Historic Markers Across Tennessee

A Desire to Possess

Marker ID:  
Location: at the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park on Shadden Rd., Birchwood, TN
County: Meigs
Coordinates: N 35° 24.423    W 085° 0.383
  35.40705    -85.00638333
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: None


In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. It ended the century long treaty relation that had defined Anglo-American, Cherokee relations. The debates that preceded the removal legislation set off fierce debates.

Public opinion in the United States varied greatly. Some believed that the Indian peoples had a perfect right to the lands they occupied. Others believed that Indians were simply tenants who could be removed at the will of the land owners (usually understood as the various states). In the end, the decision to enforce removal implanted what a writer in 1829 called "an indelible stigma" on the character of the United States.

"The promises of Washington and Jefferson have not been fulfilled. The policy of the United States on Indian affairs has taken a different direction, for no other reason that the Cherokees have so far become civilized as to appreciate a regular form of Government...Cupidity and self-interest are at the bottom of all these difficulties - A desire to possess the Indian land is paramount to a desire to see him established on the soil as a civilized man." Cherokee Phoenix, New Echota, Cherokee Nation, November 12, 1831

"Cupidity and self-interest are at the bottom of all these difficulties..."