Andrew Jackson's Presidency

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What is the historical significance of the Trail of Tears?

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The significance of the name "Trail of Tears" differs by historical perspectives. It may be geographic, temporal, emotional, political, or all at once.

Westward expansion was a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the administrations of Presidents Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) and Martin Van Buren (1837-1841). Policy and related practice focused on...

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providing land to white settlers, generally by taking it from Native Americans. In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, authorizing treaty agreements and forced relocation of Native peoples. The major phase occurred between 1835 and 1839, as Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Ponca, and Seminole people were forcibly moved from the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama to the "Indian territory" of Oklahoma. Of the approximately 70,000 people who walked on foot, some 16,000 died along the way.

After the treks ended, survivors and their descendants used various phrases referring to the sorrow and crying along the way. Collectively, the experience—the physical path, the time when it occurred, the injustice, and the violence—are all referenced by the name "Trail of Tears."

In 1987, the U.S. government designated a National Historic Trail, stretching 2,200 miles through nine states. September 16 is designated Trail of Tears Commemoration Day, and organized walks are often held on portions of the route.

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The historical significance of the Trail of Tears is that it represents a grave injustice done to Native Americans by the United States government.

In the 1830s, the “Five Civilized Tribes” were living in the Southeastern United States and were generally starting to assimilate into American ways.  They had mostly adopted sedentary farming lifestyles and other aspects of “civilization.”  This ought to have made it possible for them and the whites to live together.

However, the Americans wanted the Indian lands.  Therefore, they forced the tribes to relocate to what is now Oklahoma.  The term “Trail of Tears” is used to refer to the forced journey to what was then called the Indian Territory.

Thus, the Trail of Tears is significant because it is an instance of the US government treating Native Americans in what can be seen as an unjust manner.

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Describe, discuss and explain the significance of the Trail of Tears?

The Cherokee Nation had once occupied a large swath of the Southeast, but by the early nineteenth century, it had been reduced by wars and treaties to a small parcel of land in western North Carolina, northern Georgia, and eastern Tennessee. The Cherokee had fully accepted the assimilationist polices of the United States government. They had become farmers and planters, they framed a western-style constitution, many purchased slaves, and most adopted western dress. They were the most assimilated of the so-called "Five Civilized Tribes" that inhabited the southeast, but like the other four tribes (the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole) they were facing pressures from white expansion as southern whites, eager for land to plant cotton, eyed their traditional homelands, making claims to it based on racial superiority.

In 1828, gold was discovered in Cherokee lands, and Andrew Jackson, a determined expansionist, became president. Two years later, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which gave states the power to negotiate removal treaties with the Cherokee. When Georgia did so, with a small faction of Cherokees, the vast majority refused to leave, and sued the federal government. The Supreme Court, in Worcester v. Georgia, ruled in favor of the Cherokee, but Jackson ignored the decision, and ordered the removal of the Cherokee from Georgia, negotiating the Treaty of New Echota to bring this into effect.

From 1837 to 1838, the US government sent federal troops to forcibly remove Cherokees from their lands and march them to Indian territory, located in modern Oklahoma. This began the infamous Trail of Tears, in which scores of Cherokee died of disease and exposure on their long march. The removal continued to have terrible repercussions for the Cherokee Nation, which remained divided among political factions for decades. Those who had opposed the move and those who had supported it because they thought it was inevitable remained bitter political enemies.

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