Sequoyah and the Invention of the Cherokee Alphabet

By April R. Summitt | Go to book overview

Short Biographies
of Key Figures

Elias Boudinot (1802–1839)

Elias Boudinot is most famous for serving as the first editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, which began in 1828. He was born Gallegina, the eldest son of Oo-wa-tie, a Cherokee full blood plantation owner, slaveholder, and Christian convert. After his father had him baptized at the Moravian mission in north Georgia, his name was changed to Buck Watie. He attended the mission school there and was eventually sent to a mission boarding school in Cornwall, Connecticut. On his way there, he met Elias Boudinot, former president of the Second Continental Congress and then head of the American Bible Society. Watie was so impressed by the man that he asked permission to use his name and would be known for the rest of his life as Elias Boudinot.

Boudinot fell in love with Harriet Ruggles Gold, a local white woman. Their engagement created uproar in the local community, where people strongly opposed mixed-race marriages. The controversy forced the school to close completely, and Boudinot and his new wife returned to the Cherokee nation in 1826. He then worked with the missionary Samuel Worcester to create and operate a printing press for the new bilingual newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix. Serving as editor of the press from until 1832, Boudinot wrote numerous editorials arguing against removal. He used the paper as a forum to protest against federal Indian policy and to educate his fellow Cherokee about the serious issues at stake.

As conditions in north Georgia began to deteriorate for the Cherokee, Boudinot vigorously defended Cherokee sovereignty and criticized state and federal policies. Eventually, however, Boudinot became convinced that there was no hope for the Cherokee in Georgia, that the federal government would not restrain Georgians, and that they would destroy the nation. As a lesser of two evils, Boudinot came to believe that emigration west of the Mississippi was necessary for Cherokee national survival. Because he began to support signing a treaty and moving west, he found himself at

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Sequoyah and the Invention of the Cherokee Alphabet
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chronology xiii
  • One - Growing Up Cherokee 1
  • Two - Sequoyah and the "Talking Leaves" 21
  • Three - The Cherokee Nation after Sequoyah 41
  • Four - Reading and Writing Cherokee 59
  • Five - Sequoyah, Real and Imagined 73
  • Short Biographies of Key Figures 87
  • Primary Documents 95
  • Glossary 139
  • Annotated Bibliography 147
  • Index 157
  • About the Author 165
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