Opposition

John Ross

John Ross, ca. 1843.

Most of the tribes went without a fight because they knew that they were no match for the U.S. government. However, as with any major change, some were not so easily encouraged to give up their homes and move to a strange land. A promised permanant homeland and finanical assistance were not enough. Eventually when the act was passed, the resisting tribes that were left behind were forced out by military coersion. 

Treaty of Hopewell

Treaty of Hopewell

Treaty of New Echota

Treaty of New Echota

One of the main opposers of the forced relocation was the Cherokee Nation. They were persistent in their claim that they were independent from any federal or state government, using the Treaty of Hopewell as their main point. This treaty established borders between the United States and the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee began negotiating a new Treaty, eventually coming up with the Treaty of New Echota, which provided a legal basis for the Trail of Tears. However, this treaty did not appease everyone. 

Therefore the Cherokee Nation was split in two; those who wanted to stay and fight against the removal and those who wanted to give in and move to their designated territory. Among those who wanted to fight were John Ross, the longest-serving Cherokee Principle Cheif. Ross was credited with being one of the main Cherokees who would try to fight for a better treaty. However, it was signed by other Cherokee men, John Ridge and Elias Boudinot, without the authority of John Ross. However, these men only had say over a fraction of the Cherokees, so not everyone moved. 

The treaty required the Cherokee to move out of their homeland within two years. In those two years, only 2,000 Cherokees migrated, the remaining 16,000 were forced out by a brigade of 7,000 troops. They were not allowed time to gather any of their belongings and whites raided their homes as they were pushed out.