The Indian Removal Act, signed into law by Andrew Jackson, was arguably one of the most indelible blemishes in American history. While this 1830 act technically sponsored the “re-negotiation” of existing treaties with Native American tribes on the part of the president, it amounted to nothing less than the forced removal of Native Americans from their lands on the east coast of the United States. While Jackson wanted this removal to be ostensibly peaceful and mutually beneficial for the US, the act was met with strong resistance, especially in the southeast, where tribes such as the Seminoles were unwilling to agree to the terms. The five major tribes (the Seminoles, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creeks, and Cherokee) affected by the treaty (because of their sizable numbers) each behaved differently; the Creeks, for example, resisted, while the Chickasaw did not.
Overall, Jackson spent over $50 million dollars and thousands of human lives were lost in the wars that resulted in the decades following the Removal Act, which relocated an estimated 46,000 Native Americans. The positive aspects are at best proverbial silver linings; however, they include the successful opening of 25 million acres of land in the American West. The US saw the expansion beyond the Mississippi as inevitable, and this act realized it. Finally, a surface-level positive outcome (and a strong element in Jackson’s propaganda) is that the Native Americans were spared the subjection under whites that they might have experienced if they had remained on the East Coast. Again, it is important to recognize that the “improvements” of the Indian Removal Act are very minor in comparison with the oppression and lives lost.