Baltimore Sun – March 18, 1831
This is Roman Ramsey, reporting from the courthouse in Atlanta Georgia. The Cherokee Nation vs the State of Georgia is just closing. The verdict is in, in favor of the Cherokees. The court case was to determine if the state of Georgia could control the rights of the Cherokee nation within the borders of the state (3). The final decision means that the state government does not have ground to negotiate with the tribal leaders (2). The conflict began with the Indian Removal Act of last year.
The purpose of the Indian Removal Act was to give the president permission to relocate the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi river to the west. The land east of the river is very fertile and will be given to the farmers and landowners in the south. The act was passed by the Senate on the 24th day of April 1830 by a vote of 28 to 19 and passed by the House of Representatives on the 26th day of May by a vote of 101 to 97. Two days later, President Andrew Jackson signed the act into law on the 29th of May 1830 (3).
Andrew Jackson won the presidential election two years ago, in 1828, with the support of his followers, the Democratic Republicans, who oppose the “economic aristocracy” and endorse the notion of the United States of America entering the “Era of the Common Man” (2). President Jackson has been a constant supporter of the rights of the states. When the Cherokees attempted to become their own nation in northeastern Georgia, he supported the state in extending their jurisdiction over the natives (4). Last year in a message to Congress, Jackson moved to transfer the Indian nations to the land west
of the Mississippi to leave the valuable land of the east, Georgia and Alabama, to the whites, which has recently been discovered to contain gold deposits (6). Congress granted him the right to negotiate with the savages and put pressure on the leaders to sign removal treaties, give the land currently inhabited by natives to the white landowners of the south. The act was to address the Five Civilized Tribes who inhabit Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi: the Cherokee, the Seminole, the Choctaw, the Muscogee-Creek, and the Chickasaw tribes (2).
The first removal treaty, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, was signed on the 27th day of September, 1830. The Choctaw Indians agreed to hand 15 million acres of land east of the Mississippi in exchange for 11 million acres of land west of the Mississippi and US citizenship, the first time this recognition has been granted to non-whites (11). George Gaines has been selected by Secretary of War Lewis Coss as the general supervisor for the removal of the almost twenty thousand Choctaws, the first third of which is scheduled to begin on the 1st of November of this year. Four hundred Choctaws have alreadyvoluntarily left the state in the last year (5).
Thomas Custer, a landowner in Georgia said, “So far, most tribes are too weak to fight back but the Cherokee and the Seminole tribes are showing signs of resistance. My family and I hope it doesn’t bring war. We have enough work to do without violence in our backyard. But I really would like some of that land farther east in the state. Especially if it has gold…”
In the case today, the Cherokees asked for an injunction, claiming that the state’s new laws “go directly to annihilate the Cherokees as a political society.” The rebuttal stated that the fact that Cherokees do not possess a constitution or strong central government nullifies their ability to be considered a foreign nation. Chief Justice John Marshall stated that the United States is the guardian to the tribes and that, “The court has bestowed its best attention on this question, and, after mature deliberation, the majority is of the opinion that an Indian tribe or nation within the United States is not a foreign state in the sense of the constitution, and cannot maintain an action in the courts of the United States” [Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia, 30 U.S. 1 (1831)] (11). As of this moment, the Cherokee Indians will not be required to move under the direction of the national or state government.
1. Bailey, Thomas A., and David M. Kennedy. The American spirit;. 8th ed. Boston: D. C. Heath, 1963. Print.
2. Brinkley, Alan. The unfinished nation: a concise history of the American people.. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
3. “Cherokee Nation v. Georgia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_Nation_v._Georgia>.
4. Denial, Catherine J. “Indian Removal Act.” In Rohrbough, Malcolm J., and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: Expansion and Reform, 1813 to 1855, Revised Edition (Volume IV). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHIV128&SingleRecord=True>.
5. Green, Len. “Choctaw Removal Was Really a “Trail of Tears”.” Internet Archive. Bishinik, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. <http://web.archive.org/web/20080604005108/http://www.tc.umn.edu/~mboucher/mikebouchweb/choctaw/trtears.htm>.
6. Hamilton, Neil A. “Jackson, Andrew.” Presidents: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2001. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=PRE008&SingleRecord=True>.
7. “Indian Removal Act.” American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=E08380&SingleRecord=True>.
8. “Indian Removal Act.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Removal_Act>.
9. “Primary Documents in American History.” Indian Removal Act: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Indian.html>.
10. “The North American Review Volume 0031 Issue 69 (October 1830).” The North American Review Volume 0031 Issue 69 (October 1830). N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://digital.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=nora;cc=nora;rgn=full%20text;idno=nora0031-2;didno=nora0031-2;view=image;seq=405;node=nora0031-2%3A1;page=root;size=100>.
11. “Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Dancing_Rabbit_Creek>.
12. U.S. Congress. “Indian Removal Act.” United States Statutes at Large, 21st Cong., Sess. I, Chp. 148, p. 411-412. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=E08380&SingleRecord=True>.