Cherokees! The President of the United States has sent me
with a powerful army, to cause you, in obedience to the
treaty of 1835
, 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
Landing or to Gunters 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: Microfilm M1475. (NARA, National Archives
and Records Administration)
Correspondence of the Eastern Division Pertaining to Cherokee Removal,
April 1838-December 1838. M1475. 2 rolls. DP.
The records reproduced in this microfilm publication were sent and (mostly)
received by Bvt. Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott, commanding officer of the Eastern Division, and
his staff while stationed in eastern Tennessee. The correspondence deals with the arrival,
organization, logistics, discipline, activities, departure, and muster-out of Regular Army
and state troops; reltations among the Regular Army, state volunteers and militia, white settlers,
and Cherokees; transportation of the Cherokees west; and the conditions of the march to Indian