Andrew Jackson's Presidency

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Why did Andrew Jackson want Native Americans to move to the West?

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In his speech on the Indian Removal Act on December 8, 1829, Andrew Jackson argued that Native Americans were “savages” whose removal would facilitate the development and strengthen the security of the Southern states:

It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid.

Andrew Jackson believed that such an approach was fully consistent with the general historical evolution of the US as a whole:

What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?

He also argued that this removal was in the best interests of the Native Americans themselves, as it would, in his view, prevent their disappearance amidst the growing white population and allow them to maintain their way of life under the protection of federal government west of Mississippi:

It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions.

Jackson believed that the Southern states had the sovereign right to expel the Native Americans and that the federal government had no right to intervene; he argued that federal intervention would infringe on state sovereignty:

For the justice of the laws passed by the States within the scope of their reserved powers they are not responsible to this Government. As individuals we may entertain and express our opinions of their acts, but as a Government we have as little right to control them as we have to prescribe laws for other nations.

Andrew Jackson’s military experience in the Indian Wars shaped his racially biased views of Native Americans. He perceived them primarily as an obstacle to the further growth of the South. As slavery spread and cotton cultivation expanded, Southern planters demanded the remaining Native American land. Jackson hoped that by implementing the demands of the white Southerners for the expulsion of Native American peoples, he could improve the tense relationship between the federal government and the Southern political elites, who were angry about the protectionist tariffs imposed on the import of manufactured goods.

Note: You can read President Andrew Jackson’s Case for the Removal Act at

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Andrew Jackson had a strong dislike for the Native Americans, and he wanted them to...

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be relocated to lands that were west of the Mississippi River. Andrew Jackson wanted our country to grow and become more prosperous. In order to achieve these things, the American people needed to continue to expand to lands near the Mississippi River. This would allow businesses to move to these areas and also encourage the expansion of our existing transportation system.

The Native Americans posed a problem. Andrew Jackson viewed them as an undeveloped people because their way of life was different than the American way of life. Because the Americans had taken land from the Native Americans deceitfully or by force in the past, there continued to be issues with them. Andrew Jackson believed that moving them to lands west of the Mississippi River, which was considered to be a wasteland, would solve the problem. With the Native Americans out of the way, the country could grow and prosper. He also believed the government would be able to allow the Native Americans to live peacefully in an area few people thought we would ever settle.

Andrew Jackson was determined to move the Native Americans to lands west of the Mississippi River.

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