Indian Removal Act Passed by Congress: On This Day, May 26

President Andrew Jackson to Secretary of War Lewis Cass (GLI)

The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress on this day in 1830 and signed by President Andrew Jackson two days later. The act called for the removal of Native Americans residing within state borders in the East to a newly created Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma and parts of Nebraska. The goal was to free up state lands for white settlers, particularly in the Southeast, where a growing population clamored for access to agriculturally rich land on which to grow cotton.

While some members of each affected tribe—which included the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles—left voluntarily, most refused to leave and fought back, through physical and legal means. By 1838, President Jackson deployed the US Army to remove the remaining Native Americans, who were forced on a march west. An estimated one quarter perished on this "Trail of Tears." 

Explore scholarly essays and teaching resources on the Indian Removal Act and Native American policy here