The Removal of the Cherokee Nation: Manifest Destiny or National Dishonor?

By Louis Filler; Allen Guttmann | Go to book overview

Ulrich Bonnell Phillips:


THE EXPULSION OF THE CHEROKEES

Although the reputation of Ulrich Bonnell Phillips is based primarily upon his two studies of slavery--American Negro Slavery ( 1918) and Life and Labor in the Old South ( 1929)--he first received notice as a historian of his native Georgia. His monograph, Georgia and State Rights, was awarded the Justin Winsor Prize of the American Historical Association. The selection which follows is from this book. It provides an accurate and useful account of the facts of Cherokee expulsion.

AT the beginning of the American Revolution the hunting grounds of the Cherokees were conceded to extend from the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge to the neighborhood of the Mississippi River and from the Ohio River almost as far south as central Georgia. Most of their villages, however, were located in eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia. The settlement of the country by the whites, and the acquisitions of the Indian territory by them, was naturally along the lines of least resistance. That is to say, the Cherokees first ceded away their remote hunting grounds and held most tenaciously to the section in which their towns were situated.

At an early stage in the Revolution a body of militia from the Southern States made a successful attack upon the eastern villages of the Cherokees, who were in alliance with the British. The tribe was at once ready for peace, and signed a treaty with commissioners from Georgia and South Carolina at Dewits Corner, on May 20,1777, acknowledging defeat at the hands of the Americans, establishing peace, and yielding their title to a section of their lands, lying chiefly in South Carolina.

The Cherokee families which had lived upon the lands conquered now moved westward, extending the settlements of the tribe farther along the course of the Tennessee River. At the same time five new villages were built by the most warlike part of the nation on Chickamauga Creek and in the neighboring district southeast of Lookout Mountain. Before the end of the Revolution the Cherokees were again at war with the Americans, and Gen. Elijah Clarke led an expedition against this settlement on the Chickamauga. The sudden raid caused such terror in the Indian villages that the inhabitants eagerly promised great cessions of land in order to be rid of the invaders. Clarke

____________________
U. B. Phillips, "The Expulsion of the Cherokees," from Georgia & State Rights ( Washington: U.S. Gov. Printing Office, 1902), pp. 66-86. For complete footnotes in this and other selections, see original publications.

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