Before the year 1820s, the land east of the Mississippi was made up of the Cherokee Nation (Reisman 7). In 1828, the whites began to show interest in the Cherokee nation due to the discovery of gold in the region (Roark 320). During the year 1830, Georgia tried to repossess Cherokee land in vain. The Cherokee protested Georgia’s initiative before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled out the case in favor of the natives.
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After calling for political and military action to relocate the natives residing east of the Mississippi, President Andrew Jackson passed into law the Indian Removal Act in 1830 (Reisman 7). Even though the act authorized the right to negotiate for the voluntary removal of the natives from the region, it should be noted that all of the force was put in place to ensure that the process was unavoidable. After the act was passed into law, the president and Congress mandated the native communities to surrender their land. In 1838, the U.S. troops were called in to relocate more than fifteen thousand natives to the Indian Territory (Reisman 7). During the relocation process, a third of the native population lost their lives. The event has come to be referred to as the trail of tears by American historians.
Private John Burnett
The attached document sheds more light on the events that occurred during the Trail of Tears. The account experienced by Private John Burnett made the enormous impact on me. Unlike other accounts’ authors, I noted that Burnett captures the horrific occurrences from a neutral perspective. Through this, he can illustrate how a number of helpless Cherokees were persecuted (Roark 324). For instance, he asserts that he saw the natives being loaded like cattle into the wagons. Similarly, the author captures how the children felt went they were separated from their parents.
Compared to the other accounts, Burnett’s report vividly illustrates the extent of the suffering inflicted on the Cherokees by the whites. Burnett shows how the relocation led to a trail of deaths. He indicates that a number of Cherokees died of pneumonia owing to ill-treatment, snowstorms, and exposure. Similarly, the account had a significant impact on me because it seems more factual. Burnett supports his versions with dates of occurrences to make his performance more authoritative.
President Andrew Jackson
As a commander of the armed forces, President Andrew Jackson had the authority to order his army officers to relocate the Cherokee following the approval of the Congress (Roark 329). In the wake of the Trail of Tears, the Congress, through the passage of the Indian Removal Act, had approved Jackson’s ambition to relocate the natives. Given that there were no justifications for relocating the native Indians, army soldiers and officers did not make ethical considerations in their dealings. Similarly, the relocation led to the death of a number of native Indians.
The above implies that the relocation was done in a brutal manner. If it were necessary for the army to follow the president’s directive to the letter, they could have carried out the exercise in a fair and humane manner to minimize the damages. Based on the above illustrations, it is apparent that the army did not make ethical decisions during the relocations.
Reisman, Avishag. Indian Removal. 2009. Web.
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Roark, James. The American Promise, Volume I: To 1877. 3rd ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. Print.