United States settlers coveted the land belonging to the Cherokee people in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama long before the forced removal of these Native American people in the atrocity that came to be known as the Trail of Tears. The problem became more acute when white settlers realized the high agricultural value of the land, and especially after the Georgia Gold Rush, which began in 1829.
The Cherokee generally attempted to resist removal by the United States through negotiations and legal proceedings. In 1825, the Cherokee established a capital in Georgia, created a written constitution, and declared themselves a sovereign nation. In 1830, when the state of Georgia attempted to confiscate Cherokee lands, the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in two separate cases. The court refused to hear The Cherokee Nation v. Georgia because the Native Americans were not looked upon as an independent nation. However in Worchester v. State of Georgia, the Supreme Court ruled that only the federal government had authority concerning Indian affairs, and so Georgia could not impose laws upon the Cherokee. President Andrew Jackson belittled the court's decision, but nevertheless in 1835 Chief John Ross of the Cherokees met with President Jackson to attempt to negotiate some kind of settlement.
Although removal was delayed, relocation became inevitable due to the overwhelming pressure. At first, most Cherokees refused to leave their land, but eventually some voluntarily relocated. Most of the rest were rounded up into internment camps under terrible conditions and forcibly marched westward. Thousands died on their way to the new Indian Territory in Oklahoma. About 1,000 Cherokee resisted removal by fleeing into the mountains.