Toward the Setting Sun John Ross, the Cherokees, and the Trail of Tears

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-03-27
  • Publisher: Grove Press
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Toward the Setting Sun chronicles one of the most significant but least explored periods in American history, recounting the unknown story of the first white man to champion the Native American cause. Though the son of a Scottish trader and a quarter-Cherokee woman, John Ross thought of himself as Cherokee. Chief for forty years, he defended the tribe against the white encroachment and Andrew Jackson. Clashes between the two men raged over decades, from battlefields and meeting houses to the White House and the Supreme Court. Jackson felt no shame in ignoring decades of U.S.-Indian treaties as more and more whites settled illegally on the Cherokee Nation's native land. Only when a group of renegade Cherokees betrayed their chief did Ross recapitulate, forced to suddenly begin his journey west and relocate beyond the Mississippi.

Author Biography

Brian Hicks is a senior writer for The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, an historian, and the author of five books. He lives in Charleston.

Table of Contents

Dramatis Personaep. ix
Cherokee Time Linep. xiii
Prologue The Time of the Fallp. 1
An Old Prophecyp. 11
Little Johnp. 39
Horseshoe Bendp. 61
A Sharp Knifep. 80
A Traitor in All Nationsp. 111
One Generation Passethp. 132
The Reins of Powerp. 155
A Dangerous Gamep. 177
Turning Pointp. 209
The Schemes of Traitorsp. 228
1855p. 251
Where They Criedp. 283
Retributionp. 315
Epilogue The Way of the Westp. 335
Notes and Sourcesp. 355
Selected Bibliographyp. 393
Acknowledgmentsp. 397
Indexp. 401
About the Authorp. 423
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


When Harris cocked his rifle, Ross wheeled his horse around and galloped off, retreating by the sound of the gun’s report. Ross knew the countryside well, and that knowledge gave him an advantage in the dark. He rode fast, knowing that it was not only himself, but the entire Cherokee Nation he had to save. The tribe depended on him; there was no one else who could stop Jackson.

Even though the attack made his blood boil, turning to fight never occurred to Ross. He was not a warrior, and he knew it. Ross’s only thoughts were of escape. Although it would have been natural to be afraid, Ross was more annoyed than anything else. The attack was just something else standing in the way of his business. He knew that he must get away, but he still had much work to do.

Andrew caught up to Ross within minutes, and the two rode quickly and quietly through the night. After a while, they turned off the trail that led to Coodey’s, not wanting to bring this trouble on their nephew.

As his horse sprinted, dodging branches on the narrow trail, John Ross had little time to wonder who had sent this man Harris. Had it been the governor of Georgia, the president of the United States, or one of his own tribesmen? In truth, he knew it mattered very little at that moment, because he could hear the man gaining.

And then, another shot rang out in the dark.

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