This month we continue our exploration of the Georgia History Festival theme, “United States Constitution: Ensuring Liberty and Justice for All,” with a look at collection items that relate to oaths, debts, supremacy, and ratification.
This wooden box was made by Rev. S. A. Worcester and Dr. Elezier Butler, physician and minister, of the Cherokee Mission while in prison in Milledgeville. The wooden box is equipped with metal hinges and lock with accompanying key. Labels pasted to the front and the lid both read: “Made by Rev. S. A. Worcester & Doct. Elizier Butler of the Cherokee Mission while imprisoned at the penitentiary at Milledgeville, Georgia, 1831-2. Mr. Potter.”
In 1820, Dr. Elezier Butler, along with his wife, Esther Post, were sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to serve the Cherokees of Georgia, ultimately residing at the Haweis Mission, near Rome, in 1826. After five years of service, Dr. Butler was arrested for residing in the Cherokee Nation without taking an oath of allegiance to the State of Georgia and obtaining a license from the Governor. Along with Samuel Worcester, Butler was sentenced to four years of hard labor in the State penitentiary at Milledgeville. Imprisonment of missionaries residing on Cherokee lands became common after the state of Georgia passed a law requiring that all white men residing on Cherokee land, now claimed by Georgia, needed to apply for licenses to remain living there, as well as take an oath of allegiance to the State itself.