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This Day in Georgia History

September 15, 1831

Worcester and Butler Went on Trial

To view a letter from Samuel Worcester to Georgia governor George Gilmer, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Dr. Samuel Worcester and Dr. Elizur Butler - missionaries to the Cherokees - were tried in state court in Lawrenceville after having been arrested on July 7 for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to Georgia and its policy of disfranchising Cherokees. Worcester and Butler were sentenced to four years of hard labor in the state penitentiary in Milledgeville. Subsequently, Gov. George Gilmer offered a pardon if they would leave Georgia - but they refused. The case of Worcester v. Georgia went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Chief Justice John Marshall ruled against Georgia. Butler and Worcester were released from prison and returned to their work. However, Cherokee removal from Georgia forced them to continue their missionary work with the Cherokees in the west.