One of the challenges facing the new United States is internal border conflict with neighbors. Although the conflict is ongoing before 1789 American Indians deal with colonial governments or royal representatives. Under the Treaty Clause of the United States Constitution, The President is responsible for negotiation with the Cherokee. George Washington faced continuing friction
between settlers and American Indians, many of whom have already relocated
Settlers, when writing, use words like simple-minded, ignorant and lazy to describe the Cherokee. Rather than see a different culture, they view these
Americans as little more than unwanted animals, like wolves, which they would
chase from the land. Cultural friction underlied many of the problems of this
frontier. The Cherokee are clan oriented while settlers claimed a strong individualism.
Sacrifice for the clan was a supreme Cherokee belief. When a member of the tribe
betrayed this tenet, vengeance, in the form of execution, is frequently the result. Settlers who farm see the Cherokee reluctance to begin farming as lazy, and when they do begin to farm the same settlers express fear about "...ever getting rid of them."
Washington decides that assimilation of American Indians is the best policy. He feels this can be accomplished in 50 years, and specifically targets the Cherokee because they show many traits whites see as promising, ordering Henry Dearborn to begin introduction of technology in the form of spinning wheels and carding machines. Government funded spinning wheels arrive in 1792 along with cotton and seed just before the hunting season. The Cherokee males are surprised by the cloth their wives weave. Among those most impressed with the work is the warrior Ridge when he returns to his home at Pine Log.
The next year, with their own cotton, the Cherokee women weave cloth in six months that is worth more than the pelts the Cherokee men gather in the same amount of time. Ridge quickly understands how technology can help the Cherokee. Two other men live in Pine Log who, along with Ridge, heavily influence the coming renaissance. Charles Hicks, crippled by a painful hip, impresses Ridge because Hicks spends money on books. James Vann, who impresses Ridge because he stands up to a higher chief named Doublehead, also lives there. Together they form the "Cherokee Triumvirate," young chiefs who would change the Cherokee Nation.
With the defeat of the Chickamauga in 1794, early signs of nationalism begin to form among the Cherokee, spurred in part by the Indian agent Dinsmoor. Over the next 12 years the Cherokee establish a rudimentary set of laws by which to govern and begin a loose-knit national police force called the "Lighthorse Patrol."
To the east encroachment troubles the Cherokee. Wofford's Tract in northeast Georgia is sold to settlers in 1804, with James Vann acting as agent. A year later the Treaty of Tellico is signed by many of the older chiefs. This includes a provision for a road from Nashville to Savannah following a Cherokee Trading Path. Improvements began on the Old Federal Road two years earlier. By 1805 the Georgia Road is complete, crossing the Georgia border south of present day Brainerd, Tennessee, moving south to Ringgold, then almost due southeast. It crosses the Chattahoochee River in an area that still today is known as Vann's Ferry. Cherokee, mostly of mixed-blood, along with countrymen, settlers who choose to live with the American Indians, run most of the money-making business on the road.
To ensure the road is approved, the federal government bribes some of the chiefs with "inducements," money and other valuable commodities. One chief who profits handsomely is Doublehead. Vann, Hicks and Ridge and others dislike this policy because the Cherokee as a group are cheated.
In Europe The Reformation changed the interrelation of cultures. Alliances to noblemen evolved into rudimentary national alliances prior to 1500. After Martin Luther, society tended to break along religious lines, Catholic vs. the enemy of the day. For example, in France the Catholics battled the Huguenots. In Germany, the Catholics battled the Lutherans. This period is referred to as the Thirty Years War. Between 1806 and 1810 Cherokee society and allegiances undergo a remarkably similar change in a period referred to as The Revolt of the Young Chiefs.
The man who represents the United States to the Cherokee Nation, and will until 1823, is Return J. Miegs. A Revolutionary War veteran, he acts as adviser, assistant and emissary to the Cherokees. Selected after Washington's term the obedient Miegs follows various President's orders, convinced that Washington's original idea of integration into the United States is "unworkable". By the start of the Revolt of the Young Chiefs the United States policy evolves from one of acculturation to one supporting removal. Miegs has no problem adapting to the new policies, and much to the consternation of the Young Chiefs, actively pursues negotiations with chiefs he knows he can bribe. The Young Chiefs openly revolt against Miegs and the older chiefs. Initially limited, support for this group swells.
In a series of complex internal changes the Upper Towns and Lower Towns merge, with some members of the Lower Towns moving west to Arkansas, at the government's behest. These changes include the murder of Doublehead by the Cherokee Triumvirate, and the murder of James Vann. A brief religious revival, combined with the immense New Madrid earthquake, set the stage for a dramatic cultural shift.