NASHVILLE, Tenn. – President Andrew Jackson gave the order that started the Trail of Tears, the cruel removal of American Indians to west of the Mississippi River. Now Jackson's plantation home near Nashville, the Hermitage, has been named as an official site along the historic trail that commemorates the Trail of Tears.
Hermitage Executive Director Patricia Leach said the recognition Wednesday opens a new chapter in Jacksonian history by acknowledging one the darkest periods in his presidency.
Jackson issued the order in 1830 to forcibly remove more than 16,000 Cherokee from their homes in Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia. Hundreds died during the trip west in 1838 to what is now Oklahoma; thousands more died after relocation.
"We need to confront these issues head on, and the Hermitage is a neutral place to do it," Leach said.
While Jackson's position as a forceful proponent of Indian removal has never been a secret, the Hermitage historical site has only recently started to address these issues.
Representing the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Troy Wayne Poteete said the Hermitage is following a trend of historical sites and museums by paying more attention to negative parts of American history that have traditionally been ignored.
"Having the Hermitage certified as a site on the trail opens up a place for discussions to be had," said Poteete, who worked with the Hermitage to secure the official marker.