The Story of A White Man Who Stood Up For The Cherokee
And why many Cherokee became Christian because of him. The following is one story.
I was told another in my youth. I was told his courage impressed many Cherokee to become Christian.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Samuel Worcester, "Cherokee Messenger"
Born January 19, 1798
Died April 20, 1859
Park Hill, Indian Territory
Occupation Minister, CherokeeDefender
Religious beliefs Christianity
Spouse(s) Ann Worcester
This article is about the American missionary to the Cherokees. For the U.S. Representative from Ohio, see Samuel T. Worcester.
Samuel Austin Worcester (19 January 1798 – 20 April 1859), was a missionary to the Cherokees, translator of the Bible, printer and defender of the Cherokees' freedom. He was born in Peacham, Vermont on January 19, 1798, as the seventh generation of pastors in his family, dating back to when his family lived in England. When Samuel was born his father, the Rev. Leonard Worcester, was a minister in Peacham, Vermont. According to Charles Perry of the Peacham Historical Association, Leonard also worked as a printer in the town during the week.
1 Missionary to the Cherokee
2 The Cherokee Phoenix
3 Worcester in court and prison
4 Life and Death in Oklahoma
5 Worcester House
7 External links
Missionary to the Cherokee
Young Samuel exhibited an unusual strength in foreign languages. While studying in New England the minister met and befriended Buck Oowatie, a Cherokee Indian who had taken the name Elias Boudinot. Samuel and Elias became close friends. When Worcester joined the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions he requested assignment to a Cherokee village that was in particular need according to Boudinot. Within days of arriving at Old Chickamauga Town in the vicinity of present-day East Brainerd, Tennessee, Worcester was not only preaching, he had taken over duties as blacksmith, carpenter, translator and doctor. His Cherokee name was "The Messenger" (As-tes-nu-sti)
The Cherokee Phoenix
The influence of Boudinot cannot be overstated. The two had become close friends over the two years they had known each other. When Sequoyah developed the "Talking Leaves," Boudinot asked Worcester to help 455in establishing a Cherokee paper. Worcester, a visionary, saw not only a newspaper, but a tool of Cherokee literacy, a means to draw the loose Cherokee community together and a way of establishing and promoting a Cherokee Nation. Using his missionary connection, Worcester secured funds to build a printing office, buy the printing press and ink, and cast the alphabet's characters (since the "talking leaves" were new, no type existed). The first edition of the Cherokee Phoenix rolled off the presses at New Echota (now Calhoun, Georgia) in 1828. From this point on, Worcester probably had input in most Cherokee publications until his death.
Worcester in court and prison
The westward push of white settlers had begun to dramatically affect the Cherokee. These valiant American Indians, with the help of Worcester and his benefactor, the American Board, formulated a plan to fight the encroachment by using the courts, their last hope. No other civil authority would support the Cherokee right to live on the land they called home for hundreds of years. Hiring former U.S. Attorney General William Wirt, the Cherokees first attempted to argue their position before theUnited States Supreme Court in Georgia v. Tassel (granting a writ of error for a Cherokee convicted in a Georgia court for a murder occurring in Cherokee territory, though the state refused to accept the writ) and Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (dismissed on technical grounds for lack of jurisdiction). However, the Cherokees finally were successful with their third case, Worcester v. Georgia, which intimately involved Worcester himself.
Worcester and eleven other missionaries had met at New Echota and published a resolution in protest of a law the state legislature had passed prohibiting all white men from living on Native American land without a license. Worcester reasoned correctly that obeying the law would, in effect, be tantamount to surrendering the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation. Once the law had taken effect, Governor George Rockingham Gilmer ordered the militia to arrest Worcester and the others who signed the document and refused to get a license. After two series of trials, all eleven were convicted and sentenced to four years of hard labor. Nine accepted pardons, but Worcester and Elizur Butler declined their pardons specifically so the Cherokees could have another chance before the Supreme Court. William Wirt again argued the case though just as in the earlier Cherokee Nation case, Georgia refused to appear before the Court, claiming that no Indian could drag it into court. In its late 1832 decision, the Court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was independent and all dealings with them fell under federal authority. The ruling, however, was ignored by President Andrew Jackson and Governor Gilmer, who continued to hold the two men prisoner.
Wilson Lumpkin assumed the governorship early the next year and faced with the Nullification Crisis in neighboring South Carolina he opted to set Worcester and Butler free if they agreed to minor concessions. Having won the Supreme Court decision, Worcester thought that he would be more effective outside prison and left. After his release Worcester realized that the battle had been lost because the state and the settlers refused to abide by the decision of their own nation's court. He moved to Oklahoma in 1835 to prepare for the coming of the Cherokee. Within three years the Cherokee Nation was forced to follow the "Trail of Tears".
Life and Death in Oklahoma
After moving to Oklahoma Worcester continued to preach to the Indians and worked tirelessly to help resolved the differences between the Georgia Cherokees and the "Old Settlers", some of whom had been there since the late 1820s. On April 20, 1859, he died in Park Hill, Indian Territory.
Worcester House, original surviving house onNew Echota was once a home to Samuel Worcester.
Worcester House is the only surviving original house on the land of the former Cherokee community of New Echota. The rest of the original buildings were destroyed after the Worcesters and Cherokees were forced to leave Georgia on the "Trail of Tears." The house was constructed in 1828 as a two-story building. The Worcesters lived in the house from 1828 until 1834 when it was confiscated by a Georgian who obtained title to Worcester's House in the 1832 Land Lottery. The house was owned by many Georgians through the years until 1952. The house was turned over to the state of Georgia under former government agency called Georgia Historical Commission in 1954. It is currently owned by Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites, part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. In 1962, the New Echota Historic Site was opened to the public, acknowledging the restored Worcester House as a most important symbol of New Echota and Cherokee civilization.