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Date of Award


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Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




This study will focus on the development of Andrew Jackson's attitude toward the American Indian and the effect of these attitudes on the shaping of official United states policy toward the Indians.

Jackson was born and raised on the frontier. There his prejudices were acquired and his personality was formed. Chapter I deals with Jackson's early life as a young frontiersman, politician and Indian-fighter. His championing of the rights of the westerner, his attitudes toward the Indian and his love for the martial spirit led him into the Tennessee militia and the United States Army during the Indian wars. The military period of Jackson's life also is covered in Chapter I.

Chapter II discusses the problems arising from the contact between the American colonist and the Indian as the white frontier pressed against and into Indian land. Jackson agreed with the general political justification for expansion: that the frontier must be advanced to provide security for settlements and farms. The average frontiersman would add that expansion also brought land into the hands of those who were meant to use it. Though acquisition of additional land was usually a result rather than a cause of war, few would deny that getting it by conquest was more desirable than buying it.

With the cry for removal reaching a crescendo, the advocates found their champion in Andrew Jackson. He would implement the final solution to the Indian problem. Chapter III deals with the Indian removal policy and with Jackson's administration of removals, the dominant Indian feature of his presidency. The policy is described in detail, and the various attempts to justify it are considered.

An important part of the removal story involves the relationship between the federal government and the states, the subject of Chapter IV. Jackson believed in the basic rights of states and had no desire to increase the power of the national government at their expense. In the controversy over Indian lands, he felt that the states had jurisdiction. This attitude the stage for this refusal to come to the aid of the Indians, in spite of treaty obligations to them. Chapter IV also covers the reaction to the removal policy by the public and by the Indians.

Jackson's tendency to contradict himself is much in evidence in his Indian attitudes and policies. Chapter V attempts to show that he was a pragmatist. He was willing to do whatever was necessary to accomplish his ends, even if it meant completely reversing a principle that he had previously taken great pains to defend.

In Chapter VI, conclusions are drawn on the effects of Jackson's Indian attitudes on the people of his own day and on generations that followed. Finally, an attempt is made to explain why Jackson felt and acted as he did in his relationships with the Indians. This section also deals with the charge that he was a racist and that he held the Indian in contempt as an inferior human being.

Since the study is concerned primarily with Jackson's attitudes, the principal sources consulted were his letters and speeches. Published collections of Jackson's works proved especially valuable. Particularly helpful were Correspondence of Andrew Jackson, volumes I, II, and III, edited by John S. Bassett and J. F. Jameson and A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, volumes II and III, edited by James D. Richardson. To record the response to Jackson's Indian policies, contemporary newspapers were consulted, especially the New York Evening Post. Secondary sources were examined for detail and description rather than for analysis.





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