The Cherokee War, 1759-1761
The environment provided many advantages as well as hardships to the colonists who came to America. Sometimes, both were found in the same source. That is exactly how many whites viewed the Native Americans who inhabited North America before the arrival of Europeans and who in the eighteenth century lived in a precarious relationship with whites.
In 1759 the Cherokees, long the allies of the colonists, entered into war with colonists of South Carolina. This war, known as the Cherokee War, lasted from the fall of 1759 to the fall of 1761. The war was the largest single concerted effort made by an individual Indian nation against white colonists during the eighteenth century; the Cherokees were the largest single group of Native Americans not bound together in a confederation of tribes. In fact, one writer to newspapers estimated that the Cherokee nation had three times the members of the famous Six Nations confederacy of New York.1
Cherokee sovereignty, along with that of the Six Nations, had been unmatched in the colonial era. When the French and Indian War began in 1754 (see Chapter 14), Southern colonists had been quick to point out that the Cherokees were their best defense against invasion. As one Virginian said, "[C]ould we secure the Friendship . . . of the Cherokees alone . . . they would undoubtedly prove the best Defence of our Frontiers." Yet the same writer also pointed out that the Cherokees could be the most dangerous of adversaries. "Suppose the Cherokees, break down upon us like a Torrent," he warned, "how terrible would be the Conse-