A Tragic Chapter In American History: The Trail Of Tears

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In the autumn of 1838, the U.S. government, now under Van Buren, commanded the vigorous removal of the Cherokees from Georgia to the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. Of the 18,000 that began the 1,000 miles, 116-day trek, 4,000 perished on the way of illness, cold, starvation, and depletion. For this reason, the journey is known as the Trail of Tears. Regardless of who was responsible, however, the circumstances of suffering and death remain a tragic chapter in American history. In all, between 1831 and 1839 about 46,000 Indian people were relocated across the Mississippi River.
This civilization policy required a total change of the spiritual and cultural world of the Cherokees. They built schools, improved written laws, and abolished clan vengeance. Cherokee women grew involved in spinning and weaving while the men raised livestock and planted crops. Some Cherokee even built columned plantation houses and bought slaves. John C. Calhoun, the secretary of war, writes to Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Representatives on January 15, 1820, " 'The Cherokees exhibit a more favorable appearance than any other tribe of Indians. They are already established two flourishing schools among them. '" By choosing the white culture, the Cherokees hope to gain white respect. Acculturation was also a protective mechanism to prevent further loss of land and destruction of native culture. Even more, settled Cherokees
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Linking these achievements, a Cherokee named Sequoyah developed a syllabary in 1820 that enabled the Cherokees to read and write in their language. They also increased the number of written laws and established a bicameral legislature. By 1827, the Cherokees had also established a supreme court and a constitution very similar to those of the United States. Their educated men even attended the American Board 's seminary in Cornwall, Connecticut, and could read Latin and Greek as well as understand the white man 's philosophy, history, theology, and

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