|CHIEF JACK'S MURDER TRIAL
Bicentennial Edition DPA, Athens,TN 1976
"The murder trial of James Foreman, a Cherokee Indian,
accused of killing another Cherokee, John Walker Jr., was conducted
before the Circuit Court of McMinn County in 1834 and became a 'cause celebre',
in the early history of Tennessee.
Some three years before his murder, John Walker, without
the Cherokee Nation, went to Washington, where with no authority to
one but himself, advanced the cause of the removal of the Cherokees
from East TN
and made rash statements about the temper of the Cherokee people and
the domineering attitude of the Chiefs who opposed the wishes of the government
in Washington. He and his actions were repudiated by a large part of the
Although known as "Chief Jack", Walker was never a chief
but was a
mixed breed of great ability and prominence among his people.
He is said to have been a man of superior education and
connections. He was repordedly educated in New Jersey.
His father was Major John Walker, famous as an officer
Cherokee forcess that fought under Andrew Jackson at the Horseshoe
Bend in the Creek war and the man who laid out the town of Calhoun from
a tract of land on the
Hiwassee River given to him by the national gov't. It was at his home
the county was
According to James Franklin Corn in Red Clay and Rattlesnake
Walker was killed between Benton Pike and his homeplace in Walker Valley,
ambush from behind and old chestnut tree. An Athens man, Dick
Jackson, was with Walker when the fatal shot was fired and reported that
the assailants were James
Foreman and Isaac Springston, also members of the Cherokee tribe.
The murder to Chief Jack was termed due to a personal conflict,
not of political nature, by an old Indian quoted by Cherokee historian
Moody. Others, however, feel that his murder stemmed from the intense
feeling on the part of the masses of the Nation against Walker and others
who advocated or helped negotiate the treaty of removal with agents of
In his trial Foreman insisted that the crime, if there
was a crime,
took place in Indian territory, involved only Cherokees, and was therefore
triable only before Indian tribunals; that the courts of the white man
were without jurisdiction.
His plea was sustained by the trial court, but on appeal
to the Supreme Court of TN, the judgement of the lower court was reversed
and the case remanded to the
Circuit Court of McMinn Co. for trial on the merits.
The Supreme Court took occasion to trace the title of Tennessee
lands back to the POPE and chronicled a detailed history of legislation
affecting the Indian tribes. It was that the white man took the Indian
lands by right of conquest...and that the laws of the U.S. purporting to
govern and protect the Indians were unconstitutional and without affect
Isaac Springston was also indicated for the crime but apparently
did not participate actively in the killing. While both were in jail at
Athens the Cherokees had a called meeting at Red Clay and raised a considerable
amount of money for their defense.
Info furnished by: Bill
The Cherokee Nation was instrumental in appealing Forman's
case to the U.S.
Supreme Court, but before a hearing was made the Cherokees of TN were
removed to the West and the appeal abandned. Foreman, in some manner, not
of record, was released and moved West where he became involved in a feud
among the Cherokees and is said to have taken an active part in the murders
of leaders of the so called treaty party. A short time later he was
killed in retalliation for his part in the killings."
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