Lessons From The Past: The Need For Our History

During all of the debate of the removing of the Confederate flag in certain states, many things have been on my mind. This issue in particular has reminded me of certain stories from our past. One of which being about the Cherokee people:
“When Andrew Jackson became president (1829–1837), he decided to build a systematic approach to Indian removal on the basis of these legal precedents.
To achieve his purpose, Jackson encouraged Congress to adopt the Removal Act of 1830. The Act established a process whereby the President could grant land west of the Mississippi River to Indian tribes that agreed to give up their homelands. As incentives, the law allowed the Indians financial and material assistance to travel to their new locations and start new lives and guaranteed that the Indians would live on their new property under the protection of the United States Government forever. With the Act in place, Jackson and his followers were free to persuade, bribe, and threaten tribes into signing removal treaties and leaving the Southeast._20150625_163040

In general terms, Jackson’s government succeeded. By the end of his presidency, he had signed into law almost seventy removal treaties, the result of which was to move nearly 50,000 eastern Indians to Indian Territory—defined as the region belonging to the United States west of the Mississippi River but excluding the states of Missouri and Iowa as well as the Territory of Arkansas—and open millions of acres of rich land east of the Mississippi to white settlers. Despite the vastness of the Indian Territory, the government intended that the Indians’ destination would be a more confined area—what later became eastern Oklahoma.

The Trail of Tears (Robert Lindneux, 1942)
The Cherokee Nation resisted, however, challenging in court the Georgia laws that restricted their freedoms on tribal lands. In his 1831 ruling on Cherokee Nation v. the State of Georgia, Chief Justice John Marshall declared that

“the Indian territory is admitted to compose a part of the United States,”

and affirmed that the tribes were
“domestic dependent nations” and “their relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian.”

However, the following year the Supreme Court reversed itself and ruled that Indian tribes were indeed sovereign and immune from Georgia laws. President Jackson nonetheless refused to heed the Court’s decision. He obtained the signature of a Cherokee chief agreeing to relocation in the Treaty of New Echota, which Congress ratified against the protests of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay in 1835. The Cherokee signing party represented only a faction of the Cherokee, and the majority followed Principal Chief John Ross in a desperate attempt to hold onto their land. This attempt faltered in 1838, when, under the guns of federal troops and Georgia state militia, the Cherokee tribe were forced to the dry plains across the Mississippi. The best evidence indicates that between three and four thousand out of the fifteen to sixteen thousand Cherokees died en route from the brutal conditions of the “Trail of Tears.” 

Andrew Jackson is in those days was a known Indian killer, and yet today is so glorified, and his image honored on the place of our $20 bill. Why should the Confederate flag be removed, which was in truth a symbol of the separation of the states, but is also a reminder of the issue of slavery, while this man’s face remains on our bill? As dirty as it seems for this bit of history to be swept under the rug and forgotten, you do not see Native Americans rioting in the streets or screaming ” Death to White Supremacy!” Or “Native lives matter!” Or asking that his image be removed. Our history though not 100℅ pure, is important and should not be tampered with or taken away. My point in bringing up the history of former President Andrew Jackson and my ancestors, is to give an example of the fact that there are many people groups that can take symbols, or pieces of our history as an offence. We have all been wronged at some point. What will be left if we remove all that does not please everyone? What diversity will our Nation have? Symbols like the Confederate flag and Andrew Jackson’s face are not the cause of racism today. In reality, the U.S is the most culturally diverse and accepting of all nations. Reminders of the civil war, corrupt leaders like Andrew Jackson can serve to show us our fallen nature as human beings, and be a warning to us that where there is too much power given, power will corrupt. Constant accountability and perseverence is required to protect liberty and freedom in a land. History should be the thing that impassions us to fight to protect every belief and freedom we deserve, not the thing that we try to pretend did not happen. What of the lives that were lost in the civil war? What of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of war heros of the southern states? Should their freedom to fly their flag be infringed upon, because it offends a man from the north who is flying his ancestor’s flag freely? I can only imagine how I would feel if part of my family heritage were taken away. If the Campbell tartan was outlawed because they oppressed fellow lowlanders in the past. I would be outraged because I myself had committed no crime! I would be hurt, and protesting. A symbol of your heritage is not a crime and should not be treated as one. Especially perhaps when it is found offensive because of something that happened a hundred years ago. 

U.S history is important to keep, every detail. So that the mistakes and victories alike, are never forgotten and can serve as lessons for today. So that we may honor those who’s lives were lost defending what we so easily let go of today- Liberty.

I am very much afraid that the only purpose of bringing up this issue at this time is to cause more division between us all, and to pave the way for more laws against “that which offends”. 

That will lead to things which I am absolutely certain we do not want. 

We will never all agree on every issue and belief. The only thing that the removing of that which offends, can serve to do is cause more division between us, and more laws against our freedom of speech and RELIGION. 

It MUST stop here. 

Every decision that is made should be made with our future in mind as well as the present. 

Infringing on freedom will never lead to anything but pain and suffering. 

Freedom is a gift from God, our Creator, and no man has the right to take it away. 

-Caitlin Campbell

5 thoughts on “Lessons From The Past: The Need For Our History”

  1. Great post Caitlin. There are so many things that offend. Where will it end if this can of worms is opened? This why it is so important to teach the true beginnings of the history of our country. Our freedom to express is so important. It is one of the main things that separate us from other nations.

    1. Exactly. Our history cannot be forgotten. Not the good, not the bad. It is there for us to learn from, and apply to the future of our country. If every part that is painful, or shameful is taken away, or hidden…what would there be to stop such history from repeating itself? History is there to remind us of how our country was founded, as well as to remind us of how fallable our nature as humans is, and the fact that where too much power is given, it WILL be abused.

  2. Amen! Very well written. Our country does have some sad, scary history, but we should teach it and learn from it, not cover it up and erase it!! How is that helpful?! It does seem people are making choices without thinking of the repercussions…

  3. Good written Caitlin.. I’m not American, i don’t know the history of America, but what i read is so unbelievable because this is what the history happen when we are not in that time.. Very nice and smart who write that History… So sad, shameful, painful and scary history is STOP!!!… So what we have in this future is to start a new beginning..

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