The Treaty of 1835, The Trail of Tears & Our Own Civil War

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    The Treaty of 1835, The Trail of Tears & Our Own Civil War

    Post by Admin on Sun May 12, 2013 6:39 am

    Per the book "History of Hamilton County & Chattanooga TN Vol 1",

    "One treaty after another was illegally obtained. The Cherokee Nation in its general council passed a law that no more treaties should be made, unless all the chiefs signed the documents; & that any chief making a treaty without the consent of all, should suffer death. Despite this drastic law, illegal treaties & cessions of land were secured."

    As a side note it states "the Creeks enacted a similar law & it is believed that it was for the violation of these laws that Chief MacIntosh of the Creeks & Major Ridge, John Ridge & Elias Boudinot of the Cherokees, were killed."

    "The "Treaty of 1835" or the "Treaty of New Echota" or the "Treaty of Removal" (as it is variously called) was concluded 12/29/1835 at New Echota GA. This treaty was between certain minor chiefs & many Cherokees who had no position what-so-ever with the Nation, & the commissioners of the US, Gen. William Carroll & John F. Schermerhorn."

    "By provision of the treaty, the Cherokees ceded to the US all their lands east of the Mississippi in consideration of 5 million dollars. The US ceded to the Cherokees 15 million acres of land in the Indian territory west of the Mississippi. By the terms of the treaty the title of the Cherokees to Hiwassee District (including that part of Chattanooga which is south of the TN River), their last possession in TN, was extinguished."

    "Chief John Ross & the large majority of the Cherokee Nation opposed the treaty & protested bitterly against it, declaring that it had been obtained by fraud & that it had been agreed upon & signed by the minority party in the Nation, with not one principal chief present. The minority party was represented by Major Ridge & Andrew Ross, both of whom were minor chiefs. Major Ridge's son & nephew (John Ridge & Elias Boudinot) were also active in its procurement, the US refused to recognize any opposition & declared that the treaty was valid."

    "The Cherokee Nation in full council Oct, 1835, had disclaimed the treaty & rejected it. In spite of this action the signatures of the minor chiefs & persons of no responsibility were secured, the treaty was confirmed by the US Senate & proclaimed 5/23/1836."

    "The Cherokees had participated w/ valor in the Creek War (Battle of Horseshoe Bend) in 1813, fighting w/ Gen. Andrew Jackson & the American Army. John Ross, then a young man, was hailed as the savior of the day. Gen. Jackson as President, however, forgot the services of his red friends, & was the implacable foe of the Cherokee people. He literally forced the issue of removal."

    "Chief John Ross, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, went to Washington & endeavored to persuade Congress & the President to adopt his point of view. He displayed great diplomatic ability & created a strong sentiment in favor of the Cherokee Nation. David Crockett, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, Henry A. Wise, & other distinguished members of Congress, espoused his cause. Two years had been allowed for the removal & these Congressmen made strong efforts to have the treaty revoked during that period, but without success."

    Side note - my very great grandpa Chief Major George Lowrey Jr, who fought in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend for Gen. Jackson, had been chief before this happened. But when all this started he thought John Ross was better educated to handle it so he gave up the job to Ross.

    Now on w/ the story (from the book).

    "Meanwhile some of the Cherokees, anticipating that at the last they would be forced to go, began to remove in small parties. Gen. Winfield Scott with 2,000 men was ordered to the Cherokee country to enforce the removal of all the rest."

    Side note - those who went to OK before the Trail of Tears were called "Old Settlers".

    "The Cherokees were treated before the removal & during it with systematic cruelty. Hundreds of them were almost white; many of them, like Chief John Ross, had but 1/8 Indian blood & some of them had even less. Hundreds [including my very great grandpa] owned their own homes & several slaves."

    "They were literally dragged from their homes, prodded w/ bayonets, & forced into stockades which had been built for them. The old men & women of the Nation, who were always treated by the Cherokees w/ extraordinary courtesy & reverence, were driven into the stockades in the most barbarous manner."

    "Many of the soldiers had not enlisted for this duty, but for the Seminole War. They protested against the work they were required to do & against the heartless cruelty of many of the officers & soldiers. Some of them have left descriptions of the removal which are almost unbelievable."

    "Even when intentional cruelty was not practiced, the plan & arrangements for the exodus were so lacking in provision against suffering & privation, that one looks upon the record with amazement. That an educated, cultured people should have permitted their agents to conduct public business with such incompetence & cruelty seems incredible."

    "The Indians were herded into the stockades like cattle, & kept for weeks, previous to the actual journey, without adequate provision for their simplest needs. When winter came & their strength was sapped by privation & lack of exercise, by the mental suffering of separation from loved ones & the sight of other loved ones in dire need, they were taken on that dreadful journey to the West, which their poetic chroniclers call the "Trail of Tears". The last band left Ross's Landing 12/4/1838."

    "Thirteen thousand one hundred & forty nine Cherokees began the "Trail of Tears". Many of them never saw the promised land. More than four thousand succumbed to the rigors of the enforced march & its terrible severities. Chief John Ross was one of the sad-hearted band who took up the trail, & among those who died was the wife of his youth, Quatie Ross."

    Side note - I believe Quatie died of pneumonia because she'd seen a child without a blanket & gave the child hers.

    "The removal of the Indians, while it was doubtless an economic necessity, will remain a blot upon the history of the US & the men in direct charge of it. The tragic story could scarcely be repeated here in detail, even if it were wise to recount it after these nine decades have passed."

    Again - Cherokees created a law stating anybody who signed a treaty without permission from the whole would be put to death. Most of the Ridge/Watie party who signed this treaty voluntarily went to OK before the TOT. After the TOT we had our own mini-civil war...but instead of it being the North against the South (over slavery) it was the Ross Party -vs- the Ridge/Watie Party (over this treaty). And as this book states, a few from the Ridge/Watie Party were indeed put to death.


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