Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 3 > Issue 2

Congress and the Political Economy of the Indian Removal Act

Jeffery A. Jenkins, Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, USA, , Thomas R. Gray, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, USA,
Suggested Citation
Jeffery A. Jenkins and Thomas R. Gray (2023), "Congress and the Political Economy of the Indian Removal Act", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 3: No. 2, pp 237-276.

Publication Date: 25 Jul 2023
© 2023 J. A. Jenkins and T. R. Gray
American Political Development,  Political History,  Political Economy,  Legislatures
CongressIndian Removalroll-call voteselectoral connection


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In this article:
A Short History of Indian Removal 
Legislative Proceedings 
Empirical Analyses 
The Aftermath: Treaties and Removal 
Appendix: Indian Removal Act of 1830 


We analyze the Indian Removal Act of 1830 from a political-economic perspective, covering both the determinants of the congressional voting on the Act as well as the downstream consequences — treaties and the physical removal of the tribes — of the Act's passage. We find, first, that ideology was the primary determinant of vote choice on Indian Removal in the House. Other factors — like partisanship and sectionalism — were important on their own, but in "horserace" analyses House member ideology trumps all other factors. We also find that the vote on Indian Removal mattered electorally for House members, but in a somewhat nuanced way. First, vote choice on Removal was not significantly related to the choice to seek re-election. Second, members who supported Removal in Anti-Jackson districts won significantly less often than those who voted against removal. And, finally, members who supported Removal in Anti-Jackson districts saw their vote shares decline significantly. We also find, in a systematic analysis of all roll call votes in the 21st House leading up to election day, that Indian Removal was not only a consequential policy for members' elections in 1830, but that it was the most consequential policy of the 21st Congress for electoral purposes.



Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 3, Issue 2 Special Issue: Antebellum Political Economy: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.