Under the provisions of the treaty of 1835 and the congressional acts to carry it into effect the Cherokee Nation was entitled to $6,537,634. By the treaty $600,000 were set aside from this amount to defray the expenses of removal. The detachments were placed under the following conductors:
|No||Conductor||Started||Arrived west||Days on road|
|1||Hair Conrad||August 28, 1838||January 17, 1838||143|
|2||Elijah Hicks||Sept. 1, 1838||January 4, 1839||126|
|3||Rev. Jesse Bushyhead||Sept. 3, 1838||February 27, 1839||178|
|4||John Bengi||Sept. 28, 1838||January 11, 1839||106|
|5||Situwakee||Sept. 7, 1838||February 2, 1839||140|
|6||Captain Old Field||Sept. 24, 1838||February 23, 1839||153|
|7||Moses Daniel||Sept. 20, 1838||March 2, 1839||164|
|8||Choowalooka||Sept. 14, 1838||March 1, 1839||162|
|9||James Brown||Sept. 10, 1838||March 5, 1839||177|
|10||George Hicks||Sept. 7, 1838||March 14, 1839||189|
|11||Richard Taylor||Sept. 20, 1838||March 24, 1839||186|
|12||Peter Hildebrand||Oct. 23, 1838||March 25, 1839||1544|
|13||John Drew||Dec. 5, 1838||March 18, 1839||1042|
The number of emigrants turned over to each conductor was kept by Captain Page of the United States army and Captain Stephenson of the United States army made the official report of those that were mustered out in the west.
The original contract for removal was at the rate of $65.88 per capita, to which was added by agreement, a proportion of three pounds of soap to every hundred rations, at fifteen cents per pound3 making the cost of the removal of each individual $66.24.4 On this basis, Captain Page, as "Superintending Agent of the Cherokee Nation for Cherokee Removal"5 disbursing agent of the government paid on November 13, 1838 to John Ross $776,393.98'.
General Scott agreed to the proposal of Chief Ross that if the estimated eighty days were found in any instance a longer period than was necessary for emigration of any detachment that the difference should be refunded by Chief Ross to General Scott and if a longer time should be required by any of the detachments that Chief Ross should be paid proportionately for the contract of August I, 183 8 was merely an estimate subject to the later agreement and accordingly tiled a claim for an additional $486,939.50. This claim was refused by Secretary of War, Poinsett and President Van Buren, but was allowed and paid by John Bell, Secretary of War under John Tyler on September 6, 1841,9 just one week before he relinquished the office. This second award brought the amount that Chief Ross received for the removal to $1,263,338.38 or at the rate of $103.25 per head'. This amount was deducted from the sum that the Cherokees received for their land east of the Mississippi River under the provisions of the treaty of 1835. The number of wagons and teams with each of the detachments, were:
|No.||Wagons and Teams||Riding Horses||Collected for return of wagons and teams|
Before leaving the Eastern Cherokee Nation, the following resolution was passed by their council. In the light of later happenings, this act is of prime importance, as it shows the spirit of the emigrants.
"Whereas, the title of the Cherokee people to their lands is the most ancient, pure, and absolute, known to man; its date is beyond the reach of human record; its validity confirmed and illustrated by possession and enjoyment, antecedent to all pretense of claim by any other portion of the human race:
And whereas, the free consent of the Cherokee people is indispensable to a valid transfer of the Cherokee title; and whereas, the said Cherokee people have, neither by themselves nor their representatives, given such con-sent; It follows, that the original title and ownership of said lands still rest in the Cherokee Nation, unimpaired and absolute:
Resolved, therefore, by the Committee and Council and People of the Cherokee Nation in General Council assembled, that the whole Cherokee territory, as described in the first article of the treaty of 1819 between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, and, also, in the constitution of the Cherokee Nation, still remains the rightful and undoubted property of the said Cherokee Nation; and that all damages and losses, direct or indirect, resulting from the enforcement of the alleged stipulations of the pretended treaty of New Echota, are in justice and equity, chartable to the account of the United States.
And whereas, the Cherokee people have existed as a distinct national community, in the possession and exercise of the appropriate and essential attributes of sovereignty, for a period extending into antiquity beyond the dates and records and memory of man:
And whereas, these attributes, with the rights and franchises which they involve, have never been relinquished by the Cherokee people; but are now in full force and virtue:
And whereas, the natural, political, and moral relations subsisting among the citizens of the Cherokee Nation, toward each other and towards the body politic, cannot, in reason and justice, be dissolved by the expulsion of the nation from its own territory by the power of the United States Government:
Resolved, therefore, by the National Committee and Council and People of the Cherokee Nation in General Council assembled, that the inherent sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation, together with the constitution, laws, and usages, of the same, are, and, by the authority aforesaid, are hereby declared to be, in full force and virtue, and shall continue so to be in perpetuity, subject to such modifications as the general welfare may render expedient.
Resolved, further. That the Cherokee people, in consenting to an investigation of their individual claims, and receiving payment upon them, and for their improvements, do not intend that it shall be so construed as yielding or giving their sanction or approval to the pretended treaty of 1835; nor as compromising, in any manner, their just claim against the United States here-after, for a full and satisfactory indemnification for their country and for all individual losses and injuries.
Be it further resolved, That the principal chief be, and he is hereby, authorized to select and appoint such persons as he may deem necessary and suitable, for the purpose of collecting and registering all individual claims against the United States, with the proofs, and report to him their proceedings as they progress.
Upon arriving in the western Cherokee Nation Chief John Ross settled at Park Hill. Many of the emigrants camped in the vicinity of his residence, the earliest written communication from this camp which was known as "Camp Illinois," was dated April 23, 1839. The emigrants camped at this place in large numbers through the spring and summer of that year.
The following letter was written by Chief Ross to the western Cherokees.
"Friends: Through the mysterious dispensations of Providence, we have been permitted to meet in general council on the border of the great plains of the West. Although many of us have, for a series of years past, been separated, yet we have not and cannot lose sight of the fact, that we are all of the household of the Cherokee family, and of one blood. We have already met, shook hands, and conversed together. In recognizing and embracing each other as countrymen, friends and relations, let us kindle our social fire, and take measures for cementing our reunion as a nation, by establishing the basis for a government suited to the condition and wants of the whole people, whereby wholesome laws may be enacted and administered for the security and protection of property, life, and other sacred rights, of the community. Our meeting, on this occasion, is full of interest, and is of peculiar importance to the welfare of our people. I trust, therefore, that harmony and good understanding will continue to prevail, and that the questions which may come up for consideration will be maturely weighed previous to a finial decision.
The following letter was sent to the Chiefs of the Western Cherokees.
Friends: On the 8th of December, 1836, I had the satisfaction, with other delegates who were associated with me, of meeting our Western brethren in council, held at Tolunteesky, and submitting before them the proceedings of the Cherokee Nation, east, in general council held at Red Clay on the 28th September, 1836, and of receiving the unanimous approval of the council of the western Cherokee to the same; and also being associated with a delegation appointed by them for the purpose of cooperating and uniting with us in a joint effort to negotiate a treaty with the United States, for the best interests of the whole Cherokee people. The joint proceedings of these delegations, and the result of the mission, have been fully made known to you. Since that period, the eastern Cherokees have done no act to compromise or detract from any of the sentiments ex-pressed in relation to those matters. But after the seizure and captivity of the whole Cherokee people east, by the military power of the United States Government, a set of resolutions was adopted in general council expressive of their sentiments, and reaffirming all their previous acts in relation to the rights and interests of the nation. From these facts, it will be clearly seen that the great body of the people who have recently been removed into this country, emigrated in their national character, with all the attributes, from time immemorial, which belonged to them as a distinct community, and which they have never surrendered; and, although being compelled by the strong arm of power to come here, yet, in doing so, they have not trespassed or infringed upon any of the rights and privileges of the people are equal. Notwithstanding the late emigrants received in their national capacity, and constitute a large majority, yet there is no intention nor desire on the part of their representatives to propose or require any thing but what may be strictly equitable and just, and satisfactory to the people. Being persuaded that these feelings will be fully reciprocated, 1 trust the subject matter of this council will be referred to the respective representatives of the eastern and western people; and that, in their joint deliberations, we may speedily come to some satisfactory conclusion for the permanent reunion and welfare of our nation. Without referring in detail to our acknowledged treaties, and other documentary facts to show, I will conclude by remarking that there are great interests of a public and private character yet to be adjusted with the Government of the United States, and which can only be secured by a just and amicable course on the part of our nation. The injuries and losses sustained by the nation from the whites, in violation of treaty stipulations, holds a strong claim on the justice of the people and Government of the United States, which it is to be hoped will, in the end, be remunerated. The tenure of the soil on which we now stand, and the relations which shall hereafter exist between our nation and the United States, are questions of the first magnitude, and necessary to be understood and clearly defined by a general compact, for the security and protection of the permanent welfare and happiness of our nation. Let us never forget this self-evident truth; that a house divided against itself, cannot stand; or, united we stand, divided we fall.
June 10, 1839.
It will be noticed that Chief Ross did not address this letter to any one, and in that manner evaded a written recognition of the western Cherokee officers and that he did not append to his signature the customary 'Principal Chief" and thereby palliated differences.
By stating "a set of resolutions was adopted in general council expressive of their sentiments, and reaffirming all their previous acts in relation to the rights and interests of the nation. From these facts, it will be clearly seen that the great body of the people who have recently been removed into this country, emigrated in their national character, with all the attributes, from time immemorial, which belonged to them as a distinct community, and which they have never surrendered." Reference was made to the act in the old nation, at Aquohee on August 1, 1838. This act was unknown to the western Cherokees, but was published at Washington in H. R. Doc. No. 129 subsequent to March 12, 1840 after which time it became, for the first time, accessible to the western Cherokees". The purport of the preceding article obscured by "they have not trespassed or infringed upon any of the rights and privileges of those who were here previous to themselves," caused the following correspondence to he issued by President Vann of the National Council (Western).
"Takattokah, June 11, 1839
Adair Bell, and in this manner those two escaped mobs that hunted them. Three days later a party that was hunting Stan Watie, searched the house of Rev. Samuel A. Worcester in their quest.
"Takattokah, June 11, 1830.
The national council is unable to act understandingly upon the propositions of our brother emigrants from the eastern Cherokee Nation. The subject seems to have been too ambiguously presented by them to be understood what their views and real wishes are. '1-he national council respectfully request that the chiefs would ask Messrs Ross and Lowry to state, in writing, what they really wish and desire, and to give them in as plain and simple manner as possible, in order that no misconstruction can he had upon the subject. After which, the council will act upon it according to your request, and, if possible. to the satisfaction of our brothers.
A. M. VANN, President National Council.
WM. THORNTON, Clerk.
Messrs. John Brown, John Looney and John Rogers,
Chiefs Cherokee Nation
We hand this to Messrs. Ross and Lowry, and hope the request of the council will be complied with as soon as convenient.
"Council Ground, June 13, 1830.
Gentlemen: From the note which you sent us, it appears that you have been requested to ask us, to state in writing what we really wish and desire.
We take pleasure to state distinctly, that we desire to see the eastern and western Cherokees become united, and again live as one people, and our sincere wish is, that this desirable and important object may be harmoniously accomplished, to the satisfaction and permanent welfare of the whole Cherokee people.
The representatives of the eastern Cherokees have this day had this important subject under consideration, and have adopted a set of resolutions in reference to it, based upon the strict rules of equity and justice, which we take pleasure in laying before you, with the hope that it may also be adopted by the representatives of the western Cherokees.
We are, gentlemen, your obedient servants,
Chiefs of the Eastern Cherokees.
Messrs, John Frown, John Looney and John Rogers,
Chiefs of the Western Cherokees
"Takattokah, June 13, 1839.
Whereas, the people of the Cherokee Nation east, having been captured and ejected from the land of their fathers by the strong arm of the military power of the United Slates Government, and forced to remove west of the river Mississippi:
And, whereas, previous to the commencement of the emigration, measures were adopted in general council of the whole nation on the 31st of July and August 1st, 1838, wherein the sentiments, rights, and interests of the Cherokee people were fully expressed and asserted; and. whereas, under these proceedings the removal took place, and the late emigrants arrived in this country and settled among those of their brethren (who had previously emigrated) on lands which had been exchanged for, with the United States, by the Cherokee Nation, for lands east of the river Mississippi; and, whereas, the reunion of the people, and the adoption of a code of laws for their future government are essential to the peace and welfare of the whole Nation; and, it being agreed upon, that the eastern and western Cherokees henceforward be united as a body politic, and shall establish a government west of the river Mississippi, to be designated the Cherokee Nation; therefore,
Be it resolved, by the Committee and Council of the eastern and western Cherokees, in General Council assembled, that the three chiefs of the eastern and western Cherokees each, to-wit: John Ross, George Lowry and Edward Gunter on the part of the Eastern Cherokees and John Brown, John Looney and John Rogers, on the part of the Western Cherokees, are hereby authorized and required to associate with themselves three other persons, to he selected by them from their respective council or committee, and who shall form a select joint committee, for the purpose of revising and drafting a code of laws for the government of the Cherokee Nation, and they he and are hereby required to lay the same before the general council of the nation to he held at Takattokah on the ______ day of _____, 1839; and which, when approved, shall be immediately submitted to the people for their acceptance.
Be it further resolved, that the respective laws and authorities of the Eastern and Western Cherokees shall continue to he exercised and enforced among themselves until repealed, and the new government which may he adopted, shall be organized and take effect, and that in all matters touching the public interest of the nation with the Government of the United States and the Indian nations, the chiefs and representatives of the nation shall act understandingly and jointly in reference to the same, as well also in the passage of any new laws which may he adopted in council after this date affecting the rights, interests, and welfare of the people.
Members of the Committee:
Richard Taylor, President Nat. Corn; Daniel McCoy; Hair Conrad; Thomas Foreman; George Still; Richard Fields; G. Vi'. Gunter; James Hawkins; Old Field; Chu-noo-las-kee; William Proctor; George Hicks; Nah-hoo-lah; J. D. Wofford.
Members of Council:
Going Snake, Speaker; Situwakee; Soft Shell Turtle; Bean Stick; Tahquoh; John Watts; James Spears; Money Crier; Charles; John Keyes; John Otterlifter; Small Back; Bark; Young Squirrel; Hunter Langley; Walter Downing-; Walking Stick; Te-nah-lay-we-stah; Peter.
Takattokah. June 14, 1839
Gentlemen: The National Council has taken up your proposition of June13, 1839, and given them due consideration. You state that your wishes are to unite the people. As to that nuttier, it is believed by the National Council that the two people have already been united. Our chiefs have met their brother emigrants, and made them welcome in the country; they are, thereby, made partakers of all the existing laws in the country, enjoy all its benefits; and are, in every respect, the same as ourselves. Since our chiefs have made them welcome, they have come to the chiefs and taken them by the hand, and expressed great satisfaction with the manner in which they have been received. This is sufficient to justify the belief that the people are, in general, very well satisfied; consequently, the National Council cannot justify the course of keeping up the uniting question, merely to protract a debate, when the uniting of the people has already been fully and satisfactorily accomplished.
As it respects your wishes for your original laws, created beyond the Mississippi, to he brought here, brought to life, and to have full force in this Nation, it is believed by the National Council that such an admission is, and would he, entirely repugnant to the government and laws of the Cherokee, Nation which would thereby create great dissatisfaction among the people. To admit two distinct laws or governments in the same country, and for the government of the same people, is something never known to be admitted in any country, or even asked for by any people.
A. M. Vann, President National Committee.
Wm. Thornton, Clerk.
Messrs. Ross and Lowry will please receive this as an answer to their propositions.
Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation.
Messrs. John Ross and George Lowry." '
To the Committee and Council of the Eastern Cherokees
Council Grounds, June 15, 1839.
Gentlemen: Your proceedings of the 13th instant have been submitted before our Western brethren, as will be seen from the accompanying copy of a letter which we addressed to them; and the result of their deliberation on the subject will be found in the copy of a letter received front them, bearing date of the 14th instant" herewith annexed.
You will no doubt feel the regret and surprise that we do, in relation to the singular views entertained and expressed by the signers of this letter.
We deem it our duty to lay before you, at this time, the joint resolutions which were adopted by you, and approved by the people east of the Mississippi on the 21st of July and 1st of August 1838; and you, who are the immediate representative of the people, and as guardians of their rights, understanding their interests, and knowing their sentiments, it is your bounden duty to obey their will when clearly and publicly expressed by themselves; therefore, should we fail in our representative capacity to conic to any satisfactory or definite understanding with those who represent our brethren, in the adoption of measures for reuniting the people under sonic provisional arrangements for the establishing a new government, it will become your duty to consult the feelings and sentiments of the people, and to take steps for ascertaining their will in reference to this important subject.
Messrs. Rd. Taylor, President Committee and
Going Snake, Speaker of Council."'
The two councils still met at Takatoka, although the meeting places were quite a distance apart and the deliberations of each were absolutely distinct from the other. Upon receiving the above given communication from the Western Cherokee council through Chiefs Ross and Lowry the Eastern Cherokee council answered with:
"Council Grounds, July 19, 1839,
The National Committee and Council of the Eastern Cherokees having had under consideration the communication from those of the Western Cherokees, cannot but express their regret at the course pursued by their western brethren, as well as the views entertained by diem on a question so important and so indispensable to the welfare of the great Cherokee family as the reunion of the two Nations.
To the assertions made in that communication, that, "It is believed by the National Committee that the two people have already been united," we are compelled to refuse our assent.
That the ancient integrity of the Eastern Nation should he dissolved, and her existence annihilated without discussion, without conditions, and without action of any kind, is utterly inconceivable; and the rejection by the representatives of our western brethren, of the reasonable proposition to unite the two nations on the basis of the strictest rules of justice and equality, is an act equally unhooked for and surprising. Therefore,
Resolved, that the declarations of the general council of the nation, at Aquohee Camp, on the first day of August 1838, in reference to attributes of sovereignty, derived from our fathers, he, and they are hereby, reasserted and confirmed.
Resolved, That the proceedings of the committee and council be forthwith laid before the people, that their sense may be had upon the subject.
President National Committee.
Going Snake, Speaker National Council.
A call was issued on June 20th for a "general council" of the people of the eastern and western Cherokees to met at the national council at Illinois Camp Grounds on Monday the 31st day of July, 1839." It was signed by George Guess and Captain Bushyhead. On the twenty-first the following notice was sent to Agent Stokes.
"Takattokah Council Ground. June 21, 1839.
Sir: We deem it our duty to address you on this occasion, for the purpose of communicating the result of this general council. You are aware that the objects for which it was convened were to effect a union of the eastern and western Cherokees and to take measures for remodeling their government and laws so as to meet the exigencies of both branches of the Cherokee family, and to provide equally for the tranquility and permanent welfare of the whole people. But we regret to say that the reasonable propositions submitted to the consideration of the representatives of our western brethren have not been received by them in a manner compatible with the wishes of the whole people. They require the unconditional submission of the whole body of the people, alto have lately arrived, to laws and regulations, in the making of which they have had no voice. The attempt of a small minority to enforce tiller will over a great majority contrary to their wishes appears to us to be a course so repugnant to reason and propriety, that it cannot fail to disturb the peace of the community, and to (operate injuriously to the best interests of the nation. We are not without hopes, however, that everything will yet he amicably settled. The sense of the people who form a branch of this general council, has been expressed on the subject. They deem it essential lo the welfare of the nation that the desired union should be formed, and equal and wholesome laws established, by which the general prosperity and happiness of the country may be promoted; and to carry their wishes into effect, they have called a national convention of the eastern and western Cherokees, to meet at Illinois Camp Ground, on Monday. July 1, 1839.
Under these circumstances, we feel it due to the interests of the late emigrants, as well as to all concerned, to request, through your official authority, that no disbursements of moneys due to those whom we represent, nor any other business of a public character affecting their rights be made or transacted by the agent of the Government with any other Cherokee authority than the undersigned, until a reunion of the people shall he effected.
We have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully your friends and brothers,
John Ross, Principal Chief,
Richard Taylor, President National Com
George W. Gunter, George Hicks, Thomas Foreman, Hair Conrad, George Hicks, William Proctor, James Hawkins, James D. Wofford, George Still, Old Field, Nah-hoolah, Chu-noo-lu-hus-kee, Culsallehee.
Governor M. Stokes, United States Agent.
Three men had been mainly instrumental in making the treaty of 1835. They were Major Ridge, a full blood Cherokee of the Deer clan, horn at Hiwassee in 1771. When still a young man he adopted the manner of living of the white man, mastered their language and became a well educated man.
This course was at that time very unpopular, as the great mass of the Cherokee were still full bloods and very jealous of their old customs and any full blood that would attempt in any was to take up the ways of the backwoods provincials was certain to incur the scorn of his tribesmen. But by sheer force of character, integrity and worth he gradually forced himself to a high place in the nation. He had been president of the committee and was a major at the Cherokee allies of the Americans in the Creek war of 1814. His son, John Ridge, aged about forty years, had been educated in Cornwall, Connecticut, and had returned to the Cherokee nation in 1822. He was a close observer, a brilliant and convincing orator. The third of this trio was Elias Boudinot, born in 1804. He was the son of Oowatie, the interpretation of whose name was the ancient or revered. Oowatie was a full brother of Major Ridge. Killakeena or Buck (male deer) Oowatie or as they were later known as Watie, while on his way to school at Cornwall, where he attended with his cousin John Ridge, met in Philadelphia, Elias Boudinot of New Jersey, a signer of the national constitution and one of the most prominent men of his day. On account of some favor that he conferred, the boy Buck Watie adopted the name of his benefactor. Boudinot like his uncle and cousin had early ascended to high places in the councils of the nation and the three men seeing the hopeless condition of their exploited people in the east had made the treaty of 1835 that secured to the Cherokee Nation a splendid home in the west. Men of keen discernment, eloquent and fearless they were publicists to be dreaded.
Before daylight on the morning of Saturday, June 22, 1830 the home of John Ridge, near the northwest corner of Arkansas, was surrounded, entered and he was dragged into the yard where two men held his arms while others of their party stabbed hint repeatedly and then severed his jugular vein. A few hours later during the same morning while his father, Major Ridge, was traveling southward along the Cherokee Nation-Arkansas line road, he was fired on by an ambushed party and killed. This was some twenty-live or thirty miles from the scene of the murder of the son. At about the same time as the killing of Major Ridge, Elias Boudinot was shingling a new house near his residence and within two miles of the residence of Chief John Ross. Three Cherokees appeared and requested medicine of a sick child of one of the party. Mr. Boudinot had studied medicine so that he could give gratuitous services and medicines to the needy. He started with them to get the required treatment when one of the three stepping behind struck him in the spine with a bowie knife and his groan was the signal for the others to dispatch Uri with tomahawks. The place of his death was about thirty miles from the murder of Major Ridge and fifty miles from the assassination of John Ridge. Immediately after his death, Mrs. Boudinot sent word by Rufus McWilliams to Stand Watie and Watie sent his slave, Mike, to inform John Adair Bell, and in this manner those two escaped mobs that hunted them. Three days later a party that was hunting Stan Wade, searched the house of Rev. Samuel A. Worcester in their quest.
Chief Ross notified General Arbuckle on the twenty-second of the killing of Elias Boudinot and that Mrs. Boudinot had informed him that Stan Watie had determined on raising a company of men for the purpose of taking Ross' life. He further wrote "I trust that you will deem it expedient forthwith to interpose and prevent the effusion of innocent blood, by executing your authority, in order that an unbiased investigation might he had in the matter."' General Arbuckle invited Chief Ross to the post at Fort Gibson if he still thought that there was any danger, he also invited Chiefs Brown. Looney and Rogers to come to the post by the twenty-fifth so that they might concert action to avoid civil strife.' Chief Ross on the twenty-third asked that a detachment of troops be sent to protect him.
"Headquarters, Ind. Dept W. Division. Fort Gibson, June 24, 1839.
Dear Sir: A number of friends of Messrs Ridge and Boudinot are here. I have advised them of your desire to have a full investigation of the late murders committed in your nation. This, they declare, is all they desire; and they have requested me to say to you that they expect that you will take immediate measures to have the murderers apprehended and brought to trial, agreeably to the laws of the Cherokee Nation. Justice to you requires that should state to you that they have informed me that they have heard that some of the murderers are now at your house. If this is the case, I must believe that you are not apprized of the fact; and if, on inquiry, the report made to me on this subject is correct, the troops sent out will take charge of them if turned over, and convey them in safely to this post. i hope you will avail yourself of the opportunity of the command to visit this post, as I expect the chiefs named to you in my letter of the 23rd ultimo will be here this evening or early tomorrow morning.
I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant.
Brevet Brig. General, U. S. A.
John Ross, Esq.
Principal Chief of the Emigrant Cherokees, Illinois."
Chief Ross on account of the disturbed condition of affairs which caused bodies of men to congregate for protection or reprisal, both among the eastern and western Cherokees, refused to attend the proposed meeting at Fort Gibson except that he be allowed to bring a large body guard of emigrant Cherokees with him.
Fort Gibson, June 28, 1839.
Friends and Brothers: We the undersigned, principal chiefs of the Cherokee Nation, having been invited to this post by General Arbuckle, the commandant of the United States troops in this quarter, to take into consideration matters of the greatest importance to the peace and prosperity of our nation.
We have met here in accordance with that invitation.
We have received information that three of our people, or three Cherokees who had been received as citizens of our nation, have been killed, and, it is believed, by some of the late emigrants. This has caused us much sorrow and distress. And we learn, further, that other Cherokees are threatened with death wholly or principally for their political acts. This is not all we have to complain of, as it would appear from a communication made by John Ross and other principal men of the late emigrants to General Stokes, Cherokee Agent, under date of the 21st June, that the late emigrants have called what ¦'hey denominate a convention of the Cherokee Nation, on Monday, the 1st day of July next, to establish a government for the Cherokee Nation, with-out the least notice having" been given to the undersigned. It must he apparent to Mr. John Ross, and to those who have called this meeting, that these proceedings are altogether irregular; and we feel ourselves bound to protest against all acts that may be passed by the said', nominal convention of the Cherokee Nation, that may have the effect to impair the free and undisturbed authority of said Nation as it existed and was in force before the arrival of the late emigrants, all of whom have been received as friends and as citizens of the present Cherokee Nation, and allowed fully to participate and enjoy all the privileges and benefits thereby secured to the Cherokee people. It is believed that this kind and just treatment on our part would have been received in the spirit in which it was offered; and that, if our present form of government was not altogether satisfactory to our brethren late in the east, they would, at an early period, have an opportunity of having a share in that government, when the desired changes might be made.
The undersigned wish nothing but peace and friendship from their brothers late from the east; but, as it appears they are not satisfied, and that mischief has already taken place, the undersigned, in the hope and wish to spare the further shedding of Cherokee blood, will agree to meet their eastern brethren upon the following terms:
That no individual of the Cherokee Nation shall be killed hereafter for their former political acts or opinions; that a convention of the Cherokee Nation shall be held at Fort Gibson, in which both parties shall be equally represented; and that the said convention shall have power to remodel the government of the Cherokee Nation.
The undersigned do not wish to dictate, or arbitrarily to determine, the number of which this proposed convention shall consist; but they believe that sixteen men from each party, of good understanding and approved character, would be a sufficient number to form a convention calculated to harmonize and reunite the whole Cherokee people; and that they have power to elect a president.
If these propositions are acceded to, it is the sincere belief of the undersigned that it will tend to the reestablishment of peace and confidence in the Cherokee Nation, and greatly promote the happiness and prosperity of the people. If these just and reasonable propositions shall be accepted by our eastern brethren, we shall be much gratified; but if they are disregarded, and an appeal to arms be determined on, however much we may deplore the shed-ding of more Cherokee blood, and the disasters of such a conflict, we and our friends must meet it, as men unwilling to surrender our own rights, or to invade the rights of others.
If we shall have the good fortune to hear that these propositions, how-ever uncalled for, are accepted by our eastern friends, we further propose, that the convention meet at Fort Gibson, on the twenty-fifth day of July next, and proceed to consider and decide upon the important matters confided to them.
The undersigned regard it as a respect due to themselves, and to the Cherokee people, distinctly to state to the principal men of the late emigrants, that they are not insensible of the indignity offered to the Cherokee government and themselves by the late outrages and acts which have been com-mitted in the Cherokee Nation by the late emigrants, and could not, for any other motive than that given, as the thought of making a further concession +o them, which they do not conceive they are in justice entitled to.
John Smith, his x mark, John Rogers,
John Looney, his x mark. John Brown,
Executive Council. Witnesses:
M. Stokes, Agent for Cherokees,
S. G. Simmons, 1st Lieut. 7th Infantry.
John Ross, Esq..
And other chiefs and principal men of the emigrant Cherokees.
Fort Gibson, June 20, 1839.
Gentlemen: We have the pleasure of enclosing, herewith, a communication to you from the chiefs of the Cherokee Nation, which we hope will be acceptable to you and your people who have arrived here of late from the east; as a compliance with the propositions now made to the late emigrants will, at an early period, enable them to enjoy a full participation in the government of the Cherokee Nation, when such alterations in the government can be made as will secure justice to the whole nation.
If the proposition now made to you by the old settlers be rejected, we can scarcely doubt that serious difficulties and misfortunes will happen to the Cherokee people at an early period, which we hope you will cordially assist us to prevent. We have done all we could with the chiefs' and others here to induce them to make the accompanying proposition to you, which we hope and believe you ought to accept, and that you should, without delay, take measures to prevent the further effusion of Cherokee blood. A report was received here yesterday that a party of Cherokees are now ranging through the country about Honey creek, with the object of killing three Cherokees; two of them for former political offenses, and the other, as it is supposed, for an offense of a personal nature.
We believe that two governments cannot exist in the Cherokee Nation without producing a civil war, and are of the opinion that the government that existed before the arrival of the late emigrants should continue until it is Changed in a regular and peaceable manner. We hope that you will take the proposition of the chiefs into consideration, and make an early decision, as some of the chiefs and others will remain here until they know the result.
We are, gentlemen, with much respect, your obedient servants,
M. Arbuckles, Brevet. Brig. General, U. S. A.
M. Stokes, Agent for Cherokees.
John Ross Esq. and other Chiefs, or Principal Men of the late emigrant Cherokees."'
"Park Hill, June 30, 1839
Gentlemen: Yours, with the accompanying communication, by Captain McCall, has been duly received, and is under serious consideration.
We perfectly concede with your judgment that two governments cannot and ought not, to exist in the Cherokee Nation any longer than arrangements can be made for uniting the two communities; and, in conformity with these views, we have used our best endeavors to bring about this desirable event, in a manner which might be satisfactory to all parties and by which all rights might be provided for, and the peace and well being of the Cherokees permanently secured.
We claimed no jurisdiction over our western brethren, nor can we, consistent with the responsibilities with which our constitutents have invested us, recognize their jurisdiction over us. We claim to stand on equal ground; we ask for no concessions, nor for any admissions which would be humiliating in the slightest degree. We have no wish to trample on their laws, nor disregard their rights. And, as proof that we entertained no such disposition, we have not availed ourselves of the advantage of superior numbers in our intercourses with them.
When they refused to mingle councils with us, for free conversation on our affairs, and requested that our wishes might be reduced to writing, we offered to meet them on equal ground. But our just and reasonable overtures were unconditionally rejected by them, and our communication treated with contempt. We have no disposition, however, to stand upon punctilios, but what are we to understand by the proposition now made (and even these, rigorous as they are, it appears, are yielded with reluctance, through your influence and at your instance.) Is it required that the late emigrants relinquish all their rights, and appear before the western chiefs in the attitude of suppliants? If such be their wish, and we are compelled to say that we do nor believe our brethren, the western people, have the least desire to reduce us to so abject a condition. Indeed, they have expressed their sentiments; and, in the exercise of their inalienable and indefeasible rights, have appointed a national convention for Monday, July 1, 1839; and for ourselves, we are unable to perceive any irregularity in their proceedings; they formed an integral branch of the late general council. Their acts were perfectly legitimate, and we cannot assume the responsibility of protesting against them, or of declaring them invalid.
I t appears to us that the western chiefs, in their communication, blend questions which, in their nature, are altogether separate and distinct, and, in so doing, have fallen into glaring inconsistencies. While the eastern Cherokees are denied recognition in the character of a political community, and their representatives are by the western chiefs stripped of their official relations to the people, it would seem somewhat out of character to lay on the shoulders of these private individuals the burden of controlling the ebullition of the public feeling, and stopping the effusion of Cherokee blood. Regardless however, of this inconsistency, we feel forward to use our influence and exert our utmost efforts to stay the hand of violence, and restore tranquility with the, least possible delay.
We have thought it proper to say this much in advance, by Captain McCall, the subject being still under serious consideration. Entertaining the hope that all excitement may be allayed, and a satisfactory accommodation speedily effected.
We have the honor to be, gentlemen, your obedient servants,
In behalf of the eastern Cherokees.
Brig. Gen. M. Arbuckle, United States Army and
His Excellency, Governor M. Stokes,
United States Agent."
P. S. Of the report of a party of Cherokees, "ranging through the country at Honey creek with the object of killing three Cherokees," we have heard nothing, except what is contained in your letter. But we beg you to be assured that no pains, on our part, shall be spared to put a stop to all such proceedings."
In answer to the letter of the western Cherokees inviting them to a conference to be held at Fort Gibson on the twenty-fifth day of July the eastern Cherokees reiterated their invitation to the western Cherokees to attend the convention to be held at Camp Illinois on July 1, 1839. Chief Ross informed William Armstrong, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, on June 3 0th that armed men were congregated in his vicinity "for the sole purpose of acting on the defensive. The convention was convened at the Illinois Camp ground on August 1, 1839. Two thousand Cherokees were in attendance including five old settlers: George Guess, Tobacco Will, David Melton, Looney Price and William Shory Coody. Invitations were sent to the Old Settler chiefs on the second and fifth day of the month to attend and participate. But the fate of the Ridges and Boudinot and the large body of armed emigrants at the convention was not reassuring to free speech and action.
"In National Convention, Illinois Camp ground, July 12, 1839.
Sir: We deem it proper to report further to you, for your information, the proceedings of the national convention in reference to the late excitement.
In order effectually to stop the further effusion of blood, the convention has, by decree, buried all past grievances in oblivion, on the sole condition of the parties giving assurance to maintain the peace in future.
Measures have been taken to inform those persons who claimed protection at the fort of these proceedings so that the collecting their friends to "secure themselves from violence is rendered altogether needless.
These provisions, which are in exact conformity with your wishes as well as with our own, will prove to you our determination to prevent mischief and to promote peace.
We have the honor to be, sir, your friends and obedient, humble servants,
George Lowry, President,
George Guess, Vice President,
Elijah Hicks, Secretary,
By order of the National Convention.
Brevet Brig. Gen. M. Arbuckle,
United States Army, Commanding.'"
It was required by this act that the prominent treaty men to which it related should appear at the Illinois Council ground, confess their sorrow for having signed the treaty of 1835 and pledge themselves to live peaceably, upon which event they would be permitted to live, but would be ineligible to hold office in the nation of five years. This act was abrogated on January 16. 1840.
Amnesty to the murderers of Boudinot and the Ridges was granted by:
"Know all men by these presents, that, in order to stop the further effusion of blood, to calm the present unhappy excitement, and to restore peace and harmony and confidence in the community, we, the people of the eastern and western Cherokees in national convention assembled, in our name, and by the authority and the exercise of cur plenary powers, do ordain and decree, and by these presents it is ordained and decreed accordingly, that a full, free pardon and amnesty be, and is hereby granted to all persons, citizens of the eastern and western Cherokee nation, who may be chargeable with the act of murder or homicide, committed on the person of any Cherokee previously to the passage of this decree, whether the same may have been committed with-in the limits of the eastern or western Cherokee country or elsewhere. And by the authority aforesaid, we do further ordain and decree, that all persons so chargeable are, and by these presents are declared to be, fully exempted, re-leased, and discharged from all liability to prosecution, punishment, or disabilities of any kind whatever, on the aforesaid account; and that they be re-stored to the confidence and favor of the community, and to the enjoyment and protection, and benefits of the laws, to all intents and purposes, as if the act or acts for which they stand chargeable had not been committed.
Given under our hands, at Illinois Camp Ground, this l0th day of July 1839. By order of the national convention.'