I was deeply horrified while reading Chapter 7 of PHUS. Zinn discusses the process of Indian removal for white occupancy in the 1800s. The main reason for this removal was to expand white American territory to allow more farming, new cities, and an overall larger United States. This was done with very little concern for human life and deep-rooted culture. Jefferson proposed that they would abandon hunting and many of their traditions, and this would lead them to “civilization”. The Indian tribes were seen as obstacles that needed to be removed in order to expand looking for money and success. There was extensive bribery, manipulation, and force used to move the tribes off of their own land. I thought a very powerful portion of the chapter was the description of what removal meant to the Indians. They had a very deep bond with the land and a spiritual connection with their ancestors who had been buried there. They also wanted the white Americans to treat them as they would want to be treated, and to remember that they faced very similar circumstances when they faced persecution in Europe which led them to the New World. However, none of their pleas or proposed treaties never fully accepted.
I was very surprised to learn about the horrific actions done by Andrew Jackson because I had learned about him as the hero of the War of 1812 and the President of the United States. He is rarely described as a slaveholder and “exterminator of Indians” (130). He initiated the killings of thousands, burnings of villages, and horrible treatment of Indian peoples before and during his presidency. As soon as Jackson became President, laws were made that gave states rule over Indians in their territories, so they were subject to militia and state laws without a right to vote or testify in court. Indians were not “forced” to leave but people made it very difficult to want to stay on that land. I think that the history of indigenous peoples in the colonial period of America and post independence of America has gone unspoken and unknown throughout history and it is important that these truths be told.
I agree with you in that I always learned about Andrew Jackson as someone who expanded the voting pool by allowing poor whites to vote. He was always acclaimed for this and said he was a champion of the poor whites. Additionally I learned about the trail of tears in school but never really about all the treaties that led up to it and the different ways the states forced the Indians out.
Similarly to you, I never learned of the immense negative ramifications Andrew Jackson had on Native Americans until reading Zinn’s chapter “As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs.” It is very disturbing that Jackson treated Native Americans as biologically inferior and as an obstacle to the progress of America’s capitalist society and future economic growth. I agree that the history of Native American’s discussed within this chapter should be more widely known as Native Americans still deal with the negative effects of Jackson’s Indian Removal Act in the United States.