Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars

by Robert V. Remini

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 348

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson had a long history of fighting with Native Americans, beginning with his childhood experiences in the American southwest. He spent time as a legal clerk, a lawyer, a state representative, a senator, a governor, and ultimately served as president. Remini depicts Jackson as a multifaceted figure, willing to engage in brutal war against Native Americans, but also willing to adopt a Native American as his son. Remini characterizes Jackson as a man seeking a stable solution which would prevent the continuation of conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans, qhich were a near-constant in Jackson's time.

John Marshall

Supreme Court Justice John Marshall appears as a figure who might have prevented Jackson from carrying out his policies, but who ultimately proved ineffective against Jackson's desire to remove Indians from the area east of the Mississippi.

Various Indigenous Groups

Remini portrays various Native American groups: those who chose to fight, those who fled west of the Mississippi, and those who tried to integrate into white society. Ultimately, the historical record shows that meaningful integration was never an option. While in theory Jackson was open to Native Americans remaining east of the Mississippi, even tribes such as the Cherokee, who largely met white standards of what it meant to be "civilized," were pushed west. Indeed, Jackson made clear that he was determined to destroy Native Americans so long as they remained in communities as tribes or nations.

While it is easy to paint Jackson's adoption of a Native American boy as an act of kindness or as proof that he is not a racist, adoption must be understood historically as one of many tools used by white settlers to eliminate Native American culture. Native Americans may continue to exist, but if they are forced to do so primarily in isolation from one another and from their traditional beliefs and ways of life, Native American culture and community is still destroyed. Throughout these historical accounts, it is clear that Jackson was committed to the absolute dominance of the United States, even if it meant the decimation of Native American populations.

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