From Major Francis W. Armstrong to William Hicks and John Ross, Principal Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation.
RIDGES FERRY 19 July 1828
TO THE TWO PRINCIPAL CHIEFS OR THE CHEROKEE NATION, WILLIAM HICKS AND JOHN ROSS.
GENTLEMEN: I am instructed by the Sec'y for War, as you have been apprized by your Agent Col. Montgomery, to visit your Nation for the purpose of ascertaining, as far as practicable at this time, the disposition of the Cherokee Nation, to cede to the United States, a strip of land sufficient to make a Canal or the Rail road on, ( as the case may be,) so as to unite the waters of Tennessee with those of Ala. at some point on the Conasauga. It is proper that I should state, that I have no contracting powers of any kind whatever, my instructions are to converse freely upon this very important subject, with such of the leading men of the Nation as I could meet with. This I have had the pleasure of doing today, with yourselves and Major Ridge-Upon my report-If necessary-Commissioners will be appointed to meet the Nation at such time and place as may be agreed on by the parties, for the purposes herein stated.
I flatter myself from the conversation which we have had this morning, that your answer to this communication will be such as to authorize me to make a report, expressive of your willingness to confer with Commissioners when appointed.
With great respect and esteem, I have the Honour [sic] to be Your Obt. Servant,
F. W. ARMSTRONG.
Headmen Wm. Hicks '
John Ross, Present.
From William Hicks and John Ross, Principal Chiefs 'c. to Major Francis W. Armstrong.
RIDGES FERRY C. N. JULY 19, 1828
MAJOR FRANCIS W. ARMSTRONG,
Sir,- We have had the honor to receive your communication of this date, informing us that 'you are instructed by the Secretary of War to visit the Cherokee Nation for the purpose of ascertaining, as far as practicable, at this time, the disposition of the Nation to cede to the United States a strip of land sufficient to make a Canal or rail road on, (as the case may be) so as to unite the waters of Tennessee with those of Alabama, at some point on the Canasauga.' In reply to this part of your communication, we will inform you, that the sentiments of the Nation remains the same, as has been made known to the former authorized agents of the United States, who had been instructed to negotiate with us on this subject-that is, the Cherokee Nation objects making further cessions of lands to the United (States is omitted) for any purpose whatsoever. Therefore being so deeply sensible of the unchangeable disposition of the Nation on this point, we cannot in the sleightest [sic] degree flatter you to make a report that will induce the General Government to appoint Commissioners for the purpose of renewing the subject for negotiation. In presenting you with this candid expression of the sentiments of the Nation, we hope Sir, you will not be disposed to impute this objection to any unfriendly feelings of the Nation towards the States interested on this occasion, nor view their decisions emanating from a gross ignorance of the great importance and the utility of internal improvements; especially when you reflect that some of your own enlightened States have cherished a jealousy towards the United States exercising the powers of merely making internal improvements within the limits of the States without infringing upon the sovereign Jurisdiction of the States--But Sir, what would be the situation of the Nation, were they to make a cession of land for a canal or rail road through it? However small or insignificant the cession may appear to be, so soon as it is made to the United States, the right of sovereign jurisdiction passes through the U. States to the State within whose charter it may fall. Here then would necessarily be a narrow strip in the heart of the Nation, over which the State must exercise its laws. Under such circumstances much embarrassments and litigations would arise between the Cherokees and the Citizens of the States. And from the improving condition of the Nation, we cannot but flatter ourselves that the Nation will be prepared with better roads across the portage of those rivers, at least by the time the United States, or the State of Alabama shall have completed removing the obstructions in the Coosa River up to the Ten Islands.
With great respect and esteem, we are Sir, your Obt. Servants.
MAJOR FRANCIS W. ARMSTRONG