Removal Act Of 1830


Removal Act Of 1830 Essay, Research Paper


Two distinct cultures existed on this Earth with the migration of man many thousands of years ago from Eurasia to the American continent. The people from the migration to the Americas had absolutely no contact with the people in Europe and Asia after they migrated. In fact, the two civilizations evolved in totally different manners, and at different speeds. The people in the Americas, or Native Americans existed mainly as hunter-gatherers using tools of bone, wood, and useful animal parts. Native Americans formed their beliefs into many different religions, and resided happily perhaps in buckskin wigwams or wooden longhouses. At the height of their civilization though, whites in Europe had their own religions and sociological issues and beliefs. The two cultures had “evolved” at different speeds, and in different directions. Civilization in Europe started centuries before civilization in the Americas began, leaving Europe with a massive head-start in key cultural areas; hence, a major cultural clash occurred when Columbus “sailed the Ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety-two.” The whites from Europe simply could not tolerate the Native Americans’, or Indians’, overall lack of “civilization,” as the Europeans described themselves. For hundreds of years, the two groups fought over land, religion, and other major components their separate lifestyles. Eventually, whites started coming over in large masses in the mid-eighteenth century when the riches of America enticed them to abandon their mother country and its growing problems of the American Revolution. The Europeans, or Americans (as opposed to Native Americans), and the Indians were fast approaching a “do or die” situation. The Indians were desperately trying to salvage what land they could keep from the white settlers, after all past attempts had more or less failed. On the other hand, the Americans were pushing the Indians as hard as they could to the Western half of North America ( North America being divided by the Mississippi). They wanted to settle the Eastern portion of “their” land without the Indians revolting, getting in the way with their religions, and stirring up the general racism that the majority of the white settlers possessed in that time period. Basically, the whites did not want the Indians to live among them or near them, and the Indians did not want to simply give up their land and move hundreds of miles away. In the late 1700’s and early portion of the 1800’s, the Americans practiced an “unwritten removal policy”, of unfairly acquiring Native American land, destroying Indian tribes, and forcing Natives to recede into the depths of the land they have lived upon for thousands of years. The Indians put up quite a resistance for a few hundred years, but the time had finally arrived when the whites were seriously thinking about passing a bill through their Congress that would demand that all Native Americans move on the Western side of the Mississippi River. For the Americans, influential scholars, military heroes, and religious leaders each had his own opinion on whether they had the right to pass a rather finalizing law on such a major issue. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, which in short gives Americans the “legal” right to force Indians out of their present homes east of the Mississippi, onto a reservation west of the Mississippi. The margin of the Removal Act’s victory in Congress was very narrow. Influential Americans such as Lewis Cass, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Frelinghuysen, John Forsyth, John Ross, and others expressed their opinions to the public and Congress before the passage of the Removal Act. Lewis Cass, Andrew Jackson, and John Forsyth were three of the pro-removal leaders who helped influence Congress to ratify Removal Act. Each of these famous influences in American colonization expressed his strong opinion based on experience with Americas’ unwritten removal policy and his engagements with the Indians to date.

Lewis Cass was the governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Michigan Territory in the 1820’s. As “the foremost authority in the United States on the languages and cultures of the northern tribes,” Cass argued that Indian emigration west of the Mississippi was morally necessary for Native Americans to survive and civilize without extreme pressure from Americans living near and among them. This standpoint was not originally his, but his experience with Indians and his writing skills helped his credibility. In his study of Indian languages, he claimed that Indians were “unable to distinguish the abstract from the concrete and thus were incapable of logical reasoning.” This claim led to his proposal that Indians, though constitutionally equal, were inferior to whites on a linguistic level. Cass also addressed that issue that the Indians were still in a “hunter state” of civilization; a point in time that the European settlers had surpassed centuries ago. He led to point out that although this alone was not a valid reason for removal, but the path that it was taking was changing for the worse. He stated that the Indians were stable in their hunter state when whites arrived, but after decades of depleting valuable game to dangerous levels, trading for alcohol, fighting among other tribes and settlers, the Indians were eventually ending up in poverty on reservations. Cass proceeded to state that even though Indians could “learn to plow and keep domestic animals,” they “were incapable of reason and they were irredeemably attached to the pleasures of the chase and the warpath.” In Cass’ writing in the North American Review in 1827, he stated that force and bribery should not be used to move the Indians, and that persuasion would be all that was necessary for them to emigrate. In his writings, Cass described the degeneration of Indian civilizations in the North, and how they could never escape the depths of chaos in which they now lived. Lewis Cass used writings based on his experiences and beliefs to influence a large portion of the public towards Indian removal. Cass acted in conjunction with Andrew Jackson, a prominent figure in the process of Indian removal.

Andrew Jackson grew up during the American Revolution. He witnessed his country fighting the Indians and grew up with the feeling that the Indians were “cruel, bloodthirsty, cannibalistic butchers that should be driven into submission or extinction.” Jackson served in the military and as many government officials and when he was elected president, signed the Removal Act that he believed in and was prepared to enforce. In the post-war land cession period, Jackson felt that “the Native Americans were now a conquered and dependent people.” Jackson felt that the government must save the Indians from extinction by helping them to the other side of the Mississippi River. As president, Jackson sought to carry out the feelings of the Democratic Party; “America as the redeemer nation destined for continental expansion,” was to drive the Indians over the Mississippi, “using racism as a justification. . . for the expulsion of Native Americans.” Congress met in 1829, and Jackson as president delivered his State of the Union Address. Jackson attacked the issue of Indians in the South who did not want to leave. He recognized the efforts of Southern tribes’ civilization efforts, but that he ultimately saw the only chance for Indians was to emigrate. He addressed the issue of Indians that would stay in the South to pursue their new horticulture techniques. For those who remained, Jackson said that they could keep their personal property including fields for crops and livestock, but must surrender the land that they had claimed as their own for “no good reason.” Jackson thought of this land as opportunities for whites to settle upon, and eventually the Indians could “merge into the population.” Jackson envisioned an “interesting commonwealth” for the Indians who would willfully emigrate West, as he stated that the Americans would give them ample land over the Mississippi River. In 1830, a bill was proposed to Congress. This bill authorized Jackson to basically set aside “public lands” west of the Mississippi for Indian reservations that the Indians would absolutely own. It also allotted money to Congress to help the Indians move over the river. This was the bill that sparked the United States into debate over Indian removal. “Both Houses of Congress were deluged by hundreds of petitions and memorials, solicited by religious groups and benevolent societies opposed to Indian removal.” The chambers of Congress sprung into active debate. An influential Whig, Theodore Frelinghuysen, pointed out that the Indian removal policies of the United States were not carried out according to the U.S. Constitution. Senator John Forsyth delivered a powerful rebuke to Frelinghuysen’s speech. Forsyth claimed that the Whig’s speech was intended for his own religion’s purposes, and not for the well being of the general public. He alluded to the nation’s unwritten removal policy and pointed out the “deplorable condidtions under which the Native Americans now lived.” Forsyth knew that the removal would not promote civilization of the Indians, and that he supported this bill because “it would relieve the states “from a population useless and bothersome.” Forsyth used past legal issues to warrant his statement that the United States had the right to remove the Indians. Debates proceeded in scores, and eventually Congress ratified the Removal Act. Jackson, upon signing of the act, took this major victory with his followers, and proceeded to enforce the law of the land.

Lewis Cass used his strong influence to express his theories on why he believed the Indians should emigrate to the West. He outlined the history of the Native American and their cultural weaknesses to reinforce the unwritten removal policy that the United States operated on in the time period in question. Cass pointed out the inevitable; the Indians only hope from this point was to emigrate to the western half of the nation. Cass used his studies of the Indians as support for his claim that the Indians could never live among the Americans due to their lack of logical reasoning. He showed how the Indians went from their stable tribes, to those that were broken and impoverished due to the mere co-habitation of Indians and whites in the North. Finally, Cass brought attention to the “slums in the wilderness” that presently existed, and that their only hope for any real future was to emigrate westward. Cass helped reinforce the ideals of Andrew Jackson. As the leader of the Democratic Party, Jackson sought to fulfill the visions of American frontiersman, “destined for continental expansion.” Jackson compassionately addressed the state of the Native American affairs at his State of the Union Address, and agreed to give Indians ample land west of the Mississippi River if they would just leave the colonial areas. In the debates over the Removal bill, Senator John Forsyth reinforced Jackson’s pro-removal standpoint by pointing out present Indian conditions and the United States’ long history of its removal policy. Cass and Jackson were only two of the many who supported removal of the Indians. They addressed the issues that could not be turned around, such as the degeneration of tribes in the past, and the feelings of hatred that the general public had towards the Natives. They looked for a moral solution to the mayhem at hand, and took the proper measures to ensure the Removal Act of 1830.


Wallace, Native American Indians

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