The Cherokees had lived in the interior southeast, for hundreds of years in the nineteenth century. But in the early eighteenth century setters from the European ancestry started moving into the Cherokees territory. From then on the colonial governments in the area began demanding that the Cherokees give up their territory. By the end of the Revolutionary War, the Cherokees had surrendered more than half of their original territory to the state and federal government.
In the late 1780’s the US began urging the Cherokees to stop hunting and their traditional ways of life and to instead learn about how to live, farm, and worship like Christian Americans. Despite everything the white people in Georgia and other southern states that abutted the Cherokee Nation refused to accept the Cherokee people as social equals and urged their political representatives to take the Cherokees land. The purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 gave Thomas Jefferson the chance to relocate the eastern tribes beyond the Mississippi River.
The War of 1812, with help from General Andrew Jackson help the United States to end what he called the “absurdity” of negotiating with the Indians tribes. From that point forward the Georgia politicians increasingly raised the pressure on the federal government to fulfill the Compact of 1802. In the agreement the federal government had to extinguish the Indian land title and remove the Cherokees from the states. The Cherokee government maintained that they constituted a sovereign nation independent of the American state and federal government. The Treaty of
Hopewell in 1785 established borders between the United States and the Cherokee Nation offered the Cherokees the right to send a “deputy” to Congress, and made American settlers in Cherokee territory subject to Cherokee law. With help from John Ross they helped protect the national territory. In 1825 the Cherokees capital was established, near present day Calhoun Georgia. The Cherokee National Council advised the United States that it would refuse future cession request and enacted a law prohibiting the sale of national land upon penalty of death.
In 1827 the Cherokees adopted a written constitution, an act further removed by Georgia. But between the years of 1827 and 1831 the Georgia legislature extended the state’s jurisdiction over the Cherokee territory, passed laws purporting to abolish the Cherokees’ laws and government, and set in motion a process to seize the Cherokees’ lands, divide it into parcels, and other offer some to the lottery to the white Georgians. Andrew Jackson was declared president in 1828 immediately declaring the removal of eastern tribes. In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act which authorized the president to negotiate removal treaties.
In 1831 combined army, militia, and other volunteer forces began to move the tribes along one of several routes to two forts located in Indian Territory; Fort Gibson and Fort Townson. The last tribe to be moved was the Cherokees in 1838. During this move some tribes accepted bribes of money and or land; whole others didn’t and were forced under the threat of death. During the move there were several weigh states along the route, and from bad planning or lack of concern to malfeasant actions the Indians were not allowed or given access to proper food, medical supplies, warm clothing, nor were allowed to rest for any significant period of time.
This resulted in death of many of the tribal members. The Native Americans began to cal the trail, the “Trail where they Weeped/ Cried” and it was later changed to “The Trail of Tears” by modern translation. There were approximately eleven trails that took different tribes to different locations. They ranged from 200 to 900 miles and went through around fourteen states. There was an estimated 4,000 to 15,000 Cherokees deaths during these trails.