In 1776, William Bartram wrote:
The Cherokee in their dispositions and manners are grave and steady; dignified and circumspect in their deportment; rather slow and reserved in their conversation; yet frank, cheerful and humane; tenacious of the liberties and natural rights of men; secret, deliberate and determined in their councils; honest, just and liberal, and are ready to always sacrifice every pleasure and gratification, even their blood, and life itself, to defend their territory and maintain their rights."
The Cherokee are tall, erect and moderately robust; their limbs well shaped, so as generally to form a perfect human figure; their features regular, and countenance open, dignified, and placid, yet the forehead and brow are so formed as to strike you instantly with heroism and bravery; the eye, though rather small, yet active and full of fire, the iris always black, and the nose commonly inclining to the aquiline. Their countenance and actions exhibit an air of magnanimity, superiority, and independence. Their complexion is a reddish brown or copper colour; their hair, long, lank, coarse, and black as a raven, and reflecting the like lustre at different exposures to the light. The women of the Cherokees are tall, slender, erect and of a delicate frame; their features formed with perfect symmetry; the countenance cheerful and friendly; and they move with a becoming grace and dignity"
The first chief of whom we have mention is Uskwa-lena, Bull Head or Big Head, who defeated the Creeks in a battle at Pine Island, Alabama, the present Guntersville, in 1714. Pine Island was thereafter a Cherokee settlement known as Creek Path, Kusanunnehi.
Seven years later, Governor Nicholson signed a treaty with Chief Outacite by which the Cherokees made their first cession of land to the white men, and agreed to trade with the Engish.5 Following that date, (1721) Colonel George Chicken was appointed by the Governor to supervise the Indian trade, and we have fairly complete information concerning the various chiefs who attained prominence, in the records of South Carolina.
The Cherokees occupied, at that time, four principal groups of towns.
1. The Lower Towns, around the headwaters of Tugaloo River, in South Carolina. The principal towns were Seneca, Tugaloo, Keowee, Noyowee, Qualatchie, Sticoyee, and Estatoe, with numerous smaller villages.
2. The Middle Towns, upon the headwaters of the Tennessee. The principal towns were Kituwah, Nucassee, Etchoe, Cowe, Ayore, and Ellijay.
3. The Valley Towns, along Valley and Hiwassee Rivers, in North Carolina; principal towns Esthenore, Cheowee, Taseechee, Notally, Turtle Town, Tamotley, and Cootacloohee.
4. The Overhill Towns, situated in Tennessee along the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers; principal towns, Echota, Tellico, Hiwassee, Tuskegee, Tamotley, Toquo, Citico, Chilhowie, Tallassee, and Chestuee.
The population of the Cherokees about 1730 was estimated to be not far from 60,000. During that year, Sir Alexander Cuming was sent to cement the Cherokees still more closely to England. He toured the country, and held a great council at Nucassee or Nequassee, near the present Franklin, North Carolina. Outacite, the Peace Chief who had concluded the treaty with Governor Nicholson nine years earlier, had died in 1729, and had been succeeded by Moytoy, of Tellico. Moytoy was by the consent of the other chiefs given by Cuming the title of Cherokee Emperor. Following the treaty, seven chiefs accompanied Cuming to London to visit King George II. They were, Kitigiska, Okou-Ulah, Tiftowe, Clogoitah, Colonah the Raven, and Ookou-naka. The seventh member of the party was not officially a representative, and did not sign the treaty.
Oconostota, the great Cherokee War Chief, was just coming into prominence. He did not accompany the delegation to England, but his brother, Kitegiska, was one of the visiting chiefs and spoke for the Indians before the King. He later attained considerable prominence.
By far the most important of the seven, however, was Oukou-naka, who was later to be known as Atta-culla-culla (the Little Carpenter), one of the greatest Cherokees who ever lived. He became Peace Chief of the Nation, associated with Oconostota as War Chief. The story of the Cherokees for the succeeding forty years is practically the story of these two men.
Unfortunately for the interest of the Cherokees and of the English, Sir Alexander Cuming became involved in the barbarous debt laws of the time, and was thrown in jail for debt. He was thus unable to accompany the Cherokees on their return trip to America. The Indians loved him, and were much impressed by his imprisonment. They regarded the white men as exceedingly foolish to place a man in jail for debt, thus making it impossible for him to pay.
Moytoy, the Cherokee "Emperor," died about 1753. His son, Amo-sgasite, (Dreadful Water) claimed his title. The Cherokees, according to their ancient custom, selected their own head man, and the choice fell upon Standing Turkey of Echota, Kana-gatoga, known to the white men as Old Hop because he was advanced in age, and lame. Oconostota was at the time War Chief, and Atta-culla-culla Peace Chief. Other prominent chiefs were Outacite of Keowee, known as Judd's Friend; Big Eagle, Awali-na-wa, known to the white men as Willenawah, of Toquo; Wahatchie, Waya-tsi, Bad Wolf, head man of the Lower Towns; Round O of the Middle Towns; and Amo-sgasite of Tellico.
Oconostota had just led his warriors in the Battle of Taliwa by which all of North Georgia was gained to his people from the Creeks. He was universally known as the Great Warrior of Echota. Attacullaculla, the Little Carpenter, is described as the most influential man in the Nation.
In 1754, Governor James Glen of South Carolina, visited the Cherokee country for the purpose of building a fort. Outacite, head man of the Lower Towns, and the Raven of Toxoway, ceded to him for $500.00 a tract of land upon which he built Fort Prince George, on Keowee River opposite the old town of Keowee, in the present county of Pickens, South Carolina.
Old Hop, or Standing Turkey, has been confused by some historians with Oconostota. He served from 1753 to 1761, and was succeeded for a brief time by his nephew, also called Standing Turkey.
The names Outacite and Raven were war titles, conferred for bravery. Both were common throughout the Cherokee country, several chiefs bearing them at the same time. They were identified by adding the name of their town, as "Raven of Echota."
Governor Glen held a second treaty with the Cherokees in 1755, at their town of Saluda. Rivalry between England and France for control of America had reached the stage of open warfare. General Edward Braddock had been sent to America with an army of British Regulars. He hoped, with Colonial assistance, to banish the French from North America. Both French and English were bidding for Cherokee support, and Glen's treaty was for the purpose of clinching matters by securing Cherokee warriors to help Braddock.
Old Hop appointed Attacullaculla to speak for the Nation. The Cherokees agreed to support the English cause provided they were given arms and ammunition; and that Governor Glen should build a fort among the Overhill (Deli-gatusi) towns, to protect their women and children while the men were away fighting the French. The Little Carpenter's speech is a model of Cherokee oratory, forceful, eloquent, and dramatic. So well did he acquit himself that he was thereafter considered the Speaker for the Nation in dealings with the white men. Old Hop, however, held a vigilant rein over his younger associate, and specifically reserved the right to correct his speech when necessary. The honor of Principal Chief was not lightly bestowed, but for merit, and we are told that all the chiefs, including Oconostota and the Little Carpenter, deferred with respect to the opinions of Old Hop.
In fulfillment of Governor Glen's promise, Captain Raymond Demere was sent to the Overhill country in 1756 to build a fort. This he located at the mouth of Tellico River where it joins the Little Tennessee, in the present Monroe County.
The fort was called Fort Loudoun in honor of the British Commander-in-chief who had just reached America. It was the first building erected by English speaking people west of the Alleghenies. Captain Raymond Demere, being in ill health, asked to be relieved, and his brother,
Captain Paul Demere, was sent to command the fort. The garrison consisted of three hundred men.
Just before Fort Loudoun had been erected, Major Andrew Lewis of Virginia had also built a fort among the Overhills for that State.
The Cherokees, following the building of the two forts, sent four hundred warriors to assist Virginia against the French. They were under general charge of Outacite, (Judd's Friend); and Major Andrew Lewis was given their command. Lieutenant Richard Pearis accompanied them as interpreter.
Oconostota and the Little Carpenter, at the same time, led a war party against the French fort at Toulouse, the present Montgomery, Ala. They were successful in taking five French scalps and two prisoners.
The Cherokees who went to Virginia arrived too late to be of help in Braddock's campaign. Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia blamed Glen for the delay. "Had our Indians arrived earlier," he wrote, "they could have engaged the enemy in their bush style of fighting, and the result would have been different. The failure of the campaign...may be laid at the door of Governor Glen, who has acted contrary all along to the King's interests."
The vigorous complaint of the Virginia governor, and the horror in England at Braddock's defeat, caused the recall of Governor Glen in 1756. He was succeeded by William Henry Lyttleton, a pompous braggart, far less capable of dealing with the Indians than Glen.
The assistance of the Cherokees was welcomed with open arms by George Washington following Braddock's defeat. The northern Indians, taking advantage of their victory, overran the Virginia frontier and spread desolation. Major Lewis led the main body of the Cherokees against the Shawnee towns in Ohio. Other bands of Cherokees were used for scouting the frontier. All were instructed to take scalps of the French and their Indians, Virginia paying $75.00 each for the trophies. The Cherokees served for two years, war parties coming and going from their country.
The Virginia fort was situated on the north side of Little Tennessee River, directly opposite Echota. It was never garrisoned, and was destroyed by the Cherokees in 1761.
The absence of interpreters led to constant friction with the Virginia military authorities. Pearis, the interpreter, was usually away with a war party. Warriors returning after scouting trips were often unable to secure their own horses or property.
One party of ten were seized and imprisoned in the belief that they were enemy Indians. The large reward offered for enemy scalps tempted Virginians of mercenary character to secure Cherokee scalps and collect the bounty, for all Indian scalps looked alike. Major Lewis thus lost several of his Cherokee warriors. The news traveled rapidly back to the Cherokee country and taxed the diplomacy of the Little Carpenter to avoid open warfare between Engish and Cherokees. The chief himself journeyed to Virginia to assure the English authorities of the sincerity of Cherokee friendship. He was insulted by General John Forbes, in command of the expedition against Fort DuQuesne.
Cherokee assistance was belittled by British officers because the Indians expected presents to be distributed among them, when as a matter of fact that was the only pay they received for exposing themselves in arduous service for British interests.
, recognizing the real value of the Indians, exerted every effort to keep them satisfied. The Little Carpenter, feeling that his efforts were not appreciated, ordered his warriors back to their home in 1758.
Moytoy of Citico, who commanded one of the returning parties, had lost several of the horses of his followers, or had not been able to secure the return of them from British authorities. Without ceremony, considering himself justified under the circumstances, Moytoy appropriated other horses to replace those lost. He took the first horses available, in some cases by force. The Cherokees, having given unselfish service to the English, were in bitter mood that it was not appreciated.
Moytoy's action brought instant retaliation. Virginia militia was hastily called out and a pitched battle was fought near Staunton with nineteen Indian loss. Moytoy hastened a runner to Echota to inform the heads of his Nation of the action; and burning for revenge, led his surviving warriors to the Carolina frontier where he took nineteen scalps to replace those lost by his followers.
[For details of troubles of the Cherokees in Virginia in 1758, see Dinwiddie Papers; Correspondence of Washington, Sparks; Calendar of Virginia State Papers; and South Carolina Public Records, Indian Affairs, Vol. 6.]
Old Hop, Oconostota, and the Little Carpenter at once disavowed the action of Moytoy. The scalps he had taken were required of him and were delivered to Captain Demere, who gave them honorable burial within the walls of Fort Loudoun. Oconostota and Judd's Friend, with twenty-two chiefs, the most influential in the Nation, journeyed to Charleston to assure Governor Lyttleton that the taking of scalps by Moytoy had been unauthorized, and that the Cherokees sincerely desired peace.
Lyttleton had already called out the Carolina militia. He was vain and desirous of military glory. He informed Oconostota that the persons of the chiefs with him would be respected as ambassadors, but that he proposed to march to the Cherokee country to take satisfaction, and they would be permitted to return with him. Privately, he informed his council that he expected to hold the chiefs as hostages.
A march from Charleston to the Cherokee country at that time was a serious matter, and the Governor's enthusiasm waned by the time he had arrived at Fort Prince George.
Atta-culla-culla then appeared to plead for peace.
Smallpox had broken out among the white troops and most of the men were dissatisfied and wanted to go home. The Governor therefore offered his terms of peace, which were that a Cherokee warrior should be surrendered for every white person who had been killed, these warriors to be put to death to balance the score.
The Little Carpenter doubted his ability, alone, to fulfill the terms. He asked that Oconostota and Judd's Friend be released to lend the weight of their authority. This the Governor did. The other chiefs were confined under guard within a cabin at Fort Prince George, plain violation of Governor Lyttleton's promise and of the rules of warfare either savage or civilized, by which the persons of ambassadors are sacred. The Governor returned to Charleston, where he paraded the streets as a conqueror. He was shortly afterward transferred to the governorship of Jamaica.
Control of South Carolina was taken over temporarily by William Bull, Lieutenant Governor.
[Affidavits of Virginia Citizens, S. C. I. A. 6, 153-162. Moytoy, (Amo-adaw-ehi) of Citico, was a nephew of the former "Emperor" of the same name. A few of his descendants yet live in Monroe County, Tenn., and on the Eastern Reservation.]
The imprisonment of their ambassadors, which included the head man of almost every important Cherokee town, roused bitterness and resentment throughout the Nation. Feeling was intensified when Lieut. Richard Coytmore, Commander of Fort Prince George, with another British officer, crossed the river to the town of Keowee, forced their way into a Cherokee house and grossly abused some Cherokee women whose men were away hunting.
The French agent Lantagnac appeared among the Cherokees and urged them to take up the hatchet against the English; as did the great Creek chief, the Mortar. Oconostota appeared at Fort Prince George and requested release of the hostages; stating that Governor Lyttleton had promised that they should return without injury to their own countrymen. The request was refused.
A few days later, on February 16, 1760, he appeared again, and a second time requested release of the hostages. Coytmore refusing, Oconostota stated that he would go to Charleston and see if he could not get the Governor to release them. "I will go and get a horse for the trip," he said, and as he spoke, waved a bridle around his head three times.
This was a prearranged signal. Forty of his followers who were lying in concealment opened fire and mortally wounded Coytmore. As soon as he was borne into the fort, his soldiers fell upon the defenseless hostages, twenty-two in number, and killed every one. By this bloody act, almost every Cherokee town in the Nation lost its head man, and there could be but one result.
"Every man of them that can carry a gun is on the warpath," one of the traders wrote.
Communications with Fort Loudoun were cut. Willenawah, (Awali-na-wa, Big Eagle), nephew of Old Hop, was entrusted with siege of the fort which he pressed with ever-increasing intensity. Oconostota, the Raven, and Judd's Friend led large parties of warriors to the Carolina frontier. In the Long Cane settlements of South Carolina, fifty-six people were killed.
The Yadkin settlements in North Carolina suffered severely. Governor Bull sent a hasty call to General Amherst for help, and in June, 1760, Colonel Archibald Montgomery, with two Highlander regiments, arrived at Charleston. Realizing that Fort Loudoun was in desperate straits, he marched at once for the frontier and burned the two Cherokee towns Estatoe and Sugartown. He then proceeded, by forced marches, toward the Middle Settlements. About five miles east of the present Franklin, N. C., at a place called Etchoe Pass, Oconostota placed his forces in ambush and waited. A hard battle was fought there, in which the English lost about one hundred men. Although Montgomery advanced a few miles and burned the town of Etchoe, he was so crippled and encumbered with wounded that a prompt retreat to Fort Prince George was ordered. The victorious Cherokees hung on his flanks and harassed him very much as the Americans were later to harass the British at Lexington.
It was a great victory for Oconostota.
The defeat of Montgomery left Fort Loudoun in hopeless condition. Demere held out until August, 1760, his men being forced toward the last to eat mules, rats, and anything possible to secure. A number of the men had married Cherokee women, among these being William Shorey, Chas. McLemore, and John Watts. The wives of these men managed to smuggle them a few supplies. Willenawah threatened them with death, but the women replied that if they were killed their relatives would, according to Cherokee law, kill Willenawah in return.
Captain John Stuart, an officer who had married the half Cherokee daughter of Ludovic Grant, an old trader in the Nation and greatly beloved, was sent to arrange terms of capitulation. These were quite honorable. The garrison was permitted to march out with flying colors, each man being permitted to retain his gun and sufficient ammunition to sustain him until arrival at Fort Prince George. The Cherokees agreed to supply horses for the wounded and feeble, and men to hunt for meat on the march. In return, the fort, the cannon with which it was defended, all powder and ball and other supplies, were to be surrendered to the Cherokees without deceit or evasion.
Old Hop, the Cherokee "Emperor", had died during the siege. His nephew, Standing Turkey, with Oconostota, signed the articles of capitulation for the Cherokees; and Captains Demere and Stuart for the English. On August 8, 1760, the British flag was hauled down, and the garrison, numbering about three hundred with women and children, marched for Fort Prince George, distant one hundred and forty miles. Late that afternoon, they camped at Cane Creek where it empties into the Tellico, the first day's march having been about fifteen miles.
With great rejoicing, the Cherokees swarmed into the long besieged fort. The respect in which they held their leaders was shown in their treatment of the Little Carpenter. He had taken no part in the siege, and had more than once given warning to Demere of impending attacks. The Cherokees, however, granted him the right to his own opinions. Upon the surrender, he was permitted to take the house of Captain Demere for a residence.
Some time that day, a warrior discovered fresh dirt under a cabin and surmised that a burial had taken place. Eager for a scalp, he began digging, and uncovered ten kegs of powder which had been hidden in violation of the terms of surrender. The passions of the campaign flared again. It was never known by whose order the powder was secreted, but the warriors placed the blame without hesitation upon Captain Demere. The war whoop was sounded, and as one man the Cherokees swarmed upon the trail of the garrison.
The Little Carpenter was horrified by the turn of events. Then and there, he performed an act that has made his name synonymous with Indian friendship. He had taken the oath of blood brotherhood with Captain John Stuart. He realized that the wrath of the warriors would be directed against him as well as Demere, for Stuart, with his commander, had signed the articles of capitulation. The Carpenter called to him Onatoy, a brother of the well known chief Round O, a warrior in whom he had the utmost confidence. To Onatoy he confided that Stuart was his blood brother a relationship held particularly sacred by the Cherokees.
He instructed Onatoy to proceed to the white camp and to save Stuart's life, regardless of what might happen.
At daybreak on the morning of the 9th, as the white men were preparing for another day's march, seven hundred yelling painted savages closed in on them. The Indians directed their fire mainly at the officers. At the first gun, Onatoy rushed upon Captain Stuart, overcame him, and forced him across Cane Creek to comparative safety. He was the only English officer to escape. Demere was wounded at the first fire, scalped while yet alive, and various members of his body were amputated until he died. His mouth was stuffed with dirt, the warriors taunting him,
"The English want land, we will give it to you." That the action of the Cherokees was directed principally against Demere is shown by the action of Judd's Friend; who, as soon as the white commander was killed, ran to all parts of the field, shouting "Stay your hands, we have got the man we want!" Twenty-three Englishmen in all were killed; the remainder of the garrison, including women and children, surrendered. The warriors of Citico, resentful because it was their people who had been killed in Virginia, carried two prisoners, privates Luke Croft and Frederick Mouncy, to their town with the intention of burning them at the stake. Croft was actually burned, and Mouncy would have suffered his fate but for the arrival of a runner from Oconostota forbidding his execution. The prisoners as a whole were treated kindly; some of them were ransomed, and others were released at the conclusion of peace in the following year. Several who had married Indian women chose to remain among the Cherokees.
The escape of Captain John Stuart is one of the classics of Indian warfare. His captor, Onatoy, hurried him to Fort Loudoun where he was given the reception of a friend and brother by the Little Carpenter. "I had thought never to see you again," the chief exclaimed; and he gave to Onatoy in his gratitude, his rifle, pouch, and articles of clothing.
A few days later the Little Carpenter announced that he would go into the woods with his friend and hunt the deer that Captain Stuart's strength might be regained, after the hardships of the long siege. Regardless of his own popularity among his people, and even of his life, for Oconostota had planned to use Stuart to operate Fort Loudoun's cannon against Fort Prince George, the Little Carpenter conducted his friend for nine days through the wilderness to the Virginia fort at Long Island of Holston.
The chief then returned to face, if necessary, the wrath of his people.
Fort Prince George was never attacked. The Cherokees really desired peace with the English, and toward that end the Little Carpenter used all his influence. A great council was held at Nequassee late in 1760, which was attended by two thousand Cherokees.
It voted unanimously for peace, but peace was not yet to come.
The destruction of Fort Loudoun and the possibility of further Indian hostilities roused consternation in South Carolina. Governor Bull dispatched an urgent message to General Jeffrey Amherst, British commander in North America, for help. The conquest of Canada had just been completed, deciding that America was to be English and not French. General Amherst, having plenty of idle soldiers at his disposal, ordered Col. James Grant with two thousand regulars to South Carolina to chastise the Cherokees.
Grant asked and received permission to take with him Roger's Rangers, commanded by Major Robert Rogers, the most capable Indian fighter in North America. Grant himself was familiar with the Cherokee country, having served as Montgomery's aide, and he had had much experience against the northern Indians. He carefully planned every detail of the campaign with General Amherst before leaving New York.
Colonel Grant arrived at Charleston early in 1761. Even a slight investigation convinced him that further hostilities were useless; that the Cherokees wanted peace, and the war existed "only in the heated imagination" of certain Carolineans. Grant had his instructions, however, and carried them out with an energy and thoroughness that was to make his name a watchword among the Cherokees for half a century.
[The Little Carpenter took with him also, the physician at Fort Loudoun, and William Shorey the interpreter, and a young Indian woman who was probably Stuart's Indian wife, daughter of Ludovic Grant. Shorey was the great-grandfather of Chief John Ross; and Stuart was the progenitor of the well known Bushyhead family.]
Moving rapidly into the Cherokee country, within the space of twenty days, he destroyed every Middle and Lower town. The Cherokees were badly defeated at Etchoe Pass, scene of Montgomery's failure. Fifteen Indian towns were reduced to ashes. More than a thousand acres of crops were destroyed. Five thousand Cherokees were driven into the woods, as Grant thought, to perish. Grant failed to recognize, however, the extent of the Cherokee country. The refugees simply crossed the mountains to the Valley and Overhill towns where they found ready welcome. Once the troops were withdrawn, the Middle and Lower towns were rebuilt. The Indian loss in man-power was slight.
Having completed his campagin, Grant retired to Fort Prince George and sent runners to the Cherokees desiring that they come in to treat for peace. A few days later, Attacullaculla appeared. Colonel Grant announced his terms, which were agreeable to the Carpenter with one exception. Grant specified that four Cherokees be delivered to him to be put to death in front of his troops, as a warning to other Cherokees. This stipulation the Carpenter refused. He asked permission to go to Charleston and talk the matter over with Governor Bull, which was granted.
As a result of that conference, the disagreeable requirement was eliminated, and the Cherokees were granted an honorable peace.
The treaty was signed December 16, 1761, by the following chiefs:
Attacullaculla, of Echota
Kitegisky the Prince, brother of Oconostota
Skilolosky, of Sticoy, brother of Judd's Friend.
Cappy of Tomotley, adopted son of Old Hop.
Onatoy of Toquo, brother of Round O
Halfbreed Will, of Nequassee
Old Warrior, of Estatoe, commonly called the Good Warrior
Tettatalaska, of Citico
Outacite, the Mankiller, of Keowee
[A copy of Grant's Journal, a day by day report of his campaign, may be consulted in the Lawson McGhee Library, Knoxville, in their typed copy of British Colonial Papers covering the period of John Stuart's agency. Early writers estimated the number of the Cherokees at 60,000. Adair states that one half of the nation were destroyed by smallpox in an epidemic in 1738, the disease having been communicated from Africans brought over on a slave ship to Charleston.
South Carolina documents indicate, however, that the number of deaths was much smaller, one writer placing it at 1,000. It is thought that the early population was considerably over-estimated. It was probably nearer 30,000 than 60,000.]
A part of the agreement stipulated that all the English prisoners captured at Fort Loudoun or otherwise, be surrendered within ninety days at Fort Prince George; and all Cherokees held prisoner by the Engish were released. By request of the Little Carpenter, John Stuart was sent to the Cherokees to act as resident British Agent. A short time later he was appointed His Majesty's agent to all southern Indians, with headquarters in Mobile.
It will be noted that neither Oconostota nor Judd's Friend, both of whom had been the leaders in the recent hostilities, attended the treaty, for fear that their presence might arouse resentment. Each of them, however, sent his brother as evidence of good faith. Oconostota, in fact, was blamed by many of his own people for the calamity that had come upon the Cherokees, and the war chief had the good judgment and modesty to place himself in comparative retirement for a time.
A year later, Lieut. Timberlake visited the Overhill towns, and found Judd's Friend, Outacite, acting in Oconostota's place. Oconostota still held a high place in the estimation of the Cherokees, for in a letter to Captain Stuart, inviting him to visit again his Cherokee friends, the chief signs himself "Speaker of the National Assembly." Stuart's departure from the Cherokee country did not lessen his friendship for the Little Carpenter and his people, which was to endure until his death.19 Oconostota, in his letter, spoke of the happiness of the Cherokees if they could once more shake Stuart's hand; "It is what you will," he said, "if you will visit us again."
[Full account of the proceedings at Bull's treaty with the Cherokees in 1761 may be found in South Carolina Public Records, S. C. Journal, Sept. 15, 1761. The period of Stuart's agency is best covered by British Colonial Papers, Lawson McGhee Library, Knoxville.]
The Cherokee war of 1760-61 had one delightful result: the visit to the Overhill towns of Lieut. Henry Timberlake, and his subsequent trip to London with three Cherokee chiefs headed by Judd's Friend. That chief, like the little Carpenter, was thereafter the firm friend of the English. Timberlake's story, however, had a sad ending. Two years later, he made a second trip to London with a delegation headed by Cheulah, the Fox, of Citico. The second visit was unauthorized and led to Timberlake's ruin. The Indians were eventually returned to America on one of His Majesty's warships. Timberlake, reduced to penury, wrote his memoirs to retrieve his fallen fortunes, but died before their publication.
In 1768, Oconostota and Attacullaculla signed a treaty at Hard Labor, South Carolina, with John Stuart, by which the Cherokees ceded a large tract of land, including the sites of the old towns of Seneca, Keowee, Sugartown, Estatoe, and Tugaloo. This treaty almost extinguished Indian titles in South Carolina. "Having given our friends enough land to live on," Oconostota said, "I hope we may dwell togehter in peace as brothers." The hope was in vain, for the ink was hardly dry when white settlers were across the mountains at Watauga River in violation of the treaty.
Leaving the Treaty of Hard Labor, Oconostota, the Little Carpenter and Judd's Friend were conveyed aboard an English warship, and were taken to New York, where they attended at Fort Stanwix a great congress of all Indian tribes held by Sir William Johnson, the northern British Indian Agent.
The object was to secure a lasting peace between those Indian tribes which had formerly been subject to the French, and those who had followed English interests. Oconostota and Judd's Friend returned aboard the ship. The Little Carpenter journeyed by land to the Shawnee towns in Ohio which had been hereditary enemies of the Cherokees to use his persuasive powers with those Indians toward peace.
His efforts were not entirely successful. Shawnee raids in the Cherokee country continued, with Cherokee retaliatory efforts, until the Revolution. This trip, however, probably made the Little Carpenter the most traveled of all Cherokee chiefs.
During John Stuart's absence from the Cherokee country upon his duties at Mobile, he sent as his deputies among the Cherokees, Alexander Cameron and John McDonald. McDonald lived at Chickamauga, near the present Chattanooga, Tennessee. Cameron lived first in South Carolina, but after the cession of Indian lands there, moved to Toquo, among the Overhills. He married a Cherokee woman, and was greatly beloved by the Indians. A strong friendship, leading to the rite of blood brotherhood, developed between Cameron and the Little Carpenter's son, Dragging Canoe, (Tsi-yu-gun-sini). This chief was later to become the bulwark of Indian opposition to white encroachment; and his influence was to throw the support of the Cherokees to the English and not to the Americans, in the Revolutionary War.
The year 1775 found England and America on the verge of war. That, however, was on the seaboard. Beyond the Alleghenies other events occupied the stage. American settlements had penetrated well into Cherokee country at Watauga and Nolichucky. Richard Henderson, a man of vision of North Carolina, had an ambition to establish an inland empire where free men might settle without fear of such things as stamp taxes. Already, many North Carolineans had crossed the mountains to Watauga and Holston to escape oppressive English governors. Henderson organized the Transylvania Company to purchase all of Kentucky and Middle Tennessee from the Cherokees. Daniel Boone, acting for him, had scouted over the entire territory with more than favorable report. Henderson met the Cherokees at Sycamore Shoals on March 7, 1775, and after a week of negotiation, secured a deed for the vast territory, in return for which he paid the Cherokees $50,000 in goods: guns, ammunition, blankets, beads, etc.
The treaty was marked by a startling protest from Dragging Canoe, the Little Carpenter's son. Regardless of the fact that his own father was willing to sign, Dragging Canoe protested bitterly against cession of his people's hunting grounds. He flatly refused to sign. In a speech bristling with honest patriotism, he begged his people not to sell their lands. With prophetic eye he foresaw the ruin of the red men. He predicted that they would be driven ever westward, and their lands taken from them even there. When Oconostota and the Carpenter signed regardless of his protest, he stalked from the treaty ground with the defiant statement to Henderson, "You have bought a fair land, but you will find its settlement dark and bloody." And to that end Dragging Canoe devoted his life, successfully.
The war between England and America gave Dragging Canoe, as he thought, his opportunity to regain his people's hunting grounds. Every ounce of his influence was thrown into the scales in favor of the English. "I will hold fast to your talk," he told Cameron; "I will set out for war and will stick close to these Virginians. I do not understand their crooked talks." Through his influence, backed by Cameron and McDonald, British agents, the Cherokees threw their strength to English support. Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia felt at once the scourge of Indian warfare. Dragging Canoe led the principal body of warriors from the Overhill towns against the Watauga settlements.
Oconostota and the Little Carpenter were old. With bitter memories of the last war, they sat silent and dejected when the younger chiefs, with fiery eloquence, demanded that the hunting grounds they had sold be repossessed by the Cherokees. "I am no speaker," said Oconostota, "I will let my nephew, the Raven, speak for me." The Raven (Colonah) of Chota was thenceforth considered as acting War Chief in Oconostota's place. The Little Carpenter, likewise being old, designated Old Tassel, (Kai-ya-ta-hee) to speak for him. These two, the Raven and Old Tassel, became the War and Peace Chiefs of the Cherokees.
The Indian warfare brought swift reprisals. The towns around the headwaters of Tugaloo River were destroyed by Georgians. Colonels Williamson and Rutherford, of the Carolinas, destroyed the Middle and Valley Towns. Colonel Christian, with an army of Virginians, burned the Overhill Towns. The Cherokee country was thus completely desolated. The Raven and Old Tassel sued for peace, and a treaty was held at Long Island in July, 1777, by which the Cherokees were compelled to cede all of upper East Tennessee and an immense tract in Western North Carolina. The treaty was signed for the Cherokees by Oconostota, Attacullaculla, The Raven, Old Tassel, Abram of Chilhowie, Outacite of Hiwassee, and lesser known chiefs.
Dragging Canoe regarded the peace negotiations with scorn. Inasmuch as the old men of the Cherokees had become "Virginians and rogues," he announced his intention of seceding from the Cherokee Nation. He demanded that the Little Tennessee towns so long occupied by the Overhills should be abandoned, and new locations be selected lower down the Tennessee River. Followed by nearly a thousand warriors, practically the entire fighting strength of the Nation, he removed to Chickamauga Creek, at the site of the present Chattanooga. He was accompanied in his voluntary exile by such prominent chiefs as Outacite, Young Tassel, later to be known as John Watts, Scolaguta or Hanging Maw, Bloody Fellow, Little Owl, Kitegiska, the Glass, Middlestriker, Little Turkey, Richard Justice, Lying Fish, and other chiefs of less renown.
Eleven towns were established in the vicinity of Chickamauga Creek, and drawing their name from the little stream, Dragging Canoe and his followers soon became known as the Chickamaugas. They regarded themselves, however, as Ani-yunwi-ya, the real Cherokees, and called those Cherokees who had entered into the treaty with the white men, "Virginians and rogues."
[See Haywood, Civil and Political History of Tennessee, Appendix, for full account of the Treaty of Long Island. The Cherokees reserved the island itself, a "sacred old treaty ground," for the use of Col. Nathaniel Gist of Virginia, father of Sequoyah.]
Dragging Canoe instantly dispatched war parties to the frontier to take American scalps. He himself was raiding in the neighborhood of Long Island before the detested treaty negotiations had been completed. The menace was recognized in the white settlements; and early in 1779 a combined army of Virginians and North Carolineans destroyed the new Indian towns. Four Indians only were killed, and Dragging Canoe was not dismayed. "We are living in the grass, but we are not yet conquered," he said. He withdrew with his followers behind the protection of Lookout Mountain, stretching forty miles north and south into Alabama. The Tennessee River below Chattanooga was impassable for navigation. The only entry into the new retreat was by a narrow pass at Lookout Mountain, which could be defended by a few men against a host. In this safe location, five new towns were built, and later a sixth. They were Nickajack, Running Water, Crowtown, Lookout Town, and Long Island. A few years later Willstown was built, near the present Fort Payne, Alabama.
The peace loving heart of the Little Carpenter was broken by the calamities of his Nation. His last public appearance was at the Treaty of Long Island, in July, 1777. He was at that time living at Natchey Town, on Natchey Creek about seven miles south of the former Fort Loudoun. Shortly after his attendance at the treaty, he died, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. His place of burial is not definitely known, but is probably at Natchey Town.
Oconostota, also old and helpless, but quite friendly to the white men, was taken by Col. Joseph Martin, Virginia's Indian agent, to his home near Long Island, where his last years were passed peacefully. Early in 1783, he told Colonel Martin that his end was near, and requested that he might be buried in the soil of Echota. His wish was respected. He was taken by canoe to Echota. Taking Colonel Martin by the hand, he asked that he be given Christian burial, and expired while thanking his friend for his kindess. Colonel Martin placed his body in a canoe, and buried it as Oconostota had wished.
[The Cherokee names were Ani-Kusati-yi, Amo-gayun-yi, Kagun-yi, Utsuti-gwa-yi or Stecoyee, and Amo-yeli-gunhita.
Natchey Town was also the place of the birth of his son, Dragging Canoe.
Narrative of William Martin, Draper Manuscripts.
A short time before he died, Oconostota said to Colonel Martin, "I have never run from an enemy, but I walked fast up a branch once."]
From his "Five Lower Towns," Dragging Canoe maintained unceasing warfare against the Americans. Late in 1780, the region on Cumberland River around Nashville, part of Henderson's purchase, was settled by white men. The new settlement grew rapidly, and within fifteen years had a white population of ten thousand. Yet, until Dragging Canoe's death, the life of no man was safe except in a walled fort. For many years the only route to the Cumberland was by way of Kentucky. So closely was the Kentucky Road guarded by red warriors that as late as 1794, the rate for carrying a letter from Knoxville to Nashville was fifty dollars, "and that dearly earned in many cases," commented Governor William Blount.
The relations of Cherokees and white men were complicated by the State of Franklin, which in 1784 declared its independence from North Carolina and for four years maintained separate government. John Sevier, Franklin's famous Governor, repeatedly led his hard riding followers against the Cherokee towns. By the "Treaty of Coyatee," more of a pretext than a treaty, Franklin seized all Cherokee land north of Little Tennessee River, and Old Tassel, in Echota, could look across the narrow stream at white settlements. The United States Government by the Treaty of Hopewell, in 1785, refused to recognize Franklin's claims, and placed the Cherokee boundary at the old line. Franklinites ignored the treaty and encroached more and more on Cherokee land. The only answer could be bloody Indian warfare.
In 1788, Old Tassel and Abram, harmless, friendy chiefs, the former the principal chief of the Nation, were killed while under a flag of truce by a band of Sevier's men under command of James Hubbard, an Indian hater. The actual killing was done by John Kirk, whose people had been murdered by Indians. This bloody act sent to Dragging Canoe's camp some stalwart recruits. Old Tassel's brother, Doublehead, was to prove the most blood-thirsty of all the Indian chiefs who harassed the American border.
His nephew, Benge, known to the whites as Captain Bench because he wore a sword taken from an English officer at Fort Loudoun, was to take forty-five scalps with his own hands, and to become so famous that white mothers would say to their children, "Captain Bench will get you if you are not good." John Watts, another nephew of Old Tassel, was roused to frenzy by the treacherous death of his uncle, and could not mention the matter for years thereafter without shedding tears.
Following the collapse of the Franklin movement, John Sevier was arrested and carried to North Carolina to be tried for treason. During his absence, Joseph Martin, Brigadier General of the frontier militia, led an army of five hundred in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the Five Lower Towns. A successful ambush at the pass of Lookout Mountain forced the white army back in dismay, followed closely by an avenging horde of warriors who spread terror on the border. In October, 1788, Gillespie's Fort, a small station on Little Tennessee River, was taken by storm, and twenty people lost their lives. A defiant note was left at the burning ruins, signed by John Watts, Bloody Fellow, Kitegisky, and Glass, warning the white settlers to move off Indian lands within thirty days. An index of the character of the border warfare may be had in the action of Bloody Fellow, who, when he lost his brother through what he considered white treachery, took fifteen scalps in revenge.
The Cherokees had long ago discontinued, in active warfare, the use of gatsodi-ale-dacleda-taw, the bow and arrows. Although the bow, at short range, was probably more deadly than the defective guns handled by the traders, the white man's weapon was used whenever it could be procured. That fact was most unfortunate from the standpoint of the Cherokees, for it made them dependent entirely upon outside sources for their ammunition. Thus the failure of ammunition at the second Battle of Etchoe Pass enabled Grant to win his campaign. There is little doubt that the conquest of the Indian country would have been long delayed had the red warrior stuck to his ancient weapons.
Up to and during the American Revolution, the Cherokees secured their ammunition from the English. The close of the American Revolution would have automatically ended the Indian wars by shutting off their supplies of powder and ball, but for one reason.
By the terms of the treaty which ended the Revolution, Spain was awarded Florida, and as she already owned Louisiana, this gave her control of the mouth of the Mississippi and navigation on that great stream. Spain was determined to maintain that control. She regarded the western American settlements as a menace to it, and was willing, even anxious, that they be destroyed. To that end, Spain supplied the Indians with unlimited ammunition, "to be had for the asking," and the Cherokees were enabled to carry on.
North Carolina in 1789 ceded its western lands to Congress, which organized the Territory South of the River Ohio, comprising the present Tennessee.
William Blount, friend of Washington and member of the convention which had just framed the Constitution of the United States, was named Governor.
Governor Blount took up his duties in 1790. His first act was an attempt to end the Indian war by diplomacy. He announced that he would rectify the wrongs done the Indians. Hence, practically every chief of prominence, with the lone exception of Dragging Canoe, attended Blount's Treaty of Holston in 1791.
The Indians had understood that Blount would remove white settlers from Indian land. They were bitterly disappointed when, instead of removing the settlers, he proposed to buy the land which had been wrongfully taken. Watts and Bloody Fellow, who spoke for the Cherokees, protested. Watts, overcome by the memory of the treacherous death of his uncle, withdrew from the treaty. Blount offered the Cherokees some presents, and an annunity of $1000.00 for the land. "It would not buy a breech clout for each member of my Nation!" Bloody Fellow replied; but signed the treaty, feeling himself under duress. Without consulting Blount further, he set out at the head of a delegation for Philadelphia to attempt to secure better terms from the President. The effort resulted in an increase of the Cherokee annuity to $1500.00 per year; and Washington conferred upon Bloody Fellow a new name, Eskaqua, meaning "Clear Sky." Thereafter, he was a friend to the Americans.
[The word Eskaqua is from the Shawnee.
In Cherokee, Clear Sky would be Galunladi-yiga.]
While Bloody Fellow was in Philadelphia, Dragging Canoe died, in March, 1792. John Watts was elected his successor as War Chief. Watts was a magnetic personality, an eloquent orator, and a man of proven bravery. The Cherokees flocked to his banner with even more enthusiasm than to that of Dragging Canoe. In addition, a large number of Creek warriors placed themselves under his command. It was a stirring scene when Watts, at the great council at Willstown in September, 1792, threw the weight of his influence into the scales, and announced "To war we will go together.!"
Watts was determined to prove that Indians could "fight in armies" as well as white men. His plan of campaign was well thought out. He proposed to throw the whole strength of the Nation against the Cumberland settlements, wipe them out, then turn eastward and repeat the process at Watauga. He himself marched against Nashville at the head of three hundred warriors.
To block assistance or word of his coming, Doublehead was sent with a hundred men to lie in wait upon the Kentucky road. Middlestriker, with the same number, was sent to cover the new Cumberland road, a shorter route just opened from Knoxville to Nashville. Middlestriker intercepted and defeated a band of forty white militia on the way to Nashville, capturing the commander, Captain Samuel Handley. Doublehead found the Kentucky road almost deserted, took a couple of scalps, and departed post-haste for Nashville to assist in the attack.
Two days later he camped at Horseshoe Bend of Caney Fork River. His men scattered to hunt, leaving a single sentry at the camp. About noon, Captain William Snoddy in command of thirty-four militiamen, discovered and plundered the camp. The sentry escaped, and feeling sure that he would be attacked, Snoddy chose a strong position, protected on three sides by a high bluff, and went into camp for the night. It soon began to drizzle rain.
The men were kept at high tension throughout the night by Doublehead assembling his warriors. The howl of a wolf, answered by the scream of a panther, the hoot of an owl, or the bark of a fox, culminated about daybreak with a terrific yell, followed by profound silence. Four of Snoddy's men bolted in terror, and were seen no more. At daylight, Doublehead attacked. A desperate hand to hand struggle, lasting an hour, ensued. Doublehead lost thirteen men, and Snoddy four. The Indians withdrew eventually, and proceeded toward Nashville. That day, Doublehead was met by two runners who informed him that Watts had failed, and was being carried, mortally wounded, to Willstown. Doublehead, scourge of the frontier, wept. "Vengeance I will have for Watts!" he said.
The Indian campaign had indeed failed. Watts had with him numerous Creek allies under Talotiskee of Broken Arrow; and thirty Shawnees under Shawnee Warrior. About dark on September 30, 1792, the Indians approached Buchanan's Station, five miles east of Nashville. Watts insisted they they proceed to Nashville, which was the principal object of the campaign. His two allies objected to leaving white men in their rear. "Buchanan's must be taken first!" they argued. About midnight Watts consented. A furious assault, which lasted through the night, was made. No white men were killed, but the Indian loss was serious. Talotiskee and Shawnee Warrior were killed; as were Little Owl, Dragging Canoe's brother, and Kiachatalee, a brave young chief of Nickajack. Watts, desperately wounded, was placed upon a stretcher between two horses, and the Indian army retreated rapidly.
Watts recovered. The following year, 1793, he led an army of a thousand warriors against the settlements around Knoxville. Dissension with his uncle, Doublehead, delayed the march and gave the white settlers time to congregate in the forts. A small station, Cavett's, eight miles south of Knoxville, was surrounded. The inmates offered to surrender if their lives were spared. Watts, a humane man, readily agreed, the famous Captain Bench acting as interpreter. No sooner were the gates opened than Doublehead fell upon the helpless captives and murdered every one, regardless of the protests of Watts and other chiefs. The redoutable Bench wept, feeling that his honor had been betrayed, for he had promised the captives immunity. Watts abandoned the campaign, was pursued by John Sevier at the head of a large force, and was defeated at Etowah, site of the present Rome, Georgia.
Governor Blount, hoping to end the war, invited the leading chiefs to visit President Washington at Philadelphia. Doublehead was among those who accepted, and headed the delegation. The old warrior succeeded in having the Cherokee annuity raised to $5000.00 per year, and collected a year in advance which he distributed among his own followers.
In September, 1794, a white army from Nashville, headed by Col. James Ore, surprised and destroyed the towns of Nickajack and Running Water. About the same time General Wayne defeated the northern allies of the Cherokees; and Spain, pushed by the Napoleonic wars in Europe, withdrew support from the Indians. Watts, faced by the inevitable, made peace with the Americans. The implacable Doublehead returned about that time from Philadelphia, and although peace had been made, could not resist the temptation to make one more raid. He led a surprise attack upon the station of Valentine
Sevier and killed fourteen people, in revenge, as he said, for what Sevier's brother "Chucky Jack" had done to the Cherokees.
Thereafter the Cherokees followed the white man's path and made war no more with the Americans.
Following the death of Old Tassel in 1788, the upper Cherokee towns recognized Scola-guta, Hanging Maw, as Peace Chief. He was not active until the close of the war, when Watts, the War Chief, retired to comparative seclusion at Willstown. Hanging Maw was then recognized generally as head of the tribe. The assassination of the Principal Chief, and steady encroachment of white settlers even south of the Little Tennessee, caused a general exodus from the towns along that stream, so long occupied by the Cherokees. The Creeks had been defeated by the Cherokees in the Battle of Taliwa, in 1755.28 Following the battle, the Creek towns in northern Georgia had been abandoned. The Cherokees had gradually occupied the old sites, and this movement was hastened by Old Tassel's death.
The Cherokee capital was removed, first to Oostanaula on Coosawatie River in Georgia; and two years later to a new town near the present site of Calhoun, Georgia, which, in honor of the beloved old capital, was called New Echota. Hanging Maw continued to reside at Coyatee,29 and those of the Cherokees who had settled in the Georgia towns, the lower part of the Nation, generally recognized Kanaketa, the Little Turkey, as their head man. Until peace was established, in 1794, the affairs of the Nation were in great confusion.
[John Watts, respected and beloved by his people, continued to reside at Willstown, where he died about 1808. He is believed to have been buried in the cemetery now marked as the site of the Willstown Mission to the Cherokees, about two miles north of Fort Payne, Ala. His grave, however, is not marked.]
Hanging Maw died in 1798, and was succeeded as Peace Chief by the Little Turkey. Both of these mild and friendly chiefs were dominated by the powerful personality of Doublehead, who had been selected as speaker of the National Council, and who came more and more to represent his people in all dealings with the white people. Doublehead was utterly selfish and unprincipled.30 In the year 1807, without authority from the National Council, and probably for bribery, he signed a treaty ceding all Cherokee land lying to the westward and northward of Tennessee River, including Sequatchie Valley and Cumberland Plateau, the best hunting ground of the Cherokees.
Certain parcels of land were privately reserved for the use of Doublehead and his relatives.
The terms of this treaty when they became known created consternation and uproar. Doublehead when upbriaded for his treachery was defiant, and shot one of his accusers. He was then killed by a party consisting of Major Ridge, John Rogers,31 Alex Saunders, and two members of the clan of the man whom he had killed. Black Fox, Enoli, who had succeeded the Little Turkey as Principal Chief in 1801, confirmed Doublehead's treaty upon an agreement by Return J. Meigs, United States Indian Agent, that he would be paid a thousand dollars in cash and a regular annuity. The practice of bribing chiefs, usually when drunk, was followed regularly to obtain concessions that would have been hard to obtain without the use of liquor.
[It was at the Battle of Taliwa that we get our first glimpse of the famous Nancy Ward, later to be Agi-ga-u-e, Beloved Woman, of the Nation. Her first husband, the Kingfisher, was killed in the action. She took his place and fought as a warrior, and later, in recognition of her bravery, was made Beloved Woman.]
[Coyatee, Kai-ete-yi, Sacred Old Place, was situated at the mouth of Little Tennessee River, opposite the present Lenoir City.]
[Doublehead's hatred of the white man, and his reason for going to war in 1788, was the treacherous murder of his uncle while under a flag of truce.]
The killing of Doublehead was the cause of the repeal of the old Cherokee law of Clan Revenge; which required relatives of a slain person to exact blood for blood, regardless of the circumstances of the killing. The majority of the Cherokees felt that the killing of Doublehead was justified, and his relatives should not be required to take revenge.
Black Fox died in 1811. He was succeeded by Pathkiller, Nunna-dihi, a very honorable man who was to guide the destinies of the Cherokees through sixteen years. During that time the Nation made its greatest progress despite many discouraging factors.
In 1812-1814 occurred the Creek War.
The great Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh, endeavored to unite all Indian tribes against the whites. He was successful in enlisting the Creeks. The Cherokees, after much deliberation, sided with the Americans. They furnished nearly two thousand warriors who fought under Andrew Jackson, and contributed a great deal to winning the war. Colonel Gideon Morgan commanded the Cherokee forces. Under him served such well known Cherokees as Pathkiller, Junaluska, Whitepath, Richard Taylor, Charles Rees, Young Dragging Canoe, and John Ross. The Creek war ended with the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, in 1814, by which the Creeks were totally defeated, with the terrible loss of nearly a thousand warriors.
[John Rogers was an old trader in the Nation prior to the Revolution who lived at the town of Chickamauga, the present Chattanooga. His record was honorable. He saved at least two people from death at the stake by ransoming them with his own goods. He was later to become a leader in the Treaty Faction which advocated removal, and both he and his sons signed the removal treaty. He was the father of James Rogers; whose son, Clement Vann Rogers, was the father of Will Rogers.]
Having served loyally under the Stars and Stripes, the Cherokees should have been entitled to fair treatment and consideration; but the contrary was the case.
The State of Georgia, in 1802, had ceded to the Government its western lands out of which was later to be erected the States of Alabama and Mississippi. The land was occupied at the time by the Creek and Choctaw Nations, who claimed title from time immemorial; and Spain also claimed the territory under the terms of the treaty which terminated the Revolution. In return for the cession, the Government paid to Georgia a million and a quarter dollars and assumed the State's share of the expenses of the Revolutionary War.
By a clause in the agreement which was later to prove the ruin of the Cherokees, the Government agreed to extinguish Indian titles within Georgia "as soon as it could be done peaceably."
Georgia pressed continually for fulfillment of this clause. White settlers, too, encroached continually on Cherokee lands, and were difficult, if not impossible, to remove. The Government, bound by numerous treaties to protect the title of the Cherokees, was in the predicament of being forced to buy land from the Indians which they were not willing to sell.
In 1817, a treaty was held at Hiwassee, and the Government demanded cession of all Cherokee land north of Hiwassee River. Bitter dissension arose. A number of chiefs were willing to make the cession. Others, probably a majority, opposed it. John Ross, then a young man of 26 years, had just been elected to the National Council. He was well educated, and was appointed to draw up a formal protest to the cession, setting forth that the Cherokees desired no land in the West, but only to remain in peace in the land of their fathers and to become civilized. The cession was signed by certain chiefs, regardless of the protests. Several of these, fearing the fate of Doublehead, removed to the West. Among them were John Jolly, Ahu-ludi-ski, chief of Hiwassee Island; Takatoka, and John D. Chisholm.
In the same year, 1817, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions established Brainerd Mission at the old town of Chickamauga, the present Chattanooga. Efforts to Christianze the Cherokees had been made as early as 1799; and a Moravian Mission had been in operation at Spring Place, home of the Vanns, since 1804. From Brainerd, branch missions were scattered throughout the Nation, and the Cherokees were almost unanmiously Christianized. A few years later, Sequoyah perfected his Cherokee alphabet or syllabary and the Scriptures were translated into Cherokee. The Cherokees rapidly became a reading Nation. In 1827, John Ross drew up a Constitution for the Nation, based upon that of the United States, and in the following year, 1828, he was elected Principal Chief, which office he was to fill for nearly forty years.
Shortly after his election, Chief Ross removed from Rossville to the Coosa River opposite the present Rome, Georgia, where he built a commodious home. He was not to enjoy it for long.
Gold was discovered near Dahlonega in 1828. The insistence of Georgia on Cherokee removal became clamorous. Andrew Jackson, candidate for Presidency, announced that if elected he would support Georgia's removal plans. He was elected. Georgia immediately passed a legislative act annexing all Cherokee lands. The Cherokees were forbidden to hold a council within the limits of the State; were denied legal rights of trial; forbidden to dig gold on their own land; and Cherokee land was divided into lots of 160 acres and gold lots of 40 acres, and distributed by lottery to Georgia citizens. Ross, in the name of the Cherokees, protested the action of Georgia. He appealed to Congress, to the President, and to the courts. On one of his trips to Washington, his home was taken over by a Georgia citizen who had drawn it in the lottery.34 He moved his family to Red Clay, just across the Tennessee boundary, which then became headquarters for the Cherokees until the removal. While there, he was visited by John Howard Payne, author of Home Sweet Home, who was so impressed with the justice of the Cherokee cause that he prepared to write a book setting forth their side of the controversy.
He was arrested by the Georgia Guard, along with Ross, and imprisoned for two weeks in the Vann home, at Spring Place.
[Jolly was later Principal Chief of the Western Cherokees. He was the friend of Sam Houston and the father-in-law of John Rogers. John Ross was born at Kanagatugi, Turkey Town, on Coosa River opposite the present Center, Ala., Cherokee County, in 1791. Ann Shorey, daughter of William Shorey, interpreter at Fort Loudoun, and a Cherokee woman, married John McDonald, British Agent at Chickamauga. Their daughter, Mollie McDonald, married Daniel Ross, a trader among the Cherokees. Chief John Ross was their third son.
At the time of his birth, the lower Cherokees were at war with the Americans. McDonald, at the close of the Revolution in 1783, had made arrangements with the English trading firm Panton-Leslie & Co. at Pensacola to secure supplies for the Cherokees. To that end, he located at Turkey Town, which was on the main trail to Pensacola, that he might keep the supplies coming regularly. About 1797, after conclusion of peace, he moved to what is now Rossville, Ga., and built the house still standing, where Chief Ross grew up. Ross was well educated, by private tutor; at the Presbyterian school maintained by Rev. Gideon Blackburn at Kingston; and at a seminary at Maryville now known as Hiwassee College.]
A party grew up within the Cherokees, consisting mainly of those who had been dispossessed of their land in Georgia, which favored selling the land while something could be obtained for it, Georgia already having taken possession. They were headed by Major Ridge, his son John Ridge, Elias Boudinot, editor of the National Paper, the Rogers family, the Gunter family, and other prominent Cherokees. In December, 1835, the "Treaty Party" signed a treaty at New Echota by which all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi was sold to the Government for four and a half millions of dollars and an equal acreage in the West. The Western land was guaranteed to the Cherokees "forever, never to be placed under the jurisdiction of any State."
John Ross protested the treaty "in the name of God and the Cherokee Nation." The National Council denounced it as unauthorized. Ross carried a petition of protest to Washington, signed by 17,000 Cherokees, almost the entire population. President Jackson was adamant, and would be satisfied with nothing less than removal.
By the treaty terms, the Cherokees were to remove within two years.
Early in 1838, General Winfield Scott with 7000 soldiers moved into the Cherokee country to enforce removal.
The Indians were rapidly concentrated in stockades, and removal began.
So many died during the heated season that the National Council petitioned for permission to remove under their own chiefs later in the year. The permission was granted, over the bitter protest of Andrew Jackson who had been succeeded in the Presidency by Van Buren.
In the fall of 1838, thirteen parties of Cherokees, approximately a thousand each, took up the long journey. By April, 1839, the sad pilgrimage was completed, at terrible cost. Four thousand Cherokees had died during the removal. Shortly after arrival in the new country the leaders of the treaty party, Major Ridge and his son, and Elias Boudinot, were killed, presumably for the sale of the eastern lands without authority. John Ross was elected Principal Chief of the reunited Cherokees, and a new life was begun.
Mention should be made of fugitives who fled to the mountains and there hid, thus escaping removal.
They were led by Chiefs Utsala, (the Lichen), Yona-gunski (Drowning Bear), and Junaluska. The descendants of these fugitives now constitute the Eastern Band of Cherokees. Eternal fame should go to Tsali, or Charlie; a man not a chief but a true Cherokee and a patriot.
Captured, he murdered two soldiers who had insulted his wife while being taken to a stockade for removal. Charlie and his family fled to the mountains and there joined other refugees. General Scott, realizing that to run down each fugitive would be the work of months, made this proposition: if Charlie, his brother, and his two sons would surrender to be put to death for killing the soldiers, the other refugees would be permitted to remain in the mountains without further molestation.
Charlie accepted the hard terms. He voluntarily surrendered with his brother and two sons.
Later, with exception of the youngest son, they faced a firing squad; thus purchasing with their blood the homes now occupied by the Eastern Cherokees. History records no finer act.
Other chiefs, not so prominent but who played the part of men in the long warfare to hold the Cherokee country, should have mention.
Kingfisher, who died defending the ford at Etowah;
Breath of Nickajack, whose name signified that he was a good runner, killed at his own town, Nickajack, in 1794;
Glass, of Running Water, who prevented early settlement of Muscle Shoals;
Nontuaka, the Northward Warrior, who journeyed to Philadelphia in behalf of his people;
Otter Lifter and Red Headed Will, of Willstown;
Six Killer and the Terrapin, sons of Nancy Ward;
Chuloah, the Boot or Big Foot, who fought at Chickamauga and died on the Cumberland Trail;
Kenoteta, the Rising Fawn, who tried to save white mens' lives;
Going Snake of Notally, for whom a western district was named;
Whitepath of Ellijay, whose bones whitened the Trail of Tears.
The roll would be incomplete without the names of descendants of the white men who married Indian women and whose sons were loyal Cherokees:
The fidelity of these sons of white fathers to the people of their mothers is one of the brightest pages in Cherokee annals.
Mr. J. P. Brown
Provided by the Cherokee Documentation Center