Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

be possible, in such circumstances, to enforce the laws against intruders ?

7. If the Indians remove from their native soil, it is not possible that they should receive a satisfactory guaranty of a new country. If a guaranty is professedly made by a compact called a treaty, it will be done at the very moment that treaties with Indians are declared not to be binding, and for the very reason that existing treaties are not strong enough to bind the United States. To what confidence would such an engagement be entitled ? .

It is now pretended that President Washington, and the Senate of 1790, had no power to guaranty to Indians the lands on which they were born, and for which they were then able to contend vigorously at the muzzle of our guns. Who can pledge himself, that it will not be contended, ten years hence, that President Jackson, and the Senate of 1830, had no constitutional power to set apart territory for the perma. nent residence of the Indians ? Will it not then be asked, Where is the clause in the constitution, which authorized the establishment of a new and anomalous government, in the heart of North America ? The constitution looked forward to the admission of new States into the Union ; but does it say any thing about Indian States? Will the men of 1840, or 1850, be more tender of the reputation of President Jackson, than the men of the present day are of the reputation of President Washington ? Will they not say, that the pretended treaty of 1830, (if a treaty should now be made,) was an act of sheer usurpation ? that it was known to be such at the time, and was never intended to be kept ? that every man of sense in the country considered the removal of 1830 to be one of the few steps, necessary to the utter extermination of the Indians ? that the Indians were avowedly considered as children, and the word trealy was used as a plaything to amuse them, and to pacify grown up children among the whites ? · If the design is not to be accomplished by a treaty, but by an act of Congress, the question recurs, Whence did Congress derive the constitutional power to make an Indian State, 150 miles long and 100 miles broad, in the heart of this continent? Besides, if Congress has the constitutional power to pass such an act, has it not the power of repealing the act ? Has it not also the power of making a new State of whites, encircling this Indian community, and entitled to exercise the same power over the Indians, which the States of Alabama and Mississippi now claim the right of exercising over the four southwestern tribes ? Will it be said, that the contemplated Indian community will have been first established, and received its guaranty, and that therefore Congress cannot incluse the Indians in a new State ? Let it be remembered, that the Creeks and Cherokees received their guaranty about thirty years before the State of Alabama came into existence; and yet that State claims the Indians within its chartered limits, as being under its proper jurisdiction; and has already begun to enforce the claim. Let not the government trifle with the word guaranty. If the Indians are removed, let it be said, in an open and manly tone, that they are removed because we have the power to remove them, and there is a political reason for doing it; and that they will be removed again, whenever the whites demand their removal, in a style

[ocr errors]

sufficiently clamorous and imperious to make trouble for the government.

8. The constrained migration of 60,000 souls, men, women and children, most of them in circumstances of deep poverty, must be attended with much suffering.

9. Indians of different tribes, speaking different languages, and all in a state of vexation and discouragement, would live on bad terms with each other, and quarrels would be inevitable.

10. Another removal will soon be necessary. If the emigrants become poor, and are transformed into vagabonds, it will be evidence enough, that no benevolent treatment can save them, and it will be said they may as well be driven beyond the Rocky Mountains at once. If they live comfortably, it will prove, that five times as many white people might live comfortably in their places. Twenty five years hence, there will probably be 4,000,000 of our population west of the Mississippi, and fifty years hence not less than 15,000,000. By that time, the pressure wupon the Indians, will be much greater from the boundless prairies, which must ultimately be subdued and inhabited, than it would ever have been from the borders of the present Cherokee country.

11. If existing treaties are not observed, the Indians can have no confidence in the United States. They will consider themselves as paupers and mendicants, reduced to that condition by acts of gross oppression, and then taken by the government, and stowed away in a crowded work house.

12. The moment a treaty for removal is signed by any tribe of Indians, on the basis of the contemplated plan, that moment such tribe is denationalized; for the essence of the plan is, that all the tribes shall come under one government, which is to be administered by whites. There will be no party to complain, even if the pretended treaty should be totally disregarded. A dead and mournful silence will reign; for the Indian communities will have been blotted out forever. Individuals will remain to feel that they are vassals, and to sink unheeded to despondency, despair, and extinction.

But the memory of these transactions will not be forgotten. A bitter roll will be unfolded, on which Mourning, Lamentation, and Woe to the People of the United States will be seen written in characters, which no eye can refuse to see.'

Government has arrived at the bank of the Rubicon. If our rulers now stop, they may save the country from the charge of bad faith. If they proceed, it will be known by all men, that in a plain case, without any plausible plea of necessity, and for very weak and unsatisfactory reasons, the great and boasting Republic of the United States of North America incurred the guilt of violating treaties; and that this guilt was incurred when the subject was fairly before the eyes of the American community, and had attracted more attention than any other public measure since the close of the last war.

In one of the sublimest portions of Divine Revelation, the following words are written :

Cursed he he, that removeth his neighbor's landmark: and all the people shall say, Amen.

Cursed be he, that maketh the blind to wander out of the way : and all the people shall say, Amen.

Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow : and all the people shall say, Amen.

Is it possible that our national rulers shall be willing to expose themselves and their country to these curses of Almighty God ? Curses uttered to a people, in circumstances not altogether unlike our own ? Curses reduced to writing by the inspired lawgiver, for the terror and warning of all nations, and receiving the united and hearty Amen of all people, to whom they have been made known ?

It is now proposed to remove the landmarks, in every sense ;-to disregard territorial boundaries, definitely fixed, and for many years respected ;-to disregard a most obvious principle of natural justice, in accordance with which the possessor of property is to hold it, till some one claims it, who has a better right;-to forget the doctrine of the law of nations, that engagements with dependent allies are as rigidly to be observed, as stipulations between communities of equal power and sovereignty ;—to shut our ears to the voice of our own sages of the law, who say, that Iudians have a right to retain possession of their land and to use it according to their discretion, antecedently to any positive compacts; and, finally, to dishonor Washington, the Father of his country,—to stultify the Senate of the United States during a period of thirty-seven years,--to burn 150 documents, as yet preserved in the archives of State, under the denomination of treaties with Indians, and to tear out sheets from every volume of our national statute-book and scatter them to the winds. .

Nothing of this kind has ever yet been done, certainly not on a large scale, by Anglo-Americans. To us, as a nation, it will be a new thing under the sun. We have never yet acted upon the principle of seizing the lands of peaceable Indians, and compelling them to remove. We have never yet declared treaties with them to be mere waste paper.

Let it be taken for granted, then, that law will prevail. “Of law,” says the judicious Hooker, in strains which have been admired for their beauty and eloquence ever since they were written,-" Of law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God; her voice the harıony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage ; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power. Both angels and men, and creatures of what condition soever, each in different sort and order, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy." :

APPENDIX

THE SECRETARY OF WAR TO THE CHEROKEE DELEGATION.

DEPARTMENT OF WAR, APRIL 18, 1829. To Messrs. John Ross, Richard Taylor, Edward Gunter, and William S. Coody, Cherokee

Delegation. FriendS AND BROTHERS: Your letter of the 17th of February, addressed to the late Secretary of War, has been brought to the notice of this Departmeni, since the commmunication made to you on the 11th inst.; and having conversed freely and fully with the President of the United States, I am direcied by him to submit the following as the views which are entertained, in reference to the subjects which you have submitted for consideration.

You state that “the Legislature of Georgia, in defiance of the laws of the United States, and the most solemn treaties existing,'' have extended a jurisdiction over your nation, to take cffect in June 1830. That “ your nation had no voice in the formation of the contederacy of the Union, and has ever been unshackled with the laws of individual States, hecause independent of them;" and that consequently this act of Georgia is to be viewed " in no other ligbe than a wanton usurpation of power, guaranteed to no State, neither by the common law of the land, nor by the laws of nature.”

To all this there is a plain and obvious answer, deducible from the known history of the country. During the war of the Revolution, your Nation was the friend and ally of Great Britain; a power which then claimed entire sovereignty within the limits of what constituted the ibirieen United States. By the Declaration of Independence, and, subsequently, the treaty of 1783, all the rights of sovereignty pertaining to Great Britain became vesied respeciively in the original States of the Union, including North Carolina and Georgia, within whose territorial limits, as defined and known, your nation was then situated. If as is the case, you have been permitted to abide on your own lands from that period to the present, enjoying the right of soil and privilege to bunt, it is not thence to be inferred, that ibis was any thing more than a permission growing out of compacts with your nation ; nor is it a circumstance whence now to deny to ihose States the exercise of their original sovereignty.

In the year 1785, three years afier the Independence of the States, which compose this Union, had been acknowledged by Great Briiain, a treaty at Hopewell was concluded with your nation by the United States. The emphatic language it contains cannot be mistaken, commencing as follows :-“ The commissioners plenipotentiary of the United States in Congress assembled, give peace to all the Cherokees, and receive them into favor and protection of the United States of America.” It proceeds then to allot and 10 define your liinits and your bunting grounds. You were secured in the privilege of pursuing the game, and from eneroachments by the whites. No right, however, save a mere possessory one, is, by the provisions of the treaty of Hopewell, conceded 10 your nation. The soil, and the use of it were suffered to remain with you, while the sovereignty abided precisely where it did before, in those States within whose limits you were situated.

Subsequent to this, your people were at enmity with the United States, and waged a war upon our frontier setilemenis; a durable peace was not entered into with you until 1791. At that period a good understanding obtained, hostilities ceased, and by the treaty made and concluded, your nation was placed under the protection of our Government, and a guaranty given, favorable to the occupancy and possession of your country. But the United States, always mindful of the authority of the States, even when treating for what was so much desired, peace with their red brothers, forbore to offer a guaranty adverse to the sovereignty of Georgia. They could not do so; they had not the power.

At a more recent period, to wit, in 1802, the Staie of Georgia, defining her own proper limits, ceded to the United States all her western territory upon a condition, which was accepted, that the United States shall, at their own expense, extinguish for the use of

an be peaceably obtained on reasonable terms, the Indian title to all the lands within the State of Georgia." She did not ask the military arm of the Government to be employed, but in her mildness and forbearance, only, that the soil might be yielded to her, so soon as it could peaceably be obtained, and on reasonable terms. In relation to sovereignty, nothing is said or hinted at in the compact; nor was it necessary or even proper, as both the parties to the agreement well knew that it was a right which already existed in the State in virtue of the declaration of our independence, and of the treaty of 1783 afterwards concluded.

Ge

as ear

These things have been made known to you frankly and after the most friendly manner; and particularly at the making of the treaty with your nation in 1817, when a portion of your people stipulated to remove to the west of ihe Mississippi ; and yet it is alleged, in your communication to this department, that you have been unshackled with the laws of individual States, because independent of them.”

The course you have pursued of establishing an independent, substantive government, within the territorial limits of the State of Georgia, adverse to her will and contrary to her consent, has been the immediate cause, which has induced her to depart from the forbearance she has so long practised; and in virtue of her authority, as a sovereign, independent State, to extend over your country her legislative enactments, which she and every Siate embraced in the confederacy, from 1783 to the present time, when their independence was acknowledged and admitted, possessed the power to do, apart from any authority, or opposing interference by the General Government.

Bul suppose, and it is suggested merely for the purpose of awakening your better judgment, that Georgia cannot, and ought not, lo claim the exercise of such power—what alternative is then presented ? In reply, allow me to call your attention for a moment to the grave character of the course which, under a mistaken view of your own rights, you desire this government to adopt. It is no less than an invitation that she shall step forward to arrest the constitutional acts of an independent State, exercised within her owu limits. Should this be done and Georgia persist in the maintenance of her rights and her authority, the consequences might be that the act would prove injurious to us, and, in all probability, ruinous to you. The sword might be locked to as the arbiter in such an interference. But this can never be done. The President cannot and will not beguile you with such an expectation. The arms of this country can never be employed to stay any Siate of this Union from the exercise of those legitimaie powers, which ailach and belong to their sovereign character. An interference to the extent of affording you protection, and The occupancy of your soil, is what is demanded of the justice of this country, and will not be withheld; yet in doing this, the right of permitting to you the enjoyment of a separate Governinent within the limits of a Stale, and of denying the exercise of sovereignty to ihal State wiibin her own hmits, cannot be adınitted. It is not within the range of powers granted by the States to the General Government, and therefore not within ils competency to be exercised.

In this view of the circumstances connected with your application, it becomes proper to remark ihat no remedy can be perceived, except that which frequently heretofore has been submitted for your consideration-a removal beyond the Mississippi, where alone can be assured to you protection and peace. It must be obvious to you, and the President has instructed me to bring it to your candid and serious consideration, that to continue where you are, within the territorial limits of an independent State, can promise you nothing but interruption and disquietude. Beyond the Mississippi your prospects will be different. There you will find no conflicting interests. The United Siates' power and sovereignty, uncontrolled by the high authority of State jurisdiction, and resting on its own energies, will be able to say to you, in the language of your own nation, “the soil shall be yours, while the trees grow or the streams run.” But situated where you now are, be cannot hold to you such language, or consent to beguile you hy inspiring in your bosoms hopes and expectations which cannot be realized. Justice and friendly feelings cherished towards our red brethren of the forest, demand that, in all our intercourse, frankness should be maintained.

The President desires me to say, that the feelings entertained by him towards your people, are of the most friendly kind; and that, in the intercourse heretofore, in past times so trequently had with the chiefs of your nation, he failed not to warn them of ihe consequences which would result to them from residing within the limits of sovereign States.

He holds to them now no other language than that which he has heretofore employed ; and in doing so, feels convinced that he is pointing out that course which humanity and a just regard for the interests of the Indian will be found to sanction. In the view entertained by him of this important matter, there is but a single alternative to yield to the operation of those laws which Georgia claims, and has a right to exterid throughoui her own limits, or to remove, and hy associating with your brothers beyond the Mississippi, lo become again united as one nation, carrying along with you that protection wbich, there situated, it will be in the power of the Government to extend. The Indians being thus brought together at a distance from their wbite brothers, will be relieved from very many of those interruptions, wbich, situated as they are al present, are without remedy. The Governineni of the United States will then be able to exercise over them a paternal and

paternal and superintending care, to happier advantage; to stay encroachments, and preserve them in peace and amily with each other; while, with the aid of schools, a hope may be indulged that, ere long, industry and refinement will take the place of those wandering habits now so peculiar to the Indian character, the tendency of which is to impede them in their march to civilization.

Respecting ihe intrusions on your lands submilled also for consideration, it is sufficient to remark, thai of these the Department had already been advised, and instructions have been forwarded to the Agent of the Cherokees, directing him to cause their removal; and it is earnestly hoped that, on this maller all cause for future complaint will cease, and the order prove effectual. With great respect, your friend,

JOHN H. EATON.

« ZurückWeiter »