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threatened and harassed to attend the meeting throughout the fall, only three to five hundred people attended, out of a population of 17,000.

The Treaty of New Echota gave the Cherokee Nation five million dollars in return for their removal west of the Mississippi. They were to remove to the region already occupied by the Cherokees West, or Arkansas Cherokee. Although provisions were made for some Cherokee to stay behind in North Carolina, Tennesee, and Alabama, President Jackson shortly negated these provisions. The Cherokee were made to pay for some of the land they were to occupy in Kansas. The majority of the Cherokees ratifying the Treaty were not leaders or government officials. The Treaty was ratified by one vote more than needed.

Although the majority of the Cherokee were opposed to removal, the policy did have some powerful proponents. The Ridge, before signing, stated:

I am one of the native sons of these wild woods…[but] they are strong and we are weak. We are few, they are many…I know we love the graves of our fathers…We can never forget our homes…I would willingly die to preserve them, but any forcible effort to keep them will cost our lands, our lives and the lives of our children…Make a treaty of cession.58

Legislation had been passed years before promising death to any Cherokee signing a treaty not approved by the majority of the Nation. The signers of the treaty were fully aware that they were sacrificing their lives. Elias Boudinot reportedly said, after signing the treaty, that "I know that I take my life in my hand, as our fathers have also done…We can die, but the great Cherokee Nation will be saved. They will not be annihilated; they can live. Oh, what is a man worth who will not dare to die for his people? Who is there here that will not perish, if this great Nation may be saved?"59 Many of the treaty's signers would eventually pay with their lives: John Ridge, Elias Boudinot and the Ridge would all be brutally murdered, after removal, in a revenge conspiracy against the removal proponents.

The Cherokee debate over removal was not a simple one. The argument crossed class

 


58. The Ridge, n.p., n.d, as quoted in Wilkins, 286-287.
59. Boudinot, 27.
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