Return to Cherokee Phoenix homepage Return to Hunter Library homepage Return to WCU homepage
Cherokee Phoenix logo


Cherokee Phoenix and Indians' Advocate
Wednesday, December 3, 1829
Vol. II No. 34
Page 1, col. 1b-4b

INDIANS
From the National Intelligencer.

PRESENT CRISIS IN THE CONDITION OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS
NO. XVIII.

 As Georgia is so strenuous an advocate for State Rights, and protests so strongly against any interference on the part of the General Government, the inquiry how far she has herself acknowledged the national character of the Creeks and Cherokees becomes peculiarly interesting.

 In 1738 Oglethorpe renewed the treaty of friendship and alliance, of which an abstract was given in my last number.  The next year he took a journey into the wilderness, four hundred miles, as the distance was then computed, having been previously invited thither by the Creeks of the Coweta towns; where he was received with the greatest kindness, and had the opportunity of conferring with deputies of the Creeks, Chickasaws, and Cherokees.  On the 7th of August, another treaty was made between him and "the assembled estates of all the lower Creek Nation."  This may be called

THE SECOND TREATY OF GEORGIA WITH THE INDIANS.

 The instrument begins by enumerating the towns and tribes of the Creeks, which were represented in the council.  The Indians then declared without a dissenting voice, that they adhered to their ancient love to the King of Great Britain.  They next declared, that all the territory from the Savannah to the St. John's with the intermediate islands, and from the St. John's to the Bay of Appalache, and thence to the mountains, doth, by ancient right, belong to the Creek Nation who have maintained possession of said right against all opposers, by war, and can show the heaps of bones of their enemies, slain by them in defence of the said lands.  They further declared, that they were under the protection of the King of England, and would not suffer the Spaniards, or any other nation but the English, to settle upon the territory.  They acknowledged that they had granted to the corporation for which Oglethorpe acted `the lands from the Savannah to the St. John's, and as far back from the coast as the tide flows'  But they reserved to themselves three islands, and a small district adjoining Savannah.

 Oglethorpe engaged, on his part, that the English should "not take any other lands except these granted by the Creek Nation to the trustees" and that he would punish any person who should intrude beyond the limits.  He issued a proclamation immediately afterwards in which he says: "Know ye, that you are not to take up or settle any lands beyond the above limits settled by me with the Creek Nation.
 About the year 1746, a man by the name of Bosomworth, having married a half Indian woman, claimed, in her right, all the lands in the possession of the colony, and artfully induced the Creeks to support his claim.  He greatly endangered the safety of Savannah, and put all the settlements into the greatest alarm.  It is not a little curious, that he instigated the Indians to assert that Oglethorpe and his followers had been merely tenants at will of the Creeks from the beginning; applying the same phraseology of the whites as the Legislature of Georgia has recently applied to the Cherokees, and with much greater plausibility.  Although Mr. Stephens, then Governor of Georgia, did not admit the claim of Bosomworth and his wife, yet the whole affair evinced that it would have been idle and dangerous for the settlers to have pretended any other right to the country than that which they had acquired with the consent of the natives.*

 Before 1760, a destructive war existed between the Cherokees and the Colonists of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia.  during the contest many cruelties were perpetrated on both sides.  The southern States were unable to defend themselves, and applied for aid to Gen. Amherst, commander of the British forces in America, from whom indispensable assistance was received.  A treaty of peace was at last made between the Cherokees and the colonists, the terms of which I do not find.

 Soon after the close of this war, Capt. Steuart, a sagacious and intelligent man, having been much acquainted with the Indian character, was appointed, by the King, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for all the territory south of Virginia.  He convened a general congress of Indians at Mobile, where he made a long speech to them addressing the different tribes in succession.  At the close of his speech he said:

  "Lastly, I inform you that it is the King's order to all his governors and subjects, to treat Indians with justice and humanity, and to forbear all encroachments on the territories allotted to them.  Accordingly, all individuals are prohibited from purchasing any of your lands; but as you know that your white brethren cannot feed you when you visit them, unless you give them grounds to plant, it is expected that you will cede lands to the King for that purpose; but whenever you shall be pleased to surrender any of your territories to his Majesty,it must be done for the future, at a public meeting of your nation, when the governors of the provinces, or the superintendent shall be present, and obtain the consent of all your people.  The boundaries of your hunting grounds will be accurately fixed and no settlement permitted to be made upon them. As you may be assured that all treaties with you will be faithfully kept, so it is expected that you also will be careful strictly to observe them."

 It is not necessary to detain the reader with any comments on these declarations of the authorized representative of the British Crown only let them be compared with the present claims of Georgia.

TREATY OF AUGUSTA; OR FOURTH TREATY WITH THE INDIANS IN WHICH GEORGIA WAS A PARTY

 A great meeting of Chiefs of the Cataba [sic], Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek Nations, was convened at Augusta, by invitation of the Colonists, at which were present Gov. Wright of Georgia, Gov. Boone of South Carolina, Gov. Dobbs, of North Carolina, Lieut. Fauquier of Virginia, and Capt. Steuart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the southern department. A treaty was concluded, Nov. 10, 1763, by which a cession of lands was made in satisfaction of debts which the Indians had contracted with the English.  The Cherokees and Creeks united in this grant, which, with what had been previously granted, embraced all the seacoast of Georgia, and so far back as to make about one-eighth part of the State, as it now appears on the map, or one-twentieth part of the limits, which were fixed by the King of England, for his colony of Georgia, after the Peace with Spain of the same year, and which include Alabama and Mississippi.

 Having given an account of this treaty, the historian adds, "I believe it may be said of Georgia that there has been no instance in which lands have been forced from the aborigines by conquest; and that, in all cases, the Indians have expressed their entire satisfaction at the compensations which have been given them for acquisitions of territory."  The history was published in 1811.

 I most sincerely desire that the historian who shall write in a hundred years hence may be enabled to say the same thing.  It can never be truly said, however, that Georgia has not repeatly [sic], within a few years past, threatened to take the lands of Indians by force, and thus been chargeable with oppressing them by creating the most serious alarm among them.

 The Creek Indians, not being very skilful casuists in distinguishing between rights to real & personal property, interpreted the treaty in such a sense as to give them a right to  cattle and horses, which they found straggling in the woods on their lands.  They fairly remonstrated with Gov. Wright, however, against the whites permitting their stock to stray over the boundaries.  Having occasion to use some horses, which were found there, the Indians took several.  A party of the whites, irritated by the loss  of their horses, made an irruption into the Creek country, retook the property, remunerated themselves to their own satisfaction for other losses, and burned all the houses in the towns.  The Chiefs came to Savannah and complained of this harsh treatment; the Governor made them compensation and peace was restored.  Let the reader decide, which party gave the
most evidence of savage manners in this transaction.

 In 1773, a convention of Creek and Cherokees was held at Augusta when another tract of land was ceded to the colonists, in payment of debts.

 When the Revolutionary War broke out the Indians took the side of the mother country.  A peace was concluded with the Cherokees by the Commissioners of Georgia, at Duel's Corner, South Carolina, May 20, 1777.

 Hostilities were afterwards renewed.  In May, 1783, the Cherokee Chiefs were invited to Augusta, and six distinguished men were appointed by Georgia to negotiate with them.  A treaty was concluded on the 30th of that month, establishing the boundary of the Chattahoochy, which remained the line of demarkation between Georgia and the Cherokees till long after the treaty-making power had been given to the General Government.

 This treaty was declared to be made between the state of Georgia (then as averred by that instrument in the seventh year of its independence) and, "the head men, warriors and chiefs of the hordes or tribes of Cherokee Indians, in behalf of the said nation."

 The two objects of the treaty were peace and definite boundary, both of which were obtained on the undisputed basis of the Cherokees being a "nation" and having territorial rights.  Why is not Georgia bound by this treaty, made by herself, in the plentitude of her independence, signed by her Governor, and by the late Col. Few, who was one of her delegates to form the federal constitution and by four others of her most valued citizens?  There is no encroachment of the United States.  The act is her own, performed by her agents exclusively, and for her benefit.

 The treaty, being made on the same principles as the preceding ones, is an implicit attestation to the validity of them all, and should secure to the Cherokees the peaceable possession of their country, till they voluntarily surrender it.

       WILLIAM PENN.

 P.S. It will be some weeks before I shall offer another communication to your columns.  With your permission, I propose, then to examine the following questions:

  How far Georgia is bound by the acts of the General Government, in pursuance of the treaty-making power.

 How far the Cherokees are implicated in the compact of 1802, between Georgia and the United States?

 How far Georgia has assented to treaties actually made between the United States and the Cherokees?

 And, in conclusion, having considered the demands of justice, I shall briefly enquire, whether a benevolent & upright man having a full knowledge of the case, would advise the Cherokees to sell their country and remove beyond the Mississippi?

 Permit me to correct a  small error. In one of my early numbers, it was stated that the Treaty of Hopewell was made in York District, S. C.  I have since learned that Hopewell, on the Keowee, where the treaty was made, is in Pendleton District.

 *It is a remarkable fact, that Bosomworth induced the Creek Chiefs, or rather a few of them, to appoint a general agent to transact their business for them, and then inveighed this agent to make & deed to him [Bosomworth] of the three reserved islands, and the small tract near Savannah.  After he had occasioned much trouble to the colonial government, he went to England, and commenced a suit on the strength of this Indian grant.  The litigation continued twelve years, when one of the islands was adjudged to him.  He returned to America, and he and his wife lived and died on the Island.  From the account of this lawsuit, which is given in M'Call's History of Georgia, it would seem as though the English tribunals not only admitted the validity of Indian title, but of Indian grants to individuals.  Sometime afterwards the King of England prohibited his subjects from making purchases of land from the natives.