The Indian Removal Act was an act signed by the U.S. president Andrew Jackson on 20th May 1830. It is also referred to as the unitary act of systematic genocide. As per the act, the Native Indian tribes were asked to leave their ancestral homelands in the east and move to the new territories located in the west.
The Indian Removal Act was a discriminatory law against the Indians and led to the deaths of thousands of Indians. Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren strictly enforced this law during their administration. The Cherokee resisted against the act but their resistance was in vain and they were forcefully removed.
Various Indian tribes such as The Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole had formed sovereign nations in the USA’s Southern areas. The Indian tribes were free to live as they pleased on the east of the Mississippi river as long as they assimilated to the American culture. The Indian Removal Act sought to change this. Although the act was implemented in 1830, talks had been going on between the federal government and Georgiana since1802.
The white population wanted to evacuate Indians and take over their lands. After being pressurized, the federal government complied and approved the Indian Removal Act. The Supreme Court also offer indirect support for the act. In the Johnson vs Mcintosh case of 1823, the court ruled that Indians were allowed to inhabit and govern a land but they did not have the right to the titles of the property.
The act received support from South and Northeastern areas. Georgia was the biggest supporter of the Indian Removal Act. The reason behind this was the state’s dispute with the Cherokee. Jackson believed that the removal of Indians would end the conflict as well.
Several missionaries protested against this act. Among them, Jeremiah Evart was the most notable. Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen and Congressmen Davy Crockett opposed the Indian Removal Act as well. The Whig Party was also opposed to this act.
On April 24th, 1830, the Senate passed the bill.The House of representative passed the bill on May 26, 1830, and two days later, it became a law. On September 27th 1830, The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creeks was signed. In this treaty, Choctaws gave up their lands for money and were transferred to the West.
In 1835, the Treaty of New Echota was signed after which the Cherokee underwent the Trail of Tears. The Seminoles and other tribes refused to leave their ancestral lands. This led to the start of the Second Seminole War, which lasted till 1842 after which the government allowed the Seminole tribe to stay in the Southern Swamplands.
During the 1892 State of the Union address, Andrew Jackson raised the issue of the removal of Native Indians. He objected to Washington’s idea of creating treaties with Indian tribes. Jackson considered the Indian jurisdictions a violation of the USA constitution.
He was willing to accommodate the Indians’ desire of self-rule in federal territories, but for that it was necessary that they be moved to the land located on the Western side. According to H. W. Brands, Jackson regarded his decision of Indian Removal act as a humane one. Jackson stated if Cherokees had remained in Georgiana, they would have probably gone extinct.