The Trail of Tears, the forced migration of about 125,000 Native Americans from their lands in the American South to reservations west of the Mississippi, is one of the saddest events in American history, and unfortunately, it was largely motivated by greed for land and wealth. Let's look further at the reasons behind and effects of the Trail of Tears.
Native Americans owned a great deal of rich farmland in Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and as more and more white settlers moved into these regions, these newcomers coveted Native American lands. Settlers longed to cultivate this land to grow cash crops like cotton and thereby make their fortunes (or, at least, they hoped). The Native Americans, however, refused to budge (quite understandably). Some settlers actually started burning homes and villages, stealing, and even killing people to try to force the Native Americans off. They also simply moved in and set up housekeeping and farming on land they didn't own, expecting the government to do something about the Native Americans.
Sadly, the government did do something, with the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that forced the Native Americans off their land and into the West. White settlers cheered and began farming in earnest, building the cotton kingdom of the South. Plantations grew in some areas. Others were home to smaller farms. The Southern economy came to be based on agriculture, and in many areas, this was a slave-based agriculture, as many planters and farmers brought in African American slaves to work the land once owned by Native Americans.