• Cherokee Removal And The Debts of Chief John Ross; Last Confederate General To Surrender

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    Autograph Letter Signed by Stand Watie to Commissioner of Indian Affairs T. Hartly Crawford, conveying to him and endorsing the requests of Cherokee James Starr to investigate the claim that the U.S. Government owed [John] Ross $100, and to pay various debts incurred by Ross.  


    2 pp, 8 x 9 ¾, Washington, 15 April 1840, as follows, ". . . James Starr, one of the Cherokee Indians, . . . wishes me to inform you that 'When Capt. Page was in this County, he informed me that there were yet in the hands of the Gov't $100.00 of . . . [Mrs?] Ross's funds, which she refused . . . at the old agency. There are yet many persons to whom Mr. Ross is indebted for services rendered him in the removal of the detachment conducted by his agents. . . . He is indebted beyond the amount paid him $13,800 to George H. Starr $6,500...and many others have claims of a similar nature. Could you make arrangements with the Gov't by which those claims could be secured . . . . I am confident he does not intend to pay them . . . I believe the reason why he thus far refused to pay them . . . is intirely owing to a difference in politicks. . .Could any arrangement be made by which these claims might be satisfied? I should think it would be but even handed. The contract with Mr. Ross for the Cherokees removal was so liberal in its provisions that his ability to satisfy all the persons whom he employed cannot be questioned. I must therefore request an answer for my friends on a subject which you will see is important to the claimants...Stand Watie.”

    "The contract with Mr. Ross for the Cherokee Removal was so liberal in its provisions that his ability to satisfy all the persons whom he employed cannot be questioned. I must therefore request an answer for my friends . . . the claimants." 


    With integral blank; complete separations at folds repaired on verso with tissue, some loss from seal tear to few words of text at middle right, faint scattered soiling. A spectacular historical letter involving Indian removal ordered by the Federal Government.


    JOHN ROSS (October 3, 1790 – August 1, 1866) influenced the Indian nation through such tumultuous events as the relocation to Indian Territory and during the Civil War. He was the son of a Cherokee mother and a Scottish father. He was appointed an Indian agent in 1811. During the War of 1812, he served as adjutant of a Cherokee regiment under the command of Andrew Jackson. He went to Washington, DC, in 1816 as part of a Cherokee delegation to negotiate national boundaries, land ownership and white encroachment.  When he returned to the Cherokee Nation in 1817, he was elected to the National Council and became council president the following year. Ross was perceived as a man who could stand up to whites’ demands that the Cherokee cede their land and move beyond the Mississippi River. In his position, Ross rejected an offer of $200,000 from the U.S. Indian agent made for the Cherokee to voluntarily relocate.  In 1824, Ross boldly petitioned Congress for redress of Cherokee grievances, making the Cherokee the first tribe ever to do so.  Ross tried to stop white political powers from forcing the tribe to move.  The Federal government ordered the Army to move those who did not depart by 1838 in an action known as the “Trail of Tears.” About one fourth of the Cherokee died during the move. The dead included Ross’s wife, Quatie.  Ross tried unsuccessfully to restore political unity after his arrival in Indian Territory. Unknown people assassinated the leaders of the Treaty Party, except for STAND WATIE (December 12, 1806 – September 9, 1871) who escaped and became Ross’s most implacable foe.


    Watie was a leader of the Cherokee Nation and allied with the Confederacy. He was the only Native American to attain a general’s rank in the Civil War. He commanded the Confederate Indian Cavalry of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi. He became the last Confederate General to surrender after the war.


    In the late 1830s, Watie and his older brother Elias Boudinot were among Cherokee leaders who signed the Treaty of New Echota in 1835. The majority of the tribe opposed their action. In 1839, the brothers were attacked by assassins as were others in the Treaty Party.  All but Stand Watie were killed.  During the war and after, Watie served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation (1862 – 1866). He led the Southern Cherokee to Washington to sue for peace, hoping to have tribal divisions recognized. The U.S. government negotiated only with leaders who had sided with the Union. It recognized former chief John Ross as the principal chief in 1866 under a new treaty. Watie stayed out of politics during his last years, and tried to rebuild his plantation.


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