Cherokee Indians relocation papers
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Cherokee Indians relocation papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Abrams, Harvey Dan, 1930-1999.
Title: Cherokee Indians relocation papers
Dates: 1815-1838
Extent: 0.5 cubic feet (1 box)
Identification: MS 0927

Biographical/Historical Note

During the late 18th and throughout the 19th century, the Cherokee lands, located in the south-eastern portion of the United States, became extremely desirable to the federal and local governments. Their fertile lands proved ideal for growing cotton, and their value increased dramatically when gold was discovered in portions of Georgia's Cherokee territory. By the end of the Revolutionary War, the Cherokee Indians had ceded more than half of their original territory to state and federal governments. The government pushed both to assimilate Cherokees into Western culture and to eradicate them from their ancestral lands. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 provided the federal government, under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, with a place to which they could relocate the Cherokee Nation, freeing their lands for state and federal use. In Georgia, many politicians, including Wilson Lumpkin and George Troup, pressured the federal government to enforce the Compact of 1802, an agreement to extinguish the Native American's land titles and remove the Cherokee tribe from the state. In response, Cherokee leaders insisted on the upholding of the Treaty of Hopewell (1785) which established borders between the United States and affirmed the Cherokee Nation as a separate entity with a separate government from the United States. Cherokee leaders, such as Major Ridge (ca. 1771-1839) worked to negotiate treaties and protect the Cherokee lands and people. In 1825, the Cherokee capital of New Echota was established near present-day Calhoun, Georgia. The Cherokee National Council stated it would no longer accommodate land cession requests; two years later, the Cherokee Nation adopted a written constitution. With the presidential election of Andrew Jackson in 1828, the advances made by these efforts were reversed. Jackson declared the removal of the Cherokee tribes as a national objective; two years later the Indian Removal Act passed through Congress, authorizing the president to negotiate removal treaties. Many of the leaders who had fought the federal and state governments eventually signed removal treaties. In 1835, the Treaty of New Echota gave the United States the land of the Cherokee Nation in exchange for $5 million, as well as building, relocation, and acclimation costs. For three years, Cherokees fought the treaty, turning on the leaders, including John Ross and Major Ridge, who had signed the treaty. In 1838, U.S. President Martin Van Buren ordered the U.S. Army to gather the Cherokee people into stockades and marches them west to the Indian Territories of Oklahoma. This march, subsequently known as the "Trail of Tears," resulted in the death of 4,000-5,000 Cherokee Indians. Upon arrival in the territory, a group of the displaced men killed Major Ridge and two other leaders for their betrayal of the Cherokees and for breaking their law prohibiting the sale of Cherokee lands.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of correspondence, a power of attorney, and statements by The Rising Fawn and The Flute (or Old Turkey), two Cherokee men. The correspondence includes a letter from Joseph McMinn to John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, regarding the removal of native Americans to Arkansas and to the Agency; another letter from McMinn to Calhoun nominating sites to attract merchants and giving a history of the county and its towns; a letter from John Coffee to John H. Eaton, Secretary of War, regarding the boundary line between Georgia and the Cherokee Nation and commenting on a number of people, including Chief McIntosh, as well as discussing outrageous intrusions on Native American territory and their rights on the frontier; a letter from Wilson Lumpkin written from New Echota, withdrawing his name as a candidate for Electors of President and Vice-President and stating that he cannot serve in this position while acting as Commissioner for settling claims under the Cherokee treaty; and a letter from John Ridge to General Nat. Smith, Superintendent of Internal Revenue, written from New Echota. The Rising Fawn's statement, 1829, is regarding the boundary line between Creeks and Cherokees. The Flute's statement delineates the line between the Creeks and Cherokees as agreed upon at the "old treaty ground" in the presence of U.S. Commissioners. The collection also includes two volumes. The first volume is a record of claims, 1836-1838, kept by Wilson Lumpkin and John Kennedy, Commissioners appointed by the President under the Cherokee Treaty. It includes 423 claims made by the Cherokee Indians of property taken from them. The second volume contains an inventory and sale of property belonging to Native Americans in Floyd County, Georgia.

Also included in this collection is a Power of Attorney from James Monroe, Secretary of State, to George Graham, giving him power to receipt fro dividends and interest on all stocks in the name of the President in trust for the Seneca Indians. It is signed by Monroe and bears the War Office seal.

Index Terms

Abrams, Harvey Dan, 1930-1999.
Cherokee Indians--Government relations.
Cherokee Indians--Relocation
Cherokee Nation.
Letters (correspondence)
Lumpkin, Wilson, 1783-1870.
New Echota (Ga.)
Powers of attorney.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Material was purchased from collector.

Preferred Citation

[item identification], Cherokee Indians relocation papers, MS 927, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Purchased, 1975.


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Georgia Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Division of Library and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Georgia Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.


Encoding funded by a 2012 Documenting Democracy grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Container List



1Item 1: Power of Attorney, James Monroe, Secretary of War, to George Graham. War Office, Washington, 1815 March 13 ( 1.0 p. )
Power to receipt for dividends and interest on all stocks in name of President in trust for Seneca Indians. Signed by James Monroe; War Office seal.


1Item 2: Joseph McMinn to John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War. Knoxville, 1818 January 28 ( 3.0 p. )
Regarding the removal of Native Americans to Arkansas and to the Agency; condition of the country; mentions Colonel Return J. Meigs.


1Item 3: Joseph McMinn to John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War. Cherokee Agency, 1824 July 21 ( 3.0 p. )
Nominating sites to Attract Merchants; description of the county and history of the towns.


1Item 4: Statement of The Rising Fawn, a full-blood Cherokee. Cherokee Nation, Hightower Etowah River, 1829 December 12 ( 1.0 p. )
Regarding the line between Creeks and Cherokees. Statement made to General Coffee in Cherokee language; interpreted by John Wright, his mark; witnessed by Robert D. Harris.


1Item 5: Statement of The Flute, or Old Turkey, a Cherokee. Head of Coosa, 1829 ( 2.0 p. )
Delineates the line between Creeks and Cherokees agreed upon at "old treaty ground" in presence of U.S. Commissioners. Signed "Old Turkey, his Mark;" witness and signed by John Ridge, Clerk to the National Council, Cherokee Nation.


1Item 6: John Coffee to John H. Eaton, Secretary of War. Florence, Alabama, 1830 January 2 ( 7.0 p. )
Marked Confidential. Regarding boundary line between Georgia and the Cherokees. Mentions Colonel Wales, the Agent for Georgia, Richard Rowe, Alexander Sanders, Moses Alberty, Robert Rogers, Avery and Clem Vann; General Chief McIntosh; comments on character of some of them; outrageous intrusions on Native American territory and Native American rights on the frontier.


1Item 7: Wilson Lumpkin to Mr. Chace. New Echota, 1836 September 11 ( 2.0 p. )
Withdrawing his name as candidate for Electors of President and Vice-President; cannot serve as Elector while holding Office of Commissioner for settling claims under Cherokee treaty; in favor of Van Buren and Colonel Johnson as President and Vice-President of United States.


1Item 8: John Ridge to General Nat. Smith, Superintendent of Internal Revenue. New Echota, 1837 February 1 ( 1.0 p. )
Certifies that Samuel McCammar is capable of managing his own affairs.


2Item 9: Record of Spoliations (Claims), No. 1, 1836-1838 (1 volume.) View online.
Kept by Wilson Lumpkin and John Kennedy, Commissioners appointed by President under Cherokee Treaty, 1835. 423 claims. Statement on last page is oath taken by Stand Watie, Interpreter to the Commissioners, December 3, 1836. Signed by Watie, Wilson Lumpkin, and John Kennedy. A postcard photo of Watie is laid in.


3Item 10: Inventory and Sale of property belonging to the Indians in Floyd County, 1838 (1 notebook.)
Hightower River, Etowah, Floyd County, Georgia, May 30-June 16, 1838. Certified and signed by James Hemphill and Joseph Watters.