The Trail of Tears was how the Cherokee described the route, or trail, they were forced to travel, from their homelands in the Southeastern U.S. to reservations in present day Oklahoma, as a result of the 1830 Indian Removal Act.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830, signed by Andrew Jackson, started the removal of the Five Civilized Tribes, including the Cherokee who were the last to leave on the Trail of Tears from their homelands in the deep south to reservations in Oklahoma.
In 1838 President Martin Van Buren ordered General Winfield Scott to take charge of the removal of Cherokee to start their journey on the Trail of Tears. The 7,000 troops moved into Cherokee country and began disarming the Cherokee and forcing them to leave their homes. Women and children were dragged from their homes with only the clothing they were wearing. The U.S. soldiers forbade them to retrieve extra clothing, food or blankets. Their homes were all burnt and their property stolen. Farms that had belonged to the Cherokees for generations were won by white settlers in a lottery.
The story of Trail of Tears is appalling and sad. Forced from their home men, women and children had to walk over 1000 miles facing the most terrible trials and tribulations. The trip took six months. The story and tragedy was made even worse by the hazards that the people encountered on the journey of misery, sickness, and death. The travelers were exposed to extremely cold weather conditions with inadequate clothing, and suffered from malnutrition, starvation, and disease. One person out of every four died on the forced march across the Trail of Tears. Nearly 4000 Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears from malnutrition, exposure, and disease.
Source: Trails of Tears
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