Sequoyah, Cunningham Join
Men's Hall of Fame
In the late 18th century, a Cherokee
Indian war party including Sequoyah captured a white soldier
who had in his possession a letter. The Indians called the letter
"the talking leaf," and debated whether such a means
of communication was "the gift of the Great Spirit"
to the white man, or simply the white man's creation.
While most felt it was the former, Sequoyah believed whites had
created the system. He resolved to do the same for Cherokees.
By 1821, he had completed a syllabary, or alphabet, of 86 characters
that the Cherokees could use to form words.
The achievement made the Cherokees a literate nation. They produced
literature, newspapers, laws and a constitution.
Sequoyah (c. 1770c. 1843) moved to northeast Alabama from
Tennessee around 1800. He established himself as a silversmith,
trader and entrepreneur in Will's Town, DeKalb County.
The Cherokee Leader was inducted into the Alabama Men's Hall
of Fame at Samford in September, along with physician-statesman
Russell McWhorter Cunningham, Alabama's first lieutenant governor.
|Cunningham(1855-1921), from Lawrence
County, was appointed state physician to the Wetumpka penitentiary
in 1881 and later served as physician for more than 30 years
in the state's mining community, working for improved conditions
He was elected to the state senate in 1896 and was elected the
first lieutenant governor in 1902, serving through 1907. Due
to the ill health of Gov. William Jelks in 190405, he served
as governor. He supported anti-lynching measures, funding for
education and libraries, stringent regulation of child labor
laws and an elected Railroad Commission.
The Alabama Men's Hall of Fame was founded by the Alabama legislature
in 1987. It is housed in Samford's Davis Library.