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In 1838, approximately 15,000 Cherokees were forcibly removed from north Georgia and western North Carolina by the United States government under orders of President Andrew Jackson. They traveled through the winter over a thousand miles to Oklahoma, with 4,000 dying along the way.

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In 1838, approximately 15,000 Cherokees were forcibly removed from north Georgia and western North Carolina by the United States government under orders of President Andrew Jackson. They traveled through the winter over a thousand miles to Oklahoma, with 4,000 dying along the way.

Several years later, the Cherokee file suit against Andrew Jackson, accusing him of murder. You are Jackson's defense attorney, and while you believe he is guilty of the crimes he is accused of, you still have to defend him. Using the documents submitted as evidence, write your opening statement to the court.

1830 Map of North Georgia

Gold Deposits of Georgia

  • Document A
  • What body of water served as the border between the Cherokee and the rest of Georgia?
  • The largest veins of gold are located in which region of Georgia?
  • What physical features dominate the area around the gold deposits?
  • Why do you think the state of Georgia wanted Cherokee land so badly?

Document B

  • What groups of people do you see in the painting?
  • List several activities you see occurring in the painting.
  • What season is it in this scene? How do you know?
  • How could this painting be used to argue that the Trail of Tears was just?
  • How could this painting be used to argue that the Trail of Tears was not just?
president jackson s second annual message to congress dec 6 1830
President Jackson’s Second Annual Message to Congress Dec. 6, 1830
  • "It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation.
  • The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the (west), and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange...Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but (why should they not do what) our ancestors did or than our children are now doing? …Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from everything…? … Can it be cruel in this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.
  • And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? … the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from … perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.”
  • Document C
  • Is President Jackson delivering good news or bad news to Congress? How do you know this?
  • In your words, what is the argument Jackson is making to remove the Indians?
  • According to Jackson, which region of the U.S. is already free of Indians by 1830?
  • What seems to be the attitude of the president toward the reluctance of the Indians to leave their land?
preamble of 1835 new echota treaty
Preamble of 1835 New Echota Treaty

"Whereas the Cherokees are anxious to make some arrangements with the Government of the United States whereby the difficulties they have experienced by a residence within the settled parts of the United States under the jurisdiction and laws of the State Governments may be terminated… and with a view to reuniting their people in one body and securing a permanent home for themselves and their posterity in the country selected by their forefathers…and where they can establish and enjoy a government of their choice …and as may tend to their individual comfort and their advancement in civilization."

  • Document D
  • In the context it is used in the document, what does “anxious” mean?
  • According to the document, what will the Cherokee gain by agreeing to the treaty?
  • Who do you think wrote this treaty? What makes you think that?
letter from chief john ross protesting the new echota treaty
Letter from Chief John Ross protesting the New Echota Treaty

“By the stipulations of this instrument, we are despoiled of our private possessions, the (inalienable) property of individuals. We are stripped of every attribute of freedom and eligibility for legal self-defence. Our property may be plundered before our eyes; violence may be committed on our persons; even our lives may be taken away, and there is none to regard our complaints. We are denationalized; we are disfranchised. We are deprived of membership in the human family! We have neither land nor home, nor resting place that can be called our own. And this is effected by the provisions of a compact which assumes the venerated, the sacred appellation of treaty.”

“We are overwhelmed! Our hearts are sickened, our utterance is paralized, when we reflect on the condition in which we are placed…”

  • Document E
  • According to Chief Ross, what will happen to the Cherokee people after signing the treaty?
  • Why does Chief Ross state the Cherokee are no longer members of the human race? Do you agree or disagree?
  • Why did Chief Ross write this letter?
john marshall worcester v georgia 1832
John Marshall, Worcester v. Georgia (1832)

From the commencement of our government, congress has passed acts to regulate trade

and (exchange) with the Indians; which treat them as nations, respect their rights, and

manifest a firm purpose to afford that protection which treaties stipulate. All these acts…

consider the several Indian nations as distinct political communities, having territorial

boundaries, within which their authority is exclusive, and having a right to all the lands

within those boundaries, which is not only acknowledged, but guaranteed by the United


The Cherokee nation, then, is a distinct community, occupying its own territory, with

boundaries accurately described, in which the laws of Georgia can have no force, and

which the citizens of Georgia have no right to enter, but with the consent of the

Cherokees themselves, or in conformity with treaties, and with the acts of congress. The

whole (exchange) between the United States and this nation, is, by our constitution and

and laws, vested in the government of the United States.

  • Document F
  • According to John Marshall, why should the Cherokee nation be protected?
  • Who has the right to decide who enters Cherokee land?
  • In what ways does Marshall say the United States has worked with the Indians in the past?
map of the trail of tears
Map of the Trail of Tears

Document G

  • According to the map, how many states were involved in the Trail of Tears?

2. Why might have there been more than one route used?

3. What does the shaded area signify?

how to write an opening statement
How to Write an Opening Statement
  • The opening statement of a trial is your only chance to make a good first impression. During opening statements, lawyers for both sides have their chance to introduce themselves, their clients, and their case to the judge and jury. This part of the trial sets the scene for the rest of the case and is your first chance to get the judge or jury on your side.
  • Introduce yourself. Make sure the judge and jury know your name, as well as that of your client.
  • Keep a relaxed style. An opening statement should be conversational and authoritative. Do not be argumentative or combative at this point. Maintain a professional demeanor that will help the jury trust you and what you say.

3. Tell your story. Let the judge and jury know why you are there by giving them your side of the story. Give a brief rundown of your argument and what you plan to prove.

4. Present an overview of any evidence you will present during the case.

5. Appeal to the jury’s emotions. Get them personally involved.

  • Be honest and upfront. Admit negative facts about your client that are likely to come out during the trial. Negative facts always sound better when you bring them to light yourself.
  • Tell the jury what you want the verdict to be. Be sure to sound confident and sincere.

8. Be short and to the point. Being long-winded will lose the jury’s attention.

9. Conclude with a major point. The last thing you say should be memorable and important. Use a punch line repetitively, repeat the theme, and tell the jury what you expect from them.