ethan davis on law and trail of tears


Ethan Davis, ‘An Administrative Trail of Tears: Indian Removal’, American Journal of Legal History 50 (2010).


In the early nineteenth century, the federal government uprooted the so-called five “Civilized Tribes” of the South and sent them westward to modern day Oklahoma. This article rediscovers the long-forgotten administrative system that guided the removal of one of those tribes: the Choctaws. Because judicial review was non-existent, control of the removal was concentrated in the so-called external law-the statutes passed by Congress and the treaties between the United States and the Indian tribes – and in the so-called internal law – the regulations promulgated by the War Department and the operational system developed by the administrators themselves. Drawing almost exclusively on primary sources, this article shows how the interrelationships between these layers of administrative law produced a tragic result.

2 Responses to “ethan davis on law and trail of tears”

  1. 1 Nicole Borda


    We are a group of juniors at Saratoga High School in California who are eager to participate in the History Day Competition. Our topic is Jackson’s Removal of the Cherokees. We found your contact information through the Settlers Colonial Studies Blog. To add to our research we were wondering if you could answer a few broad questions regarding the topic.

    What is your main focus in Cherokee research? Do you have any specific information around the time of the Trail of Tears 1828-1839? Do you have any helpful sources that you would recommend for us to look into?

    Overall we are looking for specific information pertaining to the Trail of Tears. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Please specify if you are not comfortable with us including the information in our bibliography.

    Thank you,
    Nicole Borda
    Samantha Hoffman
    Sneha Shivkumar
    Ruchie Bhardwaj
    Priyanka Arunkumar

  2. 2 edwardcav

    Hi there guys. Good luck with the project. Unfortunately I cannot help you, but I know there is a lot written on this topic, and you will find it in some of the good journals of Indigenous studies and American history.

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