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Trail of Tears - Essay Example

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Instructor name Date Trail of Tears When colonists from England first arrived in what would become the United States they lived in relative peace alongside the natives of the “New World.” After the U.S. government was formed it regularly waged war with the natives, making then breaking treaties when deemed in the best interest of the new nation…
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Download file to see previous pages In addition, they were starved, froze to death and were murdered due to the mandatory relocation policies of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This Act sought to create a “white only” America therefore many tribes, predominantly the Cherokee Nation, were forced to leave familiar ancestral lands. The thousand mile journey out of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole and Muscogee lands in the eastern U.S. to present day Oklahoma during the 1830’s is known as the Trail of Tears. This shameful episode in American history is one of the best known and worst examples of how the natives suffered at the hands of the government. It is difficult to visualize the government confiscating a person’s home due their ethnicity alone and forcing them, their family, friends, relatives and neighbors to walk hundreds of miles during a harsh winter but this is what happened 180 years ago to thousands of natives of America. The United States was established by and for the people and built on precept of justice for all. However, barely a half century from its founding, this same government and its supposed democratic values subjugated all persons of color. Blacks were enslaved, taken from their lands and Indians subjugated, slaughtered and forced off their lands. The natives who survived the mass exodus found themselves in strange place which is a frightening prospect for people whose life depended on knowing every feature of recognizable territory. Today, the horrific story of the Trail of Tears stirs the emotions of all American citizens but at the time of the removal this crime against humanity of historic proportions symbolized the existing feelings towards the natives, feelings which were represented by laws directed against them. The incident questioned the widely held perception that America was a fair and just country. In April of 1838 Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a letter to President Martin Van Buren regarding Cherokee removal. The letter said, in part, “You, sir, will bring down that renowned chair in which you sit into infamy if your seal is set to this instrument of perfidy; and the name of this nation, hitherto the sweet omen of religion and liberty, will stink to the world.” (Logan, 2004) In May 1938, in opposition to the nation’s guiding principles precept and a week before the deadline of eviction, government troops began the cruel process of forcibly removing native people from their ancestral homeland. Those still remaining were not given enough time to collect any personal effects such as food or clothes before being forced to live in make-shift camps. Many Indians, including children, were separated from their tribes and families. Their now empty homes were plundered by soldiers even while they were being taken away at gunpoint. “Families at dinner were startled by the sudden gleam of bayonets in the doorway. Men were seized in their fields or going along the road, women were taken from their wheels and children from their play. They saw their homes in flames, fired by the lawless rabble that followed on the heels of the soldiers to loot and pillage. Hunts were made by the same men for Indian graves, to rob them of the silver pendants and other valuables deposited with the dead.” (Logan, 2004) Removing the native people from their former lands was inevitable and had been wanted by many long before it occurred. The European descendents had been ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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