and Indians' Advocate
Wednesday, April 14, 1830
Vol. II, no. 52
Page 1, col. 1b-5b - Page 3, col. 1a
Some time ago when we published the "Cherokee Memorial" we stated to our readers that the members of the General Council, during their last session, had signed another memorial to Congress. We now make this document public.
To the Honorable, Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress Assembled:
We the representatives of the people of the Cherokee Nation in General Council convened, compelled by a sense of duty, we owe to ourselves and Nation, and confiding in the justice of your honorable bodies, address and make known to you the grievances which disturb the quiet repose and harmony of our citizens, and the dangers by which we are surrounded. Extraordinary as this course may appear to you, the circumstances that have imposed upon us this duty we deem sufficient to justify the measure; and our safety as individuals as well as a Nation requires that we should be heard by the immediate representatives of the people of the United States, whose humanity, and magnanimity, by permission and will of Heaven, may yet preserve us from ruin and extinction.
The authorities of Georgia have recently and unexpectedly assumed a doctrine, horrid in its aspect; and fatal in its consequences to us, and utterly at variance with the laws of Nations of the United States, and the subsisting Treaties between us, and the known history of said state, of this Nation and of the United States. She claims the exercise of Sovereignty over this Nation, and has threatened and decreed the extension of her jurisdictional limits over our people. The Executive of the United States through the Secretary of War, in a letter to our Delegation of the 18th April last, has recognized this right to be abiding in, and possessed by the State of Georgia, by the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Peace concluded between the U. States and Great Britain in 1783, and which it is urged vested in her all the rights of sovereignty pertaining to Great Britain, which in time previously she claimed and exercised within the limits of what constituted the "thirteen United States." It is a subject of vast importance to know whether the power of self Government abided in the Cherokee Nation at the discovery of America, three hundred and thirty seven years ago, and whether it was in any manner effected or destroyed by the Charters of European Potentates? It is evident from the facts deducible from known history, that the Indians were found here by the white man in the enjoyment of plenty and peace and all rights of soil and domain, inherited from their ancestors from time immemorial well furnished with Kings, Chiefs, and Warriors, and bulwarks of liberty and the pride of their race. Great Britain established with them relationships of friendship and alliance, and at no time did she treat them as subjects and as tenants at will to her power. In war she fought them as a separate people, and they resisted her as a Nation- In peace she spoke the language of friendship, and they replied in the voice of independence, and frequently assisted her as allies, at their choice, to fight her enemies in their own way and discipline subject to the control of their own chiefs and unaccountable to European officers and military law. Such was the connexion [sic] of their nation to Great Britain, to wit, that of friendship and not allegiance, to the period of the Declaration of Independence by the United States, and during the revolutionary contest down to the Treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain forty six years ago, when the latter abandoned all hopes of conquest, and at the same time abandoned her Cherokee allies to the difficulties in which they had been involved, either to continue the war or procure peace on the best terms they could, and close the scenes of carnage and blood, that had so long been witnessed and experienced by both parties. Peace was at last concluded at Hopewell in '85 by "the commissioners Plenipotentiary of the United States in Congress assembled." and the Cherokees were received "into favor and protection of the United States of America." It remains to be proved, under a view of all these circumstances, and the knowledge we have of history, how our right to self Government was effected and destroyed, by the Declaration of Independence which never noticed the subject of Cherokee Sovereignty, and the Treaty of Peace in '83, between Britain and the United States, to which the Cherokees were not a party, but maintained hostilities on their part to the Treaty of Hopewell afterwards concluded. If, as it is stated by the Hon. Secretary of War, the Cherokees were tenants at will, and were only permitted to enjoy possession of the soil to pursue game, and if the State of North Carolina and Georgia were sovereigns in truth and in right over us, why did President Washington send "commissioners Plenipotentiaries" to treat with the subjects of those States? Why did they permit the Chiefs and warriors to enter into treaty, when if they were subjects, they had grossly rebelled and revolted from their allegiance and why did not those sovereigns make their lives pay the forfeit of their guilt, agreeably to the law of said States. The answer must be plain,- they were not subjects, but a distinct Nation, and in that light viewed by Washington and by all the people of the union at that period.
In the first & second articles of the Hopewell Treaty, and the third of the Holston Treaty, the United States and the Cherokee Nation were bound to a mutual exchange of prisoners taken during the wars, which incontrovertibly proves the possession of sovereignty by both contracting parties. It ought to be remembered too in conclusions of the Treaties to which we have referred, and most of the Treaties subsisting between the United States and this Nation, that the phraseology, composition, &c. were always written by the commissioners on the part of the United States, for obvious reason, as the Cherokees were unacquainted with letters. Again, in the Holston Treaty, 11th article, the following remarkable evidence is contained that our Nation is not under the jurisdiction of any state. "If any citizen or inhabitant of the United States, or of either of the territorial districts of the United States shall go into any town, settlement, or territory belonging to the Cherokees, and shall there commit any crime upon, or trespass against the persons, or property of any peaceable and friendly Indian or Indians, which, if committed with the jurisdiction of any state, or within the jurisdiction of either of the said Districts against a citizen or any white inhabitant thereof, would be punishable by the laws of such state of district, such offender or offenders shall be proceeded against in the same manner as if the offence had been committed within the jurisdiction of the state or district to which he or they may belong, against a citizen, or white inhabitant thereof."
The power of a state may put our national existence under its feet, and coerce us into her jurisdiction, but it would be contrary to legal right and plighted faith of the United States' Government. It is said by Georgia, and the Hon. Secretary of War, that one sovereignty cannot exist within another, and therefore we must yield to the stronger power; but is not this doctrine favorable to our Government, which does not interfere with any other. Our sovereignty and right of enforcing legal enactments extend no farther than our territorial limits, and that of Georgia is and have always terminated at her limits. The Constitution of the United States, (article 6) contains these words; "all Treaties made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land," and the "Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the laws or constitution of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." The sacredness of Treaties made under the authority of the United States are paramount and Supreme, stronger than the laws and constitution of any state. The jurisdiction then of our Nation over its soil is settled by the laws, Treaties, and Constitution of the United States, and has been exercised from time out of memory.- Georgia has objected to the adoption on our part of a constitutional form of Government, which has in no wise [sic] violated the intercourse and connexion which bind us to the United States, its constitution and the treaties thereupon founded and in existence between us. As a distinct nation, notwithstanding any unpleasant feelings it might have created to a neighboring state, we had the right to improve our Government suitable to the moral, civil and intellectual advancement of our people; and had we anticipated any notice of it, it was the voice of encouragement by an approving world. We would also, while on this subject, refer your attention in the memorial and protest submitted before your Honorable bodies during the last Session of Congress by our Delegation then at Washington.
Permit us also to make known to you the aggrieved and unpleasant situation under which we are placed by the claim which Georgia has set up to a large portion of our territory under the Treaty of the Indian Springs concluded with the late General McIntosh and his party, and which was declared void and of no effect by a subsequent Treaty between the Creek Nation and the United States at Washington City. The President of the United States through the Secretary of War assured our delegation that so far as he understood the Cherokees had rights, protection should be afforded, and respecting the intrusions on our lands he had been advised " and instructions had been forwarded to the agent of the Cherokees, directing him to cause their removal, and earnestly hoped, that on this matter all cause for future complaint would cease, and the order prove effectual." The hope of the President is yet unrealized, and the order has not "proved effectual." In consequence of the agents neglecting to comply with the instructions, and suspension of the order made by the Secretary afterwards, our border citizens are at this time placed under the most unfortunate circumstances by the intrusions of citizens of the United States; and which are almost daily increasing in consequence of the suspension of the once contemplated "effectual order." Many of our people are experiencing all the evils of personal insult, and in some instances expulsion from their homes, and loss of property, from the unrestrained intruders let loose upon us, and the encouragement they are allowed to enjoy under the last order to the agent for this Nation, which amounts to a suspension of the force of treaties, and the wholesome operation of the intercourse laws of the United States. The reason alleged by the War Department for its suspension, is that it had been requested so to do until the claim the state of Georgia has made to a portion of the Cherokee Country be determined; and the intruders are to remain unmolested within the border limits of this Nation. We beg leave to protest against this unprecedented procedure. If the state of Georgia has a claim to any portion of our lands and is entitled by law and justice to them, let her seek through a legal channel to establish it; and we do hope that the United States will not suffer her to take possession of them forcibly and investigate her claim afterwards.
Arguments to effect the emigration of our people, and to induce us to escape the troubles and disquietudes incident to a residence contiguous to the whites, have been urged upon us, and the arm of protection has been withheld that we may experience still deeper and ampler proofs of the doctrine, but we still adhere to what is right and agreeable to ourselves; and our attachment to the soil of our ancestors is too strong to be shaken. We have been invited to a retrospective view of the past history of Indians, who have melted away before the light of civilization, and the mountains of difficulties that have opposed our race in their advancement in civilized life. We have done so, and while we deplore the fate of thousands of our complexion and kind, we rejoice that our Nation stands, and grows a lasting monument of God's mercy, and durable contradiction to the misconceived opinion that the aborigines are incapable of civilization. The opposing mountains that cast fearful shadows in the road of Cherokee improvement have dispersed into vernal clouds, and our people stand adorned with flowers of achievement flourishing around them, and are encouraged to secure the attainment of all that is useful in science and Christian knowledge.
Under the fostering care of the United States we have thus prospered; and shall we expect approbation, or shall we sink under the displeasure and rebuke of our enemies?
We now look with earnest expectation to your Hon. bodies for redress; and we earnestly pray that our national existence may not be extinguished before a prompt and effectual interposition is afforded in our behalf. The faith of your Government is solemnly pledged for our protection against all oppressions, so long as we remain firm in our Treaties; and that we have for a long series of years proved to be true & loyal friends,the known history of past events abundantly proves. Your chief magistrate himself has borne testimony of our devotedness in supporting the cause of the United States during their late conflict with a foreign foe.
It is with reluctant and painful feelings that circumstances here at length compelled us to seek from you the promised protection for the preservation of our rights & privileges. This resort to us is a last one, and nothing short of the threatening evils and dangers that beset us could have forced it upon the Nation. But it is a right we surely have, and in which we cannot be mistaken, that of appealing for justice and humanity to the United States, under whose kind and fostering care we have been led to the present degree of civilization and the enjoyment of its consequent blessings. Having said thus much, with patience we shall await the final issue of your wise deliberations.
With sentiments of the highest regard and esteem, we have the honor to be, very Respectfully, your Ob't Sev'ts.
relating to the boundary line between the Cherokees and Creeks.
As the President of the United States has undertaken to alter an acknowledged line between the Cherokees and Creeks, it may not be uninteresting to publish documents and testimonies relating to that subject- we shall therefore begin with the following, which were once published for the use of Congress.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR
February 3, 1820.
SIR: In obedience to a resolution of the House of Representatives of
the 4th ultimo, I have the honor of transmitting herewith papers No. 1 to 10
inclusive, which, with the explanatory notes on some of them, furnish all the
information that the records of this Department contain, touching any
"compacts or agreements" between the Creek and Cherokee tribes of Indians on
the subject of their "boundary lines," and the "correspondence" relating thereto,
as called for by the resolution above mentioned.
I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant,
Hon. ANDREW STEVENSON,
Speaker of the House of Rep.
Extract from minutes of occurrences at Fort Jackson, during the negotiation of Jackson's treaty, is furnished by Col. Hawkins, United States agent for Indian Affairs in the Creek Nation, in August, 1815.
"Certificate relative to the Creek and Cherokee boundary."
"Be it known and remembered that the Cherokee and Creek chiefs assembled at Fort Jackson, the first with a view to agree with the latter on a boundary line dividing the land of the two nations, that on propositions being made by the first to make definitive settlement of the boundary of said lands, the second replied that they had no objection at some time to settle their boundaries with the first; that in the present distressed state of their nation, they could not enter into business with that consideration and deliberation which the subject required, but would do it at some time not far distant; and that, until this could be done, they had no objection to the Cherokees settling themselves down on lands which they might deem clearly within their proper boundaries, and that it is their desire to live in amity with the Cherokees, and would ever consider them as their friends and neighbors, and would render them all the friendly offices within their power.
Done at Fort Jackson, the 9th day of August, 1814"
The above contains the voluntary and friendly arrangement entered into between the chiefs of the Cherokee Nation of Indians and the chiefs of the Creek Nation, requested to be committed to writing, and attested by us.
Major Gen. Commanding.
Agent for Indian Affairs.
RETURN J. MEIGS.
Agent for Cherokees.
Extract of a letter from Geo. Graham to Gen. John Sevier and William Barnett, Esq. commissioners for running the lines of the land ceded by the Creek Indians to the United States by the treaty of 1814, dated, Department of War, September 2, 1815.
"In the absence of Mr. Crawford, who is on a visit to his family, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of our communication of the _______ ultimo.
"There being no document in this office by which the boundary line of the Cherokees could be established, your communication was referred to the Commissioner of the Land Office, but he was not able to furnish any information on the subject. I presume the boundary lines between the Cherokees, Creeks, and Choctaws depend entirely upon tradition, and there is no record evidence of them."
Extract of a letter from the Secretary of War to Colonel R. J. Meigs, Cherokee Agent, dated 22d November, 1815.
"The benevolent and enlightened policy which the Government has invariably pursued towards its Indian neighbors ought to quiet the fears of the Cherokees on the subject of their territorial rights. In running the line between the United States and the Creeks, care will be taken to avoid all appearance of injustice to the Cherokees whose fidelity during the late war has never been suspected.- The boundary between the Creeks and Cherokees, which, according to the treaty, should be the boundary between the latter & the U. S., is a matter of fact, depending upon testimony, which it is important should be obtained with the least possible delay. The President expects that you will collect and communicate all the information upon this subject that is within your reach."
KNOXVILLE, January 10, 1816.
SIR: I am on my way to the city with six Cherokee chiefs; and as we shall travel slower than the mail, I forward the accompanying documents* which may afford some information relating to the Cherokee and Creek boundary line, that should divide the lands of the two tribes.
It is probable that we shall not be able to reach the city before the first of February.
I have the honor to be, &c.
RETURN J. MEIGS.
Wm. Crawford, Esq.
Secretary of War.
* The documents here referred to were not with this letter when taken from the files of the Department; nor can they after the most diligent examination of the files since, be any where found.--Indian Office, 31st January 1829
February 27, 1816
SIR:- In addition to the documents communicated to the War Department, in support of the claim of the Cherokees to the line of boundary between them and the Creeks, as stated in the printed transcript of the proceedings of the parties on that subject at Fort Jackson, on the 9th Aug. 1814, Che-u-cun-ne-seene, now here, one of the Cherokee deputation, states that he met with the Big Warrior, the Creek King, or head chief, at Fort Strother, about the 5th of October last; they entered into conversation about the boundary line of the two nations; and that the Big Warrior made the observation to him: "The white people seem greedy for land; that is, the United States commissioners seem greedy for land. Be cautious; attend to the running of the line; if you do not, they will run the line not agreeably to our agreement at Fort Jackson in 1814. (alluding to the printed document I had the honor to communicate to you.) My friend you are a young man: if I could have seen your father, the head chief of your nation, I would have told him, as I tell you, and I consider the agreement that was drawn at Fort Jackson as our guide, (alluding to the printed document before mentioned;) and the reason that I delayed or put off your deputation at Fort Jackson, in 1814, was, that I then hoped the United States would take pity on my nation, and extend our limits below where Jackson's treaty had limited them. I had a wish that the line from Vann's Old Store, on the Ocmulgee, to the Coosa at Fort Strother, should not be marked; but as the line between you and the white people must be marked, I wish it to be marked agreeably to our agreement at Fort Jackson, as before expressed."
Che-u-cun-ne-seene further states, that the Big Warrior named the points on the line as they were written at Fort Jackson, and had once thought that, as those points were well known to the parties, there was not any need that the line would be marked the other way: that is, the line from Coosa to the Ocmulgee, or Vann's old store.
Chu-u-cun-ne-seene says, that, at the time he had this conversation with the Big Warrior, the Creek interpreter was acting as such; the principal Creek speaker was present also, and other Creek chiefs, who could speak both languages; and Cherokee chiefs, one named Ratliff, and one named Sweet Water, another named Barney Hughes, were present, besides two Chickasaw chiefs, who were sent by their nation to be informed of the public proceedings; and neither the Creek or Chickasaw chiefs made any objections to what was said by the Big Warrior.
Che-u-cun-ne-seene says, that, on taking leave, the Big Warrior took him by the hand, and said to him, "Do not make yourself uneasy about a thing that is your own."
So far, I have written the simple narrative of Che-u-cun-ne-seene. I will only observe, that it appears to me that when this statement shall be considered in addition to the other documents communicated, the Cherokees' claim to the course of the line from the Coosa to the "Flat Rock or stone, or Old Corner boundary" will be favorably considered by the Government.
I have the honor to be, &c.
RETURN J. MEIGS.
Hon. Wm. H. Crawford,
Secretary of War.
NOTE- The documents referred to in this letter are believed to be those communicated with the letter of Colonel Meigs of 10th January, 1816, and which cannot be found; and the printed document or agreement at Fort Jackson, to which it also refers, is believed to be the same, in part, with that which is herewith communicated, and numbered 1-Office Indian Affairs 31st January 1829.
Che-u-cun-ne-seene is spelled a variety of ways in the above article:Che-u-cun-e-sene, Che-u-cun-ne-see-ne, Chu-u-cun-e-sene.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR
14th March 1816
GENTLEMEN: The President has instructed me to direct that the line between the Cherokees and the lands ceded by the Creek Nation to the United States in the year 1814, shall not be run until it shall be defined by treaty with the deputation of that nation, now in this city. This will probably be done in a few days. No time will be lost in giving you information of this event. When it is defined, you will proceed to run and mark it according to the stipulations of the treaty. The western limits of the cession will have to be adjusted, and arranged by treaties or conventions with the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes. As soon as matters are arranged with the Cherokees, measures will be adopted for holding treaties with those tribes.
I have the honor to be, &c.
WM. H. CRAWFORD.
To Messrs. Wm. Barnet (nb. name is spelled Barnett in No. 2 & No.8)
Benj. Hamkins (nb. name is spelled Hawkins in No. 8) Edmund P. Gaines.
Extract from a treaty with the Cherokee Nation, concluded at the City of Washington in the 22d March, 1816. [See vol. Ind. treaties and laws, page 136.]
"Article 1. Whereas doubts have existed in relation to the northern boundary of that part of the Creek lands lying west of the Coosa River, and which were ceded to the United States by the treaty held at Fort Jackson on the 9th day of August, 1814; and whereas, by the 3d article of the treaty held at Fort Jackson on the 9th day of August, 1814; and whereas, by the 3d article of the treaty, dated the 7th of January, 1806, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, the United States have recognized a claim on the part of the Cherokee Nation to the lands south of the big bend of the Tennessee, and extending as far west as a place on the waters of Bear Creek, (a branch of the Tennessee River,) known by the name of the Flat Rock, or Stone: it is, therefore, now declared and agreed, that a line shall be run from a point on the west bank of the Coosa River, opposite to the lower end of the Ten Islands, in said river, and above Fort Strother, directly to the Flat Rock, or Stone, on Bear Creek, (a branch of the Tennessee River,) which line shall be established as the boundary of the lands ceded by the Creek nation to the United States by the treaty held at Fort Jackson on the 9th day of August, 1814 and of the lands claimed by the Cherokee Nation, lying west of the Coosa and south of the Tennessee rivers."
Extract of a letter from the Secretary of War to Messrs. Wm. Barnett, Benj. Hawkins, and Edmund P. Gaines, commissioners, &c, &c, dated 15th April, 1816.
"Enclosed you will receive the copy of a convention concluded at this place with the deputation of Cherokee Indians, which has been ratified by the President.
"It is desired of the President that you proceed without delay to run and mark the line defined in the convention. You will be attended by some of the Cherokee chiefs, who are acquainted with the point at which it is to terminate. The surveys which General Coffee has made will probably be of some use to you in the execution of this duty. Upon an examination of his report, which is not in this Department, he appears to have taken no notice of the point at which this line is to terminate, notwithstanding he appears to have had in view the convention made with the Cherokee in the year 1806, which proposes Caney Creek, a line drawn from its source to the "Flat Rock," as the boundary between the Cherokees and Chickasaws."
Copy of a letter from General Jackson to the Secretary of War, dated.
NASHVILLE, June 4, 1816
SIR: The enclosed paper was a few days ago sent me, with this remark-that it was believed that a copy of it had been laid before the President, as an evidence of the consent of the Creeks to the Cherokee claim to the territory lately ceded to them by convention at Washington: and that Colonel Meigs had urged it to the President as affording an evidence of that claim. I can scarcely believe the statement; and until it is in my power to hear from you, will not forego the good opinion entertained of Col. Meigs, by believing that he could so far sin against light and knowledge as to act in direct opposition to the information he possessed.
This paper was drafted by Colonel Meigs, and presented to the Creek Indians; and though, as understood from him, an assurance was had that they would sign it, yet, when presented, they positively refused to do it.
At an early period after reaching what is now called Fort Strother, information was given me by the Creek chiefs, that the lands of their nation extended much higher up that the Wills' creek, the boundary shown by the Cherokees; that they extended as high as the mouth of Hightower, and along the Creek Path to the Tennessee, where it crossed that river. They stated the Cherokees were settled on lands belonging to them as low down the Coosa as Will's Creek which had been loaned them by their nation.
When ordered to receive the capitulation of the Creeks, and a surrender of as much land as would indemnify the United States for the expenses of the war, I wrote to Colonel Meigs, and requested that the Cherokee chiefs should attend the council at Fort Jackson, to settle their boundary, before the treaty should be finally concluded. This was important, as well to ascertain what bounds should be secured to the Creeks, as to know certainly how far the residue would offer to the United States complete indemnity for the expenses of the war. Himself and some of the Cherokee chiefs attended, and many conferences were held; not being invited, I was present at none of them, and only learned what was passing by information derived from the Creeks. They stated that it was insisted by the Cherokees, that now, as they were about to cede a portion of their country to the United States, they should, previously to concluding treaty, recognize their boundary to include lands to which, as they allege, the Cherokees had not, nor ever had a title; this they positively refused. Learning from Col. Meigs and the Creek chiefs that nothing could be concluded on in relation to boundary, I proceeded to a confirmation of the treaty, without calling therein for any points that might prejudice the claims of either party, leaving what might not be sufficiently certain to be ascertained by the Commissioners whom the President might appoint.
On the 9th of August, after much warmth had, as I understood, been manifested, both by the Creeks and Cherokees, this paper was brought by Colonel Meigs to my tent, and requested to be attested by Colonel Hawkins and myself, as the only thing that could be then done, & for the purpose, as was expressly declared, to secure the Cherokees who might be settled on the Creek lands in quiet and undisturbed possession, until the question of boundary could be settled between them; and to prevent them, in the interim, from being in any manner subject to the Creek laws.
These are the facts; and if representations differ from them have been made, or if it has been suggested that the Creek chiefs in council ever made any acknowledgement of boundary which was attested by me, or having agreed to a boundary; were prevented by me from signing it; there will be no hesitation on my part in declaring it absolutely false. Be the representation what it may, I request of you, if knowing to it, to detail it to me as it is, and by whom made. Can so uncandid and illiberal statement have been made by Colonel Meigs, or countenanced by him? Let it though have been made by whom it may, it is unfounded; though well calculated to have induced the President to enter into this hasty convention-a convention by which the best portion of the country ceded by the Creeks, amounting to 5,000,000 of acres, has been surrendered, and with it the security of the lower country and our own frontier. Below the mouth of Wills' creek on the Coosa, and the Thompson's on the Tennessee, the Cherokees never had a claim-a fact, I am persuaded, well known both to the Indians and their agents. Understanding, when at the city, that Colonel Meigs was coming on with the Cherokee chiefs, I declared by belief that they would assert claims to lands to which they never had a right; and urged the propriety of leaving with the Commissioners appointed by the Government to designate the points of the treaty; not doubting but that full and complete justice would be done, and that all parties would at once acquiesce in the boundary they might establish. I must, though, here be permitted to remark, that the idea never was indulged that the enclosed paper would be attempted to be palmed on the Government as an evidence of right in the Cherokees, or consent to that right by the Creeks. The paper speaks for itself, and conveys no such idea: if it has been used differently from what it purports, it deserves to be investigated, that the odium may be thrown at the proper door, and the contract set aside, because clearly founded in fraud. The evidence of Colonel Butler, Adjutant General, Colonel Hawkins, Captain Thomas Butler, and my Aid, Major Tatum, and Mr. Cassedy, can fully explain this whole transaction.
I regret exceedingly that this convention has been thus hastily entered into, without that clear and satisfactory information which might have been had and which would have clearly negatived all idea of right on the part of the Cherokees. The western people are loud in their complaints against it. They consider that security for which they have fought and bled is taken from them; and the country gained at the expense of some of the best blood of the land, taken, as they believe, without evidence of right and bestowed on a nation of Indians which hatchet and scalping knife have left many an orphan, and many a parent without a child.
Many of these people are settled down in the villages from whence they by their valor drove the hostile Creeks; and many of the volunteers who, against the orders of their Government, marched against the Cherokees at Nicajack, destroyed it, and gave security to their frontier, are also there. When they shall see themselves removed from their villages, which were the dens of the murderers of their wives and children; not to answer any general policy of the Government, but to benefit the prowling lion of the forest, who has already done them so much injury, your forebodings will be something like mine, that evil may result. I hope it will be believed that I am not often alarmed at trifles; but that, in all my acts, in all my expressions and information to the Government, I am swayed alone by disinterested motives- public good.
I am, respectfully, &c.
NOTE- The paper referred to in the foregoing letter, and in that from the Secretary of War, which follows, is believed to be the same, in part; with that herewith submitted, and numbered 1.- Office Indian Affairs.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR.
19th June, 1816.
SIR: Your letter of the 4th instant has been received this day by the mail. The paper enclosed was produced by the Cherokee deputation, which accompanied Colonel Meigs to this place last Winter. The whole paper; taken together, certainly presents the idea that the boundaries designated in the first part of it had been agreed upon by the parties, and that you were acquainted with the facts. The note at the bottom of that article asserts that the execution of a convention was deferred upon your advice.
I agree with you that the particular instrument to which your name is subscribed, taken separately, warrants the construction which you have placed upon it. The whole paper, taken together, is certainly calculated to make an impression that is inconsistent with the rational construction of the instrument signed by you, when considered separately. I have no distinct recollection of any representation of Col. Meigs upon this subject; and on that account, can only say that he made none which were calculated to remove the impression which that paper produced, considered as one entire act.
By the proceedings of our Commissioners, the Cherokee boundary was considered to extend down the Coosa, to the lower end of the Ten Islands.- Testimony furnished by Col. Hawkins establishes the same fact. By our conventions with that tribe, we have admitted that their claim south of the Tennessee extended west as far as Caney Creek, and from thence to the Flat Rock, and engaged to endeavor to obtain the Chickasaws' consent to that boundary. This later tribe have the declaration of Gen. Washington that their title extends over the greatest part of the lands claimed by the Cherokees, West of the Chickasaw Old Fields. All these circumstances, if they do not clearly establish their respective rights, at least prove that there is but little certainty in Indian boundaries. We know that the Cherokee title extends as far south, on the Georgia side, as the high shoals on the Appalachee; from whence a due west line would strike the Coosa south of the Ten Islands. It is not wonderful that great uncertainty should exist in Indian boundaries, where records are unknown, and where the lands claimed are never wholly occupied. In this state of uncertainty, an enlightened and liberal nation should not set aside the claims of its ignorant and savage neighbors, where they have ever been recognized by any act of the Government. These recognitions have been made in favor of the Cherokees and Chickasaws to the land which you insist belonged to the Creeks. Where we are judges is our own cause, & where the weakness of the other party does not admit of an appeal from our decision, delicacy, as well as a proper sense of justice, should induce us to lean in favor of the claim adverse to ours. I am very far from believing that we have yielded anything to the Cherokees which they had not a right to demand. In this opinion I may be mistaken, as the evidence is certainly not of that character which amounts to demonstration. We have done, in this case, what I would have done where my individual interest was concerned, and where the decision was left to myself. This is the point of view in which the case ought to be considered. We are in no danger from any act of liberality towards the Indian tribes within our limits. The lands south of the Cherokee line, when settled, will furnish a population equal to the repulsion of any enemy which may be brought to act against it.- There is, therefore, no inducement to re-examine this subject, or to question its validity. In an enlightened nation, submission to the laws is fundamental principle upon which the social compact must rest. No apprehension is entertained of the consequences which you appear to forebode. The treaty with the Cherokees has been approved by the Senate and House of Representatives, and is the supreme law of the land. Submission to it is a duty which will not be neglected. At the same time, it is admitted that the acquisition of this territory is desirable, and no proper occasion for acquiring it will be omitted. The same policy will be pursued with regard to the Chickasaws. The claims of the United States will be pressed as far as justice will admit, and liberal compensation will be offered where their rights are deemed valid. For this purpose you will, in the instructions * which will be forwarded, have the most ample powers. The views of the Executive will be fully explained in those instructions, and I have no doubt, will be approved by an enlightened public.
I have the honor to be; &c. &c.
WM. H. CRAWFORD.
To Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson,
*Refers to instructions which were afterwards forwarded to him as one of the Commissioners to treat with the Chickasaws.