Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto first encountered the Cherokee
in 1540 he found a unified, peaceful nation of about 25,000
people. Some three hundred years later, almost to the year,
the Cherokee became a divided nation of people with little remaining
of their vast territory and national pride.
Cherokee coexisted peacefully with early settlers, but the white
man's lust for gold and land was all consuming and between 1684
and 1835 over 30 treaties chipped away at their original 135,000
square miles of Cherokee territory.
Cherokee issue was hotly debated in Congress for many years.
Sadly, speeches on behalf of the Cherokee by Henry Clay, Davy
Crockett, Daniel Webster and other prominent statesmen fell
on deaf ears. President
Jackson, whose life was ironically saved by
Chief Junaluska at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1812,
was the one who signed the final "Removal Treaty."
in the spring of 1837 and continuing through the fall of 1838,
the Cherokee people were rounded up and corralled into hastily
constructed stockades. So began the "Trail
of Tears," a 1,200 mile journey to unfamiliar land.
the command of General Winfield Scott, over 600 wagons, steamers
and keel boats moved about 16,000 Cherokee by land and by river.
The infamous journey took between 104 and 189 days, and before
they arrived in Oklahoma, torrential rains, ice storms, disease
and broken heartedness had claimed the lives of at least 4,000
men, women and children.
soldier who took part in the removal wrote, "I fought through
the War Between the States and have seen many men shot, but
the Cherokee Removal was the cruelest work I ever knew."
Thomas, an adopted Cherokee, purchased 56,000 acres which eventually
became the Qualla Boundary where the
Band of Cherokee Indians now reside.
Referencing Trail of Tears
of Tears - Cherokee Indians forcibly removed from North Georgia
History of The Trail of Tears
Removal Forts in Georgia
The Cherokee Trail of
Cherokee Trail of Tears
of Tears Association
Chapter of the Trail of Tears Assoc