Citizens Essay, Research Paper
The Bill of Rights contains all of the basic rights endowed to all American citizens. For the purpose of our argument we will consider the Indians of the 19th century as American citizens. After reviewing the Bill of Rights it became extremely apparent that as American citizens many Indians civil rights were not only withheld, but also flat out denied and violated. Under the direction of anti-Indian president Andrew Jackson, the Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and within five years the Treaty of New Echota was formed and thus began the saddest series of events, which became known as the Trail of Tears. These events and more added to the delinquency of the U.S. court system, which stunted the rise of Indian equality. Through twisted interpretations the Supreme Court made several rulings that resulted in the massacring and relocation of thousands of Indians.
When Congress passed the I.R.A., many Americans opposed, but it passed anyway. Once it passed Pres Jackson’s desk he quickly signed the bill into a law. The Cherokee, obviously upset, attempted to take legal action which lead to Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia. The Indians were denied their 6th amendment rights by the court. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to try the case which is a clear violation of the 6th amendment; “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the process of the law;” After a year in 1832 the Supreme Court ruled on the same issue in the case of Worchester vs. Georgia. In that case, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled not only that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign, but also that previous removal laws were unconstitutional. He also said that the Cherokees had to agree to a removal treaty that would be ratified by the Congress.
In 1835 Major Ridge, who advocated removal, lead a small percent of Cherokee from North Georgia to Virginia. Ridge, along with 500 of the 17,000 Cherokee in North Georgia signed the Treaty of New Echota. This gave Pres Jackson the legal documentation he needed to begin unconstitutionally removing American citizens known as Native-Americans. The Fourth amendment protects citizens from governmental misuse of power or due process of law. “The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizers, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” Clearly relocating people is quite unconstitutional. Not only was this relocation inhumane, but it showed a chilling lack of reverence similar to that of Nazi Germany. Any type of mass relocation is against everything that the Bill of Rights empowers. For those that argue the citizens signed a treaty, they are meet with two facts. The first fact is that nowhere in the treaty were death marches at gunpoint mentioned nor slum forts housing. The second fact is that a mere 3.4% of the Cherokee Nation attended the signing. Fully represented or not the Indians were treated with utter and total disregard for the law. The U.S. Government was well aware that Ridge did not represent the majority of the Cherokee Nation but the bill passed anyway by a single vote. Due to the fact that Chief Major Ridge and son, John Ridge, did not represent the entire Cherokee Nation the tribe murdered them. The signing of this treaty has sadly attained the moniker of the death treaty and unfortunately it held true to its name.
In 1838, mostly lead by the Georgia Guard, the U.S. began conveyances which lead from Georgia to Oklahoma. All men, women, and children were forced to march at gunpoint by unscrupulous men whose only goals were to maximize profits along the way. These men exemplified this by giving rotten food and poor provisions to the Indians. Many of which walked without shoes, or much clothing, and during the long grueling walk many of the elders and young children died. The dead had to be carried until they reached “allotted stops” at which 1/3 of the participants of this walk were buried along the way. At the end of the 8th amendment there is a line they protects citizens from excessive abuse and ill treatment. “nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.” All would agree that those lost along the way to Oklahoma were victims of unlawful acts. Those that survived till the forts were met with only more torture through lack of human necessities like food, rest, safety, and sense of self and family.
The evidence shown above proves that the Indians were denied the right to the judicial system. Also, after the treaty of New Echota the most tragic days of Indian history took place. The Cherokee were striped of religious beliefs, ways of life, and their right to place. As they were marched away like slaves, many would never see family again and many would not survive the trip. This grave mistreatment of people, American citizens or not, is exactly what the U.S. is against and is fighting back against to this day. Over a century later some land was returned but it was to little to late, because the damage to the Indian generations to come had taken its downward spiraling grip.