Unit 4: 1800-1850

1800-1850: The Louisiana Purchase paved the way for ever-increasing incursions into Native American lands. For Native American tribes, the War of 1812 was seen as their last hope in the face of Manifest Destiny. Federal Native American policy changed from purchasing Native American lands through treaties to exchanging Native American lands in the east for lands west of the Mississippi. The Removal Policy had a terrible impact on some tribes. The trans-Mississippi expansion affected the lives of Native Americans in the west, such as destruction of the buffalo herds. Native Americans employed various strategies such as accommodation and resistance in regard to Westward expansion.


1802 Congress appropriated funds to “civilize and educate” Indian people.

1803 The Louisiana Purchase by the United States from France, adds a large Indian population to the United States.

1803-1806 Lewis and Clark expeditions open up the West.

1809-1811 Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, tries to unite tribes against the United States.

1809-1821 Sequoyah creates the Cherokee alphabet.

1812-1815 The War of 1812 between United States and England. Tecumseh, a brigadier general for the British, is killed.

1813-1818 The Creek War takes place in the Southeast. Andrew Jackson takes Creek lands, invades Florida to punish Seminoles.

1819 Spain cedes Florida to the United States.

1830 The Indian Removal Act calls for relocation of eastern Native Americans to Indian territory west of the Mississippi River. This is contested in court.

1832 The Supreme Court decides in favor of the Cherokees, but Andrew Jackson ignores the decision.

1831-1839 Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast relocated to Indian Territory.

1832 The Bureau of Indian Affairs was organized in the War Department.

1834 The Trade and Intercourse Act redefines the Indian territory and the Permanent Indian Frontier and gives the army the right to quarantine Indians.

1835 Texas declares itself a republic independent from Mexico.

1845-1853 The Spanish Southwest and its many tribes become part of the United States.

1848-1849 Gold is discovered in California; destruction of California and Plains Indians.

1849 The Bureau of Indian Affairs is transferred to the Department of the Interior.

1851 The Treaty of Ft. Laramie between the United States and Northern Plains tribes.

This unit begins with a general brief overview of the happenings in American history during this time period. Next, an overview from
the following information and the timelines should be provided. Students should understand that the Louisiana Purchase paved the way for everincreasing incursions into Native American lands. 

1. Read and discuss the following paragraph about land ownership in the "New World". What do you think were some of the consequences of early land ownership in the United States?

Since it was almost impossible to acquire land in Europe, landless people in Europe viewed the “new country” as offering them great opportunities – of course, at the expense of Indian land and lives. As a result of the Louisiana Purchase, the same effects that had already been felt by Native American people along the Atlantic and in other regions similar to the Southwest, would now be felt by tribes in the vast interior regions. 

2. Read the story of Sacagawea. 

There was controversy over the Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebration as some tribes view their trip as the beginning of the end. There is even controversy over who Sacagawea really was. She may have ties to the Crow people. 

3. Discuss the concept of Manifest Destiny. Examine the information provided below about how Native American tribes responded to the idea of Manifest Destiny. 

Students should understand that for American Indian tribes, the War of 1812 was seen as their last hope in the face of Manifest Destiny. Tribes supported the British, as they had during the Revolutionary War, in hopes of containing the young United States. Students should also be aware of the roles played by Tecumseh and his brother 95 Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) who tried to unite Indian tribes in the Midwest against the Americans. Students should be aware of the major impact these two Shawnee leaders had against the Americans and that the British failed to match the tenacity of their Indian allies. It was this tenacious spirit of the Indians that the Americans, after the war, tried very hard to break. When the war of 1812 ended with the 1814 Treaty of Ghent, the real losses were with the Indians. Ironically, while the United States still maintained relations with the British after the war, they sought to devastate Indian country. 

4. From the time of Washington’s administration up until the late 1980s, the dominant U.S. policy toward Native Americans was one that attempted to purchase Indian land as cheaply as possible and avoid further war with Native American tribes. How did the United States Government go about doing this? What consequences did Native American tribes encounter? 

It was felt that this policy would benefit both Indians and frontiersmen. Of note, of course, is that this policy of peace and purchase was cheaper for the young nation than an Indian policy of war and conquest would have been. Students should also understand that this “moral” policy established very important precedents for dealing

with Indian nations as equals, i.e., negotiating treaties with them for successions of land. These precedents have been key in Indian/federal relations up to today. There were approximately 80 treaties negotiated with tribes during the terms of the first four presidents, about 20 during the Washington and Adams administrations and 60 of them during the Jefferson and Madison administrations. The first treaty was with the Delawares and other treaties were with the Iroquois tribes, other Algonquian tribes, and the Five Civilized Tribes. Treaties in the early1800s were with many of the same groups but also with western groups such as the Sioux, Winnebagoes, Iowas, Kansas, and Otoes.

5. Read and evaluate the American plan to "civilize" Native Americans. Give your perspectives on this plan.

The American plans to “civilize” Indians were based on feelings that the American way of life was the “highest” achieved since classical times. Thus, assimilating Indians into the American way of life was considered the height of generosity. Students should understand that this attitude prevailed until the 1840s and 1850s. At that juncture, the common attitude about Indians changed to the view that Indians were incapable of fitting into American society. Students should also understand that Indian tribes strongly resisted efforts to “Americanize” them. By the time of the Monroe administration already in the 1820s, the federal land policy had changed to one of trying to exchange Indian lands in the east for lands west of the Mississippi. This policy was made possible by the Louisiana Purchase. By the time of the Jackson administration in the 1830s, the federal policy of Indian Removal – i.e., forced move to the west – was underway. Students should be particularly aware of the constitutional crisis caused when Jackson defied Chief Justice John Marshall’s Supreme Court ruling that favored Cherokee claims over the state of Georgia’s attempts to enact state jurisdiction over Cherokee lands. Jackson’s desired policy ideas had run headlong into the Supreme Court’s interpretation of constitutional and Indian treaty rights. 

6. Read and discuss From Revolution to Removal.

The policy of Indian removal was bitterly debated both in Congress and in the public press. Students should understand that the policy, while supposedly proposed as a humane compromise, was in actuality very cruel as implemented under the Jackson administration, and as attested to by the historical accounts of the Cherokee nation’s “Trail of Tears” today. Students should be able to explain the terrible impact that the Removal Policy had on tribes. Indian people were uprooted from land they had known as their homes for centuries and were forced to leave behind their way of life as well as the graves of their ancestors. Some of the tribes that were forcibly moved had even fought under Gen. Andrew Jackson in the First Seminole War in exchange for a guarantee

that they would not be removed. Ultimately, that guarantee was not honored. A huge number of Indians died along the journey west from exposure and sickness. Tribes were often divided when some members were removed to the west while others hid in order to remain in their homelands. Those individuals who did survive the harsh move had to establish new homes and communities in lands that were totally unfamiliar to them and very different from anything their ancestors had known before. 1

7. Analyze the information below about the removal of the Cherokees and/or Choctaws and discuss.

For most of their daily needs, the Plains tribes, like the Sioux and Cheyenne, relied heavily on the vast buffalo herds that roamed the northern Great Plains. In the 1840s, tensions began to grow between the Plains tribes and the emigrants traveling by wagon along the Oregon Trail. In the late 1840s and 1850s, other trails were created to take miners and settlers to California and Colorado. Settlers also began pouring in to Kansas and Nebraska. The wagon trains and influx of new people began driving the buffalo away from the traditional Indian hunting grounds. This began to have serious effects on tribal ways of life. Thus, friction between Indians and the new settlers and miners increased and in 1854 resulted in the first open warfare in the West between whites and Indians. Tribes responded in different ways to the influx.

MINNESOTA SOCIAL STUDIES CONTENT STANDARD(S): 16. Rivalries among European nations and their search for new opportunities fueled expanding global trade networks and, in North America, colonization and settlement and the exploitation of indigenous peoples and lands; colonial development evoked varied responses by indigenous nations, and produced regional societies and economies that included imported slave labor and distinct forms of local government. Analyze the consequences of the transatlantic Columbian Exchange of peoples, animals, plants and pathogens on North American societies and ecosystems. Analyze the impact of European colonization within North America on indigenous nations; analyze the impact of indigenous nations on colonization. Analyze how the expansion of United States territory and redefinition of borders affected the relationship of the United States with other nations, provided land for settlement, and resulted in political conflict.