Atlanta And Its Builders, Vol. 1 – A Comprehensive History Of The Gate City Of The South – Thomas H. Martin
Conscious of possible deficiencies, the editor presents this result of his labors to all readers interested in the history of this beautiful town. Although the work is largely a compilation of facts and figures touching the history of Georgia’s metropolis from its founding to the first years of the 20th century and no special merit of originality is claimed for it, the reader will find much in these pages as is not elsewhere easily accessible in printed form – matter authentic and valuable for reference. Particularly is this true of the war history recorded with great fidelity and no little detail in the first volume. The facts therein contained were gathered from original sources – Federal and Confederate – mostly direct from field orders, reports and correspondence. The task involved a vast deal of research and reading, but the editor feels compensated by the belief that a fuller or more reliable narrative of the famous “Atlanta Campaign,” from Dalton to Jonesboro, was never written. The second volume, which deals with post-bellum and modern Atlanta, will be found to be brought down to date in preserving a record of the city’s upbuilding and remarkable progress. The last decade of the 19th century has completely metamorphosed Atlanta physically. Her rehabilitation after the ruthless legions of Sherman passed through her ashes to the sea was not more magical, if we may use the word, than has been her rapid transformation in this latter conquest of peace. It is surprising, at first blush, but nearly all of the better buildings of Atlanta, business and residential, have been constructed within less than these past ten years, and this means the practical rebuilding of the city and its wide expansion in that short space of time. This is volume one out of two.
Atlanta And Its Builders, Vol. 1 – A Comprehensive History Of The Gate City Of The South.
Excerpt from the text:
A city whose non-existence can be remembered by a man who has only reached the psalmist’s allotted span of life is entitled to the designation of new, especially in a section of the country first to be explored by the Spaniard and which boasts of the oldest town in North America. Savannah, rich and proud of her shipping, a miniature Venice, ambitious of international trade exploitation, was one of the growing cities of the thirteen colonies when the region around Atlanta was a howling wilderness, unpenetrated by a Daniel Boone. Augusta, a bustling cotton mart and the outlet of a long-distance overland trade, had been incorporated for a century when the first settler’s cabin reared its rude walls on the site of Atlanta. Other leading cities of Georgia had railroad connections and for a generation or more had enjoyed a wide commercial intercourse when the magic word Atlanta first appeared on the map of the old commonwealth. Indeed, the metropolis of the Southeast may truthfully be said to be a post-bellum product, for, search through its length and breadth, and you will with difficulty find a landmark that recalls so recent and momentous an era of history as the civil war — the bloody cradle in which the infancy of Atlanta was rocked. This, anywhere but in the West, is anomalous. Many of the booming Western cities are older than the South’s most progressive and quickly growing city. Atlanta is new. The hope of youth is in her heart and the suppleness of youth is in her limbs. She is the civic personification of strength and promise. Her glories are not reminiscences. Her life is all before her, and her achievement but an earnest of what she will do.
It is appropriate, in setting about the task of attempting to trace the growth and chronicle the annals of so remarkable a city to look somewhat into the environing conditions antedating its birth. In these conditions, themselves anomalous, will be found the reason of Atlanta’s comparative newness. When the coast region and low lands of the state were thickly settled, and, in some respects, already effete, the region now immediately tributary to Atlanta — the whole of northwest Georgia, in fact — was a great Indian reservation, to enter which was legally “intrusion,” punishable by lines and imprisonment. The Cherokees, the most intelligent and powerful of all the aboriginal tribes, occupied the primeval forests of this half-explored hill country and carried on, in a primitive way, their agriculture and domestic industries. They were not savages, by any means, in the generally accepted view of the Indian. They were not there by sufferance, or as buffalo in a national park, to satisfy a sentimental governmental sense of equity. They owned these lands and had established upon them comfortable, though humble, homes, with occasional villages which supported schools and churches. Since the landing of Oglethorpe they had been the object of the religious solicitude of the missionaries, and may be said to have been quite effectually christianized and civilized. Moreover, they preserved, by virtue of their treaty rights with the general government, a kind of political autonomy that exempted them from amenability to the state laws and left them free to carry on a queer mixture of civil and tribal government. They had the proud characteristics of their race in a superlative degree and were extremely jealous of white encroachment. During those days they amalgamated little with the Caucasian and insisted on their treaty guarantee of social isolation. Every attempt on the part of the “boomers” of that time to break down their Chinese wall of exclusiveness was met with a rude diplomacy in the committee rooms and departments at Washington, creditable to the Cherokee’s reputation for statesmanship. They had strong leaders — such men as John Ross and Elias Boudinot — and as the cordon of civilization drew tighter about them their stubborn resistance to the attempt to make them take “the white man’s path” was ready for any lengths of patriotic heroism.
The state of Georgia, during the first quarter of the century, had resorted to every expedient to crowd the Cherokees across its western borders. At first it was successful in obtaining possession of much of their lands through the William Penn policy of “swapping,” but in time the Indians came to set the true value upon what was left of their broad acres, and further cessions by one-sided purchase were no longer possible. In northwest Georgia, the tribe made its last stand for a home, begirt by pioneer settlers. The state was determined to oust the unwelcome red men, and, it is easy to believe, prepared to make any means justify the end. The history of the banishment of these Indians from the state is as pathetic as was the exile of the Acadians. The conflict of the laws of the Cherokee Nation and those of Georgia was seized upon by the latter as the easiest method of weakening the tribe’s hold on congress. The Georgia delegation in the national legislature began a systematic campaign of dispossession. On the floor and in cloakroom and lobby persistent arguments were advanced and schemes proposed to accomplish the difficult result. The Indians, in an ugly mood, had occasion to resist with force repeated attempts on the part of determined white men to invade their lands. The state of Georgia, restive under the denial of its sovereignty within its own borders on the part of the United States, which the latter’s adherence to the Cherokee treaties amounted to, threatened to ignore federal authority to the extent of treating the tribe as amenable to the state jurisdiction, and there were clashes of authority with the view of making test cases of the questions at issue. Indeed, the state legislature did embrace the tribe within the scope of its criminal jurisdiction, notwithstanding the assumption by the central government of the sole right to exercise authority in all matters affecting the Indians, collectively or individually. The tribe had its own legislative council and machinery of local government, modeled, in the main, after white administration, and the supervisory office of the powers at Washington was nominal, except in extraordinary emergencies. The Indians punished their own criminals, and cases involving offenses between the races were adjudicated by federal courts. The United States were pledged to exclude from the Cherokee reservation all white people who had not been permitted to enter by permission of the tribal council. The triangular conflict of authority extended through several years, becoming more aggravated each year, until, to make a long story short, Georgia succeeded in inducing congress to pass a law providing for the emigration of the tribe in a body to the lands set apart for them in the Indian Territory. The state was given authority to assume its long-deferred jurisdiction over the Cherokee territory, and. upon the removal of the Indians, to dispose of the vacated lands to settlers. This was in 1827.
But a few hundred of the 15,000 Cherokees obeyed the mandate of removal. Chief Ross refused to acknowledge the legality of the proposed procedure and was backed in his recalcitration by the council and head men. For four years the tribe remained upon the old reservation in quiet defiance of nation and state, the white usurpers fearing to precipitate an Indian war by taking decisive measures. It was known that the young braves were eager to resist the abandonment of their homes with arms in their hands. The wary old statesmen of the tribe filibustered with the Indian department and tried to entangle the situation with red tape. A case was brought by Chief Ross, for his people, in the supreme court of the United States, praying for an injunction to prevent the state of Georgia from exercising jurisdiction over a Cherokee criminal whose offense had theretofore been cognizable in the tribal courts. The supreme court ruled in favor of the Indians, and the effect of the ruling was to prevent the state from executing its laws within the territory occupied by the Cherokees. This brought matters to a focus. The legislature of 1831 passed a bill to survey the lands of the Cherokee Nation, and Governor Lumpkin a little later ordered the survey to be made, but it was the purpose of the state to take no steps toward taking possession of the lands until a reasonable time had elapsed, the Washington authorities promising to see that the Indians left peaceably. Georgia also passed a law requiring all white men resident in the Cherokee Nation by consent of the tribe to take the oath of allegiance to the state. The penalty of non-compliance was a minimum term of four years in the penitentiary at hard labor. The latter law further complicated and aggravated the dangerous situation, and, with the decision of the supreme court, raised the direct issue of “state’s rights” with the Washington government. Some of the white missionaries laboring among the Indians, northerners for the most part, ignored the new law. Two of them, by name Worcester and Butler, were arrested by state officers, and upon conviction in a state court, sentenced to long terms in the penitentiary, in spite of the fact that the United States supreme court had issued a mandate requiring their release. These unfortunate missionaries remained in prison a couple of years, obtaining their freedom, after the exertion of much influence throughout the state in their behalf, through the governor’s pardon.
The Indians showing no disposition to obey the “Great Father at Washington,” Georgia “took the bull by the horns” and formally organized ten counties in the lands embraced by the Cherokee Nation and established a lottery for the disposition of the allotted claims to settlers. By this time, it being evident that emigration would be forced upon them, even at the point of the bayonet, the Cherokees had become divided among themselves and there was a strong pro-emigration party led by John Ridge, who held that the tribe would fare infinitely better by obeying the power of the government and obtain beneficial concessions. Chief Ross held out doggedly against the proposition, contending for $20,000,000 and the settlement of impossible claims. In 1835 the two factions were represented in the Washington lobby by strong delegations headed by these opposing leaders, and the whole question was reopened in congress. Much interest was aroused in behalf of the Indians all over the country, particularly in religious circles. The South, then dominant in Washington, supported the contention of Georgia, probably largely because of the issue of state sovereignty raised, and the Ross party returned to the reservation hopeless. Feuds broke out among the Indians and killings resulted from their differing opinions. In another year, the Ridge party had won a majority of the tribe to its side, and a final treaty was ratified. Under this treaty the Indians proposed to move peaceably to their new homes beyond the Mississippi, under the direction of agents of the government, relinquishing their lands for $5,000,000, to be held in trust by the United States. Their new lands were to contain some $7,000,000 acres, with an unrestricted outlet to the great western plains, to be theirs “so long as grass grows and water runs.” The treaty was signed by Andrew Jackson, president of the United States, and up to a few years ago, when the descendants of these same Indians were forced to consent to take their allotments and dispose of their surplus lands to Uncle Sam, they regarded this treaty as their magna charta and swore by it. It was further stipulated that their new home should never be included within the bounds of any state or territory, without their consent; that the government would protect them from white intrusion, pay them certain sums annually for the support of their schools, etc. The government agreed to settle a mass of old claims, pay a number of influential Indians pensions, and provided for the subsistence of the tribe for a year, during the removal, which was to be made two years from the time the treaty was signed.
As the date set for the hegira approached — May 24, 1838 — it was generally believed that trouble was in store and that a large part of the tribe would have to be forcibly evicted. The Ross partisans were making “war medicine,” it was said, and intended to defend their homes with their lives. Two or three volunteer companies were raised among the near-by settlers to be in readiness for an outbreak’ at any time, and the governor ordered detachments of militia to points close to the reservation. The morning of the eventful day dawned with no signs of preparations having been made on the part of the mass of the Indians, but with plenty of hostile signs. General W infield Scott, of the war department, had kept in touch with the situation and requested the state to furnish two regiments for the emergency. This was promptly done. General Charles Floyd commanding. Early on the morning of the 24th the military moved upon the reservation, five companies under Captains Stell, Daniel, Bowman, Hamilton and Ellis proceeding to Sixes Town in Cherokee county; two companies under Captains Story and Campbell to Rome: two companies under Captains Horton and Brewster to Fort Gilmer, and Captain Vincent’s company to Cedartown.
Contrary to expectations, there was no trouble, but the wholesale eviction of some 15.000 home-loving Indians was little the less lamentable. Every Indian cabin was entered by the soldiery and the inmates collected in squads and hustled to guarded camps. The state officials protested that this work was done humanely, and without resorting to violent force, but to this day the Cherokees preserve a tradition of ruthless cruelty connected with their enforced removal of more than three score years ago, which has strengthened their deep-seated race hatred. It was fortunate for the state of Georgia that decisive action was taken by the local authorities, for toward the close of his administration it is said that Jackson was inclined to reverse his Indian policy to please the northern sentimentalists, and Governor Gilmer, then the occupant of Georgia’s executive chair, says in his memoirs that Van Buren, who had succeeded to the presidency, was closeted with the lobbyists of the Ross party and had committed himself to a let-alone policy at the very time the Georgia militia was successfully prosecuting the eviction. On June 3, the entire tribe was started for Ross’ landing, and by the end of the month several thousand had begun the westward march. It was feared, however, that the heat of midsummer would result in an undue mortality among the emigrants, and word came from Washington that the remainder would not be allowed to move before fall. Accordingly the bulk of the Indians remained in camp until September. It is doubtful if the postponement was in the interest of humanity, for the last half of the journey was through the dead of winter. Hundreds are said to have died of pneumonia and exposure, while small-pox carried away many more. Some idea of the severe sufferings of these Indians can be formed by the bare statement that fully four thousand perished on the march— one-fourth of the entire number. With few exceptions the Cherokees walked the six or seven hundred miles that intervened between their old and new reservation, and their progress was necessarily very slow. Epidemics made long stops necessary, and though the federal government had made abundant provision for their sustenance en route, it was charged that the contractors and agents stinted and made inferior their food supply. Old Indians now residing on the western reservation still speak mysteriously of the mysterious deaths on that historic march. There can be no doubt but that not a few Indians fell victims to the vendetta that the Ross-Ridge feud engendered, while making the journey, some of them, it was suspected, from poison. In less than a year after they had left Georgia, Major Ridge, his son, John Ridge, and Elias Boudinot were assassinated. Similar crimes continued for more than a generation among the Cherokees as the result of their exile from Georgia. The victims were those who had taken an active part in negotiating the removal treaty.
At this day it is difficult to appreciate the importance to Georgia of the Indian problem then claiming her best statesmanship. The state was upon the edge of the frontier and more or less annoyed by Indian depredations. Even after the Cherokee removal the state found it necessary to send a military expedition to the swamp region in the south to drive marauding Creeks across the line. But, undoubtedly, the principal reasons for desiring to be rid of the Cherokees were because the tribe assumed to maintain an alien sovereignty and fee ownership of a considerable part of the state’s territory, and because the Cherokee country was known to be rich in gold. The Cherokees claimed their title from the Creeks, who had early in the century occupied northwest Georgia. Tradition has it that the land was lost by the latter tribe as the prize at stake in a ball game played between the skillfullest warriors of the two tribes. This great ball game was said to have occurred sometime between 1816 and 1820. In his admirable book of reminiscences, “The Georgians,” Governor George R. Gilmer throws a flood of light on the “inside facts” connected with the whole Cherokee imbroglio. While the author does not write with the impartiality supposed to belong to the historian, he presents both sides of the controversy clearly enough to enable readers at this late day to form correct conclusions. The state denied the Cherokee title, which the general government sustained. At that time there was a great hue and cry being raised by the citizens of those states that were well rid of Poor Lo against the government’s “unchristian” Indian policy. In the north congressmen made their canvass on a platform pledged to the protection of “Indian rights,” and the church denominations of that section were strongly represented in the Washington lobby fighting for what they considered a humanitarian cause. Indeed, the Georgia Indian question was a factor in the contest for the presidency between Adams and Jackson, the former standing as the Indian’s friend. Contemporary writers assert that Adams had the better of his opponent on this question, so far as the majority sentiment was concerned, and that Jackson would have lost the race in consequence of what was regarded as his anti-Indian views, had not his military record been so glorious. Moreover, as has been shown, the jealousy of a southern state over its disputed sovereignty was a sharp issue. At several stages of the long controversy the troops of the United States and the militia of the state of Georgia were on the point of a collision. Colonel Harden, who had entered the disputed territory at the head of the Hall county militia to expel gold-seekers, was placed under arrest by a military officer of the United States and his command not allowed to execute its commission. Then, too, the course of the missionaries, Worcester and Butler, in making a “stage play” of martyrdom for the benefit of the northern church people, was a most aggravating incident. They claimed federal protection on the ground that they were employees of the government. Governor Gilmer in his book speaks with much bitterness of the sectional and religious prejudice that the missionaries settled among the Cherokees were inciting, and in his correspondence with the federal authorities makes clear the danger of a serious breach between the state and national governments. It was not until 1830 that congress, by the narrow margin of five votes, passed a bill authorizing the president to exchange with any Indian tribe lands of the United States west of the Mississippi river for lands occupied by them in any state or territory. The methods by which the “consent” of the Cherokees was obtained to their banishment will continue to remain unwritten history. This law freed Georgia forever of their obnoxious presence, though not until eight years after its passage.