On May 28,
1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act,
formalizing his administration's policy of sending to the West Indians
living east of the Mississippi River on lands desired by whites. During
the next decade, the U.S. government pursued the removal of the
southeastern tribes through treaties negotiated in a manner some would
call forceful. The effort to force Cherokees from their lands in
Georgia produced the Treaty of New Echota, signed by a small
faction of the Cherokee Nation in 1835.
The majority of the Cherokees refused to leave their homes in Georgia
and sued the state of Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court in order to
prevent their removal. When Secretary of War Lewis Cass and President
Jackson grew impatient with the Cherokees, they acted unilaterally by
authorizing the Reverend John F. Schermerhorn to sign a treaty with a
group of Cherokees who had concluded that further resistance was futile.
Led by Major Ridge, his son John Ridge, and his nephews Elias Boudinot
and Stand Watie, this group signed a treaty at New Echota, Georgia, on
December 29, 1835. The agreement exchanged title to all Cherokee lands
east of the Mississippi for $5 million dollars and a large tract in
Oklahoma. Despite the protests by the Cherokee National Council and John
Ross, the principal chief, the U.S. Senate ratified the Treaty of New
Echota in May 1836.
After signing the New Echota treaty, Ridge and his group left for
Oklahoma. Chief Ross and the majority of the tribe continued to resist,
however, arguing that the treaty was invalid because it had not been
properly ratified. In April 1838, Ross submitted a petition containing
15,665 signatures to Congress, requesting that the United States void
the Cherokee removal treaty. In May the War Department sent General
Winfield Scott to Georgia to round up the resisting tribesmen and begin
their removal. This began the migration known as the Trail of Tears,
during which the tribe moved west, losing one quarter of its number in
the process. In June of the following year, three of the men who had
signed the Treaty of New Echota—John Ridge, Elias Boudinot, and Major
Ridge were killed by some Cherokees as a punishment for selling the
tribe's lands in Georgia.
Below is a map of 1830 Cherokee - this will help those researching to
better understand the area of that time and how it was laid out.