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    Stand Watie Autograph Document Signed Twice, A Promissory Note With a Slave Child as Collateral. One page, 8" x 13.5", "Cherokee Nation, March 30th, 1857." Also known as Standhope Oowatie, Degataga, Stand Firm, and Isaac S. Watie, Stand Watie was a leader of the Cherokee Nation and a brigadier general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, commanding the Confederate Indian Cavalry composed of Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole warriors. Watie learned to read and write English at Moravian Mission School in Springplace, Georgia, and occasionally helped write for the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.

    This extremely unusual and desirable piece documents the loan of $400 to Watie by one William Jones, which Watie promises to repay at 10% interest within one year. As collateral for failure to pay, Watie promises to make good by giving one of his slaves to Jones. In part: "To secure the payment . . . a certain yellow boy named Jim, slave for life, about eleven years old, is hereby pledged. Now if the above mentioned note of four hundred Dollars shall remain unsettled and unsatisfied . . . the above named boy shall revert to William Jones as his own right and property, and I hereby warrant the little [boy] to be good and genuine." Signed twice by Watie, once with his added decorative "Seal." Docketed on verso as being "Settled in full."

    Among the most prominent Cherokee aristocrats at the time were the Watie and the Ridge families, who together owned most of the estimated 1,600 slaves held by the tribe. Records of the period show that by 1860, the Cherokees had 4,600 slaves; the Choctaws, 2,344; the Creeks, 1,532; the Chickasaws, 975; and the Seminoles, 500.

    When gold was discovered on Cherokee lands in northern Georgia, thousands of white settlers encroached on Indian lands. Despite federal treaties protecting Indians from state actions in 1832 Georgia, confiscated most of the Cherokee land. Stand Watie and his family were in favor of the removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma and were members of the Ridge Party (founded by the Ridge family) that signed the Treaty of New Echota which advocated this move. However, Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross and most of the Cherokee General Council were firmly against removal and refused to ratify it, so the Watie and Ridge families, their slaves, and many other Cherokees emigrated to the West. Those Cherokees who remained on tribal lands in the East were later forcibly removed by the U.S. government in 1838 in a journey known as the Trail of Tears, during which thousands died.

    At the time this letter was written, Watie was a member and sometime speaker of the Cherokee Council and owned a successful plantation on Spavinaw Creek in Indian Territory where he employed slaves to work his fields. Although the vast majority of Indian-owned slaves were black, it is entirely possible that Watie also owned a Chinese boy. Following the onset of the California gold rush in 1849, hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers were brought to America, as were many Chinese prostitutes; Watie's "yellow boy" was probably the child of one of these prostitutes, sold into slavery by his mother.

    The document is in wonderful condition, despite rough edges a few chips at the left and upper edges. Bright, clean, and handsomely penned by Watie. Very fine and exceedingly desirable!

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2009
    6th-7th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,580

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