Did Andrew Jackson’s Removal Act Benefit the Indians?
Robert V. Remini shows that Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act benefits the Native Americans. Andrew Jackson made notice of the issue with the Indians in his inaugural speech on March 4, 1829. He declared that he wanted to give humane and considerable attention to the Indian’s rights and wants in respect to the government and people. Jackson knew that meant to get rid of all remaining tribes beyond the Mississippi River. He (Jackson) believed that the Indians would be better off in the west; without the influence from the white man or local authority.
Jackson hired two Tennessee generals to go visit the Creeks and Cherokees to see if the Indians would leave voluntarily. In that, those who did not leave would be protected by the federalgovernment. But he implies that if they refuse to move, their race would most likely be destroyed. Jackson became very concerned about the Native Americans. He was well liked by many chiefs due to his worrying for their welfare. He even took an orphaned Indian and raised him. Jackson was sure that as soon as the Indians adopted the white man’s’ habits, they would become complete citizens.
But Jackson felt that since the white man wanted Indian territory and the two races could not cooperate, it would be best for the existence of Indians if they were removed. Jackson was concerned about national security and he was a racist (even though he had no clue what that word meant,) but he did not want to kill the Indians. He wanted to relocate them so that they could be safe from the white men who wanted them dead for their land. So the two men (Carroll and Coffee) that Jackson had hired to talk to the chiefs of both tribes did not have the skill to do so.
The chiefs did not want to move their tribes, nor did they know the land they would be moving to. They would have to leave the land that their fathers were buried in. Both the Creek and Cherokee chiefs denied commissioners request to emigrate, and told Carroll and Coffee that they would advise other tribes not to move. Jackson knew that the Indiansrefusing to move was becoming a political problem. He knew it was important to get them out of the south. Jackson started by calling in the army to run the white men off of the Indian lands by any means necessary.
The longer the Indians stayed where they were, the more apt the white men were to kill them off for their land. Thomas McKenney cared about Native Americans and was intent on convincing them to leave their land. He advocated through church groups, but they wouldn’t listen. In the summer of 1829, gold was found in Northeastern Georgia. White men rushed there, onto Cherokee lands, and ignored church groups’ requests to leave. The Indians were overwhelmed and begged their Great Father (Jackson) for help. All of the non-violent relationships built after the Indian wars were collapsing.
White men became more determined to take what little land the Native Americans had. Jackson made the removal of Indians top priority. He drafted a document along with four other men that became the Indian Removal Act. But it didn’t actually “remove” them. It gave the Indians that moved titles to the new land and compensated for improvements made on the land they were on. The Act granted $500,000 to carry this out. Jackson forcedCongress to address the Indian issue. Their way was “harsh, arrogant, racist-and inevitable. ” The American white folk would no longer let the tribes inhabit the fertile land they wanted.
Jackson was sure that the Indians could not live under state jurisdiction; which they would have to if they did not relocate. Immigrating not only gave them rights to live under their own laws and practices, it kept them safe from the greedy white men. They could also preserve their way of life and their heritage. Jackson tried very hard to give them a choice of staying or going, but the American’s greediness made it almost impossible to enforce. He lacked patience, so he wanted action immediately, but it would be months and even years before all of the Indian people could be transported and settled properly.
The money granted by the Indian Removal Act would not reach the amount needed to cover all costs. He expected it would take tens ofmillions of dollars, but the cost of Indian lives and suffering was priceless. The Indians begged for protection and to be left alone. They didn’t want to be crowded anymore. The Americans didn’t trust the Indians at all, but they thought that they could resolve the problem without conflicting with their conscience or moral sensibility. Francis Paul Prucha, a scholar of Native American history, believed that there were four courses of action. First, there was genocide, but nobody was demented enough to propose it.
Second, there was immigration; which Indians did not want to join the white man’s culture. Third, they could enforce existing treaties and protect the Natives. Or fourth, removal, which was Jackson’s pick because it would work. In Jackson’s mind, he expected the Indians to thrive as they did in their current home, except there would be no white men. Three chiefs, each one from the Chippewa, Potawatomi, and Ottawa tribes, came forward to the White House and told about their suffering. They said they were promised land as fertile as Illinois, but received land that a snake couldn’t live on.
They could not live in the prairie when they were from the woods. Thousands of Indian people suffered because Jackson heard what they said but he did not act. To his dying day on June 8, 1845, Andrew Jackson genuinely believed that what he had accomplished rescued these people from inevitable annihilation…He saved the five civilized nations from probableextinction. On the other hand, Alfred A. Cave disagreed with Robert Remini’s view that Andrew Jackson’s Removal Act did in fact benefit the Natives. Cave believed that the Act did not authorize giving land rights to the Native Americans nor did it allow their forced removal.
But Jackson allowed this to happen even though it was abusing his presidential powers under the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1802. Jackson stated that it would be cruel to force them to leave the lands where they had lived so long. The nation’s actions towards the Indians reflected the nation’s character. Jackson argued that the federal government could not do anything about the Indian’s problems within state borders. The Indian Removal Act didn’t force the Indians to give-up theland they lived on. It paid the Natives for their land improvements, funded transportation to the west, and negotiated land exchanges.
John Henry Eaton was worried about the American Board of Commissions of Foreign Missions and their anti-removal campaign. Eaton wanted to make sure that the Governor of Georgia knew to avoid “the appearance of harshness towards the Indians. ” If any misconduct towards the Natives was shown, it was sure that Jackson’s Removal Plan would deteriorate. The Governor of Michigan and Lewis Cass wrote an article in the North American Review stating that the administration understood that “no force should be used” and that the Indians “shall be liberally remunerated (paid) for all they may cede. Any doubters were assured by the supporters of Jackson in Congress that no Indian will be forced to move against his or her will.
President Jackson assured the people that “Indians belonging to tribes that had signed theremoval treaties, but who did not themselves wish to accompany their kinsman on the trek westward, would receive individual land grants after tribal claims had been extinguished and they would then be welcome to remain behind as citizens of the states, where they would be protected in their persons and property. The Jacksonians wanted votes from Congress and the House of Representatives. To do that, they needed to prove the Removal would be voluntary. But in both houses of Congress, they believed that Jackson was not entirely intent on dealing fairly with the Indians. Jackson and Van Buren carried out the Removal, but it wasn’t voluntary. Witness said that they used “coercion, corruption, and fraud to negotiate and execute the removal treaties.
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Jackson warned the Indians over and over that if they did not relocate, they would have to abide by the laws of that state. He couldn’t control the white squatters. What they did was out of Jackson’s hands. It got to the point where the whites resorted to violence against the Indians, and Jackson did nothing to protect them even though there were treaties that were supposed to do so. Jackson ignored them; he even abandoned the Natives when he was supposed to remove white occupants of Indian lands.
Anti-removal protesters said that Jackson abused his presidentialpower when he refused to execute the Indian treaties. In my own point of view, I believe that the Indians Removal Act did not benefit the Natives at all. The Act was full of promises that couldn’t be carried out. Jackson couldn’t actually protect the Indians from white squatters. What neither Robert Remini nor Alfred Cave mentioned was the Trail of Tears where thousands of Indians died during a forced removal during the 1830s.
Wilson Lumpkin said, “No man entertains kinder feelings toward Indians than Andrew Jackson. ” That may have been true, but if he cared so much for them, why didn’t he actually do something to protect them? He created the Removal Act; however it did nothing to help those who did not want to leave their home. None of the treaties were even enforced. It’s as if he used themto fool the Indians into thinking that were protected so that the white man could take their land. In the end, wasn’t that the most important thing to the American man?