When it comes to midterm elections, what do your students think? Are they confused as to why the elections are being held without a presidential race? Or are they tuned in to the fact that the officials elected during midterm elections can have a great impact on the future of their local communities? Do they realize that some of the officials elected during midterm elections have influence on what laws are passed in Congress?
The Indian Removal Act was a midterm election issue that had long-term consequences. Leading up to the passing of the act, not all members of Congress supported it. However, voters did support the act, as it freed up more than 25 million acres of fertile farmland in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee for use mainly by white settlers. Despite opposition from a few members of Congress and the Native Americans, voters influenced their elected officials who passed the act into law.
Because the voice of voters was heard and accepted, thousands of Native Americans were forced to move from their homes into what was then called Indian Territory. This relocation became known as the Trail of Tears, and more than 4,000 Native Americans died because of disease, starvation, and exposure to extreme weather along the way to their new homes.
Ask your students how voters influenced the law, and how did the rules of who could vote influence the passing of this act? Discuss ways voters today influence the decisions made by our elected officials. Are there issues in your area that are hot topics for this election? Do your students see long-lasting consequences if voters influence their elected officials one way or the other?
More related resources from National Geographic Education
This Day in Geographic History: 1830: Indian Removal Act
Collection: Native Americans