Early History of Georgia and Sir Alexander Cuming's Embassy to the Cherokees
A paper read in substance before the New-England Historic, Genealogical Society, February, 1872, by Samuel Q. Drake, A.M.
Before proceeding to give an account of the labors of Sir Alexander Cuming, it is proposed to notice briefly the country since known as Georgia. Of the tribes of Indians scattered over it, the Cherokees were, at the time it was taken possession of by the English, the principal. In the year 1733, when Gen. Oglethorp brought his colony there, he was received by the Lower Creeks, then consisting of eight tribes or clans, delegates from all of which were in attendance on the landing of the first colonists. These welcomed the English, and gave them all the land in their country except what they themselves used. This was the usual custom of the Indians everywhere, north as well as south, and establishes the fact, that before Europeans taught the aborigines the value of land, they placed no such importance upon it as we do; for they used it only while it afforded them game and a few other natural means of living. When these failed they abandoned it, and it was free for others to possess. Hence it will be perceived that the limits assigned to a tribe or nation of Indians were very uncertain. Territory was often, if not generally, acquired by one tribe dispossessing another. Rivers, mountains, &c., became boundaries, because they were natural defences as well.
We are informed by one of the most elaborate writers on the Cherokeee and their country, Mr. James Adair, who had lived among the Cherokees forty years, namely, from 1735 to 1775, that "their country was in latitude 34 deg. north, 340 miles north-west of 'Charlestown;' 140 miles W. S. W. from the Katahba nation, and almost 200 to the north of the Muskohge or Creek country. They were settled on nearly an east and west course, about 140 miles in length from the lower towns where fort Prince George stands, to the late unfortunate Fort Loudon (on the southerly bank of the Tennessee, opposite Tellico). They were a very numerous and potent nation forty years ago; had sixty-four towns and villages. And according to the most intelligent old traders of that time, they amounted to 6000 fighting men." This author having taken it into his head that these Indians were one of the "lost ten tribes of Israel," finds, or fancies he finds a Hebrew root in almost every word of their language; while we doubt not that with quite as much plausibility it might be made to appear that the Sandwich Islanders, New-Zealanders, or any of the nations of Polynesia are descended from the Cherokees.
The Cherokees were divided into upper, middle, and lower towns. Тhе upper and middle towns were almost constantly at war with the northern Indians, while the lower towns were at war with other tribes on their borders, as the Muskogees, Catawbas, &c. Thus they were continually wasted away, insomuch that at the close of the French war in 1760, they numbered but about 2300, which is Major Rogers's estimate. As late as 1795, they occupied 43 towns, and the number of warriors is put down at 2500. When Mr. Imlay collected his valuable materials on the south-west, he placed the country of the Cherokees "between the Great Bend of Tenasee, and the ridge of hills called the Allegany mountains, the western limits of Georgia, and the eastern branches of the Mobile," and estimated them the same as Major Rogers had done.
The Cherokee country was one of the finest in the world. "When Dr. Morse visited it in 1822, by order of the United States government, he remarked,—"Although large tracks have been purchased by our government of this tribe, at different times, their territory is now supposed to comprise 10,000,000 acres, sufficient to fill a space 150 miles by 100 wide; which is larger than the three states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut united." And such was the country upon which the eye of cupidity rested, nor could it ever be diverted, by Christian or other considerations, until its owners were driven from it at the point of the bayonet a few years later; when they had not only been taught by us the value of their land, how to use it by becoming cultivators of its soil, and thus depend on it for support!
In this connection one can hardly forbear making a few remarks respecting the materials for a history of Georgia; as we find almost nothing respecting that territory prior to the arrival of General Oglethorp with his company of emigrants, collected mainly from the debtors' prisons of the metropolis of the British empire. We have indeed histories of Georgia, and historical collections concerning that State. Into these one naturally looks for the earliest notice of the territory; but he looks only to be disappointed.
Whatever of history there was of Georgia before the setting out of Oglethorp would very properly be narrated in a history of South Carolina. But from Montgomery to Simms we have nothing new throwing light on the ante-Oglethorp times. The former author published in 1717, and the latter in 1859. As an apology for Montgomery it may be mentioned that his work does not pretend to be a regular history: yet its title may lead the reader to expect more than its author intended; reminding us of the old author who, in the preface to his work, cautioned the reader not to expect too much, lest it should prove to be like a mean structure with lofty and elegant portals.
To commence the history of Georgia with the colony under Oglethorp, would be extremely like beginning the history of New-England, jumping over all the early voyages and other transactions which led to its settlement. The general himself refers to previous transactions of a deeply interesting character. In his address immediately after his arrival (in 1733) he says,— "There was a time, when every day brought fresh advices of murders, ravages, and burnings." The historian of Georgia is expected, at least, to refer to these matters.
The principal object of this paper is to detail an early embassy to the country of the Cherokee Indians; the chief authority for which is a MS. written by Sir Alexander Cuming, Bart., in the year 1755, the ambassador himself. This MS. came into the writer's hands by purchase from a London bookseller. Accompanying it was a paper, stating that it once belonged to the great Shaksperian scholar, Isaac Read, Esq., from whom it passed into the keeping of George Chalmers, Esq., best known in this country by his great work,— "The Political Annals of the United Colonies," &c., a stout quarto, London, 1780.
Sir Alexander Cuming, Bart, was a son of a gentleman of the same name and title, and was probably born at the paternal seat of the Cumings, of Culter, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, about the year 1692. His father was created a baronet, Feb. 28, 1695, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son. He was designed for the profession of law, and spent some time in its practice in his native Scotland. How he came connected with the affairs of Georgia, does not fully appear; possibly through the agency of Sir Robert Montgomery his countryman. Certain it is, however, that up to the year 1732, the tract of country since Georgia was a wilderness waste, with the Spaniards on its southerly and the French on its westerly-borders. These were using every effort to monopolize the Indian trade, and had been very successful. Notwithstanding the treaty of peace signed at Seville, Oct. 28, 1729, between the English, French and Spaniards, it scarcely amounted to a truce. However it was thought a favorable time to establish a trade among the Cherokees, and to secure them to the English interest. To effect this very important object, Sir Alexander Cuming was sent over as an ambassador in 1730; and from certain passages in his MS. it would seem that the affair was kept secret until his return, as no account is found of his preparation or departure upon the service, although arrangements had probably been made for it as early as 1728. It would seem also from the same source, that the stupendous financial projects of John Law had caused a great panic in England, inasmuch as those projects were for the advancement of the French nation in its strides towards universal empire; so much feared and dreaded for a considerable period by a large class in England. As an offset to this gigantic scheme of Law, the great South Sea Company was set on foot. In this Sir Alexander became interested, but to what extent he does not state; but his connection with it, judging from what he does say, did not improve his fortune. He tells us, that in the year 1719, he was "unvoluntarily called from his business of the law of Scotland in order to examine the nature of those principles which were formed by John Law to aggrandize the power of France, and to set her up above that of all other nations upon the face of the globe. The principles then recommended by him had so intoxicating an effect as to create an epidemical distemper which seemed to turn the heads of all Europe, and occasioned the budding forth of several lesser schemes which proved the ruin of many thousands here in England." Among the "lesser schemes" was that already mentioned, usually known as the South Sea Bubble. Although Sir Alexander does not acknowledge himself one of the victims of that great swindle, it is pretty evident that he was; and although he writes like an honest man, it is pretty clear that he was somewhat visionary; asserting at one time that by proper management, the Cherokee country would pay the national debt of England in twenty years. But before he broached this scheme he seems to have had another, which may be best understood by presenting it in his own words; premising that for six years he appears to have been floundering in the John Law scheme and the South Sea Bubble, which bring his history to midsummer 1725. "And then," he says, "it became requisite to pursue the notions I had acquired, and to extend my views to remedy the inconveniencies which Law's schemes had promoted, and procured. The settlement of a college in Bermudas seemed to me the most rational way to stem the torrent of that stream which was then issuing forth from France to overflow all our settlements on the continent of America." Sir Alexander's argument for this college was, that by it "the native Indians being instructed and taught a veneration for the customs, manners and laws of our country, they would be the properest instruments to secure their countrymen to our interest against the French, our most powerful enemies." The question may very likely have occurred to some of the well informed of that day, where Sir Alexander would obtain his Indian students, for there were no Indians in Bermuda, and we are told by the early voyagers to the Island, that there never were any on the island, or none when discovered. Hence it doubtless seemed preposterous to go into the wilderness of America to procure scholars to be educated some hundreds of miles off in the ocean. Yet, however preposterous this scheme was, it seems to have been a favorite one with others as well as with Sir Alexander; for it appears that an expedition actually sailed for that object, under the leadership of Dean Berkely, in September, 1728; but it soon returned, not able to overcome the obstacles it encountered. The Dean was more successful the following year, when he came to Rhode Island. Although it does not appear that Sir Alexander's college "notion" met with much if any favor, yet his friends were inclined to do something for him; and accordingly he was recommended to the Ministry as a suitable gentleman for governor of Bermudas. This recommendation was by the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Islay, his Grace the Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, "backed in a very emphatical manner by the Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Metheuin, the most distinguished Knight of the Round Table upon the revival of the order of the Knights of the Bath." [Sir Paul was treasurer of the king's household.]
Notwithstanding this high recommendation Sir Alexander did not secure the place, and how he was employed for the next two years does not appear, but upon the accession of George II (1727) to the throne he appealed directly to him, reminding him that his [Sir Alexander's] father had on a certain time saved the life of his majesty. The king, in acknowledgment of the circumstance, ordered the secretary at war to notify him when any vacancy happened that was suitable for this applicant. This was about two years before the embassy to the Cherokees was undertaken, and hence the conclusion is arrived at, that Sir Alexander's appointment was in consequence of the circumstance just alluded to.
We do not find in our examination of documents any notice of the departure of Sir Alexander and his party; but of his arrival in the Cherokee country and subsequent transactions, there is a minute account, which it is now proposed to sketch. That no record is found of the sailing of the embassy may be accounted for upon the hypothesis that it was secretly undertaken for apparent reasons then existing. News had reached England, that about the middle of March, 1729, an army of Carolinians, consisting of 100 white men and 100 Indians, had killed thirty-two Yomassee Indians and a fryar, burnt their town, and driven others into the castle at St. Augustine; that an alliance was formed between the Creeks and Cherokees against the English, and that in this aspect of affairs the English traders did not dare to resume their business among them. This was the state of things when Sir Alexander Cuming arrived in "Charles Town." Nothing daunted, however, he left that place for the interior, on the 13th of March, 1730, and in ten days arrived at Keeakwee, 300 miles from Charleston. By the way he learned that the Cherokees were governed by seven Mother Towns:—These were Tannassie, Kettooah, Ustenary, Telliquo, Estootowie, Keyowee, and Noyohee. These towns had each their king, but at this time the kings of but three of the towns were alive, namely, those of Tannasee in the upper settlements; of Kettooah in the middle; and of Ustenary in the lower. Besides a king, or head man, each town had a head warrior.
On the 3d of April, Sir Alexander was at Telliquo with his company, which consisted of Eleazar Wiggau, Ludovick Grant, Samuel Brown, William Cooper, Agnus Macpherson, Martin Kane, David Dowie, George Hunter, George Chicken, Lacklain Mackbain, Francis Baver, and Joseph Cooper, all British subjects. Here, at this time and place, Moytoy (of Telliquo) was chosen emperor over the whole Cherokee nation, and unlimited power was conferred upon him.
When Sir Alexander had arrived at a point about 100 miles from Charleston, he was informed by a Capt. Russel, that for two years the French had been endeavoring to seduce the Lower Cherokees to their interests; that one Whitehead, a native of Paris, was the French agent. But here our documents take us a step back, in the detail of Sir Alexander's journey in the Indian country. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon that he set out from Mr. James Kinloch's plantation at New Gilmorton, being 23 miles from Charles Town. He was attended by Mr. George Chicken, besides Alexander Muckele, Aaron Cheesbrook, and Powel, pack-horse men; but the pack-horse men having got drunk, and overturned the baggage, these were left behind, and Sir Alexander proceeded with only Mr. Chicken and Mr. George Hunter, and lay that night at Mr. Alexander Kinlock's house at Wampee, 14 miles from his brother James's. On the 14th the party reached Mr. Neilson's, about 20 miles from their last named place. During this day's march Sir Alexander employed much of it in searching for springs, ponds and minerals. The 15th they made 35 miles, and stopped at the house of Mr. Coxe. Here Sir Alexander met Mr. William Cooper, a bold man well skilled in the Cherokee language, who engaged to meet him on the next day, and attend him to the Cherokee mountains. March 1C, they reached Capt. Russel's before mentioned, but 10 miles from their stopping place; having spent much time in search of curiosities. Among those discovered was a cave. They went into it. Mr. Hunter, Mr. Chicken and Mr. Coxe made marks to show that they had been there; and Sir Alexander cut upon a stone on the left hand of it "King George IL, of Great Britain, wrote by S. A. C." He also discovered some iron stone, which was one great end of his going in person to the mountains, not being able to depend upon the truth of any report he had heard in Carolina. Here his drunken pack-horse men came up. Two of those he discharged, and hired James Anderson in place of them. The 17th, more iron ore was discovered. On examining it Mr. Hunter found it yielded one third iron. Here Joseph Fairclough told Sir Alexander, privately, of a discovery he had made of copper, about 450 miles from the Catarba nation, aud offered to conduct him to it, but Sir Alexander said his intent in going to the Cherokee mountains was more than answered by the discoveries already made, besides the getting roots for the bites of snakes: so he proceeded to Beaver Creek, and encamped under a tree some 18 miles from Capt. Russel's.
March 18. After procuring several roots for the cure of the bites of snakes the party went on to the Congarees, where they again encamped under a tree, distance about 20 miles. Here happened something remarkable: Capt. How, a chief of the Cariaba nation, by his manner towards Sir Alexander, whom Sir A. had made his friend, ordered his men to salute him with feathers, said they would dance round him all night, and would make him a present of all their skins; but understanding that the dancing would disturb, instead of gratifying Sir Alexander, he ordered his men to desist, and withdrew and shot a turkey for his supper.
March 19. William Cooper returned according to promise, but Sir Alexander was plagued because Mr. Chicken had taken away his guide to catch a runaway horse, by which a great part of the morning was lost: so he left Mr. Chicken and Mr. Hunter and the pack-horse men behind at the 18 mile Branch, and proceeded with William Cooper only to Hollow Creek branch, being 30 or 35 miles from Congerees. The following day they went to Ninety-six Mile Swamp, where William Cooper's horse was found lame. It rained heavily all night, while they had only trees for shelter; the wolves making the most hideous howls all about them. Thus ended the 20th of March, on which they had journeyed 38 or 40 miles. On the 21st they reached Long Cane (now in Abbeville county, S. C.), 30 or 35 miles. This day William Cooper killed a buffalo, a viper, a fox squirrel, and wounded three wolves. These attacked their great dog, and were not beaten off till they had nearly killed him, tearing out part of his entrails. On the way Sir Alexander found some small stones which shined like gold, and passed Marrowbone Creek, where a Cherokee the last year killed the Cheekipaw by Mr. Weekly's side. [Who Mr. Weekly was, does not appear.]
March 22. They reached Boggy Gully, 36 or 40 miles from Long Cane, and encamped in the woods; having as usual examined the country for minerals and other curiosities by the way. From this point they went to Keeowee, which they reckoned 20 miles [in the present county of Pendleton]. Here Sir Alexander learned more particulars respecting the hostile disposition of the Cherokees; especially the Lower Towns; that the Lower Creeks were in the French interest, and were exerting themselves to seduce the Cherokees to join them; that but a month before those emissaries had gone to receive presents from the French, and upon their return it was expected that the Cherokees would join them against the English. A great number of the Indians were assembled in their Council-House here at this time. Among these Sir Alexander was resolved to make a bold push. So at night he entered their Council-House, where were above three hundred of them. Surprised at the audacity of the stranger, who demanded their acknowledgment of the king of England's authority over them and their country, they at once submitted, and said they would obey him in everything: Sir Alexander called them to make this submission on their knees, protesting that if they violated this promise they would become no people: a submission they never made before either to God or man. Sir Alexander, upon this great event, ordered expresses to be sent through the whole Cherokee nation, directing that three head men should meet him at Nequassee on the 3d of April, where he proposed to be on his return from the mountains: That these head men should bring full power from the three settlements that what had been promised should be performed. The Indian traders at Nequassee who were eye-witnesses, and Joseph Cooper the interpreter, having declared that what they heard and saw done that night, was so incredible, that they would not have believed it possible had they not seen it themselves; that nobody in Carolina would believe their report to be true, for that he (the interpreter) declared that if he had known what Sir Alexander was going to do, he would not have dared to enter the council-house that night, nor would the traders have ventured to witness the proceedings; believing that none of them could have got out alive; but the Indians being taken by surprise, and amazed at the manner of Sir Alexander, at once submitted to whatever he demanded. He stood up in the midst of them and made his speech through the interpreter; and though armed with three cases of pistols, a gun and a sword under his great coat, it is not reported that he flourished any of these to awe the savages.
As there was a possibility that he might not live to return to England, to report his successes, Sir Alexander drew up a declaration of the whole proceedings, to be sent to his majesty in case any accident might happen to him. This declaration was witnessed by himself, Joseph Cooper, interpreter; Ludovick Grant, Joseph Barker, Gregory Haines, David Jenkinson, Thomas Goodale, William Cooper, guide; William Hutton, and John Biles. Dated May 23, 1729-30, at Keeowee.
On March 24, Sir Alexander went on 12 miles to Occounny. [Oconee is a town on the river of the same name, the north main branch of the Alatamaha.] Here he slept at Mr. Dawie's, an Indian trader; and observed that a solemnity was acting in the council-house, about creating a new king. On the 25th he proceeded through Keeowee, Chattoogah, Tucharreehee, the Clay-pits, and lay at old Estatoway. Here he made a friend of the head warrior. His discoveries this day quite surprised him [but he does not record what they were]. From Estoway [sic] he proceeded on the 26th of March, to Nooulfkah, where he made a friend of Hercules [an Indian powow or medicine man]; got the secret of his several roots for distempers; met on the way the conjuror Toogabow, and made a friend of him; then went by Echvey to Neguassee, where he met Telloquoluftokay, and made a friend of him; thence to Joree, where he passed the night. [Jore is one of the Cherokee mountains.] Here he met Caesar's brother, who discovered the Indian's plot to massacre the English [in 1715? See Mills's S. C., 487-8]; with him he had some talk. At this place Sir Alexander discovered a transparent stone.
March 27, the party left Joree, passed through Tamauchly, and thence to Tassetchee, being 40 miles. This day's journey was over the steep mountains of Joree: here Sir Alexander made the two head warriors and the conjuror his friends, and spoke about their accompanying him to England. The night following happened the most terrible thunder, lightning and rain; insomuch that the like never happened before in the memory of any of them: here their great conjuror told Sir Alexander that he knew he was come among them to rule, and that their whole nation must do whatever he bid them. [It is elsewhere intimated that this fearful tempest was very opportune, and was turned to good account by Sir Alexander, with the aid of the conjuror.] On the 28th of March he was within 3 miles of Beaver-dams, where he spent the night; Ludovick Grant, and his guide, William Cooper, being with him. This day he discovered some iron stone at two different places.
March 29, they proceeded over the mountains, drank some of the water on the top of the high Ooneekaway mountain, near which was a large tree called the poisoned pear. From the top of this mountain to Telliquo is a descent of about 12 miles. They reached Telliquo in the afternoon; saw the petrifying cave; a great many enemy's scalps brought in and put upon poles at the warrior's doors; made a friend of the great Moytoy, and Jacob the conjuror. Moytoy told Sir Alexander, that it was talked among the several towns last year, that they intended to make him emperor over the whole; but now it must be whatever Sir Alexander pleased.
March 30, leaving William Cooper at Great Telliquo, to take care of his lame horse, Sir Alexander took with him only Ludovick Grant to go to Great Tannassy, a town pleasantly situated on a branch of the Mississippi, 16 miles from Great Talliquo. [It is not easy to see by any of the maps to which we have access, how there could be any water course where Sir Alexander now was with Mississippi.] The path was said to be lined with enemies, yet they met with no accident. Here Sir Alexander met with Mr. Wiggan, the complete linguist; saw fifteen enemies' scalps brought in by the Tannassy warriors; made a friend of the king of Tannassy, and made him do homage to George II on his knee. The same night returned to Great Telliquo; was particularly distinguished by Moytoy in the Councilhouse; the Indians singing and dancing about him, and stroked his head and body over with eagles' tails. After this Moytoy and Jacob the conjuror decided to present Sir Alexander with the crown of Tannassy.
From Telliquo he proceeded on March 31, with Moytoy, Jacob the conjuror, the bearer of eagles' tails, and a throng of other Indians, and lay in the woods at night between 20 and 30 miles distant. April 1, they reached Tassetehee, above 30 miles from their last encampment. Here the Indians of the place agreed to what had been done in relation to the crown of Tannassy, declaring that it was an emblem of universal sovereignty over the Cherokee nation. The next day, April 2, they proceeded to Joree, with increased numbers, particularly by the warriors and conjuror of Tassetehee. The journey lay over several steep mountains, near 40 miles. When about a mile from Joree, Sir Alexander was met by Mr. George Chicken, Mr. Hunter, and several English traders on horseback, who conducted him to the town. Here the head warrior of Joree had procured him a specimen of iron ore which he had obtained from a steep craggy mountain, six miles from there. Thus the warrior had promised when Sir Alexander passed through the place previously, but nobody expected he would perform it ; but the warrior said he would, though his death should follow thereupon. [There was no doubt a superstition prevailing among the Indians that no one could ascend that mountain and return alive.]
April 3. This morning they went to Nequassee, being 5 miles from Joree, with an increased retinue. Here the Indians gathered from all parts, agreeably to notice to do so, expressed from Keeowee. This was a day of the greatest solemnity ever seen in the country: There was singing, dancing, feasting, speeches, the creation of Moytoy emperor; a declaration of their resigning their crown, eagles' tails, scalps, as emblems of their owning King George's sovereignty, at the desire of Sir Alexander Cuming, in whom absolute power was placed, without which he could not be answerable to his majesty for their conduct. This submission he caused them to make on their knees. Then Sir Alexander caused a paper to be drawn up detailing the event, which was witnessed by himself, Eleazar Whiggam, Ludovick Grant, Samuel Brown, William Cooper, Agnus Mackferson, David Dowie, Francis Beaver, Lachban Macbain, George Hunter, George Chicken, and Joseph Cooper, interpreter, besides the Indians [whose names are not given].
The next day, April 5, Sir Alexander went to Nooulfkah, attended only by William Cooper and George Hunter, leaving George Chicken to follow. Here he received roots of all kinds, which had ever been held as the greatest secrets by the Indians. He then went to Chattoogay and lay at the house of Joseph Cooper's mother: on the 6th, they went to Ookunny [since Oconee], where Sir Alexander found a house ready built to receive him. The king or head man here was called the mankiller, being the same made king at Ookunny (the same with the king of Keeowkee), and the prince of Tomassy. They came to Sir Alexander and presented him with two eagles tails, and on their knees paid homage to King George II. The same night they got to Keeowee, having looked for mines and minerals on the way. This is the last town of the lower settlements of the Cherokee nation. Six chiefs whom Sir Alexander had chosen accompanied him; selected with Moytoy's consent as evidences of what had taken place; Mr. Hunter, Mr. Chicken, and the pack-horse men, made up the rest of the company. This town (Keowee) is about 200 miles from Great Tannassy, and about 300 from Charles Town; but by reason of the mountains Tannassy is recorded as far distant as Charles Town. This night they all lay at Twenty-three Mile-Creek.
April 8, Sir Alexander left the Indians and baggages to proceed to Charles Town at leisure, and lay at Mulberry Creek, with Mr. George Chicken, and William Cooper, the guide, being about 40 miles from their last encampment. The following night they lay at Salloodee river, 48 miles from Mulberry Creek. April 10, they lay at Congerees, 38 or 40 miles from Mulberry Creek. The llth, they lay at Capt. Russel's, commonly said to be 35 miles, but is rather 40 from Congerees. The 12th, they reached Arisque's, distant from Capt Russet's 60 miles.
April 13, went to breakfast with Mr. Chicken at his mother's house; thence to Mr. Kinloch's, a gentleman of the council; dined with Mr. Middleton, president, acting as governor; drank tea at Mrs. Johnson's, called in at Mr. Gadsden's, and lay that night at Charles Town.
The chiefs which Sir Alexander had chosen to accompany him to England he left on the road in the care of Mr. Hunter, who reached Mr. Kinloch's with them the 19th, 23 miles from Charles Town. It was hereabouts they met with the warrior Ounakannowie, a friend of theirs who had just come from the Kettarba nation. He desired to accompany them, and Sir Alexander consented, but several others who were with Ounakaunowie he declined to admit into the company. The names of the six chiefs were, Oukah Ulah (that is the king that is to be), the head warrior of Tassetchee, a man of great power and interest, who has a right to be a king; Skallelockee, or Kettagustah (or prince), Tathtowie, the third warrior, and Collannah, a fourth warrior; and from Tannassie, the remotest town of the country, he took Clogoittah and Oukanach, warriors, because the people in Carolina believed it was not possible to travel the length of Tannassie and back again in less than three months, whereas the time that Sir Alexander had limited himself to do it in, was from March 13 to April 20; the distance being 500 miles.
The six chiefs above named, with Sir Alexander, went on board the Fox man of war, on the 4th of May. Moytoy would have accompanied them, but owing to the sickness of his wife was prevented. The Fox, Capt. Arnold, sailed in company with the Garland, Capt. Anson [afterwards Lord Anson?], on the day appointed, and arrived at Dover, June 5, after the remarkable short passage of one month and one day. The same night Sir Alexander arrived by post at London. The Indians were brought up in the ship.
In the mean time Sir Alexander communicated with the secretary of state, and the latter with the king, who ordered that Sir Alexander and the Indians should be present at an installation which had been appointed to take place on the 18th of June, ensuing, which was accordingly arranged, and on the 22d, Sir Alexander was introduced to his majesty, and upon his knee, in presence of the Court, declared the full power he had received; the Indian chiefs all kneeling at the same time: Sir Alexander laying the crown of the Cherokee nation at his majesty's feet, with the five eagles' tails as an emblem of his majesty's sovereignty, and four scalps of Indian enemies; all which his majesty was graciously pleased to accept of.
As the speech of the Indian orator on the occasion, and the treaty made at the time are in print, they do not require to be produced in this article. Before their introduction to the king, they had been conducted on the usual rounds of the city,—to the tower, where they saw the crown-jewels, the coronation-robes, and other curiosities. To these the chief alluded in his speech to the king. How they passed their time for nearly another month, particulars are scanty. The treaty was concluded on the 7th of September, in Whitehall, and they returned to Dover in the beginning of October, and immediately sailed for their own country in the same ship which had brought them over.
There were not wanting at the time those scribblers for the public prints who were prepared to make the most of any odd affairs to gratify their natural propensity for ridicule. One denominated the chief of the Indians: "High and mighty Sagamore of the Cherokees, whose dress was an officer's blue coat with white metal buttons, and this with a laced hat and other martial accoutrements, made him look as soldierly as the late King of Sweden, having as many scarifications on his swarthy face as there are bars in a gridiron; wrought first with a sharp instrument, then inlaid with gunpowder, to add terribility to his awful visage."
"They had severally the honour to kiss the hands of his Majesty, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke. The Indian King had on a scarlet jacket, but all the rest were naked, except an apron about their middles, and a horse's tail hung down behind. Their faces, shoulders, &c. were painted and spotted with red, blue & green. They had bows in their hands & painted feathers in their heads."
In another paragraph is found a severe cut at the sycophantic manner in which people cringe about and fawn upon royalty:—"Our citizens were not a little pleased to see so great a potentate as his Indian majesty is said to be, appear more like a heathen philosopher than a pagan Prince, as if he affected to show the world a true copy of a primitive king, surrounded by no fawning courtiers, to secrete aims from the public; no cringing sycophants to tickle his ears with flattery whilst they picked his pockets; no guards for the security of his person; looking as fearless and unconcerned as if he had nothing to protect him but the Love and Loyalty of his subjects. Nor was his presence, tho' distinguished by no costly badges or embellishments, inconsistent with his royal dignity. He had much sagacity in his looks and majesty in his deportment tho' his shirt and skin happened to be much of a color."
We hear nothing of Sir Alexander in connection with the Indian delegation after the introduction to the king. When they learned that he was not to return with them to Carolina they expressed much disappointment; indicating that he may have made them a promise to do so. And whether he ever returned to America is not known, although from some circumstances and intimations it seems probable that he did; for in a schedule of his effects drawn up in 1755, he mentions property in South Carolina, as houses, an "uninhabited island" which he bought of one Mr. Hill, a merchant there, and which island he named Hilkiah, for which he paid £100 sterling: observing that he named it Hilkiah, from the appearance of two eagles at the time of purchase. [Whether this island was afterward called "Cumming's Point," and had a fortification on it in 1780, near Charleston, is not known.]
In this connection we will narrate all we have been able to learn concerning Sir Alexander Cuming, not before given. And as already remarked, we hear nothing of him after the embarkation of the Cherokees, until by his MS. before us, he reports himself a prisoner in the Poultry Compter, and says he was removed to the Compter from the Fleet. How long he was a prisoner in the latter he makes no mention, nor is there anything by which we can determine how or when he gained his liberty, if at all; but we know that in 1755 he had been confined nearly two years, during which time he was prevented taking the benefit of the act of insolvency, from the want of his papers; yet from a schedule drawn up from his memory, he seems to have had interests in numerous properties in varioiis places, and affirms that his means are sufficient to pay all his honest debts, were he allowed his liberty. And at this point we must close our notice of him with the remark, that there probably is not a monument of any name or nature, in South Carolina or Georgia, that there ever lived such a man as Sir Alexander Cuming, Bart., unless the Point before mentioned be an exception. And it may be further remarked, that in the Gazetteer of Georgia we find the counties in that state are named for the distinguished men connected with its history, generally; yet in one or two instances counties appear to be named for persons who, it may be, never had heard of the State of Georgia. To this Gazetteer (printed in 1829) are appended brief biographies of Georgians- considered the most eminent by the compiler. How it happened that a post-village has, within a few years, been called "Cumming," is unknown to the writer. It is in Forsyth co., 109 miles N. W. from Milledgeville. There is also a railroad station named Cumming, in the same state, 57 miles from Augusta. It is not thought that these places were thus named with any reference to Sir Alexander Cuming. In the map accompanying the Gazetteer, such is the scarcity of Indian names upon it, that a stranger might be led to suppose that the country was never occupied by the Indians. Were Indian names looked upon as a blemish? or were they discarded that they should not remind the present lords of the soil how they came by it?
Like all aborigines, the Cherokees were cruel in war, and had been in frequent collisions with the Carolinians, but how often would it be found that the Indians were the first transgressors? We know from the history of our own times, that in a majority of cases in which blood has been shed, the white neighbors of the Indians were the aggressors. And yet they (the Indians) have always been ready to fight our battles. No less than five hundred Cherokee warriors fought on the side of independence in the war of the revolution. In the late southern rebellion, the expatriated Cherokees beyond the Mississippi were entirely surrounded by their rebellious neighbors, and it was next to impossible for them to remain neutral, yet a good number of them continued loyal to the end.
I have already alluded to the manner in which the Cherokees were driven from their country, and it is not proposed to expatiate on that painful subject at this time. Yet there will always be associated with their name a reflection, and a feeling in every humane breast, that their expatriation was a crime as nefarious as ever any one people committed against another. It was a crime precisely like one which any state might commit against another, because that state had strength to overpower the other. The Cherokees were advancing in civilization; they had become farmers, mechanics, and proficients in many useful arts as well as their neighbors; but these acquisitions, it would seem, only made those neighbors more avaricious, and more determined on their ruin. They were even becoming, I may say they had become, literary: they prepared and printed school books, published newspapers in their own language, and with an alphabet of the invention of one of their own people; which alphabet was, and still is, an invention challenging the admiration of the learned world.
The wrong to which allusion has been made, was a crime which will never be forgotten or forgiven, and its perpetrators have gone, many of them, and the rest will go, down to their graves in infamy; and the believer in retributive justice may point to the "March To The Sea" as a warning or foreshadowing of one of more terrible desolation, when that colossus, armed with iron hands and leaden feet, shall fully vindicate the law of justice, and the equal rights of man.
The New England Historical and Genealogical Register by Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters, New England Historic Genealogical Society; vol 26, pages 260-271. Early History of Georgia and Sir Alexander Cuming's Embassy to the Cherokees; as accessed by BobC on 25 June 2009