Samuel Worcester (1798-1758) was a missionary to the Cherokees and the plaintiff in Worcester v. Georgia. Worcester was born in Vermont into a family of ministers. In 1825, he applied to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Nations to become a missionary to the Cherokees after meeting Eliot Boudinot, the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, the first Indian newspaper in the country. Stationed first at Brainerd, Tennessee, and then at New Echota, the Cherokee capital, Worcester worked with Boudinot in translating the Bible and other religious materials into the Cherokee language.
On 12 March 1831, Worcester and eleven other missionaries were arrested for refusing to comply with a recently passed Georgia law requiring white persons wishing to live on Indian land to obtain licenses. Their convictions were overturned by the United States Supreme Court on the grounds that the Cherokees were an independent political community subject only to the authority of the federal government, as stipulated by several treaties. Worcester accepted a pardon from Georgia's governor in January 1833.