In the 1830s the United States was beginning to expand west of the Mississippi. There was, however, usable land east of the River. It was inhabited by the Native Americans and it was very valuable.
In 1830 and act called the "Indian Removal Act" was passed. It allowed the federal government to remove the Native Americans from their lands and relocate them to areas in and around present day Oklahoma. They would be paid to move.
Many Native Americans agreed to the act, accepted compensation, and moved. Others, however, were very reluctant to leave their long-time homes. Some of those that did not want to move included the Cherokee, the Sauk and Fox, and the Seminole.
The people of the Cherokee Nation refused to leave their homes. They argued that in the 1790s they had been recognized by the federal government as a nation of their own with their own laws. The Cherokee sued the Georgia's government for refusing to recognize their importance as a nation.
The case was eventually taken to the Supreme Court who ruled that the Native Americans were protected by the Constitution and the federal government. President Jackson, however, refused to honor the ruling. He supported the state of Georgia in the case.
A few Cherokee signed a treaty in 1835. This treaty allowed the government to take their land. However, most of the Cherokee population of 17,000 refused to move. They wrote a letter to the government. It, however, did not soften the President. The letter read:
"We are aware that some persons suppose it will be for our advantage to move beyond the Mississippi…Our people universally think otherwise…We wish to remain on the land of our fathers."
In 1838 7,000 troops, led by General Winfield Scott, were sent to remove the Cherokee from their lands. He threatened to use force to move them, "Chiefs, head men, and warriors-Will you then, by resistance, compel