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    Stand Watie Autograph Letter Signed, likely a retained draft, 2 pages, 8" x 10", "Washington City", April 15, 1840. To T. Hartly Crawford, Commissioner of Indian Affairs regarding debts owed by John Ross to individuals for services rendered. Watie writes from Washington, D.C., where he is currently seeking to get support from the U.S. Government for his party at a time when the Cherokee Nation was on the verge of civil war. Within his letter, he transmits a message from James Starr, a fellow signer of the New Echota Treaty.

    In Watie's hand, Starr's message reads: "'When Capt. Page was in this County, he informed me that there were yet in the hands of the Govt. $100.00 of... [small loss of paper] Ross's funds, which they refused to pa[y] at the old agency. There are yet many persons to whom Mr. Ross is indebted for services rendered him in the removal of the detachment conducted by his agents. To Jesse Mayfield he is indebted beyond the amount payed him $13.800 - to George H. Starr $6.500 - Charles Ruse [?] $______ [left blank, likely to be added in a later draft] and many others have claims of a similar nature. Could you make arrangements with the Govt. by which those claims could be secured to the claimants out of the $100.00 due by the Govt. to Ross. I am confident he does not intend to pay them if he can avoid it, and if not paid the claimants must necessarily suffer. I believe the reason why he thus far refused to pay them the balance due is intirely [sic] owing to a difference in politicks [sic]."

    The New Echota Treaty, signed in 1835, ceded all Indian lands in Georgia and required removal of all Indians to be re-settled west of the Mississippi. Watie and other signers and supporters of the Treaty had had moved their families west by 1837. John Ross and his supporters, who vehemently opposed leaving their lands, were forced to leave in 1838 by U.S. troops in what is now referred to as the "Trail of Tears". Opponents to the ceding of Indian lands viewed Watie's party as traitors, and soon turned to violence to exact their revenge. In 1839, the anti-Treaty party assassinated three leaders of the Treaty faction, all of whom were related to Watie. In a single day in June of 1839, Watie lost his brother Elias Boudinot, his uncle Major Ridge, and his cousin John Ridge. Watie had also been targeted, but was able to escape harm.

    The Cherokee Nation was on the verge of a civil war, and Ross and his National Party went to Washington to seek the support of the U.S. Government. They would be turned away. This letter was drafted by Watie during his trip to Washington undertaken for the same purpose. Unlike Ross, his faction was successful in seeking audience and recognition. In this very poignant draft, Watie is seeking funds to be paid to parties that are still owed by Ross.

    Watie's message to Crawford continues: "Of course I can know nothing of the funds referred to by Capt. Page But of the correctness of the statements of Mr. Starr in relation to the individual claims I entertain not the least doubt. And could any arrangements be made by which these claims might be satis[fied] I should think it would be evenhanded. The contract with Mr. Ross for the Cherokee Removal was so liberal in its provisions that his ability to satisfy all the persons whom he employed cannot be questioned..."

    The pages have heavy wear and a complete separation at the top fold. There is a bit of paper loss along the right margin affecting about three words, although the content is not interrupted. Docketed on the verso of the integral page in Watie's hand: "Subject Claims / Mayfield & others." A second letter by Watie written on this same day, April 15, 1840, also addressed to Crawford appears in Cherokee Cavaliers, by Edward Everett Dale & Gaston Litton. The content is remarkably different, and lists debts of a larger scale and makes no mention of Ross. The content of the letter offered here is so markedly different that it is either a very early draft, or a retained copy of a second letter sent on the same day. Ex. Doris Harris.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
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