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Indian Removal

How European Culture Influenced Expansionist Dreams in the Southeastern United States
Todd Sheffield

His 400
Professor Twitty

After the American Revolution, many things changed for ethnic groups living on the
continent. The United States emerged in a time of political chaos, trying to organize itself into
an independent state capable of defending itself and promoting its own self interest. One such
interest included the acquisition of territory to the West. Gaining control of these lands in the
early 1800s proved harder than expected for Americans. Native tribes in the southeastern United
States during the antebellum period posed a particular problem for political leaders and settlers
moving into the region.
The Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes established homes and customs in the region
that existed centuries before Europeans set foot in North America. European settlers encroached
further westward which increased the tension between the races. While whites sought land of
their own to make a living, tribes were desperate to hold on to what was theirs for so long.
When looking at a document like the Indian Removal Act of 1830, created by Andrew
Jackson to allow for the United States to remove Native American settlements further west into
land uninhabited by whites, as well as an assortment of treaties between the whites and Indians,
it is easy to see that whites across America were eager to purge the frontier of Native Americans
to make room for the settlement of new white communities and farms. Given few options for
primary sources from native communities, accounts of Native American reactions were created
by historians and social scientists. After reviewing such evidence, it can be reasonably argued
that European descendents inherited some traits from their colonizing ancestors such as
untrustworthiness in factional dealings and their lust for money and land; the aforementioned
traits played an integral role in the United States facilitation of Indian removal and settler
expansion into the Native American territories of the Southeast. To lay out the argument of how

whites displayed greed in their culture, this paper will address some background between the
whites and natives, and then show how the United States removed the Choctaw, Creek, and
Seminole Indians.
Relations prior to Removal
Before the United States gained its independence, many native tribes considered some
groups of whites as allies. For example, the French who came to North America were able to
pair up with tribes like the Choctaw to share ideas and conduct business with one another. These
relationships typically revolved around trade, and both parties walked away from deals with
something gained.1 Whites and natives aligned themselves to further their interests in the region
as well. As political lines were redrawn and new leaders emerged, relations between groups of
whites and natives, too, changed. This led to the burning of bridges and racial tension increasing
between the natives and the settlers. Whites along the east coast spread their roots deeper into
the continent by combating natives who freely roamed the region.2 Some tribes such as the
Seminoles, for example, would resist white encroachment to the last man while others, like the
Creek and Choctaw, would slowly submit to white domination.
Many years prior to the American Revolution, the Choctaw nation had prosperous
relations with small groups of French inhabitants who manned trading posts within native
territory in order to negotiate mutually profitable deals with the indigenous people. Dealings
were not entirely monetary. Some of the interactions between whites and natives helped improve
quality of life through the sharing of agricultural improvements and tools between both parties.
1 Arthur

H. DeRosier, Jr., The Removal of the Choctaw Indians (Knoxville, TN: The University
of Tennessee Press, 1970), 15-16.

Gloria Jahoda, The Trail of Tears (Canada: Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada, 1975), 153.

Mutually beneficial relations such as these facilitated trust between the cultures.3 However, trade
sometimes dealt with matters more serious than the exchange of luxury, convenience, or
household items and tools. The tribes around modern Alabama, Georgia, and Florida depended
heavily upon powder, ball, firearms, flints, tomahawks, and knives. Without these weapons
and supplies, they risked extermination, starvation, and enslavement. 4 The Creeks and their
satellite tribes relied heavily on the fur trade to pay for such goods while the Mississippians used
slaves, meat, and maze as currency.5
France, Britain, and Spain all affected the dynamics of North America in some way, even
after the United States won its independence. Each nation left its lasting mark on the continent
even after they officially left the region. These European powers constantly disputed their
borders which led to multiple conflicts where the Native Americans chose sides based on
whichever faction they believed would ultimately benefit them most. Since the Choctaws, who
aligned with the French and fought against the British in the Seven Years War, lost the fight,
they wondered how relations might change. So a wait-and-see policy was adopted until the
Choctaw leaders could see how politics would turn out.6 The Choctaws were wary of the British,
who recently took over the French territory, and they did not agree with Britains constant use of
war to achieve its goals.

DeRosier, The Removal of the Choctaw Indians, 15-16.

J. Leitch Wright, Jr., Creeks and Seminoles: The Destruction and Regeneration of the
Muscogulge People (University of Nebraska Press, 1986), 41.

Ibid., 42.

DeRosier, The Removal of the Choctaw Indians, 16.


Upon the United States separation and independence from Britain, the natives of the
Southeast again faced uncertainty with the formation of the new American government. The
newly formed nation, which gained much confidence in its ability to function autonomously after
the War of 1812, was ready for the acquisition of new territory to the West. Government leaders
made bold attempts to strip land away from Indian control by the use of legal documents,
financial indebtedness, and the military. James Monroe expressed in a speech to the nation the
idea proposed to him by his Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, saying for the earth was given
to mankind to support the greatest number of which it is capable, and no tribe of people have a
right to withhold from the wants of others more than is necessary for their own support and
comfort.7 Calhoun and Monroes idea emphasizes the argument of the greed European
descendents displayed at this time. The leadership of the United States down to the settlers
believed that the land temporarily unoccupied by the Native Americans waited for whites to take
the initiative to make use of it. The methods used to obtain much of the land exploited natives
loss of autonomy due to the lack of unification among tribes, their inferior numbers, and the
decline of their culture.
After the War of 1812, the United States had dreams of westward expansion, which is
commonly known today as Manifest Destiny. This concept asserted that God had it in his plan to
bring all the territory of the continent under the control of the United States. As John Quincy
Adams wrote in 1811 in a letter to his father:
The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine
Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one
James Monroe, First State of Nation, Washington, D.C., 1817, American History: From
Revolution to Reconstruction and Beyond.


general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one

general tenor of social usages and customs. For the common happiness of them
all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensable that they should be
associated in one federal Union.8
Such writings clearly enable one to see how the European influence on America allowed for a
sociocentric ideology where the whites believed that expansionism was within their rights.
White men with power introduced Manifest Destiny, and they used it to convince the general
public to push west and give the government a reason to establish itself further west. The
American people embraced the idea that their culture and religion surpassed that of the natives.
By asserting its dominance over the Indians, the American government would be able to provide
security for its settlers on the frontier and develop a stronger agricultural economy.9 This proved
to be more difficult task than the American people imagined.
Some ways that whites tried to peacefully take tribal land was the use of education,
religion, and civilizing missions to assimilate Native Americans into white society. Strong
Muscogulgethe blanket term that covers most of the tribes of the southeast around Alabama,
Georgia, and Floridaleaders resisted relocation, and in an effort to acquiesce to white
demands, agreements were made in terms of relations and policy. Creek, Seminole, and
Choctaw chiefs sent children to schools designed to educate Indian children in white culture and
help them develop trades that would allow them to merge into white society and keep their
land.10 Choctaw Academy was very important. Located in Lexington, Kentucky, it enrolled

Walter A. McDougal, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World
Since 1776 (Houghton Mifflin, 1997), 78.

Wright, Creeks and Seminoles, 222.


Ibid, 228.

between one hundred to one hundred and fifty students. J. Leitch Wright, Jr., author of Creeks
and Seminoles, shows that Choctaw Academy gave Indians proper Christian names, instructing
them in English, and mingling Creeks, Seminoles, Choctaws, Potawatomis, Pawnees, and others
encouraged Pan-Indianism which was important for the resistance against the white settlers
steadily pushing the natives out of their territory.11
An important character to introduce for all phases of Indian affairs in the first half of the
nineteenth century is Andrew Jackson. He was well known among the Indian population across
the South and within the United States government. John C. Calhoun used Andrew Jackson to
assist in negotiations with the Choctaws and other tribes.12 Jacksons hostile attitude towards the
natives definitely did not help to achieve a peaceful and mutually beneficial deal for both parties.
Jacksons main concern was to oust the tribes as quickly as possible with as little cost as possible
for the United States government. People with Jacksons attitude towards Indians were common.
They were born, like Jackson, as a subject of an English king. They fought many wars against
natives and grew bitter towards such foes. The hostility Jackson felt, combined with the nations
thirst for territory, led to a nationwide initiative that destroyed Native American society in the
southeastern United States. Jackson played a significant role in the removal of all natives from
the southeastern United States. One of his main contributions to removal was the Indian
Removal Act of 1830.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 basically stated that the President had the power to
remove Native Americans from United States territory. Section 1 of the document states:


Ibid, 229.


DeRosier, The Removal of the Choctaw Indians, 50-55.


That it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United States to cause so
much of any territory belonging to the United States, west of the river
Mississippi to be divided into a suitable number of districts for the reception of
such tribes or nations of Indians as may choose to exchange the lands where they
now reside, and remove there.13
With American laws in support of governmental action, no one could legally hinder the United
States from taking the land of the natives.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates,
1774-1875. Written by Twenty-First Congress. Sess. I. Ch. 148, 1830.


Figure 1. Map of routes taken by Indians during removal. 14

Source: U.S. History Maps.
Removal of the Choctaw
It goes without saying that a homogenous culture will have relatively few social issues if
left to itself. With whites trying to push further west, a clash of European values and Indian
values took place. The natives steadfastly clung to one of their last assets, land, even with whites
moving onto it without regard to prior treaties. Some tribes, like the Choctaw, considered the
United States an ally for much of their history together, so they were unwilling to wage war upon
the unwelcome settlers. Looking to handle the issues at hand peacefully, leaders from both sides
agreed that measures must be taken to preserve the culture of the Choctaw Indians and limit
white encroachment so long as the natives held the land.
Prior to the government mandated removal that took place in the 1830s, the United States
used a policy of moderation with the Native Americans. Robert A. Trennert, author of
Alternative to Extinction, explains that the goal of the government was to end such problems
(referring to degrading natives and racial conflict) peacefully, and this seemed best accomplished
by civilizing, education, and assimilating the native population in such a manner that the Indian
would adopt only the virtues of white civilization.15 Trennert is saying that the politicians like
President James Monroe, and his Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, among others, believed that
native conformation or complete disassociation were the only ways for progress in the southeast
to be had. These concepts reflect back to the clash of white and native cultures pushing against


Indian Removal, map showing the routs taken by Indians moving westward. U.S. History
Robert A. Trennert, Jr., Alternative to Extinction: Federal Indian Policy and the Beginnings of
the Reservation System, 1846-51 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1975), 2.


one another. The first attempts to indoctrinate Indians to white culture were through Christian
missions into their territory. White leaders designed these missions to ultimately assimilate
Native Americans into white American culture which would free up their land for white
Cyrus Kingsbury and Cyrus Byington founded the most prominent mission and set it up
in Mississippi for the Choctaws. It was the Eliot Mission School located near present day
Grenada, Mississippi.17 Other missionaries founded more schools in the area, but no more than
eleven were able to function simultaneously due to the lack of resources.18 This is not to say that
schools did not have an abundance of support. The Eliot Mission School collected its funding
from three sources including the mission board that set up the school, the Federal Government,
and the Choctaw nation. The missionaries had the Indians best interest in mind with the hope of
converting them to Christianity while providing them with a means of learning a trade in a region
where white influence grew at an alarming rate.19 Federal support stemmed from moderates
hoping to one day merge natives into white culture. If the schools could indoctrinate the Native
Americans to a whiter culture, the transition to absorbing their land would be seamless. Lastly,
the Choctaws loved the idea of the missions, not so much because of the spiritual services, but
because they allowed for the people to learn valuable skills. 20 Jesse O. Mckee and Jon A.


DeRosier, The Removal of the Choctaw Indians, 40.


Jesse O. Mckee and Jon A. Schlenker, The Choctaws: Cultural Evolution of a Native American
Tribe (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1980), 56.

Ibid, 57.


DeRosier, The Removal of the Choctaw Indians, 42.


McKee, The Choctaws: Cultural Evolution, 74.


Schlenker authored The Choctaws which expressed the willingness of the tribe to interact with
the missionaries within their territory. Mckee and Schlenker say that nearly half the Choctaw
population took advantage of the services rendered by the missionaries. 21 President Monroe
and Secretary of War John Calhoun advocated policies that enabled Indians to improve their
chance of survival in a white world or in a world further west, away from the corrupting white
Leadership in the United States supported the effort to civilize Native Americans. John
Calhoun was one of the major leaders to attempt it. He, along with the support of President
Monroe, embraced the moderate ideology towards natives, and that took shape in the policy they
tried to implement. They wanted to stop treating each tribe as an independent nation; secondly,
they wanted to preserve some Indian characteristics to prevent them from complete extinction;
lastly, they wanted to force natives to settle on a permanent location.22 Each of these changes
would allow for better flow of communication between the white government of the United
States and the tribes. These policies failed in part because of the lack of public support.23
Settlers across the frontier wanted the Indians removed as quickly as possible. The lack of
bargaining tools available to Calhoun, whose assignment was to find the best way to relocate the
natives, made the odds of striking a mutually agreeable deal very low.24


Ibid, 56.


DeRosier, The Removal of the Choctaw Indians, 41.


Ibid, 54.


Ibid, 59.

One way to remove the Choctaw was in the form of debt liquidation in return for land
cessions.25 The American government encouraged many natives to purchase goods on credit.
Some Indians had so much debt that the only way to get rid of it was by negotiating deals to
expunge the debt in exchange for tribal lands. This was a tricky, yet semi effective, way for the
United States to obtain land.
The American public had little patience for the efforts Calhoun made to civilize the
Indians. This pressure led talks of land cessions through many different treaties. To assist in
negotiations with the Choctaws, Monroe enlisted the help of Andrew Jackson who had a long
history of fighting with the Choctaws in the War of 1812 but also known for fighting against
other tribes in the East.26 Calhoun strongly believed that with more time and support from the
United States, he could lay a foundation for the Indian tribes of the southeast, and in return, the
natives might be more cooperative with negotiations and land cessions.27 Neither of these
occurred. Trapped in a bad situation, Andrew Jackson stepped in to help design a new treaty. He
had few resources available to allocate in the agreement. Ultimately, Jackson facilitated the
signing of the Treaty of Doaks Stand which assigned land west of the Mississippi River to the
Choctaws in return for almost one third of tribal land. This was the treaty that paved the way for
others in regard to Indian removal. 28


Ibid, 28.


Ibid, 56.


Ibid, 54.


Ibid, 69.

After approximately ten years, whites in Mississippi grew impatient with the speed of the
removal process. Frustration grew because the Choctaws still remained by the graves of their
dead, still worshiped on Nanih Waya (their ancestral worshiping ground on a massive hill), still
farmed their land and built stout frame houses and mills, and still sent their children to mission
schools.29 The state government then attempted to take steps to hasten the ultimate goal of
purging the state of the natives. Mississippi granted the Native Americans citizenship which
enabled the state to dissolve tribal government holding the people together on the land. This
robbed the native leadership of their titles and made it illegal to be called native titles.30
In 1831, the first mass exodus of Choctaws left Mississippi. This was a slow process
because the people had to gather enough supplies for their journey. Upon leaving, law
enforcement appeared bearing false writs allowing them to confiscate many of their belongings
to repay false debts. As a result, the Choctaws, like many tribes before them from the Northeast,
quickly ran out of supplies making the journey very difficult.31 One third of the Choctaws
eighteen thousand people who first ventured westward died along the way. Cholera, pneumonia,
and influenza ravaged their numbers. Even upon reaching their new home, relief was not found.
Many Choctaws lost everything to the flooding of the Arkansas River in the first rainy season.
This reexposure to the elements brought about a recurrence in cholera, pneumonia, and, this
time, dysentery. Starvation ran rampant as the flooding washed away the coming crop.32


Jahoda, The Trail of Tears, 78.




Ibid, 85.


Ibid, 88.

Leaving the Indians to their own devices exhibited the lack of respect and honor the white
government showed Native Americans at the time. This reflected back to the heritage and values
of European descendants and their take-everything mentality. It took a lot of effort to get the
government to give the Indians the assistance they promised.
A few Choctaws remained in Mississippi after the tribes official removal. The remnant
maintained an agricultural lifestyle and eventually integrated into society peacefully. Many
whites believed that even if the natives adapted to their civilized surroundings, they would
encounter resistance from that culture.33
Removal of the Creek
Native inhabitants of the Alabama, Georgia, and Florida area felt the pressure applied by
whites to get out of the way prior to the Choctaws, but they managed to hold on to small pockets
of their territory longer. The people of the Creek nation experienced many hardships at the hands
of the whites who encroached illegally upon native land. White settlement caused a lack of
available farmland and game to hunt around their territory. This was especially the case in the
many years following the Creek War in 1815 up until the government finally called for their
In 1832, the government proposed a treaty to Creek leaders granting a large sum of land
to every head of a family within the Creek nation. The treaty did not appear to disfavor the
natives, but over the course of time as the minor details came to light, white Americans gained


Bernard W. Sheehan, Seeds of Extinction: Jeffersonian Philanthropy and the American Indian
(New York: W.W. Norton &Company, Inc. 1973), 249.

Jahoda, The Trail of Tears, 147.


possession of the land if the head of the family died or if the Creeks wanted to sell it for profit.35
In the event a Creek sold his land and found himself in a situation where he lost his land due to
fraud, he was not able to testify in court given his status as a nonperson in the state of Alabama at
the time. Many Creeks fled to their neighboring or relative tribes like the Cherokee who noticed
a swell of approximately two thousand five hundred inhabitants and also to the Seminoles in
Florida.36 The high rate of fraud and theft of Indian property caused the Lower Creeks to kill
whites in the area and burn their possessions. In this case in 1836, General Thomas S. Jesup
fielded an Army to eliminate the Indian population in Alabama. 37 The urgency with which the
United States used its military in this time shows their lack of patience and understanding toward
the starving, desperate people of the Creek who simply desired a permanent location to call their
own. A stable situation would allow for the cultivation of land and the ability to hunt effectively.
Encroachment disrupted this process.
In the conflict with General Jesup, one Creek chief, Neamathla, stole enough livestock
and supplies from whites to lead his followers south to fight with the Seminoles against the
United States Army. A follower betrayed Neamathla, and the Army captured him. United States
soldiers marveled at his physique and willpower. This chief was eighty-four years old and made
the journey by foot when many of his followers could not withstand traveling so far while
mounted. Jahoda gives the account of a spectator who observed Neamathla and his followers:
But his eyes indicate intelligence and fire and his countenance would give the
impression that he was a brave and distinguished man They were all



Ibid, 151.


Ibid, 153.

handcuffed and chained together; and in this way they marched to Montgomery,
on the Alabama, 90 miles. Old Neamathla marched all the way, handcuffed and
chained like the others, and I was informed by Captain Page, the agent for moving
the Indians, that he never uttered a complaint. 38
Leaders like Neamathla kept their peoples spirit alive through much of their hardships. This
strong man also said to the governor of Florida, This country belongs to the red man, and if I
had the number of warriors at my command that this nation once had I would not leave a white
man on my lands. I would exterminate the whole.39 Not all Native American leaders displayed
such harsh opinions of whites. Many simply took the deals offered to them by the government
and moved westward upon realizing that fighting was futile. The Montgomery Advisor gave
testament to the sight of removal, to see a remnant of a once-mighty people fettered and chained
together forced to depart from the land of their fathers into a country unknown to them is
sufficient to move the stoutest heart.40
The defeat and removal of the Creeks opened up large quantities of fertile land for white
Americans in the Southeast. The Creeks ran into another faction of their nation upon reaching
their new land in Oklahoma. This other faction included the followers of a former leader, Chief
William McIntosh. Some feared that conflict might occur due to the turbulent past between the
two groups, but upon seeing the condition of their relatives upon arrival after their forced march,
the former followers of William McIntosh realized they made the right decision in moving west
voluntarily. Jahoda says that most Americans[,] believed that the whites were the master
race. Civilized men had every right to seize new territory from conquered nations until

Ibid, 155.


Ibid, 154.


Ibid, 155.

Americas spacious skies stretched from sea to shining sea.41 This Manifest Destiny mindset of
the whites mirrored history in Europe where groups raided other peoples and took as much land
as they could grab in order to extend their influence.
Removal of the Seminole
Florida, prior to modern technology such as air conditioning and the implementation of
roads, was not a pleasant place to live. It was hard to grow food in the bottom three quarters of
the state, and the heat was repulsive. The area contained venomous snakes and diseases.42 Not
many whites or Indians had an interest in settling much of the land south of the fertile region in
the northern portion, but when removal came to the Seminoles, they fought hard for every bit of
land they believed was rightfully theirs.
Prior to Spain selling Florida to the United States, they attempted to rid the land of its
native people and were widely successful over the course of the two hundred years they
practiced genocide of the aborigines.43 Around the early 1700s, the tribe known as the
Seminoles entered into Florida following the game on which they lived off of. The Seminoles
were not an established tribe like the others and only really came into existence when whites
were looking for a way to identify the group. The name Seminole came from the Muskogee
word siminoli which meant wanderers or deserters. Creeks and fragments of other miniscule
tribes made up the majority of the Seminoles. 44




Ibid, 244.




Ibid, 245.

When the United States bought Florida from Spain in 1819 for about five million dollars,
the unconquered tribes stood out as the largest obstacles.45 Conflict with the Seminoles first
began when the United States outlawed the international slave trade and the southern states
desperately sought a means to supply labor for their plantations. Many former slaves ran from
their masters further south to seek coexistence with the Seminoles who treated them much better
than the whites.46 The demand for slaves and fertile land pressured the Seminoles who had a
strong leader named Osceola. When Georgia and South Carolina fielded militias to hasten the
removal of the Seminoleswhich worked when applied to the Creeksthey only succeeded in
worsening an already poor relationship.47 Many natives of northern Florida refused to move
because of the poor conditions in the southern portion of the state. The sour relationship
between the warmongering whites and the natives who sought revenge for their relatives, namely
the Creeks, descended even further into hostilities.

Fairfax Downey, Indian Wars of the U.S. Army 1776-1865 (Garden City, New York:
Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1963), 116.


Jahoda, The Trail of Tears, 246.


Ibid, 255.

Figure 2. Image of Osceola discussing treaties with United States military.48

Source: Heritage History.
The Second Seminole War began with the ambush of Major Francis Langhorne Dade, the
killing of General Wiley Thompson, and the Battle of Withlacoochee.49 General Thompson had
a history with Osceola which can be summed up with Osceola humiliated and in chains. After
Osceolas release, Thompson tried to mend the bridge with Osceola by purchasing him a very


Image of Osceola discussing treaties with United States military, Heritage History.


Jahoda, The Trail of Tears, 262.


expensive hand-carved rifle and by befriending the native. After some time and with a proper
window of opportunity. Osceola went on a great offensive which started this costly war that
would end with many lives lost on both sides, especially the Americans. He shot, stabbed, and
beheaded General Thompson and organized the massacre of Major Dade and his men before they
helped facilitate the removal of the Seminoles who had no intention of leaving the state.
Osceola knew he fought not only for Seminoles, but for every red man in America. If his tactics
were terrible, so be it. Exile was a thing of terror too.50 The people of the United States did not
believe in this war, and they remained disheartened throughout it as the men fighting awaited
death in the form of disease or brutality.
Aside from the American people disfavoring the war in Florida, the whites had other
issues that constantly plagued them. They used outdated tactics passed down from European
warfare which rarely worked in the difficult terrain of Florida.51 Osceola and his men often used
surprise attacks and the woods for cover while the white generals, who substituted one another
throughout the campaign, typically appreciated fighting face to face in more open terrain like
their European predecessors. Also, the changing of command that occurred way too often served
as a disadvantage for both groups. While one general appeared to be mending relations and
wrapping up the war, another general would step in to reinvigorate the hostilities.52
While the Seminoles proved to be a challenge for the Army, a few men, women, and
children of the tribe experienced intense hunger and misery because of their living conditions. In




Ibid, 265.


Ibid, 262 & 265.


small groups, some made their way to Fort Brooke to await shipment to the West.53 The ever
encroaching whites suffocated the Seminoles and pushed them even further into the dense forests
and swamps where cultivation was impossible and game was scarce.
To bring the war to an end, General Jesup betrayed Osceolas trust and abducted him and
his party of negotiators. During their imprisonment, the great Seminole leader fell sick and
would ultimately die. The whites treated him properly while he was ill and did their best to
accommodate him until his death.54 One by one, the Seminole chiefs surrendered and took their
people to Army forts for deportation. General Jesup resigned upon observing the mistreatment
of the Indians in the land awaiting the Seminoles. The realization of governmental mistreatment
of the natives permeated society which eventually led to the government barely holding up their
end of the treaty to supply the tribes in the West.
Native relations between whites and Indians and the treatment of others can be explained
in a tale mentioned in The Trail of Tears. There is blind man who possessed a book. He is to
present it to either the whites or the Indians. The blind man said he would give the book to the
first group who could bring him a deer. While the scarcity of game in the area made it hard to
find a deer to bring the man, the whites cheated and killed a sheep instead. The blind man did
not know the difference between the two animals since he could not see and rewarded the whites
with the book, and this is how they gained literacy. The author says that this is how whites


Ibid, 266.


Ibid, 269.

gained all things, through treachery and deceit. Whites valued possessions and used people;
Indians valued people and used possessions.55
Dealings between Native Americans and white Americans were rarely harmonious. As is
displayed throughout this paper, white men of power constantly dishonored treaties and infringed
upon their neighbors. Examples given were of the treaties with the Choctaws, Creeks, and
Seminoles with the ultimate disbarring of said treaties with the passing of the Indian Removal
Act of 1830. This act allowed for the President to remove any native tribe within the borders of
the United States with minimal compensation. The Americans got their desire for power and
property from their ancestors. J. Leitch Wright, Jr. said, This insatiable demand for Indian lands
should not be attributed solely to [the people] of the Revolutionary era; it can be traced back to
Columbuss time and even to medieval Europe, with the rise of cities, the revival of coined
money, and the mounting search for new markets and raw materials.56 This is shown through
the actions of Andrew Jackson, General Jesup, and other generals and politicians took advantage
of the Natives who almost always obeyed the treaties previously signed. The fraud and
deception the common whites used against the natives shows the less publicized end of Indian
relations. Altogether, the cultural history of white Americans allowed for them to believe that
they could take advantage of conquered groups under their control, and use their influence to rob
a nave people of their land.


Ibid, 246.


Wright, Creeks and Seminoles, 129.


DeRosier, Jr., Arthur H. The Removal of the Choctaw Indians. Knoxville, TN.: The University
of Tennessee Press, 1970.
Downey, Fairfax. Indian Wars of the U.S. Army 1776-1865. Garden City, New York:
Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1963.
Jahoda, Gloria. The Trail of Tears. Canada: Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada, 1975.
McDougal, Walter A., Promised Land, Crusader State:The American Encounter with the World
Since 1776. Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
McKee, Jesse O., and Jon A Schlenker. The Choctaws: Cultural Evolution of a Native American
Tribe. Jackson, MS. University Press of Mississippi, 1980.
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