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Letter to President Andrew Jackson
Author: George R. Gilmer
From: The Native American Experience
Publisher: Primary Source Media
Series: American Journey
Document Type: Letter
Length: 505 words
Content Level: (Level 5)
Lexile Measure: 1330L
Commentary on Letter to President Andrew Jackson
One of the major precipitating causes of the Indian-removal crisis was the discovery of gold in the Cherokee Nation in 1829.
Immediately, White prospectors and settlers began to move into Cherokee territory in search of the precious metal. Georgia took the
opportunity to assert jurisdiction over the area.
In September of that year, the Cherokee National Council authorized Major Ridge to raise a contingent of light-horse patrol and
remove eighteen White families living
on unauthorized farms in the southeast corner of the Cherokee Nation. In January 1830, Ridge
and thirty other Cherokees rode to Beaver Dam and evicted the intruders. Later the Whites returned and beat four Cherokees who
had remained behind, killing one.
George Gilmer, the governor of Georgia, who as a member of Congress had advocated removal of the Cherokee as early as 1822,
wrote to President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) on June 17, demanding that the federal government retaliate against the Indians. In
the letter, excerpted here, the governor claims that he is basically powerless in the situation and asks Jackson to “direct the officers
commanding the United States troops to prevent intrusion upon the property of the State by the Indians.” Georgia’s “property” to
which he refers was within the treaty bounds of the Cherokee Nation.
Gilmer and other politicians of the period continued to characterize the so-called Five Civilized Tribes (the Cherokee, Chickasaw,
Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) as “savages” and “hunters,” despite their relative cultural assimilation. Such rhetoric helped make
removal a more palatable option.
Excerpt of letter from Gov. George R. Gilmer of Georgia to President Andrew Jackson, June 17, 1830
Gold In The Cherokee Nation.
The gold region is situated very near the thickly inhabited part of the frontier part of the State. . .
Since the discovery of gold in the Cherokee country, the opinion very generally prevailed that those who engaged in digging for it
violated no right except that of the State; and that, after the passage of the law extending the jurisdiction of the State over that
country, the Government of the United States would have no authority to enforce the non-intercourse law. What effect the
proclamation, prohibiting all persons, both Indians and whites, from digging gold, may have in allaying the excitement among the
persons who have been removed as intruders, is very uncertain. It is probable that it may prevent an immediate attack upon the
Indians so employed, from the expectation that they will be restrained by the authority of the State.
I shall be compelled to resort to the tedious process of the courts for this purpose, the laws of the State not having invested the
governor with the power to protect the public property by military force.
In the meantime, it is very desirable that the President would direct the officers commanding the United States troops to prevent
intrusion upon the property of the State by the Indians, at the same time defending the occupant rights of the Indians from intrusion
by the whites.
Source Citation (MLA 8th Edition)
Gilmer, George R. “Letter to President Andrew Jackson.” The Native American Experience, Primary Source Media, 1999. American
Journey. Gale In Context: U.S. History, https://link-galecom.gmclibrary.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/EJ2156000281/UHIC
?u=mill30389&sid=UHIC&xid=c7453376. Accessed 15 Apr. 2020.
Gale Document Number: GALE|EJ2156000281
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