The Trail of Tears 1838–39


Map Code: Ax01449

With the passage of the Indian Removal Act (1830), President Andrew Jackson was furnished with a legislative mechanism for the exchange of Indian land on a voluntary basis. It did not allow forced relocation. Jackson’s immediate targets were the ‘Five Civilized tribes’ (Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole). He sought a veneer of legality by securing treaties agreeing transfers with coteries within the affected tribes (for the Cherokee, the Treaty of New Echota was signed in 1835). By 1838, only the Cherokee remained on their ancestral lands (although a Seminole rearguard was fighting a guerrilla war against deportation). They were placed under military escort, grouped in parties of up to a thousand, completing the 1,000-mile (1,600-km) journey to the Okalahoma reservation by a variety of routes on foot or by barge. Some 13,000 were deported, of which c. 30 per cent died en route from disease, malnutrition, exposure and attacks from settlers.

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