Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.
To get a better understanding of this issue, we need to look at the fledgling country of the time. The settlers were expanding past original settlements. As the seaboard was beginning to crowd, the tempting lands to the south and west were beckoning. The pioneers began to push forward and discovered that these lands already had people who claimed the wilds as home. This is where a major crossroads was encountered. Now, what were they do to?
To many of the white (European) settlers, the thought of living in peace with the native tribes was not farfetched. They accepted the thought of living in the new land with the natives and enjoying peace. To many others that thought was ludicrous. Those that opposed living with the natives preferred the prospect of completely annihilating the tribes. In their opinion, they were savages with no hope of civilization. Heated debates began over this and continued throughout into the first of the presidential terms of the new country. Each president pushed the topic to the back as more critical issues arose like wars with foreign powers. But this only led to a more explosive and history changing event.
In 1814 Andrew Jackson burst forth onto the historical scene as the general to defeat the Creeks who had begun attacking white settlements that began to encroach on their territory. Jackson along with his allies, the Cherokees, conquered the Creeks and obtained much land in the south that would for the new country. The intent of the battle was not to wipe out the Creeks or show who was stronger. It was a reaction to the attacks of the Creeks which could be argued as justified with so many settlers moving in and taking what was once the home of the Creeks.
Over the next few years, the southern settlers began to push the government for more land. With the economy growing demands for land increased. What was to be done with those already there? To many in the south, exterminating all tribes was the only possible answer. Just wipe them all out and let expansion take its course. To many others, that was an unacceptable position. Andrew Jackson happened to be one of them.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was passed with huge support from the voters. The country wanted the tribes removed so that the new country could expand. In his First Annual Message to Congress in 1830, Jackson stated:
The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves…. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid.
To Jackson, the only possible solution was to move the tribes to a “safer” location. Jackson stated that the act was to “save him (the native) from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.” In his mind and many others, the Act was a blessing and the best thing for all. To the natives, it was received a little differently.
Originally published at https://owlcation.com on August 10, 2019.