The Seminoles were originally members of the Creek tribe. The name Seminole comes from the Creek word for runaway. In the 18th century this group of Native Americans were living in Florida and helped the British during the War of 1812.

In 1817 it was claimed that the Seminoles were harbouring runaway slaves. In January 1818, Andrew Jackson and 3,000 troops began attacking the Seminoles. This included killing the Seminoles and the burning of their villages. Shortly afterwards the Spanish ceded Florida to the United States and the Seminole lands came under the control of the American government.

The Seminole tribe had disputes with settlers in Florida. Andrew Jackson argued that the solution to this problem was to move the Seminoles to Oklahoma. When Andrew Jackson gained power he encouraged Congress to pass the 1830 Indian Removal Act. He argued that the legislation would provide land for white invaders, improve security against foreign invaders and encourage the civilization of the Native Americans. In one speech he argued that the measure "will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the government and through the influences of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and christian community."

Jackson was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in 1832. He now pursued the policy of removing Native Americans from good farming land. He even refused to accept the decision of the Supreme Court to invalidate Georgia's plan to annex the territory of the Cherokee. This brought Jackson into conflict with Whig leaders such as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

Attempts were made to transfer the Seminoles to Indian Territory in 1832. Chief Osceloa led resistance to this forced migration to Oklahoma. Osceloa was captured in 1835 and eventually the fighting was brought to an end.