With the growth of the European American population in the United States in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, clashes between European Americans and Native Americans intensified. The movement of white settlers west of the Appalachians and the discovery of gold in Georgia led to passage of laws at the state and national levels calling for the removal of Native Americans from their lands east of the Mississippi. In 1828, the Georgia legislature passed several laws intended to strip the Cherokee people of their rights and force them to move. Fearing that President Andrew Jackson would not be sympathetic to their cause, the Cherokees petitioned Congress to protect their lands. Many in Congress, including Senators Henry Clay, Theodore Frelinghuysen, and Daniel Webster and Representatives Ambrose Spencer and David (Davy) Crockett, believed the Cherokees' cause was just. The majority of Congress, however, enacted the Indian Removal Act in 1830, putting into law the President's plan to remove Indians to a newly created "Indian Territory" in the west.
In October 1830, The North American Review published a long essay on "Removal of the Indians," concluding with the following question:
How, then, can the people of the United States justify to themselves, or to the world, a course of measures, which is not called for by any exigency, which appears inconsistent with the most obvious principles of fair dealing, and which, as many of the best and wisest men among us fully believe, will bring upon the Indian tribes either a speedy or a lingering ruin, and upon ourselves the deep and lasting infamy of a breach of faith?
From "Removal of the Indians," The North American Review, Volume 31, Issue 69, October 1830, page 442
Less than a year later, The North American Review printed an article entitled "The Cherokee Case," responding to the Supreme Court's opinion in the case of The Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia, in which the Cherokee sought an injunction to stop the state of Georgia from implementing the laws that the Cherokee believed infringed on their rights.
- What arguments does the October 1830 essay make against the Indian Removal Act?
- What was the Supreme Court's decision in The Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia? (The decision is reprinted in "The Cherokee Case.") Pick a paragraph in the decision that you think is important. Write a brief response to that paragraph. Then read farther in "The Cherokee Race" to see how the author responded to that paragraph. Do you agree with the author's analysis?
- The North American Review had a strong position on the Indian removal policy. Given the arguments that it marshaled in support of that position, what do you think the opposition argued? What reasons supported the Indian removal policy? Which position would you have supported had you been a member of Congress at the time? Explain your answer.