Andrew Jackson's Presidency Questions and Answers

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What was the outcome of the Trail of Tears?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The outcome was a humanitarian catastrophe on a truly massive scale. Before President Andrew Jackson came to power, successive administrations had adopted a relatively—and I emphasize the word "relatively" here—benign policy towards Native Americans. In a very general sense, as long as they could assimilate into mainstream American society, they would be permitted to occupy their ancient ancestral lands.

However, Jackson adopted a different, and much harsher, approach. Tribes in the Southeast of the country were to be forcibly removed and relocated west of the Mississippi where they would be resettled on designated Indian Territory. Astonishing as it may seem, Jackson apparently believed that this was a humane policy that would actually prevent Native Americans from being systematically wiped out by white American settlers. In actual fact, the new policy was disastrous for the Native American tribes concerned, especially the Cherokee. Tens of thousands of men, women, and children perished on the long trek out West, struck down by cold, hunger, and disease.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The outcome of the Trail of Tears was that the Native Americans were essentially removed from the Southeast and relocated to what was then Indian Territory across the Mississippi.  They were not able to keep all of Indian Territory in the long run as whites moved out across the continent.  Regardless of what happened with Indian Territory, the Trail of Tears resulted in the removal of Native Americans from the Southeast.  During this removal, thousands of Indians died due to harsh conditions along the way.

As white settlers spread out across the Southeast, they came to covet lands that the Native Americans owned.  The Native Americans of the Southeast had become relatively settled and “civilized” and were, in fact, known as the “Five Civilized Tribes.”  Even though these tribes had become sedentary and had adopted many European ways, the white settlers still wanted them off the land. They wanted to appropriate the land for themselves.  Therefore, they pushed the government to move the Indians out of the Southeast.  The government eventually did this, forcing the tribes to move to what is now Oklahoma.  Thousands died along the way, giving rise to the name “Trail of Tears.”

The outcome of this event was that the Native Americans were removed from the South and white settlers (and their black slaves) had the land all to themselves.

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