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Donald Trump praises Andrew Jackson but neglects history of genocide

Filed Under: National | Politics
More on: andrew jackson, cherokee, donald trump, genocide, tennessee, trail of tears
     
   

The White House on YouTube: President Trump Makes Remarks at the Hermitage

Andrew Jackson is widely reviled as one of the worst presidents for Indian Country but he has one prominent admirer in the White House.

During a visit to Tennessee on Wednesday, President Donald Trump took great pains to compare himself favorably to America's 7th commander-in-chief. He said both were elected on promises to root out corruption and take on wealthy "establishment" interests.

"Andrew Jackson was called many names, accused of many things, and by fighting for change, earned many, many enemies," Trump said on the 250th anniversary of the former president's birthday.

But while Trump acknowledged his predecessor was a "flawed and imperfect man," he did not mention one of the reasons for those enemies. Jackson defied the U.S. Supreme Court and violated existing tribal treaties when he called for the removal of Indian nations from their homelands in the Southeast.

The result of his policy is commonly known as the Trail of Tears. Tens of thousands of citizens from the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation, the Muscogee Nation and the Seminole Nation were forced to march to areas west of the Mississippi River. Countless lives were lost along the way.


Andrew Jackson in 1824. Painting attributed to Thomas Sully. Image: U.S. Senate

"Under orders from President Jackson the U.S. Army began enforcement of the Removal Act," the Cherokee Nation states on its website. "The Cherokee were rounded up in the summer of 1838 and loaded onto boats that traveled the Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers into Indian Territory. Many were held in prison camps awaiting their fate."

"An estimated 4,000 died from hunger, exposure and disease," the website continues. "The journey became a cultural memory as the 'trail where they cried' for the Cherokees and other removed tribes."

Jackson's genocidal legacy is one of the reasons why tribes have long called for the removal of his face from the $20 bill. The campaign gained steam in the last couple of years and even drew some surprising supporters.

"[T]he forced removal of American Indians by Andrew Jackson and the subsequent inhumane settlement of Indian lands represent a major blight on the proud history of the United States," Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), who serves on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, wrote in a resolution in early 2016.

Treasury Department later in the year announced plans to replace Jackson's image with that of African American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The new bill is supposed to be ready by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage.

"Andrew Jackson, we thank you for your service. We honor you for your memory. We build on your legacy," Trump said at The Hermitage, which was Jackson's home in Nashville.

Related Stories:
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Billy Stratton: Donald Trump shares much in common with Andrew Jackson (03/02)
Controversy simmers over Andrew Jackson statue in Louisiana (10/05)
Jim Webb: Andrew Jackson's forced removal of tribes was not 'genocidal' (04/25)
Symbol of Indian genocide will be removed from $20 bill after all (04/20)
Steve Inskeep: Donald Trump channels renowned Indian fighter (02/17)
Sen. Lankford calls for removal of Andrew Jackson from $20 bill (01/21)

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