Indian Removal Act
Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson
on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled
lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands
within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully,
but many resisted the relocation policy. During the fall
and winter of 1838 and 1839, the Cherokees were forcibly
moved west by the United States government. Approximately
4,000 Cherokees died on this forced march, which became
the "Trail of Tears."
Congress Web Site | External Web
Sites | Selected
Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.
- February 22, 1830 - Senator Hugh White, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, reported A Bill to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the States or Territories, and for their removal West of the river Mississippi (S. 102).
- February 22, 1830 - The Committee on Indian Affairs issued a report (S.doc.61).
- April 9, 1830 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 15, 1830 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 17, 1830 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 20, 1830 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 21, 1830 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 22, 1830 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 23, 1830 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 24, 1830 - The Senate voted 28 to 19 to pass the Indian Removal Act (S. 102).
- May 15, 1830 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- May 17, 1830 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- May 18, 1830 - Debated in the House of Representatives (additional speeches from May 18 were published separately in the back of the volume).
- May 19, 1830 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- May 24, 1830 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- May 26, 1830 - The House of Representatives voted 102 to 97 to pass the Indian Removal Act (S. 102).
- May 26, 1830 - The Senate concurred in the House amendments.
- May 28, 1830 - The
Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson.
- December 6, 1830 - President Andrew Jackson outlined his Indian
removal policy in his Second Annual Message to Congress. Jackson's comments on Indian removal
begin with the words, "It gives me pleasure to announce
to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government,
steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation
to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements
is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important
tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal
at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that
their example will induce the remaining tribes also to
seek the same obvious advantages." Additional copies
of Andrew Jackson's Second Annual Message to Congress
can be found in the House
Journal and the Senate
The United States Congressional Serial Set contains the House and Senate documents and reports. Items related to the Indian Removal Act include:
the 21st Congress (1829-31) using the phrase "removal of the
Indians" to locate additional Congressional debate on the Indian
Removal Act of 1830.
Andrew Jackson Papers
The Andrew Jackson Papers contain more than 26,000 items dating from 1767 to 1874. Included are memoranda, journals, speeches, military records, land deeds, and miscellaneous printed matter, as well as correspondence reflecting Jackson’s personal life and career as a politician, military officer, president, slave holder and property owner.
A selection of references to the Indian Removal Act includes:
- Alfred Balch to Andrew Jackson, January 8, 1830, "I flatter myself that Mr Bell will do justice to the interesting subject committed to his charge as Chairman of the committee of Indian Affairs— The removal of the Indians would be an act of seeming violence—But it will prove in the end an act of enlarged philanthropy. These untutored sons of the Forest, cannot exist in a state of Independence, in the vicinity of the white man. If they will persist in remaining where they are, they may begin to dig their graves and prepare to die."
- Andrew Jackson to John Pitchlynn, August 5, 1830, " I beg of you to say to them, that their interest happiness peace & prosperity depends upon their removal beyond the jurisdiction of the laws of the State of Mississippi. These things have been [often times] explained to them fully and I forbear to repeat them; but request that you make known to them that Congress to enable them to remove & comfortably to arrange themselves at their new homes has made liberal appropriations. It was a measure I had much at heart & sought to effect because I was satisfied that the Indians could not possibly live under the laws of the States. If now they shall refuse to accept the liberal terms offered, they only must be liable for whatever evils & dificulties may arise. I feel conscious of having done my duty to my red children and if any failure of my good intention arises, it will be attributable to their want of duty to themselves, not to me."
- Andrew Jackson to Chickasaw Chiefs, August 23, 1830, "Brothers! If you are disposed to remove say so, and state the terms you may consider just and equitable."
- Andrew Jackson, December 6, 1830, 2nd Annual Message - Drafts regarding Indian Affairs
The Library of Congress has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world.
Treasures at the Library of Congress - Cherokee Nation
Denied Foreign Nation Status
In the landmark case, The Cherokee Nation v. The State
of Georgia, the United States Supreme Court ruled in
1831 that the Cherokee Indian Nation was not a foreign
nation and therefore ruled that the Supreme Court did
not have jurisdiction. This exhibit contains Associate
Justice Smith Thompson's dissenting opinion.
Presentation - Immigration: Native Americans
Provides an overview of Native American history, including
information on the government's Indian removal policy.
John Ross, Chief of the United Cherokee Nation from
1839 to 1866, was born on October 3, 1790.
Removal Lesson Plan, Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization
Affairs: Laws and Treaties, Oklahoma State University
Library, Compiled and Edited by Charles J. Kappler
Removal, 1814-1858, PBS
Documents, President Andrew Jackson's Message to Congress
'On Indian Removal', National Archives and Records
Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1932. [Catalog Record]
Garrison, Tim Alan. The Legal Ideology of Removal: The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002. [Catalog
Green, Michael D. The Politics of Indian Removal: Creek Government and Society in Crisis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982. [Catalog
Inskeep, Steve. Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab. New York: Penguin Press, 2015. [Catalog
Perdue, Theda and Michael D. Green. The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears. New York: Viking, 2007. [Catalog
Remini, Robert Vincent. Andrew Jackson & His Indian
Wars. New York: Viking, 2001. [Catalog
Satz, Ronald N. American Indian Policy
in the Jacksonian Era. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. [Catalog
Wallace, Anthony F. C. The Long,
Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993.
Dunn, John M. The Relocation of the Native American Indian. Detroit: Lucent Books, 2006. [Catalog
Nardo, Don. The Relocation of the
North American Indian.
San Diego, Calif.: KidHaven Press, 2002. [Catalog
Stewart, Mark. The Indian Removal Act: Forced Relocation. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2007. [Catalog
Williams, Jeanne. Trails of Tears:
American Indians Driven from Their Lands. Dallas, Tex.: Hendrick-Long Pub. Co.,