The US government was set up by the promulgation of its constitution in 1878, however, prior to that, the individual states were claiming ownership of the land west of their border. In the year 1785, The treaty of Hopewell was signed and it ultimately defined the boundaries of the Cherokees. The Cherokees were made to believe that they had been placed under permanent ownership of this territory which they believed that they already owned as their ancestral land and would enjoy the protection from the US government. East of Mississippi, white occupancy was limited to by vast Indian tenure of northeastern Georgia. This was had been extended to North Carolina , South Tennessee and eastern Alabama. A total of twenty five million acre domain had been habited by over 60,000 Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks and the Chickasaws. However, this vast ownership of land by the Cherokees did not last for long until President Jackson’s administration sought to correct this ‘anomaly’ by removing all the tribes beyond the reach of the white settlements in west of Mississippi through his Indian Removal policies. In this paper, I will contrast and compare the treaty of 1785 and the Act of 1830 and how president Jackson depicted the Cherokees and other uncivilized Tribes.
The Cherokees had already been living in the innermost parts in the Southwest, including North Georgia for many centuries. By the early 18th century, Settlers of European ancestry began to slowly encroach on the Cherokees territory and later demanded that they cede their territory. Surprisingly, by the period between (1775-1783) the Cherokees had been made to abandon more than half of their original ancestry land that they owned. They were put under much pressure to abandon hunting and their various traditional ways of life so as to pave way for civilization. They were urged to learn how to live, farm and worship like the more civilized Christian America Yeomen. They embraced this civilization. They established a court system and henceforth abandoned the law of blood revenge and even adopted a republican system of government. The Cherokees developed their own type of syllabary which enabled them to read, write, publish written documents in the their own words and most importantly to record their laws. Unfortunately , despite these efforts by the Cherokees, most of the Southern states and the white people in Georgia completely refused to accept the Cherokee nation as their social equals and went further to urge their political leaders to seize the Cherokee’s land. The Whites and the southerners contemplated on an idea President Jefferson had for so many years on relocating all the eastern tribes on the land far beyond the Mississippi River.
This idea was pushed further by the likes of President Andrew Jackson who called on the state to stop what he referred to as the ‘absurdity of negotiating with the Indian tribes’ he increasingly raised pressure on the legislature of the federal government to abolish the Indian Land title and to completely remove them from the state. Jackson argued that the Cherokees the state required land so as to open up for civilization in those areas. He claimed that the twelve million white settlers who were already civilized should replace a few thousands of uncivilized savages. This move to remove the Indians from their ancestral habitat was unjustified since president Jackson ignored the fact these tribes had already put in a lot of effort in becoming civilized. They had already started building churches and schools on their land and becoming skilled in an array of artistic ways of the civilized white people. Some of them had already started to intermarry and had stopped living in the forests and started living in white men's houses. Among their defenders in the land policy approached president Jackson and explained to him that it was okay to take the land of savages as he put it but they defended themselves that they were no longer savages but the rightful owners of who were very determined top incorporate civilization in their lives. However the state of Georgia completely refused to honor or recognize special quality or efforts by the Cherokees.
President Jackson desire to wipe out all the Cherokees and other similar tribes is referred to as the Jacksonian Justice by Mary E Young in her article; the Indian removal and Land Allotment. He agreed to sign the Removal Act of 1830 that authorized him to negotiate for the removal of the Cherokees who were living in the southern States and their relocation to the territory beyond the west of the Mississippi river. However, this was faced with outrageous resistance by the Cherokee government. The Cherokee leaders whom were now more learned and civilized sought for legal measures to protect their land. They pointed out at the Treaty of Hopewell (1785)which was signed between the Cherokee people and the US representatives. The signed treaty provided the following terms of agreement.
Indians to bring back prisoners who were U.S citizens or their allies
Cherokees to acknowledge the protection provided by the US
No citizen of the US shall for any reason settle on the Indian land.
Peace and friendship perpetual.
The Cherokees leaders argued that the said treaty had abolished the borders between the US and the Cherokees Nation and therefore the Cherokees were to be treated as equals with the right to send a “deputy” to the congress. They further said that the treaty also subjected the American settlers in The Cherokees territorial boundary subject to the Cherokees law.
There exists numerous contrasts and comparisons between the 1785 treaty of Hopewell and the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The two legal documents were all made due to individuals in the US representative side having special interest in the land of the Native Americans. President Andrew Jackson and the southerners in general had the desire of sending away the Cherokees away so that they can capture their land and use it in their civilization process. The treaty of Hopewell was signed in the Hopewell plantation which was a plantation owned by the US representatives who signed this treaty with the Cherokees people. They led to the division of the Cherokees people, so wanted to resist the Act while others had already given in to the pressure and the use of force from President Jackson and were of the idea of moving to the west beyond the Mississippi river.
The removal of the Native Americans by president Jackson regime resulted in numerous deaths of Cherokees and is usually to referred to as the Trail of Tears. His government had underpinned the sovereign power and rights of the Cherokees over their land. Although the Indian removal Act was intended to be a voluntary exercise, force was extensively used and many Cherokees lost their lives. President Jackson further stated that the government would offer no protection to the Native Americans from the state law. This was a major setback to the Natives America and ultimately went against the 1785 treaty of Hopewell.
Mary E. Young, "Indian Removal and Land Allotment: The Civilized Tribes and
JacksonianJustice," The American Historical Review, Vol. 64, No. 1 (1958) 31-34
G. E. Condra, "Opening of the Indian Territory," Bulletin of the American
Geographical Society, Vol. 39, No. 6 (1907), 321-340.