In 1809 the Cherokees began to enact laws by the National Council. In 1819 they adopted a commission form of government with legislative powers vested in a committee of thirteen elected members. Then in 1820 the Nation was apportioned into eight districts, each represented in the council by four salaried members chosen by popular election every two years. As the tribe became increasingly sedentary and agrarian, its institutions grew more complex and sophisticated. The people placed additional demands upon their leaders and government for equity, protection, and services. Therefore, on July 26, 1827, a convention of delegates duly authorized by the Cherokee people met in assembly at New Echota and ratified and adopted a constitution closely patterned after that of the United States. The National Council then became a legislative body composed of two houses, comparable to the United States Congress. The principal chief and the second chief, at first chosen by the National Committee and then by the National Council, were now to be elected by popular vote. Consequently, in order to provide responsive government more adequately, the Cherokees became the first Indian tribe to adopt a written constitution.
The new constitution contained the following sections directly related to black slavery.
Article III, Section 4: No person shall be elegible to a seat in the General Council, but a free Cherokee male citizen, who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years. The descendants of Cherokee men by all free women, except the
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Publication information: Book title: Red over Black:Black Slavery among the Cherokee Indians. Contributors: R. Halliburton Jr. - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1977. Page number: 50.
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