Monday, May 26, 2008

Today In History; Indian Removal Act Passed

1830: The Indian Removal Act was Jackson-era legislation authorizing the president to transfer eastern Indian tribes to the western territories in a supposed land exchange the government promised (falsely) "in perpetuity." The passing of the legislation was fueled by greed for land along with Andrew Jackson's notorious prejudice against Indians, whom he claimed he was "protecting" while they "adjusted to white culture." The president turned a blind eye to the resulting Native American disputes over land in the states where they resided including the Cherokees in Georgia, the Seminoles in Florida and the Creeks in Alabama. Even when the law was ruled unconstituional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Jackson challenged the decision, telling the justices to "enforce it if [you] can." Eventually the relocation plan became a forced march to Oklahoma led by federal troops - the infamous "Trail of Tears" in 1838-39, during which thousands of people died. Despite the horrors of that journey, the government continued to relocate Native American tribes throughout the rest of the century.

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