Phoenix and Indians' Advocate
Wednesday, February 3, 1830
Vol. II, no. 42
Page 2, col. 3c-5b
We insert below the report of General Coffee, of Georgia, to the Secretary of War. We do not know of any person in the nation who would be willing to cede the country for the sake of receiving a reservation of a square mile.- The country at the west is better known to the Cherokees than to General Coffee and others who extol it, and it is, as they represent it to be poor, deficient in wood and water. We might with propriety retort on the General and say; the government and its agents have been at great pains to impress on the minds of the Indians that the country assigned for them on the Arkansas is excellent, fertile, & unexceptionable. The only reason they have not succeeded with the Cherokees is, they know better.
CREEK AGENCY, Oct. 14, 1829.
Hon. John H. Eaton:
Sir: On the receipt of my appointment I immediately wrote to General Carroll, requesting him to inform me which of the tribes he intended to make the first effort with, and at what point it would be most convenient for me to have an interview with him, and direct his letter to Greensborough, through which village I intended to pass, as soon as I could make the necessary arrangements. When I arrived at Macon, I learned from a gentleman, direct from Tennessee, that General Carroll, was in the nation. I then abandoned the idea of going by Greensborough, and proceeded by the most direct route to the nation, with the confident expectation of meeting him there, but as soon as I arrived in the Southern part of the nation, I learned, with much regret, that he had been compelled by indisposition to return to Tennessee. I then determined to call on and converse unofficially with such influential individuals as lived near my route to the agency.
At Newtown, I learned from Hicks the substance of the correspondence between General Carroll and the Chiefs who met him; and an [sic] arriving at the agency, Colonel Montgomery put in my hands a letter from Gen. Carroll, in which he spoke of his hope of success, and requested that I would not attempt to make any further arrangements with them. Believing from what I had seen and heard, that much good might be effected by becoming acquainted with their chiefs other men of influence, and conversing freely with them about their situation, and explaining to them the views of the Government, without entering into any arrangements that could have the least injurious influence on what General Carroll had done, I determined to pursue that plan. In this I have been much favored by happening in the nation at the time their superior courts were in session, some of which I attended and became acquainted with many of their principal men; others I have visited at their own homes. Understanding when I arrived in the vicinity of the agency, that General Carroll had informed them that I was expected from Georgia, it became necessary for me to assume my official character, after which I found them more on the reserve in giving their opinions as to the course their chiefs should, or would pursue. I have collected enough, however, to satisfy myself, that any attempt to hold a treaty with them before the adjournment of the approaching session of Congress, would be unavailing. They express a confident hope that Congress will interpose its power and prevent the States from extending their laws over them; should they be disappointed in this, I hazard little in saying that the Government will have little difficulty in removing them west of the Mississippi. Of the many I am acquainted with, I believe not more than six of eight have any idea of becoming citizens of the States, though many of them express a determination to take reserves provided the country is given up; and I have no doubt but many of them would be glad to cede the country at any time, to secure to themselves one mile square in fee simple. Those that are in debt & out of office, (with the exception of a few, who live on the roads) have no possible means of freeing themselves from their pecuniary embarrassments, but by an exchange of country.
Permit me to offer, for the reflection of the President and yourself, the propriety of opening an office in the nation, for the purpose of registering the names of all those who are disposed to take reserves. This has presented itself to my mind, by hearing the objections of many to an exchange of country, who would be willing to do it, provided they were sure of getting a reserve, but they are fearful their claims might be overlooked, or objected to by the chiefs, or commissioners. They might be run out, and a plat and certificate given to the owner. This I have not doubt, would be quite satisfactory, and produce beneficial results, provided it was prudently managed. It would neutralize those who intend to become citizens, and make those who are desirous of converting their reserves into money anxious for the exchange of country.
I am induced to believe that it has been the studied purpose of the principal men to keep the lower classes of the people entirely ignorant of the determination of the President not to interpose the Executive authority to prevent the States from establishing their laws over them. They have also been at great pains to impress on the minds of all classes of the people that the country assigned for them on the Arkansas, is the most barren and unhealthy spot on the continent, and in this they have well succeeded; they believe the (ignorant of them, and the better informed pretend to believe) that there is no land for cultivation except small slips on the rivers, and this subject to inundate: that timber and water are very scarce, and the latter not fit for use; and that the country is all grown over with briars. If any man visits the country, and on his return gives it a good name and determines to emigrate, they impute to him some bad motive; and they cannot persuade him to abandon the idea, and he is likely to get his friends and neighbors to go with him, they threaten to have him shot.