For some two hundred years, Americans took land from the Native Americans by duplicity, threats, broken treaties, and force. A young man named John Ross-dignified, educated, and one-eighth Cherokee-cultivates the favor of powerful congressmen and stymies all land removal efforts from the presidencies of James Madison to John Quincy Adams.
At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, Cherokee allies save Andrew Jackson from certain defeat in the fight against Creek warriors. When Jackson is propelled to the presidency in 1828, pressure to expand territory for slavery results in Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830.
In 1838, U.S. troops force the Cherokee from their homes and into prison camps. In one of the worst winters on record, Ross leads the Cherokee removal to present day Oklahoma. Despite all efforts, Ross cannot avoid his people from being drawn into the vortex of the Civil War. American Exodus tells his story.