December 29

Treaty of New Echota

December 29, 1835 - New Echota

It cost three men their lives and provided the legal basis for the Trail of Tears, the forcible removal of the Cherokee Nation from Georgia. The Treaty of New Echota was signed on this day in 1835, ceding Cherokee land to the U.S. in exchange for compensation. The treaty had been negotiated by a Cherokee leader, Major Ridge, who claimed to represent the Cherokee Nation when, in fact, he spoke only for a small faction.

The discovery of gold in north Georgia led to the Cherokee Removal Bill in 1830, and whites swarmed over Cherokee land. Without authorization from Cherokee Chief John Ross, Ridge and a few other Cherokee signed the Treaty of New Echota and agreed to removal west of the Mississippi in exchange for $5 million.

Though ratified by one vote in the U.S. Senate, the Cherokee Nation rejected the treaty, leading directly to forced removal in 1838. In retaliation, Major Ridge, his son John, and Elias Boudinot were all assassinated by other Cherokees in 1839, compounding the tragedy of the treaty signed on December 29, 1835, Today in Georgia History.