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Treaty Concluded October 25, 1805

 Native American Nations | Cherokee Nation of Indians                   


Treaty Concluded October 25, 1805; Proclaimed April 24, 18061

Held at Tellico, Tenn., between Return J. Meigs and Daniel Smith, commissioners on behalf of the United States, and certain chiefs and headmen of the Cherokees, representing that nation.

Material Provisions

  • 1. All former treaties providing for peace and prevention of crimes are continued in force.
  • 2. The Cherokees cede to the United States all the land which they have heretofore claimed lying to the north of the following boundary line : Beginning at the mouth of Duck River; thence up the main stream of the same to the junction of the fork at the head of which Fort Nash stood, with the main south fork; thence a direct course to a point on the Tennessee River bank opposite the mouth of Hiwassa River. If the line from Hiwassa should leave out Field's settlement, it is to be marked around his improvement and then continued the straight course; thence up the middle of the Tennessee River (but leaving all the islands to the Cherokees) to the mouth of Clinch River; thence up the Clinch River to the former boundary line agreed upon with the said Cherokees, re-serving at the same. time to the use of the Cherokees a small tract lying at and below the mouth of Clinch River; from the mouth extending thence down the Tennessee River from the mouth of Clinch to a notable rock on the north bank of the Tennessee in view from Southwest Point; thence a course at right angles with the river to the Cumberland road; thence eastwardly along the same to the bank of Clinch River, so as to secure the ferry landing to the Cherokees up to the first hill and down the same to the mouth thereof, together with two other sections, of one square mile each, one of which is at the foot of Cumberland Mountain, at and near the place where the turnpike gate now stands, the other on the north bank of the Tennessee River where the Cherokee Talootiske now lives. And whereas from the present cession made by the Cherokees, and other circumstances, the 'sites of the garrisons at Southwest Point and Tellico are become not the most convenient and suitable places for the accommodation of the said Indians, it may become expedient to remove the said garrisons and factory to some more suitable place; three other square mile- are reserved for the particular disposal of the United States on the north bank of the Tennessee opposite to and below the mouth of Hiwassa.
  • 3.In consideration of the foregoing cession the United States agree to pay $3,000 at once in merchandise, $11,000 in 90 days, and an annuity of $3,000.
  • 4. The United States to have the use of two roads through the Cherokee country, one from the head of Stone's River to Georgia road, and the other from Franklin to the Tombigbee settlements, crossing the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals.
  • 5. Treaty to take effect upon ratification by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Treaty Concluded October 27, 1805; Proclaimed June 10, 18062

Held at Tellico, Tenn., between Return J. 111eigs and Daniel Smith, commissioners on behalf of the United States, and certain chiefs and head-men of the Cherokees, representing that nation.

Material Provisions

  • 1. The Cherokees cede the section of land at Southwest Point, ex-tending to Kingston, reserving the ferries and the first island in Tennessee River above the mouth of Clinch River.
  • 2. The Cherokees consent to the free and unmolested use by the United States of the mail road from Tellico to Tombigbee so far as it passes through their country.
  • 3. In consideration of the foregoing the United States agree to pay the Cherokees $1,600 within 90 days.
  • 4. Treaty to be obligatory on ratification by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Historical Data Respecting Both Treaties
Continued Negotiations Authorized

The commissioners (Return J. Meigs and Daniel Smith) who were appointed and instructed under date of April 4, 1804, and who negotiated the treaty of October 24, 1804, with the Cherokees, it will be remembered, failed in the object of their instructions, except as to the single matter of securing the cession of a tract covering the settlement of Colonel Wafford and others near Currahee Mountain. They were, how-ever, directed to continue their negotiations from time to time until the full measure of their original instructions should be secured.

Treaties of October 25 and 27, 1805, considered together. This course was pursued, and after several fruitless conferences the commissioners succeeded in concluding the treaties of October 25, 1805, and October 27, 1805. Inasmuch as these two treaties were negotiated by the same commissioners, acting under the same instructions and at the same conference, they will be considered together. The treaties were upon their conclusion transmitted to the Secretary of War,3 and, upon submission to the Senate, that body duly advised and consented to their ratification. They were ratified and proclaimed by the President on the 24th of April and 10th of June, 1806, respectively.4

Secret agreement with Doublehead. Following the transmission of the treaties to the Secretary of War by the commissioners, the latter addressed5 an explanatory communication to him, in which they set forth that by the terms of the treaty of October 25, 1805, there were reserved three square miles of land, " for the particular disposal of the United States, on the north bank of the Tennessee, opposite and below the mouth of Hiwassa." This reservation, they affirmed, was predicated ostensibly on the supposition that the garrison at Southwest Point and the United States factory at Tellico would be placed thereon during the pleasure of the United States, but that they had stipulated with "Doublehead," a Cherokee chief, that whenever the United States should find this land unnecessary for the purposes mentioned it was to revert to him (Doublehead), provided that he should retain one of the square miles to his own use, but should relinquish his right and claim to the other two sections in favor of John D. Chisholm and John Riley in equal shares.

Purchase of site for State capital. The cession by the treaty of October 27, 1805, of the section of land at Southwest Point was secured upon the theory that the State of Tennessee would find Kingston a convenient and desirable place for the establishment of the State capital. A subsequent change of circumstances and public sentiment, however, caused it to be located seven years later at Nashville.

Boundaries surveyed. On the 11th of July, 1806, the Secretary of War notified Return J. Meigs of his appointment as commissioner to super-intend the running and marking of the line "from the junction of the fork at the head of which Fort Nash stood with the main south fork of Duck River to a point on the Tennessee River bank opposite the mouth of Hiwassee River." He was also to superintend the survey of the lines of the reserved tracts agreeably to the treaty of October 23, 1805.

He was directed to appoint a surveyor, but before running the line from Duck to Tennessee Rivers above described, to have him survey and mark the lines of the 3-mile tract reserved opposite to and below the mouth of Hiwassee, and also, when completed, to designate the most suitable site for the military post, factory, and agency, each site to be 300 feet square and 40 rods distant from the others.
Commissioner Meigs followed the letter of his instructions and caused the lines to be surveyed in accordance therewith. The line from Duck River to the mouth of Hiwassee was began on the 9th and finished on the 26th of October, 1806. The point of departure at the west end of the boundary line was a red elm tree, trimmed and topped, standing on the extreme point of land formed by the confluence of that branch of Duck River at the head of which Fort Nash stood, with the main south fork of the river. The eastern terminus of the line was a mulberry tree on the north bank of Tennessee River opposite the month of Hiwassee River, 73 miles and 166 poles from the beginning.6

Controversy Concerning "Doublehead" Tract

Colonel Martin, who was employed by Commissioner Meigs, also surveyed under the latter's direction during the same month the four small reserved tracts described in the treaty of October 25, 1805.7 One of these afterwards produced much controversy. The language of the treaty called for three square miles on the north bank of Tennessee River, opposite to and below the mouth of Hiwassee River. Colonel Meigs, who was one of the commissioners who negotiated the treaty and was there-fore entirely familiar with its intent, caused this tract to be surveyed adjoining the main line of cession, extending from Duck River to the mouth of Hiwassee and north of that line, which placed the tract opposite to and above the mouth of Hiwassee,. instead of "opposite to and below" the mouth of that river.8

As above stated, while this reserve was ostensibly for the location of a military post and factory or trading establishment, it was really intended for the Cherokee chief Doublehead and other influential persons, as the price of their influence in securing from the Cherokees the extensive cession of land granted by the treaty.

This was sought to be secured by means of a secret article attached to the treaty. This article was reported to the War Department by the. treaty commissioners8 and made a matter of record, bat it was never sent to the State Department nor to the Senate for the advice and con-sent of that body. After Agent Meigs had erected the Hiwassee garrison buildings on the tract, suit was brought in 1809 by Colonel Mc-Lung against the agent for the recovery of the land and mesne profits, basing his claim to title upon a grant from the State of North Carolina, of date long prior to the treaty of 1805. The suit was decided in the plaintiff's favor by the Tennessee courts. Subsequently, in 183S, John Riley made application to the Government for compensation for the loss of his one-third interest in this tract. The question was submitted to the Attorney-General of the United States for his opinion. He decided that the secret article, not having been submitted to the Senate for approval, was not to be considered as any part of the treaty; but that, if the commissioners had any authority for making such an agreement, the defective execution of their powers ought not to prejudice parties acting in good faith and relying on their authority; nevertheless, no relief could be had except through the action of Congress.

This secret article was also applicable to the small tract at and below the mouth of Clinch River, to the 1 mile square at the foot of Climberland Mountain, and to the 1 mile square on the north bank of the Tennessee River, where Cherokee Talootiske lived. The first mentioned tract was also intended for the benefit of Doublehead, who leased it February 19, 1806, to Thomas H. Clark for twenty years. Before the expiration of the lease Doublehead was killed by some of his own people. December 10, 1820, the State of Tennessee assumed to grant the tract to Clark.9

The other two tracts alluded to of one square mile each were intended for Cherokee Talootiske. May 31, 1808, Talootiske perpetually leased his interest in the Cumberland Mountain tract to Thomas H. Clark. September 17, 1816, Clark purchased the interest of Robert Bell in the same tract, the latter deriving his alleged title under a grant from North Carolina to A. McCoy in July, 17 93. This tract was also included in a grant from North Carolina to J. W. Lackey and Starkey Donaldson, dated January 4, 1795. The tract on Tennessee River, Talootiske sold to Robert King, whose assigns also claimed the title under the aforesaid grant from North Carolina to Lackey and Donaldson.9

From the phraseology of the treaty in making these several reservations, it was concluded advisable in subsequent negotiations to secure a relinquishment of the tribal title thereto, which was done by the treaty of July 18, 1817.

Treaty Concluded January 7, 1806; Proclaimed May 23, 180710

Held at Washington City, D. C., between Henry Dearborn, Secretary of War, specially authorized thereto by the President of the United States, and certain chiefs and headmen of the Cherokee Nation, duly authorized and empowered by said nation.

Material Provisions

  • 1. The Cherokees relinquish to the United States all claim to ,call that tract of country which lies to the northward of the river Tennessee and westward of a line to be ran from the upper part of Chickasaw Old Fields, at the upper point of an island called Chickasaw Island on said river, to the most easterly head-waters of that branch of said Tennessee River called Duck River, excepting the two following described tracts, viz : one tract bounded southerly on the said Tennessee River, at a place called the Muscle Shoals; westerly, by a creek called Te Kee, ta, no-eh, or Cyprus Creek, and easterly, by Chu, wa, lee, or Elk River or Creek, and northerly by a line to be drawn from a point on said Elk River, ten miles ou a direct line from its mouth  to a point on the said Cyprus Creek, ten miles on a direct line from its junction with the Tennessee River; The other tract is to be two miles in width on the north side of Tennessee River, and to extend northerly from that river three miles, and bounded as follows, viz: Beginning at the mouth of Spring Creek and running up said creek three miles on a straight line; thence westerly two miles at right angles with the general course of said creek; thence southerly on a line parallel with the general course of said creek to the Tennessee River; thence up said river by its waters to the beginning, which first reserved tract is to be considered the common property of the Cherokees who now live on the same, including John D. Chesholm, Au, tow, we, and Cheh Chuh, and the other reserved tract, on which Moses Melton now lives, is to be considered the property of said Melton and of Charles Hicks, in equal shares. Also relinquish  all right or claim  to the Long Island in Holston River."
  • 2. The United States agree to pay, in consideration of the foregoing cession, $2,000 in money upon the ratification of the treaty; $8,000 in four equal annual installments; to erect a grist-mill within one year in the Cherokee country; to furnish a machine for cleaning cotton ; and to pay the Cherokee chief, Black Fox, $100 annually during his life.
  • 3. The United States agree to urge upon the Chickasaws to consent to the following boundary between that nation and the Cherokees south of Tennessee River, viz: Beginning at the mouth of Caney Creek near the lower part of Muscle Shoals, and run up said creek to its head, and in a direct line from thence to the Flat Stone, or Rock, the old corner, boundary.
  • 4. The United States agree that the claims of the Chickasaws to the two tracts reserved by article 1 of this treaty, on north side of the Tennessee River, shall be settled by the United States in such manner as will secure the title to the Cherokees.

Treaty Concluded September 11, 1807; Proclaimed April 22, 180811

Held at upper end of Chickasaw Island, in Tennessee River, between James Robertson and Return J. Meigs, acting under authority of the Executive of the United States, and a delegation of Cherokee chiefs representing said nation.

Material Provisions

This treaty is simply an elucidation of the first article of the treaty of January 7, 1806, and declares that the eastern limits of the tract ceded by the latter treaty "shall be bounded by a line so to be run from the upper end of the Chickasaw Old Fields, a little above the upper point of an island, called Chickasaw Island, as will most directly intersect the first waters of Elk River; thence carried to the great Cumberland Mountain, in which the waters of Elk River have their source; then along the margin of said mountain, until it shall intersect the lands heretofore ceded to the United States at the said Tennessee ridge."

In consideration of this concession, the United States agree to pay to the Cherokees $2,000 and to permit the latter to hunt upon the tract ceded until the increase of settlements renders it improper.

Historical Data
Controversy Concerning Boundaries

Shortly after the conclusion of the treaties of October 25 and 27, 1805, a delegation of Cherokee chiefs and headmen visited Washington. Messrs. Return J. Meigs and Daniel Smith, the commissioners who had negotiated those treaties, accompanied them.

The Secretary of War, Hon. Henry Dearborn, was specially deputized by the President to conduct negotiations with them for the purchase of such portions of their country as they might feel willing to sell, but more especially to extinguish their claim to the, region of territory lying to the north and east of Tennessee River and west of the head waters of Duck River.

The negotiations were concluded and the treaty was signed on the 7th of January, 1806,12 and the President transmitted the same to the Senate on the 24th of the same month ; but that body did not consent to its ratification for more than a year afterwards.13

At the time of the conclusion of this treaty, it was supposed by all .the parties thereto that the eastern limit of the cession therein defined would include all of the waters of Elk River, the impression being that the headwaters of Duck River had their source farther to the east than. those of the Elk.14 The region of country in question had for many years been claimed by both the Cherokees and the Chickasaws, and the Government of the United States, not desiring to incur the animosity of either of these Indian nations, had preferred rather to extinguish by purchase the claim of each. With this end in view, a treaty had already been concluded with the Chickasaws, under date of July 23, 1805,15 resulting in their relinquishment of all claim to the land north of Duck River lying east of the Tennessee and to a tract lying between Duck and Tennessee Rivers, on the north and south, and east of the Columbian Highway, so as to, include all the waters of Elk River. It had been the intention that theo eastern boundary of the cession made by both these nations should be coincident from the head of Chickasaw Island northward, but when the country came to be examined with a view to running the line, it was found that a strict adherence to the text of the Cherokee cession would leave about two hundred families of settlers on the headwaters of Elk River still within the Indian country.16 In the mean time the Chickasaws, having learned that the United States had purchased of the Cherokees their supposed claim to the territory as far west as the Tennessee River, including a large region of country to the westward of the limits of the cession of 1805 by the former, construed that fact as a recognition of the sole and absolute title of the Cherokees thereto, and became in consequence very much excited and angered. They were only pacified by an official letter of assurance from the Secretary of War, addressed to Maj. George Colbert, their principal chief,17 wherein he stated that in purchasing the Cherokee right to the tract in question the United States did not intend to destroy or impair the right of the Chickasaw Nation to the same; but that, being persuaded no actual boundary had ever been agreed on between the Chickasaws and Cherokees and that the Cherokees had some claim to a portion of the lands, it was thought advisable to purchase that claim, so that whenever the Chickasaws should be disposed to convey their title there should be no dispute with the Cherokees about it.

The Cherokees by this treaty also relinquished all claim they might have to the Long Island or Great Island, as it was sometimes called, of Holston River. This island was in reality outside the limits of the country assigned the Cherokees by the first treaty between them and the United States, at Hopewell, in 1785, but they had always since maintained that no cession had ever been made of it by them, and it was deemed wise to insert a specific clause in the treaty under consideration to that effect.18

Boundaries to be surveyed. Early in 180719 the Secretary of War notified Agent Meigs that Mr. Thomas Freeman had been appointed to survey and mark the boundary line conformably to both the treaty of 1805 with the Chickasaws and of 1806 with the Cherokees, as well as to survey the land ceded between the south line of Tennessee and the Tennessee River, lying west of the line from about the Chickasaw Old Fields to the most eastern source of Duck River. He was also advised that General Robertson and himself had been designated to attend and superintend the running of such boundary lines. Furthermore, that it was desirable that the eastern line of both cessions should be one and the same, for although by the Chickasaw treaty the whole waters of Elk River were included, it was evident their claim to any lands east of the line agreed upon by the Cherokees was more than doubtful; that, there-fore, the United States ought not to insist on such a line as would go to the eastward of the one defined in the Cherokee treaty, unless the latter could be prevailed upon to extend the same, in which event they were authorized to offer the Cherokees a moderate compensation there-for.

Explanatory Treaty Negotiated

This led, upon the assembly of the commissioners and surveyor at Chickasaw Old Fields, in the fall of 1807 (for the purpose of surveying and marking the boundary lines in question), to the negotiation of an explanatory treaty with certain of the Cherokee chiefs, on the 11th of September, 1807,1 whereby it was agreed that the Cherokee cession line should be extended so far to the eastward as to include all the waters of Elk River and thereby be made coincident and uniform with the Chickasaw line.
Secret article.-The ostensible consideration paid for this concession, as shown by the treaty, was $2,000; but it was secretly agreed that $1,000 and two rifles should be given to the chiefs with whom the treaty was negotiated.20

President Jefferson transmitted this latter treaty to the Senate on the 29th of March, 1808, and having received the consent of that body to its ratification, it was proclaimed by the President on the 22d of April following.

1 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p. 93
2 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p. 95.
3 November 2, 1805. See letter of transmittal of Return J. Meigs and Daniel Smith.
4 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, pp. 93 and 95.
5 January 10, 1806.
6 See field notes of Colonel Martin on file in office of Indian Affairs.
7 Letter of R. J. Meigs to Secretary of War, March 4, 1811.
8 Letter of Meigs and Smith to Secretary of War, January 10, 1806.
9 See report of Commissioner Indian Affairs to Secretary of War, December 9, 1834.
10 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p. 101.
11 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p. 103.
12 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p. 101.
13 May, 1807.
14 Message of President Jefferson to U. S. Senate, March 29, 1808, and letter of R. J.. Meigs, September 28, 1807. American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 753.
15 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII.
16 President Jefferson to U. S. Senate, March 29, 1808. American State Papers, Indian Affairs, vol. I, p. 753.
17 February 21, 1806. Indian Office records.
18 On the return home of the Cherokee delegation that visited Washington in 1801, "The Glass," a noted Cherokee chief, represented to his people that the Secretary of War had said, " One Joseph Martin has a claim on the Long Island of Holston River." This the Secretary of War denied, in a Ietter dated November 20, 1801, to Col. R. J. Meigs.
19 April 1. Indian Office records.
20 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p. 103

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Bureau of Ethnology, Volume 5, Cherokee Nation of Indians, 1883-84

Cherokee Nation of Indians


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