Cherokee Removal: Overview
President Washington and Mr.. Knox did not take into consideration owe the United States people would feel about the Cherokee; they felt that no matter what the Cherokee were taught that they would never fully be equal because of race. The Cherokee accepted some of the changes and resisted others, eventually this led to the forced removal of the Cherokee. After several failed treaty attempts, the Cherokee finally accepted that they would have to leave when soldiers arrived.
The final negotiation was for the Cherokee to be able to move alone in the winter or 1838-39 and this would become known as the “Trail of Tears” because so many Cherokee died along the way. Becoming Civilized” meant changing the ways that the Cherokee were accustomed to. Cherokee women would be more homemakers and the farming that they had done in the past would now fall to the men who had once been the hunters of wild game. The experiment would have the Cherokee taking on more cattle, hogs and they would also begin to raise sheep.
In addition to planting corn they would also plant, cotton, wheat and flax. This also changed how some Cherokee viewed themselves and the way they looked at family. One example of that change would be Young Wolf, whom after he died and his Last Will and Testament dead showed how the views of the Cherokee had started shifting. Before Cherokee traced themselves through their mothers; this meant that when Young Wolf died his land and other possessions should have gone to his sister’s children.
This however did not happen; he left his estate to his son. “A Cherokee view of civilization” had begun early with Cherokee chiefs’ sons’ moving about the white community easily. They had been educated, were now living in regular housing, had started growing crops such as cotton, and were becoming involved with politics. One such son was named John Ridge, “he became involved in national politics as a promoter of civilization and as a patriot who helped to execute the unscrupulous chief Doubleheader for an illegal land sale” (Purdue and Green, 32).
John Ridge was a big promoter in the “civilization” process, he was also “particularly interested in charting culture change among the Cherokees” (Purdue and Green, 34). In order to reach the Cherokee people the United States government had “Christian missions” become involved, as the agent that the government had placed among the Cherokee had not fulfilled the Job. Missionaries took on the role of civilizing the Cherokee, “they set up schools, model farms and served as the United States postmasters.
This peaceful partnership of missionaries and government agents had a relatively brief tenure” (Purdue and Green, 45). With the missionaries immersed with the Cherokees they would prove to not only be education teachers but also teachers of manners and dress; and some would also begin to side with the Cherokee people. The United States government wanted a way to keep track of the Cherokee so in 1835 they would begin “quantifying Cherokee civilization”. They wanted to know as much as they could about where and what the Cherokee were doing.
The government looked at the makeup of the Cherokee family within each home; this included whether or not the family had full blooded, squadrons, half-breeds or whites that were related by marriage. This was not all that the government concerned themselves with, they also took note of the style of homes, crops raised, acres farmed, closeness of mills and ferries. The Cherokee were growing tired of how the governments, both federal and state, were treating them so they adopted “the Cherokee Constitution of 1827″ which s similar to that of the United States constitution but it also had some differences as well. The men who convened at New Echoed, the Cherokee capital in the summer of 1827, were no more representative of the Cherokees than the United States founding fathers were of the Americans. They were more likely to be wealthy, literate, and Christian than the average Cherokee” (Purdue and Green, 58). The Georgia governor did not like the fact that the Cherokee were trying to put together their own constitution and asked President John Quince Adams to step in however, President Adams would not.
Since the President would not step in “the Georgia Laws” were created to try and force the hands of both President Jackson and the Cherokee Nation. These laws were designed to let both the United States and Cherokee Nation know that Georgia meant business and if need be they would take the land that the Cherokee people occupied by force because that land belonged to her. The testing of both the Cherokee Constitution and the Georgia laws would come when “Georgia and the Supreme Court” went to battle over the Georgia Guard arresting George Tassel a Cherokee citizen.
Mr.. Tassel was arrested and convicted under Georgia law for murdering another Cherokee within the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee Council went to the Supreme Court and challenged this ruling because they stated that Georgia law had no meaning in the Cherokee Nation. This however did not prevent Georgia from executing Mr.. Tassel and it also didn’t prevent them from creating more laws to make life even harder for the Cherokee Nation. The goal of Georgia from the very beginning had always been “dispossessing the Cherokees” so they could have Cherokee land.
Georgia wanted the Cherokee gone and they thought they had found way when “a federal agent realized that many of the wealthiest, including Principal Chief John Ross, had accepted reserves (individual or personal reservations) under the terms of the treaties of 1817 and 1819” (Purdue and Green, 84). To politicians within Georgia this meant that the Cherokee had no right to the land that they had acquired within the Nation in Georgia. Soon people who had start coming into Georgia and the Cherokee Nation and were considered the “white intruders” because they would push the Cherokee people out of their homes and off of their land.
This was because Georgia had passed more laws were making it okay for people to Just come in and push the Cherokees off of their land. The Cherokee Nation was surveyed and plotted into lots; lotteries were held for males, widows, orphans all of whom could obtain one ticket, however a veteran could obtain two tickets. Once the lotteries were held, names drawn and small fees paid those that won that piece of land could then go in and take it from the rightful Cherokee owners. In Defense of the Cherokees: the William Penn Essays” were actually works of “Jeremiah Averts, hive administrative officer of the large interdenominational missionary consortium the American Board of Commissionaires for Foreign Missions” (Purdue and Green, 103). These essays were in defense of the Cherokee and what Georgians people were doing to them; it was also a way for other people to let the President and Congress know how they felt about the treatment of the Cherokee people and the forceful removal that the Cherokee faced.
These essays led to “American women organize against removal” with the lead role being taken by Catherine Beechen, who was not only an educator but a writer as well, she wrote anonymously on behalf of the Cherokee people. With her Journal articles “she called for women to petition Congress to defeat the impending Indian Removal Act” (Purdue and Green, 110-11). “Opposition to Indian removal, therefore, politically empowered women in the United States and provided them with a public voice despite their disfranchisement” (Purdue and Green, 111).
However, “Lewis Sacs Justifies removal” because he was presumed to be the leading figure for United States Indian Policy; this is because of his experience with the Great Lake Indians. Mr.. Sacs believes that if the Indians do not become civilized and remain uncivilized that they will perish. This led to Mr.. Sacs writing his opinion of why he thought it necessary to remove the Cherokee from Georgia; the Cherokee would not honor Georgia law. The Cherokee felt that they need only to obey Cherokee law; Mr..
Sacs disagreed with that thought and let it be known that the Cherokee would need to be removed if they could not follow state law. “Congress Acts” like a bunch of overbearing bullies; Georgia finally gets what it wants and the “Indian Removal Act” is passed on May 28, 1830. The “Indian Removal Act” was not pretty in the fact that there was a bunch of bitter, emotional and exhausting arguing going on in both the House and the Senate. However, evil won out over good in the fact that the Bill passed and the President still refused to stand up for the Cherokee against Georgia.
This is when “Andrew Jackson applauds the Removal Act” in his State of the Union address, December 8, 1829. “Andrew Jackson’s address publicly clarified his recognition of the sovereign rights of the states over the Indian country within their borders” (Purdue and Green, 125). President Jackson ever felt as if the Cherokee or any Indian would or could be civilized. “The Indians, therefore, had two choices: They could emigrate beyond the Mississippi or submit to the laws of those States” (Purdue and Green 125). “Women and removal” in 1817 and 1818; had on two separate occasions Cherokee women choosing to speak up.
They spoke up when it came to the removal and the allotment of lands. They did not want to move and they did not want any more land to be sold; they felt as if they had done everything that they possibly could to follow what the President had wanted them to do. They had “become farmers, manufactured their own clothing, to have our children instructed. To this advice we have attended in everything as far as we were able” (Purdue and Green, 133). So then Alias Biotin’s editorials in The Cherokee Phoenix” took up the cause for the Cherokee people.
The newspaper was for anyone who subscribed, so not only Cherokee, but United States citizens and British could read about the plight of the Cherokee people; the paper would go into detail about Cherokee removal, correspondence from the President, Secretary of War and Principal Chief as well as the position of the Cherokee on removal. “The Treaty of New Echoed” was drawn up and it involved Alias Button, John Ridge, and other Cherokee leaders after the realization that they would probably never receive the justice they deserved.
This realization finally came after missionaries that had sided with the Cherokee had been ordered released by the Supreme Court and Georgia refused to do so. This new treaty set up provisions for the Cherokee; they would receive pay for their losses and provisions for the move. However, the “the opposition continues” with John Ross, Principal Chief for the Cherokee, trying everything that he knew to do to try and prevent the injustices that were being aired out against the Cherokee.
He not only tried to get the Treaty of New Echoed thrown out because he claimed that the Treaty Party, “behaved unethically, illegally, and undemocratically and he believed they had subverted the incontrovertible will of the people” (Purdue and Green, 153). John Ross also tried his best to get more money for the land in the East, title to the land in the west guaranteed, alternatives to removal, and possibly emigration into Mexico so that the Cherokee people would be finished with the United States once and for all.
None of these worked for John Ross o he took to writing about the injustices done to the Cherokee people not only by the United States but also by the Treaty Party, with the help of a friend John Howard Payne. “The Treaty Party’s Defense” was taken up by Alias Button who along with the others whom had formed the Treaty Party believed that the only way for Cherokees to get out of their current situation was to give up land. The Georgia Laws prevented the Cherokee from holding any type of elections or debates regarding the removal process and so therefore Button could not voice his opinions or concerns for the Cherokee people.
The only way that Button had to get his point across was to start writing about what he felt the Cherokee people needed to hear in other publications. Button also felt that most Cherokee would and could not make rational decisions when it came to removal. This all led up to “enrollment” for the Cherokees which was not only a slow process but one that not many would take into consideration. The Cherokee that did enroll would revoke their citizenship and then there was the matter of discouraging others from signing the enrollment forms. With Georgia being so mad about the slowness of the move, President Jackson appointed n 1831 Benjamin F.
Currency as chief enrolling agent. Mr.. Currency wanted to make the lives of the Cherokee Indians so bad that they would take to the move without further stall. However, “forced removal” would come to the Cherokee in the end; they were forced into stockades in which many died before the move even began. Some of the missionaries whom had been with the Cherokee and had taken up their cause went along with them to the stockades. This move would prove to the Cherokee Just how much the missionaries cared for them and the situation that the United States had put the Cherokee people in.
Even Jones was one of those missionaries and he would be placed in charge of one of the many detachments of Cherokee people when they finally start moving along the Trail of Tears. Once the move began the Cherokee people would be “waiting to cross the Mississippi” because of huge chunks of ice which made the dangerous river even more so. Some of the detachments of Cherokee would camp along the river as they waited for the thaw to occur; this waiting was unbearable, extremely cold and very damp. These conditions were another reason some of the Cherokee would not make it to the new Cherokee Nation.
The removal to the new Cherokee Nation was not only difficult for the older Cherokee but also to the Cherokee children. “Removal through a child’s eyes” was a very difficult thing to swallow; the children see that their lives are not being valued by the United States. They are being forced to move once again from land that is rightfully their peoples; some of them are also being separated from their families. For them it is probably difficult to understand the full extent of what is happening and some of them were told of what happened as they grew up because of their young age at the mime of the removal.
Once the Cherokee finally reach their destination it is time for “rebuilding the Cherokee Nation” which still consists of political turmoil; however, the resilient Cherokee people are starting to rebuild their lives. Not only are they building homes, but they are farming, sending their children to school and attending council meetings. It is as if things are starting to become normal for them again; they want to forget the past and look towards their future. “Removal 150 years later” is still something that should be taught and talked about. As you read of the things that the
United States people did to the natives of this great country it is Just horrendous to think that this is how this country began. In reading the Cherokee Removal it teaches you Just the kind of trials and tribulations that the Cherokee people went through. To think that the people of the United States called the Cherokee or other Indians uncivilized is a laughing matter; if anyone in this country was uncivilized it would be the people who came in and took over what rightfully belonged to the natives. Cherokee Removal is something that should have never been allowed to happen; hey were here first.
If the Cherokee rebelled they had every right to do so, they were losing everything that they had worked for to people who hadn’t lifted a finger to do so. This brings me to a whole new realization that the great United States and her people back then were not so great, they were bullies, many of which would not stand up for what is right in this world. They wouldn’t take a stand to those who thought that they could Just come in and take over a land that did not belong to them. People of power sometimes Just need a good cold lesson in manners and hat’s right and what’s wrong.