Samuel Worcester lived and worked with the Cherokee in New Echota, Georgia, as a minister with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM).In 1831, Worcester was sentenced to four years hard labor at the Georgia penitentiary in Milledgeville because he refused to obey a new law prohibiting white persons from living in the Cherokee Nation without special permission from the Georgia government. This box was made sometime during Worcester’s time at the penitentiary.
At their capital in New Echota, Georgia, the Cherokee people, with the help of missionary Samuel Worcester, established a printing office and published the Cherokee Phoenix. Edited by Cherokee Elias Boudinot, the Phoenix was printed in the Cherokee language and English and was the first Native American newspaper published in the United States. The goal of the newspaper was to gain public support for the Cherokee nation at a time when they were under increased pressure to give up their sovereignty or move west. The newspaper was published until 1835 when their printing press was confiscated by the Georgia Guard.
Cherokee Phoenix. New Echota, Thursday February 28, 1828. Vol 1, No.2.
The Indian Removal Act, signed by President Jackson in 1830, ceded land west of the Mississippi River to Native Americans in exchange for their tribal lands in the east. The infamous Trail of Tears did not take place until 1838, but Georgia awarded land grants, like the one presented here, to white settlers several years prior through special land lotteries in 1832 and 1833.
Land Grant to Elisha Strickland for Lot 829 in Cherokee County, 1834.From the Georgia Historical Society Manuscript Collection, MS 769.