Not a bright spot in American history

Podcast: The Age of Jackson : Great White Father

By: American History Tellers



Jackson supported the Indian Removal Act and pitched it as philanthropic for the Indians. They were being moved out of danger and their new lands would be guaranteed and looked after by the federal government.

The Cherokee had a full constitution and treaties with the federal government that were basically ignored by the state of Georgia. Initially there was an argument that the federal government didn’t have the rights under the Constitution to interfere with Georgia law.

Eventually, in Worcester v. Georgia the Supreme Court ruled that Georgia could not overrule a sovereign nation, presumably protecting the rights of the Cherokee nation. However, Jackson refused to enforce the ruling and Georgia quickly moved to take over the land.

Despite the Cherokee refusing to leave their land, a group of 100 of them who claimed to speak for the entire Cherokee nation negotiated terms to sell the land and were quickly granted a new treaty by the federal government, which then took this opportunity to enforce the terms on the entire nation.

A major concern of southerners was that if they accepted the argument that Indians had rights, then their slaves did too.

The tribes were a refuge for escaped slaves which also made them extremely unpopular with Southerners.

At the end of his second term, the issue of what to do with Texas became a difficult problem. Admitting Texas would upset the balance of slave states and free states and Texas was a place where neither free blacks or free indians were allowed.


Surely the Indian Removal act must be seen as an extremely black mark on American History. America betrayed its treaties with these nations and killed or force relocated tens of thousands of people.

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