General Winfield Scott: Address to the Cherokee Nation

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General Winfield Scott's Address to the Cherokee Nation (May 10, 1838)

From the Cherokee Agency, Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott delivered an ultimatum to the Cherokees remaining in northern Georgia -- they had to go west, and they had to go now:

"Cherokees! The President of the United States has sent me with a powerful army, to cause you, in obedience to the treaty of 1835 [Treaty of New Echota], to join that part of your people who have already established in prosperity on the other side of the Mississippi. Unhappily, the two years which were allowed for the purpose, you have suffered to pass away without following, and without making any preparation to follow; and now, or by the time that this solemn address shall reach your distant settlements, the emigration must be commenced in haste, but I hope without disorder. I have no power, by granting a farther delay, to correct the error that you have committed. The full moon of May is already on the wane; and before another shall have passed away, every Cherokee man, woman and child in those states must be in motion to join their brethren in the far West.

My friends! This is no sudden determination on the part of the President, whom you and I must now obey. By the treaty, the emigration was to have been completed on or before the 23rd of this month; and the President has constantly kept you warned, during the two years allowed, through all his officers and agents in this country, that the treaty would be enforced.

I am come to carry out that determination. My troops already occupy many positions in the country that you are to abandon, and thousands and thousands are approaching from every quarter, to render resistance and escape alike hopeless. All those troops, regular and militia, are your friends. Receive them and confide in them as such. Obey them when they tell you that your can remain no longer in this country. Soldiers are as kind-hearted as brave, and the desire of every one of us is to execute our painful duty in mercy. We are commanded by the President to act towards you in that spirit, and much is also the wish of the whole people of America.

Chiefs, head-men and warriors! Will you then, by resistance, compel us to resort to arms? God forbid! Or will you, by flight, seek to hid yourselves in mountains and forests, and thus oblige us to hunt you down? Remember that, in pursuit, it may be impossible to avoid conflicts. The blood of the white man or the blood of the red man may be spilt, and, if spilt, however accidentally, it may be impossible for the discreet and humane among you, or among us, to prevent a general war and carnage. Think of this, my Cherokee brethren! I am an old warrior, and have been present at many a scene of slaughter, but spare me, I beseech you, the horror of witnessing the destruction of the Cherokees.

Do not, I invite you, even wait for the close approach of the troops; but make such preparations for emigration as you can and hasten to this place, to Ross's Landing or to Gunter's Landing, where you all will be received in kindness by officers selected for the purpose. You will find food for all and clothing for the destitute at either of those places, and thence at your ease and in comfort be transported to your new homes, according to the terms of the treaty.

This is the address of a warrior to warriors. May his entreaties by kindly received and may the God of both prosper the Americans and Cherokees and preserve them long in peace and friendship with each other!

Source: Edward J. Cashin (ed.), A Wilderness Still The Cradle of Nature: Frontier Georgia (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1994), pp. 137-38.

Recommended Viewing: The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy (2006), Starring: James Earl Jones and Wes Studi; Director: Chip Richie, Steven R. Heape. Description: The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is an engaging two hour documentary exploring one of America's darkest periods in which President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830 consequently transported Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation to the bleak and unsupportive Oklahoma Territory in the year 1838. Deftly presented by the talents of Wes Studi ("Last of the Mohicans" and "Dances with Wolves"), James Earl Jones, and James Garner, The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy also includes narrations of famed celebrities Crystal Gayle, Johnt Buttrum, Governor Douglas Wilder, and Steven R. Heape. Continued below...

Includes numerous Cherokee Nation members which add authenticity to the production… A welcome DVD addition to personal, school, and community library Native American history collections. The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is strongly recommended for its informative and tactful presentation of such a tragic and controversial historical occurrence in 19th century American history.

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Recommended Reading: Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. Description: One of the many ironies of U.S. government policy toward Indians in the early 1800s is that it persisted in removing to the West those who had most successfully adapted to European values. As whites encroached on Cherokee land, many Native leaders responded by educating their children, learning English, and developing plantations. Such a leader was Ridge, who had fought with Andrew Jackson against the British. Continued below...

As he and other Cherokee leaders grappled with the issue of moving, the land-hungry Georgia legislators, with the aid of Jackson, succeeded in ousting the Cherokee from their land, forcing them to make the arduous journey West on the infamous "Trail of Tears." ...A treasured addition for the individual remotely interested in American Indian history as well as general American history.

 

Recommended Reading: The Cherokee Nation: A History. Description: Conley's book, "The Cherokee Nation: A History" is an eminently readable, concise but thoughtful account of the Cherokee people from prehistoric times to the present day. The book is formatted in such a way as to make it an ideal text for high school and college classes. At the end of each chapter is a source list and suggestions for further reading. Also at the end of each chapter is an unusual but helpful feature- a glossary of key terms. The book contains interesting maps, photographs and drawings, along with a list of chiefs for the various factions of the Cherokee tribe and nation. Continued below...

In addition to being easily understood, a principal strength of the book is that the author questions some traditional beliefs and sources about the Cherokee past without appearing to be a revisionist or an individual with an agenda in his writing. One such example is when Conley tells the story of Alexander Cuming, an Englishman who took seven Cherokee men with him to England in 1730. One of the Cherokee, Oukanekah, is recorded as having said to the King of England: "We look upon the Great King George as the Sun, and as our Father, and upon ourselves as his children. For though we are red, and you are white our hands and hearts are joined together..." Conley wonders if Oukanekah actually said those words and points out that the only version we have of this story is the English version. There is nothing to indicate if Oukanekah spoke in English or Cherokee, or if his words were recorded at the time they were spoken or were written down later. Conley also points out that in Cherokee culture, the Sun was considered female, so it is curious that King George would be looked upon as the Sun. The "redness" of Native American skin was a European perception. The Cherokee would have described themselves as brown. But Conley does not overly dwell on these things. He continues to tell the story using the sources available. The skill of Conley in communicating his ideas never diminishes. This book is highly recommended as a good place to start the study of Cherokee history. It serves as excellent reference material and belongs in the library of anyone serious about the study of Native Americans.
 
Recommended Reading: Agent Of Destiny: The Life And Times Of General Winfield Scott (Hardcover). Description: It's about time somebody wrote a biography of Winfield Scott, and reading this fascinating account by accomplished military historian John S. D. Eisenhower, you'll wonder why nobody did it sooner. Scott's career spanned an astonishing 54 years and he spent most of it as a general. He was one of the few American heroes to emerge from the War of 1812; he launched a daring and successful invasion of Mexico in 1847; and he defended a vulnerable Washington, D.C., during the first months of the Lincoln administration in 1861. Scott was a profoundly courageous man with a flair for the organizational side of military life. Continued below...
Yet an unseemly amount of ambition and vanity marred his character, even as these qualities help make him an interesting subject for Eisenhower (who is, you guessed it, the son of Ike). Agent of Destiny is a skilled portrait of a man who is often overshadowed by the generation of Civil War leaders following him. Eisenhower deserves our thanks for writing this magnificent book about a vital figure.
 

Recommended Reading: Winfield Scott: The Quest for Military Glory (Hardcover). Description: One of the most important public figures in antebellum America, Winfield Scott is known today more for his swagger than his sword. "Old Fuss and Feathers" was a brilliant military commander whose tactics and strategy were innovative adaptations from European military theory; yet he was often underappreciated by his contemporaries and until recently overlooked by historians. Although John Eisenhower's recently published Agent of Destiny provides a solid summary of Scott's remarkable life, Timothy D. Johnson's much deeper critical exploration of this flawed genius will become the standard work. Thoroughly grounded in an essential understanding of nineteenth-century military professionalism, Johnson's work draws extensively on unpublished sources to reveal neglected aspects of Scott's life, present a complete view of his career, and accurately balance criticism and praise. Continued below…

Johnson dramatically relates the key features of Scott's career: how he led troops to victory in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, fought against the Seminoles and Creeks, and was instrumental in professionalizing the U.S. Army, which he commanded for two decades. He also tells how Scott tried to introduce French methods into army tactical manuals, and how he applied his study of the Napoleonic Wars during the Mexico City campaign but found European strategy of little use against Indians. Johnson further suggests that Scott's creation of an officer corps that boasted Grant, Lee, McClellan, and other veterans of the Mexican War raises important questions about his influence on Civil War generalship. More than a military history, this book explains how Scott's aristocratic pretensions were out of place with emerging notions of equality in Jacksonian America and made him an unappealing political candidate in his bid for the presidency. Johnson recounts the details of Scott's personality that alienated nearly everyone who knew him, as well as the unsavory methods Scott used to promote his career and the scandalous ways he attempted to alleviate his lifelong financial troubles. Although Scott's legendary vanity has tarnished his place among American military leaders, he also possessed great talent and courage. Johnson's biography offers the most balanced portrait available of Scott by never losing sight of the whole man.

Try the Search Engine for Related Studies: General Winfield Scott Address to the Cherokee Nation, Trail of Tears History, Indian Removal Act, The 1835 Treaty of New Echota, Cherokee Chief John Ross, Enforcement of Indian Removal Acts,  Cherokee History, 1830 Indian Removal Act, 1835 Treaty of New Echota, 1838 Trail of Tears, and Cherokee Culture and Customs.

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