The argument over Cherokee removal was national in scope and involved questions of states' rights and the limits of federal control that went far beyond concerns about the Cherokee people. The role of northern churches in arguing the Cherokee case foreshadowed their involvement in the question of slavery in the 1840s and 50s. The debate extended from the President of the U.S. to the Supreme Court to Congress to the legislatures of the states involved and into the press both nationally and locally. The activity below is designed to allow you to sort through the various arguments for Cherokee removal and to weigh the merits of the debate on both sides.
Use copies of the Removal Debate worksheet to help you organize your thoughts as you study the arguments and evidence both for and against moving the Cherokees west of the Mississippi.
Report on Indian Relations
from the House
Committee on Indian Affairs
US House of Representatives
|Indian Removal Act
State of Georgia
Governor of Georgia
|Treaty of New Echota|
|Ralph Waldo Emerson
1) In 1836 Vice President Martin Van Buren was elected President following Andrew Jackson's second term and was left with carrying out the provisions of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. Write a letter to the President arguing either for or against the continuation of Jackson's Indian policies. In your argument use any of the reading materials to rebut arguments made on the other side of the issue.
2) The U.S. Constitution provides that all treaties entered into by the President be approved by the Senate before they take effect. Use the materials above as the basis for a Senate debate over the 1835 Treaty of New Echota.
3) A group of Cherokee under the leadership of John Ridge and Elias Boudinout reluctantly came to the conclusion that removal was the best course of action for the tribe. Write a letter to the Cherokee Phoenix in which you argue their case. Use any of the other available materials to support your argument.