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In August 1833, the Cherokee National Council removed the Ridges from office for “maintaining opinions and a policy to terminate the existence of the Cherokee community on the MAJOR RIDGE AND JOHN ROSS: PROMINENT CHEROKEE LEADERS Major Ridge was born around 1771 in the town of Hiwasee in what is now eastern Tennessee. His mother was of Scottish and Cherokee descent and his father was a Cherokee man noted for his hunting prowess. His brother, Oo-watie, was the father of Elias Boudinot and Stand Watie.

Georgia’s 35 dd 36 dd THE TRAIL OF TEARS actions reflected a similar combination of events. It asserted its state rights as it had throughout the previous decades. But it also acted because it felt it was necessary to do so in the present context. More important, both Georgia and the Cherokees acted because the federal government had not taken a clear position in the dispute. Federal officials neither publicly opposed Georgia’s position nor publicly supported the Cherokees. The election of Andrew Jackson as president in 1828 appeared to indicate that the federal government would be more likely to aid Georgia.

Samuel Worcester, a Methodist missionary, had been arrested by Georgia officials for residing on Cherokee lands without obtaining the proper license from the state. He had been sentenced to four years of hard labor but appealed that ruling. The arguments of the case revolved around one critical question: Did Georgia have authority over Cherokee lands within the state’s boundaries? If Georgia did, then it had the right both to extend its laws over the Cherokees and arrest Worcester. If Georgia did not, then Worcester was innocent and the state had no authority over the Cherokees and their lands.

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