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Andrew Jackson and the Cherokee "Trail of Tears"

Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) was America's seventh president.  As reflected in this video clip, he is remembered for both the "pros and cons" of his life and his tenure as America's leader.

While President, Jackson wanted the country to take over land owned by the Cherokee Nation.  Agreeing with that assessment, the United States Congress passed the "Indian Removal Act," forcing the Cherokee to uproot their lives and move elsewhere. 

The Cherokee, supported by the U.S. Supreme Court (in Worcester v Georgia), resisted what would be a disastrous move for them.

Then ... on December 29, 1835, twenty-one Cherokee "headmen" and two federal agents signed the New Echota Treaty.  That document changed the course of Cherokee history, mandating people of the Cherokee Nation to be uprooted from their homes and forced West. The discovery of gold, in Georgia, had much to do with that result.

America's first "gold rush" happened in Georgia, not California, after various individuals, such as Benjamin Parks, discovered Appalachian gold, in Georgia, during 1828. The gold deposits were found on land which had been home to the Cherokee for many generations.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5b/Gold-rare08-2-96b.jpg/583px-Gold-rare08-2-96b.jpg

On August 1, 1829, this article ran in the Georgia Journal, a newspaper published in the town of Milledgeville:

GOLD.—A gentleman of the first respectability in Habersham county, writes us thus under date of 22d July: "Two gold mines have just been discovered in this county, and preparations are making to bring these hidden treasures of the earth to use." So it appears that what we long anticipated has come to pass at last, namely, that the gold region of North and South Carolina, would be found to extend into Georgia.

Without regard to ownership rights of the Cherokee, the State of Georgia sponsored a lottery where people with winning tickets could receive forty acres of gold-bearing land. As Benjamin Parks described it:

The news got abroad, and such excitement you never saw. It seemed within a few days as if the whole world must have heard of it, for men came from every state I had ever heard of. They came afoot, on horseback and in wagons, acting more like crazy men than anything else. All the way from where Dahlonega now stands to Nuckollsville there were men panning out of the branches and making holes in the hillsides. (Quoted by David Williams in The Georgia Gold Rush: Twenty-Niners, Cherokees, and Gold Fever, at page 19.)

Soon after, the "Indian Removal Order" took effect. The Cherokee people refer to that dark time in American history as their "Trail of Tears." Andrew Jackson thought it was a necessary move.

The White House provides a brief summary of President Jackson's life:

Born in a backwoods settlement in the Carolinas in 1767, he received sporadic education. But in his late teens he read law for about two years, and he became an outstanding young lawyer in Tennessee. Fiercely jealous of his honor, he engaged in brawls, and in a duel killed a man who cast an unjustified slur on his wife Rachel.

Jackson prospered sufficiently to buy slaves and to build a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville. He was the first man elected from Tennessee to the House of Representatives, and he served briefly in the Senate. A major general in the War of 1812, Jackson became a national hero when he defeated the British at New Orleans.

In 1824 some state political factions rallied around Jackson; by 1828 enough had joined "Old Hickory"[his nickname] to win numerous state elections and control of the Federal administration in Washington.

. . .Decrying officeholders who seemed to enjoy life tenure, he believed Government duties could be "so plain and simple" that offices should rotate among deserving applicants.

. . .His views won approval from the American electorate; in 1832 he polled more than 56 percent of the popular vote and almost five times as many electoral votes as [Henry] Clay.

This clip, recreating events from Jackson's life - including what happened to the Cherokee - is from the PBS documentary: "Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil and the Presidency" (by Carl Byker, Mitch Wilson and KCET Los Angeles).

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 10, 2017


Media Credits

Music video entitled "Andrew Jackson - The Atrocious Saint" by Christopher Hedge, with David Grisman and R. Carlos Nakai.  From the PBS documentary: "Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil and the Presidency" (by Carl Byker, Mitch Wilson and KCET Los Angeles).

Online, courtesy Christopher Hedge via YouTube.

 

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