Death of Chief Osceola:
January 30, 1838
The following text comes from our high school book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. To see sample chapters of this book, go here. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.
White settlers, however, had long been encroaching on Cherokee lands. In 1828, gold was discovered in Cherokee country, and white encroachments on tribal lands increased until, by 1830, about 3,000 white settlers were occupying Cherokee lands. The legislature of Georgia for its part ignored a 1791 federal treaty that had acknowledged the Cherokee as an independent nation; instead, the state encouraged the dispossession of the Cherokee. In 1832, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Marshall ruled that Georgia had no authority over the Cherokee because they constituted a sovereign nation; but the state legislature denounced the court and ignored the ruling. In this case, President Jackson did not back federal authority with threats of force, or anything else; he took Georgia’s side. “John Marshall has made his decision,” Old Hickory said. “Now let him enforce it.”
When Georgia held a lottery to dispose of Cherokee lands to whites, a delegation under Chief John Ross went to Washington in 1835 to plead the Indians’ case. Ross, whose Indian name was Coowes Coowe, was the son of a Scottish loyalist and a mother who was one-fourth Cherokee. The Cherokee returned with a treaty of removal that they submitted to a tribal council that met at Red Clay, Tennessee. Ross and others opposed the treaty, and the entire council rejected it. To prevent Ross’ return to Washington, Georgia officials had him imprisoned, and to hide this breach of justice, suppressed the publication of the Cherokee Phoenix. (more…)