The storm was condensing. Although no one yet knew it, the Cherokee's hopes of living in their ancestral homelands had just been destroyed.
The battle over the removal of the Cherokee from Georgia stretches over earlier battles, treaties, wars, and cessions to both Britain and the United States. I do not intend to examine the entire process, which is a repetitive one of mostly diplomatic rhetoric, involving much verbal and written debate on both sides. I seek here only to examine the crucial turning points in this battle, as well as how the assimilation of the Cherokee both helped, and hindered, this process.
For, "ironically, the Cherokees'…advancement…hastened, instead of deterred, enforcement of the (Georgia) Compact…Georgia abandoned both dignity and ethics and through her government and courts began, in 1820, a vicious attack upon the Cherokees that was to continue for 18 years…"40 The assimilation of the Cherokee had become so complete that it was feared the Nation would be able to defend herself against encroachment. The Cherokee government was "a direct counterthreat to the southern states…it raised the possibility of permanent and quasi-independent Indian nations within the chartered limits of the states…"41
There were more material motivations sparking the Georgian fervor to remove the Cherokee. Cherokee land was extremely fertile. This is evidenced by the survival of Cherokee peoples in the more mountainous regions of their territory down to the present day. "Brewton Barry, William H. Gilbert, Edward T. Price, and others have shown there is a direct correlation between the survival of Indians in the southeast and the poor quality of the land on which they have been allowed to remain…today those southeastern Indians groups with the largest amount of land are those who possess the poorest quality of land."42
It is possible to conclude, then, that Georgia wanted Cherokee lands not only because of the threat of an independent Native American state, but also because of the land's agricultural
40. Woodward, 139-40.
41. Champagne, 126.
42. Neely, 20.