Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Declaration by the People of the Cherokee Nation of the Causes 
Which Have Impelled Them to Unite Their Fortunes With Those 
of the Confederate States of America.

"When circumstances beyond their control compel one people to sever
the ties which have long existed between them and another state or
confederacy, and to contract new alliances and establish new
relations for the security of their rights and liberties, it is fit
that they should publicly declare the reasons by which their action
is justified.

The Cherokee people had its origin in the South; its institutions are
similar to those of the Southern States, and their interests
identical with theirs. Long since it accepted the protection of the
United States of America, contracted with them treaties of alliance
and friendship, and allowed themselves to be to a great extent
governed by their laws.

In peace and war they have been faithful to their engagements with
the United States. With much of hardship and injustice to complain
of, they resorted to no other means than solicitation and argument to
obtain redress. Loyal and obedient to the laws and the stipulations
of their treaties, they served under the flag of the United States,
shared the common dangers, and were entitled to a share in the common
glory, to gain which their blood was freely shed on the battlefield.

When the dissensions between the Southern and Northern States
culminated in a separation of State after State from the Union they
watched the progress of events with anxiety and consternation. While
their institutions and the contiguity of their territory to the
States of Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri made the cause of the
seceding States necessarily their own cause, their treaties had been
made with the United States, and they felt the utmost reluctance even
in appearance to violate their engagements or set at naught the
obligations of good faith.

Conscious that they were a people few in numbers compared with either
of the contending parties, and that their country might with no
considerable force be easily overrun and devastated and desolation
and ruin be the result if they took up arms for either side, their
authorities determined that no other course was consistent with the
dictates of prudence or could secure the safety of their people and
immunity from the horrors of a war waged by an invading enemy than a
strict neutrality, and in this decision they were sustained by a
majority of the nation.

That policy was accordingly adopted and faithfully adhered to. Early
in the month of June of the present year the authorities of the
nation declined to enter into negotiations for an alliance with the
Confederate States, and protested against the occupation of the
Cherokee country by their troops, or any other violation of their
neutrality. No act was allowed that could be construed by the United
States to be a violation of the faith of treaties.

But Providence rules the destinies of nations, and events, by
inexorable necessity, overrule human resolutions. The number of the
Confederate States has increased to eleven, and their Government is
firmly established and consolidated. Maintaining in the field an army
of 200,000 men, the war became for them but a succession of
victories. Disclaiming any intention to invade the Northern States,
they sought only to repel invaders from their own soil and to secure
the right of governing themselves. They claimed only the privilege
asserted by the Declaration of American Independence, and on which
the right of the Northern States themselves to self-government is
founded, of altering their form of government when it became no
longer tolerable and establishing new forms for the security of their

Throughout the Confederate States we saw this great revolution
effected without violence or the suspension of the laws or the
closing of the courts. The military power was nowhere placed above
the civil authorities. None were seized and imprisoned at the mandate
of arbitrary power. All division among the people disappeared, and
the determination became unanimous that there should never again be
any union with the Northern States. Almost as one man all who were
able to bear arms rushed to the defense of an invaded country, and
nowhere has it been found necessary to compel men to serve or to
enlist mercenaries by the offer of extraordinary bounties.

But in the Northern States the Cherokee people saw with alarm a
violated Constitution, all civil liberty put in peril, and all the
rules of civilized warfare and the dictates of common humanity and
decency unhesitatingly disregarded. In States which still adhered to
the Union a military despotism has displaced the civil power and the
laws became silent amid arms. Free speech and almost free thought
became a crime. The right to the writ of habeas corpus, guaranteed by
the Constitution, disappeared at the nod of a Secretary of State or a
general of the lowest grade. The mandate of the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court was set at naught by the military power, and this
outrage on common right approved by a President sworn to support the
Constitution. War on the largest scale was waged, and the immense
bodies of troops called into the field in the absence of any law
warranting it under the pretense of suppressing unlawful combination
of men. The humanities of war, which even barbarians respect, were no
longer thought worthy to be observed. Foreign mercenaries and the
scum of cities and the inmates of prisons were enlisted and organized
into regiments and brigades and sent into Southern States to aid in
subjugating a people struggling for freedom, to burn, to plunder, and
to commit the basest of outrages on women; while the heels of armed
tyranny trod upon the necks of Maryland and Missouri, and men of the
highest character and position were incarcerated upon suspicion and
without process of law in jails, in forts, and in prison-ships, and
even women were imprisoned by the arbitrary order of a President and
Cabinet ministers; while the press ceased to be free, the publication
of newspapers was suspended and their issues seized and destroyed;
the officers and men taken prisoners in battle were allowed to remain
in captivity by the refusal of their Government to consent to an
exchange of prisoners; as they had left their dead on more than one
field of battle that had witnessed their defeat to be buried and
their wounded to be cared for by Southern hands.

Whatever causes the Cherokee people may have had in the past, to
complain of some of the Southern States, they cannot but feel that
their interests and their destiny are inseparably connected with
those of the South. The war now raging is a war of Northern cupidity
and fanaticism against the institution of African servitude; against
the commercial freedom of the South, and against the political
freedom of the States, and its objects are to annihilate the
sovereignty of those States and utterly change the nature of the
General Government.

The Cherokee people and their neighbors were warned before the war
commenced that the first object of the party which now holds the
powers of government of the United States would be to annul the
institution of slavery in the whole Indian country, and make it what
they term free territory and after a time a free State; and they have
been also warned by the fate which has befallen those of their race
in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oregon that at no distant day they too would
be compelled to surrender their country at the demand of Northern
rapacity, and be content with an extinct nationality, and with
reserves of limited extent for individuals, of which their people
would soon be despoiled by speculators, if not plundered
unscrupulously by the State.

Urged by these considerations, the Cherokees, long divided in
opinion, became unanimous, and like their brethren, the Creeks,
Seminoles, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, determined, by the undivided
voice of a General Convention of all the people, held at Tahlequah,
on the 21st day of August, in the present year, to make common cause
with the South and share its fortunes.

In now carrying this resolution into effect and consummating a treaty
of alliance and friendship with the Confederate States of America the
Cherokee people declares that it has been faithful and loyal to is
engagements with the United States until, by placing its safety and
even its national existence in imminent peril, those States have
released them from those engagements.

Menaced by a great danger, they exercise the inalienable right of
self-defense, and declare themselves a free people, independent of
the Northern States of America, and at war with them by their own
act. Obeying the dictates of prudence and providing for the general
safety and welfare, confident of the rectitude of their intentions
and true to the obligations of duty and honor, they accept the issue
thus forced upon them, unite their fortunes now and forever with
those of the Confederate States, and take up arms for the common
cause, and with entire confidence in the justice of that cause and
with a firm reliance upon Divine Providence, will resolutely abide
the consequences. "

Tahlequah, C. N., October 28, 1861.

President National Committee.

Clerk National Committee.

Speaker of Council.

Clerk Council.



We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are
instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of
the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or
to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation
on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to
them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.