Ratified Treaties between the Cherokee and United States (1778-1850)

The following list of treaties is composed of treaties which have names (as referenced in other treaties, letters, etc).

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Defining Terms: Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny is a phrase which was coined by John L. O’Sullivan in an article entitled “Statue to Jackson” in the July/August, 1845 issue of the Democratic Review (which can be found here). There are three basic themes to Manifest Destiny:

  1. the special virtues of American people & their institutions
  2. America’s mission to redeem & remake the world in its own image
  3. a divine direction to accomplish such a task.

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Treaty of New Echota (1835)

The Treaty of New Echota (Kappler Project) was signed on December 29th, 1835. It established the terms under which the Cherokee were to give up their territory and be moved west to Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma). The treaty caused the Cherokee nation to split into factions—one led by John Ross and the other led by Major Ridge. Ross (the Principle Chief of the Cherokee) had already refused an offer of three million dollars from the Federal Government for the land when the Treaty was signed by the other faction of the Cherokee. Among the signers was Major Ridge who was executed in 1839 alongside Elias Boudinot and John Ridge under the Cherokee Blood Law. They were held responsible for the 4,000 deaths that occurred on the Trail of Tears and for  signing a treaty which falsely represented the will of the Cherokee peoples.

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“Differences” between Native & White Americans in Jackson’s Message to Congress ‘On Indian Removal’ (1830)

In his address to Congress, Jackson portrays the white-American Republic as an “interesting, civilized, and Christian community…studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms embellished…and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization and religion.” He calls the Cherokee Nation just the opposite: “savage” and unsettled. Of course, this was a wildly inaccurate depiction. With that said, it is much more interesting (and worthwhile) to look at the misnomer of  Jackson’s definition of “white” society. During the 1820s, a large degree of acculturation took place in the Cherokee Nation:

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Defining Terms: Empire of Liberty

Thomas Jefferson—like many other Republicans—had a vision of an America composed of many, small, land-owning farmers and expanded popular participation in elections. The Louisiana Purchase (1803) allowed Jefferson to implement this vision through what he called the Empire of Liberty. He did not view this as an empire of conquest (like the empires of Spain, France, and England). The terminology “empire of liberty” comes from the notion that the United States can spread liberty to other places through its territorial expansion. This ideology was not much different than colonization.

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Slavery in the Cherokee Nation

Slavery was an institution that existed on the Cherokee Nation both before and after Removal. Both John Ross (1790-1866) and Major Ridge (1771-1839) were wealthy plantation owners.

References to slavery can be found in the Cherokee Phoenix:

  • A notice was placed in the February, 1829 edition of the Cherokee Phoenix by one Joseph Wafford: “Is hereby given that some time in the last part of October last a black man came to my house, who says his name is MANUEL, and that he belongs to a man on Duck River in Tennessee, by the name of JOSEPH M’CONNELL…The owner is desired to prove his property, pay charges and take him away” (Vol. 1, No. 46).
  • An ad was placed in the June, 1829 issue of the Cherokee Phoenix for the sale of a slave: “Will be sold to the highest bidder, on the 17th July next, at New Echota, one negro man, named PETER, Invied on as the property of Edward Hicks, to satisfy a bond given by said E. Hicks to the National Treasurer” (Vol. 2, No. 12).

The Cherokee Nation abolished slavery in 1863. At this time, about 2% of Cherokee owned slaves.