What effect did Jacksonian Democracy have on Native Americans?

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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After the election of Andrew Jackson, significant changes to the nature of American democracy were occurring. They were so momentous that the entire era was known as the Jacksonian era. For the first time in American history common people were becoming more and more politically active. This meant big changes for everyone, including Native Americans.

Starting around 1820, voting was not longer relegated to just landed men. For the first time, poor tenet farmers were now allowed to vote in major elections, which means their interests were now becoming policy in Washington. The most common request was more access to cheap land, most of which was controlled by Native Americans.

As a result, the 1820’s saw a large series of treaties and laws that were aimed at moving tribes east of the Mississippi off their land so that white settlers and land speculators could get access.

The most infamous of these was the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Championed by Andrew Jackson himself, this law saw  serious opposition in both the Supreme Court and the floor of congress itself. This act relocated thousands and thousands of Native Americans off their land and onto a new Indian Territory in Oklahoma. When tribes like the Cherokee and the Choctaw refused to move, the army was sent in and they were forced marched to Oklahoma in an episode that was known as the Trail of Tears. Thousands of Native Americans died along the way from exposure and starvation.      

Using this example, one could easily argue that the Jacksonian Era resulted in more violence towards native peoples.

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