The Arkansas Gazette quoted Thomas Harkins (A Choctaw) as saying "[it was] a trail of tears and death" it was most likely this quote that eventually lead to naming the act of removing the indians.
Asked in Trail of Tears
What year was the trail of tears coined not when the trail of tears happened?
The phrase "Trail of Tears" originated from a description of the removal of the Cherokee Nation in 1838. ...
Is the Trail of Tears made out of tears?
No, this is a metaphor. The Trail of Tears was such a horrible chapter in US history. Thousands of people from the tribes who were force relocated died along the way. They were treated so poorly, and pushed so hard, that the various routes taken were collectively known as "The Trail Where We Cried" by those who were forced to walk it. Later, the name was shortened to The Trail of Tears. ...