The State of Georgia was formerly inhabited by two distinct Indian groups, one of which was the Cherokee Nation, mountaineers or uplanders as their name signifies in their own language; the other group was a federation of several tribes, who retained their own tribal names. Among the latter were found the Coosa, Kasita (Cusseta), Kawita (Coweta), Alibamu, Yamasi (Yemassee), Shawano (Shawnee), Seminoles and some other small tribes. This confederation was called by the northern Indians in the Algonquin tongue: “Muscogi,” the English translation of which name came into common use and was adopted by the confederation as their official name of “Creeks.”
The attitude of the Creeks towards the colonists was friendly and cordial. In the first treaty of October, 1733, the settlers were invited “to make use and possess all those lands, which the Nation hath not occasion to use. Six years later in 1739, there was held at Coweta town, an Indian town. near Columbus, a council of Creeks, Cherokees and Chehaws, which confirmed the treaty of 1733: and fixed the bounds of the cession as between the Savannah and Ogeechee rivers as far north as Little River, which is north of Augusta. At the same council the boundary of the Creek Nation was set forth as “from the St. Johns River westward to Apalachee bay and northwards to the mountains,” and the council recognized these as bounds of the Creek territory, and the mountains were recognized as Cherokee territory. The next convention was held at Augusta in 1763. It was attended by the chief executives of four colonies: Governor Dobbs of North Carolina, Governor Boone of South Carolina, Governor Wright of Georgia, Lt. Governor Fauquier of Virginia, and seven hundred tribesmen representing all southern tribes. This convention merely confirmed the original cession of territory.
In 1773, forty years after the first treaty, the Cherokees ceded twenty miles further north, which cession is the present Wilkes County, and the Creeks ceded the coast between the Ogeechee and Altamaha rivers. Both of these cessions were financial transactions. During the War of Independence, in 1778, inasmuch as the Creeks fought with the Tories and English, the coastal plain was widened by seizure, which marked the beginning of the end of cordial relations.
The following purchases were made in addition to those mentioned above:
In 1790, the territory between the Ogeechee and Oconee rivers; in 1802 and 1804, from the Oconee to the Ocmulgee River; in 1814, the southern part of the state as far west as the Chattahoochee River and as far north as Fort Gaines, Georgia.
In the eighty years after the first cession in 1733, the Creeks had made wonderful progress in agriculture and government. Near the towns there were patches of corn, yams, beans, melons, gourds and tobacco, which were tended by the squaws and their negro slaves, who were acquired at an early date in the slave trade. For it must be remembered that the importation of slaves was prohibited by the Constitution of Georgia, which was adopted in 1798. The Creek houses, consisting of two or four rooms separated by an open hallway, were of their own design and later were imitated by the pioneers. The central hallway was used by the Indians as a council gathering place, but was called by the pioneers the “Dog-Trot.” The early roads were little more than trails or bridal paths, and were usually located across the crests of hills in order that the distant landmarks might be easily seen.
The capital city of the Creek Nation was Indian Springs (near Flovilla, Georgia) and the government consisted of representatives from every town to constitute its assembly or legislature. As early as 1763, there were fifty towns and the Indian population was as much as forty to fifty thousand, for the warriors or soldiers numbered 5,860 exclusive of old men, squaws and children.
The head chief and president of the assembly had built a capitol and a presidential residence at Indian Springs and the Creek Assembly had conferred on the president the rank of General of the Creek Armies. The commissioning of colonels, captains and other military officers followed soon thereafter. The passing visitor was introduced to Gen. William McIntosh, President of the Creek Nation, whose home was at McIntosh Reserve in Carroll County, and whose residence as president was at Indian Springs, capital of the Creek Nation.
The question of taxation or raising funds for the central government was a difficult problem for the Creek legislature: the agricultural products were cultivated on a scale commensurate with the family needs; and the trade in baskets, pottery, moccasins, fur caps and coats was generally in the form of barter; hence, there seemed to be no feasible or practical form of taxation. The Assembly finally concluded that the cession and sale of territory was the simplest method of securing means for the purchase of arms and tools for their military and agricultural equipment. These repeated cessions of territory for such equipment were complicated by the increasing number of tribesmen from year to year and the constantly decreasing area of hunting grounds. The consequence was an increasing dissatisfaction among the tribesmen with the course of events. The clashes between the conflicting interests of the pioneers and the Indian trappers and hunters emphasized the growing dissatisfaction.
Most of the legislation of the Creek Assembly was of a military character and the most important issue was a method of equipping the army for which a large sum was necessary for arms and uniforms. In 1821 an Assembly was called to consider this momentous question, and there followed the largest sale and cession of territory in the national Creek history. This sale included the central part of Georgia southeast of the Thronateeska River, which is now called the Flint. While the desire for money and arms finally overcame the hesitation to surrender this territory, yet the Assembly also passed an enactment that no further cessions of territory should be made except by unanimous consent, pledging their lives as forfeit for the violation of the edict.
The next cession of territory, which gave the state of Georgia that part in which Troup County is situated, was made by a council or assembly summoned to Indian Springs on February 12, 1825. This transaction was of little credit to either of contracting parties, for it is easy to read between the lines the persuasion, bribery and promises of protection on one side and the treachery and violation of the law on the other. The price paid to the Creeks for the cession was $400,000.00 in cash, an equivalent area beyond the Mississippi River, and the expense of moving. The text of treaty follows:
INDIAN SPRINGS RESERVATION. On February 14, 1825, two days after the signing of the above cession, the reservation of Indian Springs was bought and the text of the transfer is given below:
Gen. William McIntosh, President of the Creek Nation, after the Council had finished its work at Indian Springs, remained there some time gathering together the Council records, closing up his personal affairs and removing his personal property from Indian Springs and his Ocmulgee farm, and some time near the first of August, 1825, he made his way back to McIntosh Reserve in the present Carroll County. There a number of chiefs waited upon him, and giving him one day to arrange his affairs, they executed him in accordance with the Creek laws for the violation of their agreement not to sell any further territory without unanimous consent of the Council.
The above incident is noted in order to show some of the causes of the subsequent raids and annoyances experienced by the pioneers at the hands of the Indians in retaliation for the treacherous sale of their hunting grounds. The chief of Tokaubatchie was recorded in the treaty as being present and not assenting to the sale, and his followers did not consider an illegal treaty as binding upon them.
Thus was the territory between the Flint and the Chattahoochee rivers acquired by the United States for the State of Georgia. The State of Georgia at once took steps to survey and subdivide this newly acquired territory into land districts and land lots preparatory to the creation of counties.