Bicentennial Edition Daily Post Athenian, Athens, TN 1976
"The murder trial of James Foreman, a Cherokee Indian, who was
accused of killing another Cherokee, John Walker Jr., was conducted before the Circuit Court of McMinn County in 1834 and became a 'cause celebre', in the early history of Tennessee.
Some three years before his murder, John Walker, without
the Cherokee Nation, went to Washington, where with no authority to represent any
one but himself, advanced the cause of the removal of the Cherokees from East TN
and made rash statements about the temper of the Cherokee people and the domineering attitude of the Chiefs who opposed the wishes of the government in Washington. He and his actions were repudiated by a large part of the tribe.
Although known as "Chief Jack", Walker was never a chief but was a
mixed breed of great ability and prominence among his people.
He is said to have been a man of superior education and influential
connections. He was reportedly educated in New Jersey.
His father was Major John Walker, famous as an officer of the
Cherokee forces that fought under Andrew Jackson at the Horseshoe Bend in the Creek war and the man who laid out the town of Calhoun from a tract of land on the
Hiwassee River given to him by the national gov't. It was at his home the county was
According to James Franklin Corn in Red Clay and Rattlesnake Spring,
Walker was killed between Benton Pike and his homeplace in Walker Valley, in an
ambush from behind and old chestnut tree. An Athens man, Dick Jackson, was with Walker when the fatal shot was fired and reported that the assailants were James
Foreman and Isaac Springston, also members of the Cherokee tribe.
The murder to Chief Jack was termed due to a personal conflict, not of political nature, by an old Indian quoted by Cherokee historian Moody. Others, however, feel that his murder stemmed from the intense feeling on the part of the masses of the Nation against Walker and others who advocated or helped negotiate the treaty of removal with agents of the U.S.
In his trial Foreman insisted that the crime, if there was a crime,
took place in Indian territory, involved only Cherokees, and was therefore triable only before Indian tribunals; that the courts of the white man were without jurisdiction.
His plea was sustained by the trial court, but on appeal to the
Supreme Court of TN, the judgement of the lower court was reversed and the
case remanded to the
Circuit Court of McMinn Co. for trial on the merits.
The Supreme Court took occasion to trace the title of Tennessee lands back to the POPE and chronicled a detailed history of legislation affecting the Indian tribes. It was that the white man took the Indian lands by right of conquest...and that the laws of the U.S. purporting to govern and protect the Indians were unconstitutional and without affect in TN.
Isaac Springston was also indicated for the crime but apparently did
not participate actively in the killing. While both were in jail at Athens
the Cherokees had a called meeting at Red Clay and raised a considerable
amount of money for their defense.
The Cherokee Nation was instrumental in appealing Forman's case to the U.S.
Supreme Court, but before a hearing was made the Cherokees of TN were removed to the West and the appeal abandned. Foreman, in some manner, not of record, was released and moved West where he became involved in a feud among the Cherokees and is said to have taken an active part in the murders of leaders of the so called treaty party. A short time later he was killed in retalliation for his part in the killings."
Info furnished by: Bill Bigham