History of the Trail of Tears Removal of the Cherokee

Land Lottery

For each person subscribing to a lottery a ticket was placed in the barrel
For each person subscribing to a lottery a ticket was placed in the barrel

Cherokee Land Lotteries of 1832

In 1832, to solidify their claim to Cherokee land, the state of Georgia held two land lotteries that divided the Cherokee Nation into 160 acre lots. They gave these lots to any Georgian who had four dollars in their pocket and won a chance to buy the land.

However, the Cherokee never ceded the land to either the state or Federal Government. Therefore in 1835 the Supreme Court ruled that the state did not have the power to make a treaty with a sovereign nation. (Worcester v. Georgia)

John Ross 1790 - 1866

John Ross was the first and only elected Chief of the Cherokee Nation from the time it was formed until his death in 1866. Highly regarded for his role in leading the fight against removal and leading his people to their exile in Oklahoma, controvers
John Ross was the first and only elected Chief of the Cherokee Nation from the time it was formed until his death in 1866. Highly regarded for his role in leading the fight against removal and leading his people to their exile in Oklahoma, controvers

John Ross Proposal

John Ross represented most of the Cherokee and with settlers moving into the Cherokee Nation, Ross knew that, since he was at risk of losing the entire nation to the state of Georgia, his best option was to make a deal for the land with the United States.

In 1835, Ross and his group wanted to deed a portion of the land to the United States for an amount of money to be determined by Congress with the remainder of the property deed to the Cherokee owner. However, the problem that arose was that in order for Congress to make this deal, they required that the United States and the state of Georgia recognize Cherokee citizenship. This would include the right to vote and hold political office. Neither Georgia nor the United States would agree to recognize Cherokee citizenship.

Ross, in order to compensate the Cherokee for their loss without retaining some land and living a normal life, came up with the figure of 20 million dollars. This was about 25% of the true value of the land if it sold separately to the settlers. For this, 17,000 men, women and children would leave voluntarily to relocate in Indian territory in the state of Oklahoma. This amounted to slightly under $1200 per person or roughly $4.34 per acre. The rate for similar land in Georgia in 1835 was $18 to $20 per acre.

Ross acquired the backing of the Cherokee Nation and both the original proposal of 4.5 million dollars, land and citizenship, as well as the second proposal of 20 million dollars had been approved by the Cherokee council.

Jackson's record regarding Native Americans was not good. He led troops against them in both the Creek War and the First Seminole War and during his first administration the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830. The act offered the Indians land west
Jackson's record regarding Native Americans was not good. He led troops against them in both the Creek War and the First Seminole War and during his first administration the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830. The act offered the Indians land west
This image is of the written petition from the Cherokee Council opposing the Treaty of New Echota
This image is of the written petition from the Cherokee Council opposing the Treaty of New Echota
This image is the signatures on the Cherokee Council petition
This image is the signatures on the Cherokee Council petition

Treaty of New Echota

A small radical group which was led by John Ridge and his cousin, Elias Boudinot, negotiated a corrupt Treaty of New Echota. This gave up Cherokee land for pennies on the dollar ( $1.085 per acre or 5% of the actual land value). This proposal had been specifically declined by the Cherokee council. The Ridge Party members filed to sign the document on December 29, 1835. Major Ridge referred to this document as his death warrant.

The government was now the only hope for the Cherokee. However, Andrew Jackson's forces in the United States Senate, which was required to ratify all treaties, were too strong. The Treaty of New Echota was ratified the next year.

Ross, after the ratification, attempted to petition the United States government with no success. The forcible removal of the Cherokee Nation began in May 1838.

The Cherokee Council also filed a petition opposing the Treaty of New Echota and filed it with the United States government.

General Winfield Scott age 75
General Winfield Scott age 75
One hundred yards east is the site of Fort Gilmer, built in 1838 to garrison U.S. troops ordered to enforce the removal from this region of the last Cherokee Indians under terms of the New Echota treaty of 1835.
One hundred yards east is the site of Fort Gilmer, built in 1838 to garrison U.S. troops ordered to enforce the removal from this region of the last Cherokee Indians under terms of the New Echota treaty of 1835.
Located on the Tennessee River at the site of present-day Chattanooga, Tennesee, Cherokee parties left from the landing for the West in 1838, the same year the growing community took the name Chattanooga.
Located on the Tennessee River at the site of present-day Chattanooga, Tennessee, Cherokee parties left from the landing for the West in 1838, the same year the growing community took the name Chattanooga.

The Forced Removal

General Winfield Scott was in command of government troops and was, at times, supported by the brutal Georgia Guard. They moved across the state, taking the helpless Cherokee from their homes. Within the next two weeks, every Cherokee in North Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee had been killed, captured, overlooked or had fled.

The Cherokee were contained in holding areas until they could be moved further north to one of the specially constructed forts. The forts, with minimum facilities were basically rat-infested prisons for the Cherokee.

For many reasons, nothing seemed to go right during the removal. Some Cherokee were forced to live in these conditions for up to five months before the start of the journey. The Cherokee called the journey "Nunna daul Tsuny" (Trail Where We Cried). As many as one third of the deaths as a direct result of the removal can be attributed to conditions in the prisons.

Eventually, they began the move to one of the two embarkation points. Rattlesnake Springs was located near the Cherokee Agency in Tennessee. Ross' Landing, which, today is Chattanooga, Tennessee, was another embarkation point.

Death rates were very high on the forced march. Ross went to Scott and requested that the Cherokee be allowed to lead the parties west later in the year. Scott granted his request and the first parties under Ross left under a dual command in October. Scott rode with one of the parties to Nashville.

Water Route

The groups of Cherokee would leave by steamship from the port on the Tennessee River, across a short distance of the Ohio River, then south on the Mississippi River to the Arkansas River. This route brought them to Fort Smith on the border between Arkansas and Indian Territory.

Land Route

There were roughly ten individual routes. Some would overlap between each of them. The route that is technically called the Trail of Tearsbegan at the Cherokee Agency near Rattlesnake Springs and continued northwest to the Nashville, Tennessee vicinity, then to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The Cherokee then headed to a crossing of the Ohio River just northeast of the confluence of the Tennessee River.

They then moved northwest, crossing the Mississippi River near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. From here, they headed south-southwest across the Ozark Plateau to the Oklahoma Territory.

Moccasin Springs is now the Trail of Tears State Park in Cape Girardeau, MO
Moccasin Springs is now the Trail of Tears State Park in Cape Girardeau, MO

Along the Trail of Tears

Most settlers who witnessed the Cherokee moving west were indifferent to their plight, therefore very few offered any assistance. In several cases, the settlers did not want the Cherokee in their towns and forced the group to change their route. Cape Girardeau, Missouri was one of them.

While Cherokee had been fording the Mississippi River at a point near downtown, city fathers, who were unhappy with the long line of Indians passing through town, forced them to cross two miles north at a more difficult crossing known as Moccasin Springs. Today, a state park commemorates the site where Rev. Jesse Bushyhead lost his sister after crossing an ice-covered river.

Divisions Within the Tribes

The Cherokee from Georgia were not the only people relocated to Tallequah, Oklahoma. A Cherokee group from Arkansas, known as the Old Settlers had moved there in the late 1820's. They had an established nation but the influx of 13,000 Cherokee from Georgia created friction.

When the Cherokee from Georgia completed their journey, they immediately made up the majority of the tribe. Therefore, issues of administration caused major divisions within the tribe, especially as the Cherokee from Georgia gained control of the nation. As Ross was returned to power, the tribe's attention turned to those who had betrayed the Cherokee in Georgia.

Major Ridge
Major Ridge
John Ridge
John Ridge
Elias Boudinot
Elias Boudinot
Samuel Worcester
Samuel Worcester
Stand Watie
Stand Watie

Ridge Family Execution

A new constitution was ratified and Ross' position as Principal Chief was reaffirmed. The night of Ross' success, his men spread out to carry out the final act of the Trail of Tears. This would be the execution of the Ridge family.

Major Ridge would die on a roadway as John Ridge is dragged from his home and stabbed to death in front of his wife and children.

Elias Boudinot is surrounded after leaving Samuel Worcester's home.

Stand Watie's life was saved by Worcester when he sent a messenger to warn him. Although marked for execution, Watie barely escaped. He was the only leader of the treaty party to survive the political vendetta, and members of the group turned to him for leadership. Before the killings Watie, tended to stay out of the realm of tribal politics, but blamed John Ross for the slaying and opposed in practically every facet of tribal politics causing a real rivalry. The feud ended in 1866 with the death of John Ross.

The council house at New Echota was the seat of government for the Cherokee Nation
The council house at New Echota was the seat of government for the Cherokee Nation
Trail of Tears Elkhorn Tavern Site Pea Ridge, Arkansas
Trail of Tears Elkhorn Tavern Site Pea Ridge, Arkansas

Cherokee Nation Returns

While many Cherokee lost their lives on the journey, it is important to remember that several thousands of members of the tribe survived and the Cherokee Nation continues to thrive today.

The Cherokee Nation has 170,000 members worldwide. Many of them reside in designated territory in northeast Oklahoma. A small number of members of the Cherokee Nation live in Indiana, Kentucky and Southern Illinois.

The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears Association continue to work together on many projects preserving the history of the Trail of Tears and its significance to American History.

Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy Native American Indian

Cherokee Morning song. Magnificent!

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Comments 38 comments

donnaleemason profile image

donnaleemason 8 years ago from North Dakota, USA

Hey Bonnie, clear this up for me. Was Major Ridge an indian, and how did he have any say in the signing of the treaty? Sorry, I got confused, neat article.

Donna


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Hi, Donna!

Actually he was 3/4 Cherokee Indian leader. He is famous for his betrayal of the Cherokee which led to the Trail of Tears. (the signing of the Treaty of New Echota) Hope that helps! Thanks for stopping in and reading!

Bonnie


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Very interesting hub. I used to feel sorry for the indians, after all we took their land, I did not like what they did to trespassers though....eek goodbye scalp

Thanks for sharing


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Good job Bonnie on a very important topic.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Eileen,

Thanks for stopping by! And I hear ya on the scalp thing! LOL. The thing is that the Cherokee, in normal situations, were one of the less aggressive tribes than most. The Souix was one of the most aggressive and the type of tribes that cause much of the fear of other Indians. For the most part, Cherokee attacked in defense or retaliation of betrayal. While their methods may have been different from white man as far as violence, the brutality of what the white man did to them was no less. When you look back through history, we weren't the most welcoming set of people to other races LOL. I guess that is why they say that you learn from your history. We have gone from one extreme to another. Thanks again!

Sweetiepie, Thanks so much for taking the time to stop in to read and post! I am glad you enjoyed it!

Bonnie


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Fabulous job once again Bonnie! You should group your hubs, so that they will be linked together at the bottom. I really enjoyed reading all this history and you have done tremendous work putting it all together. Just wonderful!


WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 8 years ago from DC Metro Area

This was a sad time in America's history.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Hi, Steph! Thanks for stopping in on this one, too! I posted a response to your comment on the name on the last hub. Did you find it? It's on the History of the Cherokee where you wanted to know the meaning of your aunt's name.

This particular hub took about 9 hours but it was worth it. There is so much info out there! Reading through dozens of sites on all this is pretty interesting, too! It may be a couple of days before I can do research on the next one but I'll get to it. Hopefully I can get another short hub done before then on another subject that I don't have to research as much LOL. I am really glad you enjoyed it and I appreciate your comments so much!

Bonnie


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

I agree, Pete! However, I truly believe that in all this cruelty, the Cherokee found even more strength and sense of pride than most of us could imagine. They didn't allow it to keep them down and they have flourished. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and post!

Bonnie


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Wow - thank you Bonnie!! Motee is my mom and sister's middle name! I am going to tell them right now! You're the best! -Steph


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

No problem, Steph! Glad I could find it for ya!

Bonnie


Zillian.Naire profile image

Zillian.Naire 8 years ago from Texas

WOW Bonnie you certainly showed your passion in this hub! Great job Girl! I remember the first movie I seen in the 70's about the uprooting and massacre of American Indians. It was called Soldier Blue and stared James Wood, made me sad then mad. Especially realizing that it still continues.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Hi, Z! I agree. I get so many mixed emotions when reading or watching things like this. Like you, I am sad, mad, ashamed and any other emotion you can feel. And to think that Americans are supposed to be the "civilized" union! We can only pray that we learn from past mistakes and move forward.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

Bonnie


Steven Heape 8 years ago

Thank you for the awareness factor. Very nice site. I am the producer of Trail of Tears Cherokee Legacy.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Wow Steve!Thanks so much for visiting and such nice comments! I am honored by your visit!

Bonnie


anonymous 7 years ago

What was the significance of the trail of tears?


Phil Ranch 7 years ago

I love native american history. It was far more intruging than math in school!


Landon Zilbert 7 years ago

Hi Bonnie! I live in the Northwest GA area, and have been studying about the Cherokee removal for some time now. A lot of my studies have been revolving around Spring Place, GA....have you studied about that particular area any? In particular, the Moravian Missionaries - John and Anna Gambold? If so, I would like to see a hub about that!!!!

Thanks so much,

Landon


John Wilson 7 years ago

Is the petition,shown on this page,in the National Archives? I would really like to check for some names on it.

Thanks


susan reynolds 7 years ago

i enjoyed the music....video broke my heart


Brent 6 years ago

what was the effect of the trail of tears on Andrew Jackson's presidency?


Dakota 6 years ago

Music was awsome. Learned a lot from the viedo


Something 5 years ago

What is the historial significance of the trail of tears anyone wanna help me????


Justsilvie 5 years ago

Well done and Interesting Hub!


maridax profile image

maridax 5 years ago from North Central Arkansas,USA

Great Hub!


lost bear 4 years ago

verry good well done love it


demetri lopez 4 years ago

hey thanks so much this is go\unna help me with a project(ill be sure to cite it)


GFSDGSDF 4 years ago

C@N Y0 R3@ T41$ LOL


gfdsgfds 4 years ago

WHASSUP BROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NIGAAGAGA


BruceAlanButton15 4 years ago

i realy like this do th the fact in indian and im working on a power point over this at school


isaac 4 years ago

i am sad and mad because i am part Cherokee i say !@#$ the government because thay should have happen!


Hannah Smith 4 years ago

Hi! I am doing a reaserch paper on this topic and it really helped. Thank you soooo much!!!

Hannah


Hannah Smith 4 years ago

I know i commented you the other day but i would love to chat with you. I'm 14 and need halp on a reseach paper, so if you could post something that would mean the world to me. Um...i would love to know more about the Cherokee culture and why president Andrew Jackson was part of this act. It confuses me a little,so i would love some help. When you post anything I would like you to know that i can't comprehend very well. Sorry if I am miss-spelling some word but my vocabulary is not all that great.Thank you so much!:)


iloveninjas25 profile image

iloveninjas25 4 years ago

Hi! This is Hannah again. Sorry I have been such a pest but today is my very last day to find some research about this topic. So...if you could e-mail me at cowgirlzz@yahoo.com, it would be just spectacular. Thank you!


Candy 4 years ago

So what were the reasons given by the Cherokee for the opposing removal? An would their argument have convinced as an American in 1830? Why or why not?


ANNA GARCIA 4 years ago

ITHE I/ L WOULD LIKE TO KNO W THE FULL NATION THE FULL N ationalities IN ///////////THE TRAIL OF TEARS BEGAINING AS WELL WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. IT LOOKS AS THOUGH THE ONE ALREADY MENTIONED COULD HAVE BEEN AN AFRICAN AMERICAN//


ric cunha 3 years ago

HI, is it true the Cherokees had black slaves and they also went west.?


Cristina 23 months ago

this website is great found just what i wanted it was important people and i found one more person for my essay were doing in school soon

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