AND INDIANS' ADVOCATE
Wednesday April 15, 1829
Vol. II, no. 5
Page 2, col. 3b
The following correspondence, in relation to the order recently issued by the War Department, for leasing out the unprovements [sic] in the country acquired from the Cherokees by the late Treaty, has been enclosed to us by Mr. Sevier for publication.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR.
Office of Indian Affairs, 26th Jan. 1829
SIR. In responding to the reference to me of Col. Sevier's letter of this date, I have to state, that it is believed the Cherokees will abandon, in many cases, much valuable and desirable property. Property, when left by them it was supposed would go to decay, or be entered and taken possession of by the first who might enter it. That it is desirable property, is shown by the tenor of Col. Sevier's letter; and if so, it does appear to me that the only proper course to take in regard to it, is the one which has been adopted, viz.; to offer it for rent to the highest bidders, until disposed of by Congress. If it is valuable, it will be bid for; if not, it will not be. If it bring anything, then the sum realized from them will go so far towards lessening the expense of the late Treaty; if it shall bring nothing, then the Executive will have done its duty. This course is proper also to the citizens of Arkansas. It places all of them on the same level. Whereas, if the property were left unprotected, then the fleetest of foot, or horse, or the nearest neighbor, would engross all the advantages of improvements; at the same time none having any right to it. It belongs to the United States, when abandoned by the Indians by purchase.
The steps taken, ought, therefore, to be satisfactory to them.
I see no good reason for withdrawing the order, but submit the subject, with these few remarks, respectfully, to you.
THO. L. M'KENNEY.
To the Hon. P. B. Porter,
Secretary of War.
On the receipt of the preceding letter, Mr. Sevier addressed the following letter to Gen. P. B. Porter, Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10th 1829
SIR- I had the honor to receive, last evening, the letter of Col. M'Kenney, to yourself, dated 28th Jan. and which I presume, is intended by you as an answer to my letter to you of that date on the subject of the government's leasing out to our citizens the improvements lately acquired of the Cherokees. The conclusion to which you and the Colonel have arrived, are very different from what I expected. Had these improvements been a matter of contention between the Indians and my constituents, I should have been at no loss to have known where to have found the Colonel. But, as the Indians have no interest in these improvements, I expected the invariable practice of the government since its organization- its uniform permission of settlements upon the public lands where the Indian titles had been extinguished- would have been extended to the citizens of Arkansas. But it seems that I was mistaken- that new, unusual, and oppressive rules are to be adopted and enforced alone against them. Of all the citizens of the Unites States, they, alone, present the only instance of being sacrificed, time after time, by Indian treaties--by Indian negotiations. As well might you order off, and exact rent from, those occupying at present, the improvements acquired from the Quapaws.--As well might you order off, of exact rent from those occupying elsewhere any of the public lands. They all stand, sir, precisely upon the same footing. At this very moment many of my constituents are in possession of the improvements recently acquired from the Cherokees. They refuse to move off or pay rent. They have, in my opinion, come to a correct conclusion, and have done as I would have done. What step, sir, will you take? will you institute actions of trasspass [sic] against them? The Government have tried already a few hundred actions of that kind in Arkansas: and, unless indisposed to profit by experience, the government, I should think, would not be over anxious to repeat the experiment. Examine the books of your Treasury, and you find you have spent some ten or twenty thousand dollars to prevent the destruction of the public timber. The proper course for the government to pursue, is to survey their lands and sell them. Until that step is pursued, fruitless will be all your attempts to prevent settlements on the public lands, unless you guard every improvement and hedge around with your armed regulars every vacant spot of land. Are you disposed to pursue this course? I presume not. It would cost more than the land is worth; and tend, in a great degree, to increase the feelings of discontent which, in consequence of repeated injuries is already but too prevalent among them.
Permit me to say to you, in conclusion, that your order will not be obeyed.
That you will find yourself unable to enforce it. To prevent collisions,
then, to make the government more respected- to promote the peace and quiet
of my neighbors--I hope sincerely you will revoke your order immediately and
With great respect, I have the honor to be your obedient servant.