On May 26, 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal Act.
The controversial act was strongly supported by southern states. Georgia, the largest state at that time in the south, was involved in a litigious land dispute with the Cherokee Nation. President Jackson believed removal would resolve this dispute and others.
Though most European Americans favored the passage of the Act, there was significant opposition. Among others who spoke out against the legislation in Congress were Congressman Davy Crockett of Tennessee and Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen of New Jersey. A future President, Abraham Lincoln, also opposed the Indian Removal Act. Unfortunately, after a bitter debate in Congress the Act was passed.
The Removal Act was, in fact, supposed to be voluntary. In practice, however, it was not. Great pressure was put on Native American leaders to sign removal treaties. When Jackson was re-elected by a landslide in 1832 many native American leaders who had previously resisted removal began to reconsider their positions. The tribes affected by the Act included the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole.
The first removal treaty that was signed after the Removal Act was passed was the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek by the Choctaws in Mississippi on September 27, 1830. The Choctaws surrendered their land east of the Mississippi river in exchange for payment and land in the West.
A Choctaw Chief, either Thomas Harkins or Nitikechi, was quoted in the Arkansas Gazette at the time as saying their removal was a "trail of tears and death."
It was not until 1835 when the Treaty of New Echota was signed that the Cherokee began their Trail of Tears.
Other tribes did not leave peacefully, including the Seminoles in Florida. The Second Seminole War lasted from 1835 to 1842 and resulted in their forced removal.
Please read below Jack's Sage of Bucksnort – “THE TRAIL WHERE THEY CRIED”