Between Gens. Gray, Davidson and Cocke, late Commissioners of the United States, and Messrs. John Ross and Ridge, on the part of the Cherokee Nation.
Oct. 4 1827.
MESSRS. JOHN ROSS AND MAJOR RIDGE.
GENTLEMEN:- On yesterday your letter in answer to a reply made by the undersigned to your of the 15th ult. was received, and we must express our surprise and regret, that every point by us laid down in that letter, is by you considered either erroneous, or not founded in fact: and that even the statements made by General Gocke [sic] respecting what took place on his visit at New Echota in July last, should be pointedly contradicted. The General is not versed in your language, and if he has not given the words made use of by Major Ridge, on his introduction to the Committee and Council, he avers he has given the words as explained to him by your interpreter.
You have the candour [sic] to acknowledge, that you were informed by newspaper reports, that Gen. Cocke and two others from North Carolina were appointed by the President of the United States to hold Councils with the Cherokee tribe of Indians, and that the session of your Council was continued for the day under an expectation that the General would make some communication to you on the subject of his mission; and as he did not, you thought proper to direct your Clerk not to furnish him with a list of the names of the Committee and Council. You could not suppose, or expect, that the General, without the consent or approbation of the other Commissioners, would attempt to open a negotiation with you, or explain the objects his government was desirous to effect by a treaty with the Nation: it would have been in direct opposition to the authority vested in him by his government, and disrespectful to those associated with him in commission.
Gen. Cocke also avers it is not a fact that the application made to Mr. McCoy was on the eve of his departure from Echota; but that it was made some days before, by his Secretary Major Hyndes [sic], and afterwards by himself; and not until the eve of his departure was the information refused.
In our former letter we assured you that ample means had been afforded us by the President to defray EVERY EXPENSE, and that the supplies were provided. We use the term every expense with the design to include every possible expense; nor should we have hesitated to employ cooks, or to have paid the members for their services fully as much as they receive for attending at New Echota in General Council, including the 'c. 'c. to which you refer in your letter of the 27th of September. You 'assure us with profound sincerity,' that nothing is more remote from the intention or wish of the Representatives of the Nation, than to treat the public agents of the General Government with disrespect or contempt.' Compare this assurance with your refusal to attend the call and invitation of that government; with the language of your letters to her Representatives and Agents. Recollect the treatment of Gov. McMinn, and the Georgia Commissioners, when they attended your Council at or near New Echota. You inform us that the Cherokee Nation for eight years past have permanently established their seat of Government at New Echota, where every convenience for the accommodation of strangers and the Members of Committee and Council are provided, and conclude, should you meet at the place named in our invitation, you 'would be exposed to the weather as a congregated assemblage of rude people on a hunting expedition.' In this you are certainly mistaken. It is true there is no palace for the reception of a King or Emperor; but there are four taverns in the vicinity of the Agency, and one at it, where all the Committee and Council can be well accommodated, and their expenses paid by us.
We take leave to call your attention to that part of our letter of the 23d of September, where we mention your establishment of an independent government. No expression was intended to find fault with your Constitution, or deprive your Nation of the benefit of social intercourse in civilized life. On the contrary we expect ere long to see you incorporated with the American Family, enjoying the benefit arising from a well regulated government. Your construction of our remarks is not supported, when you seem to suppose we are disposed to find fault with your government.
It is useless longer to refrain from disclosing our knowledge of the object of your invitation to meet at New Echota. We are correctly informed that Mr. John Ross has used all of his influence with the Nation to thwart the views of the United States, and has been mainly instrumental in preventing their meeting agreeably to our invitation of the 23d of August. You remark you have invited our attendance on the day appointed for the meeting of the approaching session of the General Council. Can you expect this subterfuge will avail, when you know that you have predetermined to reject every proposition that we are authorized to make to the Cherokee Nation? Why have you interposed to prevent their meeting us? It is necessary to keep the Nation in ignorance of their true interest? What object could we expect to attain? It has also been communicated to us, that Mr. Ross contemplates a trip to Washington City the ensuing winter, and this failure to hold Councils with the Commissioners of the United States is to be the ostensible cause of that enterprise.
Should our views be incorrect that the Cherokee Agency is the place proper to transact all business in which the United States are concerned with the Cherokee Nation, for what purpose are agents employed, and near five thousand dollars annually expended by the United States in defraying the expense of that Agency? The Secretary of War transacts all business with your Nation at that place. We are not advised that your seat of Government is established for any other purpose, than a place to regulate your own internal affairs. In this opinion we are confident we shall be supported by the Department of War.
Respectfully your ob't. serv'ts.
GEO. L. DAVIDSON,
NEW ECHOTA, CHEROKEE NATION
October 11, 1827.
TO GENERALS, JOHN COCKE GEO. L. DAVIDSON ' ALEX. GRAY.
GENTLEMEN:- We acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th inst. We do not deem it essentially necessary to go over all the different points on which you have written; therefore we must be brief.
You wish us to recollect the treatment which Gov. McMinn and the Georgia Commissioners received from our Council at this place, we assure you that it is well recollected that they were treated with civility and politeness by the members of Committee and Council.
And you also state the 'there is no palace for the reception of a King or Emperor at the Rattle Snake springs [sic] but that there are four taverns in the vicinity of the Agency.' We do not understand the idea you intend to convey, in reference to a palace for the reception of a King or Emperor, as the Cherokee Nation are governed by neither, and we were not informed that you had anticipated the arrival of any of the Crowned Heads from abroad. As to the four taverns spoken of we assure you that they are unknown to us, and that we were informed that the Rattle Snake Springs are situated in the wilderness, four miles off from the Agency.
You also state that you are correctly informed that 'Mr. Jno. Ross had used all of his influence with the nation to thwart the views of the United States, and has been mainly instrumental in preventing their meeting agreeably to your invitation of the 23d August; and further that Mr. Ross contemplates a trip to Washington City the ensuing winter, and this failure to hold Councils with the Commissioners is to be the ostensible cause of that enterprise;' but you have not thought proper to state who gave you the information. We must therefore inform you that you have been intruded upon by those who were so expert in fabricating these misrepresentations, and we are sorry to discover that you are ready to believe every unfavorable report respecting us.
Very respectfully, Gentlemen, we are your ob't serv'ts.
MAJOR x RIDGE
4th Oct. 1827
TO THE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE AND COUNCIL OF THE CHEROKEE NATION ASSEMBLED AT NEW ECHOTA.
FRIENDS AND BROTHERS:- The President of the United States, on the 13th of March 1827, appointed the undersigned Commissioners to hold Councils with the Cherokee Indians. A copy of our letter of appointment we lay before you, which will shew [sic] you the desire of our father the President of the United States; and also the object of Congress in making an appropriation of ten thousand dollars to defray the expence [sic] only that should attend the holding of the Council directed. We now make the propositions to you in accordance with the desire expressed by Congress and the President; and have sent our Secretary, Mr. James R. Cocke, with directions to lay them before you, and receive your determination. We request your early attention and reply, to enable us to report the result to the Secretary of War by the meeting of Congress. We have been long detained with a desire to have met our friends the Cherokees, but without success, not occasioned, as we believe, by the act of the Nation, but through the influence of individuals.
Respectfully your friends and Brothers.
GEO. L. DAVIDSON
DEPARTMENT OF WAR,
13th March, 1827
TO GENERALS JOHN COCKE, G. L. DAVIDSON, AND ALEXANDER GRAY, COMMISSIONERS, 'c.
GENTLEMEN:- An appropriation of ten thousand dollars having been made by the late Congress to defray the expense of holding Councils with the Cherokee Indians, for the two fold purpose of procuring and extinguishment of their claims to lands held by them within the limits of the State of North Carolina, and for extinguishing their claim to as much land as will be necessary for a canal to connect the Hiwassee and Conasaga with each other- the President has appointed you joint commissioners to carry the objects of said appropriation into effect. No special instructions are esteemed to be necessary. The mode and preparations are left to your discretion. It is desirable that you act under this commission as early as you conveniently can, and report your negotiations and their result to the Department by the meeting of the next session of Congress.
I have the honor to be, Gentlemen, very respectfully your ob't serv't.
By virtue of the foregoing full power, Major General John Cocke of the State of Tennessee, Brigadier [sic] General George Lee Davidson and Brigadier [sic] General Alexander Gray, both of the State of North Carolina, propose to purchase, on behalf of the United States of America, from the Chiefs and Headmen of the Cherokee Nation of Indians, and extinguish their claim to all that tract or parcel of land lying and being within the chartered limits of the State of North Carolina, one of the United States of America, containing by estimation about five hundred and four thousand acres, bounded on the North and West by the State of Tennessee,---------agreeable to a line run and marked by Commissioners of both States- and South by the State of Georgia. The above named Commissioners like wise propose to purchase and extinguish the claim of the Cherokee Nation to so much land as will be necessary for a Canal to connect the Hiwassee and Conasaga with each other. To hold Councils with the Cherokee Indians for the two fold purpose above stated the said John Cocke, George Lee Davidson and Alexander Gray, request the proper authorities of the Cherokee Nation to appoint Agents of said Nation to meet them without delay at the Cherokee Agency, where all Treaties and Documents are deposited.
GEO. L. DAVIDSON
NEW ECHOTA, CHEROKEE NATION,
October 11, 1827
In General Council Convened.
TO GENERALS JOHN COCKE, GEO. L. DAVIDSON AND ALEXANDER GRAY.
FRIENDS AND BROTHERS:- Your communication of the 4th Inst. together with a copy of a letter from the Secretary of War shewing [sic] the objects of your appointment, and also your propositions to purchase from us a tract of land, containing about five hundred ' four thousand acres, bordering on the state of North Carolina, for the use and benefit of that state; and likewise as much land as would be necessary for a canal to connect the Hiwassee and Connasaga with each other were received the 9th inst. through your Secretary Mr. James R. Cocke; and in compliance with your request, we have bestowed our early attention to the subject, and return you this reply; that the representatives of this nation, in concluding the treaty of 1819, surveyed the past and present condition of their Nation and, with a deliberate and serious consideration, looked to its future destiny, and solemly [sic] pledged themselves in General Council that they would never dispose of one foot more of land again. This sentiment and determination have been repeatedly declared to the Agents and Commissioners of the United States, as well as to our Political Father the President of the United States; but it appears that our brethren of the bordering states would not willingly believe that the determination was made in soberness, and that the sentiment has been expressed with an unchangeable sincerity of heart, or why should they have so often and so urgently applied to the President and Congress for appropriations to hold Treaties with us on the subject? Surely our white brethren of the states who surround our small Territory possess too much magnanimity and charity of heart to disregard our unwillingness to part with our homes, the land of our birth, in order that their own aggrandizement may be raised upon the ruin and destruction of ourselves and our posterity?- The Cherokee Nation with great liberality have made cession after cession for the accommodation and extension of your states, and we had flattered ourselves that they, with the principle of liberality, would now have been silent on the subject of procuring further cessions from us.
We will now repeat again to you what has often been told to other Commissioners of the United States, that the Cherokee Nation has no more land to dispose of, and that we cannot accede to your propositions.- Therefore we do not deem it necessary to appoint Agents for the purpose of negotiating a Treaty with you on the subject, for the two-fold object proposed. In giving you this definitive reply, we do it with consideration and respect, uninfluenced by any Individual, but solely with the view of maintaining the interest of our nation.
With great respect, we are politically your friends and Brethren.
Members of the Committee
John Ross, President N. Com.
A. M'Coy, Clk. N. Committee.
Members of the Council.
Major Ridge, Speaker of N. Coun.
Rising Fawn Lee,
E. Boudinott, Clk. N. Council.