and Indians Advocate
Wednesday, July 1, 1829
Vol. II no. 13
Pg. 1 col. 5a
The Indians. A correspondent of the Georgia Journal, Wiley Thompson, has given to the public the substance of a conversation he had with President Jackson soon after his inauguration, on the subject of the Indians in Georgia. He stated to the President that Georgia had looked with great anxiety to the political change which had placed him, in the federal Executive chair, under the confident hope and expectation that she would at last have justice extended to her; and he was anxious to have it in his power to inform the people of Georgia, when he arrived at home, what course would be pursued in reference to this subject. The President promptly and with apparent pleasure gave him every assurance that the expectations of Georgia would be realized: He had already addressed a talk to the Creek Indians, urging them to emigrate west of the Mississippi, by arguments drawn from the impracticability of their remaining a separate people, within the limits of a sovereign State, and a proper view of their best interests in reference to their future welfare. He had also told the Cherokee delegation, when they called on him, that the United States had entered into a contract with Georgia, by which they solemnly promised to extinguish for her use the Indian title to all territory within her limits: (No notice was taken of the important qualifying clause, "as soon as it can be done peaceably and on fair terms:"). He told the Cherokees that the claims of Georgia had been too long postponed; that she would make an effort to force justice; that she possessed a right (when and how did she obtain it?) to extend her municipal jurisdiction over them, and to subject them to the control of such rules of action as she might think proper to prescribe to them, provided they be not violative of the constitution of the United States; and the General Government could not constitutionally protect them against her exercise of that right; that Georgia was irritated by delay and frequent disappointment, and also by the recent attempt of the Cherokees to adopt a constitution and erect a separate government, which they could not be permitted to do; he repeated to them, what he had told them in 1817, that they might emigrate to the country west of the Mississippi, which they and their children should possess forever, and enjoy the friendship and protection of the United States Government, but if they remained in Georgia they must abide the consequences of such rules of action, as she might prescribe for their government. The President suggested to Mr. Thompson that it would be good policy for the Georgians to admit their competency as witnesses in courts of justice, and guard against the evil which might result from it, by questioning the credibility of their evidence. He had no doubt of their emigration, and such a course would leave them without cause of complaint.
All this would sound very well, if the Indian lands in Georgia had even been legally ceded to that State; but the circumstance of their always having been the property of the Indians, makes quite a material difference. The tenure by which they would hold the lands west of the Mississippi, if they should remove there, would be a very flimsy one compared with that of having forever been in possession of them; and as flimsy a pretext would be all sufficient to drive them from their new possessions, if a new state starting up in that quarter should find it convenient to occupy them.
The present prospect is, that the Indian tribes inhabiting those territories claimed by the States of Georgia and Alabama, are destined, soon, either to be driven off to the country allotted to them beyond the Mississippi, or their situation rendered so uncomfortable as to induce them to retire of their own accord. The Alabama papers state that Col. Crowell, late Agent in the Creek Nation, has already been directed to remove the Agency west of the Mississippi; that the President has made known to the Creeks his determination to have their lands surveyed, and informed them that, inasmuch as the State of Alabama has extended her jurisdiction over them, they will be thrown without the protection of the General Government, and their only course will be to remove. It was thought by some that they would emigrate en masse. It appears, however, that a party of the Creeks who a short time ago went to settle upon the lands designated for them, have returned to their old country. What will be the end of this barbarous and unjust undertaking to drive our fellow beings from their lands (after they have become in a great measure civilized and Christianized) like so many wild beasts, into the wilderness, it is impossible for us to foresee. If General Jackson continue the same spirit respecting it with which he has begun, he will incur a most fearful responsibility. We can never think on this species of nation I wrong without recurring to the forcible language used by Jefferson in reference to it: "Indeed, I tremble of my country, when I reflect that God is just, and that his vengeance cannot always sleep."