New Echota, Georgia, September 27, 1837
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SIR: Yours of the 29th and 30th of August have been received. In relation to what is said in that of the 29th, I have to state as follows:
In the month of August I received from the Treasurer of the United States $200,000, in drafts on sundry banks and receivers of public moneys in the South, to be disbursed under the act of Congress of July 2, 1836, for carrying into effect the Cherokee treaty.
Of these drafts there are on hand to the amount of $25,000; the balance have been disposed of, some to the recipients of money under the treaty, and others have been exchanged at par for available funds.
Within a few days after the receipt of the drafts I disposed of several thousand dollars of them to recipients, chiefly merchants and business men, and some of the principal men among the Cherokees, who understood their value. It was, however, soon discovered that the great mass of recipients among the whites did not understand them, and it was out of the question to attempt to pass them to the illiterate Indians. About the same time suddenly, sprung up among the Cherokees a spirit of enrolling for emigration and the greater number of persons enrolling became recipients of small sums which the drafts would not answer to pay.
You are aware how important it is to keep up this spirit of emigration at this period, and every one who knows say thing of the Indian character and the present condition of affairs in the Cherokee nation, is aware that this spirit would have been very much depressed, and probably extinguished altogether, without proper means to keep it up. The ordinary currency of the country the Indians have been taught to believe is worth nothing to them west of the Mississippi; it was therefore necessary to seek for such as enjoyed their confidence, and leave no room for complaint.
It was then deemed expedient, under the circumstances, to exchange the drafts for such funds as would be made available in carrying out the views of the Government.
Accordingly, $76,900 were exchanged at par with the Insurance Bank of Columbus, Georgia, for the purpose of obtaining $10,000 in specie for the immediate use of the emigrants, $25,000, have been disposed of according to an agreement (a copy of which is herewith transmitted) between Wm. Hardin, president of the Western Bank of Georgia, A. Miller, one of its agents, and myself. This step was not taken without consulting the commissioners, and it was their opinion that the object to be obtained justified the course.
The Western Bank of Georgia is a specie paying bank, and is entitled to great confidence. A few thousand, say about $10,000, have been disposed of, at par, to different individuals, for specie and current notes of the country.
This is a brief history of the disposition of the drafts which I have received from the Treasurer.
The idea of exchanging drafts at a premium never occurred to me. As a disbursing officer, I had taken it for granted that they were to be disposed of to recipients of public money where it was convenient, and when it was authorized, and the public convenience required exchanges. I presumed the Government of the United States only asked dollar for dollar.
Proceeding upon this principle, I have made all exchanges at par, and have made no exchanges where I did not suppose the money received would be used to a greater advantage for the public service than the drafts themselves.
The funds received from the Insurance Bank of Columbus have thus far answered all the purposes of specie, and the Indians seem universally to have confidence in them. Without them I scarcely know how the public business here would have progressed. $10,000, were promptly furnished in specie by the Western Bank of Georgia, under the arrangement with Messrs. Hardin and Miller.