William Potter Ross, Chief of the Cherokee Nation (1820 - 1891) MP

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Managed by: Pam Wilson
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About William Potter Ross, Chief of the Cherokee Nation

William R. Ross was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation During two separate terms. On October 19, 1866, he was chosen by the National Council to fill the unexpired term of Chief Ross. His job was to ratify the new constitutional amendments made necessary by the newly signed treaty with the Federal government. From 1872 through 1875, after being elected by the National Council to fill the unexpired second term of Lewis Downing, there were still conflicts resulting from the Civil War, in which he had served as a Colonel on the Union side. Because of this, he faced pressures and opposition from three distinct groups: full bloods, mixed bloods and negro freedmen. There was a crime wave as a result, and in 1875, 40 armed members of the Downing Party threatened his life if any more Downing Party people were killed. He sought to unite the Nation, lessen expense and promote education. By the efforts of he and D.W. Bushyhead, Treasurer, expenses reached an acceptable level. During his administration, the population was vastly factionalized as new and various political groups were formed to demand reforms in almost all areas, as well as opposition to the U.S. attempts to establish a territorial government. Under his leadership, reconstruction in the Cherokee Nation was accomplished. Many changes were made in the legislative system, freedmen were declared citizens, a census was provided for every ten years, the judicial system was modified, procedures for electing civil officials and terms of office were changed, and much more. He was born in 1820 and died in 1891, and was married to Mary Jane Ross (1827-1908), the daughter of Lewis Ross and Francis Holt. He was a graduate of Princeton, and an editor of the Cherokee Advocate as well as the Vinita Daily Chieftain. He is buried in the Cherokee National Cemetery, now known as Fort Gibson City Cemetery.

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William Ross, Chief of the Cherokee Nation's Timeline

1820
August 28, 1820
1891
July 20, 1891
Age 70
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Cherokee National Cemetery