From the National Intelligencer.
PRESENT CRISIS IN THE CONDITION OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS. NO. X
I would content myself with saying, in reference to the remaining treaties, that they are perfectly consistent with the preceding ones, were it not, that this sweeping declaration would by no means do justice to the cause of the Indians. Several of these treaties contain new and striking illustrations of the doctrine that the Cherokees were understood to possess their country in full sovereignty.
FOURTH TREATY OF TELLICO, OR NINTH NATIONAL COMPACT WITH THE CHEROKEES.
This treaty was executed October 27, 1805, at the same place by the same Commissioners and fourteen of the same Chiefs, and only two days after the next preceding one. The occasion of it is sufficiently explained in the first article:
'Art. l. Whereas it has been represented by one party to the other that the section of land on which the garrison of Southwest Point stands, and which extends to Kingston, is likely to be a desirable place for the Assembly of the State of Tennessee to convene at (a committee from that body, now in session, having viewed the situation) now, the Cherokees, being possessed of a spirit of conciliation, and seeing that this tract is desired for public purposes, and not for individual advantages,reserving the ferries to themselves,quit claim and cede to the United States the said section of land, understanding, at the same time, that the buildings erected by the public are to belong to the public, as well as the occupation of the same during the pleasure of the Government. We also cede to the United States the first Island in the Tennessee above the mouth of the Clinch.'
Art. 2. The Cherokees grant a mail road to the United States, from Tellico to the Tombigbee, 'to be laid out by viewers appointed on both sides.'
Art. 3. In consideration of the above cession and relinquishment, the United States agree to pay to the said Cherokee Indians $1600.
Art. 4. The Treaty to be obligatory when ratified.
Ratified by Mr. Jefferson and the Senate.
Within a year or two past the statesmen of Georgia have contended that the National Government has no authority to make treaties with Indians living, as they describe the matter, 'within the limits of a sovereign and independent State.' The fact is, that the National Government is the only competent authority, under the Federal Constitution, to enter into any engagements with the Indian tribes which yet retain their organization as separate communities, and acknowledged to possess a title to land within definite limits. The uniform practice of the Government has accorded with these principles; and Georgia herself has, until very lately, been urging Congress and the Executive to hold treaties with the Cherokees.
How did the State of Tennessee understand this subject? Let the first article of the preceding treaty answer. The legislature of Tennessee desirous of obtaining a site for the erection of buildings to accommodate their State government, sent a committee to view the point at the junction of two beautiful rivers, the Tennessee, and the Clinch. The boundary, as it then stood, ran very near this point; and the State solicited a square mile for the public object above described. The Cherokees, out of a spirit of conciliation, and for $1600 in money, ceded the section of land, with these remarkable reservations, viz: that they were to retain the ferries at the seat of government of Tennessee; and that the grant was made for public objects only. Of course the land would revert to the Cherokees, if the seat of government should be removed. As the Legislature afterwards fixed the seat of Government farther West, no public buildings were erected at this place. Narrower boundaries were subsequently established between the United States and the Cherokees; but the ferries were held for a long time, if they are not now held, by assignees of the Cherokees. The treaty was ratified by President Jefferson and the Senate.
This whole transaction strongly illustrates several important positions, which have been taken, or implied, in the preceding discussion, such as the inviolability of the Cherokee territory; the right of the Cherokees to make or withhold cessions of land, according to their pleasure; their right to impose such restrictions upon their grants as they pleased: and the treaty-making power of the United States being the only medium by which a State can get a proper title to Indian territory.
TREATY OF WASHINGTON, OR TENTH COMPACT WITH THE CHEROKEES.
This treaty was negotiated at Washington, January 7, 1806, by Henry Dearhorn, Secretary of War, and Seventeen Cherokee chiefs and warriors.
The object appears to have been to adjust certain claims of the Cherokees and Chickasaws to the same lands, lying between the Tennessee River and Duck River, in what is now West Tennessee. This was done by obtaining a relinquishment to the United State of 'all the right, title, interest and claim, which the Cherokees, or their nation, have, or ever had,' to the tract described, except that two reservations of small portions of this tract are made by the Cherokees.
The United States give 10,000 dollars and certain privileges, in consideration of the above relinquishment.
The United States also agree to use their influence to have a certain boundary established between the Cherokees and Chickasaws, on the South side of the Tennessee River; 'but it is understood by the contracting parties, that the United States do not engage to have the aforesaid line or boundary established, but only endeavor to prevail on the Chickasaw Nation to consent to such a line, as the boundary between the two nations.'
Here it is implied, in the strongest manner, that the United States had no right to encroach upon Indian territory, or to fix boundaries between neighboring tribes; and that these tribes had, as separate nations, the unquestioned power to settle their own boundaries.
The Government of the United States was will, however, to act the part of a mediator in the adjustment of these boundaries. Ratified by Mr. Jefferson and the Senate.
TREATY OF CHICKASAW OLD FIELDS; OR ELEVENTH COMPACT WITH THE CHEROKEES.
This treaty was executed by Return J. Meigs and James Robertson, on the one part, and five Cherokee Chiefs on the other, September 11, 1807.
It was made to 'elucidate' the next preceding treaty, or to ascertain the real intention as to the boundary. The Cherokees were to receive $2,000 for their readiness to place the limits of the land ceded out of all doubt; and it was stipulated that 'the Cherokee hunters, as hath been the custom in such cases may hunt on such ceded tract, until by the fullness of settlers, it shall become improper.'
This is the second instance, in which a privilege to hunt on ceded lands is granted; that is, the Cherokees were allowed to exercise the same rights of ownership, over land which they had quit claimed and sold, and for which they had been paid, as, (if we are to believe the present Secretary of War,) they could ever exercise over any of their lands, which had not been ceded. I am willing to presume, however, that the Secretary of War, after mature deliberation, will abandon a position so utterly untenable.
This treaty was ratified by Mr. Jefferson in the usual manner.
SECOND TREATY OF WASHINGTON; OR TWELFTH COMPACT WITH THE CHEROKEES.
The sole object of this treaty was to obtain for South Carolina a small portion of mountainous country, lying at the northwest point of that State. It was executed by George Graham, and six Cherokee Chiefs, March 22, 1816.
Art. 1. 'Whereas the Executive of South Carolina has made a application to the President of the United States to extinguish the claim of the Cherokee Nation to that part of their lands; which lie within the boundaries of the said State, as lately established and agreed upon, between that State and the State of North Carolina; and as the Cherokee Nation is disposed to comply with the wishes of their brothers of South Carolina, they have agreed, and do hereby agree to cede to the State of South Carolina, and forever quit claim to the tract of country contained with the following bounds:' [Here the bounds are described, comprising a tract now in the N.W. corner of South Carolina. The Tract was of small extent and very little value, as it is among the mountains.]
Art. 2. The United States agree, that the State of South Carolina shall pay to the Cherokees $5000 for this grant, in ninety days: 'Provided, That the Cherokee Nation shall have sanctioned the same in Council; and provided also, that the executive of the State of South Carolina shall approve of the stipulations contained in this article.'
This treaty was ratified by the parties, viz: President Madison and the Senate, and the Cherokee Nation in council assembled; and it was doubtless approved by the Governor of South Carolina.
Here is another perfect illustration of the manner in which the several States obtained a title to lands which had remained the property of Indians; though the lands appeared, according to the maps, to belong to those States. White men, not Indians, made the maps. The north west corner of South Carolina, as that State appeared on the map, still belonged to the Cherokee Indians. The State wished to obtain possession of this little fraction of mountainous territory. In a manner perfectly fair and honorable, she applied to the General Government, requesting that the territory might be purchased of the rightful owners. She does not say, that the land belongs to her; but simply that North Carolina has agreed with South Carolina, as to the boundary between them, when the land shall have been obtained of the Cherokees. She does not pretend that the Cherokees are bound, or that their rights are in any degree affected, by agreements between third parties. This is a correct view of the subject: and quite as applicable in Georgia as to South Carolina, or any other State.