|Date(s):||February 2, 1831|
|Location(s):||ONTARIO, New York|
|Tag(s):||Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Indians, Native Americans, 1832 election, Henry Clay, Five Civilized Tribes, Creek Indians, American Indian Policy, Indian Removal, Land Policy, Manifest Destiny|
|Course:||“Early American Republic,” Hobart and William Smith Colleges|
|Rating:||4.38 (8 votes)|
February 2nd 1831
Geneva Courier: “American Systems. For President, Henry Clay.”
There were two major contenders in the 1832 presidential election, the incumbent Andrew Jackson and the challenger Henry Clay. Jackson was quite popular, which was largely due to the fact that he was the first modern politician who had carefully crafted an image for himself. His popularity led to great power which, among other things, made him able to easily to convince Congress to pass his legislation with little opposition. One example of his power, which caused great debate, was the series of Indian removals in Georgia which he began to champion in his first term. Although the tribes which were removed, the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Seminole, were considered the “five civilized tribes,” because they owned and farmed their own land and even had some slaves, but they were still savages in the eyes of Jackson.
Jackson’s deplorable treatment of the Indians would become a rallying cry for Henry Clay in his bid for the presidency. Despite the fact that in earlier writing Clay had stated that that he felt that Native Americans were a lower form of life who could never be assimilated with the American people, in the election campaign of 1832 he to defended their right to land and sovereignty. His National Democratic Party, which would be morphed into the Whig party by the next election, focused on moral issues like abolition and temperance, which were mostly championed by women’s groups at this time, included opposition to Indian Removal as a key issue. Clay used the growing media to attempt to get his message to a wider audience. This can be seen in an article in the Pro-National Democratic Geneva Courier in its weekly segment “American System. For President, Henry Clay.” This part of the weekly paper was meant to spread the praises of Clay and denounce Jackson. In the February 2nd 1831 issue the paper gave an account of how Jackson sacrificed the “poor Indians,” and how such acts would bring great shame to the country. Despite the efforts of the paper and other anti-removal campaigns, the issue of Indian removal did not pull on the heart strings of as many voters as Clay had hoped. In 1832 the Seminole Indians, the last of the Indian groups to remain in Georgia were forced out, and the issue of Indian removal played little role in the election. Clay was crushed 219-49 in electoral college, as his opposition to Indian removal was unable to sway enough voters. Still, these accounts indicated that some white Americans had sympathy for the Indians plight.