Andrew Jackson supported policies that negatively impacted Native American tribes. He was the seventh president of the United States and a core founder of the Democratic Party. During his tenure in office, he supported a series of reform movements and rhetoric as a passionate, hot-tempered man that led him to murder those who opposed his policies. In fact, he was nicknamed ‘Old Hickory’ because of his toughness toward Native Americans when he was a soldier.
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His military career earned him an excellent reputation as an Indian fighter. During the war of New Orleans in 1812, he disobeyed orders and created his own to control expansion of Native Americans tribes in Northern America.
He argued that the main obstacle toward settlement and development American citizens was Native American and Cherokee nation. During his two terms in office, he championed the political patronage and engaged with South Carolina during the Nullification crisis. He also settled ‘the Trial of Tears’ and Indian removal that ended the era of Indian civilization.
The most controversial policies toward Native Americans were displayed by his support to resettle Native American in Indian land west of river Mississippi. This was as a result of his dislike towards Native American tribes after experiencing brutality from several tribes when he was working with the military.1 Jackson’s policies supported the expansion and control of Cherokee nation by Georgia. Jackson believed that the US needed to expand at all cost including displacing those who stood in the way of expansion.
Jackson argued that the federal government had no powers over state laws and refused to help Cherokee nation. The dispute was appealed to the Supreme Court which ruled that the state had no jurisdiction over federal government’s law. However, Jackson ignored the court order and forcefully removed Cherokee people from Georgia to the tribe’s new homeland Oklahoma.
Native Americans were upset by Jackson’s policies toward them and they nicknamed him ‘Long Knife’. In 1830, in his term in office, Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act that was established to handle Native American affairs. The Indian Removal Act advocated for the removal of many Native American tribes from the east of Mississippi River.
The law supported for the resettlement of Native Americans on the west of Mississippi River in Indian Territory. The land was divided in such a way that the whites would live separately from the Indians. This policy was introduced to lessen any chances of conflict with Native American tribes.2
The US government had experienced bloody conflict such as Chippewa and Shawnee war in 1812 that they had to avoid any chances of conflict arising. It was the policy of Jackson to expand further westward while minimizing any possibility of war. Andrew Jackson and his administration introduced the removal policy to prevent conflict with Native American while allowing the country to expand peacefully.
The tribes refused to withdraw, and Jackson ordered the military to displace them forcefully out of Mississippi. The military brutality toward Native Americans resulted in the Black Hawk War of 1832. The abrupt removal resulted in more than 4,000 deaths of Cherokees people.
The displacement was intended to open up 25 million acres of land for white settlement and expansion of slavery. During the ‘Trail of Tears’, 46,000 native Americans were forcefully displaced from their home by the military. Although the Trail of Tears did not occur during the two terms of Andrew Jackson, he was responsible for providing an easy way for the removal to take place.
Sauers, Richard A., and Jennifer L. Weber. Expansionism. New York: Chelsea House, 2010.
Sturgis, Amy H. The Trail of Tears and Indian Removal. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2007.
1 Sauers, Richard A., and Jennifer L. Weber. Expansionism (New York: Chelsea House, 2010), 56.
2 Sturgis, Amy H. The Trail of Tears and Indian Removal (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2007), 126.