Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Ridge, Major

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RIDGE, Major, Cherokee chief, b. in Highwassee, in what is now the state of Georgia, about 1771; d. on the Cherokee reservation, 22 June, 1839. From his early years he was taught patience and self-denial, and to undergo fatigue; on reaching the proper age he was initiated as one of the warriors of the tribe with due solemnities. At fourteen he joined a war-party against the whites at Cheestoyce, and afterward another that attacked Knoxville, Tenn. When he was twenty-one years old he was chosen a member of the Cherokee council. He proved a valuable counsellor, and at the second session proposed many useful laws. Subsequently he won the confidence of his people, and became one of the chief men of the nation. When the question of deporting the Cherokees from the state of Georgia to a reservation west of Mississippi was mooted, it was found that the nation was divided into two hostile camps, one of which bitterly opposed removal, while the other favored it. The former was headed by John Ross, the principal chief, while the other was represented by Major Ridge, his son John, Elias Boudinot, Charles Vann, and others. Two commissioners on the part of the United States held several meetings with both parties, and finally made a treaty, the negotiations extending over a period of three years. The westward journey of 600 or 700 miles was performed in four or five months, during which time, on account of the intense heat and other discomforts, over 4,000 Indians perished. In June, 1839, Major Ridge, his son John, and Elias Boudinot were assassinated by members, it is supposed, of the party that were opposed to removal. Major Ridge was waylaid about fifty miles from his home and shot. — His son, John, Indian chief, was the second of five children. He received a good education, being first taught by Moravian missionaries, then at an academy at Knoxville, Tenn., and finally in the foreign mission-school in Connecticut. On returning home he began his career as a public man, and devoted all his energies to endeavoring to organize the Cherokee nation into an independent government. Having taken an active part in negotiating the unpopular treaty at New Echota, by which the removal of his nation was finally agreed upon, he was taken from his bed in the early morning and nearly cut to pieces with knives. — John's son, John R., journalist, d. in Grass Valley, Nevada co., Cal., 5 Oct., 1867, was a writer of much ability, and possessed some poetic talent. He was at different times connected with several California journals.