The full content of this document is only available to subscribing institutions. More information can be found via

Title Letter [manuscript]: Washington City, to Luke Lea, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1852 June 17
Author Cherokee Nation
Document Type Correspondence; Official Record; Tribe Record
Description From the Newberry Library Catalogue: June 17, 1852, letter of the Cherokee Washington delegation (J. Vann, James Kell, Thomas Pegg, and Lewis Downing) to the commissioner of Indian affairs, Luke Lea, proposing the retrocession of the Cherokee Neutral Lands to the federal government. Asking for a reimbursement of $500,000 with back interest, the delegates stated that interest on the proceeds would be applied first to the liquidation of the Nation’s public debt and later to education and orphan funds.
Names Downing, Lewis (1823-1872); Lea, Luke (1810-1898); Stuart, Alexander H. H. (1807-1891)
Places Cherokee Neutral Lands, Cherokee Nation, Missouri, Washington, D.C., United States
Keywords Cherokee delegation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, delegation, retrocession, Cherokee Neutral Lands, compensation, public debt, orphan, chief, treaty, government, tribal government
Theme American Indians and the US Government
Tribe / Nation
Culture Area Southeast
Additional Information

In the hand of Lewis Downing.

Encompassing 800,000 acres north of the boundary of the Cherokee Nation along the southwest border of Missouri, the Neutral Lands had been granted to the Cherokees by the Treaty of 1835. In exchange, the U.S. deducted $500,000 from the fund accruing to the Cherokee Nation. Faced with a mounting public debt and interested in unloading a useless and unproductive property, the Cherokee Council voted unanimously to retrocede the land to the United States. The efforts of the 1852 Cherokee Washington delegation to negotiate the Neutral Lands’ sale were ended when the secretary of the interior, Alexander H.H. Stuart, refused to consider the matter.

Library The Newberry Library
Copyright The Newberry Library
Collection The Edward E. Ayer Collection
Reference VAULT box Ayer MS 156
Catalogue Link The Newberry Library Catalogue