Red over Black: Black Slavery among the Cherokee Indians

By R. Halliburton Jr. | Go to book overview

9 The Civil War

When the Civil War erupted in the United States, Principal Chief John Ross announced a position of neutrality for the Cherokee Nation. The Civil War polarized the Cherokees in much the same way as it did the United States. The powerful anti-Ross, proslavery faction, which had evolved under the leadership of Stand Watie, was openly Southern in sentiment.

Southern strategists, cognizant that the Indian Territory lying west of Arkansas, north of Texas, and south of Kansas could provide the South with sustenance for troops, bases for raids, and a highway to Texas, diligently sought to win over the Cherokee chiefs. Principal Chief John Ross was pressured by his neighbors to take a pro-Southern position, as the following letter indicates.

The State of Arkansas, Executive Department,
Little Rock, January 29, 1861.

To His Excellency John Ross,

Principal Chief Cherokee Nation:

Sir: It may now be regarded as almost certain that the States having slave property within their borders will in consequence of repeated Northern aggression, separate themselves and withdraw from the Federal Government. South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana have already, by action of the people, assumed this attitude. Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentuckey, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland will probably persue the same course by the 4th of March next.

Your people, in their institutions, productions, latitude, and natural sympathies, are allied to the common brotherhood of the slave-holding States.

-122-

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Red over Black: Black Slavery among the Cherokee Indians
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The Origins of Black Slavery in the Cherokee Country 3
  • Notes 16
  • 2 - Early Cherokee Planters and Plantations 20
  • Notes 29
  • 3 - Maturity and Westward Movement 32
  • Notes 46
  • 4 - The Last Decade in the East 50
  • Notes 59
  • 5 - The New Nation in the West 61
  • Notes 77
  • 6 - Great Runaway and Stricter Controls 80
  • Notes 91
  • 7 - Missionaries and Abolitionism 93
  • Notes 103
  • 8 - The Prewar Years 106
  • Notes 120
  • 9 - The Civil War 122
  • Notes 136
  • 10 - Conclusion 139
  • Appendix A 145
  • Appendix B 181
  • Appendix C - A Cherokee Adoption Rite 193
  • Notes 194
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 209
  • About the Author 219
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