Claude Walker | Bicentennial-By-Buttons

Fort Jackson Treaty (1814) Following the bloody Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Andrew Jackson forces the Creeks to give up most of their land.

Adams-Onís Treaty (1819)  Spain cedes East Florida and West Florida to United States in deal negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Spain's Don Luís de Onis. 

Treaty of Moultrie Creek (1823)  Seminoles forced to give up most of their land and relocate to a reservation in central Florida. The reservation lacks farmland, game and access to the sea.

United States Indian Removal Act (1830)  President Jackson-initiated mandate to "strongly encourage" all Indians east of the Mississippi to move to reservations west of the Mississippi.

Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831)  Landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling rejects Cherokee's claim that they are a sovereign entity with a right to self-governance.  In Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall characterizes the Cherokee as a "domestic dependent nation" subject to federal law. A subsequent ruling clarified that Cherokees were subject to federal and not state law.

Treaty of Payne's Landing (1832)  Seminoles agree to send a delegation to inspect the proposed reservation out West.  If suitable, each relocatee would receive an annuity, cattle and a blanket.

Treaty of Capitulation (1837)  Jumper and other chiefs sign deal to cease hostilities and migrate West.

Tyler ends the 2nd Seminole War (1842)  President John Tyler informs Congress he plans to end the "...unhappy warfare" in Florida.

As described in "Seminole Smoke: An Odyssey..."

Treaty of Moultrie Creek (1823)

"When the word came to all Florida chiefs to convene in September in a spot south of St. Augustine, Micanopy knew he would bring Abraham, the bilingual Black Seminole who had become his 'sense bearer', a translator and advisor. Abraham suggested that Micanopy invite Turtle to the council..." 

"...As they rode east the next morning, Micanopy explained to Paul that the U.S. wanted to relocate all the Indians to reservations west of the Mississippi River eventually. In the short term, they wanted to concentrate Indians in a reservation in central Florida that had poor grazing, no coastline and was far to the south.

"Micanopy said the Americans claimed they would protect the Seminoles, but he didn't believe it. He was upset that the Americans want to put all of the Florida tribes in the same reservation west of the Mississippi where the Creeks are..."

"...Abraham identified the luminaries expected to participate in the council in Moultrie Creek. Principal chiefs - Neamathla, John Blunt, Econchimitico, Mullato King, Tuski Hajo - as well as up-and-comers such as Rat Head, Charley Amathla and Emathlochee would all be there.

"This would be the biggest gathering of these diverse tribes ever. Some of these tribes were nomadic, others agriculturally-rooted. Some owned slaves, others harbored runaway slaves. Some carried rifles, others spears. Many languages and dialects were spoken. Some were open to relocation to the West, others vehemently against it..."

"...Neamathla - a forceful boss - was named principal spokesman and negotiator. The Indian group had now grown to 400 and more were arriving by the hour. The next day, the negotiation would begin where the sluggish Matanzas River met fast-moving Moultrie Creek..."

"James Gadsden had been appointed to negotiate a treaty with the Florida tribes. He did some muscle-flexing by having mounted troops from St. Augustine on hand for the opening ceremony. The Indians arrived as one, with different drum-beats and chants and whoops echoing across the riverfront. Two Indians wore nothing but white body paint and feathers..."

"...Neamathla and a few other chiefs entered a specially-built house made of bark where the negotiations were to be conducted. A ceremonial pipe was smoked. Gadsden opened the session by inviting each of the major chiefs to speak their peace.

"After patiently hearing out everyone in the cramped room, Gadsden said it was time 'to bury the hatchet' and make peace. He noted the Americans' armed might. He said the Seminoles would be given a large reservation in the center of Florida, an annuity, protection and such support as a blacksmith, translator and school. In return, the Seminole must give up the rest of their land, turn over any runaway slaves and allow the Americans to build roads through the reservation. There was grumbling from the chiefs..."

"...Paul was amazed at the range of Indians present, some having traveled from as far west as the Apalachicola River, or as far south as Tampa Bay or Lake Okeechobee. A new Seminole identity and unity was emerging, thanks to a council convened by the Americans, Paul mused.

"Unlike the Creek and Choctaw, the Seminoles had never ceded land to the Americans. They felt the entire Florida peninsula was theirs and most chiefs were uncomfortable with this provision. The chiefs were unhappy with the American plan to build roads across their hunting grounds, but not angry enough to contest it.

"One sticking point, though, was the slave issue. Some chiefs included many Black Seminoles in their constituencies, people who had been several generations removed from slavery and intermarrying with Indians for 40 years. Still, the U.S. wanted the chiefs to turn these Black Seminoles in, so that the descendants of their ancestors' owners could claim them. This was unacceptable to many chiefs.

"The negotiations continued on-and-off for two weeks. Some chiefs believed that the U.S. strategy was to confine the Seminoles in one spot in Florida, then move then all at once to the West.

"The chiefs were given few options. Gadsden had cut a side deal - some would characterize it as a bribe brokered by Rommy Duvall - with Neamathla, who got to keep his villages and power base by the Apalachicola. Nearly every chief signed including Micanopy, although most were illiterate and unfamiliar with the concept of a treaty, its legal weight or its finality.

"The council ended in turmoil, as some chiefs quickly denied agreeing to what Gadsden claimed they did. But the Treaty of Moultrie was signed and Gadsden intended to enforce it."

United States Indian Removal Act (1830)

"'General' Jackson was now 'President' Jackson. The gnarly, ill-tempered Tennessean was the first President from the nation's western frontier. Indian-fighter, war hero, lawmaker..."

"...For two decades, Jackson saw the solution to the 'Indian Problem' as simple. Clear as day. Move 'em. That had been his mission from the time he was a Tennessee militia general to his new role as Commander-in-Chief. There had been diplomacy, starvation, bribes, torture and more negotiations. But tens of thousands of Indians were still east of the Mississippi - in Florida mostly - and he wanted them relocated. Now.

"The 'Indian Removal Act of 1830' would put teeth into his mission.

"In his first Presidential Address to the nation, Jackson reiterated his position on the 'Indian Problem' and unveiled legislation to 'strongly encourage' all Indians east of the Mississippi to move to reservations west of the Mississippi. They would receive fair compensation, travel expenses and assistance on their new reservation in the Arkansas Territory.

"His first targets - and top priority - were the five great nations of the Southeast: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.

"The debate in the U.S. House over Jackson's 'Indian Removal Act' was vigorous and bitter. Abolitionists, anti-Jacksonians and northeast Congressmen opposed the bill, some concerned more with the price-tag than Indians' rights. But Jackson's hard-line plan prevailed, 101-97. The Senate debate featured oratory defending the Indians' rights by national heroes Davy Crockett and Sam Houston, but the bill passed.

"On May 28, 1830, President Jackson gleefully approved the United States Indian Removal Act of 1830. A long road since Horseshoe Bend, Jackson thought as he signed his bill into law..."

"...Within a week, the State of Georgia declared the Cherokee Nation was illegal, nullified tribal laws and confiscated property. The tribe took it to court, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Cherokees' claims of sovereignty. Jackson had beaten the Indians on the battlefield, in Congress and now in the courts."

Treaty of Payne's Landing (1832)

"Jackson and his Congressional allies needed some victories in their plan to remove all Indians and their patience with the Seminoles' foot-dragging was at its end. James Gadsden, who had designed Fort Gadsden on the Negro Fort site and negotiated the Moultrie Creek pact, was sent in to fix the problem. He sent messengers to every chief throughout Florida inviting them to meet at Payne's Landing, on the banks of the Oklawaha River in north central Florida.

"Micanopy sent word to Paul to join him at Payne's Landing as a back-up sense bearer for Abraham. Micanopy also wanted Paul there for his good sense..."

"...Other chiefs from across the state arrived at Payne's Landing by the first week of May 1832, and the parlay began. A low-key event compared to the pomp, marching bands and gift-giving at Moultrie, Gadsden welcomed the chiefs into a cramped shack built for this meeting, and promptly told the Seminole chiefs they must follow the lead of their Choctaw, Creek and Chickasaw brothers and go west.

"'They are not our brothers,' Paul said, his first words as a leader, not just a translator. Gadsden glared. Abraham smiled.

"This prompted a discussion of why the Seminoles didn't want to be in the same reservation with the Creek. Many of the same issues from Moultrie Creek were debated: the role of slaves and Black Seminoles, harsh conditions of the reservation, the annuity.

"Unmoved, Gadsden repeated: you have three years to move and may send a delegation to the reservation to see first-hand if it meets your standards. Abraham translated this to the chiefs, although some misunderstood Abraham. And, as at Moultrie Creek, some of the chiefs signed this treaty without really knowing what it meant."

President Tyler ceases military action (1842)

"The war was slowly drawing to a close. Kundiata and Paul Turtle were invited to a high-level negotiation in Washington D.C.

"As their train sped across the rice fields of Georgia and South Carolina, Kundiata saw the slaves working in unbearable conditions. Some of her distant Gullah cousins may be out there, she thought. They saw Savannah, Raleigh, Richmond. Paul thought about his first night in a fancy Richmond hotel so many years before..."

"They arrived in Washington D.C., and were quickly ushered into a meeting with the President himself. James Tyler was not nearly as hostile to the Indian cause as Jackson or Van Buren, yet he showed little sympathy.

"As Paul stood before the latest Great White Father, he thought about the knife his Uncle Fixico had given him long ago before a previous trip to the white man's capital. His uncle had half-jokingly encouraged him to use it on the Great Father if he had the opportunity..."

"...As Tyler spoke cordially to the Seminole delegation in the plush, red velvet White House conference room, Paul realized he had a chance to change history.

"Paul's hand speed was still inhuman. He saw a 10-inch carving knife on a table. The closest security agent was easily 12 feet away from Tyler. Paul could - in a blink - thrust the carving knife into the President's chest and alter the course of history.

"Paul weighed the value of this history-changing crossroads with the certainty that not only he, but also Kundiata and Billy Bowlegs would be immediately shot.

"For the next two minutes, Paul made the mental calculations. Was Tyler truly an enemy of the Indians? How about his Vice-President? What would this assassination accomplish? Would Kundiata suffer?"


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