United States Army Participation in Indian Removal Essay
The Role of the U.S. Army in Indian Removal
The Indian Removal Act was enacted by the federal government on behalf of the White settlers who were interested in cultivating the lands occupied by the Native Americans in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida Alabama, and North Carolina. According to this treaty, the Indians were to leave their land and make a journey of thousands of miles towards the west to an ‘Indian territory’ that was across Mississippi River, a dangerous journey that came to be known as Trail of Tears.
In this mission, the government was forced to use the military because most of the Indian rulers rejected the move to force them out of their land. According to Campbell, Chief Black Hawk was particularly resistant to the removal of the act because he believed his people needed the land for agricultural purposes and they had all the rights to occupy it (78).
The role of the United States army in the implementation of this treaty was to eject the Indians from the designated parcels of land and force them to Indian reserves which had been prepared for them (Waddell 118). By 1830, several Indian communities had been displaced from the southern states and sent to the Indian reserves. However, a few communities put a spirited fight against the attempts to force them out of their ancestral lands.
In 1832, Chief Black Hawk led a faction of warriors to make a surprise attack against the White settlers and government forces that were implementing the Indian Removal Act (Benn 71). This necessitated the use of force. The army was sent to specifically quell the rebellion and help the local authorities in implementing the Act. The army was able to defeat the Native American forces and their chiefs were arrested and taken to prison. The land was taken away from these Native Americans who were subsequently forced into Indian reserves.
Why the Army Was Selected for This Duty
At first, the Federal government used diplomacy in implementing this Act. The government signed several treaties with the chiefs of the Native Americans, promising them semi-autonomy in their new territories. The treaties worked in the initial stages, and the use of force was not necessary (Peskin 71). However, some of the Native Americans realized that the government was only acting in the interest of the White settlers, not the local Native Americans. They started resisting the implementation of this treaty as they held that they had the right to protect their ancestral land from encroachment by the settlers.
The army was selected for the duty because of several reasons. At this time, the internal security agencies were not properly equipped to manage the sophistication of the Indian militias. These internal security agencies had failed in implementing the Act (Tucker and Fredriksen 43). Another reason was that for a long time, the Indian militias had waged wars against the American army. It was the army that knew how to defeat these militias because of past experiences. The government wanted to use a decisive force in dealing with this issue to avoid a situation where it would take long to implement the law. It was the army that could make this a decisive offensive that would silence the rebellious Indians who had been fighting the government for a long time (Tucker 92).
Benn, Carl. The War of 1812: The Fight for American Trade Rights. New York: Rosen Pub, 2011. Print.
Campbell, Ballard. American Wars. New York: Facts on File, 2012. Print.
Peskin, Lawrence. Captives and Countrymen: Barbary Slavery and the American Public, 1785-1816. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1900. Print.
Tucker, Spencer, and John Fredriksen. The Encyclopedia of the War of 1812: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2012. Print.
Tucker, Spencer. Almanac of American Military History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2013. Print.
Waddell, Steve. United States Army Logistics: From the American Revolution to 9/11. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2010. Print.
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