Today’s American Minute: The Oklahoma Land Rush

 A gunshot at high noon on APRIL 22, 1889 began the famous Oklahoma Land Rush.

Within 9 hours, some two million acres became the private property of settlers who staked their claims for 160 acres to homestead.

Riding as fast as they could, many found desirable plots already taken by “Boomers” who began intruding ten years earlier, and “Sooners,” individuals who entered the territory just days or hours sooner than was permitted.

The remaining land had been assigned to dozens of Indian tribes, including the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee, who had survived the Federal Government’s horrible “Trail of Tears” march during the freezing winter of 1838-1839.

Over 17,000 Indians had been forcibly removed by a Federal Government mandate from Georgia and other Eastern States. A Democrat-controlled Congress passed the Indian Removal Act by a single vote in 1830, and it was signed by Democrat President Andrew Jackson.

Opposing the Federal Government’s mandate were Christian missionaries, such as Jeremiah Evarts, Congressmen Davy Crockett of Tennessee, Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, and New Jersey Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen.

Over 12,000 Cherokees signed a petition in protest, and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall even ruled in favor of the Cherokee Indian Tribe. But Democrat President Jackson, and his successor, Democrat President Martin Van Buren, refused to abide by the Court’s decision.

President Ronald Reagan commemorated the thousands who died as a result of the Federal Government’s policy by designating the “Trail of Tears” a National Historic Trail in 1987.

Oklahoma, which is the Choctaw word for “red people,” became the 46th State to join the Union in 1907.

The Preamble of Oklahoma’s Constitution reads:

“Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessing of liberty; to secure just and rightful government; to promote our mutual welfare and happiness, we, the people of the State of Oklahoma, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

Cherokee Will Rogers was an actor and cowboy philosopher who was offered the nomination for Oklahoma’s Governor, but declined.

He said:

“The Lord constituted everybody that no matter what color you are, you require the same amount of nourishment.”

He also remarked:

“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”

And finally, Rogers quipped:

“The trouble with our praying is, we just do it as a means of last resort,” and “Lord, let me live until I die.”

Oklahoma, State of. 1907, Constitution, Preamble. Charles E. Rice, The Supreme Court & Public Prayer (NY: Fordham University Press, 1964), p. 174; “Hearings, Prayers in Public Schools & Other Matters,” Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate (87 Cong., 2 Sess.), 1962, pp. 268 et seq.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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