To honor the 200th anniversary of James Monroe's visit to Spring Place, where he spent the night as Joseph Vann’s guest, the Vann House in Chatsworth is hosting a limited-time exhibit about Monroe's 1819 presidential tour of the southern United States through Sunday, May 12.
The exhibit takes its viewers on the road with Monroe and his family as they traveled through the southern states, taking time to stop at some of the schools and missions within the Cherokee Nation. This exhibit is included with admission.
James Monroe, the fifth American President, spent the night in Spring Place in May 1819, even though the Vann House was not on his itinerary. One can read about the circumstances behind Monroe’s impromptu visit in the daily logs written by the Moravian missionaries who occupied Spring Place.
Brother Gambold writes, “On May 25, I had the pleasure of seeing the President of the United States for a minute. He had arrived the evening before in the company of Gen’l Gaines and his wife and two young gentlemen, during heavy rain, in Vann’s house … I… invited him to come to us for breakfast. He said he regretted not being able to accept this invitation, because he would be glad to see our school, etc., and assured me he would always take pleasure in furthering the well-being of the Cherokees in every way possible, and wished us God’s blessing for our efforts.”
Monroe's decisions as president heavily influenced the fate of the 19th-century Cherokee Nation. He was very enthusiastic concerning the many schools that had been erected, and even promised funding to many of them.
Monroe was very polite and comfortable during his stay at the Vann plantation, which so closely resembled Monroe’s home state of Virginia. However, while pleased at the progress taken towards successful acculturation, Monroe still supported a humane, generous, and voluntary land cession to the United States.
We see his reasoning in this portion of a letter to Congress, published in 1825: “The removal of the tribes from the territory which they now inhabit would not only shield them from impending ruin but promote their welfare and happiness. Experience has clearly demonstrated that in their present state it is impossible to incorporate them in such masses, in any form whatever, into our system. It has also demonstrated with equal certainty that without a timely anticipation of a provision against the dangers to which they are exposed, under causes which it will be difficult, if not impossible to control, their degradation and extermination will be inevitable.”