation of tribes that had signed removal treaties to their new lands west of the Mississippi. In his 1831 “Annual Report,” Cass set forth his reasons for believing that Removal was in the Indians’ best interest. In the excerpt below, Cass argues that Native Americans were doomed to extinction unless they seized the opportunity to relocate away from white settlements.
SUMMARY: Cass views Native Americans culture as primitive. They’re inferior to the modern American life. He says that it is up to the U.S. Government to save them, and help them assimilate to white Christian culture. Cass thinks moving westward is better for them. He thinks that forcing Christianity will influence them to change their ways and accept American culture.
…The work has been aided by Governments and communities, by public opinion, by the obligations of the law, and by the sanction of religion. But its history furnishes abundant evidence of entire failure, and every thing around us upon the frontiers confirms its truth. The Indians have either receded as our settlements advanced, and united their fragments with some kindred tribe, or they have attempted to establish themselves upon reservations, in the vain hope of resisting the pressure upon them, and of preserving their peculiar institutions. Those, who are nearest to us, have generally suffered most severely by the debasing effects of ardent spirits, and by the loss of their own principles of restraint, few as these are, without the acquisition of ours; and almost all of them have disappeared, crushed by the onward course of events, or driven before them. Not one instance can be produced in the whole history of the intercourse between the Indians and the white men, where the former have been able, in districts surrounded by the latter, to withstand successfully the progress of those causes, which have elevated one of these races, and depressed the other. Such a monument of former successful exertion does not exist.
. . . . Indolent in his habits, the Indian is opposed to labor; improvident in his mode of life, he has little foresight in providing, or care in preserving. Taught from infancy to reverence his own traditions and institutions, he is satisfied of their value, and dreads the anger of the Great Spirit, if he should depart from the customs of his fathers. Devoted to the use of ardent spirits, he abandons himself to its indulgence without restraint. War and hunting are his only occupations. He can endure, without complaining, the extremity of human suffering; and if he cannot overcome the evils of his situation, he submits to them without repining. He attributes all the misfortunes of his race to the white man, and looks with suspicion upon the offers of assistance that are made to him. These traits of character, though not universal, are yet general; and the practical difficulty they present, in changing the condition of such a people, is to satisfy them of our sincerity and the value of the aid we offer; to hold out to them motives for exertion; to call into action some powerful feeling, which shall counteract the tendency of previous impressions. It is under such circumstances and with these difficulties in view, that the Government has been called upon to determine what arrangements shall be made for the permanent establishment of the Indians. Shall they be advised to remain or remove? If the former, their fate is written in the annals of their race; if the latter, we may yet hope to see them renovated in character and condition by our example and instruction, and by their exertions.
From: Lewis Cass, “Report of the Secretary of War,” November 21, 1831, House Document 2/2, 22nd Cong., 1st sess., Serial 216, pp. 31-32.
Treaty with the Cherokee
New Echota, Georgia, December 29, 1835
The following articles of a treaty were agreed upon and concluded between William Carroll and John F. Schermerhorn, commissioners of the United States, and a group of Cherokee men, led by Major Ridge, representing the people of the Cherokee nation. Whether these men truly represented the Cherokees was later disputed.
SUMMARY: A treaty agreed upon by the government and Cherokee tribe. The government tries to buy them off by giving them five million dollars and protection.
…The Cherokee nation hereby cede relinquish and convey to the United States all the lands owned claimed or possessed by them east of the Mississippi river, and hereby release all their claims upon the United States for… the sum of five millions of dollars…
The United States … shall secure to the Cherokee nation the right by their national councils to make and carry into effect all such laws as they may deem necessary for the government and protection of the persons and property within their own country, belonging to their people or such persons as have connected themselves with them: provided always that they shall not be inconsistent with the constitution of the United States and such acts of Congress as have been or may be passed regulating trade … with the Indians…
Perpetual peace and friendship shall exist between the citizens of the United States and the Cherokee Indians. The United States agree to protect the Cherokee nation from domestic strife and foreign enemies and against intestine wars between the several tribes. The Cherokees shall endeavor to preserve and maintain the peace of the country and not make war upon their neighbors; they shall also be protected against interruption and intrusion from citizens of the United States, who may attempt to settle in the country without their consent; and all such persons shall be removed from the same by order of the President of the United States. But this is not intended to prevent the residence among them of useful farmers, mechanics, and teachers for the instruction of Indians according to treaty stipulations…
This treaty after the same shall be ratified by the President and Senate of the United States shall be obligatory on the contracting parties.
In testimony whereof, the commissioners and the chiefs, head men, and people whose names are hereunto annexed, being duly authorized by the people in general council assembled, have affixed their hands and seals for themselves, and in behalf of the Cherokee nation.
[Signed] Wm. Carroll, J. F. Schermerhorn.
Major Ridge, James Foster, Tesa-ta-esky, Charles Moore, George Chambers, Tah-yeske, Archilla Smith, Andrew Ross, William Lassley, Cae-te-hee, Te-gah-e-ske, Robert Rogers, John Gunter, John A. Bell, Charles F. Foreman, William Rogers, George W. Adair, Elias Boudinot, James Starr, Jesse Half-breed
For the Benefit of all…
Points to make:
Safety, Protection (Cass)
Provided with education, training (treaty)
Strengthen the states (Jackson)
The Indian Removal Act benefits all by providing protection for the Native Americans, education and training to help them assimilate as well as strengthening the Southern states through population growth.
A violation of the Constitution….
Taking land of their ancestors (Cherokee appeal)
Violates America’s character (Steubenville women)
Would be moving to unknown land (Cherokee Appeal)
The Indian Removal Act is a violation of the Constitution and peoples’ rights because it takes the Native Americans from the land of their ancestors, violates America’s Character and moves the Native Americans to unknown land.