Trails Of Tears Essay

…The Trail of Tears stands for one of the most tragic periods in the history of the US. It was the beginning of extermination of Indian tribe – the Cherokee. The Cherokee lived in what became the United States hundreds of years before the first European set foot in the New World. Related to the Iroquois, they had migrated lo the southern Appalachians from the Great Lakes region. Following t American Revolution and the birth of the United States the Cherokee were considered a separate nation a count within a country. Though living apart, they were committed to peaceful coexistence with their white neighbors.

Their neighbors, were more interested in land than in peace. Pressured by white settlers eager to occupy valuable and productive Cherokee land, the United States govern¬ment began a very long campaign— distinguished by raise promises ,broken treaties, racist attitudes, and threats of military force—to oust the Cherokee off their territory and out of their homes and to resettle them to the “Great American Desert” west of the Mississippi River.

This was not the first time the Cherokee were relocated off their Lands. The white men who came from across the sea pressed further into the Cherokee Nation for many- years, taking over great traces of land as they advanced. Often, the incursion of the white settlers was followed by violence. From time to time settlers assaulted and robbed the Indians and burnt their houses and other buildings. Those were not only settlers who oppressed the Cherokee. The treatment of the United States government, which promised to protect the Indians, was cruel. By 1838 no one even bothered to make empty promises and vows of friendship. Instead, troops were sent to force Cherokee to leave. The expelling of the Cherokee from their native lands was going to start. 4 000 Cherokee were about to suffer from cold, hunger and disease during the forced walk to Oklahoma. The Cherokee were about to embark on the Trail of Tears.

The removals started in 1830 when Andrew Jackson was the president of the United States. Thus Indian removal is an idea associated with his name. The idea actually began with President Jefferson in 1802.

In December 1802 and February 1803, Jefferson stated a secret Indian policy in two letters, one To Henry Dearborn, the U.S. secretary of war and the other to William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory. The ideas stated in those two letters forecast what would happen in thirty years on the southeastern Indians.

Andrew Jackson’s was not the only one who wanted to remove Indians. Many white settlers on the border also called for the Indians to move west of the Mississippi River. Some families who were neighbors of the Cherokee for a long time and had got aid and support from them during hard times departed from Jackson’s plan but they were not many in number. Settlers in Georgia demanded the removal. Later Cherokee were made to give up land in West Virginia, the Carolinas, the Tennessee. A greater part of Cherokee Nation migrated to Georgia and concentrated there. The white settlers of the state prompted the government that the United States had promised to bring to naught Indian claims to all property in Georgia. They wanted the federal government to force ill Indians to leave the state.

The Louisiana Purchase An unexpected event in 1803 made Indian accelerated Indians removal. France offered the United States to sell the Americans a great territory, then known as Louisiana, west of the Mississippi River. President Jefferson readily accepted the offer. Before the end of the year, the Americans possessed an area, stretching to the Rocky Mountains. Now there was enough land to which Native people could be deported…

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The Trail of Tears refers to the forceful relocation and eventual movement of the Native American communities from the South Eastern regions of the U.S. as a result of the enactment of the Indian Removal Act in the year 1830. In the year 1838, in line with Andrew Jackson’s policy of the Indians’ removal, the Cherokee community was forced to surrender its land to the east of Mississippi River and migrate to the present day Oklahoma. This journey was referred to as the “Trail of Tears” mainly due to its devastating effects it had to the Indian people. The migrants faced extreme hunger, diseases and exhaustion due to the forced march while more than 50,000 people died (Cave, 2003). The Trail of Tears resulted in a devastating effect for the Indians such as extreme hunger, diseases and exhaustion due to long walk and massive injustices and abuse of fundamental human rights.

According to Perdue (2008), the Trail of Tears is regarded as one of the tragic eras in the U.S. history mainly due to the forceful relocation of the Indians. This is also considered as the beginning of the Indian extermination by the U.S. government even though they had lived in the country several centuries before the white settlers set their foot in America. After the American Revolution and the eventual creation of the U.S., the Indians were regarded as a separate nation within a sovereign country even though they were fully committed to a peaceful coexistence with the white settlers. However, the white settlers were mostly interested in the resources of rich and productive land under the occupation of the Indians. As a result, the U.S. government embarked on a long campaign – marked by false promises, broken and false treaties, and threats of military force and racist attitudes – to oust the Indians from their native territory.

The U.S. government committed a heinous incident in its long history when it passed the Removal Act in the year 1830, which later resulted in the Trail of Tears. The Indians were moved to the west in an exodus that would ensure the new American settlers continued growing and prospering in their new country. The most famous of those forced from their native land by the U.S. government included Five Civilized Tribes comprising of the Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole, Chickasaw and Creek (Cave, 2003). These tribes constituted the majority of more than 60,000 Indians driven out of their land and they were distinguished from other Indian populations due to their leadership forms and organization. They had functional social systems based on property ownership, government offices and established schools much like in Europe (Perdue, 2008). However, the U.S. government could not recognize them to be civilized enough to be their neighbors necessitating their forceful relocation.

The Trail of Tears created a period of immeasurable misery and despair among the Indians who were being relocated against their wishes. In order to relocate the Indian tribes swiftly and effectively, the Indians tribes were prearranged into wretched and miserable traveling caravans. During the trail, the Indians passed through horrible living conditions that were unbearable, for instance, the Indians slept in the mud, lacked shelter and enough food. On the other hand, they were usually forced to march in chains or manacles. In most cases, if the poor living conditions did not kill them, severe disease outbreaks killed most of the Indians. They were plagued with diseases such as dysentery, pneumonia, whooping cough, pellagra and tuberculosis, which usually wiped out entire families (Cave, 2003). Consequently, the Trail of Tears resulted in massive deaths among the Indians apart from damaging the Indian American spirit and self respect.

The 1830 Indian Removal act gave President Jackson the power to relocate the Indians under their consent while the act required that they be compensated for the relocation. However, this is not the manner in which the policy was implemented as the government engaged in false treaties with the Indians, broken promises and perpetrated lies while dealing with the Indians (Cave, 2003). The Choctaw Indians in 1831 were the first who were relocated and they became a perfect model for the successful relocations. The Seminole followed the Choctaw in 1832, then the Creek in the year 1834, the Chickasaw Indians in the year 1837, and lastly the Cherokee Indians in 1838. As a result, by 1837, it is estimated that more than 46,000 Native Indians from these southern states had forcefully been relocated from their homelands thus opening about 25 million acres for mainly white settlement (Perdue, 2008).

In conclusion, the Trail of Tears is a perfect expression of the U.S. government’s act of inhumanity towards the Indians. The new white settlers in the U.S. had escaped the oppression in Europe and they were obsessed with their new freedoms in America that they easily trampled on the freedom and rights of the Indians. The Trail of Tears resulted in a devastating effect for the Indians who were forced to walk over 1,000 miles to Oklahoma in a trip where they walked without shoes or enough clothing (Perdue, 2008). The food provision was scarce, they suffered from severe diseases and a large number of the Indians died from the harsh conditions and diseases. The U.S. must never forget these shameful and sad moments in its long history with the hope that the country learns from the past, in order to prevent the occurrence of other atrocities similar to the Trail of Tears.

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Sep 4, 2013

Filed under: Sample Papers — Tags: history essay, The Trail of Tears essay paper, The Trail of Tears research paper — Joan Young @ 5:48 am


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