Cherokees Sir Alexander Cuming 1730 Term Paper

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It was on May 4, 1730 that Cumming and the seven Cherokee began their trip to England, where they arrived on June 5. They were all headquartered in the house of James Crowe. Cuming's correspondence during this period is quite rich and we will mention some of it further below.

The meeting with King George II occurred on July 18, 1730 and it is an excellent and somewhat amusing sample of the cultural differences between the two people. Of course, the Cherokees were not used to the European ceremonial in Court, although Cuming had previously imposed some of it onto them. However, they gracefully bowed before the King, a gesture that was clearly seen as their submission recognition, although it may have been a gesture of imitation, with no real significance for them (as previously).

As McRae suggests, "the Cherokees were disappointed not to have been offered any food during the ceremony and festivities." Quite clearly, the Cherokee ceremonial was somewhat more practical.

Alexander Cuming presented the symbols he had received in a ceremonial at Windsor Castle, on June 22nd, 1730. It is interesting to note, at this point, that Cuming did not represent, in his own vision at least, a simple representative of the King. He was, indeed, a joint ruler of the Cherokee nation and was presenting the objects in this posture. He had been invested as such and was gracefully willing to share or pass on this power to King George II, but the power over the Cherokees was in his hands at this point, as he believed the facts to be.

This note is emphasized by the subsequent treaty that was signed between the British Empire and the Cherokee nation, at Cuming's house and nowhere else. The seven Cherokees signed on behalf of the entire Cherokee nation, although they did not have an official mandate (much like Cuming previously) to do so, even if the text says otherwise (the text mentions that they were official deputies of "Moytoy of Teliko, with the Consent and Approbation of the whole Nation of the Cherokee Indians").

Conceptually, the treaty stipulated general submission clauses, especially in what a joint international policy was concerned. They agreed to have the same enemies and friends as the British Empire and to fight anyone that opposed the English, but it also meant that they could trade with no one else but the English and that they would be subject to English law.

At this time, Cuming seems to be at the highest of his influence and power. This is certainly not so and the facade is troubled by several problems that begin to appear. The first one came from the King, who refused him the title of Overlord of the Cherokee Nation, which makes us believe that this entire adventure was more or less seen as a comedy act by the Court rather than a serious political enterprise. The fact that he was denied the Overlord title meant that he practically could obtain no special favors or position as a recognition of his acts.

Additionally, he began to have financial difficulties and on July 15, 1739, he received a note from James Crowe, where the Cherokees were lodging. There seems to have been a physical conflict with the Cherokees ("Last Night the indians fell out a mungst them solves of too Chosen faught") and the speedy removal of the Indians was demanded ("I really don't think itt safe for them to be in My House anoy Longer thare fore Must Begg of you to Remove them for I Can't Provide for them anoy Longer"), together with the bill that went along ("41 pounds three shill").

The following correspondence that Cumming had with the King's representative, Mr. Delafay, and with the Duke of Newcastle shows a notable shrewdness in achieving his goal, being named Overlord of the Cherokee Nation.

Mentioning the trouble the Cherokees were into, he demands both more authority so that he could impose on them (a clear allusion to the Overlord title- "I'm afrayed I shall not be able to attend them unless I may with greater Dispersal from the Board of Trade than is usually given to such Matters") and suggests that a sum is allocated for the Cherokee's needs, out of which the bill could be paid, although he declines any responsibility for their debts (" I am not willing that any of the money should pass throw my hands, because what I have done was not for my own Advantage but for the Service of my King & Country, and as I am liable for them & their persons untill they are taken off may hands"). All favors are refused and several letters he sends to high officials are replied with negative answers.

The seven Cherokees returned home in 1736, while the same year, Cumming was thrown in prison for debts. Released later in 1737, he sought Jamaica's governorship (denied again) and was on duty as a Captain there for a brief period. The Cherokee adventure had come to a definite end. Not much is known of Cumming's later years and he died in 1775.

From many points-of-view, we may regard Alexander Cumming as the 18th century prototype of a failure. Indeed, except for the brief glorious intermezzo in the Cherokee lands, with the honors brought to him then, he failed in anything he chose to enterprise, from winning the Aberdeen Shire title to Jamaica's Governorship, from obtaining the Overlord title to paying his debts.

On the other hand, his travel to the Cherokee land brought the English society of the 18th century in contact with the Indian nation in North America and had a significant contribution to strengthening ties there, building trade and diplomatic relations.

It is hard to draw a conclusion based on Cuming's adventures. At once diplomat, shrewd politician and negotiator, keen observer, he was also an adventurer and perhaps, slightly mad, relying on a title that, perhaps, nobody had actually ever granted him.

Bibliography

1. Newsome, Matthew Allan. Alexander Cuming. An examination of contemporary documents. 1998. On the Internet at http://albanach.org/cuming.html

2. Royal Society. On the Internet at http://www.fact-index.com/r/ro/royal_society.html

3. Williams, Samuel Cole. Early Travels in the Tennessee Country, 1540-1800. Johnson City, Tennessee; Watauga Press, 1928, 122-129, 138-141.

4. Articles on Friendship and Commerce proposed by the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, to the Deputies of the Cherokee Nation in South Carolina, by his Majesty's Order, on Monday, Sept. 7, 1730

5. America and West Indies C.O. 5/4 Original Correspondence, Sec. Of State: 1711-1739. Fol. 218. 15 July 1730. J. Crowe to Alexander Cuming

6. State Papers, Domestic, S.P. 36/19 George II: 1730. Fol. 7. 15 July 1730. 2p.

A www.keetoowah-society.org/brown.html

Newsome, Matthew Allan. Alexander Cuming. An examination of contemporary documents. 1998. On the Internet at http://albanach.org/cuming.html

Royal Society. On the Internet at http://www.fact-index.com/r/ro/royal_society.html

Williams, Samuel Cole. Early Travels in the Tennessee Country, 1540-1800. Johnson City, Tennessee; Watauga Press, 1928, 122-129, 138-141.

Ibid. Text from Articles on Friendship and Commerce proposed by the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, to the Deputies of the Cherokee Nation in South Carolina, by his Majesty's Order, on Monday, Sept. 7, 1730

Newsome, Matthew Allan. Alexander Cuming. An examination of contemporary documents. 1998. On the Internet at http://albanach.org/cuming.html

Articles on Friendship and Commerce proposed by the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, to the Deputies of the Cherokee Nation in South Carolina, by his Majesty's Order, on Monday, Sept. 7, 1730

Newsome, Matthew Allan. Alexander Cuming. An examination of contemporary documents. 1998. On the Internet at http://albanach.org/cuming.html

America and West Indies C.O. 5/4 Original Correspondence, Sec.…[continue]

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