- Did a series of President Andrew Jackson’s decisions regarding Indian Removal conflict with America’s constitutional principles and civic values? If so, how?
- Understand some of the major events leading up to the Trail of Tears.
- Analyze American civic values and constitutional principles and their application to events during the Andrew Jackson administration.
- Assess the claim that the forced removal of American Indians from their native lands is one of the most dishonorable periods in American history.
- Handout A: Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal
- Handout B: America’s Constitutional Principles and Civic Values
- Handout C: Discussion Questions
- Second Message to Congress Extension Reading
To create a context for this lesson, students complete Constitutional Connection: The President as Enforcer of the Law.
Have students read Handout A: Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal and answer the questions.
Ask students to brainstorm important American principles and values, and agree upon a short, simple definition for each. In addition to the ideas students generate, you may offer:
Honor: keeping one’s word
Respect: esteem for others
Majority rule versus minority rights: natural rights are not subject to majority vote
Property rights: being able to keep one’s possessions and the fruits of one’s labor
Popular sovereignty: government and laws based on the consent of the governed
Representation: laws are only legitimate if the people they affect have a say in them
Responsibility: taking care of oneself, one’s family, and one’s community
Equal treatment under law: no one is above the law
Separation of powers: powers are divided among branches of government
Write the following quotation from the petition of the ladies of Steubenville, Ohio, on the board.
“To you [Congress], then, as the constitutional protectors of the Indians within our territory, and as the peculiar guardians of our national character, …. we solemnly and earnestly appeal to save this remnant of a much injured people … and to shelter the American character from lasting dishonor.”
Ask students: Why were the petitioners concerned about “lasting dishonor” to the American character?
Have students work in pairs to complete Handout B: America’s Constitutional Principles and Civic Values.
Reconvene the class and fill in the chart using a projection of Handout B.
Distribute Handout C: Discussion Questions. As a large group, discuss the questions on the Handout.
Have students use one of the discussion questions from the lesson as a prompt and write a one-page response paper.
Have students read the entire message from Jackson’s Second Message to Congress and write a one page response that might have been given by a member of Congress.
Have students write a one-page position paper arguing whether or not Indian Removal could have taken place after:
- The passage of the Fourteenth Amendment?
- The bombing of Pearl Harbor?
- The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
A Deep Stain on the American Character: John Marshall and Justice for Native Americans
In this lesson, students will learn about the actions of John Marshall concerning the Cherokee nation. They will explore how his actions helped to advance justice and, through his example, learn how they can advance justice in their own lives.