Trail of Tears: The Forced Migration of the Cherokee Nation - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1184 Words
Date:  2023-01-16


The Cherokee "Trail of Tears" refers to a historical event that involved the migration of the Cherokee nation in the early 19th century. The community was moving from the east of River Mississippi to a new location that they settled at following the disputes in their original area. The community was being forced to migrate following the Indian removal policy of the then US President Andrew Jackson from 1838 to 1839 (Burnett, 1839). This migration was termed as the "Trail of Tears" following the devastating effects that the Cherokees faced during their migration. For example, it was established that the immigrants faced hunger, diseases, and exhaustion, that resulted in about 4000 to 15000 deaths of the Cherokees (Burnett, 1839). These devastating effects experienced by the community following the migration is seen as the cause of the violent conflicts between the Indians and the other communities in the US and hence the succeeding treaties that compelled the tribes to cede the vast areas to the US government. Therefore, this research seeks to evaluate the impact of the migration and the treaties that resulted from the migration on the social as well as economic activities. The "Trail of Tears" represents one of the most significant historical developments of the United States in the 19th century that has impacted on the rule and governance of the US and the policies regarding immigrants.

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The removal of the Cherokee Indians was a product of the demand for arable land that took place during the rampant growth of cotton in South East, the discovery of gold in Cherokee land, and the racial prejudice of the White southerners against the American Indians. By the 19th century, the settlers of the European ancestry started invading the Cherokee territory that they had stayed for hundreds of years (Ehle, 2011). Consequently, the colonial government started demanding the community to cede their territory. Besides, the officials in the US started to urge the community to abandon their traditions like hunting and instead live worship, and farm like the rest of the Christian Americans. Although some Cherokees embraced the civilization program, many resisted hence depicting a conflict with the government. Generals like Andrew Jackson, who were prominent Southerners encouraged the US government to cease any negotiations with Indian tribes regarding sovereignty which he called "absurdity." Such developments made the federal government extinguish the Indian land title and hence remove the Cherokees from the state.

The removal of the Cherokee Indians from their dwelling places depicted massive consequences in social, moral, and economic perspectives to the Cherokee community and the American society alike. This led to the debate regarding the native removal regarding the demographics. For example, it has been established that the extent of the loss of lives of the Cherokee immigrants impacted o the ability of people to maintain their community structures like kin relationships and clan among others. The loss of life of a large number of family members through the elapse of the epidemic diseases and the rigor significantly disrupted the communities. There was also a massive challenge of the community to adapt to the new environments as evident in various studies like (Burnett, 1839). Therefore, the analysis of the consequences shows the Indian victims of the federal policy to have been a decision against humanity and a base of segregation in the United States. Some of the decisions may have been a basis from the traditions that existed in American society. However, the social and economic changes that impacted on the entire country meant that as tribes adapted to the new kinds of the economic system, changes had to take place. Therefore, some of the community members took decisions against their fellow dwellers as they tried to adapt to the new system which also necessitated governance changes.

The "Trail of Tears" had lasting effects besides the short-term consequences which have impacted on the modern American society. It should be noted that the Cherokees who adapted the civilization program were able to live peacefully with other settlers from Europe hence adopted a culture of co-existence. However, the ones who did not abide with the rules made by the government led to abiding lack of trust between the tribes in the US which has led to massive conflicts and tensions in the country to date (Burnett, 1839). The subsequent laws like the Dawes Act that had resulted in a massive acquisition of native lands led the European speculators to have a feeling of alienation, which is a common feeling to date. In this regard, the Trail of Tears facilitated the decline in the US native population as shown in the endurances of starvation, sickness, and hypothermia. The thousands of deaths of the native community are still felt by the current population. For example, research has demonstrated that most modern Cherokees live in fear that the Indian Removal Act of 1830 can be enforced again hence leading to the removal of their current places of residence. This fear has impacted on the family struggles in the South that impacts on the overall upbringing.

The analysis demonstrates that the Indian removal in the 19th century and other subsequent decisions and acts that were adopted in the US had both short-term and long-term effects in society. Although the migration does not necessarily have the feeling to every modern American regarding the way they feel each day, it has significantly affected the way people live and relate with each other. Therefore, the Trail of Tears helped shape the country that has a lot of people in modern life and especially life in the Southern region. It has helped create a significant history. The research also impacted significantly on my historical thinking regarding the existence of modern society. For example, I was able to understand why modern American society embraces a lot of different people including immigrants from all corners of the world.


The Cherokee migration has impacted on how the nation shares its heritage which is a major historical development since the independence of the country. Although some of the events may not have been documented, the oral stories are still common in the country. However, some families have been forced to hide their culture with fear that such a policy can be undertaken by current governments hence leading to their removal again. Therefore, a historian would adopt a historical analysis of major events in a chronological manner to understand the underlying events in the country. A historian may need to study how the effects of Cherokee migration may have impacted on the modern migration policies and the positive and negative consequences of such decisions. In this regard, it is important for American historians to understand the Trail of Tears and its social impact to understand the history of American society integration.


A letter from President Andrew Jackson to the Cherokee Nation about the benefits of voluntary removal, March 16, 1835. Retrieved from:

Burnett, J. (1839). Two accounts of life on the Trail of Tears. Retrieved from:

Ehle, J. (2011). Trail of tears: The rise and fall of the Cherokee nation. New York: Anchor Books.

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Trail of Tears: The Forced Migration of the Cherokee Nation - Essay Sample. (2023, Jan 16). Retrieved from

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