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[394] hostile designs.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

J. R. Kannady, Lieut.-Col. Commanding, Fort Smith. Hon. John Ross, Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation.

In his reply, Ross, under date of May 17, quotes the interrogatory part of the above, and concludes:--

In reply to these inquiries, I have the honor to say, that our rights of soil, of person, and of property, and our relations, generally, to the people and Government of the United States were defined by treaties with the United States Government prior to the present condition of affairs. By those treaties relations of amity and reciprocal rights and obligations were established between the Cherokee nation and the Government of those States. Those relations still exist. The Cherokees have properly taken no part in the present deplorable state of affairs, but have wisely remained quiet. They have done nothing to impair their rights, or to disturb the cordial friendship between them and their white brothers. Weak, defenceless, and scattered over a large section of country, in the peaceful pursuits of agricultural life, without hostility to any State, and with friendly feelings towards all, they hope to be allowed to remain so, under the solemnly conviction that they should not be called upon to participate in the threatened fratricidal war between the “United” and the “Confederate” States, and that persons gallantly tenacious of their own rights will respect those of others.

If the pending conflict were with a foreign foe, the Cherokees, as they have done in times past, would not hesitate to lend their humble cooperation. But, under existing circumstances, my wish, advice, arid hope are, that we shall be allowed to remain strictly neutral. Our interests all centre in peace. We do not wish to forfeit our rights or to incur the hostility of any people, and least of all, of the people of Arkansas, with whom our relations are so numerous and intimate. We do not wish our soil to become the battle-ground between the States, and our homes to be rendered desolate and miserable by the horrors of a civil war. If such war should not be averted yet by some unforeseen agency, but shall occur, my own position will be to take no part in it whatever, and to urge the like course upon the Cherokee people, by whom, in my opinion, it will be adopted. We hope that all military movements, whether from the North or the South, will be outside of our limits, and that no apprehension of a want of sincere friendship on our part will be cherished anywhere, and least of all by the people of your State.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John Ross, Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation. J. R. Kannady, Lieut. Commanding, Fort Smith, Ark.

With the above Ross enclosed a letter signed by several residents of Boonsboroa, Arkansas, inquiring whether he intended to cooperate with the Northern or Southern States, and hoping to find him and his people allies and active friends. The concluding part of this communication grows more hostile in its tone, and says:--“But if, unfortunately, you prefer to retain your connection with the Northern Government, and give them aid and comfort, we want to know that, as we prefer an open enemy to a doubtful friend.”

Again Ross expresses his neutrality in the troubles between the two sections, and says:--

A residence of more than twenty years in your immediate vicinity can leave no room for doubt as to my friendship for the people of Arkansas; but if my present position does not constitute us “as active friends” as you might desire us to be, you will not surely regard us as an enemy. You are fully aware of the peculiar circumstances of our condition, and will not expect us to destroy our national and individual rights, and bring around our hearthstones the horrors and desolations of a civil war prematurely and unnecessarily. I am — the Cherokees are — your friends and the friends of your people; but we do not wish to be brought into the feuds between yourselves and your Northern brethren.

Our wish is for peace; peace at home, and peace among you. We will not disturb it as it now exists, nor interfere with the rights of the people of the States anywhere. War is more prospective than real. It has not been declared by the United or Confederate States. It may not be. I most devoutly hope it might not be. Your difficulties may be ended soon by compromise or peaceful separation. What will then be our situation if we now abrogate our rights, when no one else is, or can just now be, bound for them? All these questions present themselves to us and constrain us to avow a position of strict neutrality. That position I shall endeavor honestly to maintain. The Cherokee Nation will not interfere with your rights nor invade your soil, nor will I doubt that the people of Arkansas and other States will be alike just toward the Cherokee people.

With my best wishes for you personally, I have the. honor to be, very respectfully, your friend and obedient servant,


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