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Although it had once been the property of the European powers (see Chapters 7 and 8), North and South America were relatively free of colonial ownership by 1820. Following the American Revolution, most countries gained their independence from foreign masters.

As a small but aspiring power, the United States wanted to keep it that way. To this end, President James Monroe posted a stay-out warning on the Western Hemisphere to the rest of the world. The Monroe Doctrine (1823) said the United States wouldn't tolerate further attempts by European powers (the only powers there then were) to colonize the New World. That it worked in the 1800s was more bark than bite since the U.S. lacked the power to back it up, but the Monroe Doctrine established a precedent still cited to this day.


Question: What was the Monroe Doctrine?

Answer: The Monroe Doctrine was a declaration issued by President James Monroe warning European powers not to establish any more colonies in the New World.


American renewal usually meant American Indian removal. In fact, President Andrew Jackson made his reputation as a frontier American Indian fighter and signed a bill called the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The act set aside a big share of the federal budget to have the Army force all the American Indian tribes out of the fertile river valleys the settlers wanted and into dusty prairies west of the Mississippi River. By 1850, most of the American Indians east of the Mississippi were gone, forced to either move west or die along the way. For more than 100,000 American Indians, including Americanized tribes who had their own schools, newspapers, and farms, this journey west was called the Trail of Tears (1838), a black mark in U.S. history .

In 1832, in the case of Worcester v. Georgia, the Supreme Court struck down the Georgia law that limited the authority the Cherokee had over their own lands, stating that only the federal government, and not the states, had authority in Indian affairs. A lot of anti-Manifest Destiny people applauded this decision, but that didn't stop President Jackson. While Worcester v. Georgia might have given the tribes the right to fight eviction, President Jackson wanted none of that. Jackson declared that Chief Justice John Marshall "has made his decision; now let him enforce it."

After gunpoint negotiations, Cherokee families were forced to leave their homes in 1838 to 1839 and walk the 1,200 mile Trail of Tears to barren land in Oklahoma. With no supplies, half of the families died on the forced march to what was then called Indian Territory. Later on, even that would be taken away from them (see Chapter 14).

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