By Jedidiah D. Fox
Georgia, one of America’s proudest states, is where we, the Americans, have settled and created an abundant life for the next generations to come. However, we can never forget that we live upon the lands of what was once owned by the Cherokee, a tribe of rebellious Indians believing that they could stand against our government.
Hopefully, readers will recall eight years past when our president, Andrew Jackson, passed the Indian Removal act upon our southern lands. America was growing, and as our nation grew towards the south, we encountered savage Indians. The American people were eager to own this land to raise their cotton, so we sought the federal government’s help to acquire this Indian territory. Soon came the Indian Removal act, a law allowing our president power to negotiate removal treaties with Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi.
Under these treaties, the Indians were to give up their lands east of the Mississippi in exchange for lands to the west. Those still residing in the east would become citizens of their current state. As Christian missionaries called this act a violation of the Indian rights, President Jackson disagreed 1. Jackson wrote to congress, in 1830, stating, “The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves.”2 President Jackson believes that opening the “whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites” will strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid.
The removal will enable the Indians to pursue happiness in their own way, live under their own rude institutions, 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. As the migration east of the Five civilized tribes, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole, would have been very beneficiary towards all, President Jackson was faced with immense conflict when faced with the Cherokee.3
Unfortunately, during this time, the removal of the Cherokee nation was considered illegal, due to the Cherokee versus Georgia case back 7 years past. This case was brought up by the Cherokee nation to the supreme court as they sought a federal ruling against laws passed by the U.S. state of Georgia depriving them of rights. As the case went on, the Cherokee’s were later deemed sovereign, giving them immunity from Georgia law; however, with the power and determination of our president, we gained control of their land through the Treaty of New Echota.
When our government sent the treaty of New Echota, an agreement ceding all Cherokee land to America, they were met by their representative Chief, Major Ridge. The chief agreed to the treaty without resistance, and thus the Cherokee were to emigrate peacefully within two years. However, the Cherokee nation later claimed that Major Ridge did not represent their nation, rather he only represented a faction. Congress ignored their claims as the Cherokee were still to leave their homeland.4
As Cherokee individuals soon began to migrate west, many rebelled against the treaty and remained within the land. As we grew impatient of their emigration, we sent forth our beloved General Winfield Scott to confront the Indians themselves.
When General Scott reached the Cherokee land, he stated that because the Cherokee never migrated within the two years, which were allowed for the purpose, they have suffered to pass away without following, and without making any preparation to follow, their emigration was to be commenced at haste.5
After forcing the Indians out, they commenced on what people are calling the Trail of Tears. The Indians left their homes with no time to pack as they were forced onto the road without any preparation. Thus began their journey from Georgia to their new land west of the Mississippi river.
As we continue to grow grateful for our homeland, Georgia, we can never forget the effort put in by our government to achieve this. While the Cherokee may not have peace presently, it is the donation of their homeland that allows us to build our new homes further south. Since the beginning of their travels, it has been nearly half a year. Authorities say nearly two thousand of the rebel Indians have suffered from severe coldness, hunger, or disease, and that they may not arrive at the new land until next year, 18396. Only time shall tell how many more will suffer.
1. Cave, Alfred A. “Abuse of Power: Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830.” The Historian 65, no. 6 (2003): 1330-353. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24452618.
2. Jackson, Andrew. Transcript to Congress ‘On Indian Removal’. Letter. From Library of
Congress. 1830. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Indian.html (Accessed
April 24, 2017)
4. “Cherokee letter protesting the Treaty of New Echota.” PBS. April 25, 2017.
5. “Gen. Winfield Scott’s Address to the Cherokee Nation.” Georgia info: An online Georgia
Almanac. 2017. Accessed April 24, 2017.
6. William G. McLoughlin, Trail of Tears: The Cherokees’ Struggle for Sovereignty, (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1993),