American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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Cherokee Nation Denied
Foreign Nation Status

Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson
Holograph manuscript, 1831
Manuscript Division
Acquired by gift and purchase, 1913

In the landmark case, The Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1831 that the Cherokee Indian Nation was not a foreign nation and therefore ruled that the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction. The result was that the Cherokee Nation's land cessions were allowed to stand, and they were denied the right to sue in federal court to prevent their removal from tribal lands. Associate Justice Smith Thompson wrote a dissenting opinion upholding the claims of the Cherokee Nation. This manuscript is Justice Thompson's retained copy of his dissenting opinion.

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