Leaving Home: Cherokees and the Trail of Tears

Chief John Ross

John  Ross, was born in Turkeytown, Alabama, in 1790 and was elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1828.  He served as Chief until his death in 1866.  He protested the removal of the Cherokees, hoping to secure the Nation’s right to stay on their homeland through the legal system.  When that did not succeed, he organized the Cherokee departures in the Trail of Tears and led the last detachment out of Ross’ Landing. He oversaw the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory through the union of Old Settlers and new arrivals, the reorganization of the government, and through the chaos of the Civil War.  This photograph was copied by Ed Fortsner from a daguerreotype owned by the Ross family.  It was taken around 1838.