Could a Cherokee nation (dependent but sovereign land) survived in the US if Jackson adhered to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Worcester v.GeorgiaThis is a “what if” question.

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

No, the Cherokees would not have survived, at least not in the same way. They needed their land and their way of life to be successful. That never could happen. So either way they would not be happy, and therefore not successful. A sovereign country cannot really exist in the middle of another one.
brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

No, I don't believe it could have.  What made it possible for Jackson to get away with ignoring the Supreme Court was that the nation was overwhelmingly ignorant of and racist against Native Americans at that time.  There was simply no political penalty for ignoring an entire branch of government.  So if it hadn't been Jackson, it would have been either at the state or local level that Cherokees would have inevitably lost their land.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It's impossible to know for certain, but I'd argue that it was popular antagonism towards the Indians that allowed Jackson to defy the Supreme Court with impunity rather than his defiance causing "the masses" to feel like they could get away with mistreating Indians.  After all, abuses of Indians and their rights had been going on for centuries before Jackson's action.

BTW, the "Marshall has made his decision, let him enforce it" quote is apocryphal.  (But it is certainly in line with his attitude.)

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that the nature of the question is rather wide open.  I tend to believe that regardless of the viability of the sovereign Native American nation, Jackson's brazen and boldly defiant actions set the stage for an institutional marginalization of the Native Americans.  There can be much to say that the Native American tribes could not have survived on their own for much longer given the rapid nature of development and industrialization of the new nation, but Jackson's actions, and the lack of consequences for them, made it socially and politically acceptable to silence the voices of Native Americans.  Remember that Jackson's dismissive nature of the Supreme Court allowed this to happen ("Let them enforce it.")  Symbolically, his actions went very far to begin the process of moving the Native Americans from center (or near it) to margin.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In my opinion, no -- not at that time.

The reason for this is that the overwhelming sentiment of white settlers would have been against allowing such a nation to remain in place.  Ethnic tensions between whites and Indians (which still exist today in areas around reservations) were worse then and would have caused huge problems in the Southeast.

One bit of evidence for this.  As you say, Jackson went against the Supreme Court's decision and suffered absolutely no consequences.  The white electorate had no problem with ousting the Indians.  Given that they felt this way, it is hard to see how a Cherokee nation could have coexisted with the growing tide of white (and their black slaves) settlement.

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