After American raids into
Florida between 1810 and 1813, the Spanish decided to sell that land
to the United States. A treaty with Spain was signed in 1819 giving
Florida to the United States.
The Cherokee Indians of the
early 1800's were intelligent and hard-working people. Most could
read. Many wore "white man's" clothing. Some lived in log cabins and
others lived in large houses.
A Cherokee named
Sequoyah made an alphabet for his language, so it could be read
and written as well as spoken.
In 1826 the Cherokee tribe
held a convention and drafted a tribal constitution. In 1828 an
Indian newspaper called the Cherokee Phoenix was published
in Georgia. As early as 1802, the state of Georgia and the federal
government had signed an agreement with the Indians that stated that
the Indian land belonged to Georgia.
The federal government said it
would help get the Indians off their land. In 1829 President Jackson
had a "removal bill" introduced to Congress. The bill said that all
Cherokee Indians would have to move to a reservation in Oklahoma.
Georgia took the Indians' land and began to break it into small
pieces to be given to the white settlers. All contracts between
Indians and whites were canceled. Anyone owing money to an Indian
didn't have to pay. Some whites attacked and burned the Indians'
Chief of the Cherokee,
John Ross, took his case to the United States Supreme Court.
He claimed Georgia had no right to do what it was doing to his
people. John Marshal, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,
made a ruling in 1832. He ruled with sympathy, but he ruled
against the Cherokees.
Indian leaders were arrested,
and their homes were taken away. The Phoenix was closed
down by U. S. soldiers.
In 1835 two Cherokee who were
not elected leaders of the tribe signed a treaty with the federal
government. The treaty arranged for the Indians to move away from
Georgia. They had two years to leave.
Chief Ross said the treaty was
not good because no elected leader had signed it. More than 16,000
Cherokee signed a petition asking that the treaty be canceled.
President Jackson refused.
Between 1836 and 1838 some
Cherokee moved to the Oklahoma Territory. Fifteen thousand remained
in Georgia. In 1838 ten thousand American troops were sent to
Georgia to remove the Cherokee from the land they had lived on as
long as anyone could remember. They were taken to a makeshift prison
until the trip west could begin. Many Indians got sick in the
crowded prisons. The white men sold the Indians bad whiskey and
The trip to Oklahoma
began in cold weather. The Cherokee were forced to move first
by flatboat then on foot. Some escaped to North Carolina and
hid in the mountains. More than four thousand Native Americans
including Chief Ross's wife died on the trip. One fourth of
the tribe died on the trail known as the
"Trail of Tears".
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