Thesis Director: Elisa Minoff, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of History, College of Arts and Sciences
Thesis Committee Member: John W. Arthur, Ph.D., Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
The election of President Andrew Jackson in 1828 signaled a new era for the early United States. For many Americans, it would be a period of unprecedented democracy in what had typically been a republic reserved for elites.1 With the advent of the Jackson administration many of his opponents were now struck with apprehension. There was a fear that the United States was “sinking down into despotism, under the disguise of a democratic government.”2 For the Native American tribes of the southern United States, this fear was fully manifest. The tribal sovereignty that they had enjoyed up until this point had suddenly come under threat. Their political survival became uncertain. The governments of the Southern states had become intrepid in dealing with the tribes which they viewed as obstacles to expansion. President Jackson’s ascension would instigate a tumultuous time for the tribal nations. Jackson’s popularity was partially derived from his unwavering stance in support of rapid Indian Removal.3 His election was greeted with expectation that a solution to the “Indian Question” would finally be constructed. With the introduction of his Indian Removal Act, of which he was instrumental in its drafting, these expectations were met.4 The bill itself could not singlehandedly force the tribes to emigrate, however. Indian Removal was instead accomplished through a combination of unlawful state legislation and the act itself. The Indian Removal Act would sour an already strained relationship between the Native American tribes and the United States, as Jackson and his supporters defied federal law to remove the Five Civilized Tribes to west of the Mississippi. With open disregard for the law, the forces of Jackson’s Democratic Party succeeded in winning a major victory for the white supremacists, populists, and expansionists that made up the core of Jackson’s support.
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Carbaugh, Joshua, "The Indian Removal Act: A Legal Deception" (2017). USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate).