Extract of a letter to the Editor dated,
Washington City, 2d April, 1830
An attempt has been made in the House to get the Indian Question up, but failed, and I am certain will be taken up next week. Judge White notified the Senate that he would call it up on Tuesday next, ( 6th inst.)
An interesting discussion took place on Friday last in the Senate on the bill to extinguish certain Indian titles. The bill appropriates 40,000 dollars to enable the Executive to bribe the Indian Chiefs. This is a novelty under our Government, but perfectly in character with the present pure and economical Administration. One of those Senators who believe that the President can do no wrong, and who are willing to sacrifice the legitimate constitutional powers of the Senate to make him a despot, was so scandalized at the proceeding, that, after being obliged to confess that "honesty was the best policy," he moved an amendment, when the subject was first introduced, which, together with the bill, was laid on the table; and when called up on Friday, to the surprise of every one, it was found that he had been whipped-in, and thus acknowledged that the old maxim he had laid down was obsolete and unfashionable in the present condition of the country. The measure adopted by the Senate on Friday, which was a party question, establishes the singular precedent that the Executive may bribe or make secret presents to the Indians; & thus, without consulting the Chiefs, introduce that poison among their people which is to lead to their inevitable destruction. The sum appropriated exceeds, we think, any hitherto made, by 20,000 dollars. This measure was opposed, with great ability, by the minority. The speeches of Messrs. Frelinghuysen, Barton, &c., on this subject shall be given soon. In the course of this discussion, Mr. Forsyth, of Georgia, who has a peculiar aversion to the Cherokees, Creeks, &c. and who never hears an Indian named that he does not think of those tribes, made the strange avowal on the floor of the Senate, that the question in relation to the Georgia Indians was entirely settled; that the Legislature of his State had issued its edicts; that the President had confirmed them, and that they would be executed in a few months. Thus these poor men are to be robbed of their lands by a combination between the President of the United States and the Legislature of Georgia. People of America, enemies of oppression and cruelty, what think you of this?- Nat. Jour.
An intelligent subscriber in Georgia, who is dissatisfied with our course respecting the Indian Question, proposes ;some queries respecting it, which seem to demand an answer. This we shall give in a few words.
First, then, of the party and sectional character that has been given to the discussion. We can never concede to political partizans [sic] the right to muzzle our press on questions involing [sic] great principles of public morals, and of natural and national law, by making them subjects of party excitement. The attempt to do it is as gross and palpable wrong, which it is the duty of every honest and patriotic citizen to resist, and of every newspaper to expose and denounce. Should any member of Congress, wherever he may come from and to whatever party he may belong, be guided in his vote on the Indian Question by party and sectional consideration, he will deserve the scroll of infamy on his forehead; and,shall we, by our silence, not only countenance his crime, but encourage the belief that the whole nation is as profligate and degraded as he? Never! we hear that some persons in different parts of the country are attempting to bespatter the Temperance Society with the filth of their sectarian bickerings [sic]; but does the Journal become sectarian by still holding on own its way? The cases are alike in both, unprincipled men are endeavouring [sic] to pervert and corrupt the public mind; and in neither should they receive the countenance of an honest man's silence or withdrawal; from the field-in neither is it right to give up the whole matter into the hands of political or religious demagogues, whenever they may see fit to intermeddle. These subjects are too sacred to be made subservient to their unholy purposes; and if possible they should be made to feel it.
Our correspondent thinks that "whatever may be the state of the case between the white man and the Indian, Georgia has claims upon the United States which have never been settled, though they have arrived at maturity." He seems to regard us as opposed to the settlement of these claims. By no means. If Georgia has just claims upon the United States they cannot be brought forward and settled without wresting from a third party any of its rights. Whether she has such claims, is a question which we do not profess to have adequately examined. But if she has, let them be satisfied from the national treasury. The measures taken by the authorities of Georgia and of the United States have been such as to make the question between the white man and the Indian the prominent one, and indeed the only one on which much interest has been awakened; so that the language of our correspondent is very properly reversed,--we say, that, whatever may be the state of the case between the [sic] Georgia and United States, the Indians have rights which must not be invaded. As they were not parties to the compact between Georgia and the United States, they cannot, without gross injustice, be made to suffer from it.
Why, it is asked, do we not exert ourselves in favor of the almost extinguished
Indian tribes in the northern and middle States? Simply because we are not advised
that those tribes are not in any immediate danger of suffering from a violation
of national faith,-from the injustice of those for whose conduct we, according
to the measure of our influence, and in common with out fellow citizens generally,
are responsible. So far as we are acquainted with their circumstances, they
are in the undisturbed enjoyment of their national rights as secured to them
by Treaty. If, however, the policy towards the Cherokees, against which we contend,
should prevail, they may not long remain so. And should the time ever arrive
when their rights also shall seem about to be sacrificed, we stand pledged to
the public-as will be see [sic] by the introductory article in the first number
of our Journal-not to permit the crime to be brought to its consummation without
Journal of humanity.