I've recently been reading about the Indians Wars in the mid-1800s, especially as they focused towards the Great Plains. I know that a lot of people supported the army and their westward ventures, but I was wondering if there might also have been some sort of opposition.

Were there any pro-Native American groups that were against the US infringement on Native American territories in the 1800s? If not, is there at least any evidence of sentiment against these actions?

Thanks in advance!

  • 9
    I think "most Native Americans" might be an answer. Or are you just looking for evidence of white opposition?
    – Robert Columbia
    Mar 27, 2017 at 14:47
  • 5
    You might want to look at the attitude of the Quakers.
    – AllInOne
    Mar 27, 2017 at 18:57
  • 4
  • 5
    And I have read somewhere that one of the reason of the USA looking for indepence was that the British government was against further expansion into Indian territory...
    – SJuan76
    Mar 27, 2017 at 19:39
  • Weren't the federalists, and later the whigs, opposed to further expansion?
    – Ne Mo
    Jan 25, 2018 at 9:58

1 Answer 1


I can point out a few things from the early 1800’s, although I realize that you are more interested in the later history of the Midwest. The Treaty of Ghent included a provision that the United States not interfere with the natives. This was extension of British foreign policy, which sought to contain the new country.

The Georgia Gold Rush of 1829 brought a large number of prospectors onto Cherokee lands. The state of Georgia had assumed tight control over Native American territories. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall ruled that Native American territories were to be dealt with as a separate, sovereign nation. This meant that they were to be dealt with only by the Federal Government through treaties. Andrew Jackson defied Marshall’s ruling; "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!". The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was passed, leading to the Trail of Tears.

The typical narrative is that the Supreme Court protected the natives, while the other branches violated their rights*. I think that the truth may be more complicated. This simple interpretation allows the Supreme Court to remain squeaky clean. The Indian removal act was also opposed by the Whigs and New Englanders. This has undertones of prewar North-South tensions.

*Stephen Breyer, "UNF Presidential Lecture Series", January 22, 2018.


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