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President Andrew Jackson's Message to Congress "On Indian Removal"

Updated: May 1, 2020

Image: Andrew Jackson(March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was an American soldier and statesman who served as the seventh president of the United States from 1829 to 1837. Before being elected to the presidency,Jackson gained fame as a general in the United States Army and served in both houses of the U.S. Congress.

"It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadilypursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements isapproaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made fortheir removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the

remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages. The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, andto the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least

of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of theGeneral and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized populationin large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory

between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it willincalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repelfuture invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part ofAlabama of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and

power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them fromthe power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rudeinstitutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause themgradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to castoff their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages toour extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms embellished with all the

improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happypeople, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization and religion?

The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milderprocess. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilatedor have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling

to the westward, and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the Southand West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to land where theirexistence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual. Doubtless it will be painful to leave the

graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are nowdoing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthlyobjects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distantregions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from everything, animate and inanimate,

with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that ourcountry affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind,developing the power and facilities of man in their highest perfection. These remove hundreds andalmost thousands of miles at their own expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and supportthemselves at their new homes from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this Government

when, by events which it cannot control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home topurchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, andsupport him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embracethe opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians wereextended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled,civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothersand children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only

liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their

population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement."

~December 6, 1830; Records, United States

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