About the Book
This collection of John Howard Payne’s Papers is a significant recovery of firsthand political and social histories of Indigenous cultures, particularly the Cherokees, a southeastern tribe, whose ancestral lands included parts of the present-day states of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The papers enable readers to understand how the Cherokees and many other American Indians endured and persevered as they encountered forced removal in the 1830s due to the Indian Removal Act. The papers are also a source of cultural revitalization, elucidating the work of Sequoyah, a Cherokee genius, who in 1821 introduced his syllabary, a phonemic system with eighty-five symbols.
John Howard Payne (1791–1852), an American actor, poet, and playwright, was so taken by the Cherokees’ story that he lobbied Congress to forgo their removal and wrote articles in contemporary newspapers supporting Cherokees. In 1835 Payne journeyed to the Cherokee Nation and met with John Ross, Cherokee chief from 1828 to 1866, who found in Payne a colleague to assist him and other Cherokees with their cause against removal and in preserving their ancient social, spiritual, and political heritages. Payne gathered and recorded correspondence between Cherokees such as Ross, who was fluent in English, and U.S. officials. These papers include multiple correspondences, ratified and unratified treaties, contemporary newspaper articles, and resolutions sent to Congress appealing for justice for the Cherokees. Payne also assembled letters and writings by New England Congregationalist missionaries who resided in mission stations throughout the Cherokee Nation.
Available in print for the first time, this remarkable repository of information provides a fuller understanding of the political climates Cherokees encountered throughout the early to mid-nineteenth century.
Rowena McClinton is a professor emerita of history at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. She is the editor of The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees, 2-volume set (Nebraska, 2007) and The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees: Abridged (Nebraska, 2010), among other works.
“Vitally important. John Howard Payne’s Papers of the Payne-Butrick Papers include a wealth of detailed, rich, and varied information about Cherokee and southern Indigenous life and politics collected during the nineteenth century. These significant volumes, meticulously transcribed and edited by expert documentary editor Rowena McClinton, will contribute widely to the fields of southern history, Native American history, and Cherokee studies.”—Tiya Miles, author of All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake
“A godsend for students of the history of the Cherokee Nation. Publication of John Howard Payne’s Papers of the Payne-Butrick Papers will open up a new universe of information to students and scholars interested in Cherokee history and early Indian Territory periods. McClinton is the perfect editor for this enormous responsibility.”—Tim Alan Garrison, coeditor of The Native South: New Histories and Enduring Legacies