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22.  John Ross, et al, to Andrew Jackson, 28 March 1834

Honored Sir

    We have received thro' the War Department a reply [March 13] to the communication which we had the honor to address you on the 12th inst. disclaiming on your part all right of interference with the question of our political condition and rights within the limits of those States which have extended their laws over our people.  And the Hon. Secretary [Lewis Cass] has thought proper to glance over again the offers which have been made our Nation as an inducement to exchange our present residence for one west of the Mississippi, it is enough for us to repeat that our Nation have entirely disagreed in opinion with the Department in reference to the view taken of the liberality of those offers.  The Hon. Secry. however has informed us that you have instructed him to say to us, that you are willing ["] to extend to us the most liberal terms and to make such an arrangement as will be just in itself and ought to be satisfactory to us, for the termination of our present embarrassments and for our removal west of the Mississippi."  We have already assured you, with the utmost sincerity & truth that the great body of our people have refused and will never voluntarily consent to remove west of the Mississippi.  And it is on this grave question rests the great difficulty.  We cannot, and dare not lose sight of our political rights, which have been recognized and established by the laws and treaties of the United States -  for it is on them solely that our security of protection hang.   And from the peculiar circumstances of the painful grievances under which our people labour, we were induced to submit for your serious consideration the suggestion which we had the honor of laying before you.  And now, after further reflection on this momentous question, we have determined once more to address you, and present the subject in another view for your further determination, and we would entreat you by every consideration of honor and truth to be assured, that in thus submitting this question, we are influenced solely by a desire to secure the permanent welfare and happiness of our people, who dearly love the land of their Fathers, and are devotedly attached to the Govt. of the United States.  Feeble as the Cherokees are, and surrounded by a nation so powerful as the United States, we cannot but clearly see, that our existence and permanent welfare as a people, must depend upon that relation which will eventually lead to an amalgamation with the population of this great republic, and as the prospects of securing this object collectively in our present location in the character of a Territorial or State Government, seem to be seriously opposed, and is threatened by the states which are interested in their own aggrandizement; and as the Cherokees have refused and will never voluntarily consent to remove west of the Mississippi we are constrained in the most respectful manner to present the following questions for your decision.

    Will you agree to enter into an agreement on the basis of the Cherokees becoming prospectively citizens of the United States; provided the Nation will cede to the United States a portion of its Territory for the use of Georgia?  And will you agree to have the laws and treaties executed and enforced for the effectual protection of the nation on the remainder of its Territory for a definite period?  With the understanding that after that period, the Cherokees are to be subjected to the laws of the states within whose limits they may be and to take an individual standing as citizens thereof, the same as other free citizens of the United States - and to dispose of our surplus lands in such a manner as may be agreed upon.   Such an agreement as this, would put an end to all conflicting interests - and secure to the Cherokees time to prepare for the important change of their condition, and enable them by means of education to defend their individual rights as free citizens against any fraud or violence before the proper tribunals of the country.  It is no more than reasonable and just, that ample time should be extended to the Cherokee people to prepare for so important a change of their political character, in their native land.   No nation of people emerging from the natural state of man can ever prosper by an untimely amalgamation with a civilized and refined community.  When we look on our own individual condition and review the circumstances which have placed us in the scale of civilized life above the condition of others of our fellow countrymen, we cannot but see that they and their children are all equally capable under similar circumstances to rise to the same degree of elevation.  It is therefore our imperious duty to endeavor to afford them all the advantages possible for their general improvement.  Georgia and the other interested states, cannot rightfully oppose such an arrangement and there can be no doubt that they would readily acquiesce in it.  The great cause of contention will have been removed, by making certain an object which under existing Treaties at this time to them, is uncertain.  And finally, a peaceable and an honorable adjustment of all conflicting interests will have been accomplished.

    Twenty years have now elapsed since we participated with you in the toils and dangers of war, and obtained a victory over the unfortunate and deluded red foe at Tehopekah, on the memorable 27th March 1814, that portentous day was shrouded by a cloud of darkness, besprinkled with the awful streaks of blood and death.  It is in the hour of such times alone that the heart of man can be truly tested and correctly judged.  We were then your friends -  and the conduct of man is an index to his disposition.  Now in these days of profound peace, why should the gallant soldiers who in time of war walked hand in hand thro' blood and carnage, be not still friends?  We answer, that we are yet your friends.  And we love our people, our country and the homes of the childhood of our departed sires.   We have ever enjoyed the rights and liberties of freemen -  and God forbid that we should ever live in vassalage to any power.  And if we are too weak to live as freemen - it is easier for freemen to die, than to live as slaves!!!

    To afford our people full privilege & satisfaction, if the United States would furnish the necessary means, and our nation think it proper to appoint an exploring party for the purpose of examining all the countries beyond the Mississippi river, it may be done in addition to the arrangement which we have suggested.  We have the honor to be, Sir, very respectfully yr. obt. Hble. Servts.

John Ross                     Hair Conrad(X)                 R. Taylor

John Timson                 Danl. McCoy

 

22.  John Ross, et al, to Andrew Jackson, 28 Mar 1834, in Gary E. Moulton, ed., The Papers of Chief John Ross vol. 1 (Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press, 1985), 282-84.