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Trail of Tears

in reference to the U.S. government's brutally incompetent Cherokee removal of 1838-9, attested by 1908.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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trail of tears in Culture

Trail of Tears definition


The route along which the United States government forced several tribes of Native Americans, including the Cherokees, Seminoles, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks, to migrate to reservations west of the Mississippi River in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. Those on the march suffered greatly from disease and mistreatment.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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