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The Removal

The removal of the American Indians started with the first settlers of whites on the
coast of North America. The necessity, methods and justification have long since been
discussed around firesides, local communities and the legislatives of the country.
Georgia's claim to the lands occupied by the Cherokees were based on the English claims.
At the close of the Revolutionary War Georgia felt that in addition to securing
independence she had secured all lands that had formerly belonged to the
colony of Georgia under English grants. Her claims were by right of
discovery and early land grants.

The Cherokee's claim, was that of preemption, since they had
occupied these lands from time immemorial. The Cherokees remained
faithful to the British and were powerful allies during the Revolutionary War and
until after the Declaration of Independence. A treaty was signed at
Hopewell, South Carolina on November 18, 1785 and hostilities ceased.
A second treaty was signed in 1791 at Holston. In the treaty the
Cherokees recognized the sovereignty of the United States and
agreed not to treat with any foreign power, individual state or with
individuals of any state, obligations which the Cherokees never violated.
It provided that, "If any person not an Indian settle on any of the
Cherokees' land, he shall forfeit the protection of the United States,
and the Cherokees may punish him."
Thereafter followed a series of treaties whereby the Cherokees were
coerced or forced by circumstances into relinquishing their claim
to large tracts of their lands.

By 1800, the Upper Cherokees who lived in the highlands and the Lower Cherokees
who inhabited the lowlands and valleys had begun to develop a difference in tastes
and methods of living. The Uppers were making progress in agriculture
while the Lowers subsisted on the proceeds of the chase, were becoming discontented
with the growing scarcity of games and hunting grounds.
In 1802 Georgia ceded her western lands to the United States and in 1804 attempts
were made to induce the Cherokees to remove from their home in Georgia
to new lands somewhere within the Louisiana Purchase.
At first the Indians refused but in the spring of 1801 a delegation of chiefs
called on President Jefferson and asked that a line be drawn
separating the Upper and Lower Cherokees so that the Uppers who
wished to do so could remain where they were and follow the ways
of the Whites; while the Lowers preferred to give up their lands
and remove to the West where they could continue the hunting life they were
accustomed to, could do so. However, before anything was accomplished
Jeffersons' term expired and the new President Madison was slow to act in
the matter.

In 1817 a treaty was made where the Cherokees ceded two large tracts
of country in exchange for one equal area on the Arkansas and White Rivers.
Small groups of Cherokees had already settled on the western lands without
treaty provisions. When the treaty was signed, the United States
government presented each poor Indian with a
rifle, blanket and a kettle or a beaver trap in lieu of his home claim and
transported him west of the great river to join his comrades and
fight the Osages and Quapaws who were incessantly raiding the newcomers.
The treaty of 1819 came along and the Cherokees ceded over 5900 square miles
of land situated in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina.
It was about 1820 when the government of the Eastern Cherokees adopted
a definite policy against leaving their homes in the East and were determined
to never again cede one foot of land.

The latter part of the 1820s' became the time of aggresive demands by Georgians
to have the Indians removed. By this time the cotton gin had been invented
and profited the institution of slavery. The valleys of the Cherokees
were a veritable bonanza for the cotton grower and the land-hungry
Georgians increased their demands to remove the Indians and open
the land to them for settlement.
In 1823 another treaty was attempted, but the Cherokees repeatedly
refused the terms of the treaty as they refused to give up anymore of
their land..

By 1825 the Cherokees were doing well although they had endured stealing,
robbery, arson and even murder in attempts to get them to leave Georgia.
Most of the merchants were native Cherokees and the population
was growing rapidly. A census showed 13, 563 natives, 147 white men
and 73 white women who had intermarried with the Cherokees. It also
showed 1,277 slaves. There were schools, the Indian Nation had no debt
and the revenue was flourishing.
They had regular preachers in church and the use of liquor
was frowned upon by most. Their farms were worked much like the white mans
and were generally in good order. By 1826 they made for themselves
a constitution and modeled it after that of the United States.
To say that this did not sit well with Georgia is a gross understatement.
They demanded the United States to do something about it.

It was suggested that in any treaty made with the Cherokees, Georgia
would agree to allow reserves to be made to individual Indians
not exceeding one-sixth part of the entire territory in dispute.
Should the Indians refuse to negotiate they were solemnly warned of
the consequences to follow, as the lands Belonged to Georgia and that
she Must and Would have them.
The United States instructed its agent Hugh Montgomery to use every
means in his power to facilitate the removal of the Indians and especially
those Cherokees who resided in the chartered limits of Georgia.
In 1828 everything turned grim and sinister when gold was discovered near
New Echota in Northeastern Georgia by a negro slave owned
by one of the Cherokees. This resulted in a stampede and the diggings were by
a wild and lawless population. Federal troops were sent in to control them
and were marched out again when Georgia indicated that she did not want them.
Thus, the effort to remove the Cherokees became even stronger.

Another treaty was drawn and a mixed-blood of the Arkansas Cherokees,
by the name of James Rogers was hired to go and attempt to influence the
Eastern Cherokees to move in accordance with the 1828 treaty.
Of the 13,000 plus, 500 elected to be removed.

This is not the ending of the suffering or removal of the Cherokees.

As it started years before, it would go on with much suffering and loss.

I will be adding more at a later date.