previous next

[393] within their borders will, in consequence of repeated Northern aggressions, separate themselves and withdraw from the Federal Government.

South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana have already, by action of the people, assumed this attitude.

Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland will probably pursue the same course by the 4th of March next.

Your people, in their institutions, productions, latitude, and natural sympathies, are allied to the common brotherhood of the slave-holding States. Our people and yours are natural allies in war, and friends in peace. Your country is salubrious and fertile, and possesses the highest capacity for future progress and development, by the application of “slave labor.”

Besides this, the contiguity of our territory with yours induces relations of so intimate a character as to preclude the idea of a discordant or separate action. It is well established that the Indian country west of Arkansas is looked to by the incoming Administration of Mr. Lincoln as fruitful fields, ripe for the harvest of abolitionism, free-soilers, and Northern mountebanks. We hope to find in you friends willing to cooperate with the South in defence of her institutions, her honor, and her firesides, and with whom the slaveholding States are willing to share a common future, and to afford protection commensurate with your exposed condition. and your subsisting monetary interests with the general Government.

As a direct means of expressing to you those sentiments, I have despatched to you my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Gaines, to confer with you confidentially upon these subjects, and to report to me any expressions of kindness and confidence that you may see proper to communicate to the Governor of Arkansas, who is your friend and the friend of your people.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

In response to the above, Ross wrote at some length, expressing the regret and solicitude of the Cherokees for the unhappy relations existing between the two sections of the country, and hoping for the restoration of peace and harmony. The concluding part of the letter is important, as exhibiting the loyal feelings of the Cherokees to the Federal Government:--

The relations which the Cherokee people sustain toward their white brethren have been established by subsisting treaties with the United States Government, and by them they have placed themselves under the “protection of the United States, and of no other sovereign whatever.” They are bound to hold no treaty with any foreign power, or with any individual State, nor with the citizens of any State. On the other hand, the faith of the United States is solemnly pledged to the Cherokee nation for the protection of the right and title in the lands, conveyed to them by patent, within their territorial boundaries; as also for protection of all other of their national and individual rights and interests of person and property. Thus the Cherokee people are inviolably allied with their white brethren of the United States in war and friends in peace. Their institutions, locality, and natural sympathies are unequivocally with the slaveholding States. And the contiguity of our territory to your State, in connection with the daily social and commercial intercourse between our respective citizens, forbids the idea that they should ever be otherwise than steadfast friends.

I am surprised to be informed by your Excellency that “it is well established that the Indian country, west of Arkansas, is looked to by the incoming Administration of Mr. Lincoln as fruitful fields, ripe for the harvest of abolitionism, free-soilers, and Northern mountebanks,” as I am sure that the laborers will be greatly disappointed if they shall expect in the Cherokee country fruitful fields, ripe for the harvest of abolitionism, &c., and you may rest assured that the Cherokee people will never tolerate the propagation of any such obnoxious fruit upon their soil. And, in conclusion, I have the honor to reciprocate the salutations of friendship.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your Excellency's obedient servant,

John Ross, Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation. Feb. 22, 1861.

A correspondence was more recently opened between the rebel commander of Fort Smith and Ross. The letter of the former exhibits the solicitude with which the rebels of Arkansas await the attitude of the Cherokees:--

Headquarters, Fort Smith, May 15, 1861.
sir:--Information has reached this post to the effect that Senator Lane, of Kansas, is now in that State raising troops to operate on the western borders of Missouri and Kansas. As it is of the utmost importance that those intrusted with the defence of the Western frontier of this State should understand the position of the Indian tribes, through whose territory the enemy is likely to pass, I feel it to be my duty, as commanding officer at this post, and in that capacity representing the State of Arkansas and the Southern Confederacy, of which she is a member, respectfully to ask if it is your intention to adhere to the United States Government during the pending conflict, or if you mean to support the Government of the Southern Confederacy; and also whether in your opinion the Cherokee people will resist, or will aid the Southern troops in resisting any such attempt to invade the soil of Arkansas; or if, on the other hand, you think there is any probability of their aiding the United States forces in executing their

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Ross (3)
Abraham Lincoln (2)
Henry M. Rector (1)
Lane (1)
J. J. Gaines (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 15th, 1861 AD (1)
February 22nd, 1861 AD (1)
March 4th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: