The manifest destiny was a self-serving concept adopted by white Americans that entailed the perception that the expansion of the country was inevitable, justifiable, and divinely ordained. The idea was applied by the white Americans to justify the displacement of American Indians from their native habitats. The white Americans believed that the Indians were not utilizing the land they lived in its full potential as they left large tracts of land uncultivated. The unspoiled regions were reserved for hunting, which was considered to be wasteful according to the white settlers. Therefore, they declared that they had their manifest destiny or duty to seize the land for settlement and cultivation. The supporters and proponents of the manifest destiny and Indian removal were practitioners of land speculation. The land speculators purchased large tracts of land expecting it to increase in value as more people moved to occupy the area, thus, increasing its demand (Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1).
The economy and populations in America were pushed to the West when mass migration from Europe led to the increment in the number of people that settled on the East Coast of the United States. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 caused the furore in westward expansion. The white settlers were concerned that the American Indians that lived in the eastern regions of the Mississippi River that bordered their settlements hindered settlement and the social and economic development of the country. The land belonged to various tribal nations, including the Creek, Cherokee, and Seminole who lived in the south and the Chickasaw and Choctaw who settled in the west. The land had the potential to facilitate economic prosperity through cultivation of cotton and wheat, harvesting of timber, raising cattle, and the mineral deposits in the regions. The settlers thus urged the federal government to remove the Indian tribes as they were considered to be an obstacle to economic development and the manifest destiny of the nation (Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1).
Thomas Jefferson was the first leader to propose the removal of Indians from their settlements and declared that they needed to be relocated further westward to open up the land for white settlement. President James Monroe expanded Jefferson’s idea in 1825. He claimed that the relocation of the Indian tribes from their settlements was for their benefit as it would promote their happiness and welfare and protect them from impending ruin as their extermination and degradation was inevitable. Andrew Jackson pushed the idea into law by justifying that the removal of the Indians was necessary as it entailed a humanitarian act for their preservation. On May 28, 1830, the Indian Removal Act was signed into law which authorized the reservation of the land on the western side of the Mississippi River in exchange for the area on the eastern side of the river that belonged to the Native Americans (Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2).
U.S. government forcefully took the territories inhabited by the Indians and the populations were forced to migrate from their settlements in Mississippi. The tribes that elected to stay and employed military resistance to the removal were eventually defeated. Vast numbers of people perished due to the forced migration as they starved and suffered from diseases. Tens of thousands of the Indians lost their homelands while others died on their journey to their settlement in the forced migrations that took place in the 1840s. For instance, only 3,500 out of the 15,000 Indians from the Creek tribe survived the journey to their new settlement in Oklahoma. Besides, 4,000 people out of the 16,000 from the Cherokee tribe were forced to migrate to Oklahoma died from starvation, adverse weather conditions, and disease (Smithsonian American Art Museum, 4).
Smithsonian American Art Museum. Manifest Destiny and Indian Removal. 2015. Web. Retrieved May 11, 2019, from https://americanexperience.si.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Manifest-Destiny-and-Indian-Removal.pdf