What was the Trail of Tears?


Quick Answer

The Trail of Tears is a term commonly used to describe the path that the Cherokee Native American tribe was forced to travel after being removed from its homelands by English settlers during 1838. Many Native Americans died due to starvation and disease during the relocation, which caused much distress among the Cherokee people.

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What was the Trail of Tears?
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Full Answer

The relations between white settlers and Native Americans during the 1800s were not amicable. Many of the settlers lived in fear of the Natives while viewing their culture as uncivilized. The settlers desired the Native American homelands, and went to great measures to steal them from their tribal owners.

Andrew Jackson and many other American leaders and settlers strongly supported the idea of forcing the Native Americans out of their homelands to secure the territories for themselves, despite the Supreme Court's ruling that the Native American lands were strictly their own. Several representatives of the Cherokee people signed a treaty to avoid conflict for their lands in exchange for land appointed by the United States as well as money and other goods. This led to their forced relocation to the appointed lands, to the dissatisfaction of many of the Cherokee people, who did not support the decision. An estimated 5,000 Native Americans died during the journey on what became known as the Trail of Tears.

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