Thursday, June 9, 2016

Trail of Tears

I usually limit myself to no more than 3 hours of driving per day but I exceeded that on the trip north.   A wedding was in the works, festivities would soon begin, and I was running late.


When I arrived in Memphis I headed for the T.O. Fuller State Park.  It is located mere minutes from downtown  Memphis and I had stayed there once before.  It is a great location and beautifully wooded to be so well located.  No time for sightseeing even though I did try to visit Beale Street.  I just couldn't find a parking place big enough for Spirit,  plus the traffic was terrible.   Now I am beginning to feel the negatives of a larger RV.  Big cities are hard to maneuver through.

The next stop was just south of St Louis, far less traffic and right on the River.

Situated high on a bluff overlooking the river... was a magnificent view.

Here comes your history lesson...

In 1672 Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette were commissioned by King Louis XIV to discover the course of the Mississippi River.  The two men gave the world an account of its lands including their belief that the Mississippi flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, thus laying the basis for France's claim to the area.

The Trail of Tears is one of the saddest and most despicable of events in our country's history.  Even though treaties had been signed between the US Government and the Cherokees the pressure was on to remove the Indians from Georgia and North Carolina.

As relations worsened between the Cherokee nation and the US,  factions for and against removal arose among the Cherokees.  The vast majority opposed removal and wanted American recognition of an independent nation within the eastern homeland.  

The 1828 discovery of gold in Cherokee Territory increased the pressure for further land cessions.  Assuming jurisdiction over Cherokee land, the state of Georgia distributed land in the Cherokee gold fields by lottery.  Prospectors streamed into Indian land, forcing out Indian miners and farmers.  Lawlessness prevailed and the Indian Council went to President Andrew Jackson to seek protection from greedy prospectors and unscrupulous land speculators.

 However, As the Cherokees' situation grew more desperate a pro-treaty faction formed within the Indian nation.  Members of this group apparently viewed removal as inevitable and saw advantages for the nation in cooperating with the federal government and the state of Georgia.

  In 1829 Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears began.   20,000 Cherokee men, women and children marched for endless months over 2200 miles to Oklahoma.  A fourth of them died along the way... 

and many of those are buried here beside the mighty Mississippi River.

(the words in Italics are from the literature at the Museum located at the state park)

1 comment:

  1. A gut- wrenching history lesson, and one worthy of reverence and respect.