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there is any hardship in bringing the Indians under the laws of the States, in the neighborhood of which they live; or, as the phrase is, within the limits of which they live. Some consider it the greatest kindness that can be done to the Indians to remove them, even without their consent and against their will, to a country where, as is supposed, they will be in a condition more favorable to their happiness. Others think, that if they are compelled to remove, their circumstances will be in all respects worse than at present; and that, suffering under a deep sense of injury, and considering themselves trodden down by the march of inexorable oppression, they will become utterly dispirited, and sink rapidly to the lowest degradation and to final extinction.
So great a diversity of opinion is principally owing to want of correct information. It is my design, Messrs. Editors, to furnish, in a few numbers of moderate length, such materials, as will enable every dispassionate and disinterested man to determine where the right of the case is. . In the mean time, I would observe, that the people of the United States owe it to themselves, and to mankind, to form a correct judgment in this matter. The questions have forced themselves upon us, as a nation :- What is to become of the Indians ? Have they any rights? If they have, What are these rights ? and how are they to be secured? These questions must receive a practical answer; and that very soon. What the answer shall be, is a subject of the deepest concern to the country.
The number of individuals, who are interested in the course now to be pursued, is very great. It is computed, that there are within our national limits more than 300,000 Indians ; some say 500,000; and, in the southwestern States, the tribes whose immediate removal is in contemplation, have an aggregate population of more than 60,000. The interests of all these people are implicated, in any measure to be taken respecting them.
The character of our government, and of our country, may be deeply involved. Most certainly an indelible stigma will be fixed upon us, if, in the plenitude of our power, and in the pride of our superiority, we shall be guilty of manifest injustice to our weak and defenceless neighbors. There are persons among us, not ignorant, nor prejudiced, nor under the bias of private interest, who seriously apprehend, that there is danger of our national character being most unhappily affected, before the subject shall be fairly at rest. If these individuals are misled by an erroneous view of facts, or by the adoption of false principles, a free discussion will relieve their minds.
It should be remembered, by our rulers as well as others, that this controversy, (for it has assumed the form of a regular controversy,) will ultimately be well understood by the whole civilized world. No subject, not even war, nor slavery, nor the nature of free institutions, will be more thoroughly canvassed. The voice of mankind will be pronounced upon it ;-a voice, which will not be drowned by the clamor of ephemeral parties, nor silenced by the paltry considerations of local or private interest. Such men as the Baron Humboldt and the Duc de Broglie, on the continent of Europe, and a host of other statesmen, and orators, and powerful writers, there and in Great Brit
ain, will not be greatly influenced, in deciding a grave question of public morality, by the excitements of one of our elections, or the selfish views of some little portions of the American community. Any course of measures, in regard to the Indians, which is manifestly fair, and generous, and benevolent, will command the warm and decided approbation of intelligent men, not only in the present age, but in all succeeding times. And with equal confidence it may be said, if, in the phraseology of Mr. Jefferson, the people of the United States should “feel power, and forget right;"—if they should resemble a man, who, abounding in wealth of every kind, and assuming the office of lawgiver and judge, first declares himself to be the owner of his poor neighbor's little farm, and then ejects the same neighbor as a troublesome incumbrance ;-jf, with land enough, now in the undisputed possession of the whites, to sustain ten times our present population, we should compel the remnants of tribes to leave the places, which, received by inheritance from their fathers and never alienated, they have long regarded as their permanent homes ;-if, when asked to explain the treaties, which we first proposed, then solemnly executed, and have many times ratified, we stammer, and prevaricate, and complete our disgrace by an unsuccessful attempt to stultify, not merely ourselves, but the ablest and wisest statesmen, whorn our country has yet produced ;-and if, in pursuance of a narrow and selfish policy, we should at this day, in a time of profound peace and great national prosperity, amidst all our professions of magnanimity and benevolence, and in the blazing light of the nineteenth century, drive away these remnants of tribes, in such a manner, and under such auspices, as to insure their destruction ;-if all this should hereafter appear to be a fair statement of the case ;—then the sentence of an indignant world will be uttered in thunders, which will roll and rever.berate for ages after the present actors in human affairs shall have passed away. If the people of the United States will imitate the ruler who coveted Naboth's vineyard, the world will assuredly place them by the side of Naboth's oppressor. Impartial history will not ask them, whether they will feel gratified and honored by such an association. Their consent to the arrangement will not be necessary. The revolution of the earth in its orbit is not more certain.
It may be truly said, that the character which a nation sustains, in its intercourse with the great community of nations, is of more value than any other of its public possessions. Our diplomatic agents have uniformly declared, during the whole period of our national history, in their discussions with the agents of foreign powers, that we offer to others the same justice which we ask from them. And though, in times of national animosity, or when the interests of different communities clash with each other, there will be mutual reproaches and recriminations, and every nation will, in its turn, be charged with unfairness or injustice, still, among nations, as among individuals, there is a difference between the precious and the vile; and that nation will undoubtedly, in the long course of years, be most prosperous and most respected, which most sedulously cherishes a character for fair dealing, and even generosity, in all its transactions.
There is a higher consideration still. The Great Arbiter of Nations never fails to take cognizance of national delinquencies. No
sophistry can elude his scrutiny; no array of plausible arguments, or of smooth but hollow professions, can bias his judgment; and he has at his disposal most abundant means of executing his decisions. In many forms, and with awful solemnity, he has declared his abhorrence of oppression in every shape ; and especially of injustice perpetrated against the weak by the strong, when strength is in fact made the only rule of action. The people of the United States are not altogether guiltless, in regard to their treatment of the aborigines of this continent; but they cannot as yet be charged with any systematic legislation on this subject, inconsistent with the plainest principles of moral honesty. At least, I am not aware of any proof, by which such a charge could be sustained.
Nor do I, in these preliminary remarks, attempt to characterize measures now in contemplation. But it is very clear, that our government and our people should be extremely cautious, lest, in judging between ourselves and the Indians, and carrying our own judgment into execution with a strong hand, we incur the displeasure of the Most High. Some very judicious and considerate men in our country think, that our public functionaries should stop where they are ; that, in the first place, we should humble ourselves before God and the world, that we have done so much to destroy the Indians, and so little to save them; and that, before another step is taken, there should be the most thorough deliberation, on the part of all our constituted authorities, lest we act in such a manner as to expose ourselves to the judgments of Heaven.
I would have omitted this topic, if I thought that a majority of readers would regard its introduction as a matter of course, or as a piece of affectation, designed for rhetorical embellishment. In my deliberate opinion, it is more important, and should be more heeded, than all other considerations relating to the subject; and the people of the. United States will find it so, if they should unhappily suppose themselves above the obligation to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.
I close this introductory number, by stating what seems to be the present controversy between the whites and the Indian tribes of the southwestern States : I say the whites, (that is our country generally,) because certain positions are taken by the government of the United States, and certain claims are made by the State of Georgia, and certain other claims by the States of Alabama and Mississippi. The Indians do not admit the validity of any of these positions or claims; and if they have a perfect original title to the lands they occupy, which title they have never forfeited nor alienated, their rights cannot be affected by the charters of kings, nor by the acts of provincial legislatures, nor by the compacts of neighboring States, nor by the mandates of the executive branch of our national government.
The simple question is : Ilave the Indian tribes, residing as separate communities in the neighborhood of the whites, a permanent title to the territory, which they inherited from their fathers, which they have neither forfeited nor sold, and which they now occupy ?
For the examination of this question, let the case of a single tribe or nation be considered ; for nearly the same principles are involved in the claims of all the Indian nations.
The Cherokees contend, that their nation has been in possession of their present territory from time immemorial ; that neither the king of Great Britain, nor the early settlers of Georgia, nor the State of Georgia after the revolution, nor the United States since the adoption of the federal constitution, have acquired any title to the soil, or any sovereignty over the territory; and that the title to the soil and sovereignty over the territory have been repeatedly guaranteed to the Cherokees, as a nation, by the United States, in treaties which are now binding on both parties.
The government of the United States alleges, as appears by a letter • from the Secretary of War,* dated April 18, 1829, that Great Britain, previous to the revolution, “ claimed entire sovereignty within the limits of what constituted the thirteen United States ;" that all the rights of sovereignty which Great Britain had within said States became vested in said States respectively, as a consequence of the declaration of independence, and the treaty of 1783;' that the Cherokees were merely permitted' to reside on their lands by the United States; that this permission is not to be construed so as to deny to Georgia the exercise of sovereignty; and that the United States has no power to guarantee any thing more than a right of possession, till the State of Georgia should see fit to legislate for the Cherokees, and dispose of them as she should judge expedient, without any control from the general government.
This is a summary of the positions taken by the Secretary of War; and, though not all of them expressed in his own language, they are in strict accordance with the tenor of his letter.
In my next number, I shall proceed to inquire, What right have the Cherokees to the lands which they occupy ?
No. II. The Cherokees have the same rights as other men-They are not hunters-- They have sold
much good land to the United States-Original extent of their country—Its present extent-The mere claims of one party cannot affect the rights of another partyNecessity of examining treaties.
In my first number I prepared the way to inquire, What right have the Cherokees to the lands which they occupy ? This is a plain question, and easily answered.
(The Cherokees are human beings, endowed by their Creator with the same natural rights as other men. They are in peaceable possession of a territory which they have always regarded as their own. This territory was in possession of their ancestors, through an unknown series of generations, and has come down to them with a title absolutely unincumbered in every respect. It is not pretended, that the Cherokees have ever alienated their country, or that the whites have ever been in possession of it. If the Cherokees are interrogated as to their title, they can truly
* See Appendix.
'say, “ God gave this country to our ancestors. We have never been in bondage to any man. Though we have sold much land to our white neighbors, we have never bought any from them. We own the land which we now occupy, by the right of the original possessors; a right which is allowed in all countries to be of incontestible validity. We assert, therefore, that no human power can lawfully compel us to leave our lands." · If the Cherokees are correct in their statement of facts, whọ can resist their conclusion ? We might as well ask the Chinese, what right they have to the territory which they occupy. To such a question they would answer, “ God gave this land to our ancestors. Our nation has always been in possession of it, so far as history and tradition go back. The nations of Europe are comparatively of recent origin; the commencement of ours is lost in remote antiquity.”
What can be said to such a statement as this? Who can argue so plain a case ?
It has been alleged, that the savage of the wilderness can acquire no title to the forests, through which he pursues his game. Without admitting this doctrine, it is sufficient to reply here, that it has no application to the case of the Cherokees. They are at present neither savages nor hunters. It does not appear that they ever were mere wanderers, without a stationary residence. At the earliest period of our becoming acquainted with their condition, they had fixed habitations, and were in undisputed possession of a widely extended country. They were then in the habit of cultivating some land near their houses, where they planted Indian corn, and other vegetables. From about the commencement of the present century, they have addicted themselves more and more to agriculture, till they now derive their support from the soil, as truly and entirely as do the inhabitants of Pennsylvania or Virginia. For many years they have had their herds, and their large cultivated fields. They now have, in addition, their schools, a regular civil government, and places of regular Christian worship. They earn their bread by the labor of their own hands. applied to the tillage of their own farms; and they clothe themselves with fabrics made at their own looms, from cotton grown in their own fields.
The Cherokees did not show themselves unwilling to sell their lands, so long as an adequate motive was presented to their minds. During every administration of our national government, applications, were made to them for the purpose of obtaining additional portions of their territory. These applications were urged, not only, nor principally, by the consideration of the money or presents which they were to receive in exchange, but often, and strongly, by the consideration that they would become an agricultural people, like the whites that it was for their interest to have their limits circumscribed, so that their young men could not have a great extent of country to hunt in; and that, when they became attached to the soil, and engaged in its cultivation, the United States would not ask them to sell any more land. Yielding to these arguments, and to the importunities of the whites, the Cherokees sold, at different times, between the close of the revolutionary war and the year 1820, more than three quarters of their original inheritance. That the reader may have some definite idea