and Indians' Advocate
Wednesday, October 21, 1829
Vol. II, no. 28
Page 2, col. 3a
From the New York Observer.
The editor of the Charleston Observer, after censuring us for the language in which we have chosen to speak of the authorities of Georgia on account of their treatment of the Indians says:
"What has the State of Georgia done which any other state similarly situated would not have done? The State of Georgia has no controversy at all with the Indians; nor are we apprized of a single act of theirs, towards the shattered remnants of this unfortunate race, which indicates a disposition to treat them with injustice, unless it may be their running a new line through the Cherokee country, in regard to which a difference of opinion exists; and their refusal to permit the Indians to give witness, or be a party in any court created by the laws or constitution of that state. Now, whatever may be the integrity and virtue of a number, both of the Creeks and Cherokees, no white man would like to have his life and property jeopardized by the testimony of an Indian.
Is it possible that the Editor of the Charleston Observer does not know that the Legislature of Georgia have voted to extend the laws of that state over the Creeks and Cherokees after June, 1830? Does he not know that these Indians have always been free and independent nations, governed exclusively by their own laws and acknowledging no authority but that of their own chiefs? Does he not see that this vote of the Georgia legislature will deprive them at once of their liberties and reduce them to a state of the most humiliating dependence and vassalage? What is implied in extending laws over a nation but the claim of absolute mastery and lordship?
And what are the laws which Georgia proposes to extend over the Cherokees? The editor of the Observer has given us a specimen of them in the very paragraph which we have quoted. No Indian is allowed to give evidence in a Georgia court of justice. He is placed on a level with the negro slave. He may be robbed, he may be shot in open day, in the presence of his family, by any straggling white man, and there is no law in Georgia that can touch the murderer. And yet the editor of the Charleston Observer can see no injustice in all this, and wonders that there should be any excitement on the subject! And the editor of the Columbian Star echoes him and wonders that there should be any excitement on the subject!
Twenty thousand men who have governed themselves from a time to which no record and no tradition extend back, and who have as good a right to govern themselves as the people of any state in this Union, are in a moment deprived of this dearest of all earthly rights! and still there are men, Christian men, Christian editors, stationed on the watch-towers of the land and overlooking the scene of this iniquity, who instead of sounding the alarm, strive only to drown the voices of their companions by the cry of "All's well." Shame on such watchmen, we say.
We call upon the editor of the Charleston Observer to show us what right Georgia has to extend her laws over the Cherokees. After having for so many centuries maintained the character of an independent nation,- after having in this character made treaties upon treaties with the government of the United States, what have they done to forfeit their rights? Have they suddenly become so savage and degraded that they are no longer competent to the business of self government and must Georgia, therefore, interpose as guardian? No; their very crime is that they have ceased to be savages, that they no longer desire to subsist by hunting, that they have made rapid advances in civilization and arts, and above all, that they have adopted a written constitution and are becoming in all respects like white men. On what ground then will the editor of the Charleston Observer justify Georgia in assuming the right to bring them under her laws" We confess that we are wholly at a loss to conceive and until we have some new light, we must be permitted to pronounce it a bold and cruel usurpation.