RIDGE, JOHN (1803-1839)
Educated at Springplace, Georgia, and the Foreign Mission School at Cornwall, Connecticut, the eldest son of Major Ridge emerged in Cherokee politics in 1823 as an interpreter at the national council. He accompanied the Cherokee delegation led by his father Major Ridge to Washington in 1824, which exposed him to national politics and the growing spectre of removal. Returning in November 1825 with David Vann, the two young Cherokees served as secretaries and advisors to the Creek delegation opposed to the Indian Springs treaty.
While both a politician and an intellectual, Ridge also developed a plantation at Running Waters, Georgia, near the Oostanaula River and owned twenty-one slaves prior to removal. He became one of the first lawyers in the Cherokee nation, a vocal opponent of removal by 1829, president of the National Committee in 1830, and a rival of Chief John Ross.
Following a meeting with Pres. Andrew Jackson in 1832, Ridge reversed his antiremoval stand and advocated emigration west as the means to save his people. He negotiated the Treaty of New Echota in 1835 and moved west in 1837. He was brutally murdered on June 22, 1839, along with his father and Elias Boudinot for their role in Cherokee removal.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Grant Foreman, The Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1934). Stan Hoig, The Cherokees and Their Chiefs: In the Wake of Empire (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1998). Thurman Wilkins, Cherokee Tragedy: The Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People (rev. ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).
James P. Pate
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