The State of Tennessee
and the Federal Government
in Chickasaw Cessions and Treaties
A TNGenWeb History Presentation

From "The Chickasaw and Their Cessions,"
Compiled by Frederick Smoot, ©1996
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Ninth Congress
Sess. I Ch. 30, 31 1806.
An Act of Congress, 18 April 1806. (14)

Chap. XXXI. -- An Act to authorize the State of Tennessee to issue grants and perfect titles to certain lands therein described, and to settle the claims to the vacant and unappropriated lands within the same.

In the Act, Congress defined the limits of vacant and unappropriated land that would be open as lands north and east of the Congressional Line and established the legal description of that Line.

...beginning at the place where the eastern or main branch of Elk river shall intersect the southern boundary line of the state of Tennessee; from thence running due north, until said line shall intersect the northern or main branch of the Duck river, thence down the waters of Duck river, to the military boundary line, as established by seventh section of an act of the state of North Carolina, intituled 'An act for the relief of the officers and soldiers of the continental line, and for other purposes;' ([passed] in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three) thence with the military boundary line, west to the place where it intersects the Tennessee river; thence down the waters of the river Tennessee, to the place where the same intersects the northern boundary line of the state of Tennessee.

There is more in the Act, including protecting Indian title, identifying college and school lands, and establishing six-mile squares or townships. Congress' willingness to provide, when necessary, additional farmable land for settlement was also enacted ". . . south and west of the before described line."

South and west of the Congressional Line, the United States maintained control and the Chickasaw Nation held claim. The boundary between the Chickasaw Nation and the growing white settlement was the Congressional Line, except for the land that had been ceded by the Chickasaw in 1805. We find the Congressional Line does not exactly match the 1805 Chickasaw Cession Line. Maury County was erected in 1807, and Giles County in 1809. Parts of both of these counties fell into the Congressional Reservation. Here we see legal settlement in the Congressional Reservation on land north and east of the 1805 Chickasaw Cession Line.

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Surveyors' Districts (15)

As soon as Congress passed the 18 April 1806 Act, Tennessee passed an Act allowing the establishment of certain Surveyor's Districts. Parts of the 1st and 2nd Districts contained land that had been ceded in the Chickasaw Cession, 1805.

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Early History of Giles County (16)

In 1809, 1810 and 1811, U. S. Soldiers from Fort Hampton situated on Elk River four miles above its mouth, were sent out in the month of June to drive all the settlers off the Indian land as it was called, although some of the settlers had grants for their land. They acted very rascally; cut down the corn with large butcher knives, threw down and burned fences and houses and forced the settlers back over the line. . .

James McCallum mentions West of Campbellvill [sic], Weakly Creek, Shoal Creek and West of Prospect as the areas where the U. S. Army did their ". . . villainous work of removal and destruction . . ."

There is no doubt that settlers were crossing over the line and locating within the Reservation. This problem went far beyond Giles County and even Tennessee. Many settlers squatted on the Indian side of the public lands, hoping not to be noticed by the federal authorities. In 1809, U. S. authorities removed, by force, seventeen hundred settlers from Indian land near the Natchez Trace." (17)

Mr. [Felix] Grundy in a speech in the United States Senate in 1812, urged the early extinguishment of the Indian title to the lands West of Maury and Giles, embracing the Western and South-western part of Giles, and to the Mississippi River. ... (18)

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South and West of the Congressional Line
1811. -- Chapter 44. Article F.

...the courts of the counties of Maury and Giles respectively, shall, at the first County Court in each of said counties, after the first day of January next, proceed to elect a surveyor for each of said counties; and such surveyor or surveyors so appointed, shall be authorized to survey and procession all lands heretofore granted, which may lie within their respective counties and west of the Congressional Reservation Line, under the same rules, regulations and restrictions as surveyors and claimants are authorized to procession land in this State. (19)

Here, it appears that Tennessee was trying to gain control over the possibly illegal grants that she may have issued. In 1811, Tennessee still could not grant clear title west and south of the Congressional Line.

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Giles County and the "Indian Line"

Here, McCallum writes:

... the Chickasaw Indians' boundary line until September, 1816, ran from Lewis' Grove at the South-west corner of Maury County to Ditto's landing on the Tennessee River, and crossed Elk River two or three mils [sic] above Prospect, leaving the West and South-western portion of the County in Indian territory. (20)

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Go to Chickasaw Treaties -- 1816 and 1818

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This page was last updated 05 August 1998.