Saturday, May 12, 2018

Trail of Tears by John Ehle ****

Trail of Tears by John Ehle is a non-fiction account of “The (19th century) Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation.” Ehle makes extensive use of primary documents, often with extended extracts from contemporary letters and newspaper accounts. 

The Trail of Tears narrowly refers to the final forced removal of the Cherokees from the southeastern United States to eastern Oklahoma in 1838. The Cherokee called this “the trail where we cried.” More broadly, it refers to the decade following the passage by Andrew Jackson of The Indian Removal Act of 1830 including both voluntary and involuntary migrations of the “five civilized tribes” (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muscogee), and Seminole).

The Cherokee were the final group to complete the migration and had the most organized and best-documented resistance, including two supreme court cases. The Cherokees were divided into a group that argued for negotiating the best treaty and moving, and those that argued that they not leave the land that was rightfully theirs.

In the end, the group that argued for the treaty ended with the best outcome, but it is easy to see how reasonable people in the 1830s expected otherwise. Those reasonable people with their faith in the federal government and the courts failed. The federal government failed. The government would not challenge the South until twenty years later and on a different issue.

The Proud and The Free by Janet Dailey is a fictional account of the same history ( Take your pick.
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