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indian Removal Policy

"The evil, Sir, is enormous; the inevitable suffering incalculable. Do not stain the fair fame of the country. . . . Nations of dependent Indians, against their will, under color of law, are driven from their homes into the wilderness. You cannot explain it; you cannot reason it away. . . . Our friends will view this measure with sorrow, and our enemies alone with joy. And we ourselves, Sir, when the interests and passions of the day are past, shall look back upon it, I fear, with self-reproach, and a regret as bitter as unavailing."

Edward Everett, "Speeches on the Passage of the Bill for the Removal of the Indians
Delivered in the Congress of the United States" (Boston, 1830) in
Native American Voices: A History and Anthology, ed. Steven Mintz
(St. James, New York: Brandywine P, 1995), 114.

Key:

1. Seminole
2. Creek
3. Choctaw
4. Chickasaw
5. Cherokee
6. Quapaw
7. Osage
8. Illinois Confederation

Adapted from Sam Bowers Hilliard, "Indian Land Cessions" [detail], Map Supplement 16, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 62, no. 2 [June 1972]. From National Park Service

In 1830, the United States government adopted removal as its official policy.

Read the text of the Indian Removal Act of 1830

The removal policy precipitated an acrimonious debate in the Senate.

President Andrew Jackson defended Indian in his First, Second, and Seventh Annual Addresses.

Chief John Ross and other leaders of the Cherokee nation wrote a letter to Congress to protest the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. This treaty, signed by a group of Cherokees claiming to represent their people, stated that the tribe would relocate west of the Mississippi. The majority of Cherokees, over 15,000, opposed the treaty.

  • Read Ross' letter (1836)
    In this letter, Chief Ross and the others state the case for the Cherokee majority.

These political cartoons portray opinions about Indian removal policy and effects:

 

Copyright Digital History 2016