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Request by Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross to the Cherokee National Committee

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  • Knight Hawk
    Request by Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross to the Cherokee National Committee and National Council to ratify the treaty signed with the Confederate States
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 19, 2010
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      Request by Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross to the Cherokee National Committee and National Council to ratify the treaty signed with the Confederate States of America



      Message of the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

      The National Committee and Council in National Council convened:

      FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: Since the last meeting of the National Council events have occurred that will occupy a prominent place in the history of the world. The United States have been dissolved and two governments now exist. Twelve of the States composing the late Union have erected themselves into a government under the style of the Confederate States of America, and, as you know, are now engaged in a war for their independence. The contest thus far has been attended with success almost uninterrupted on their side and marked by brilliant victories. Of its final result there seems to be no ground for a reasonable doubt. The unanimity and devotion of the people of the Confederate States must sooner or later secure their success over all opposition and result in the establishment of their independence and a recognition of it by the other nations of the earth.

      At the beginning of the conflict I felt that the interests of the Cherokee people would be best maintained by remaining quiet and not involving themselves in it prematurely. Our relations had long existed with the United States Government and bound us to observe amity and peace alike with all the States. Neutrality was proper and wise so long as there remained a reasonable probability that the difficulty between the two sections of the Union would be settled, as a different course would have placed all our rights in jeopardy and might have led to the sacrifice of the people. But when there was no longer any reason to believe that the Union of the States would be continued there was no cause to hesitate as to the course the Cherokee Nation should pursue. Our geographical position and domestic institution allied us to the South, while the developments daily made in our vicinity and as to the purposes of the war waged against the Confederate States clearly pointed out the path of interest.

      These considerations produced a unanimity of sentiment among the people as to the policy to be adopted by the Cherokee Nation, which was clearly expressed in their general meeting held at Tahlequah on the 21st of August last. A copy of the proceedings of that meeting is submitted for your information.

      In accordance with the declarations embodied in the resolutions then adopted the Executive Council deemed it proper to exercise the authority conferred upon them by the people there assembled. Messengers were dispatched to Gen. Albert Pike, the distinguished Indian Commissioner of the Confederate States, who, having negotiated treaties with the neighboring Indian nations, was then establishing relations between his Government and the Comanches and other Indians in the Southwest, who bore a copy of the proceedings of the meeting referred to, and a letter from the executive authorities, proposing on behalf of the nation to enter into a treaty of alliance, defensive and offensive, with the Confederate States.

      In the exercise of the same general authority, and to be ready as far as practicable to meet any emergency that might spring up on our northern border, it was thought proper to raise a regiment of mounted men and tender its services to Gen. McCulloch. The people responded with alacrity to the call, and it is believed the regiment will be found as efficient as any other like number of men. It is now in the service of the Confederate States for the purpose of aiding in defending their homes and the common rights of the Indian nations about us. This regiment is composed of ten full companies, with two reserve companies, and, in addition to the force previously authorized to be raised to operate outside of the nation by Gen. McCulloch, will show that the Cherokee people are ready to do all in their power in defense of the Confederate cause, which has now become their own. And it is to be hoped that our people will spare no means to sustain them, but contribute liberally to supply any want of comfortable clothing for the approaching season.

      In years long since past our ancestors met undaunted those who would invade their mountain homes beyond the Mississippi. Let not their descendants of the present day be found unworthy of them, or unable to stand by the chivalrous men of the South by whose side they may be called to fight in self-defense. The Cherokee people do not desire to be involved in war, but self-preservation fully justifies them in the course they have adopted, and they will be recreant to themselves if they should not sustain it to the utmost of their humble abilities.

      A treaty with the Confederate States has been entered into and is now submitted for your ratification. In view of the circumstances by which we are surrounded and the provisions of the treaty it will be found to be the most important ever negotiated on behalf of the Cherokee Nation, and will mark a new era in its history. Without attempting a recapitulation of all its provisions, some of its distinguishing features may be briefly enumerated.

      The relations of the Cherokee Nation are changed from the United to the Confederate States, with guarantees of protection and a recognition in future negotiations only of its constitutional authorities. The metes and boundaries, as defined by patent from the United States, are continued, and a guarantee given for the neutral land or a fair consideration in case it should be lost by war or negotiation, and an advance thereon to pay the national debt and to meet other contingencies. The payment of all our annuities and the security of all our investments are provided for. The jurisdiction of the Cherokee courts over all members of the nation, whether by birth, marriage, or adoption, is recognized.

      Our title to our lands is placed beyond dispute. Our relations with the Confederate States is that of a ward; theirs to us that of a protectorate, with powers restricted. The district court, with a limited civil and criminal jurisdiction, is admitted into the country instead of being located in Van Buren, as was the United States court. This is perhaps one of the most important provisions of the treaty, and secures to our own citizens the great constitutional right of trial by a jury of their vicinage, and releases them from the petty abuses and vexations of the old system, before a foreign jury and in a foreign country. It gives us a Delegate in Congress on the same footing with Delegates from the Territories, by which our interests can be represented; a right which has long been withheld from the nation and which has imposed upon it a large expense and great injustice. It also contains reasonable stipulation in regard to the appointing powers of the agent and in regard to licensed traders. The Cherokee Nation may be called upon to furnish troops for the defense of the Indian country, but is never to be taxed for the support of any war in which the States may be engaged.

      The Cherokee people stand upon new ground. Let us hope that the clouds which overspread the land will be dispersed and that we shall prosper as we have never before done. New avenues to usefulness and distinction will be opened to the ingenuous youth of the country. Our rights of self-government will be more fully recognized, and our citizens be no longer dragged off upon flimsy pretexts, to be imprisoned and tried before distant tribunals. No just cause exists for domestic difficulties. Let them be buried with the past and only mutual friendship and harmony be cherished.

      Our relations with the neighboring tribes are of the most friendly character. Let us see that the while path which leads from our country to theirs be obstructed by no act of ours, and that it be open to all those with whom we may be brought into intercourse.

      Amid the excitement of the times it is to be hoped that the interests of education will not be allowed to suffer and that no interruption be brought into the usual operations of the government. Let all its officers continue to discharge their appropriate duties.

      As the services of some of your members may be required elsewhere and all unnecessary expense should be avoided, I respectfully recommend that the business of the session be promptly discharged.

      JNO. ROSS.

      EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
      Tahlequah, C.N.
      October 9, 1861.
    • Knight Hawk
      Request by Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross to the Cherokee National Committee and National Council to ratify the treaty signed with the Confederate States
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 17, 2012
      • 0 Attachment
        Request by Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross to the Cherokee National Committee
        and National Council to ratify the treaty signed with the Confederate States of
        America

        Message of the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

        The National Committee and Council in National Council convened:

        FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: Since the last meeting of the National Council
        events have occurred that will occupy a prominent place in the history of the
        world. The United States have been dissolved and two governments now exist.
        Twelve of the States composing the late Union have erected themselves into a
        government under the style of the Confederate States of America, and, as you
        know, are now engaged in a war for their independence. The contest thus far has
        been attended with success almost uninterrupted on their side and marked by
        brilliant victories. Of its final result there seems to be no ground for a
        reasonable doubt. The unanimity and devotion of the people of the Confederate
        States must sooner or later secure their success over all opposition and result
        in the establishment of their independence and a recognition of it by the other
        nations of the earth.

        At the beginning of the conflict I felt that the interests of the Cherokee
        people would be best maintained by remaining quiet and not involving themselves
        in it prematurely. Our relations had long existed with the United States
        Government and bound us to observe amity and peace alike with all the States.
        Neutrality was proper and wise so long as there remained a reasonable
        probability that the difficulty between the two sections of the Union would be
        settled, as a different course would have placed all our rights in jeopardy and
        might have led to the sacrifice of the people. But when there was no longer any
        reason to believe that the Union of the States would be continued there was no
        cause to hesitate as to the course the Cherokee Nation should pursue. Our
        geographical position and domestic institution allied us to the South, while the
        developments daily made in our vicinity and as to the purposes of the war waged
        against the Confederate States clearly pointed out the path of interest.

        These considerations produced a unanimity of sentiment among the people as to
        the policy to be adopted by the Cherokee Nation, which was clearly expressed in
        their general meeting held at Tahlequah on the 21st of August last. A copy of
        the proceedings of that meeting is submitted for your information.

        In accordance with the declarations embodied in the resolutions then adopted the
        Executive Council deemed it proper to exercise the authority conferred upon them
        by the people there assembled. Messengers were dispatched to Gen. Albert Pike,
        the distinguished Indian Commissioner of the Confederate States, who, having
        negotiated treaties with the neighboring Indian nations, was then establishing
        relations between his Government and the Comanches and other Indians in the
        Southwest, who bore a copy of the proceedings of the meeting referred to, and a
        letter from the executive authorities, proposing on behalf of the nation to
        enter into a treaty of alliance, defensive and offensive, with the Confederate
        States.

        In the exercise of the same general authority, and to be ready as far as
        practicable to meet any emergency that might spring up on our northern border,
        it was thought proper to raise a regiment of mounted men and tender its services
        to Gen. McCulloch. The people responded with alacrity to the call, and it is
        believed the regiment will be found as efficient as any other like number of
        men. It is now in the service of the Confederate States for the purpose of
        aiding in defending their homes and the common rights of the Indian nations
        about us. This regiment is composed of ten full companies, with two reserve
        companies, and, in addition to the force previously authorized to be raised to
        operate outside of the nation by Gen. McCulloch, will show that the Cherokee
        people are ready to do all in their power in defense of the Confederate cause,
        which has now become their own. And it is to be hoped that our people will spare
        no means to sustain them, but contribute liberally to supply any want of
        comfortable clothing for the approaching season.

        In years long since past our ancestors met undaunted those who would invade
        their mountain homes beyond the Mississippi. Let not their descendants of the
        present day be found unworthy of them, or unable to stand by the chivalrous men
        of the South by whose side they may be called to fight in self-defense. The
        Cherokee people do not desire to be involved in war, but self-preservation fully
        justifies them in the course they have adopted, and they will be recreant to
        themselves if they should not sustain it to the utmost of their humble
        abilities.

        A treaty with the Confederate States has been entered into and is now submitted
        for your ratification. In view of the circumstances by which we are surrounded
        and the provisions of the treaty it will be found to be the most important ever
        negotiated on behalf of the Cherokee Nation, and will mark a new era in its
        history. Without attempting a recapitulation of all its provisions, some of its
        distinguishing features may be briefly enumerated.

        The relations of the Cherokee Nation are changed from the United to the
        Confederate States, with guarantees of protection and a recognition in future
        negotiations only of its constitutional authorities. The metes and boundaries,
        as defined by patent from the United States, are continued, and a guarantee
        given for the neutral land or a fair consideration in case it should be lost by
        war or negotiation, and an advance thereon to pay the national debt and to meet
        other contingencies. The payment of all our annuities and the security of all
        our investments are provided for. The jurisdiction of the Cherokee courts over
        all members of the nation, whether by birth, marriage, or adoption, is
        recognized.

        Our title to our lands is placed beyond dispute. Our relations with the
        Confederate States is that of a ward; theirs to us that of a protectorate, with
        powers restricted. The district court, with a limited civil and criminal
        jurisdiction, is admitted into the country instead of being located in Van
        Buren, as was the United States court. This is perhaps one of the most important
        provisions of the treaty, and secures to our own citizens the great
        constitutional right of trial by a jury of their vicinage, and releases them
        from the petty abuses and vexations of the old system, before a foreign jury and
        in a foreign country. It gives us a Delegate in Congress on the same footing
        with Delegates from the Territories, by which our interests can be represented;
        a right which has long been withheld from the nation and which has imposed upon
        it a large expense and great injustice. It also contains reasonable stipulation
        in regard to the appointing powers of the agent and in regard to licensed
        traders. The Cherokee Nation may be called upon to furnish troops for the
        defense of the Indian country, but is never to be taxed for the support of any
        war in which the States may be engaged.

        The Cherokee people stand upon new ground. Let us hope that the clouds which
        overspread the land will be dispersed and that we shall prosper as we have never
        before done. New avenues to usefulness and distinction will be opened to the
        ingenuous youth of the country. Our rights of self-government will be more fully
        recognized, and our citizens be no longer dragged off upon flimsy pretexts, to
        be imprisoned and tried before distant tribunals. No just cause exists for
        domestic difficulties. Let them be buried with the past and only mutual
        friendship and harmony be cherished.

        Our relations with the neighboring tribes are of the most friendly character.
        Let us see that the while path which leads from our country to theirs be
        obstructed by no act of ours, and that it be open to all those with whom we may
        be brought into intercourse.

        Amid the excitement of the times it is to be hoped that the interests of
        education will not be allowed to suffer and that no interruption be brought into
        the usual operations of the government. Let all its officers continue to
        discharge their appropriate duties.

        As the services of some of your members may be required elsewhere and all
        unnecessary expense should be avoided, I respectfully recommend that the
        business of the session be promptly discharged.

        JNO. ROSS.

        EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
        Tahlequah, C.N.
        October 9, 1861. 
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