A Reckless Falsehood (Monograph 23)

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Southern Advocate – Jackson, Missouri, May 4, 1838

From the Missouri Saturday News, influenced by Missouri Senator T. H. Benton,

In the National Gazette we have recently observed ‘a memorial of the Cherokee nation copied from a manuscript received from a private source.’ In the preliminary remarks of the editor, he complains of the perfidy of the government agents in negotiating with the Cherokees the treaty of removal. He adds a lament that

“they are to be driven, in June next, from a cultivated and comfortable home, to a sickly wilderness in the midst of savage tribes.”

National Gazette
Screenshot of https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/Map_of_Indian_territory_1836.png
The area reserved for the Cherokee people by the US Government in 1835

A Reckless Falsehood?

This last sentence is a reckless falsehood. The country to which they are going is bounded by Barry County, Missouri, on the east; and by the Quapaw and Seneca settlements on the south. These Indian neighbors are as far advanced in civilization as the Cherokees, and a much better people. The Osages reside northwesterly and west of the country of this band of the Cherokees. The Creek nation, which has emigrated and settled between the Neosho and the Verdigris (Rivers), reside south and southwest of the country which is given to the memorializing and complaining band of the Cherokees. The country which the National Gazette pronounces sickly, is as salubrious as the city of Philadelphia, and more fertile than any part of Pennsylvania. In making these assertions we wish it distinctly understood, that we do not discharge our sentiments in an off-hand, random manner; but speak from personal knowledge of the country and people (map) who reside on the border of the Cherokee bands.

Trust the Government, They Are Here to Civilize You…

We know nothing of the manner in which the treaty was negotiated with the Cherokees; but it is notorious that the settled policy of our government has long ago demonstrated that, all the Indians shall be removed beyond the boundaries of the Union and its Territories; and it is, therefore, superfluous to hold treaties at all with the fragments of tribes which have no national character. The only thing the government need feel malicious about is, the justice and liberality which all agree should be exercised in their removal. They are entitled to a good country in exchange for that which their interests and happiness require them to abandon, and fair remuneration for difference in value and expense of removal. The government have gone far beyond these claims – they have dealt munificently on this, as well as all other occasions. The idea of imposing suffering on the Cherokees, by placing them, in the vicinity of savage tribes, is preposterous. A people who reject with scorn every effort to civilize them, and who have acquired no more by their contiguity in white men than their vices, should, and they do, think themselves happy in the location assigned them by the treaty of which they complain. Those who have any just knowledge of the Indian character are aware that the remonstrances of the Cherokees are made merely for the purpose of extorting from the government some further gratuity, which they fancy will be given to quiet their memorializings.

Trust the Media, They Tell the Truth…

It is easy and perfectly natural for an editor of fine, benevolent feelings or one with vindictive party purposes, to sit at a distance and disconstrue prettily of philanthropy, oppression and flagrant injustice; but if he entertains any regard for his own reputation for truth and justice, he should study well the topography of the country which he attempts to describe, and the character of the Indians for whom he obviously has much gratuitous sympathy, before he utters assertions for which he hopes to obtain credence.

3D Diorama Along the Trail of Tears

By William Ambrose

On the western side of the state of Missouri, the Trail of Tears is generally the Springfield to St. Louis Road.  The General Land Office (GLO) surveyors, those earliest government surveyors who surveyed the unsettled frontier lands ahead of any land sales, were required to draw the existing roads on the township plats beginning at about the time they surveyed the western half of Missouri.  The Springfield to St. Louis Road was pre-historic – it was a trace on the ground from Springfield to St. Louis used by Native Americans for travel for trade and hunting long before Americans arrived in the state.  The GLOs were the building blocks of President Jefferson’s rectilinear survey system, known as the Public Land Survey System, created by the Land Ordinance of 1785, a federal law. The system was laid out in 6-mile-by-6-mile squares, each square being known by its north-south “Township” number and its east-west “Range” number. 


By William Ambrose

From 1837 to 1839, the Federal Government forcibly removed 17,000 Cherokees from their centuries-old homelands in Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Alabama.  The Cherokee families were rounded up at gunpoint by Federal troops, held prisoner in detention camps, divided up into detachments of about 1000 people, and then forced to walk the 1000 miles to “Indian Territory,” now Oklahoma. Approximately 4000 died during that process. 

If you have any suggestions, comments, or critiques please email Chris.Dunn@GeoVelo.com

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