1832 - Worcester v. Georgia

Samuel Worcester

            The case Worester v Georgia gave the aging Chief Justice John Marshall the opportunity closes the circle of his trilogy by arguing/establishing a trust relationship between tribal governments and the federal government.  (see John Marshall).  In this case, the state of Georgia had arrested Mr. Worester and eight other missionaries who regularly met with Cherokee's in the town of New Echota. 

Trail _of _tears

  Despite the legal victory in the nation's highest court, President Andrew Jackson and the state of Georgia pressed ahead with their plan to forcibly remove the Cherokee from their treaty-protected homelands in the states of Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

            The missionaries were charged with violating a new state law by crossing the Indian boundaries without first getting permission from the state.  When offered clemency by the governor, seven of the missionaries accepted, but Mr. Worester and Dr. Elizur Butler chose to press their case, arguing that the state had usurped federal powers and tribal sovereignty by imposing its new laws.  Worester's case, argued by the former U.S. Attorney General William Wirt, won a unanimous decision from the court in a powerful reaffirmation of Native American sovereignty.  The Marshall trilogy of Indian cases (Johnson v McIntosh, Cherokee v Georgia, and Worester v Georgia) now formed the backbone of the 'Indian trust doctrine' and federal Indian policy.

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             President Andrew Jackson and the state legislature of Georgia were undaunted by their legal defeat.  Both pressed ahead with their plans to forcibly remove Indians from treaty lands in southern states, commencing an officially sanctioned policy of genocide and 'ethnic cleansing' that is now known as the Trail of Tears.