Elias Boudinot (ca. 1804-1839)
Elias Boudinot was a formally educated Cherokee who became the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix,
Elias Boudinot was born in Oothcaloga, in northwest Georgia, about 1804. He was called Gallegina, or the Buck, and was the eldest of nine children. His father, Oo-watie, was considered a progressive Cherokee. Oo-watie enrolled Gallegina and a younger son, Stand Watie, later a Confederate general, in a Moravian missionary school at Spring Place, in northwest Georgia. In 1817 young Gallegina was invited to attend the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions school in Cornwall, Connecticut. On his journey there, Gallegina was introduced to Elias Boudinot, the aged president of the American Bible Society, and adopted his name in deference and tribute.
Boudinot spent several successful years at the American Board school, and in 1820 he converted to Christianity. Four years later he became engaged to a white woman, Harriet Ruggles Gold, the daughter of a Cornwall physician. Their engagement ignited a firestorm of racial prejudice, and the betrothed couple was burned in effigy. Labeled a breeding ground for mixed couples, the American Board school was forced to close immediately. Boudinot and Harriet Gold married in 1826, then returned to High Tower in the Cherokee Nation to work in a mission.
Earlier in the spring of 1826 Boudinot had embarked on a national speaking tour to elicit financial, spiritual, and political support for the Cherokee Nation's continuing progress in the "arts of civilization." His pamphlet, "An Address to the Whites" (1826), was based on a speech he made in Philadelphia. Boudinot proved remarkably effective at fund-raising. By 1827 the General Council
In the years following the Indian Removal Act (1830) Boudinot also began to publish editorials in favor of the voluntary removal of the Cherokees to a territory west of the Mississippi River. But his opinions were at odds with those held by the majority of the Nation, including the General Council. He resigned as editor of the Phoenix in August 1832 but continued to take an active role in the removal crisis and even printed a pamphlet attacking anti-removal chief John Ross. He ultimately signed the New Echota Treaty (1835), which required the Cherokees to relinquish all remaining land east of the Mississippi River and led to their forced removal to a territory in present-day Oklahoma. Soon after moving west with his family in 1839, Boudinot and two other treaty signers (his uncle Major Ridge and cousin John Ridge) were attacked and stabbed to death by a group of Ross supporters.
Boudinot was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2005.
Cherokee Cavaliers: Forty Years of Cherokee History as Told in the Correspondence of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot Family, ed. Edward Everett Dale and Gaston Litton (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995).
Theda Perdue, ed., Cherokee Editor: The Writings of Elias Boudinot (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996).
Angela F. Pulley, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.