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Lot 18: (AMERICAN INDIANS.) Ross, John; et al. Manuscript petition from the Cherokees, pleading to be spared from the Trail of Tears.
Auction House: Swann Auction Galleries
Auction Location: New York, NY, USA
Auction Title: PRINTED & MANUSCRIPT AMERICANA
Auction Date: September 30, 2010
Description: "LET NOT OUR DESERTED HOMES BECOME THE MONUMENTS OF DESOLATIONS! " (AMERICAN INDIANS.) Ross, John; et al. Manuscript petition from the Cherokees, pleading to be spared from the Trail of Tears. 13 leaves, each about 15 1/2 x 10 inches, originally joined together in a scroll; some edge wear with loss of text, but professionally conserved. [Red Clay Council Ground, Cherokee Nation, TN], [28 September] 1836
Condition: All items are offered for sale subject to Swann Galleries' standard terms and conditions of sale, which are published in our catalogues.
Notes: A minority faction of Cherokees signed the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, agreeing that the Cherokee nation would peacefully relocate to what is now Oklahoma in accordance with President Jackson's Indian removal policy. This treaty was executed without the knowledge or consent of John Ross, the duly elected chief of the Cherokees, or his thousands of followers. The United States had recognized Cherokee sovereignty over their reservation in northwestern Georgia since the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell. Hoping to retain that sovereignty, Ross drafted this petition to the United States Congress, pleading to have the Treaty of New Echota revoked or renegotiated.
John Ross (1790-1866) was of mixed Scottish and Cherokee ancestry, and spoke and wrote English fluently as his first language. This important petition appeared in print as part of the 1837 pamphlet "Letter from John Ross, the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation." It has since been frequently anthologized due to its great eloquence and historical significance, particularly its closing paragraph:
"We are, indeed, an aflicted people! Our spirits are subdued! Despair has well nigh siezed upon our energies! But we speak to the representatives of a Christian country; the friends of justice; the patrons of the oppressed. And our hopes revive, and our prospects brighten, as we indulge the thought. On your sentence our fate is suspended. Prosperity or desolation depends on your word. To you, therefore, we look! Before your august assembly we present ourselves, in the attitude of deprecation and of entreaty. On your kindness, on your humanity, on your compassions, on your benevolence, we rest our hopes. To you, we address our reiterated prayers. Spare our people! Spare the wreck of our prosperity! Let not our deserted homes become the monuments of desolations! But we forbear! We suppress the agonies which wring our hearts, when we look at our wives, our children, and our venerable sires! We restrain the forebodings of anguish and distress, of misery and devastation and death, which must be the attendants on the execution of this ruinous compact."
The faith here placed in the profound moral weight of the United States government proved to be unjustified. The official response to this petition was a 3 November military order under the authority of President Andrew Jackson, announcing that "no delegation . . . will be received or recognised, nor will any intercourse be had with them," and specifically threatening that any further messages from Ross and his council would be "promptly repressed." Two years later, the Cherokees were forcibly removed from their land in accordance with the dubious treaty, and sent to Oklahoma as the last of the five tribes to march down the Trail of Tears. John Ross's wife died on the trail, but he survived the trek and remained chief of the Cherokees until his death in 1866.
The first three leaves contain the petition text in an unknown secretarial hand. The remainder of the leaves contain the autograph signatures of Cherokee Executive Council members John Ross, George Lowrey, Edward Guntee, and Lewis Ross, plus approximately 2200 other names apparently recorded in secretarial hands, many of them in Sequoyah's Cherokee script. It is docketed "Credentials &c of the Cherokee delegation from the Eastern Cherokees."with--a fragment of the original manuscript cover note of the same date, "Proceedings of the Cherokee Nation in General Council."
http://www.artfact.com/auction-lot/amer … dfe87f0d27
This manuscript belongs to the Cherokee. It shouldn't be auctioned like this, going to the highest bidder. I realize this isn't protected under NAGPRA, but there should be something protecting artifacts like this. EBCI, CN, and UKB should do something.