3. John Ross, et al, to John C. Calhoun, 11 February 1824
We have received your letter of the 30th Ulto containing the answer which the President [James Monroe] directed you to communicate to us, in reply to a particular subject embraced in the letter which we had the honour of laying before him on the 19th Ulto. In this answer, we discover, new propositions for the extinguishment of Cherokee title to lands, for the benefit of Georgia. we beg leave to say to the President, thro' you, the Cherokee nation are sensible, that the United States are bound by its compact [of 1802] with Georgia, to extinguish for the use of that State the Indian title to land within the limits claimed by the State, "as soon as it can be done peaceably and on reasonable conditions," and are also sensible, that this compact, is no more than a conditional one, and without the free and voluntary consent of the Cherokee Nation, can never be complied with on the part of the United States; and having duly authorized to make to make known to the Government of the United States, the true sentiments and disposition of the nation on the subject, the President has been informed, that "the Cherokees have come to a decisive and unalterable conclusion, never to cede away any more lands." And as the extinguishment of Cherokee title to lands can never be obtained on conditions which will accord with the import of the compact between the United States & Georgia, It is desirable that the Government should adopt some other means, to sattisfy Georgia, than to remain any longer under anticipation of being enabled to accomplish the object of purchasing the Cherokee title. The United States now posses an extensive Territory in the Floridas; why not, extend the limits of Georgia in that section of Country, if her present bounds be considered to small? The Cherokee Nation have never promised to surrender at any future period, to the United States for Georgia, their title to lands but to the contrary, the United States have by treaties, solemnly guaranteed, to secure to the Cherokees forever, their title to lands, which have been reserved by them. Therefore, the state of Georgia can have no reasonable pleas against the Cherokees, for refusing to yield their title all to the United States, so that her own aggrandizement may be raised upon their ruins. You express a wish to have a free communication with us on this subject and to appeal "to the good sense and to the interest of the nation, as pointed out by their own experiences and by that of their ancestors for two centuries back." In accordance with your wish, we will speak frankly and with all the good sense we possess, and keeping strictly in view, the interest of our nation . . . and . . . observe . . . such objects as may be practically attainable for the best interests of the Cherokee People . . . You say that we must be sensible, that it will be impossible for us to remain for any length of time in our present situation, as a distinct society or nation, within the limits of Georgia, or of any other state and that such a community is incompatible with your system and must yield to it. And that we must either cease to be a distinct community, and become, at no distant periods a part of the state within whose limits we are, or remove without the limits of any State. "And that it remains for the Cherokee Nation to decide for itself whether it will contribute most to their own welfare and happiness for them to retain their present title to their lands, and remain where they are, exposed to the discontent of Georgia and the pressure of her citizens, or to cede it to the United States, for Georgia, at a fair price to be paid either in other lands beyond the Mississippi or in money." Sir, to these remarks we beg leave to observe, and to remind you, that the Cherokees are not foreigners, but original inhabitants of America, and that they now inhabit and stand on the soil of their own Territory, and that the limits of their Territory are defined by the Treaties which they have made with the Government of the United States, and that the States by which they are now surrounded have been created out of lands which was once theirs, and that they cannot recognize the Sovereignty of any State, within the limits of their Territory.
Confiding in the good faith of the United States to respect their Treaty stipulations, with the Cherokee Nation, we have no hesitation in saying, that the true interest, prosperity and happiness of our nation demands their permanency where they are, and to retain their present title to their lands; in doing so, we cannot see in the spirit of liberality, honor, magnanimity, equity &justice, how they can be exposed to the discontent of Georgia or the pressure of her citizens. An extent of Territory, twice as large, West of the Mississippi, as the one now occupied by the Cherokees east of that river, or all the money, now in the coffers of your Treasury, would be no inducement for the nation to exchange or sell their Country. It rests with the interests, the disposition and free consent of the nation to remain as a separate community or to enter into a Treaty with the United States for admission as citizens, under the form of a Territorial or State Government, and we can only say that the situation of the nation, is not sufficiently improved in the arts of civilized life, to warrant any change at present. Therefore the subject must be left for our posterity to determine for themselves, whenever the whole nation shall have been completely and fully civilized, and shall have possessed the arts and sciences. With considerations of High respect and Esteem, We have the Honour to be, Sir, Your vry obedient Hble Servts
John Ross Major Ridge (X)
Geo Lowery Elijah Hicks
3. John Ross to John C. Calhoun, 11 Feb 1824, in Gary E. Moulton, ed., The Papers of Chief John Ross vol. 1 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985), 64-66.