Correspondence between Col. Thos. L. McKenney and the U.S. agent, Col. Hugh Montgomery, on the subject of the present Cherokee emigration.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR
Office Indian Affairs, Oct. 1, 1828.
SIR: Your letter to the Secretary of War, of 30th, August, is received. It is esteemed to have been entirely proper for you to ascertain, the number, and the names also, if you have done so, and the locations, if those are permanent, of those who once registered for emigration, received the consideration held out to them, and afterwards remained behind. It is, however, thought prudent, for the present, not to press this subject upon the delinquents, or to refuse them, should they enroll again the benefits of the present proposed outfit. The subject, in regard to such as may finally refuse to emigrate, may be one for future consideration. All you will have to do with such as may have once profited by a trick of the sort will be to put the repetition of it out of their power by seeing them off. It would certainly be improper to deliver the gun, blanket. 'c. 'c. to those who may enroll while they may remain without your control. It is susposed the proper time would be when they embark.
I am, sir, 'c.
TH. L. McKENNEY.
To Col. HUGH MONTGOMERY.
Extract of the annual report of the officer in charge of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of War, of 1st Nov. 1828.
'The act of the same date (9th May) appropriating 50,000 dollars to enable the President of the United States to carry into effect the articles of agreement and cession of the 24th April, 1828, between the United States and Georgia, having the same object in view as was contemplated in so much of the recent treaty with the Cherokees of Arkansas as looked to the emigration of those east of the Mississippi: and it being believed that the measures taken to carry into effect those provisions of the treaty would better promote the object than the appointment of Commissioners: and especially since a double set of operations would have been set in motion among the Cherokees at the same time, which it was apprehended would distract them, and weaken the effect of the means adopted to carry the treaty into effect, it was thought to be advisable to address a letter to the agent in reference to the intention of the act, a copy of which I submit herewith, marked C. Should it be deemed advisable at any future time to employ other means to fulfil the intention of this act, it can be done, and with perhaps, more effect, since the result of what is now doing will be known, and the obstacles, or whatever kinds these may prove to be, will be when the report of the agent is received, stating the result of his present efforts.'
26th, September, 1828
SIR: On last night I returned from the tour, as directed in your order of the 28th July, and have only time, before the mail goes out, to make you a hasty report.
On the first instant, I sent out with Rogers and Maw; and finding that every possible means had been used, both in their paper and verbally, by the Chiefs, to raise the prejudice of the lower class of the Indians against Rogers and Maw, and believing that Major Walker would be of service, I took him along. We arrived at Coosawattee on the 2d, where we found a large collection at one of their courts; on the next day I read the treaty to them, ' explained to them the many advantages of that country, and why it ought to be preferred to this, and some of the reasons why the Government wished them to emigrate. Rogers interpreted. They seemed impatient and restless. As soon as I was done, George Sanders, S. Graves, and Thomas Foreman, the latter of whom had followed us all the way, and who seemed to be the principal speaker, all replied they would never go. They then commenced with Rogers and Maw. Foreman told them that they had sold this country, and were come to persuade the Indians to give it up: this I contradicted; he replied it was all the same. They afterwards spoke in Indian, the substance of which Rogers interpreted to be that they ordered him and Maw to go out of the nation; told them that their lives were in danger if they did not go immediately. Rogers replied that he was obliged to go with me as interpreter. Foreman offered to furnish one. Rogers told him he would go as far as I went: he then observed; 'You intend to sell your life as dear as you can: you think, if we kill you, that Congress will take away our land for it.' After the clamor and noise had subsided, we took our leave of them, and proceeded to the Hickory Log court: the court had adjourned, before we arrived, and the Indians were all drinking. Here we were received and treated much more friendly, but we found that their runners were ahead of us, and that one of the Chiefs had on the day before given them what they called a strong talk. On the next week we attended Hightower court; this was the first place where an Indian would venture to talk to Rogers or Maw privately, or show any familiarity with them in company. After reading the first, second, and eighth articles of the treaty, and explaining the provisions, and also giving them the invitation, I left Maw and Walker there, and with Capt. Rogers proceeded up the Hightower to its source, calling the Indians of each village together: found them much more temperate and friendly; but believe I was anticipated everywhere, and the reply made up before they heard what I had to say. Some few talked favorably but privately, and I believe will remove. Several appeared inclined to remove, but wished to see the country first.
We then crossed the mountains, and visited several of the villages in what is called the Valley Towns. We found that the runners had been there also ahead of us, and the Chiefs prepared with a reply, which was generally that they liked the country, and were determined not to remove. Here we learnt that one man, who had talked of enrolling had been driven out of a company, and not sufferd to drink with them; and a report had been circulated that the first man who enrolled was to be killed. Although I do not believe the latter report, yet it has its influence on the fears of those who are inclined to enroll.
I am of the opinion that it will be best not to send the subagent out until the present ferment subsides, and in the mean time try to operate on such individuals as I find favorable dispossed, and, if I succeed, get them to come to the agency and put themselves under my protection, and issue them provisions, 'e.; and hope by this means to induce others to join them, and in three or four weeks send out the subagent and Mr. Rogers, if he continues here; if not, the interpreter.
I find that only a single Indian has yet enrolled, and that but very few have visited the agency during my absence.
I have the honor to be your obedient servant.
Hon. PETER B. PORTER,
Secretary of War, Washington City.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR
Office Indian affairs Dec. 1, 1828
SIR: The remarks which I consider it necessary to submit on the occurrence named in the accompanying (preceding) letter from Colonel Montgomery are such generally, as I have before had the honor to convey, and on several occasions, in regard to what is the ascertained feeling of the chiefs of the Southern Indians, viz: a fixed purpose, by threats and otherwise, to keep their people from emigrating. The remedy is, the presence of an armed force, near or upon the borders of these people, for the protection of such as may desire to remove. On taking such a position, the object of it should be clearly explained to the Indians; and the purpose of the Government explicitly avowed to be clearly explained to the Indians; and the purpose of the Government explicitly avowed to be, not to force by it the Indians from their lands, but only to secure the freedom of will, and the right to exercise it in those who, being tired of the difficulties and troubles of their present situation, seek to relieve both by emigration. To such policy it is presumed no exception could be taken, even by the great body of Indians themselves.
The letter from Colonel Montgomery clearly shows the reason of the little success that has so far attended this benevolent scheme of the Government for the relief of the Indians. It will always be so, unless those chiefs who oppose it are taught that the will of their people shall be free, and that the choice they may make shall be gratified.
It is my decided opinion that the Cherokees, as a people, are not prepared to receive, and act under, the laws of the States within whose limits their country lies; but many of them are, and these would be a credit to the country, in all that relates to intelligence and virtue. To the latter, the proper inducements ought to be held out, in lands, and in a fee simple titled to them, in the means to work and make them valuable, and in the right of citizenship. To the former, the way of removal ought to be unobstructed and free, and sufficient inducements offered to crowd it with emigrants. Nor should these people be left to roam at large after arriving in the country west of the Mississippi: there they should have houses, and fields, and work-shops, schools and teachers, a government and laws framed expressly for their use, and the future should never be permitted to become to them the source of that calamity which has characterized the past.
These views are respectfully submitted. If they are liberally and swiftly acted on, ' persevered in, the crisis which is at hand in regard to these interesting but hapless people, may be avoided; but if not, there can be in my opinion, nothing done to deliver them from the coming shock, and from its destructive effects upon them.
In regard more especially to the outrages as stated by Colonel Montgomery to have been committed on James Rogers, there should be an investigation, preparatory to the taking of such steps as may be deemed necessary to prevent their recurrence.
TH. L. McKenney.
To the Hon. P. B. PORTER,
Secretary of War.
Extract of a letter from Col McKenny to Col. H. Montgomery dated December 11th, 1828.
'Your letters, and the correspondence between you and Cherokees, are received. Your proceedings n the case of Spear are I am directed by the Secretary of War to say approved. Rogers was an agent of the Government to make known it objects, which are kind in their designs to the Cherokees. The trial before a jury will decide whether the affair was personal, and of a private nature, or not, and what damages under any circumstances are proper.
In regard to the kettles and rifles, the latter left Philadelphia on the 12th of last month. T(the page is torn here losing four lines) States southern and northern factories used to vend. I wrote to you as to the propriety of buying them in New York or with you. You thought with me that it would be best to buy them in New York, which was done. You did not say whether brass or others; and the kind ordered, being such as I have stated, it was thought would answer-and I think so still; they are not the ordinary 'tin' kettles, but kettles made expressly of thick and durable materials for Indian uses and are used in the northwest and elsewhere almost exclusively.
'I have no doubt when the kettles arrive they will give satisfaction; if not, then brass ones can be got for the future; and you will say which will be best, and also what numbers you expect will be required for the next season; and also how many more rifles and blankets.
You may let the Cherokees know that emigrants, and their agents will be protected, as the delegation will be told on their arrival here. there is no doubt but these people fear their Chiefs, and on that account held back.'
'You will cause the necessary accommodations to be furnished in some houses about the agency for the accommodation of Mr. Ross, and contiguous to the place where the supplies are to be issued, and with as little delay as possible.'
17th December 1828
Sir:- The subagent and interpreters are returned from the Georgia side of the nation and have only enrolled two small families nine persons in all; our whole number now is but 84.
The guns had not arrived at Augusta when I last heard from that place. I fear I have not been able sufficiently to impress on your mind the importance that it would be to the service, if the person appointed to value the improvements would arrive at this time almost everything seems to depend on it. I know of several men of much influence who say they are only waiting to see what their improvements would be valued to, and to receive a part of it,and that then they are ready to go.
Extracts of a letter from Col. McKenney to Col. H. Montgomery, dated December 22d 1828
'Archibald R. S. Hunter, Esquire, and James S. Bridges have been appointed by the President to value the property the emigrating Cherokees may abandon. They are directed to report immediately to you. You will cause them to be informed of the property now to be valued, and of all such as maybe abandoned in future.
On receiving the certificate which the agents are directed to give to each Indian, you will forward a copy to Major E. W. Duval, directed to him at Little Rock, Arkansas Territory, in time for him to receive it by the arrival of the Indian, who will carry with him a duplicate; and on presenting of which, he is to receive payment of Major Duval, except in such cases as the wants of the Indians may require payment to be made by you.'
'It is believed to be a kind policy towards the Indians to induce them to receive payment west of the Mississippi; since if it is paid here, they will go there poor, and have no means to pay for improvements; besides, it will correct the evil of their remaining as some have done heretofore and skulking about the country, and finally not going at all.'
26TH November 1828
Sir:- Since writing to you on the 24th instant, I have received a letter from Messrs. Heard and Cook of Augusta, a copy of which is enclosed. The eleven bales I have no doubt are the blankets, and the twenty-three large hogsheads; I suppose must contain the 750 tin kettles; but how to get those twenty-three large hogsheads here is what I am at a loss to know; sure I am that they cannot be got here for double or treble what the tin buckets would be worth when here. The least I could calculate on getting them brought for would be about 40 dollars per hogshead; which, for twenty (page is torn, losing four lines) the bill of lading, brass kettles, such as they used in cooking 'c, and so do the Indians; and I fear, if here, the Indians would not receive them, as they would be of little use to them, and as they expect others; and besides the brass kettles would have been the cheapest in the end as their shapes are such that one would go in another, 'c.; so that three or four hogsheads would have held them in place of twenty-three.
The price of wagoning from Augusta here is four dollars per hundred; but those hogsheads are so bulky and light that no wagoner will haul them for less than from four to five times that sum per hogshead.
It seems to me that it would be best for the Government to have them sold in Augusta for what they would bring and pay the Indians an average price, in lieu of them in money.
Indeed it would be for the interest of the Government to roll them in the river rather than pay for hauling them to this place.
I shall write to Messrs. Heard and Cook to forward such loading as they cannot be hauled at the ordinary prices, by which I hope to get the guns and blankets, and wait your instructions about the balance.
I am at a loss to know why the rifles are not arrived, nor heard from.
I have the honor to be your obedient servant.
Hon. Secretary of War,
3d January, 1829
Sir:- On Christmas Day, Major Walker, an emigrant, unfortunately went to an Indian dance about four miles from this. As soon as he arrived, Archy Foreman (the same who was concerned in the assault on Captain Rogers with Spear) and others commenced an assault on him, and beat him so that his life was despaired of, or at least doubted for several days. A physician was called, and sent out to attend him; and I have declined reporting the case until I found whether he would l live or die. He has so far recovered as to return to the agency.
It is thus that those Indians are left to exercise their own pleasure on the subject of emigration.
Respectfully your obedient servant.
Hon. Secretary of War.