FOR THE CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Mr. Boudinott.-- The present indeed seems to be a time of deep discoveries and fearful events; at least, as regards the rights and happiness of our people. For the last few months, our friends have, in the plenitude of their zeal, to promote our welfare, discovered, suddenly, that the only hope for our future prosperity is to remove westward. Were this all, they would not enjoy their present merit, for the depth of their disclosures; but they have even discovered, that the Cherokees have no legal right to their lands; and in short, no right to pursue agriculture, or anything conducive to their happiness, until by a removal they shall find a home where the foot of the whiteman treadeth not! All this, it seems, have been reserved for the wise men of the present day. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and a host of illustrious worthies, who have figured in days gone by, and were famed for their wisdom and virtues, it seems, were ignorant of many valuable events which transpired previous to, and during the days of their actions, and which are now familiar to minds more ordinary. Should it be found out in six months hence, and proof exhibited, that the true line between the Cherokees and Chickasaws would include a million of acres of land now in our possession; and that we have grossly violated treaty stipulations, and thereby forfeited the protection of the United States, by following the advice of Washington and Jefferson to promote our prosperity, it will not, to me, be a matter of any surprise: and that such discoveries can be made, or even one more profoundly deep, is no longer a fit matter for conjecture.
The letter of friendly advice to you, from Col. M'Kenney, I have read, perhaps oftener than its author. Has it at last come to this, that we are to believe, and do, everything said by those, who may chance to wield the affairs of the Government, whether in direct violence of our feelings and safety, or not, without a word of remonstrance? Shall we be told that we wish to emigrate, when we have declared that it is not the case? and shall we for not believing ourselves guilty of falsehood, meet with the frowns and indignation of those who advise us to abandon our homes and firesides to gratify the avaricious designs of our neighbors? If this is justice, and if the voice of oppressed innocence is to be thus stifled, then indeed must I be an ignorant savage. But Sir, 'I notice, and not without regret, a spirit pervading' that letter, 'which, if not checked, cannot do else than prove extremely injurious,' but not to us, nor the cause of justice to the poor Indians. 'It is a spirit of personal and ill-natured remarks,' a vindictiveness by no means qualified to prove to these people that he is either a 'real friend,' or a 'wise counsellor.'
The letter from the Secretary of War to the Governor of Georgia, (a copy of which was inclosed to our chief, and published in your paper) breathes forth sentiments perfectly consistent with former communications of the author, and like the other, boldly asserts things, regarding us, to which I am an entire stranger, though born ' brought up in these 'wilds.' I have often thought it strange, passing strange, that men who reside hundreds of miles from us, and who never saw the nation, should possess a more correct knowledge of our acts and dispositions that we do ourselves, and can point to deeds of recent date, that we have not heard or dreamed of for these last forty years!
The Cherokees have been driven from time to time, further and still further back into their forests, by the insatiable desires and persecutions of some of the whites. They could once retire before the advancing step of the `pale faced warrior,' but now they have no place left them, or in view, to which they can flee with a reasonable prospect of safety. They were once the proprietors of a country vast in extent, but cession after cession have left them barely a sufficiency for their comfortable support. They are surrounded on all sides by those, who were but few and weak, when they were strong ' to whom they gave a part of their territory for their support. Little did they then imagine that they were nourishing a colony that would cause their ruin and dispersion, and that too through motives of friendship to preserve them. It might indeed be reasonably thought under the present peculiarly interesting and prosperous situation of these people, that they would not be urged and harassed to part with the little remnant of their ancient territory and with it lose those rights and prospects so inseparately connected with their well being. But such is not their happy lot. Their political existence is threatened with extinguishment, before the flowers of another spring shall fade away, and the army of power is already raised, at one deadly blow to wither their vernal prospects of happiness! And for what are they doomed to suffer? Have they not been faithful to their engagements with the United States, and preserved the utmost harmony and peace?--Can it be because they have been too successful in exertions to become civilized ' enlightened, and their attainments unparrelled(sic) in the history of Indian improvement! Who would have thought ten years ago, that these people were to enjoy for so short a length of time the inestimable advantages of a regular government, and the cheering prospects science has opened before them? Did the great Washington and Jefferson think, that in this enlightened age, we should be abused, threatened, and our acknowledged rights attempted to be wrested from us by Republicans, for pursuing their advice and adopting 'habits of industry' and a 'government of regular law?'- So long as the Cherokees continued in ignorance and degradation; exercised arbitrary power in the management of their affairs, and the word of the reigning chief was an indisputable authority and law; so long as they practised(sic) deeds of cruelty and revenge as the only and surest means to redress their wrongs, real or supposed; and considered women and children as fit subjects for the tomahawk and scalping knife;' so long as filthy lucre and promises could be made to predominate over their love of country, and better interests- and in short, so long as they could be properly viewed and treated as savages, they were pitied and sympathized with as a wretched people.- Some there were who kindly offered aid to relieve their situation and sacred be their memory. The special agent of our first American Father yet lives. He lives too in the fond remembrance of the Cherokees for the many useful lessons he taught and for the purity of his friendship. But what was the policy of Georgia? Did she step forward and throw around them the mantle of her Christian laws? Did she, truly, in the spirit of her 'forbearance' and anxiety to save them from 'ruin and annihilation,' guide them in the path of political and moral rectitude? No! she stood aloof. Her forbearance was such that she forbore to act.- The spirit of philanthropy yet slumbered in the bosoms of those who are now loudest in thundering forth appeals to the Government for our removal as the only hope to preserve us. Preserve us from what? Ah! from these our friends. When we were truly wretched and fast wasting away, they were cold and indifferent. Now that we are prospering and multiplying, and by the special Providence of the Great Spirit above, the nation stands as a monument of his mercies, and the Gospel of Christianity has spread its marvelous light where heathenish darkness prevailed for ages, proving its power and influence to change,not only the most stubborn habits of life, but the dispositions of the heart- now that we (are) competent to act for ourselves, Georgia out of pity for us, and the most pure and disinterested motives, must legislate over us! Yea more, as Secretary Eaton has discovered, because we are 'incapable of self-government by any of those rules of right which civilization teaches!' she will in true Christian style govern us by the rules of civilization, that is, place us upon the same level with her negro population; and we must abide by her civilized rules, good or bad, without a murmur, or being heard as freemen! But what if we should complain? 'We have murmured at this injustice; but what avail the murmurs of the weak?'
Now if we are to be treated as children, let our Father be kind and good. If we are to viewed as freemen, and as such possessed of rights and privileges, be it so, and all will be well. We do not thirst after sovereignty as such, or greatness, but we wish to live in peace and comfort. If we are to be viewed and treated as aliens, unfit to reside among the States, and to enjoy Christian instruction, let the proper tribunal declare it so. We stand for judgment.
Pg. 2 Col. 4b
Mr. Boudinott, Sir-I have noticed a statement going the rounds of Newspapers, taken from the Georgia Columbus Enquirer, the Editor of which is well known to be the author of 'The Indian War,' which took place, in his own knowledge and not the alleged belligerents, last summer. The said Editor, has stated, that the Creek Delegation on their way to Washington returned from my house, and no doubt that I had induced them to return and submit to the recommendations of President Jackson's Indian Talk; and on his undoubted information, I was in favor of the immediate emigration or removal of the Indians. Now be it known, that the said statement, is an unfounded and as base a falsehood as was ever uttered, and the Columbus Enquirer has, if not told it, published the same. These who know me best, know very well that Major Ridge, and his descendents (sic), of which I am one, are very clear of the charge.
Pg. 2 Col. 4c
To the Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix
Dear Sir- In looking over the Charleston Observer this day received, I observed the following extract from the Athenian of the 3d. inst. 'We have been informed from good authority that some time in the month of September last, the Cherokee Indians, thirteen in number, arrested a citizen of Habersham County by the name of Jesse Stansal, under the pretence of a violation of their laws. He was detained in custody nearly two days, and then was ordered to be bound, suspended by the wrists to a tree, and there to receive fifty lashes upon his bare back, which was inflicted by four Indians with hickories almost equal to clubs, in a most barbarous manner. Under the operation of which the individual was near expiring. We understand that for this conduct Judge Clayton has issued a warrant against these Indians to have them bound over to answer for the offence at the next Supreme Court in Hall County the same having been committed in that part of the Cherokee Nation attached to that Country for the purpose of criminal jurisdiction.' In regard to the above extract, permit me Sir, through the medium of your paper, to state the following particulars. The reader will naturally receive from it the impression, that a party of Indians 'thirteen in number arrested a citizen of Georgia with no other authority than a mere 'pretence' that he had violated their laws, and detained him nearly two days, and then without a fair trial, bound and suspended him by the wrists to a tree, and to complete the barbarous transaction, laid upon his bare back fifty lashes with enormous hickories which nearly terminated his earthly existence.' And as it is not acknowledged by the Athenian that a crime was proved against him, he would seem to the reader to be, of course, an innocent suffer. Whether designed or not, we affirm that this account of the transaction to which it alludes is a gross misrepresentation of facts. In the first place, the said Jesse Stansal was arrested by a proper Officer, and brought before an authorized magistrate and a bench of jurors appointed for the purpose. Moreover, evidence was exhibited to the court that the prisoner had hired a horse to ride about two miles, and that after riding that distant he had taken the liberty without permission from the owner to ride the horse 16 or 18 miles, and that he had declared his intention to ride the horse out of this nation and thus make him his own property. In view of the above evidence the jury declared the said Jesse Stansal to be guilty of horse stealing, which according to the laws of this nation subjected him to a punishment not exceeding one hundred lashes on the bare back. Out of pity to the unhappy horse thief, the Judge gave a sentence of only fifty lashes. Had he been an Indian he would have probably received one hundred. The facts here mentioned occurred, at a very large meeting of the citizens of the Cherokee Nation where were assembled Several of the Chiefs of the nation with hundreds of the people. And if thirteen Indians were concerned in arresting and punishing Stansal, they were the Judge, Sheriff, and six jurors together with five men appointed to inflict the sentence of the Judge. And as to Stansal's being 'suspended by his wrists to a tree,' if by being suspended is meant that he was raised above a standing position, the assertion is false. He was indeed tied to a tree by the wrists which is done in all cases where similar punishment is inflicted by legal authority in this nation. With these facts before them the public can judge as to the nature and magnitude of the offence alleged in the Athenian against 'thirteen Cherokee Indians.' Had not the said Stansal been arrested, and punished by the authorities of this nation, he would, in all probability have escaped altogether. Judging from the past we have little reason to believe that any other authority would have interfered. The consequence would have been, that the offender would have been encouraged to proceed in his career of guilt. If the proceedings against Stansal be considered an offence, it was no other than that of regularly executing the laws of our country in punishing a crime, which, if the laws of Georgia were executed against it, would have subjected the unhappy Stansal to treatment no less severe.
One of the jurors on the trial of said Stansal.