Indian Removal Act
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. The act authorized him to negotiate with the Native Americans in the Southern United States for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their homelands.
The Five Civilized Tribes, consisting of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, and Seminole were well established as autonomous nations in the southeastern United States. The acculturation proposed by George Washington was well underway among the Cherokee and Choctaw. Thomas Jefferson's policy had been to accept the Native Americans' rights to their homelands. All Native Americans who had adopted a civilized behavior could remain east of the Mississippi. His plan was to guide them towards practicing an agriculturally based society. However, Andrew Jackson sought to renew a policy of political and military action for the removal of the Native Americans from these lands and spoke of enacting a law for Indian removal in an 1829 oration.
Policy, effect and effort 
On May 28, 1830, the Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson. While Native American removal was, in theory, supposed to be voluntary, in practice great pressure was put on Native American leaders to sign removal treaties. Most observers, whether they were in favor of the Indian removal policy or not, realized that the passage of the act meant the inevitable removal of most Indians from the states. Some Native American leaders who had previously resisted removal now began to reconsider their positions, especially after Jackson's landslide re-election in 1832. Affected tribes included the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole. Other tribal people affected and removed were the Wyandot, the Potowatomi, the Shawnee, and the Lenape.
The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where people were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in a contentious jurisdictional dispute with the Cherokee nation. President Jackson hoped removal would resolve the Georgia crisis.
The Indian Removal Act was highly controversial. While most European Americans during this time favored the passage of the Indian Removal Act, there was significant opposition. Many Christian missionaries, most notably missionary organizer Jeremiah Evarts, protested against passage of the Act. Future U.S. President Abraham Lincoln also opposed the Indian Removal Act. In Congress, New Jersey Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen and Congressman Davy Crockett of Tennessee spoke out against the legislation. The Removal Act was passed after bitter debate in Congress.
The Removal Act resulted in many casualties. When moving westward, Indians died from the cold and starvation. There were rarely any accidents regarding the wagons. In the Removal Act there were more white casualties than you would think. Although it is a myth, there was a fierce Indian warrior named Tamashka who protected Cherokee land and killed the white men who tried to take the land. The truth behind the amount of white deaths in the The Removal Act is still unknown, but signs found all over Alabama and westward have pointed to Tamashka.
The Removal Act paved the way for the reluctant—and mostly forcible—emigration of tens of thousands of American Indians to the West, an event widely known as the "Trail of Tears." The first removal treaty signed after the Removal Act 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. A Choctaw chief, thought to be Thomas Harkins or Nitikechi, was quoted in the Arkansas Gazette as saying the 1831 Choctaw removal was a "trail of tears and death". The Treaty of New Echota, signed in 1835, resulted in the removal of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears. The Seminoles and other tribes did not leave peacefully; along with fugitive slaves they resisted the removal. The Second Seminole War lasted from 1835 to 1842 and resulted in the forced removal of Seminoles. Only a small number remained, and around 3,000 were killed amongst American soldiers and Seminoles.
In the 1823 case of Johnson v. M'Intosh, the Supreme Court handed down a decision which stated that Indians could occupy lands within the United States, but could not hold title to those lands. Jackson, as was common before the Civil War, viewed the union as a federation of sovereign states. 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 comprise sovereign states (which violated the constitution) or they are subject to the laws of existing states of the Union. Jackson urged Indians to assimilate and obey state laws. He believed he could only accommodate the desire for Indian self-rule in federal territory and that required re-settlement west of the Mississippi River on federal land.[dubious ]
See also 
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- 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); Francis Paul Prucha, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians, Volume I, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984, p. 206.
- "Indian Removal Act: Primary Documents of American History". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
- 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.
- Jefferson, Thomas (1803). "President Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory,". Retrieved 2012-07-14.
- "Indian Removal Act". The History Channel. A&E Television Networks. 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- Howe pp. 348-352.
- Len Green. "Choctaw Removal was really a "Trail of Tears"". Bishinik. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
- Eric Foner (2006). Give me liberty. Norton.
- "Indial Removal 1814-1858". Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- Brands, H.W. (2006). Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times. Anchor. p. 488. ISBN 978-1-4000-3072-9.
- Wilson, Woodrow (1898). Division and Reunion 1829-1889. Longmans, Green and Co. pp. 35–38.
Further reading 
- Howe, Daniel Walker. What Has God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. (2007) ISBN 978-0-19-507894-7
- Indian Removal Act and related resources, at the Library of Congress
- Indian Removal Act of 1830 Transcript, at www.civics-online.org
- Text of 1829 State of the Union at The American Presidency Project
- Text of 1830 State of the Union on Indian Removal at 100 Milestone Documents