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Memorial and Protest of the Cherokee Nation

(June 22, 1836)

In this document, written by Principal Chief John Ross and addressed to the Congress of the United States, the Cherokee Nation asks the United States to remain faithful to its earlier treaties.

That the Cherokees are a distinct people, sovereign to some extent, have a separate political existence as a society, or body politic, and a capability of being contracted with in a national capacity, stands admitted by the uniform practice of the United States from 1785 down to the present day.  With them have treaties been made through their chiefs, and distinguished men in primary assemblies, as also with their constituted agents or representatives.  That they have not the right to manage their own internal affairs, and to regulate, by treaty, their intercourse with other nations, is a doctrine of modern date.  In 1793, Mr. Jefferson said, "I consider our right of pre-emption of the Indian lands, not as amounting to any dominion, or jurisdiction, or paramountship whatever, but merely in the nature of a remainder, after the extinguishment of a present right, which gives us no present right whatever, but of preventing other nations from taking possession, and so defeating our expectancy.  That the Indians have the full, undivided, and independent sovereignty as long as they choose to keep it, and that this may be forever.  This opinion was recognised and practised upon, by the Government of the United States, through several successive administrations, also recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the several States, when the question has arisen.  It has not been the opinion only of jurists, but of politicians, as may be seen from various reports of Secretaries of War-beginning with Gen.  Knox, also the correspondence between the British and American ministers at Ghent in the year 1814.  If the Cherokees have power to judge of their own interests, and to make treaties, which, it is presumed, will be denied by none, then to make a contract valid, the assent of a majority must be had, expressed by themselves or through their representatives, and the President and Senate have no power to say what their will shall be, for from the laws of nations we learn that "though a nation be obliged to promote, as far as lies in its power, the perfection of others, it is not entitled forcibly to obtrude these good offices on them." Such an attempt would be to violate their natural liberty.... It is the expressed wish of the Government of the United States to remove the Cherokees to a place west of the Mississippi.  That wish is said to be founded in humanity to the Indians.  To make their situation more comfortable, and to preserve them as a distinct people....     The Cherokee Territory, within the limits of North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, is estimated to contain ten millions of acres.  It embraces a large portion of the finest lands to be found in any of the States; and a salubrity of climate unsurpassed by any; possessing superior advantages in reference to water power; owing to the numerous rills, brooks and rivers, which flow from and through it; some of these streams afford good navigation, others are susceptible of being easily improved and made navigable.  On the routes where roads have been opened by the Cherokees, through this country, there must necessarily pass some of the most important public roads and other internal improvements, which at no distant day will be constructed.

The entire country is covered with a dense forest of valuable timber, also abounding in inexhaustible quarries of marble and lime stone.  Above all, it possesses the most extensive regions of the precious metal known in the United States.  The riches of the gold mines are incalculable, some of the lots of forty acres of land, embracing gold, mines, which have been surveyed and disposed of by lottery, under the authority of Georgia (with the encumbrance of the Indian title) have been sold for upwards of thirty thousand dollars!

There are also extensive banks of iron ore interspersed throughout the country.  Mineralogists who have travelled over a portion of this territory, are fully persuaded, from what they have seen, that lead and silver mines will also be found in the mountain regions.  Independent of all these natural advantages and invaluable resources, there are many extensive and valuable improvements made upon the lands by native Cherokee inhabitants, and those adopted as Cherokee citizens, by intermarriages.

The Cherokee population has recently been reported by the War Department to be 18,000, according to a census taken by agents appointed by the Government.  This people have become civilized, and adopted the Christian religion' Their pursuits are pastoral and agricultural, and in some degree, mechanical.  Their stocks of cattle, however, have become greatly reduced in numbers within the past few years, owing to the unfortunate policy which has thrown upon this territory a class of white and irresponsible settlers, who, disregarding all laws and treaties, so far as the rights of the Cherokees are concerned, and who have been actuated more from sordid impulses of avarice, than by any principle of moral obligation or of justice, have by fraud and force made Cherokee property their own.

The possessions of the Cherokee inhabitants, consist of houses, which cost generally from fifty dollars, one hundred to one thousand dollars, and in many instances up to five thousand dollars; some few as high as six, eight, and ten thousand dollars, with corresponding out buildings, consisting of kitchens, meat houses, dairies, granaries or corn cribs, barns, stables, &c. grist and saw mills: connected with these are gardens for culinary vegetables; also peach and apple orchards; lots of enclosed ground for horses, black cattle, &c.  The farms of the Cherokees contain from ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, to one hundred, one hundred fifty, and two hundred acres of land under cultivation, and enclosed with good rail fences.  Among the most wealthy there are farms of three and four hundred acres, and in one instance perhaps about eight hundred acres in cultivation.  Some of the most extensive and valuable farms and possessions have been forcibly wrested from the proprietors by the Georgia guard and agents, and citizens of Georgia put into possession of them, whilst the Cherokee owners have been thrust out to seek shelter in a camp, or under the roof of a log hut in the woods, within the limits of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.  There are many valuable public ferries also owned by the Cherokees, the income of some of them amount to from five hundred to one thousand, fifteen hundred and two thousand dollars per annum.  Several public roads opened at private expense, were also kept up by companies under regulations of the national council, and toll gates were erected on them.  These regulations have all been prostrated by State Legislation, and the Cherokee proprietors thus deprived of their rights, privileges and property.  Besides all this, there are various important interests and claims which are secured by the provisions of the former subsisting treaties, to the Cherokees, and for which the United States injustice are bound to allow indemnification.  For the surrender then of a territory containing about ten millions of acres; together with the various interests and claims spoken of, and the amount that will be required to cover these claims, no man, without data, can form any estimate.  The sum of five millions, six hundred thousand dollars only, is proposed to be paid: the price given for the lands at this rate would not exceed thirty cents per acre.  Will Georgia accept the whole amount, for that portion within her limits?

The faith of the United States being solemnly pledged to the Cherokee nation for the guarantee of the quiet and uninterrupted protection of their territorial possessions forever; and it being an unquestionable fact, that the Cherokees love their country; that no amount of money, could induce them voluntarily to yield their assent to a cession of the same .... justice and equity demand, that in any final treaty for the adjustment of the Cherokee difficulties, that their rights, interests, and wishes should be consulted; and that the individual rights of the Cherokee citizens, in their possessions and claims, should be amply secured; and, as freemen, they should be left at liberty to stay or remove where they please....

The Cherokees cannot resist the power of the United States, and should they be driven from their native land, then they will look in melancholy sadness upon the golden chains presented by President Washington to the Cherokee people as emblematical of the brightness and purity of the friendship between the United States and the Cherokee nation. 

Memorial and Protest

of the Cherokee Nation

(June 22, 1836)

In this document, written by Principal Chief John Ross and addressed to the Congress of the

United States, the Cherokee Natio

n asks the United States to remain faithful to its earlier

treaties.

That

the Cherokees are a distinct people, sovereign to some extent, have a separate political

existence as a society, or body politic, and a capability of being contracted with in a natio

nal

capacity, stands admitted by the uniform practice of the United States from 1785 down to the

present day.

With them have treaties been made through their chiefs, and distinguished men in

primary assemblies, as also with their constituted agents or rep

resentatives.

That they have not

the right to manage their own internal affairs, and to regulate, by treaty, their intercourse with

other nations, is a doctrine of modern date.

In 1793, Mr. Jefferson said, "I consider our right of

pre

-

emption of the Indi

an lands, not as amounting to any dominion, or jurisdiction, or

paramountship whatever, but merely in the nature of a remainder, after the extinguishment of a

present right, which gives us no present right whatever, but of preventing other nations from

tak

ing possession, and so defeating our expectancy.

That the Indians have the full, undivided,

and independent sovereignty as long as they choose to keep it, and that this may be forever.

This

opinion was recognised and practised upon, by the Government of

the United States, through

several successive administrations, also recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States,

and the several States, when the question has arisen.

It has not been the opinion only of jurists,

but of politicians, as may be seen

from various reports of Secretaries of War

-

beginning with

Gen.

Knox, also the correspondence between the British and American ministers at Ghent in the

year 1814.

If the Cherokees have power to judge of their own interests, and to make treaties,

which,

it is presumed, will be denied by none, then to make a contract valid, the assent of a

majority must be had, expressed by themselves or through their representatives, and the

President and Senate have no power to say what their will shall be, for from the

laws of nations

we learn that "though a nation be obliged to promote, as far as lies in its power, the perfection of

others, it is not entitled forcibly to obtrude these good offices on them." Such an attempt would

be to violate their natural liberty.... I

t is the expressed wish of the Government of the United

States to remove the Cherokees to a place west of the Mississippi.

That wish is said to be

founded in humanity to the Indians.

To make their situation more comfortable, and to preserve

them as a dis

tinct people....

The Cherokee Territory, within the limits of North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama,

is estimated to contain ten millions of acres.

It embraces a large portion of the finest lands to be

found in any of the States; and a salubr

ity of climate unsurpassed by any; possessing superior

advantages in reference to water power; owing to the numerous rills, brooks and rivers, which

flow from and through it; some of these streams afford good navigation, others are susceptible of

being eas

ily improved and made navigable.

On the routes where roads have been opened by the

Cherokees, through this country, there must necessarily pass some of the most important public

roads and other internal improvements, which at no distant day will be constr

ucted.

The entire country is covered with a dense forest of valuable timber, also abounding in

inexhaustible quarries of marble and lime stone.

Above all, it possesses the most extensive

Memorial and Protest of the Cherokee Nation

(June 22, 1836)

In this document, written by Principal Chief John Ross and addressed to the Congress of the

United States, the Cherokee Nation asks the United States to remain faithful to its earlier

treaties.

That the Cherokees are a distinct people, sovereign to some extent, have a separate political

existence as a society, or body politic, and a capability of being contracted with in a national

capacity, stands admitted by the uniform practice of the United States from 1785 down to the

present day. With them have treaties been made through their chiefs, and distinguished men in

primary assemblies, as also with their constituted agents or representatives. That they have not

the right to manage their own internal affairs, and to regulate, by treaty, their intercourse with

other nations, is a doctrine of modern date. In 1793, Mr. Jefferson said, "I consider our right of

pre-emption of the Indian lands, not as amounting to any dominion, or jurisdiction, or

paramountship whatever, but merely in the nature of a remainder, after the extinguishment of a

present right, which gives us no present right whatever, but of preventing other nations from

taking possession, and so defeating our expectancy. That the Indians have the full, undivided,

and independent sovereignty as long as they choose to keep it, and that this may be forever. This

opinion was recognised and practised upon, by the Government of the United States, through

several successive administrations, also recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States,

and the several States, when the question has arisen. It has not been the opinion only of jurists,

but of politicians, as may be seen from various reports of Secretaries of War-beginning with

Gen. Knox, also the correspondence between the British and American ministers at Ghent in the

year 1814. If the Cherokees have power to judge of their own interests, and to make treaties,

which, it is presumed, will be denied by none, then to make a contract valid, the assent of a

majority must be had, expressed by themselves or through their representatives, and the

President and Senate have no power to say what their will shall be, for from the laws of nations

we learn that "though a nation be obliged to promote, as far as lies in its power, the perfection of

others, it is not entitled forcibly to obtrude these good offices on them." Such an attempt would

be to violate their natural liberty.... It is the expressed wish of the Government of the United

States to remove the Cherokees to a place west of the Mississippi. That wish is said to be

founded in humanity to the Indians. To make their situation more comfortable, and to preserve

them as a distinct people....

The Cherokee Territory, within the limits of North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama,

is estimated to contain ten millions of acres. It embraces a large portion of the finest lands to be

found in any of the States; and a salubrity of climate unsurpassed by any; possessing superior

advantages in reference to water power; owing to the numerous rills, brooks and rivers, which

flow from and through it; some of these streams afford good navigation, others are susceptible of

being easily improved and made navigable. On the routes where roads have been opened by the

Cherokees, through this country, there must necessarily pass some of the most important public

roads and other internal improvements, which at no distant day will be constructed.

The entire country is covered with a dense forest of valuable timber, also abounding in

inexhaustible quarries of marble and lime stone. Above all, it possesses the most extensive