Indian Land Cessions in the American Southeast

Andrew Jackson Inauguration - 1829

Andrew Jackson, 
Seventh President of the United States, 1829-1837

In His Own Words
Extracts From His Addresses to Congress

First Annual Message
Second Annual Message
Third Annual Message
Forth Annual Message
Fifth Annual Message
Sixth Annual Message
Seventh Annual Message
Eighth Annual Message


    “In 1829, Andrew Jackson, who was called Sharp Knife by the Indians, took office as President of the United States. During his frontier career, Sharp Knife and his soldiers had slain thousands of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, but these southern Indians were still numerous and clung stubbornly to their tribal lands, which had been assigned them forever by white men’s treaties. In Sharp Knife’s first message to his Congress, he recommended that all these Indians be removed westward beyond the Mississippi. ‘I suggest the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi . . . to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes, as long as they shall occupy it.’

    “Although enactment of such a law would only add to the long list of broken promises made to the eastern Indians, Sharp Knife was convinced that Indians and whites could not live together in peace and that his plan would make possible a final promise which never would be broken again. On May 28, 1830, Sharp Knife’s recommendations became law.

    Andrew Jackson, or as he is more affectionately known, “Old Hickory,” was born in Waxhaws area near the border between North and South Carolina. He was the of son Scotch-Irish parents.

    As a young man, he served as prosecuting officer for the Superior Court in Nashville, Tennessee, (then part of the Western District of North Carolina). After Tennessee achieved statehood in 1796, he served as congressman and then U.S. senator for one session, then six years as a judge on the Tennessee Superior Court. He retired from the bench in 1804 and took up cotton growing and thoroughbred horses on his plantation near Nashville.

    In 1802, Jackson was elected Major General of the Tennessee militia. In 1812, Tennessee Governor Willie Blount gave him the rank of Major General of U.S. forces. In 1814, after the Creek campaign, he was promoted to Major General in the regular army. He emerged a national hero from the War of 1812, primarily because of his absolute defeat of the British at the Battle of New Orleans (8 Jan 1815). We see Jackson as the first signatory  on the 9 Aug 1814 Treaty with the Creeks and on the 8 Jul 1817 Treaty with the Cherokee. He was involved in carrying out War Department orders in removing intruders from Indian lands. Jackson led troops during the First Seminole War (1817-1818).

    Jackson was praised as a symbol of the common man, a frontier hero and a great military leader, yet he was hated by many, and feared by most who opposed him. He was called “tough as hickory” yet some detractors called him “murderer.”†† - This they claimed, for causing the execution of six militia men during the Creek campaign.

    During the First Seminole War, two men,‡‡ one a Scottish trader among the Indians, were thought to be involved with the Seminole. They were captured and General Jackson put them on trial before a court martial. Both were sentenced to death. The verdict was later reduced on one of the men. Jackson had both men executed by hanging.

    When Jackson was inaugurated President on 4 Mar 1829, he inherited the federal policy of Indian Removal. Before 1829, the federal government had concluded at least one hundred forty six treaties with the Indians. Almost all of the treaties included cessions. Most were made with the eastern woodland people and mostly involved native homelands east of the Mississippi. Jackson had been a great supporter of Indian Removal so it was only natural that he would continue the policy in earnest during his administration.

    There is no doubt that Jackson was determined, unforgiving, uncompromising, and strongly opinionated. It was in his administration that the final treaties were put in place to remove the eastern Indians to west of the Mississippi River. He proved to be the right man for the job at hand, however, one can seriously question the righteousness of the job itself.

    We present here excerpts from Jackson’s annual messages to Congress (State of the Union addresses). True, these messages were strictly for public consumption. Still, they will take you through the closing years for eastern woodlands native peoples on their native lands. So, without further ado, Mr. President, to the podium please:

1st Annual Message
December 8, 1829

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

    ... Georgia became a member of the Confederacy which eventuated in our Federal Union as a sovereign State, always asserting her claim to certain limits, which, having been originally defined in her colonial charter and subsequently recognized in the treaty of peace, she has ever since continued to enjoy, except as they have been circumscribed by her own voluntary transfer of a portion of her territory to the United States in the articles of cession of 1802. Alabama was admitted into the Union on the same footing with the original States, with boundaries which were prescribed by Congress.

    There is no constitutional, conventional, or legal provision which allows them less power over the Indians within their borders than is possessed by Maine or New York. Would the people of Maine permit the Penobscot tribe to erect an independent government within their State? And unless they did would it not be the duty of the General Government to support them in resisting such a measure? Would the people of New York permit each remnant of the six Nations within her borders to declare itself an independent people under the protection of the United States? Could the Indians establish a separate republic on each of their reservations in Ohio? And if they were so disposed would it be the duty of this Government to protect them in the attempt? If the principle involved in the obvious answer to these questions be abandoned, it will follow that the objects of this Government are reversed, and that it has become a part of its duty to aid in destroying the States which it was established to protect.

    Actuated by this view of the subject, I informed the Indians inhabiting parts of Georgia and Alabama that their attempt to establish an independent government would not be countenanced by the Executive of the United States, and advised them to emigrate beyond the Mississippi or submit to the laws of those States.

    Our conduct toward these people is deeply interesting to our national character. Their present condition, contrasted with what they once were, makes a most powerful appeal to our sympathies. Our ancestors found them the uncontrolled possessors of these vast regions. By persuasion and force they have been made to retire from river to river and from mountain to mountain, until some of the tribes have become extinct and others have left but remnants to preserve for a while their once terrible names. Surrounded by the whites with their arts of civilization, which by destroying the resources of the savage doom him to weakness and decay, the fate of the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware is fast over-taking the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Creek. That this fate surely awaits them if they remain within the limits of the States does not admit of a doubt. Humanity and national honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity. It is too late to inquire whether it was just in the United States to include them and their territory within the bounds of new States, whose limits they could control. That step can not be retraced. A State can not be dismembered by Congress or restricted in the exercise of her constitutional power. But the people of those States and of every State, actuated by feelings of justice and a regard for our national honor, submit to you the interesting question whether something can not be done, consistently with the rights of the States, to preserve this much- injured race.

    As a means of effecting this end I suggest for your consideration the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi, and without the limits of any State or Territory now formed, to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes as long as they shall occupy it, each tribe having a distinct control over the portion designated for its use. There they may be secured in the enjoyment of governments of their own choice, subject to no other control from the United States than such as may be necessary to preserve peace on the frontier and between the several tribes. There the benevolent may endeavor to teach them the arts of civilization, and, by promoting union and harmony among them, to raise up an interesting commonwealth, destined to perpetuate the race and to attest the humanity and justice of this Government.

This emigration should be voluntary, for it would be as cruel as unjust to compel the aborigines to abandon the graves of their fathers and seek a home in a distant land. But they should be distinctly informed that if they remain within the limits of the States they must be subject to their laws. In return for their obedience as individuals they will without doubt be protected in the enjoyment of those possessions which they have improved by their industry. But it seems to me visionary to suppose that in this state of things claims can be allowed on tracts of country on which they have neither dwelt nor made improvements, merely because they have seen them from the mountain or passed them in the chase. Submitting to the laws of the States, and receiving, like other citizens, protection in their persons and property, they will ere long become merged in the mass of our population ...

2nd Annual Message
December 6, 1830

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

    ... It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly 30 years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision [
The Indian Removal Act of 1830] made for their 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, and to 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 the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in 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 will incalculably strengthen the SW frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama 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 from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community. These consequences, some of them so certain and the rest so probable, make the complete execution of the plan sanctioned by Congress at their last session an object of much solicitude.

    Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to reclaim them from their wandering habits and make them a happy, prosperous people. I have endeavored to impress upon them my own solemn convictions of the duties and powers of the General Government in relation to the State authorities. For the justice of the laws passed by the States within the scope of their reserved powers they are not responsible to this Government. As individuals we may entertain and express our opinions of their acts, but as a Government we have as little right to control them as we have to prescribe laws for other nations.

    With a full understanding of the subject, the Choctaw and the Chickasaw tribes have with great unanimity determined to avail themselves of the liberal offers presented by the act of Congress, and have agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi River. Treaties have been made with them, which in due season will be submitted for consideration. In negotiating these treaties they were made to understand their true condition, and they have preferred maintaining their independence in the Western forests to submitting to the laws of the States in which they now reside. These treaties, being probably the last which will ever be made with them, are characterized by great liberality on the part of the Government. They give the Indians a liberal sum in consideration of their removal, and comfortable subsistence on their arrival at their new homes. If it be their real interest to maintain a separate existence, they will there be at liberty to do so without the inconveniences and vexations to which they would unavoidably have been subject in Alabama and Mississippi.

    Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country, and Philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising means to avert it, but its progress has never for a moment been arrested, and one by one have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race and to tread on the graves of extinct nations excite melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another. In the monuments and fortifications of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the West, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated of has disappeared to make room for the existing savage tribes. Nor is there any thing in this which, upon a comprehensive view of the general interests of the human race, is to be regretted. Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our 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 happy people, 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 milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or 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 South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to a land where their existence 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 now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from every thing, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, developing the power and faculties of man in their highest perfection.

    These remove hundreds and almost thousands of miles at their own expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and support themselves at their new homes from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended 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 brothers and 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.

    In the consummation of a policy originating at an early period, and steadily pursued by every Administration within the present century -- so just to the States and so generous to the Indians -- the Executive feels it has a right to expect the cooperation of Congress and of all good and disinterested men. The States, moreover, have a right to demand it. It was substantially a part of the compact which made them members of our Confederacy. With Georgia there is an express contract; with the new States an implied one of equal obligation. Why, in authorizing Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama to form constitutions and become separate States, did Congress include within their limits extensive tracts of Indian lands, and, in some instances, powerful Indian tribes? Was it not understood by both parties that the power of the States was to be coextensive with their limits, and that with all convenient dispatch the General Government should extinguish the Indian title and remove every obstruction to the complete jurisdiction of the State governments over the soil? Probably not one of those States would have accepted a separate existence - certainly it would never have been granted by Congress -- had it been understood that they were to be confined for ever to those small portions of their nominal territory the Indian title to which had at the time been extinguished. It is, therefore, a duty which this Government owes to the new States to extinguish as soon as possible the Indian title to all lands which Congress themselves have included within their limits. When this is done the duties of the General Government in relation to the States and the Indians within their limits are at an end. The Indians may leave the State or not, as they choose. The purchase of their lands does not alter in the least their personal relations with the State government. No act of the General Government has ever been deemed necessary to give the States jurisdiction over the persons of the Indians. That they possess by virtue of their sovereign power within their own limits in as full a manner before as after the purchase of the Indian lands; nor can this Government add to or diminish it.

    May we not hope, therefore, that all good citizens, and none more zealously than those who think the Indians oppressed by subjection to the laws of the States, will unite in attempting to open the eyes of those children of the forest to their true condition, and by a speedy removal to relieve them from all the evils, real or imaginary, present or prospective, with which they may be supposed to be threatened. ...

3rd Annual Message
December 6, 1831

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

    ... The internal peace and security of our confederated States is the next principal object of the General Government. Time and experience have proved that the abode of the native Indian within their limits is dangerous to their peace and injurious to himself. In accordance with my recommendation at a former session of Congress, an appropriation of $500K was made to aid the voluntary removal of the various tribes beyond the limits of the States. At the last session I had the happiness to announce that the Chickasaws and Choctaws had accepted the generous offer of the Government and agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi River, by which the whole of the State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama will be freed from Indian occupancy and opened to a civilized population. The treaties with these tribes are in a course of execution, and their removal, it is hoped, will be completed in the course of 1832.

    At the request of the authorities of Georgia the registration of Cherokee Indians for emigration has been resumed, and it is confidently expected that half, if not two-third, of that tribe will follow the wise example of their more westerly brethren. Those who prefer remaining at their present homes will hereafter be governed by the laws of Georgia, as all her citizens are, and cease to be the objects of peculiar care on the part of the General Government.

    During the present year the attention of the Government has been particularly directed to those tribes in the powerful and growing State of Ohio, where considerable tracts of the finest lands were still occupied by the aboriginal proprietors. Treaties, either absolute or conditional, have been made extinguishing the whole Indian title to the reservations in that State, and the time is not distant, it is hoped, when Ohio will be no longer embarrassed with the Indian population. The same measures will be extended to Indiana as soon as there is reason to anticipate success. It is confidently believed that perseverance for a few years in the present policy of the Government will extinguish the Indian title to all lands lying within the States composing our Federal Union, and remove beyond their limits every Indian who is not willing to submit to their laws.

    Thus will all conflicting claims to jurisdiction between the States and the Indian tribes be put to rest. It is pleasing to reflect that results so beneficial, not only to the States immediately concerned, but to the harmony of the Union, will have been accomplished by measures equally advantageous to the Indians. What the native savages become when surrounded by a dense population and by mixing with the whites may be seen in the miserable remnants of a few Eastern tribes, deprived of political and civil rights, forbidden to make contracts, and subjected to guardians, dragging out a wretched existence, without excitement, without hope, and almost without thought.

    But the removal of the Indians beyond the limits and jurisdiction of the States does not place them beyond the reach of philanthropic aid and Christian instruction. On the contrary, those whom philanthropy or religion may induce to live among them in their new abode will be more free in the exercise of their benevolent functions than if they had remained within the limits of the States, embarrassed by their internal regulations. Now subject to no control but the superintending agency of the General Government, exercised with the sole view of preserving peace, they may proceed unmolested in the interesting experiment of gradually advancing a community of American Indians from barbarism to the habits and enjoyments of civilized life. ...

4th Annual Message
December 4, 1832

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

    ... The hostile incursions of the Sac and Fox Indians necessarily led to the interposition of the Government. A portion of the troops, under Generals Scott and Atkinson, and of the militia of the State of Illinois were called into the field. After a harassing warfare, prolonged by the nature of the country and by the difficulty of procuring subsistence, the Indians were entirely defeated, and the disaffected band dispersed or destroyed. The result has been creditable to the troops engaged in the service. Severe as is the lesson to the Indians, it was rendered necessary by their unprovoked aggressions, and it is to be hoped that its impression will be permanent and salutary.

    This campaign has evinced the efficient organization of the Army and its capacity for prompt and active service. Its several departments have performed their functions with energy and dispatch, and the general movement was satisfactory.

    Our fellow citizens upon the frontiers were ready, as they always are, in the tender of their services in the hour of danger. But a more efficient organization of our militia system is essential to that security which is one of the principal objects of all governments. Neither our situation nor our institutions require or permit the maintenance of a large regular force. History offers too many lessons of the fatal result of such a measure not to warn us against its adoption here. The expense which attends it, the obvious tendency to employ it because it exists and thus to engage in unnecessary wars, and its ultimate danger to public liberty will lead us, I trust, to place our principal dependence for protection upon the great body of the citizens of the Republic. If in asserting rights or in repelling wrongs war should come upon us, our regular force should be increased to an extent proportional to the emergency, and our present small Army is a nucleus around which such force could be formed and embodied. But for the purposes of defense under ordinary circumstances we must rely upon the electors of the country. Those by whom and for whom the Government was instituted and is supported will constitute its protection in the hour of danger as they do its check in the hour of safety.

    But it is obvious that the militia system is imperfect. Much time is lost, much unnecessary expense incurred, and much public property wasted under the present arrangement. Little useful knowledge is gained by the musters and drills as now established, and the whole subject evidently requires a thorough examination. Whether a plan of classification remedying these defects and providing for a system of instruction might not be adopted is submitted to the consideration of Congress. The Constitution has vested in the General Government an independent authority upon the subject of the militia which renders its action essential to the establishment or improvement of the system, and I recommend the matter to your consideration in the conviction that the state of this important arm of the public defense requires your attention.

    I am happy to inform you that the wise and humane policy of transferring from the eastern to the western side of the Mississippi the remnants of our aboriginal tribes, with their own consent and upon just terms, has been steadily pursued, and is approaching, I trust, its consummation. By reference to the report of the Secretary of War and to the documents submitted with it you will see the progress which has been made since your last session in the arrangement of the various matters connected with our Indian relations. With one exception every subject involving any question of conflicting jurisdiction or of peculiar difficulty has been happily disposed of, and the conviction evidently gains ground among the Indians that their removal to the country assigned by the United States for their permanent residence furnishes the only hope of their ultimate prosperity.

    With that portion of the Cherokees, however, living within the State of Georgia it has been found impracticable as yet to make a satisfactory adjustment. Such was my anxiety to remove all the grounds of complaint and to bring to a termination the difficulties in which they are involved that I directed the very liberal propositions to be made to them which accompany the documents herewith submitted. They can not but have seen in these offers the evidence of the strongest disposition on the part of the Government to deal justly and liberally with them. An ample indemnity was offered for their present possessions, a liberal provision for their future support and improvement, and full security for their private and political rights. What ever difference of opinion may have prevailed respecting the just claims of these people, there will probably be none respecting the liberality of the propositions, and very little respecting the expediency of their immediate acceptance. They were, however, rejected, and thus the position of these Indians remains unchanged, as do the views communicated in my message to the Senate of [22 Feb 1831]. ...

5th Annual Message
December 3, 1833

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

    ... Our relations with the various Indian tribes have been undisturbed since the termination of the difficulties growing out of the hostile aggressions of the Sac and Fox Indians. Several treaties have been formed for the relinquishment of territory to the United States and for the migration of the occupants of the region assigned for their residence West of the Mississippi. Should these treaties be ratified by the Senate, provision will have been made for the removal of almost all the tribes remaining E of that river and for the termination of many difficult and embarrassing questions arising out of their anomalous political condition.

    It is to be hoped that those portions of two of the Southern tribes, which in that event will present the only remaining difficulties, will realize the necessity of emigration, and will speedily resort to it. My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes can not exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.

    Such has been their fate heretofore, and if it is to be averted -- and it is -- it can only be done by a general removal beyond our boundary and by the reorganization of their political system upon principles adapted to the new relations in which they will be placed. The experiment which has been recently made has so far proved successful. The emigrants generally are represented to be prosperous and contented, the country suitable to their wants and habits, and the essential articles of subsistence easily procured. When the report of the commissioners now engaged in investigating the condition and prospects of these Indians and in devising a plan for their intercourse and government is received, I trust ample means of information will be in possession of the Government for adjusting all the unsettled questions connected with this interesting subject. ...

6th Annual Message
December 1, 1834

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

    ... No important change has during this season taken place in the condition of the Indians. Arrangements are in progress for the removal of the Creeks, and will soon be for the removal of the Seminoles. I regret that the Cherokees east of the Mississippi have not yet determined as a community to remove. How long the personal causes which have heretofore retarded that ultimately inevitable measure will continue to operate I am unable to conjecture. It is certain, however, that delay will bring with it accumulated evils which will render their condition more and more unpleasant. The experience of every year adds to the conviction that emigration, and that alone, can preserve from destruction the remnant of the tribes yet living amongst us. The facility with which the necessaries of life are procured and the treaty stipulations providing aid for the emigrant Indians in their agricultural pursuits and in the important concern of education, and their removal from those causes which have heretofore depressed all and destroyed many of the tribes, can not fail to stimulate their exertions and to reward their industry.

    The two laws passed at the last session of Congress on the subject of Indian affairs have been carried into effect, and detailed instructions for their administration have been given. It will be seen by the estimates for the present session that a great reduction will take place in the expenditures of the Department in consequence of these laws, and there is reason to believe that their operation will be salutary and that the colonization of the Indians on the western frontier, together with a judicious system of administration, will still further reduce the expenses of this branch of the public service and at the same time promote its usefulness and efficiency. ...

7th Annual Message
December 7, 1835

    [No mention of Indians in this Address. On
29 Dec 1835, the Cherokee signed the Treat of Removal or Treaty of New Echota.]

8th Annual Message
December 5, 1836

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

    ... The war with the Seminoles during the summer was on our part chiefly confined to the protection of our frontier settlements from the incursions of the enemy, and, as a necessary and important means for the accomplishment of that end, to the maintenance of the posts previously established. In the course of this duty several actions took place, in which the bravery and discipline of both officers and men were conspicuously displayed, and which I have deemed it proper to notice in respect to the former by the granting of brevet rank for gallant services in the field. But as the force of the Indians was not so far weakened by these partial successes as to lead them to submit, and as their savage inroads were frequently repeated, early measures were taken for placing at the disposal of Governor Call, who as commander in chief of the Territorial militia had been temporarily invested with the command, an ample force for the purpose of resuming offensive operations in the most efficient manner so soon as the season should permit. Major General Jesup was also directed, on the conclusion of his duties in the Creek country, to repair to Florida and assume the command.

    The result of the first movement made by the forces under the direction of Governor Call in October last, as detailed in the accompanying papers, excited much surprise and disappointment. A full explanation has been required of the causes which led to the failure of that movement, but has not yet been received. In the mean time, as it was feared that the health of Governor Call, who was understood to have suffered much from sickness, might not be adequate to the crisis, and as Major General Jesup was known to have reached Florida, that officer was directed to assume command, and to prosecute all needful operations with the utmost promptitude and vigor. From the force at his disposal and the dispositions he has made and is instructed to make, and from the very efficient measures which it is since ascertained have been taken by Governor Call, there is reason to hope that they will soon be enabled to reduce the enemy to subjection. In the mean time, as you will perceive from the report of the Secretary, there is urgent necessity for further appropriations to suppress these hostilities.

    Happily for the interests of humanity, the hostilities with the Creeks were brought to a close soon after your adjournment, without that effusion of blood which at one time was apprehended as inevitable. The unconditional submission of the hostile party was followed by their speedy removal to the country assigned them West of the Mississippi. The inquiry as to alleged frauds in the purchase of the reservations of these Indians and the causes of their hostilities, requested by the resolution of the House of Representatives of the first of July last [1 Jul 1836] to be made by the President, is now going on through the agency of commissioners appointed for that purpose. Their report may be expected during your present session.

    The difficulties apprehended in the Cherokee country have been prevented, and the peace and safety of that region and its vicinity effectually secured, by the timely measures taken by the War Department, and still continued.

    The discretionary authority given to General Gaines to cross the Sabine and to occupy a position as far West as Nacogdoches, in case he should deem such a step necessary to the protection of the frontier and to the fulfillment of the stipulations contained in our treaty with Mexico, and the movement subsequently made by that officer have been alluded to in a former part of this message. At the date of the latest intelligence from Nacogdoches our troops were yet at that station, but the officer who has succeeded General Gaines has recently been advised that from the facts known at the seat of Government there would seem to be no adequate cause for any longer maintaining that position, and he was accordingly instructed, in case the troops were not already withdrawn under the discretionary powers before possessed by him, to give the requisite orders for that purpose on the receipt of the instructions, unless he shall then have in his possession such information as shall satisfy him that the maintenance of the post is essential to the protection of our frontiers and to the due execution of our treaty stipulations, as previously explained to him.

    Whilst the necessities existing during the present year for the service of militia and volunteers have furnished new proofs of the patriotism of our fellow citizens, they have also strongly illustrated the importance of an increase in the rank and file of the Regular Army. The views of this subject submitted by the Secretary of War in his report meet my entire concurrence, and are earnestly commended to the deliberate attention of Congress. In this connection it is also proper to remind you that the defects in our present militia system are every day rendered more apparent. The duty of making further provision by law for organizing, arming, and disciplining this arm of defense has been so repeatedly presented to Congress by myself and my predecessors that I deem it sufficient on this occasion to refer to the last annual message and to former Executive communications in which the subject has been discussed.

    It appears from the reports of the officers charged with mustering into service the volunteers called for under the act of Congress of the last session that more presented themselves at the place of rendezvous in Tennessee than were sufficient to meet the requisition which had been made by the Secretary of War upon the governor of that State. This was occasioned by the omission of the governor to apportion the requisition to the different regiments of militia so as to obtain the proper number of troops and no more. It seems but just to the patriotic citizens who repaired to the general rendezvous under circumstances authorizing them to believe that their services were needed and would be accepted that the expenses incurred by them while absent from their homes should be paid by the Government. I accordingly recommend that a law to this effect be passed by Congress, giving them a compensation which will cover their expenses on the march to and from the place of rendezvous and while there; in connection with which it will also be proper to make provision for such other equitable claims growing out of the service of the militia as may not be embraced in the existing laws.

    On the unexpected breaking out of hostilities in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia it became necessary in some cases to take the property of individuals for public use. Provision should be made by law for indemnifying the owners; and I would also respectfully suggest whether some provision may not be made, consistently with the principles of our Government, for the relief of the sufferers by Indian depredations or by the operations of our own troops.

    No time was lost after the making of the requisite appropriations in resuming the great national work of completing the unfinished fortifications on our sea-board and of placing them in a proper state of defense. In consequence, however, of the very late day at which those bills were passed, but little progress could be made during the season which has just closed. A very large amount of the moneys granted at your last session accordingly remains unexpended; but as the work will be again resumed at the earliest moment in the coming spring, the balance of the existing appropriations, and in several cases which will be laid before you, with the proper estimates, further sums for the like objects, may be usefully expended during the next year. ...

    ... The national policy, founded alike in interest and in humanity, so long and so steadily pursued by this Government for the removal of the Indian tribes originally settled on this side of the Mississippi to the W of that river, may be said to have been consummated by the conclusion of the late treaty with the Cherokees. The measures taken in the execution of that treaty and in relation to our Indian affairs generally will fully appear by referring to the accompanying papers. Without dwelling on the numerous and important topics embraced in them, I again invite your attention to the importance of providing a well-digested and comprehensive system for the protection, supervision, and improvement of the various tribes now planted in the Indian country.

    The suggestions submitted by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and enforced by the Secretary, on this subject, and also in regard to the establishment of additional military posts in the Indian country, are entitled to your profound consideration. Both measures are necessary, for the double purpose of protecting the Indians from intestine war, and in other respects complying with our engagements with them, and of securing our western frontier against incursions which otherwise will assuredly be made on it. The best hopes of humanity in regard to the aboriginal race, the welfare of our rapidly extending settlements, and the honor of the United States are all deeply involved in the relations existing between this Government and the emigrating tribes. I trust, therefore, that the various matters submitted in the accompanying documents in respect to those relations will receive your early and mature deliberation, and that it may issue in the adoption of legislative measures adapted to the circumstances and duties of the present crisis. ...


Source: Brown, Dee, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Holt Rinehart Winston, 1970, p. 5. If you grew up in the United States and received a whitewashed education - backed by the Hollywood movie cant that “The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian,” then Dee Brown’s book is a must read. Be warned though, the book is poignant.

Source: Royce, Charles C., compiler. “Indian Land Cessions in the United States,” from the 18th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology -- 1896-’97, Vol II, Smithsonian Institution, printed by the Government Printing Office, 1899. In this publication which lists Indian land cessions in chronological order, we see the last treaty before Andrew Jackson’s Inauguration as 20 Sep 1828 with the Potawatomi people, number 146.

†† Murderer. During the 1828 presidential campaign, There was a major effort to discredit Jackson. “The primary weapon of the anti-Jackson forces was his alleged impetuous, unrestrained, martial personality, utterly unsuitable for the presidency of a democratic republic whose success required respect for constitutional checks and balances.” The main focus of his detractors was his shooting of the six militia men. Anti-Jackson broadsides (handbills) were published and there was also an anti-Jackson pamphlet published:

Official Record From the War Department, of the Proceedings of the Court Martial Which Tried, And the Orders of General Jackson For Shooting the Six Militia Men, Together With Official Letters From the War Department, (Ordered to be Printed by Congress) Showing That These American Citizens Were Inhumanly & Illegally Massacred. Washington: Jonathan Elliot. 1828. (32pp)

Of course, not everyone thought Jackson was bad - and he did win the election. There is an interesting letter from the U.S. Patent Office correspondence that shows the other side. Here is a excerpt from that letter:

   . . . It is stated in the paper above referred to that I am “one of the most clamorous office seekers,” that I was connected with the late newspaper called “We the People”; and that I said that General Jackson ought to have been hanged for the murder of six militia men. The whole is without the least foundation in truth . . .
    . . . With regard to having said that General Jackson ought to have been hung for the murder of the six militia men, it is a falsehood too glaring to need refutation. For I, as well as all the nation know, that the militia men were ordered into service by Governor Blount (whether legally or illegally I shall not say); that they left their service before the expiration of that term; were tried by a court martial for desertion; were condemned to be shot; and that General Jackson merely confirmed the sentence of the court: therefore such a remark as that attributed to me was irrational and void of common sense; this information is utterly false.

(10 Apr 1829 William Elliot to Martin Van Buren, Dept of State, Patent Office.)
Transcribed P.J. Federico. Patent Office Correspondence 1814-36.
Call number T223 D7P29 1988 NMAH
Smithsonian National Museum of American History Library

‡‡ Alexander Arbuthnot and Robert C. Ambrister are the names of two men executed during the First Seminole war.

Illustration credit:
Top of page; Chief Justice John Marshall administering the oath of office to Andrew Jackson, 4 Mar 1829. Mural by Allyn Cox, east-central portico, U.S. Capitol building, Washington D.C.

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