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Andrew Jackson

In order to understand the outcome of both Worcester v. Georgia and the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, and the brutality of the Indian Removal Act, we must first acquaint ourselves former President Andrew Jackson.

Born to Presbyterian Scots-Irish immigrants in the year 1767 in South Carolina, Andrew Jackson was America’s first true redneck. Jackson’s entire immediate family was killed because of the hardships brought by the Revolutionary War. Orphaned by age 14, Jackson’s hatred of the British would later mold his political views.

Jackson studied law in Salisbury, North Carolina and moved to Tennessee to practice law on the frontier. In 1796, Jackson was elected Tennessee’s U.S. Representative and a year later he was elected Senator. He resigned from this post within a year, most likely due to his staunch political beliefs as a Democratic-Republican. This of course meant that he believed in slavery, state’s rights, and supporting the common white, male, Protestant, American.

During the War of 1812, Jackson was appointed commander of the Tennessee militia. During the war, Tecumseh formed a pact with the Red Stick Creek Indians of northern Alabama and Georgia to attack white settlements. Jackson defeated Tecumseh and the Red Stick Creek Indians in 1814 and acquired the Alabama and Mississippi territories for the Union. In 1816 he defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans, which made him a national hero despite the fact that the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, had already been signed.

He served in the military again during the First Seminole War where he led a campaign in Georgia to defeat the Seminole and Creek Indians. Jackson felt that in order to win the war, he had to take over Spanish Florida because the Seminoles and the Spanish had made it a refuge for runaway slaves. Since Manifest Destiny was becoming more and more popular during this time, few objected to the annexation of Florida.

Andrew Jackson was defeated by John Quincy Adams in the election of 1824, but later became president in the election of 1828 and served 2 terms.

In 1830, he signed the Indian Removal Act and considered Indian Removal to be the final solution to the Indian issue during his election campaign in 1828. By the 1830’s, each of the five tribes once prominent in the south had ceded most of its land to the Union. The self-governing tribes known as “the 5 Civilized Tribes” still lived in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. They tried to resist removal through the court system, but their efforts were futile.

More than 45,000 Native Americans were forced to move west during the Jackson administration. They were forced to move to territory bought for them by Jackson that was located west of the Mississippi. The trail they were forced to walk will forever be known in American history as the “Trail of Tears.” Jackson’s Vice President Martin Van Burn ordered 7,000 troops to remove the Indians, which resulted in the deaths of over 4,000 Native Americans along the Trail of Tears.

Truly the saddest epic in American history, the Indian Removal can be blamed on intense sectionalism within the Union during the years leading up to the Civil War.