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Treaty Concluded October 25, 1805; Proclaimed April 24, 18061
The commissioners (Return J. Meigs and Daniel Smith) who were appointed and instructed under date of April 4, 1804, and who negotiated the treaty of October 24, 1804, with the Cherokees, it will be remembered, failed in the object of their instructions, except as to the single matter of securing the cession of a tract covering the settlement of Colonel Wafford and others near Currahee Mountain. They were, how-ever, directed to continue their negotiations from time to time until the full measure of their original instructions should be secured.
Treaties of October 25 and 27, 1805, considered
together. This course was pursued, and
after several fruitless conferences the commissioners succeeded in
concluding the treaties of October 25, 1805, and October 27, 1805.
Inasmuch as these two treaties were negotiated by the same
commissioners, acting under the same instructions and at the same
conference, they will be considered together. The treaties were upon
their conclusion transmitted to the Secretary of War,3
and, upon submission to the Senate, that body duly advised and
consented to their ratification. They were ratified and proclaimed
by the President on the 24th of April and 10th of June, 1806,
Purchase of site for State capital. The cession by the treaty of October 27, 1805, of the section of land at Southwest Point was secured upon the theory that the State of Tennessee would find Kingston a convenient and desirable place for the establishment of the State capital. A subsequent change of circumstances and public sentiment, however, caused it to be located seven years later at Nashville.
Boundaries surveyed. On the 11th of July, 1806, the Secretary of War notified Return J. Meigs of his appointment as commissioner to super-intend the running and marking of the line "from the junction of the fork at the head of which Fort Nash stood with the main south fork of Duck River to a point on the Tennessee River bank opposite the mouth of Hiwassee River." He was also to superintend the survey of the lines of the reserved tracts agreeably to the treaty of October 23, 1805.
He was directed to appoint a surveyor, but before
running the line from Duck to Tennessee Rivers above described, to
have him survey and mark the lines of the 3-mile tract reserved
opposite to and below the mouth of Hiwassee, and also, when
completed, to designate the most suitable site for the military
post, factory, and agency, each site to be 300 feet square and 40
rods distant from the others.
Controversy Concerning "Doublehead" Tract
Colonel Martin, who was employed by Commissioner Meigs, also surveyed under the latter's direction during the same month the four small reserved tracts described in the treaty of October 25, 1805.7 One of these afterwards produced much controversy. The language of the treaty called for three square miles on the north bank of Tennessee River, opposite to and below the mouth of Hiwassee River. Colonel Meigs, who was one of the commissioners who negotiated the treaty and was there-fore entirely familiar with its intent, caused this tract to be surveyed adjoining the main line of cession, extending from Duck River to the mouth of Hiwassee and north of that line, which placed the tract opposite to and above the mouth of Hiwassee,. instead of "opposite to and below" the mouth of that river.8
As above stated, while this reserve was ostensibly for the location of a military post and factory or trading establishment, it was really intended for the Cherokee chief Doublehead and other influential persons, as the price of their influence in securing from the Cherokees the extensive cession of land granted by the treaty.
This was sought to be secured by means of a secret article attached to the treaty. This article was reported to the War Department by the. treaty commissioners8 and made a matter of record, bat it was never sent to the State Department nor to the Senate for the advice and con-sent of that body. After Agent Meigs had erected the Hiwassee garrison buildings on the tract, suit was brought in 1809 by Colonel Mc-Lung against the agent for the recovery of the land and mesne profits, basing his claim to title upon a grant from the State of North Carolina, of date long prior to the treaty of 1805. The suit was decided in the plaintiff's favor by the Tennessee courts. Subsequently, in 183S, John Riley made application to the Government for compensation for the loss of his one-third interest in this tract. The question was submitted to the Attorney-General of the United States for his opinion. He decided that the secret article, not having been submitted to the Senate for approval, was not to be considered as any part of the treaty; but that, if the commissioners had any authority for making such an agreement, the defective execution of their powers ought not to prejudice parties acting in good faith and relying on their authority; nevertheless, no relief could be had except through the action of Congress.
This secret article was also applicable to the small tract at and below the mouth of Clinch River, to the 1 mile square at the foot of Climberland Mountain, and to the 1 mile square on the north bank of the Tennessee River, where Cherokee Talootiske lived. The first mentioned tract was also intended for the benefit of Doublehead, who leased it February 19, 1806, to Thomas H. Clark for twenty years. Before the expiration of the lease Doublehead was killed by some of his own people. December 10, 1820, the State of Tennessee assumed to grant the tract to Clark.9
The other two tracts alluded to of one square mile each were intended for Cherokee Talootiske. May 31, 1808, Talootiske perpetually leased his interest in the Cumberland Mountain tract to Thomas H. Clark. September 17, 1816, Clark purchased the interest of Robert Bell in the same tract, the latter deriving his alleged title under a grant from North Carolina to A. McCoy in July, 17 93. This tract was also included in a grant from North Carolina to J. W. Lackey and Starkey Donaldson, dated January 4, 1795. The tract on Tennessee River, Talootiske sold to Robert King, whose assigns also claimed the title under the aforesaid grant from North Carolina to Lackey and Donaldson.9
From the phraseology of the treaty in making these several reservations, it was concluded advisable in subsequent negotiations to secure a relinquishment of the tribal title thereto, which was done by the treaty of July 18, 1817.
Held at Washington City, D. C., between Henry Dearborn, Secretary of War, specially authorized thereto by the President of the United States, and certain chiefs and headmen of the Cherokee Nation, duly authorized and empowered by said nation.
This treaty is simply an elucidation of the first article of the treaty of January 7, 1806, and declares that the eastern limits of the tract ceded by the latter treaty "shall be bounded by a line so to be run from the upper end of the Chickasaw Old Fields, a little above the upper point of an island, called Chickasaw Island, as will most directly intersect the first waters of Elk River; thence carried to the great Cumberland Mountain, in which the waters of Elk River have their source; then along the margin of said mountain, until it shall intersect the lands heretofore ceded to the United States at the said Tennessee ridge."
In consideration of this concession, the United States agree to pay to the Cherokees $2,000 and to permit the latter to hunt upon the tract ceded until the increase of settlements renders it improper.
Shortly after the conclusion of the treaties of October 25 and 27, 1805, a delegation of Cherokee chiefs and headmen visited Washington. Messrs. Return J. Meigs and Daniel Smith, the commissioners who had negotiated those treaties, accompanied them.
The Secretary of War, Hon. Henry Dearborn, was specially deputized by the President to conduct negotiations with them for the purchase of such portions of their country as they might feel willing to sell, but more especially to extinguish their claim to the, region of territory lying to the north and east of Tennessee River and west of the head waters of Duck River.
The negotiations were concluded and the treaty was signed on the 7th of January, 1806,12 and the President transmitted the same to the Senate on the 24th of the same month ; but that body did not consent to its ratification for more than a year afterwards.13
At the time of the conclusion of this treaty, it was supposed by all .the parties thereto that the eastern limit of the cession therein defined would include all of the waters of Elk River, the impression being that the headwaters of Duck River had their source farther to the east than. those of the Elk.14 The region of country in question had for many years been claimed by both the Cherokees and the Chickasaws, and the Government of the United States, not desiring to incur the animosity of either of these Indian nations, had preferred rather to extinguish by purchase the claim of each. With this end in view, a treaty had already been concluded with the Chickasaws, under date of July 23, 1805,15 resulting in their relinquishment of all claim to the land north of Duck River lying east of the Tennessee and to a tract lying between Duck and Tennessee Rivers, on the north and south, and east of the Columbian Highway, so as to, include all the waters of Elk River. It had been the intention that theo eastern boundary of the cession made by both these nations should be coincident from the head of Chickasaw Island northward, but when the country came to be examined with a view to running the line, it was found that a strict adherence to the text of the Cherokee cession would leave about two hundred families of settlers on the headwaters of Elk River still within the Indian country.16 In the mean time the Chickasaws, having learned that the United States had purchased of the Cherokees their supposed claim to the territory as far west as the Tennessee River, including a large region of country to the westward of the limits of the cession of 1805 by the former, construed that fact as a recognition of the sole and absolute title of the Cherokees thereto, and became in consequence very much excited and angered. They were only pacified by an official letter of assurance from the Secretary of War, addressed to Maj. George Colbert, their principal chief,17 wherein he stated that in purchasing the Cherokee right to the tract in question the United States did not intend to destroy or impair the right of the Chickasaw Nation to the same; but that, being persuaded no actual boundary had ever been agreed on between the Chickasaws and Cherokees and that the Cherokees had some claim to a portion of the lands, it was thought advisable to purchase that claim, so that whenever the Chickasaws should be disposed to convey their title there should be no dispute with the Cherokees about it.
The Cherokees by this treaty also relinquished all claim they might have to the Long Island or Great Island, as it was sometimes called, of Holston River. This island was in reality outside the limits of the country assigned the Cherokees by the first treaty between them and the United States, at Hopewell, in 1785, but they had always since maintained that no cession had ever been made of it by them, and it was deemed wise to insert a specific clause in the treaty under consideration to that effect.18
Boundaries to be surveyed. Early in 180719 the Secretary of War notified Agent Meigs that Mr. Thomas Freeman had been appointed to survey and mark the boundary line conformably to both the treaty of 1805 with the Chickasaws and of 1806 with the Cherokees, as well as to survey the land ceded between the south line of Tennessee and the Tennessee River, lying west of the line from about the Chickasaw Old Fields to the most eastern source of Duck River. He was also advised that General Robertson and himself had been designated to attend and superintend the running of such boundary lines. Furthermore, that it was desirable that the eastern line of both cessions should be one and the same, for although by the Chickasaw treaty the whole waters of Elk River were included, it was evident their claim to any lands east of the line agreed upon by the Cherokees was more than doubtful; that, there-fore, the United States ought not to insist on such a line as would go to the eastward of the one defined in the Cherokee treaty, unless the latter could be prevailed upon to extend the same, in which event they were authorized to offer the Cherokees a moderate compensation there-for.
Explanatory Treaty Negotiated
This led, upon the assembly of the commissioners and surveyor at
Chickasaw Old Fields, in the fall of 1807 (for the purpose of
surveying and marking the boundary lines in question), to the
negotiation of an explanatory treaty with certain of the Cherokee
chiefs, on the 11th of September, 1807,1 whereby it was agreed that
the Cherokee cession line should be extended so far to the eastward
as to include all the waters of Elk River and thereby be made
coincident and uniform with the Chickasaw line.
President Jefferson transmitted this latter treaty to the Senate on the 29th of March, 1808, and having received the consent of that body to its ratification, it was proclaimed by the President on the 22d of April following.
1 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p.
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Bureau of Ethnology, Volume 5, Cherokee Nation of Indians, 1883-84
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