Mt San Antonio College Views on the Indian Removal Crisis Essay


Read through ALL of these sources and CHOOSE FOUR. Use the four sources you’ve picked to answer the prompt below. 
How would you characterize the position of each historical actor? How specifically did each actor support his or her position? Ultimately, why was there an Indian Removal crisis?Catharine Beecher, A Circular Addressed to the Benevolent Ladies of the
United States (1829)
In the 1820s, the public role of women was limited to social, religious, and charitable activities;
they could not vote or stand for office. The removal issue, however, provided women with an
opportunity to focus their benevolent concerns on a political issue. Women’s missionary
societies had long supported Indian missions through donations of money and goods, and
individual women made contributions as well: about half the donors listed in the periodical the
Missionary Herald were women. Many women regarded the treatment of the Cherokees and
other Indians as immoral, and since morality was well within their purview, they felt compelled
to oppose removal.
The call to action came from Catharine Beecher, a prominent educator and writer (and
sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin). In 1829, she anonymously
published a widely distributed circular in which she called on women to petition Congress to
defeat the impending Indian Removal Act. In response, women collected signatures on scores of
petitions demanding respect for Indian rights, which they sent to Congress.
This kind of concerted political action on a national level was new to American women,
who soon began to urge the abolition of slavery and to address other injustices in American
society. Opposition to Indian Removal, therefore, empowered women with a public voice despite
their disfranchisement. Below is an excerpt from Catherine Beecher’s circular that was printed in
the Christian Advocate and Journal on December 25, 1829.
The present crisis in the affairs of the Indian nations in the United States demands the immediate
and interested attention of all who make any claims to benevolence or humanity. The calamities
now hanging over them threaten not only these relics of an interesting race, but, if there is a
Being who avenges the wrongs of the oppressed, are causes of alarm to our whole country.
The following are the facts of the case:—This continent was once possessed only by the
Indians, and earliest accounts represent them as a race numerous, warlike, and powerful. When
our forefathers sought refuge from oppression on these shores, this people supplied their
necessities, and ministered to their comfort; and though some of them, when they saw the white
man continually encroaching upon their land, fought bravely for their existence and their
country, yet often, too, the Indian has shed his blood to protect and sustain our infant nation.
As we have risen in greatness and glory, the Indian nations have faded away. Their proud
and powerful tribes have gone; their noble sachems and mighty warriors are heard of no more;
and it is said the Indian often comes…to gaze on the beautiful country no longer his own, and to
cry with bitterness at the remembrance of past greatness and power.
Ever since the existence of this nation, our general government, pursuing the course alike
of policy and benevolence, have acknowledged these people as free and independent nations, and
has protected them in the quiet possession of their lands. In repeated treaties with the Indians, the
United States, by the hands of the most distinguished statesmen, after purchasing the greater part
of their best lands, have promised them “to continue the guarantee of the remainder of their
country FOR EVER.” And so strictly has government guarded the Indian’s right to his lands, that
even to go on to their boundaries to survey the land, subjects to heavy fines and imprisonment.
Our government also, with parental care, has persuaded the Indians to forsake their
savage life, and to adopt the habits and pursuits of civilized nations, while the charities of
Christians…have sent to them the blessings of the gospel to purify and enlighten. The laws and
regular forms of a civilized government are instituted; their simple and beautiful language, by the
remarkable ingenuity of one of their race, has become a written language with its own peculiar
alphabet, and, by the printing press, is sending forth among these people the principles of
knowledge, and liberty, and religion. Their fields are beginning to smile with the labours of the
husbandman; their villages are busy with the toils of the mechanic and the artisan; schools are
rising in their hamlets, and the temple of the living God is seen among their forests.
Nor are we to think of these people only as naked and wandering savages. The various
grades of intellect and refinement exist among them as among us; and those who visit their
chieftains and families of the higher class, speak with wonder and admiration of their dignified
propriety, nobleness of appearance, and refined characteristics as often exhibited in both sexes.
Among them are men fitted by native talents to shine among the statesmen of any land, and who
have received no inferior degree of cultivation. Among them, also, are those who, by honest
industry, have assembled around them most of the comforts and many of the elegancies of life.
But the lands of this people are claimed to be embraced within the limits of some of our
southern states, and as they are fertile and valuable, they are demanded by the whites as their
own possessions, and efforts are making to dispossess the Indians of their native soil. And such
is the singular state of concurring circumstances, that it has become almost a certainty that these
people are to have their lands torn from them, and to be driven into western wilds and to final
annihilation, unless the feelings of a humane and Christian nation shall be aroused to prevent the
unhallowed sacrifice.
Unless our general government…protect these nations, as by solemn and oft-repeated
treaties they are bound to do, nothing can save them. The states which surround them are taking
such measures as will speedily drive them from their country, and cause their final extinction….
Have not then the females of this country some duties devolving upon them in relation to
this helpless race?—They are protected from the blinding influence of party spirit, and the
asperities of political violence. They have nothing to do with any struggle for power, nor any
right to dictate the decisions of those that rule over them.—But they may feel for the distressed;
they may stretch out the supplicating hand for them, and by their prayers strive to avert the
calamities that are impending over them. It may be, that female petitioners can lawfully be heard,
even by the highest rulers of our land. Why may we not approach and supplicate that we and our
dearest friends may be saved from the awful curses denounced on all who oppress the poor and
needy, by Him whose anger is to be dreaded more than the wrath of man; who can “blast us with
the breath of his nostrils,” and scatter our hopes like chaff before the storm….
To woman it is given to administer the sweet charities of life, and to sway the empire of
affection; and to her it may also be said, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom
for such a cause as this?”…
You who gather the youthful group…and rejoice in their future hopes and joys, will you
forget that the poor Indian loves his children too, and would as bitterly mourn over all their
blasted hopes? And, while surrounded by such treasured blessings, ponder with dread and awe
these fearful words of Him, who thus forbids the violence, and records the malediction of those,
who either as individuals, or as nations, shall oppress the needy and helpless….
This communication was written and sent abroad solely by the female hand. Let every
woman who peruses it, exert that influence in society which falls within her lawful province, and
endeavour by every suitable expedient to interest the feelings of her friends, relatives, and
acquaintances, in behalf of this people, that are ready to perish. A few weeks must decide this
interesting and important question, and after that time sympathy and regret will all be in vain.
A Christian Missionary Defends the Cherokees (1829)
Jeremiah Evarts, chief administrative officer of the large interdenominational missionary
consortium known as the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM),
had definite ideas about the proper relation between the Indian tribes and the United States. Born
in Vermont and trained as an attorney, he had become convinced early in his life that God had a
special mission for the United States to lead the way in the conversion of the world to
Christianity. American leadership required that the United States be a “beacon of goodness” that
radiated the light of justice and morality in all its affairs. Christian citizens were obligated, he
believed, to critique their leaders if they strayed from the path and demand they return.
Otherwise, Evarts feared, God would punish the United States with disasters and destruction.
Since 1817, the ABCFM had maintained a significant presence in the Cherokee Nation.
Several missionaries lived there, operated schools, conducted religious services, studied the
language, worked on a translation of the Bible, and sent back to headquarters in Boston a steady
stream of correspondence and reports on their progress. Evarts read all the reports, studied what
additional sources he could find, and developed a deep and abiding respect for the Cherokees.
Furthermore, with a lawyer’s eye, he analyzed the history of Indian policy in all of its legislative
and administrative aspects. To him, the Constitution clearly authorized Congress and the
president to conduct relations with the Indians outside the involvement of the states. Treaties
were the acts of sovereigns, and the policy of the United States had always been to respect the
sovereign rights of the tribes. By definition, therefore, tribal sovereignty was superior to the
claims of the individual states.
Neither Evarts nor his associates in New England were Jacksonian Democrats. They
believed that the Constitution intended the national government to take an active, leading role in
public affairs, to override and inhibit the narrow and selfish provincialism of the states, and to set
the moral tone for the country.
Evarts was both outraged and terrified by the events of the winter of 1828-1829.
Georgia’s extension of jurisdiction over the Cherokees and the Cherokee protest to the president
had elicited the response of the Jackson administration, which claimed support among
Episcopalian and Dutch Reformed church officials in New York. Evarts regarded the new Indian
policy of the Jackson administration as unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, and fraught with
danger. Thus motivated, between August 5 and December 19, 1829, Evarts wrote and published
in the Washington National Intelligencer twenty-four articles entitled “Essays on the Present
Crisis in the Condition of the American Indians.” Published under the pseudonym William Penn,
Evarts’s essays constitute a propagandistic masterpiece of historical, legal, and moral analysis of
America’s relations with the Indians. The essays, reprinted in dozens of papers and published as
a separate pamphlet, responded to Jackson’s position and shaped the arguments on removal that
resounded in Congress and the press during the early months of 1830.
The selection printed here is a summary of the “William Penn” essays written by Evarts
late in 1829 as the body of a petition that opponents of removal could sign and send to their
congressmen. Entitled “A Brief View,” this selection represented one of many efforts by Evarts
and those of like mind to bombard Congress with expressions of popular outrage.
In the various discussions, which have attracted public attention within a few months past,
several important positions, on the subject of the rights and claims of the Indians, have been
clearly and firmly established. At least, this is considered to be the case, by a large portion of the
intelligent and reflecting men in the community. Among the positions thus established are the
following: which, for the sake of precision and easy reference, are set down in regular numerical
1. The American Indians, now living upon lands derived from their ancestors, and never
alienated nor surrendered, have a perfect right to the continued and undisturbed
possession of these lands.
2. Those Indian tribes and nations, which have remained under their own form of
government, upon their own soil, and have never submitted themselves to the
government of the whites, have a perfect right to retain their original form of
government, or to alter it, according to their own views of convenience and propriety.
3. These rights of soil and of sovereignty are inherent in the Indians, till voluntarily
surrendered by them; and cannot be taken away by compacts between communities of
whites, to which compacts the Indians were not a party
4. From the settlement of the English colonies in North America to the present day, the
right of Indians to lands in their actual and peaceable possession, and to such form of
government as they choose, has been admitted by the whites; though such admission is
in no sense necessary to the perfect validity of the Indian title
5. For one hundred and fifty years, innumerable treaties were made between the English
colonists and the Indians, upon the basis of the Indians being independent nations, and
having a perfect right to their country and their form of government.
6. During the revolutionary war, the United States, in their confederate character, made
similar treaties, accompanied by the most solemn guaranty of territorial rights.
7. At the close of the revolutionary war, and before the adoption of the federal
constitution, the United States, in their confederate character, made similar treaties
with the Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Choctaws.
8. The State of Georgia, after the close of the revolutionary war, and before the adoption
of the federal constitution, made similar treaties, on the same basis, with the
Cherokees and Creeks.
9. By the constitution of the United States, the exclusive power of making treaties with
the Indians was conferred on the general government; and, in the execution of this
power, the faith of the nation has been many times pledged to the Cherokees, Creeks,
Chickasaws, Choctaws, and other Indian nations. In nearly all these treaties, the
national and territorial rights of the Indians are guaranteed to them, either expressly or
by implication.
10. The State of Georgia has, by numerous public acts, implicitly acquiesced in this
exercise of the treaty-making power of the United States.
11. The laws of the United States, as well as treaties with the Indians, prohibit all persons,
whether acting as individuals, or as agents of any State, from encroaching upon
territory secured to the Indians. By these laws severe penalties are inflicted upon
offenders; and the execution of the laws on this subject, is specially confided to the
President of the United States, who has the whole force of the country at his disposal
for this purpose.
The positions here recited are deemed to be incontrovertible. It follows, therefore,
That the removal of any nation of Indians from their country by force would be an
instance of gross and cruel oppression:
That all attempts to accomplish this removal of the Indians by bribery or fraud, by
intimidation and threats, by withholding from them a knowledge of the strength of their cause,
by practicing upon their ignorance, and their fears, or by vexatious opportunities, interpreted by
them to mean nearly the same thing as a command;—all such attempts are acts of oppression,
and therefore entirely unjustifiable:
That the United States are firmly bound by treaty to protect the Indians from force and
encroachments on the part of a State; and a refusal thus to protect them would be equally an act
of bad faith as a refusal to protect them against individuals: and
That the Cherokees have therefore the guaranty of the United States, solemnly and
repeatedly given, as a security against encroachments from Georgia and the neighboring States.
By virtue of this guaranty the Cherokees might rightfully demand, that the United States shall
keep all intruders at a distance, from whatever quarter, or in whatever character, they may come.
Thus secured and defended in the possession of their country, the Cherokees have a perfect right
to retain that possession as long as they please. Such a retention of their country is no just cause
of complaint or offence to any State, or to any individual. It is merely an exercise of natural
rights, which rights have been not only acknowledged but repeatedly and solemnly confirmed by
the United States.
Although these principles are clear and incontrovertible, yet many persons feel an
embarrassment from considering the Cherokees as living in the State of Georgia. All this
embarrassment may be removed at once by bearing in mind that the Cherokee country is not in
Georgia, in any sense affecting sovereignty, right of soil, or jurisdiction; nor will it rightfully
become a part of Georgia, till the Cherokees shall first have ceded it to the United States.
Whenever that event shall take place, it will immediately fall into the States of Georgia,
Tennessee and Alabama; not by virtue of any compact to which the Cherokees have been a party,
but in consequence of compacts not existing between these States and the United States….
Again, it is supposed that the existence of a little separate community of Indians, living
under their own laws, and surrounded by communities of whites, will be fraught with some great
and undefined mischief. This supposed evil is set forth under learned and hard names. It is called
an anomaly, an imperium in imperio [empire within an empire], and by various other pedantic
epithets. When the case is accurately examined, however, all the fog clears away, and nothing
appears in the prospect but a little tract of country full of civilized Indians, engaged in their
lawful pursuits, neither molesting their neighbours, nor interrupting the general peace and
If the separate existence of the Indian tribes were an inconvenience to their neighbours,
this would be but a slender reason for breaking down all the barriers of justice and good faith.
Many a rich man has thought it very inconvenient, that he could not add the farm of a poor
neighbour to his possessions. Many a powerful nation has felt it to be inconvenient to have a
weak and dependent state in its neighbourhood, and has therefore forcibly joined the territory of
such state to its own extensive domains. But this is done at the expense of honour and character,
and is visited by the historian with his severest reprobation….
And as to the learned chimera of imperium in imperio, it is, and always has been, one of
the most common things in the world. The whole of modern Germany is nothing else but one
specimen after another of imperium in imperio. Italy has an abundance of specimens also. As to
our own country, we have governments within governments of all sizes, and for all purposes,
from a school district to our great federal union. And where can be the harm of letting a few of
our red neighbours, on a small remnant of their own territory, exercise the rights which God has
given them? They have not the power to injure us; and, if we treat them kindly and justly, they
will not have the disposition. They have not intruded upon our territory, nor encroached upon our
rights. They only ask the privilege of living unmolested in the places where they were born, and
in possession of those rights, which we have acknowledged and guaranteed….
May a gracious Providence avert from this country the awful calamity of exposing
ourselves to the wrath of heaven, as a consequence of disregarding the cries of the poor and
defenceless, and perverting to purposes of cruelty and oppression, that power which was given us
to promote the happiness of our fellow-men.
Choctaw Leaders Argue For Self-Determination (1830)
One of the early laws of the Jackson administration, the Indian Removal Act of 1830, provided
for the uprooting of the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, who
combined for a population of around 60,000 in the American Southeast. The law repudiated the
idea that “civilized” Indians could be assimilated into the American population.
The Choctaw Nation was organized in three districts, each headed by an elected “medal
chief.” Mushulatubbe, the lead Choctaw negotiator of the 1825 Treaty of Washington, had been
chief of the northeastern district before being replaced by David Folsom (a man with a white
father and Choctaw mother) in 1826. John Pitchlynn was a white man who married a Choctaw
woman and had long served as an interpreter for the Choctaw Nation. Middleton Mackey was
also an interpreter. On May 6, 1830, Jackson submitted this protest (below) to the Senate along
with the March 17 removal treaty to which the Choctaws were objecting.
Choctaw Nation March 25. 1830
Friend and Brother,
The subject on which we would wish to address you, is one of the utmost importance to
the welfare, and happiness of the Choctaw Nation. At no period with the Choctaws has there
been so much distress and disatisfaction existing among the people as there are evidently felt at
this time with at least more than two thirds of the community and we know not to whom we
could better pour forth our grievances than to our Great Father the president, the fountain head of
power, where all his red children can if they speak be heard and listened to. Friend and Brother,
we would wish you to open to us your ears, and attentively listen to what we shall say in behalf
of our afflicted and distressed Country. We are sorry, we are distressed. And this is owing to the
late proceedings of some of our head men in the nation at a Council held in the uper Towns. The
result of this Council was made known to us but three sleeps ago, and which is, that a proposition
has been made to the Government for the soil of all our Country East of the Mississippi river.
We have no objection to sell our Country, and go west of the Mississippi river, for there we
know we can live unmolested as long as we are a nation, and where we shall be out of the
jurisdiction of all the States in the Union, and where we know our Great Father the President can,
and will protect us.
This you have told us, and we believe it to be true, but we have a serious objection to any
Treaty being made where it does not meet the full approbation of at least one half of the nation,
and most particularly when it is done entirely unknown to the people, and understood only by a
few individuals and when it will be made to give to those same individuals ten Sections of each
land to each, who have done more injury to the Nation than good. The persons to whom we
allude is Folsom and Leflore and other designing half breeds who have got themselves into
office by management and intrigue. Why should Folsom and Leflore receive ten Sections of land
each, and our beloved Mingo Musholatubby who served his nation more than Sixteen years, and
who at all times was the true friend of the Americans, in time of peace as well as in war, should
not receive no more than a Common warrior of the land which he alone can say as his Father the
Beloved Mingo said, this land is mine, all this country is mine, and why is it that the halfbreeds
alone are to be benifitted more by a Treaty than the real pure Choctaws. It is because we are
ignorant, and because we are poor that we should be neglected. If any people in the world that
can call any portion of the land of this world their own we the real Choctaws can truely say that
this our own land, This is our own Country.
Therefore, if this Country is to be treated away, who but the real Choctaws should have
the honour of selling it. Our right to the soil we live on is paramount to all others. Let then the
Government treat with us your Children, who are the true inheritors of all this Country, and who
alone have the right of selling or disposing with it as they may think propper. We say we are
your Children. You have acknowledged us as such. It was a full blooded Choctaw that first gave
his hand to the Great and Good Washington and called him Father. It was no proud and
conceited half breed. As Children we have been dutifull towards you, we have not been unruly &
fractious at no time as many of our other red Children have been and done you injury, no; we
have at no time ever done you any injury, but we have done you good whenever we had it in our
power to do so. We ask of our great Father the War Chief Jackson who was it that fought by his
side in the late war. was not it our Pushmataha and Musholatubby and their brave warriors? Let
him remember the good deeds we have rendered for the United States and for our great Father.
Let him remember our unchangable friendship and above all remember us as a poor helpless and
distressed people. If there is a treaty made between the Government and the Choctaws let all, the
full blooded, as well as the half breeds, be equals in the proffits arising from the Treaty. This will
be the only way to give satisfaction to all
We say we are willing to sell our Country, but never under any conditions where in it will
make a few very rich…[letter goes on to describe how Folsom and Leflore gain advantages but
are not supported in elections by most Choctaws]…The people in this District and also in the
other Districts has ever had the privellege of selecting and making who they please as their
Chief, and removing them from office whenever it suited them, but never have there been as yet
a single instance where the Chief had the power of transferring his warriors into the hands of any
other Chief or mingo at their own option, but however Folsom and Garland have assumed a
privellege and a power that never was placed in the hands of any Chief in the Choctaw Nation.
And we therefore warn you in time not to agree to the propposition which was made at the late
Council by Leflore and his party, for we assure you it is not a general understanding among us.
and we are fully determined to never agree to it let the Consequence be as it may. Some of us
were at the Council when the propposition for the sail of our Country was made
It was formed
by Folsom and Leflore in a secret apartment without the consideration of any other individual,
except two or three missionaries, and when they had finished it, the people were called togather
at a late hour of the night, when it was read to them.
We were displeased with it, and we found others to be also even those who signed their
names to the talk to be sent to our Great Father, but what was more displeasing to us, and truely
disgusting, was when we saw those Individuals (Folsom and Leflore) so uncommonly anxious
for the people to sign this talk. Every thing was urged and done in a hurry, and not even a
minutes time was allowed for deliberation. If you have a mind to do justice by us I know you
will not agree to any treaty made with our nation unless it is with the whole nation and where it
will give satisfaction at least to all the full blooded Choctaws, Therefore in order that this may be
the case we would be glad if it is the wish of your Government to treat for our lands that you
would send Commissioners to the nation and we will show them that we have the power and will
sell our Country, but we will make a fair and an honest treaty with them, and not under such
considerations as that which is proposed by Leflore and Folsom. When we make a treaty we do
not want the missionaries to be present. Let them attend to their propper vocations, and meddle
not with the concerns of the Nation. The missionaries we are sorry to inform you that they are a
meddlesome set and have not done much good among us, no, but they have been the cause of a
great deal of injury to the nation and also the Government. For they are the very set that has ever
opperated against the policy of your Government towards the Choctaws and thereby deprived us
of those advantages and those blessings which it has been the wish of your Government to
bestow to us. We have always been confident that your Government would not wrong our
people, nor recommend us to nothing but what would tend to our happiness and prosperity, but
nevertheless your views as respects for the removal of our nation to the west, have heretofore
disapointed by Missionary Counsel and intrigue. I wish our father the President but knew these
people as well as we do. We would not wish you to think because we do not the missionaries
that we do not wish to encourage among our people the habits of civilized life—that we do not
wish our youths to be educated and brought up as white people. As a people, that we are
disposed to the reverse of this, we will present to you as an instance of it our Cherished
institution in Kentucky The Choctaw Academy. Musholatubby was the founder of that Academy,
and sent his sons there to be educated.
Friend and Brother
In consequence of the iniquitous proceedings of the Halfbreed Chiefs and their party a
great many of the people from most every Section of the Country have met together and joined
in making you this communication. They have at the same time appointed a General Council, to
take place on the 16th of April, where every man is to attend with Guns and deadly weapons, we
are determined to die, or have justice done us and never to consent or agree to any treaty that is
made in the dark by designing and avaricious men. Such as Leflore and Folsom.
We have the honour of subscribing ourselves your friends and brothers.
Mingo Mushulatubby
Mingo Nittukaichee
Mingo Eyarhokatubby
General Talking Warrior
Captain J. Kincaid
[Thirty additional signatures follow.]
We Do Certify that the above is a true Interpretation
John Pitchlynn
M. Mackey, US [Interpreters]

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