Level A Unit 4

An Inexcusably Inhumane Incident

A Native American with a horse at sunset

by Kellyn Bertsch, age 12

The “Trail of Tears” was an appalling event in American history that most everyone, Cherokees and non-Indians alike, will always remember. In the early 1830s, over 100,000 Native Americans dwelt in southeast America on millions of acres of fertile land. The Native Americans had inhabited the land for generations before the United States was founded. Motivated by their desire to prosper, the Americans sought after the land so that they could grow cotton. Aspiring to gain the Native Americans’ land, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The adverse law granted the government the land where the Native Americans lived, and it gave the Native Americans undesirable and impoverished land out west. Undeniably the most callous expulsion was the removal of the Cherokees in 1838. They appealed to the Court. They won their case. They were met by indifference. President Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court’s ruling and sent military forces to march the Cherokees out of their land, reportedly declaring, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.” Solemnly over fifteen thousand Cherokees, flanked by seven thousand armed soldiers, were tyrannically compelled to trek more than twelve thousand miles. While on the hostile journey, about a third of the Cherokees died because they were not permitted time to gather basic resources. Consequently, this brutal episode in American history is recollected by all as the “Trail of Tears.”

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