Both the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Treaty of New Echota aimed to accomplish removal through voluntary emigration. Such efforts largely failed and by 1838 only about 2,000 Cherokee affected by the treaty had moved west. For those remaining, hope for success remained alive as John Ross continued to negotiate with the American government.
During 1837, American military leaders prepared to act. They marshaled soldiers and militiamen from Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee within the Cherokee Nation. These troops began to build temporary forts from which they could base their moves against the roughly 16,000 Cherokee who remained in the Nation.
The American government, led by Andrew Jackson's picked successor, President Martin Van Buren, however, persisted in enforcing the treaty. With a deadline for voluntary emigration set to expire in May 1838 (two years after Senate ratification of the Treaty of New Echota), preparations to force the Cherokee from the homeland hastened.
"President Martin Van Buren ordered final preparations for eviction in May 1838."