Theend of the AmericanRevolutionary Warcaused a population increase in the United States. With this risecame a desire to expand into new lands to settle the Americans. Thepassage of IndianRemoval Actof 1830, by President Andrew Jackson, was a controversial issue inthe 19th century. The law required Native Americans who lived in theSoutheastern United States to voluntary exchange their lands, andmove to the Indian Territory in Mississippi. The Cherokees tribeswere among the communities affected by the passage of the act, andthey were required to relinquish their native land. Consequently, theIndian removal act had profound effects. It elicited debatesconcerning its fairness, and this helped to define politics in thefollowing decades. For example, the president’s roles changed andtheir personal influence in the process of law making were weakened.On the other hand, the ability of the president in guiding nationalpolicy concerning national defense became stronger, and this is stillevident today.
Atthat time, industrial revolution in the United States was inprogress. Democracy was expanding and social as well as politicalreforms were underway. Principally, President Andrew Jackson wasaggravated by the fact that there was a huge concern for militarysafety, and this dictated that the land occupied by the Indians mightjeopardize the national defense. Besides, the president was alsocommitted to the principle of jurisdiction and laws for all residentswithin the United States. It is clear that the cause of the Indianremoval policy occurred from many sources such as the economicgrowth, racism towards the Indians and declaration of states’rights. In his speech, President Jackson pointed out two reasons whythe Indian removal policy was established. First, the possiblecollision between the state governments and Native American Indianswould be put to an end, and the Indians would be freed from the statepower. Secondly, the vast tracts of land occupied by few hunterswould be utilized, and its place settles a dense and civilizedpopulation. As a result, this would improve the ability of the nationto resist future invasions. On the other hand, this policy would alsobe beneficial to the America Indians by fostering civilization, inaddition to making them a Christian community (Stewart, 2007).
However,the Indian removal act serves as a lesson and portrays the cruelty ofpolicy makers in America. Additionally, this speech depicts thefailure of both the state and the federal government to protect therights of American Indians by taking these strong actions.Apparently, President Jackson supported the mission of the whiteAmericans to take over Indian land. He had earlier informed theCongress that the authority to remove all the Indians in the easternparts of Mississippi was needed. Consequently, the Indian removal actwas passed in response. Under the removal policy, the president hadthe power to extend jurisdiction through treaties with the varioustribes including the Choctaw, Seminole, Chickasaw and the Cherokee togive up their land. Indeed, these tribes had no choice.
Jackson’sperspective fit perfectly into the greater context of “ManifestDestiny”. The manifest destiny held an idea that America had power,duty and rights to expand its civilization. During this time, thenation was on a mission to make way for expansion westward of theAmerican territory. Moreover, American cultural and racialsuperiority was the fundamental belief of manifest destiny. TheNative Americans were alleged as inferior, thus, the widespreadeffort to try to civilize them. Clearly, expansion of Americanboundaries was a cultural war, and apart from differing in the waythe land was used, the white Americans wanted Indians to abandonhunting and adopt their culture, agriculture, politics and economy.The American civilization policy wanted to turn the native Indiansinto farmers and cotton weavers (Stewart, 2007).
Inthis document, Native Americans were portrayed as savages anduncivilized people. White Americans viewed Indians as individuals whostood in the way of progress and those that could not be enlightened.In his speech, Jackson believed they were responsible for the slowAmerican growth. These colonists thought Indians as inferior andpracticed a culture that belonged to a darker age. That is why theproponent of this law argued that the act was for their advantage tostay off the culture and economics of the white. Indeed, the new landthe Indians were allocated in the west of Mississippi would beadequate for their primitive lifestyle. In his speech, Jacksonstated, “To pursue happiness in their way and under their own rudeinstitutions?” However, we know Indians do possess a traditionalculture that is collective in nature. Their customs, values, ritesand norms significantly influence their daily activities.
Onthe other hand, the European Americans are portrayed as civilized,and a Christian community that is advanced in terms of wealth andpower. That is why the American people’s reaction to this Indianremoval law was predictable. While a few were annoyed, especially,the Quakers and other religious groups, others agreed to the actthough uncomfortable. Probably, most Americans applauded Jackson’saction to settle the Indians’ problem of at once. In short, thepublic opposition was unnoticeable. Without a doubt, the manifestdestiny doctrine made America a richer and more powerful country.Besides gaining a wealth of natural resources and land, theterritorial expansion occurred at the same time as the industrialrevolution, resulting in exceptional growth and prosperity.Technological innovations changed the complexion of the 19th centuryAmerica to become the global superpower it is today (Stewart, 2007).
Throughoutthe American history, the dominant culture of colonizers had largelyopposed the Native American customs. It is evident that Jackson’sspeech and the demonstrate extreme racism, forcedassimilation, oppression and discrimination of American Indians. Thewhite settlers forced the American Indians to adopt their culturalstandards, and those of a contrary opinion were viewed as savages.However, the stereotyping and discriminatory violence still existstoday. The United States is a highly differentiated nation andobservable characteristic of individuals such as skin color have beenused to categorize various groups of people. Furthermore,institutions in the country preserve and accept the popular culture,and prevalent stereotypes end up devaluing American Indian in thecontemporary society. For this reason, many American Indians remainat the bottom of the societal hierarchy in term of access toeconomic, cultural, education, political resources, as well as,opportunities in the United States (Stewart, 2007).
Inconclusion, the Indian removal policy became a highly publicizedissue because of the persistent public debate. Proponents of the lawargued that treaties between the whites and Indians could not beconsidered as valid agreements because they were not civilized.However, characterizing them as a lower race caused them to lackstatus and capacity to negotiate. This speech reflected the nationalsentiment at the time when there was American collision between thewhite and the Indian communities. Besides, the cornerstone of theremoval policy was the racial classification. Points of the text,which directly connected it to the discussions on nationalism, theindustrial revolution, and colonialism can be seen when the presidentstates that the United States is growing and, thus, the speedyremoval of American Indians would be significant to territorialexpansion. As a result, this would help states to prosper in terms ofgrowth in population, wealth and power.
Stewart,M. (2007). The: Forced relocation.Minneapolis: Compass Point Books.