All presidents have a legacy; some good, some bad. Andrew Jackson’s legacy is the Indian Removal Act. This act was not supported by the Supreme Court, made Native Americans leave the places that they called home for countless years, and had a huge impact on Native Americans personally. In 1830, with consent and encouragement from President Andrew Jackson, many Indians were wrongly forced off of their native lands and onto foreign ones. To begin with, it was not the entire government that thought Native Americans should be relocated. In Worcester v. Georgia, a case where a Cherokee tribe appealed to the Supreme Court, the ruling was, in fact, in favor of the Cherokee Indians. Chief Justice John Marshall, in the majority opinion of the Court, wrote “The Cherokee nation, then, is a distinct community, occupying its own territory, with boundaries accurately described, in which the laws of Georgia can have no force. ” He clearly stated that the Cherokee Indians have a right to their own land, are completely separate from the state of Georgia, and the whole problem is a both national and state issue, not just a national one.
However, Andrew Jackson did not feel the same way. Instead of enforcing the Supreme Court’s decision, Andrew Jackson refused to recognize the Cherokees as an independent nation and proceeded to forcibly remove them from their homelands. (Doc 2) Many different diverse Native American tribes were forced to leave the lands that they call home and migrate to Oklahoma territory, land that was very different from what they knew. They were in a foreign place. The Seminoles, Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws Indian tribes are just a few examples of the Indians removed from their homes (Doc 4).
In document four you can see that they all came from very different and unique lands and were all simply grouped into one territory. Andrew Jackson had no sympathy for them. He called them savages and recognized them as an inferior race (Doc 3). He also said that they had “neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement” to change their condition. Andrew Jackson publically degraded Native Americans everywhere and made his hatred well-known.
The Indians that were relocated to “Indian Territory” were deeply affected. They expressed their feelings and heartbreak through their different forms of art. Document six shows a painting of the Trail of Tears. The painting has many different aspects that all add together to create one deeply moving picture. In it you can see the forlorn looks on the faces of the Native Americans and on the faces of the animals (Doc 6). The dark sky portrays an ominous presence which emphasizes the sadness in the trail itself.
Document five is a poem called the Trail of Tears. It very clearly explains how they feel about their situation; tired of having to walk so far from their homes to this new land, betrayed by the lies that Americans told them, torn from losing their homes, broken-hearted that their families have been ripped apart by war (Doc 5). Art gave the Native Americans a way to express the mixture of emotions that they were feeling from being wrongly treated and deceived. Through examining their artwork, we can see how difficult the whole ordeal was for them.
Andrew Jackson should have never passed or enforced the Indian Removal Act in the 1800s. He encouraged the mandatory movement of Native Americans from their homelands to a completely different territory. This selfish deed was not supported, but entirely disagreed with by the Supreme Court. It forced Native Americans to leave the lands that they called home for centuries and it affected many Native Americans on a personal level. Andrew Jackson was completely wrong in his actions. Although the past cannot be changed, there is much to learn from it.