Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Trail of Tears and the Illinois Connection

The history of Illinois’ role in the Trail of Tears is commemorated with an auto tour through the state.

In the early 19th century, the United States was experiencing tremendous growth and was hampered by the fact that both Spain and England held land on the continent. Thomas Jefferson suggested creating a buffer zone between the states and the European-held lands which would be inhabited by Native Americans, relocated from the eastern states. In 1829, Andrew Jackson created a policy in his inaugural speech that allowed for the relocation of the eastern American Indians to lands west of the Mississippi. The Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830.

The removal began in 1831 with the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, who left voluntarily claiming they would prefer to live freely in a new land, than to remain and be governed by laws in which they had no say. Somewhere between 5000 and 6000 remained in Mississippi, while some 17,000 made the journey. So grueling was the trek that a Choctaw chief believed to be Thomas Harkins ...    Read More

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