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Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Little Jacksonian Tyranny Never Hurt Anybody

On this date in 1830, the House of Representatives pased "An act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the States or Territories, and for their removal West of the river Mississippi" by a 102-97 vote.  Dissenters included Congressman Everett (presumably anti-Jacksonian Edward of MA and not his cousin, anti-Jacksonian Horace of VT), who spoke among other things about the great cost of the endeavor: a total of $24M ($1.1M would come from MA, over $500k from tiny VT).

A more famous opponent, who essentially lost his political career in fighting President Jackson, was Davy Crockett, who is reported to have said on May 19:

He had always viewed the native Indian tribes of this country as a sovereign people. He believed they had been recognised as such from the very foundation of this government, and the United States were bound by treaty to protect them; it was their duty to do so. And as to giving to giving the money of the American people for the purpose of removing them in the manner proposed, he would not do it. He would do that only for which he could answer to his God.
No man could be more willing to see them remove than he was if it could be done in a manner agreeable to themselves; but not otherwise. He knew personally that a part of the tribe of the Cherokees were unwilling to go. When the proposal was made to them, they said, ``No; we will take death here at our homes. Let them come and tomahawk us here at home: we are willing to die, but never to remove.'' He had heard them use this language.
If this bill should pass, the same plan would be carried further; they would send and buy them out, and put white men upon their land. It had never been known that white men and Indians could live together; and in this case, the Indians were to have no privileges allowed them, while the white men were to have all. Now, if this was not oppression with a vengeance, he did not know what was. It was the language of the bill, and of its friends, that the Indians were not to be driven off against their will. He knew the Indians were unwilling to go: and therefore he could not consent to place them in a situation where they would be obliged to go. He could not stand that.

A few years later he wrote:

The time has Come that man is expected to be transfarable and as negotiable as a promisary note of hand, in those days of Glory...I am truly afread that a majority of the free citizens of these united States will Submit to it and Say amen Jackson done it. It is right If we Judge by the past we can make no other Calculations.
I have almost given up the Ship as lost. I have gone So far as to declare that if he martinvanburen is elected that I will leave the united States for I never will live under his kingdom. before I will Submit to his Government I will go to the wildes of Texas. I will consider thatgovernment a Paridice to what this will be. In fact at this time our Republican Government hasdwindled almost into insignificancy our [boasted] land of liberty have almost Bowed to the yokeof of Bondage. Our happy days of Republican principles are near at an end when a few is to transfer the many.
He died at the Alamo in 1836 (ostensibly fighting for liberty, as far as his legend goes), a couple years after that letter, having seen three tribes forced to relocate.  My Cherokee began their Trail of Tears in 1838.

That's real oppression, as opposed to having extra IRS forms to fill out or being taxed a miniscule amount to provide health insurance for your fellow Americans.


May 26, 2013 | Permalink


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