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Worcester v. Georgia

John Ross

John Ross.

John Ross (1790-1866) grew up in the ways of Anglo-Saxons, but later embraced his Cherokee heritage. Born in present-day Alabama, Ross was seven-eighths European (mostly Scottish). As a young man, he operated as a merchant near present-day Chattanooga and in northwest Georgia, site of the independent Cherokee Nation. He became involved in Cherokee political affairs during the 1810s and, in 1828, gained election as principal chief of the Cherokee. Faced with federal government demands that the Cherokee vacate their lands, Ross favored resistance. But a minority clique under Major Ridge signed a treaty with President Andrew Jackson in 1835, and in mid-1838 the Cherokee embarked on the Trail of Tears, a trek that killed almost one-quarter of the tribe.

After a period of unrest after the move, the Cherokee entered a period of peace in the 1850s. This ended with the Civil War. Ross supported the Confederacy, but there is evidence to suggest that he was coerced. After the war, in part as a result of his negotiation, the federal government agreed to an 1866 treaty which preserved the Cherokee Nation intact.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1637 to 1832Worcester v. Georgia - Decision, Significance, John Ross, Further Readings