Trail Of Tears Essay, Research Paper
There have been many movies and television shows about the relationships and conflicts between whites and natives and the idea that the natives caused all the problems and the whites were innocent victims in history. Is this how it really or was it the other way around? Unfortunately it was the white man that settled in America, where the natives where already living, and stole their land as they kept moving westward in the centuries following settlement in this country. How did this all come about?
In 1609, the first permanent settlement was formed at Jamestown, Virginia. In the years to follow other settlements were also formed. When white’s first arrived in America the natives helped them adapt to an uncivilized way of life by teaching them how to farm such crops as corn, beans, pumpkins, and potatoes. In addition to this the natives were our trading partners. We would trade pots, blankets, metal arrowheads, and alcohol for furs.(Brinkley, p.43) Europeans depended on the natives in order to make the settlements in the new world profitable. Eventually these settlements were not only trading posts but actual settlements with women and children. This is when everything started to change.
As more and more whites moved to the new world, more and more land was needed to support them. In Virginia, Sir William Berkeley set up a treaty with the natives that installed boundaries in the territory. When these boundaries were broken by whites the natives attacked. Nathaniel Bacon worked up a militia and attacked the natives against Berkeley?s orders.(Brinkley,p.35) This little skirmish is known as Bacon?s Rebellion and it set the tone for relations between the whites and the natives. Whites wanted to keep moving westward into the natives land and they would break agreements to do so.
In addition to this, the whites brought many germs that the natives did not have immunities to. These germs caused many epidemics that nearly wiped out whole tribes and severely depleted others. In New England, the survivors of these lands often sold their land to the English and even assimilated into their culture by converting to Christianity and adopting the Puritan laws of New England.(Brinley,p.43)
However, as the English and others settled America conflicts continued to arise. In 1637, the English wiped out almost the hole Pequot tribe over trading rights with the Dutch in New Netherland. This episode is known as the Pequot War.(Brinkely,p.44) The whites kept coming and moving west and the natives kept giving up land.
In 1675, King Philip and his tribe waged a war against the English because of English encroachment onto their land. This bloody war lasted three long years. Armed natives killed as many as 1000 whites. The English turned to the Mohawk tribe for help. The Mohawks killed King Philip and the English eventually won the war.(Brinkley,p.44)
During the French and Indian War, the tension between the English and natives really showed. Nearly all of the North American tribes sided and fought with the French against the English. The only tribe to aid the English was the Iroquois. The Iroquois were hesitant to fight the French for fear of them. The English saw this as cowardly and now thought of the natives as enemies. Even the Iroquois were not allies because of their unwillingness to fight.(Brinkley,p.100)
In the years that followed, the American Revolution started. The natives this time allied themselves with the British. They favored the British because in the past, it was the British that set the boundaries but it was the settlers that broke the boundaries and caused the problems. Therefore, the natives fought against the Patriots. The Cherokee led continuos uprisings and attacks in Virginia and South Carolina. After the Patriots won the war, they slaughtered 96 Delaware Indians for the attack on a white family. This tribe however was composed of Christian pacifists. It is believed that they were slain for spite.(Brinkley,p.141)
It didn?t take long for Americans and the British to go to war again. In the War of 1812, The natives took sides with the British again. Indians took Ft. Dearborn from the Americans and Tecumseh, an Indian, was even a Brigadier General in the British army. The Creeks attacked in the South but Andrew Jackson led an army seeking revenge against the tribe and slaughtered warriors, women and children. This act of revenge made Jackson a major general in the United States Army. It also helped build him a reputation as an Indian hater.(Brinkley,p.210,212)
In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected to the Presidency. He adopted a policy of Indian removal for the five ?civilized? tribes of the South. These tribes include the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. They were considered ?civilized? because they had agricultural rather than nomadic societies. They also had some sort of written government. Jackson?s plan of removal traded the tribes current land for new land in what is now Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation refused to leave and Jackson sent 7,000 troops to Georgia and escorted the tribe at bayonet point to their new land. Along the way thousands of Cherokee died of small pox and starvation.(Brinkley,p.249-250) This event is known as the Trail of Tears and was one of the grossest displays exploitation that our country has ever seen.
Now the question comes up again – Did the natives start the trouble with white men or was it the other way around? Throughout the history of our country Indians gave up their land to whites and move westward until the time whites actually forced them there against their will. The coexistence of whites and Indians started peacefully but soon they grew into a relationship in which whites would not tolerate any uprising at all. If there was an uprising, the whites would suppress it and take the natives land as a result, just as the whites did in 1774 after Lord Dunmore?s War. The Shawnee revolted and lost and therefore forced off their land.(Brinkley,p.140) In summary the whites settling in the new world had an insatiable thirst for more land and would not let anything stop them and it got worse as time went on. If anything, the natives were the innocent victims and the whites were the evil, greedy devils.