John Ross

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Ross, John,

whose name in Cherokee is


(ko͞o'wĭs'ko͞owē`), 1790–1866, Native American chief, b. near Lookout Mt., Tenn., of Scottish and Cherokee parents. He was educated at Kingston, Tenn., and in the War of 1812 served under Andrew Jackson against the Creeks. Elected principal chief of the eastern Cherokee in 1828, Ross struggled valiantly to hold the ancestral lands of his people but was unable to withstand the constant pressure of the state of Georgia for removal. In a treaty (1835) of questionable validity, a small minority of the Cherokee ceded the lands and moved west. Ross and the majority refused to acknowledge the cession, but resistance was unsuccessful, and in 1838–39 he led them on the long, hard journey to present-day Oklahoma. Thousands died on the trip, known in Native American lore as the "trail of tears." From 1839 until his death Ross was chief of the united Cherokee nation (the western Cherokee had migrated at the beginning of the century). He counseled neutrality in the U.S. Civil War, but the Cherokee ultimately supported the Confederacy.


See biography by G. E. Moulton (1986).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ross, John


Born June 24, 1777, in Inch, Scotland; died Aug. 30, 1856, in London. British naval officer and arctic explorer.

In 1818, as head of an expedition searching for the Northwest Passage, Ross followed the west coast of Greenland in Baffin Bay to 76°54’ N lat. and made substantial corrections in the coast’s outline on the map. Turning south, he entered Lancaster Sound but took it for a bay. In the years 1829–33 he headed an expedition that discovered the Boothia Peninsula.


Narrative of a Second Voyage in Search of a North-West Passage and of a Residence of the Arctic Regions During the Years 1829–33 [vols. 1–2]. London, 1835.


Magidovich, I. P. Istoriia otkrytiia i issledovaniia Severnoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1962.
Mowat, F. Ispytanie I’dom. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from English.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Ross, John (b. Coowescoowe)

(1790–1866) Cherokee leader; born on the Coosa River at Tahnoovayah, Ga. His mother was only part Cherokee, his father Scottish. Raised among Christians, he fought in the War of 1812 under Andrew Jackson. He became a member of the Cherokee National Council in 1817 and its president from 1819–26, during which time he helped draft the Cherokee constitution. From 1823–39 he was principal chief of the eastern Cherokee nation. In 1828, he argued and won a case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court designed to prevent U.S. encroachments on Cherokee lands, but President Jackson refused to enforce the decision. Although opposed to land cessions, he signed the Treaty of New Echota in 1838 and led the Cherokee west on the "Trail of Tears." Once in the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), he joined with the western Cherokee and became tribal chief from 1839 until his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.