John Ridge - Relocation


After the treaty signing, Ridge moved with his family, his father and most of his siblings, his uncle (David Watie), and Watie cousins to what is now Indian Territory. This was three years before the forced removal in 1838 of most of the Cherokee. The Ridges and other families joined the "Old Settlers" of the Cherokee Nation West under Principal Chief John Jolly. Some of them had migrated west in the 1820s from North Carolina or Alabama.

On June 22, 1839, a group of 25 pro-Ross partisans of the "Late Comers" assassinated Ridge, his father, and Boudinot for having signed the treaty to cede Cherokee lands. They also attacked Stand Watie, but he survived. The attackers stabbed John Ridge 48 times, jumped on his chest, and kicked him repeatedly, all before his wife and children. Later they killed other Treaty Party members.

The attacks contributed to a wave of violence among the Cherokee after removal that went on for years among the various partisan groups. For example, in 1842 Stand Watie killed a man he recognized as an attacker of his uncle Major Ridge. In retaliation, in 1845 opponents killed his younger brother Thomas Watie. The US representatives tried to negotiate a peace between the groups, which it achieved in 1846.

Some of the enmity over the treaty was reflected in Cherokee alliances during the American Civil War. As these developed, Ross and a minority supported the Union. Stand Watie and a majority of the Nation (including most slaveholders) were pro-Confederacy, and he served as Principal Chief (1862-1866) of this group. After the war, he led the Southern Cherokee delegation to Washington, as they had to negotiate a new treaty with the United States. He urged recognition of two Cherokee nations, but the US negotiated only with John Ross and his followers. It named Ross as principal chief. The Cherokee were forced to accept a new treaty in 1866, which included the requirement to emancipate their slaves, and allow those who wanted to stay in Cherokee territory full citizenship, land and rights to benefits, such as annuities, of the Cherokee. They and their descendants became known as Cherokee Freedmen.

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