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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter IV. — Crisis of the Cherokee Difficulties. The Army is Marched into that Quarter.

EVERY year's delay in the removal of the Cherokees, and other malcontent tribes, only increased the difficulties interposed, and allowed the opponents of the measure time to originate new causes for procrastination.

To overawe the malcontents, and give support to the Government authorities, 4000 men, nearly the entire disposable force of the army at that time, were kept in the field. Not only was the war with the Seminoles of Florida protracted in an extraordinary manner, but the difficulties with the Cherokees, arising out of the treaty of New Echota, at this time reached their culminating point. The Rossites refused to remove under the provisions of that treaty; and this party, being a majority of the nation, assumed a position of defiance to the Government. The Senate had originally assessed the value of their lands at $5,000,000, and, after great deliberation, and the allowance of $600,000 more, to cover claims for improvements, and for expenses of removal, ratified the instrument. It then became the imperative duty of the Executive to see that these treaty engagements were complied with, and not suffer them to be overslaughed by a system of factious delays and wily subterfuges. No attempt was made to show that the compensation was not adequate or liberal. A territory of greater extent and equal fertility, situated in a fine climate, and abounding in all necessary facilities for an affluent agricultural community, was granted to them, in addition to the award of $5,600,000. This new territory west, being under no state or territorial jurisdiction, their own institutions and laws could be established and enforced, and the Indian mind and character have ample scope for development. No new system of policy was introduced by Government, it was merely desired to enforce the old. The course of the preceding administration had been marked by foresight, comprehension, justice, decision, and a due regard for the advancement and permanent prosperity of the nation. The people of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi having earnestly demanded the removal of the Cherokees, General Scott was

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ordered to the Cherokee country, to enforce the treaty stipulations, and preserve order during their transportation; a delicate and difficult duty, which the excellent judgment of that officer enabled him to perform with decided success.

On reaching the scene of operations, he issued the following proclamation to the Cherokees, dated at the Cherokee agency, May 10th, 1838:

"Cherokees! The President of the United States has sent me, with a powerful army, to cause you, in obedience to the treaty of 1835, to join that part of your people who are already established in prosperity on the other side of the Mississippi. Unhappily, the two years which were allowed for that purpose you have suffered to pass away without following, and without making any preparation to follow; and now, by the time that this solemn address shall reach your distant settlements, the emigration must be commenced in haste, but, I hope, without disorder. I have no power, by granting a farther delay, to correct the error that you have committed. The full moon of May is already on the wane, and before another shall have passed away, every Cherokee man, woman, and child, in those States, must be in motion to join their brethren in the far West.

"My friends, this is no sudden determination on the part of the President, whom you and I must now obey. By the treaty, the emigration was to have been completed on or before the 23d of this month; and the President has constantly kept you warned, during the two years allowed, through all his officers and agents in this country, that the treaty would be enforced.

"I have come to carry out that determination. My troops already occupy many positions in the country that you are to abandon, and thousands and thousands are approaching, from every quarter, to render resistance and escape alike hopeless. All those troops, regulars and militia, are your friends. Receive them and confide in them as such. Obey them when they tell you that you can remain no longer in this country. Soldiers are as kind-hearted as brave, and the desire of every one of us is to execute our painful duty in mercy. We are commanded by the President to act towards you in that spirit, and such is also the wish of the whole population of America.

"Chiefs, head men, and warriors! Will you, then, by resistance, compel us to resort to arms? God forbid! Or will you, by flight, seek to hide yourselves in mountains and forests, and thus oblige us to hunt you down? Remember that, in pursuit, it may be impossible to avoid conflicts. The blood of the white man or the blood of the red man may be spilt; and if spilt, however accidentally, it may be impossible for the discreet and humane among you, or among us, to prevent a general war and carnage. Think of this, my Cherokee brethren! I am an old warrior, and have been present at many a scene of slaughter; but spare me, I beseech you, the horror of witnessing the destruction of the Cherokees.

'Do not, I implore you, even wait for the close approach of the troops; but make such preparations for emigration as you can, and hasten to this place, to Ross' Landing,

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or to Gunter's Landing, where you will be received in kindness by officers selected for the purpose. You will find food for all, and clothing for the destitute, at either of those places, and thence, at your ease and in comfort, be transported to your new homes according to the terms of the treaty.

"This is the address of a warrior to warriors. May his entreaties be kindly received, and may the God of both prosper the Americans and the Cherokees, and preserve them long in peace and friendship with each other!"

By the treaty ratified May 23, 1836, the Cherokees had stipulated to remove within two years. Early in the year 1837, several parties of the Ridgeites had successfully emigrated to their new location, and been received in the most friendly spirit by the Western Cherokees. These parties, in the aggregate, were estimated to number 6000; but the mass of the nation still remained. After the arrival of General Scott, and the disposition of his forces at suitable points of observation, it was no longer doubted that the day for decision had arrived.

On the 23d of July, in a general council of the nation, it was resolved to propose to the commanding general that they be allowed to conduct their own migration, and delegates were appointed to communicate this request. 664 To this the general replied approvingly, if certain conditions, necessary to ensure it, were agreed to; the migration to begin on the 1st of September, and the parties to succeed each other at intervals, not exceeding three days. These terms being assented to, and the stipulation being repeated, that the migration must commence on the 1st of September, and be terminated by the 20th of October, reservations being made for the sick and superannuated, General Scott demanded estimates of the expenses attending these removals. The Cherokees furnished details, estimating the removal of each 1000 persons at $65,880, 665 and proposed that the Indians employ physicians. To this he assented, although he criticised some of the items, adding that the entire expense of their migration would be paid out of an appropriation of Congress, the surplus of which was directed to be paid over to the Cherokees, thus furnishing them an incentive for their economical expenditure of the sum. On announcing the conclusion of this business to Mr. Poinsett, the Secretary of War, General Scott remarks,

"The Cherokee agents do not think a military escort necessary for the protection of the emigrants on the route, nor do I. We are equally of the opinion that sympathy and kind offices will be very generally shown by the citizens throughout the movement; and the Indians are desirous to exhibit, in return, the orderly habits which their acquired civilization has conferred. The parties (of about 100 each) will march without arms, under Indian conductors and sub-officers, of intelligence and discretion, who are ready to promise to repress and to punish all disorders among their own

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people, and, if they commit outrages on the citizens, or depredations on their property, instantly to deliver the offenders over to the nearest civil officers of the States." 666

This arrangement being entered into, the removal was made, under the personal superintendence of Mr. Ross. On reaching the Mississippi, the parties ascended it to the junction of the Arkansas, and, following the latter, in due time arrived at their new homes in the Indian territory. No disturbance occurred at any point on the route, and they conducted this exodus of the tribe with order and propriety. In this manner, 12,000 Cherokees were removed; which, added to the 6000 who had migrated during the previous year, coincides with the former estimate of their population at 18,000.

Thus was a measure finally and peaceably accomplished, to the satisfaction of all parties, which had kept the country in turmoil for several years, and threatened serious results. The conduct of General Scott was entitled to commendation; but the initiative of this final movement was due to a higher quarter. A delegation of the Cherokees visited Washington in the month of May, and called on the Secretary of War. Mr. Poinsett told them that the most strenuous efforts of the administration would be exerted, to prevail on the Southern States interested in their removal to refrain from pressing them inconveniently, and from interfering with their migration; that this migration should, if they desired, be conducted by their own agents; that he thought the entire expenses of it should be borne by the United States; and that a military escort should be provided for them while on the route. Mr. Van Buren sanctioned these terms, and received the delegation with great courtesy. He recommended to Congress that an adequate provision should be made to meet the expenses of their removal, in such a spirit of liberality and good-will as should justly mark all the national dealings with that people. The result was, an appropriation of $1,147,067. This was the foundation of success. General Scott did not therefore go to the Cherokee country with his hands tied, but was enabled to dispense the liberality of the Government in a manner at once just and munificent. The Rossites were conciliated, and, instead of being sour and discontented, as they would have been had they been rudely driven from their country (albeit they had sold it, and been paid for it, beside receiving a gratuity of an equal territory), they emigrated to the West, completely pacified, and entertaining friendly feelings toward the United States.

In a letter of December 18th, to Governor Gilmer, of Georgia, General Scott sums up a narration of his exertions, and of his success in removing the Indians, in the following words:

"The Cherokees, as it is known, were divided into two political parties; friends and opponents of the treaty of New Echota. Of the former, there were remaining east,

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in May last, about 500 souls; of the latter, including 376 Creeks, 667 a little more than 15,000. About 2500 of the anti-treaty party emigrated in June last, when (on the 19th) the movement was suspended by my order, until the 1st of September, on account of the heat and the sickliness of the season. The suspension was approved by the War Department, in anticipation, by an order to that effect, received a few days later. The Indians had already, with but very few exceptions, been collected by the troops, and I was further instructed to enter into the arrangement with the delegation (Mr. John Ross and his colleagues), which placed the removal of the 12,500 immediately in their own hands.

"The drought, which commenced in July and continued till the end of September, caused the loss of a month in the execution of the new arrangement. Four detachments are, however, now in march for the West; three or four others will follow this week, and as many more the next — all by land, 900 miles — for the rivers are yet very low. The other party, making a small detachment, is also on the road, after being treated by the United States, in common with their opponents, with the utmost kindness and liberality. Recent reports from these five detachments, represent, as I am happy to say, the whole as advancing with alacrity in the most perfect order. The remainder of the tribe are already organized into detachments, and each is eager for precedence in the march — except the sick and decrepit, with a few of their friends as attendants, who will constitute the last detachment, and which must wait for the renewal of steam navigation.

"By the new arrangement, not an additional dollar is to be paid by the United States to, or on account of, the Cherokees. The whole expense of the removal, as before, is to be deducted from the moneys previously set apart by the treaty and the late act of Congress in aid thereof.

"Among the party of 12,500, there has prevailed an almost universal cheerfulness since the date of the new arrangement. The only exceptions were among the North Carolinians, a few of whom, tampered with by designing white men, and under the auspices alluded to above, were induced to run back, in the hope of buying lands and remaining in their native mountains. A part of these deluded Indians have already been brought in by the troops, aided by Indian runners sent by Mr. Ross and his colleagues, and the others are daily expected down by the same means.

"In your State, I am confident there are not left a dozen Indian families, and at the head of each is a citizen of the United States.

"For the aid and courtesies I have received from Georgia, throughout this most critical and painful service, I am truly thankful; and I have the honor to remain, with high consideration, your Excellency's most obedient servant."

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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