The Indian Removal Act that was enforced by the President of the United States Andrew Jackson imposed a controversial policy to relocate Native Americans from their lands to the territory west of the Mississippi River, where they have never been. Some tribes decided to leave the area, but some were outraged by the law and were compelled to abandon their homes. This paper will discuss the rationale behind the introduction of this law, its consequences, and the principles of the Declaration of Independence that the Act might have violated.
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The rationale that the President of the U.S. presented to Congress in his message about the Act was clear and seemed to be benevolent to Indians. He justified the resettlement by highlighting the desire of Indian tribes to save their old way of life. Migration was intended to be voluntary for those who wished to “exchange lands” (“Transcript of President,” 1830). The U.S. government pledged to perpetuate the new lands for immigrants and their descendants. The removal was intended to “strengthen the southwestern frontier … to repel future invasions” (“Transcript of President,” 1830).
However, the impact of the replacement did not have a planned effect. Instead of giving Indians new territories and good living conditions, Jackson gave them the destiny to die. The implementation of the law resulted in one-third of 15,000 Indians that died on the “Trail of Tears” (“Trail of Tears,” 2019). Even among those Indian tribes that agreed to deportation in a voluntary-compulsory manner, the losses were substantial.
Jackson got broad responsibilities under the Removal Act to deal with Indians, whom he despised. He negotiated with Native Americans for their relocation to the area west of the Mississippi River in return for white people’s settlement of their ancestral territories. Southeastern nations, who rebelled against the law, were obliged to leave under different pretenses, including illegitimate treaties (Carbaugh 2017). Overall, the Act allowed the government and the President to force any Indian to move out of the current land.
In the inaugural address to Congress, Andrew Jackson made it clear that he will not infringe on the principles of the Declaration of Independence and will preserve the sovereignty of citizens. During the speech, he emphasized that it would be ruthless to violate the rights of people and not pay attention to Indian tribes’ wants (“First Inaugural Address,” 1829). In contrast to what Jackson said, he made tribes feel that they are not independent and condemned to disintegration.
They had a choice to agree with the enforced law and leave territories or to fight against it and be forced to go. Either way was not taking into account the opinion of Native Americans. The Trail of Tears showed that the words Jackson said were far away from the actions he executed because thousands of people had died, got severe diseases, or had not reached the destination.
Jefferson claimed in the Declaration of Independence that Native Americans, highlighting the Cherokee tribe, are human beings that have the same rights as any other men on the Earth. They lived on the land that was given to them in ownership peacefully. Their ancestors lived in the same territory for many years. Thus, there should not be any power that can take away the area of Native Americans and force them to abandon homes. Evaluating this statement in the Declaration of Independence, one can state that The Indian Act Removal violated the rights of people who were granted the land amicably and cultivated territories without invasion and occupation of other areas.
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To conclude, one can say that the Indian Removal Act was cruel and infringed on the natural rights of Indian tribes that were doomed to die in the path to their new home or to build a new home from scratch. The law acted as permission for violence to authorities that did not pay attention to the current development of Native Americans and their intention to integrate into the community of local people. This situation resulted in numerous deaths that could not be forgotten by Indians.
Carbaugh, J. (2017). The Indian Removal Act: A Legal Deception. Web.
First Inaugural Address of Andrew Jackson. (1829). Web.
Trail of Tears. (2019). Web.