Trail of Tears

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The Trail of Tears is name given to a series of forced removals of Amerindians from the Southeastern United States to an area west of the Mississippi River. The forced relocations were carried out by various government authorities following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The relocated suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route, and more than four thousand died before reaching their various destinations. The phrase "Trail of Tears" originated from a description of the removal of the Cherokees in 1838.

Less politically correct views on this include the Amerindian side sharing a portion of the blame and that the Cherokees "not only survived but endured. As Jackson predicted, they escaped the fate of many extinct eastern tribes. Cherokees today have their tribal identity, a living language, and at least three governmental bodies to provide for their needs. Would that the Yemassee, Mohegans, Pequots, Delawares, Narragansetts, and other such tribes could say the same."[1]

Democratic peace theory

The forced removal of the Cherokees has sometimes been argued to be an example of a violation of the democratic peace theory, since military means were used to enforce the involuntary removal and since the Cherokee Nation—East and Cherokee Nation—West had implemented at least formally democratic constitutions in 1827 and 1833.

On the other hand, there was no fighting. The Cherokees became increasingly repressive against dissidents and those advocating a voluntary removal were in the end beaten and murdered. Both the United States and the Cherokees allowed slavery.[2]


A less often mentioned aspect is that "In the South, Indians bought and sold large numbers of slaves, and many took their human property with them when they marched West over the “trail of tears.""[3]

See also

External links


  1. Indian Removal Act
  2. Spencer R. Weart. Never at War. Yale University Press. 1998.
  3. Slavery in the New World