Speaker encourages reevaluation of Andrew Jackson

Sydney Hulebak, Campus Carrier Staff Reporter

 “Andrew Jackson.” As soon as the last syllable left his lips, the crowd erupted in a cacophony of “boos” and “hisses.” Historian Tim Alan Garrison prompted this bold reaction as a lead-in to his Feb. 24 lecture on the “Culpability for the Trail of Tears: The Trial of Andrew Jackson.”

Garrison’s talk, sponsored by the Chieftain’s Museum and the Georgia Humanities Council, marks the fourth lecture in a five-part series commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears.

                                                                                         Olivia Murphy, staff photojournalist
Tim Garrison studies the legal history of Native Americans and has been
in Native American history since his childhood.  His Feb. 24
lecture at Berry focused
on Andrew Jackson’s Native American removal 
policies and the Trail of Tears.  Berry
is hosting a five-part lecture series 
this year to commemorate the 175th anniversary
if the Trail of Tears. 

 Tom Kennedy, dean of the Evans School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, said the goal of the series is to “make the Berry community more aware of our history, the history of our nation and the history of a people we are related to.”

Kennedy said Garrison was a great addition to this series because he could give “insight and understanding into the impact presidents [namely Andrew Jackson] had on this movement.”

Garrison, a native of Gainesville, Ga., grew up along the old border to the southern Cherokee nation. As a young child, he knew that Native Americans had once occupied the land around Gainesville because the geography was abundant with Native American-influenced names, but they were no longer there. He wondered why, and his fascination with Native American history began.

What began as a career in law morphed into a strategic decision to study the legal history of Native American populations, especially in the Southeast. Garrison was intrigued by this deep-rooted hate that many historians had for Andrew Jackson and his Native American removal policies.

Garrison started to look at historians who had opinions on Jackson and studied how their views ranged from pure hatred to believing that he had Native Americans’ best interests at heart. This led him to the conclusion that historians should “not be so obsessed with Andrew Jackson.”

 “There are many things [and many people] that brought about Indian removal policy,” Garrison said. He cited examples such as greedy entrepreneurs who ferociously sought out Native American land on which to grow cotton.

Garrison said American perceptions of modern Native Americans vary based on geographical location.

“An interesting question for the next 100 years is going to be how do we define Native Americans and how do Native Americans define themselves?” Garrison said.

Students who attended the lecture were surprised at their new perceptions of history after hearing Garrison speak. Freshman Maggie Midkiff said the lecture offered a fresh perspective on the Jackson administration.

 “This lecture was very informative and gave me a whole new perspective on the life and times of Andrew Jackson,”  Midkiff said.

Senior Kate Farrar said she liked how the lecture was relevant to the local area.

 “I enjoyed learning more about this historical event that has deep ties to Rome, Ga.,” Farrar said.

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