The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Guess, George

GUESS, George, or Sequoyah, a half-breed Cherokee Indian, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, born about 1770, died in San Fernando, northern Mexico, in August, 1843. He cultivated a small farm in the Cherokee country of Georgia, and was occupied as a silversmith when in 1826 he invented a syllabic alphabet of the Cherokee language, which consisted of 85 characters, each representing a single sound in the language. This is probably the most perfect alphabet ever devised for any language. For the characters he used, as far as they went, those which he found in an English spelling book, although he knew no language except his own. A newspaper called the “Phoenix” was established, a part of it printed in Cherokee, using the alphabet of Guess. A part of the New Testament was also printed in this character. He was not a Christian, and is said to have regretted his invention when he found it used for this purpose. He accompanied his tribe in their migration beyond the Mississippi, and resided for some time in Brainerd. In 1842 he went with other Indians into Mexico, where he was attacked by a fatal sickness.