In the early 1800’s and late 1700’s the whites began to encroach on the Cherokee lands. They married Cherokee women and raised families. As a result of that, they were welcomed into the Cherokee Nation. Their children were considered Cherokee in all ways. In the fall of 1835, a census was taken by civilian officials of the US War Department to enumerate Cherokee residing in Alabama, Georgia, North/South Carolina, and Tennessee, with a count of 16,542 Cherokee, 201 inter-married whites.
Recently I had a discussion with a good man whose family has been here long enough they are in that census. He told me about how the “white settler” married his wife, and they had several children. Together they farmed the lands, raised a family, and were as much a part of both communities as everyone else.
Except shortly after this census, they were informed of the Treaty of New Echota., although disputed, was being put in place. For those considered “inter-married” this meant that within two years, the state would require any whites living among the Indians—even missionaries—to sign an oath of allegiance to the state or get out. It began with the voluntary removal of those, who were willing to accept government “support “and move west on their own in the two years after the signing.
January 1833 was an active month in our area.
1/14/1833: Reverend Samuel Worcester, a missionary to the Cherokee Nation in Georgia.
The state of Georgia ordered all whites living with Indians to swear allegiance to the state of Georgia. Reverend Worcester refuses to do so. On September 16, 1831, Reverend Worcester was sentenced to 4 years at hard labor in a Georgia prison. Even though the Supreme Court rules that it is unconstitutional for Georgia to jail Reverend Worcester, he will not be released until this date.
1/28/1833: Cherokee commission of John Ross, John Baldridge, Richard Taylor, and Joseph Vann, address the Secretary of War in Washington, D.C.
They again state their unwillingness to negotiate with the federal government about removal, while the federal government is not living up to its previous agreements to protect them from the illegal actions of the State of Georgia. The Cherokee are told their only hope is for removal. During subsequent discussions, President Jackson offers the eastern Cherokee 3 million dollars for all the lands east of the Mississippi River, excluding North Carolina. John Ross asks the President how he will be able to protect the Cherokee in Indian Territory, if he cannot protect them from Georgia. The commission felt that the gold mines on Cherokee lands were worth more than the President’s offer.
The terms were simple: the Cherokee would receive 5 million dollars for all their land east of the Mississippi. The government would help them move and promise never to take their new land or incorporate it into the United States.
Some of the inter-marriage families chose to take the government payment and help to move to the new promised land. Naturally, most of them did not want to leave and go out into the wilderness and start life anew. Those that went were called the Old Settler Cherokees and had moved themselves prior to and in 1835 when the order was first given to the Cherokees to move out.
As always, thank you for spending time with us today and
Welcome to the Mountains