Andrew jackson and the Indians, 1767-1815

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Andrew Jackson's experience with the Indians was an ambivalent relationship. From his childhood along the South Carolina-North Carolina border through his two terms as president, he had extensive interaction with both friendly and enemy Indians. As a child in South Carolina, Jackson grew up around the peaceful Catawba Indians. During the American War for Independence he served as a scout alongside the Catawbas as members of his community fought the British and their Indian allies from the west, most notably the Cherokees. Serving in this capacity he learned the value of Indian alliances that he carried with him throughout his professional, military, and political career. Jackson came into direct contact with the Indians as he moved to Tennessee, as a young lawyer and businessman. In the western territory, various Indian tribes claimed the land the Whites were settling. Jackson learned to distinguish between the tribes that were recognized by the United States government as having legitimate claims to land and those that were not. Several tribes, particularly the Creeks and the Chickamaugas, a dissident faction of the Cherokees, frequently raided the White settlements in Tennessee, forcing Jackson to fight the Indians in defense of his community. He became an Indian fighter out of necessity and fought the enemy Indians while aligning with the friendly Chickasaws. During the Creek War and the War of 1812, Jackson applied his experience of using friendly Indian tribes to defeat the British and their Indian allies. He rewarded those who were loyal and punished those who joined Britain. He carried this experience to his post-war career as Indian agent, and later, as president, negotiating dozens of treaties with the Indians as he insisted upon removal as the best policy. In these treaties he exchanged federal territory west of the Mississippi River for Indian land in the east. Although he is most well-known for signing the Indian Removal Act, he promoted the rights of Indians at times as he allowed Indian citizenship, encouraged intermarriage between Whites and Indians, frequently had Indian leaders as guests in his home, and adopted an Indian child. He advocated for removal through the exchange of land in treaties to preserve tribal autonomy.

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