Wealthy or not, those who were moved from or through Tennessee were anguished to leave the land where their nations had lived for thousands of years. The "Indian Removal Act", signed into law by President Andrew Jackson in 1830, caused much suffering for those who were forced to follow a "trail of tears" to unfamiliar lands in the west.
Famous French author Alexis de Tocqueville was in Memphis, Tennessee, as Choctaws were being dispossessed and moved from the surrounding region. He wrote the following in Demoracy in America:
In the whole scene there was an air of ruin and destruction, something which betrayed a final and irrevocable adieu; one couldn't watch without feeling one's heart wrung. The Indians were tranquil, but sombre and taciturn. There was one who could speak English and of whom I asked why the Chactas were leaving their country. "To be free," he answered, could never get any other reason out of him. We ... watch the expulsion ... of one of the most celebrated and ancient American peoples.