The Trail of Tears shouldn’t have happened. People at the time knew that it was wrong, that it was illegal, and that it was unconstitutional, but they did it anyway. Historian Amy Sturgis explains why the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation to “Indian Territory” (modern-day Oklahoma) was wrong on both moral and legal grounds. *It was morally wrong because of the loss of life. Somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of the Cherokee Nation was lost as a result of the Trail of Tears. *It was morally wrong because the arguments used to justify the move were based on falsehood. *It stripped property rights from a minority that lacked the means to defend itself and redistributed their property to people who wanted it for themselves. *It was legally wrong on Constitutional and judicial grounds. *It was based, in part, on an invalid treaty. How can the Trail of Tears provide lessons today? There were people who stood against the Trail of Tears at the time it happened. They were unable to change U.S. policy, but their words speak to us today.
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