Questions and Answers: American History

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Q1. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced tens of thousands of Native Americans to move from their homelands in the South and East to less desirable lands in the West. Was this Congressional act justified? Why or why not?
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 is considered a 'black mark' upon American history. Whenever America attempts to take a moral high road and criticize another nation's human rights record, the Trail of Tears is invoked, as well as the removal of the Creeks and the Lower Creeks from their indigenous lands. What is so extraordinary about the event in retrospect is the degree to which President Andrew Jackson's actions were considered abhorrent at the time, even to other American politicians. The U.S. Supreme Court in Cherokee v. Georgia declared the tribe a separate nation, over which the federal government had no authority to remove (195-196). But while Jackson had happily invoked the sanctity of American law during the Nullification Crisis, in this instance he simply ignored the Supreme Court decision. Jackson had a vested political interest in allowing the West to be settled. As the candidate of the so-called 'common man,' he wished to be responsive to the demands of the land-poor for settlement areas.
However, there was an ugly side to Jacksonian populism, namely the denial of the Indians their basic right to exist. The fact that the Cherokee had been so accommodating to white demands and had made every effort to live in a reasonable state of peace with

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