One of the primary hallmarks of the Jacksonian Era was Andrew Jackson's Indian removal policy. Jackson believed that white settlers had the right to settle on lands east of the Mississippi River that belonged to American Indians. He pushed a law through Congress that led to the removal of most of the eastern American Indian tribes from their homelands.
President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law in 1830. This piece of legislation authorized the president to negotiate with the eastern tribes concerning their relocation to lands west of the Mississippi River. Although the removal was meant to be voluntary, the affected tribes, which included the Cherokee, Seminole and Choctaw, faced intense pressure to agree to the removal.
If the tribes stayed on their ancestral lands, the law required them to become citizens of the state in which their lands were located. This meant that they would be subject to the laws of that state, and the tribes would lose their autonomy. Rather than risk losing their cultural identity by assimilating into white society, some tribes agreed to move west. Others resisted, but were eventually removed from their lands by force. Many Cherokees who were forced west in the late 1830s died on the "Trail of Tears."