Monday, January 25, 1830
The following resolution, which was submitted on Thursday, by Mr. Frelinghuysen, was taken up for consideration:
Resolved, That the Secretary of War be requested to furnish the Senate any information in the possession of his Department respecting the progress of civilization for the last eight years among the Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw nation of Indians east of the Mississippi, and the present state of education, civil government, agriculture, and the mechanic arts, among those nation(sic).
Mr. Forsyth said he could have no objections to the inquiry which the resolution proposed, but he desired that it should be more comprehensive in the information which it was the object of the gentleman to procure. If the gentleman is of a different opinion, I hope, said Mr. F. he will show the reasons he had for confining the resolution to the three nations of Indians East of Mississippi-the Cherokee, the Creek, and the Choctaw. I would be glad if the resolution was more extensive-so extensive as to embrace all the Indians in the United States. I do not intend to propose an amendment to the resolution to the effect I have stated, without first giving the gentleman an opportunity to explain his reasons for limiting the inquiry. If no objection, satisfactory to me is stated, why the inquiry should not be extended, as I have suggested, then I shall move to amend the resolution.
Frelinghuysen, said he had strong reasons why he did not wish to extend the inquiry to other Indians than those mentioned in the resolution, and stronger reasons why it should not be extended to all other Indians.-- The Senate will perceive, said Mr. F. that the resolution proposes an inquiry into the progress which these tribes of Indians have made in improvement and civilization, and an investigation into the present state of their civil government, education, agriculture, and the mechanic arts. One of the prominent reasons he said he had for employing this phraseology in the resolution, was, the emphatic terms in which our treaties with these tribes are couched. With respect to agriculture we have encouraged these free tribes in the pursuit of it. We have agreed by our solemn treaty to afford them every facility by extending to them our patronage ' giving them the countenance of the Government. By our pledges to them we have guaranteed-(and under our solemn faith and obligations, are bound to fulfil the pledges we have made to them) the undisturbed and uninterrupted possession of their Territory. It is in vain, said Mr. F. to disguise that an attempt is now made to interrupt that possession, and what were the reasons, he asked, which were urged for the removal of these Indians from the country they now inhabit? Humanity, it is said, requires their removal, and this is the only reason assigned, as appears from the resolution of the State Legislature, from the public prints of the country; nay, this is the reason given in the very Message of the Executive of the Government. Humanity, it is said, calls for our interference because, while the Indians remain in the neighborhood of the white people, their situation was daily deteriorating, and their population decreasing.- Justice calls for a correct statement respecting the condition of these tribes. I want, said Mr. F. to meet the reasons which have been urged for the removal of these people, I want it to be shewn (sic) to the Senate, how true these representations are with regard to these same Indians.- With regard to them, and especially to the Cherokees, we are bound to afford every possible encouragement in their improvement. They are rising every day in moral elevation-they are leaving behind them the habits of the savage life, and have established for themselves a civil government-they are entering upon the arts of peace--agriculture, commerce, and mechanics--they know the obligations of law; and in regard to population, instead of its approaching to annihilation or melting away, they have outstripped the whites in any section of country.
I have proposed this resolution, therefore, because I wish to be able to meet the reason which now assail us, that unless we remove these People, their population will soon melt away. It is in vain we attempt to disguise the tendency of such proceedings. It is my wish then, said Mr. F. to obtain such information as will enable me to meet those reasons fairly, fully, and fearlessly; and on the faith of Treaties, to shew that we are pledged to encourage and protect these People. I want to be enabled to prove that they need no such assistance as that proffered to meet their annihilation. If we only leave them where the faith of Treaties renders it obligatory on us to leave them, they will raise themselves to a high moral elevation--they will secure to themselves a strength and stability of civil government, and will make a rapid progress in the cultivation of the arts.
Another reason which justifies the adoption of this resolution is, that as we have bound ourselves to protect and patronize them in the cultivation of the arts, as independent, sovereign People, it is a duty we owe to ourselves, to them, to this country, and the world at large, which is looking on us, to see that we have fulfilled this obligation, and to ascertain, by a reference to the proper Department, what progress they have made in these arts. I therefore apprehend, that if the resolution proposed is adopted, I shall be enabled, when the discussion of this question comes on, to meet, by official documents, the reason assigned for the removal of these Indians. We shall also be informed what progress they have made in civilization; or, if they have retrograded, what has been the cause of it. If the reasons which he alluded to would be removed by this information, then the reasons to interfere with these People would be also removed.
Forsyth replied that the gentleman from News Jersey misapprehended him in the observation he had made. I had no objection, Mr. F. said, to the inquiry which the resolution proposed, but I objected to confining the investigation to three sections of the Indians only. I wish that it should embrace all the Indians in the United States. The resolution does not even embrace all the Indians in the part of country in which the others it mentions inhabit. The Chickasaws are as numerous as any other tribe mentioned-and the same promises--the same pledges were given to them as to the others. Why then are they excluded? Besides there are in other parts of the United States Indians residing to whom the same pledges were given. It was obvious to the Senate that this important question should agitate us in all our relations with the Indians. Like the gentleman from New Jersey, (Mr. Frelinghuysen) I desire that the question should be presented so as to receive a full discussion; but I have no idea that persons either in this House or out of it, shall narrow the discussion down to a low or sectional question. For the purpose, then, of applying the inquiry to the condition of all the Indians in the United States, and that those who hold different sentiments from the gentleman from New Jersey, on this subject, may have ground to stand upon, as well as he, I move to strike out of the resolution, the words, 'possession,' and to insert in lieu thereof, the words 'within the reach,' and to strike out the words, 'the Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw Nation of Indians, east of the Mississippi,' and to insert in lieu thereof the words, 'the Indian nations within the United States, and also to erase the two last words of the resolution, (those nations) and in their stead to insert the word 'them.'
Mr. F. proceeded to state that he wanted all the information which could be procured respecting the condition of all the Indians, and that he wished to do justice not only to those who dwelt in the southwest part of the United States, but to all those residing in any part of the country.--So far as he, (who was unfortunately the only Representative of Georgia now in the Senate,) could undertake to say, we seek to do nothing which has not been already exercised by the majority of the States of the Union.
Mr. F. concluded by saying if the gentleman from New Jersey wished to take time for the consideration of his amendment, he would move to lay both the resolutions, for the present, on the table.
Frelinghuysen did not assent to this course, but suggested to the gentleman from Georgia, to propose his amendment in the form of a new resolution. He repeated what his object was in proposing the resolution, and said if the gentleman from Georgia would consent to the adoption of his resolution embracing the same matter as the present amendment.
Forsyth made no reply, and
The question on amending the resolution was then put, and carried in the affirmative, by the casting vote of the President, the ayes, and noes being equal.
The resolution, as amended as then adopted as follows:
Resolved; That the Secretary of War be requested to furnish the Senate any information within the reach of his Department, respecting the progress of civilization for the last eight years among the Indians nations within the United States, and the present state of education, civil government, agriculture, and the mechanic arts among them.