Between Commissioners on the part of the United States, and the Council of the Cherokee Nation, in the year 1823.
The following communication was this day made to the Council of the Cherokee nation:
NEWTOWN 16th Oct. 1823.
FRIENDS AND BROTHERS: We are happy that a short time has been consumed in the correspondence between you and the State Commissioners.
This has afforded us an opportunity of becoming partially acquainted with several members of this Council.- For the whole body we entertain a high respect, and we trust, that, with some of you we have contracted individual friendships. In saying this, we do not violence to our own feelings, neither do we lower the elevated character of the United States. People who have never seen you, know but little of your progress in the arts of civilized life, and of the regular and becoming manner in which your affairs are conducted.
Your improvement reflects the greatest credit upon yourselves and upon the Government by which you have been preserved and fostered.- Other Governments would have triumphed in your downfall, and held you down by cruelty and oppression.- Such has not been the conduct of the United States. She has set an example which the whole civilized world ought to feel proud to follow. It has been your unhappy lot to be shut out from the advantages which many others enjoy. It has been the constant study and exertion of the Government to relieve you from your unfortunate condition. The struggle has been long, but not in vain. What was promised you by your first Father, Washington, has been fully performed by these great friends of mankind who have followed him. Under the kind protection of these earthly fathers, you have been taught that you have a Father above in whom you are accountable. It should be your pride which exists between you and the United States. If the President practices towards you the kind treatment of father, it becomes your duty to return the obedience and gratitude of children. You have received this kindness from Government from the close of the Revolutionary War, up to the present time.
The President acknowledges that you deserved it by the steadiness of your fidelity. Your conduct as a nation has been peaceable and harmless, although some of your citizens have been, at times, restless and troublesome.
We doubt not but that some of our citizens are liable to the same charge. You have embraced the only opportunity which has occurred of shewing [sic] that you are warriors, and that you are faithful to the country.
In the last war you were found bravely fighting by the side of the white man, your brother, against the enemies of liberty. These enemies would have seduced you if they could, and after making you traitors to your father, the President, they would have become traitors to you. Here would have followed a scene of desolation, at which every good man and Christian would weep. It was your fidelity which prevented it, and the hands of the red man and the white man were not raised against each other. The red man and the white man now are brothers, and long may they so continue.
Brothers, these remarks, we now proceed to lay before you the subject of our mission. We know that it is one which you have anticipated, and upon which you have already expressed yourselves with some earnestness. We must ask you to suspend any conclusion, until we have carried the matter through a calm and deliberate discussion; the whole of the authorities of the nation are now around their great council fire, with power to do any act they may think proper. The authority of the United States is also present. Any contract, which may be now concluded, will be binding on both parties.
We propose to purchase of the Cherokee nation, the whole or a part of the territory, now occupied by them, and lying with the chartered limits of the state of Georgia. We do not confine ourselves to Georgia limits because we are Georgians, but, because the President has appointed us, at the instance of Georgia, and instructed us accordingly. We will give you the reasons why a purchase is pressed, by the General Government, for the use of Georgia. Previous to the 24th of April, 1802, Georgia held the right of sovereignty over an immense space of country, extending even out to the Mississippi River. The General Government seeing that the territory was too large, to be contained within the limits of one state, made application to Georgia for the purchase of a part of it. This was for the purpose of organizing new states, and having them settled, and populated, for the better defence of the country in case of war.- Georgia listened to the application of her father, the President, and sold all the land which now lies in the state of Mississippi, and Alabama; this happened on the day above stated. At the same time, in consideration of this sale, the United States bound herself, 'at her own expense, to extinguish for the use of Georgia, as early as the same could be peaceably obtained on reasonable terms, the Indian title to all lands within the state of Georgia.' The limits of Georgia are known to you, and the amount of territory occupied by you, within those limits, is also known to you.
For greater certainty, however, concerning those limits, and the obligations of the United States, to the state of Georgia, we refer you to the articles of agreement and cession, entered into on the day and year aforesaid, between James Jackson, Abraham Baldwin, and John Milledge, on the part of the state of Georgia, and James Madison, Albert Gallatin, and Levi Lincoln, on the part of the United States. (see Laws of the United States, vol. 1, page 488.)
By these articles you discover the rights of Georgia, and the obligations of the United States. That these rights may be fulfilled, and these obligations discharged, is the important object of the present mission. The sovereignty of the country which you occupy, is in the United States alone; no state, or foreign power, can enter into a treaty or compact with you.- These priviliges [sic] have passed away, and your intercourse is restricted exclusively to the United States. In matters of cession, or territory, you are recognized as a contracting party.
The United States possessing the sovereignty,
and the Cherokee Nation being in possession, your consent is asked for the extinction of your title to the soil within Georgia lines. We concede that the terms must be 'peaceable' and 'reasonable.'- Our offer to purchase, establishes the first, and the consideration which may be agreed on, we trust, will be satisfactory as to the second.
Beyond the Mississippi, the United States possesses large domains of unsettled territory, embracing great variety of soil and climate. A portion of this nation is already there. If those with whom we are now treating are disposed to emigrate, then we offer territory in exchange, of such extent, and accompanied by such other advantages, as may be agreed on.- If this offer is not acceptable, then we submit another, equally 'peaceable' and equally 'reasonable.' It is, that you cede to the United States, for the use of Georgia, such part of the territory within her limits as can be easily spared. Many reasons might be given, which have induced Georgia to urge her claim for land upon the Gen. Gov. The reasons have appeared satisfactory to the Legislature, and Governor of Georgia, and to the President and Congress of the United States.- Some of these reasons grow out of the political connection of the states, and others, out of the crowded settlements of the people.
It is not necessary to detail the first, they are urgent, and must at some time, have their weight. The last are plain to the view of every one who travels through that part of the President's dominions. His white people are becoming so much crowded, that they are driven from friends and connexions [sic] to foreign lands. Others are confined to a scanty piece of soil, without timber for fencing or fuel. To prove these statements, we need only refer to the amount of our population, and the repidity [sic] of its increase. In the county in which one of us resides, there are 1800 inhabitants. The state of Geo. in 1810, contained 252,433 inhabitants. In 1820, 344,773, shewing [sic] an increase, in ten years, of 92,340; and yet, the present settlements of Georgia do not very greatly exceed the Cherokee Nation, in extent, which contains about 12,000 inhabitants. This difference is too great ever to be intended by the Great Father of the Universe, who must have given the earth, equally, to be the inheritance of his white and red children.
Whether you dispose of all we ask for by exchange, or of a part of sale, still you have enough, and to spare. For each man, woman, and child, of the nation, a large allowance will be left, even enough for thousands yet unborn. Surely under this view of the subject, when so much good is to result on our side, and so little, in fact no evil, to the other, you will yield to our application.
BROTHERS: We have thus made known to you the subject of our mission, and some of the reasons in support of it. In a matter of so much consequence to the United States, it certainly becomes you to deliberate, to look well to this matter in all its bearings; to do unto us as you would have us do to you, under like circumstances. In such time as will best suit your convenience, we shall expect an answer. We believe that we shall receive one which shall comport with the calmness and friendly disposition of the Council. It is not to be supposed that an affair which involves so much weight and importance is easily to be disposed of. We shall therefore beg leave to reserve to ourselves the privilege of reply as often as we may consider it necessary.
DUNCAN G. CAMPBELL,
United States Commissioners.
The following is an answer from the Cherokee Council.
NEWTOWN, 20th October, 1823.
IN GENERAL COUNCIL.
FRIENDS AND BROTHERS: The very friendly manner in which you have expressed yourselves towards the members of Council, and those of them with whom you have contracted individual friendships, and the liberal view which you have taken of the progress of improvement in the arts of civilized life, and the regular and becoming manner in which the affairs of the nation are conducted, are respectfully flattering; and we return you our grateful acknowledgements for the compliment. The many favors which have been bestowed on us by the fostering hands of our father the President, are always fresh in our recollection, and we are ever ready to acknowledge our gratitude. The co-operation of the red man and the white man, in subduing the common enemy, during the late war, and the blood which have been lost on that occasion at Tallasehatchie, Talledega, Hillabees, Enotichopea, Emucsaws, and Tehophah, (Horse Shoe) we conceive to be no more than what might have been expected from our hands as children and true friends to our father the President. Those acts we performed are a demonstrative proof of the sincerity of our affections and fidelity, and shew [sic] the firm hold by which the hand of our father is grasped, more forcibly than volumes of promises.
Brothers: We have fully deliberated your communication. The application which you have made, under the authority of your mission from the President of the United States, for the extinguishment of the Cherokee title to the whole or a part of the lands now occupied by them, and lying within the chartered limits of Georgia, either by exchange for lands west of the Mississippi River, or by purchase--we have to state, that the unfortunate part of our nation, who have emigrated to the west, have suffered severely since the separation from this nation and settlement in their new country. Sickness, wars, and other fatality, have visited them, and lessened their numbers, and many of them no doubt, would willingly return to the land of their nativity, if it was practicable for them to do so, without undergoing various difficulties, which would amost [sic] be insurmountable in so fatiguing and so long a journey, by men , women, and children, without friends and without money to perform. When we call to recollection the period which separated our countrymen, acquaintances, friends, and relatives, from us, and look to the circumstances, and means which caused our separation, we are grieved; the tears flow in our eyes, and we weep. Had it been the desire of the remaining part of this nation to have left this country, they would have embraced the opportunity, and emigrated with their fellow countrymen; but this was not their desire. They loved the soil which gave them birth, and they have continued thereon. The limits of this nation are small, and embrace mountains, hills, and poor lands, which can never be settled. The Cherokees once possessed an extensive country, and have made cession after cession to our father, the President, to gratify the wishes of our neighboring brethren, until our limits have become circumscribed; and it appears, from the eager desire of our brethren to obtain our land, that it would be unreasonable for us to presume that a small cession, at any time, would ever satisfy them.
Brothers: The improving situation of this nation is visible, and has been acknowledged, and it would be reproachful and degrading to our character did we not look to its interest, prosperity, and future happiness.-
You give us one reason why a cession is urged: that is, 'from crowded settlements of the people of Georgia.' We presume that, if Georgia were in possession of the whole extent of her chartered limits, it would not remedy the inconvenience complained of.
Brothers: From the comparative view which you have taken of the population of Georgia, ' the Cherokee Nation, you say 'that the difference is too great ever to have been intended by the Great Father of the Universe, who must have given the Earth equally as the inheritance of his white and red children.' We do not know the intention of the Supreme Father in this particular, but it is evident that this principle has never been observed or respected by nations or by individuals. If your assertion be a correct idea of His intention, why do the laws of civilized ' enlightened nations allow a man to monopolize more land than he can cultivate, to the exclusion of others?
Brothers: We cannot accede to your application for a cessions. It is the fixed and unalterable determination of this nation, never again to cede one foot
We will make known to you, as coming from our father the President, that the boundary line from the Unicoy Turnpike, on the Blue Ridge, to the source of the Chestatee, has not been run by the United States' Surveyor, agreeably to the stipulation or intention of the treaty of 1819;but it has been run so as to include a larger tract of land than admitted by said treaty, to the great inconvenience and injury of this nation, particularly to those of our citizens who lived in that quarter, and have been compelled to remove. As this fact has been reported to the President we trust that he has given you some instructions relative to the investigation of the subject.
With the brightness of the sun, we renew our assurances of respect and brotherly friendship.
PATH x KILLER, Principle Chief.
MAJOR x RIDGE, Sp'kr. of Coun.
JNO. ROSS, Pres't N. Com.
A. M'COY, Clerk N. Com.
ELIJAH HICKS, Clerk N. Council.