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Cherokee in North Georgia 7
Treaty of New Echota
About North Georgia

For two years, from late 1833 until late 1835, the Cherokee tried to come up with a settlement with the state of Georgia. In 1834, the Cherokee Phoenix, published in New Echota, Cherokee Nation, ran out of funds and ceased publication in May, 1834. John Ross tried to start the presses rolling a number of times, but failing with each attempt. Finally, Ross decided to move the press to Red Clay, where it would not be under the scrutiny of the Georgia Guard. Tipped off to Ross's plans to move the press by Stand Watie, the Guard destroyed the type and press, burning the offices of the Phoenix. Few knew of the fire - the streets of New Echota were almost empty.

At the October, 1834 Council meeting at New Echota, members of the Treaty Party decided to try to pressure the Council into sending representatives to Washington to explore the possibility of a treaty with the federal government. The council agreed, appointing John Ross as the head of the Cherokee delegation. Ross had a number of ideas that the federal government might go along with. First, Ross felt he could sell a portion of the Cherokee Nation to the state of Georgia, with the Cherokee retaining rights similar to white men: the right to vote, the right to hold office and the right to testify at a trial. This was unacceptable because of the prevailing racist attitudes of the time in Georgia.

Ross then felt a sum of 20 million dollars to purchase the entire nation was fair and began to negotiate for that. The federal government did not have that much money and probably would not have used it to purchase the land if they did. They knew the state was close to completing its takeover of the land and that Ross's time was limited. The Treaty Party, in the meantime, was busy with its own negotiations. Unhappy with the members chosen to negotiate the federal treaty by the Cherokee council, a small group of Cherokee held their own council. At this council they voted to support independent negotiations with the U. S. Government, even though they did not represent the Cherokee Nation.

In March, 1835, Major Ridge announced negotiations had concluded and members of the Treaty Party had a treaty to be approved by the National Council. Unlike the Ross party, Ridge and the Treaty Party had accepted a $5 million payment to relinquish all Cherokee lands east of the Mississippi. At the next meeting in October, the council rejected the Ridge Treaty but decided to put the question to a general vote. Only 114 people voted for the Ridge Treaty, although Ridge historian Thurmond Wilkins believes the number of supporters was somewhat higher. Still, 114 out of the thousands attending cannot be considered significant.

John F. Schermerhorn called a council meeting at New Echota on December 21, 1835. The National Council quickly pointed out that Schermerhorn had no authority to make such a move. All the attending Cherokee were members of the Treaty Party, which Elias Boudinot blamed on John Ross. Boudinot charged that Ross had "induced" the Treaty Party's opposition not to attend. On December 28, 1835, the Treaty Party agreed to the same treaty that had been rejected two months earlier by the National Council. All that remained was the signing of the treaty.

During the day of December 29, the Treaty of New Echota was transcribed. A new copy sat on a table in Elias Boudinot's parlor, at his house in the former Cherokee capital. Within the parlor, warmed by a fire, 20 men signed the treaty that night. Although some claim the first person to sign the document was John Gunter, nobody really knows for sure. Ridge, as he signed his name, made the comment, "I have signed my death warrant." The council then adjourned.

John Ross realized that a serious error had been made by not having representation at the New Echota meeting. He quickly organized the nation, signing petitions that said the Cherokee did not support the action of this small faction. More than 16,000 signatures were gathered in a short amount of time.

Ross then took the petitions to Washington D. C., talking to the Senators who would listen to him. He had numerous interviews for newspapers throughout the country. Additional wording was desired by the U. S. Government and Schermerhorn returned to negotiate a supplement to the Treaty of New Echota. This document was signed on March 1, 1836.

Attention now turned to the U. S. Senate, whose approval is required for all treaties. Anti-treaty forces were led Kentucky Senator Henry Clay and Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster. Former President John Quincy Adams, then a member of the House, was an outspoken critic of the treaty as well. Although pro-treaty forces had a number of men leading the effort, the real power behind the treaty was President Andrew Jackson. During the debate on the bill it was pointed out that the treaty had been signed by a faction of the Cherokee Nation and did not represent the desires of the entire nation.

After the debate on the Treaty of New Echota in May, 1836, the Senate worked on a resolution. On May 17th and 18th Senators wrangled over wording. On May 18, 1836 the Senate voted on the treaty. The exact wording of the resolution was:

Resolved, that the Senate do advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty between the United States of America and the Cherokee Indians, concluded at New Echota, the 29th December, 1835, together with the supplementary articles thereto, dated the 1st day of March, 1836, with the following amendments:
Article 17, lines 1 and 2, strike out the words "by General William Carroll and John F. Schermerhorn, or."
In the 4th line of the 4th article, after the word "States," insert "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States."
Strike out the 20th article, which appears as a supplemental article.
Ordered, That the Secretary lay this resolution before the President of the United States.

Then came the roll call vote. There were 46 Senators present, and passage of a Treaty requires 2/3's of the Senators present to vote in the affirmative.
Senator BentonYea
Senator BlackYea
Senator BrownYea
Senator BuchananYea
Senator CalhounNay
Senator ClayNay
Senator ClaytonNay
Senator CrittendenNay
Senator Cuthbert (GA) Yea
Senator DavisNay
Senator Ewing of IllinoisYea
Senator Ewing of OhioNay
Senator GoldsboroughYea
Senator Grundy (TN) Yea
Senator HendricksYea
Senator HillYea
Senator HubbardYea
Senator KentYea
Senator King of AlabamaYea
Senator King of GeorgiaYea
Senator LeighNay
Senator LinnYea
Senator McKeanYea
Senator MangumYea
Senator MooreYea
Senator MorrisYea
Senator NaudainNay
Senator NilesYea
Senator PrestonYea
Senator PorteNay
Senator PrentissNay
Senator RivesYea
Senator RobbinsNay
Senator RobinsonYea
Senator RugglesYea
Senator ShepleyYea
Senator SouthardNay
Senator SwiftNay
Senator TallmadgeYea
Senator TiptonYea
Senator TomlinsonNay
Senator WalkerYea
Senator WallYea
Senator Webster Nay
Senator White (TN) Yea
Senator WrightYea
The tally came in at 31 yeas, 15 nays and the Treaty of New Echota passed by a single vote. Georiga's senators Alfred Cuthbert and John Pendleton King (noted in roll call) were enthusiastic supporters of the Treaty of New Echota, as were Tennessee's Hugh Lawson White and Felix Grundy. On the strength of his support for the Treaty, White won Tennessee and Georgia in the presidential election of 1836, although he ran as a Whig. King was honored with the town of Kingston, Georgia in Cass (now Bartow) County being named in his honor.

Cherokee civilization in Georgia
The western push of the settlers force the Cherokee to move South and West
Cultural Changes of the Cherokee
The Cherokee accept new technologies to make their lives easier
Rising Tides - Nationalism in the Cherokee Nation.
The Cherokee begin to consolidate the power they have gained and attempt, much to the chagrin of the state of Georgia, to form a government.
Revolution and Rebellion
Flashpoint - Gold
The Georgia Gold Rush brings thousands of men into the Cherokee Nation
Rising Tides - Winning and Losing
The Supreme Court declares the Cherokee an independent nation, so they may only be dealt with by the federal government under the Treaty Clause of the Constitution
Treaty of New Echota
To satisfy the Treaty requirement the U. S. negotiates with a small, radical faction of the Cherokee to sign a treaty
Cherokee Trail of Tears


Cherokee Indians
Explore the life of the Cherokee Indians in their "Enchanted Land"

Article Links
Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Trail of Tears
Cherokee civilization in Georgia
Cultural Changes of the Cherokee
Flashpoint - Gold
Georgia Gold Rush
John Ross
Major Ridge
Revolution and Rebellion
Rising Tides - Nationalism in the Cherokee Nation
Rising Tides - Winning and Losing
Treaty of New Echota

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