Sovereign Amonsoquath Band of Cherokee

JOHN ROSS' LETTER OF 1836



Cherokee letter protesting the Treaty of New Echota

Letter from Chief John Ross, "To the Senate and House of

Representatives"

[Red Clay Council Ground, Cherokee Nation, September 28, 1836]

It is well known that for a number of years past we have been

harassed by a series of vexations,

which it is deemed unnecessary to recite in detail, but the

evidence of which our delegation will be

prepared to furnish. With a view to bringing our troubles to a

close, a delegation was appointed on

the 23rd of October, 1835, by the General Council of the

nation, clothed with full powers to enter

into arrangements with the Government of the United States,

for the final adjustment of all our

existing difficulties. The delegation failing to effect an

arrangement with the United States

commissioner, then in the nation, proceeded, agreeably to

their instructions in that case, to

Washington City, for the purpose of negotiating a treaty with

the authorities of the United States.

After the departure of the Delegation, a contract was made by

the Rev. John F. Schermerhorn, and

certain individual Cherokees, purporting to be a "treaty,

concluded at New Echota, in the State of

Georgia, on the 29th day of December, 1835, by General William

Carroll and John F.

Schermerhorn, commissioners on the part of the United States,

and the chiefs, headmen, and people

of the Cherokee tribes of Indians." A spurious Delegation, in

violation of a special injunction of the

general council of the nation, proceeded to Washington City

with this pretended treaty, and by false

and fraudulent representations supplanted in the favor of the

Government the legal and accredited

Delegation of the Cherokee people, and obtained for this

instrument, after making important

alterations in its provisions, the recognition of the United

States Government. And now it is

presented to us as a treaty, ratified by the Senate, and

approved by the President [Andrew

Jackson], and our acquiescence in its requirements demanded,

under the sanction of the displeasure

of the United States, and the threat of summary compulsion, in

case of refusal. It comes to us, not

through our legitimate authorities, the known and usual medium

of communication between the

Government of the United States and our nation, but through

the agency of a complication of

powers, civil and military.

By the stipulations of this instrument, we are despoiled of

our private possessions, the indefeasible

property of individuals. We are stripped of every attribute of

freedom and eligibility for legal

self-defence. Our property may be plundered before our eyes;

violence may be committed on our

persons; even our lives may be taken away, and there is none

to regard our complaints. We are

denationalized; we are disfranchised. We are deprived of

membership in the human family! We have

neither land nor home, nor resting place that can be called

our own. And this is effected by the

provisions of a compact which assumes the venerated, the

sacred appellation of treaty.

We are overwhelmed! Our hearts are sickened, our utterance is

paralized, when we reflect on the

condition in which we are placed, by the audacious practices

of unprincipled men, who have

managed their stratagems with so much dexterity as to impose

on the Government of the United

States, in the face of our earnest, solemn, and reiterated

protestations.

The instrument in question is not the act of our Nation; we are

not parties to its covenants; it has not

received the sanction of our people. The makers of it sustain

no office nor appointment in our

Nation, under the designation of Chiefs, Head men, or any

other title, by which they hold, or could

acquire, authority to assume the reins of Government, and to

make bargain and sale of our rights, our

possessions, and our common country. And we are constrained

solemnly to declare, that we cannot

but contemplate the enforcement of the stipulations of this

instrument on us, against our consent, as

an act of injustice and oppression, which, we are well

persuaded, can never knowingly be

countenanced by the Government and people of the United

States; nor can we believe it to be the

design of these honorable and highminded individuals, who

stand at the head of the Govt., to bind a

whole Nation, by the acts of a few unauthorized individuals.

And, therefore, we, the parties to be

affected by the result, appeal with confidence to the justice,

the magnanimity, the compassion, of

your honorable bodies, against the enforcement, on us, of the

provisions of a compact, in the

formation of which we have had no agency.

The Papers of Chief John Ross, vol 1, 1807-1839, Norman OK

Gary E. Moulton, ed.

University of Oklahoma Press, 1985

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