MARCH 3, 1832

SUPREME COURT RULES FOR CHEROKEE SOVEREIGNTY IN WORCESTER V. GEORGIA

In 1827, to avoid removal from Georgia, Cherokees created a constitutional government declaring themselves a sovereign nation.  Samuel Worcester, then a missionary at New Echota (the Cherokee capital), advised Cherokee leaders on their constitutional and treaty rights.  In response, Georgia barred “white persons” from living within the Cherokee Nation without state permission.  Worcester and others stayed, were convicted, and imprisoned.  They appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In Worcester v. Georgia, the Court struck down the extension laws with Chief Justice John Marshall writing that Indian nations were “distinct, independent political communities retaining their original natural rights.”  However, Georgia ignored the ruling and President Jackson failed to enforce it.  Despite the decision, the basis of the tribal sovereignty principle, the Cherokees still were gathered by the U.S. Army and marched to Indian Territory in the Trail of Tears.  Worcester and the others were pardoned and released in 1833.  

Source:  Tim Allen Garrison, “Worcester v. Georgia (1832), New Georgia Encyclopedia, 4/27/2004.  Retrieved 6/10/2019, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/government-politics/worcester-v-georgia-1832
Photo:  Author and date unknown.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.

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