The Trail of Tears was caused by the authorization and enforcement of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This initiative, passed by President Andrew Jackson, forced over 20,000 Native Americans out of their ancestral lands in North Georgia. The vast majority of these Native Americans were from the Cherokee Nation.
President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 for two reasons. The first reason was the economic value of the land. By relocating the Native Americans from North Georgia, the government was able to sell the land to American settlers and speculators. There is also evidence that the land was rich in gold, which only increased economic interest in the area. The second reason that Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act was the recommendation of President James Monroe. In his last address to Congress in 1825, Monroe emphasized the benefits of passing the legislation.
When the Cherokees refused to leave their homeland, the federal government forcefully removed them. They were relocated to Oklahoma, but suffered an estimated 4,000 casualties along the way. The Cherokees attempted to protest the Indian Removal Act by filing judicial action against the state of Georgia. The case reached the Supreme Court, and John Marshall ruled in favor of the Cherokee Nation. Marshall stated that the U.S. government had no claim to the Cherokee lands. President Jackson, however, refused to enforce the decision.