Southern Indians: The Story of the Civilized Tribes (Civilization of the American Indian)
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American Indians - Manifest Destiny
About Robert S. The Indian Nations themselves were force to move and ended up in Oklahoma. These were called The Civilised Tribes that had already taken on a degree of integration into a more modern westernised culture, such as developing written language and learning to read and write. Even in those distant times, there was heated debate in congress with such famous names as the future president Abraham Lincoln and Davy Crockett speaking out against it.
Now it is considered with serious negativity by all involved. The great Cherokee Nation that had fought the young Andrew Jackson back in now faced an even more powerful and determined man who was intent on taking their land. But where in the past they had resorted to guns, tomahawks, and scalping knives, now they chose to challenge him in a court of law.
Many of their leaders were well educated; many more could read and write; they had their own written language, thanks to Sequoyah, a constitution, schools, and their own newspaper. And they had adopted many skills of the white man to improve their living conditions. Why should they be expelled from their lands when they no longer threatened white settlements and could compete with them on many levels? They intended to fight their ouster, and they figured they had many ways to do it. As a last resort they planned to bring suit before the Supreme Court.
Prior to that action, they sent a delegation to Washington to plead their cause. They petitioned Congress to protect them against the unjust laws of Georgia that had decreed that they were subject to its sovereignty and under its complete jurisdiction. They even approached the President, but he curtly informed them that there was nothing he could do in their quarrel with the state, a statement that shocked and amazed them. In the celebrated Cherokee Nation v. Georgia he instituted suit for an injunction that would permit the Cherokees to remain in Georgia without interference by the state.
He argued that they constituted an independent nation and had been so regarded by the United States in its many treaties with them. Speaking for the majority of the court, Chief Justice John Marshall handed down his decision on March 18, Indian territory was part of the United States but not subject to action by individual states. In late December , the state passed another law prohibiting white men from entering Indian country after March 1, , without a license from the state. This move was obviously intended to keep interfering clergymen from inciting the Indians to disobey Georgia law.
Eleven such missionaries were arrested for violating the recent statute, nine of whom accepted pardons from the governor in return for a promise that they would cease violating Georgia law. But Samuel A. Worcester and Dr. Elizur Butler refused the pardon, and Judge Augustin S. On March 3, , Marshall again ruled in Worcester v. Georgia, declaring all the laws of Georgia dealing with the Cherokees unconstitutional, null, void, and of no effect. Jackson was presently involved in a confrontation with South Carolina over the passage of the Tariffs of and The state had nullified the acts and threatened to secede from the Union if force were used to make her comply with them.
The last thing Jackson needed was a confrontation with another state, so he quietly nudged Georgia into obeying the court order and freeing Butler and Worcester. A number of well-placed officials in both the state and national governments lent a hand and the governor, Wilson Lumpkin, released the two men on January 14, With the annoying problem of the two missionaries out of the way, both Georgia and Jackson continued to lean on the Cherokees to get them to remove. Elizur Butler in The Missionary Herald.
But allowing eastern Indians full control of their eastern lands was virtually impossible in the s. There was not army enough or will enough by the American people to bring it about. As Jackson constantly warned, squatters would continue to invade and occupy the land they wanted; then, if they were attacked, they would turn to the state government for protection that usually ended in violence. Even so, the Cherokees had a strong leader who had not yet given up the fight.
They were led by the wily, tough, and determined John Ross, a blue-eyed, brown-haired mixed-blood who was only one-eighth Cherokee. Nonetheless he was the Principal Chief, and a most powerful force within the Nation. He was rich, lived in a fine house attended by black slaves, and had influence over the annuities the United States paid to the tribal government for former land cessions.
His appearance and life-style were distinctly white; in all other respects he was Indian. Friends if you all unite together and be of one mind there is no danger. They approved wholeheartedly of his leadership and they took comfort in what he said. So, with the Nation solidly behind him, Ross resolutely resisted any thought of leading his people from their ancient land into a god-forsaken wilderness.
Still the Cherokees held out, even though even they had begun to feel the unrelenting pressure. They were led by very capable, hard-headed, and pragmatic men, including the Speaker of the Cherokee National Council, Major Ridge; his son, the educated and politically ambitious John Ridge; and the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix , Elias Boudinot. John Ridge took a leading role in the emergence of the Treaty Party, for when the Worcester decision was first handed down he instantly recognized that Chief Justice Marshall had rendered an opinion that abandoned the Cherokees to their inevitable fate.
So he went to Jackson and asked him point-blank whether the power of the United States would be exerted to force Georgia into respecting Indian rights and property. The President assured him that the government would do nothing. From that moment he was convinced that the only alternative to save his people from moral and physical death, was to make the best terms they could with the government and remove out of the limits of the states.
The members of this Treaty Party certainly risked their lives in pressing for removal, and indeed all of them were subsequently marked for assassination. Not too many years later, Elias Boudinot and John Ridge were slain with knives and tomahawks in the midst of their families, while Major Ridge was ambushed and shot to death. John Ross, on the other hand, would not yield. As head of the National Party that opposed removal he was shrewd enough to recognize immediately that the President would attempt to play one party off against the other.
Under the circumstance, Ross decided to go to Washington and request a meeting with the President in order to try again to arrange some accommodation that would prevent the mass relocation of his people to what was now the new Indian Territory, which Congress had created in and which eventually became the state of Oklahoma.
Since he had fought with Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the Creek War he reckoned that his service during that battle would provide him with a degree of leverage in speaking with the President. And, as Principal Chief, he could speak with the duly constituted authority of the Cherokee Nation as established under the Cherokee Constitution of He had another reason for requesting the interview.
He had heard a rumor that Jackson had commissioned the Reverend John F. Schermerhorn, an ambitious cleric who had assisted in the removal of the Seminoles from Florida, to negotiate with Ridge and his associates and see if a deal could be worked out that would result in a treaty.
Definitely alarmed, Ross asked to speak with the President at which time he said he would submit his own proposal for a treaty. Jackson never liked Ross. Real Indians were full-blooded Indians, not half-breeds, he declared.
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He said that this so-called Constitution provided for an election in and it had not been held. Instead the Principal Chief had simply filled the National Council with his henchmen — another indication, claimed Jackson, of an elitist clique who ruled the Nation and disregarded the interests of the majority of the people. As a consummate politician, Jackson understood the value of playing one party off against another, so when he granted the interview he directed that Schermerhorn suspend his negotiations with the Treaty Party and wait for the outcome of his interview with the Principal Chief.
Actually Jackson and Ross were much alike.
The 'Indian Problem'
They were both wily, tough, determined, obsessed with protecting the interests of their respective peoples, and markedly dignified and polite when they came together in the White House on Wednesday, February 5, The chief returned the compliment. For a few minutes their conversation touched on pleasantries, then they got down to the question at hand and began playing a political game that involved the lives of thousands, both Native Americans and white settlers.
Unfortunately, despite his many talents and keen intelligence, Ross was no match for the President. He simply lacked the resources of his adversary. The Principal Chief opened with an impassioned plea. Jackson just listened. Then the Principal Chief acted imprudently and made impossible demands on the President. To start, he insisted that in any treaty the Nation must retain some of their land along the borders of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, land that had already been occupied by white settlers.
He even included a small tract in North Carolina. He then required assurances that the United States government would protect the Cherokees with federal troops in the new and old settlements for a period of five years. Jackson could scarcely believe what was being demanded of him. Under other circumstances he would have acted up a storm in an attempt to frighten and cower the chief.
But, on this occasion he decided against it. Instead, in a calm and quiet but determined voice, he told Ross that nothing short of an entire removal of the Cherokee Nation from all their land east of the Mississippi would be acceptable. Having run into a stone wall, Ross headed in another direction.
He also asked for indemnities for claims under the and Cherokee treaties.