Selections from the newspaper Cherokee Phoenix, 1828-33, including contributions of S. A. Worcester and the newspaper's editor, E. Boudinot.
In 1828 only seven years after the great Sequoyah had invented the syllabary that gave the Cherokees a written language, the Cherokee Nation founded a national newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, at New Echota in what is now Oklahoma. It was the first journal printed in part in an American Indian language.
Meanwhile Samuel Austin Worcester, a missionary of the Congregational church’s American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, had in 1825, as the editors of New Echota Letters write, “set the lamp of his life in the forest of Cherokeeia." He served his adopted people as preacher, teacher, and physician. During the short life of the Cherokee Phoenix (1828-34), he contributed to it in both English and Cherokee. The subjects of his articles in Cherokee were religious; but those in English, excerpted for this volume, reflect the breadth of his interest in Cherokee life -- in linguistics, mythology, social history, and politics.
Worcester's championship of the Cherokees was against the unfeeling policies being carried out at that time by American federal and state governments. The letters appearing here show graphically not only how he served the Cherokee Nation, but also how he "cheerfully went to prison for the privilege of doing so."
Not all the material included in New Echota Letters is by Worcester. Some is the work of the young Indian classical scholar Elias Boudinot, editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, whose personality emerges clearly and appealingly from his comments on Worcester’s articles, particularly when the white missionaries were being persecuted by their own government. As the editors describe him, he was “painfully fair-minded, naively incapable of measuring the malice in the forces that he opposed." It is, they add, “eminently ironical that this gentle soul should have blundered into political martyrdom."
The Kilpatricks' selections from the files of the Cherokee Pboenix, to which they have added illuminating explanatory introductions, show both the bad and the good in the relationship of the white man to the civilized and culture-hungry Cherokees at a crucial period in their history. "If," the editors conclude, "during the period of Samuel Worcester’s ministry the Cherokees came to know the full force of the hate of the white man, they also learned the lengths to which the love of a white man could go.”
Available at the Family History Library.