Tuesday, April 6
On motion by Mr. White, the bill to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the States or Territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi was considered in Committee of the Whole; a d (sic)
White who reported the bill explained its object, and, anticipating objections, he discussed at large the rights of the Indians, the rights of the States, and the power of the General Government, in reference to the right of the former to self government within the limits of sovereign State, against the will of such State, 'c.
Frelinghuysen then rose and said, that, as he desired to make some remarks on the subject of the bill, but as he was much indisposed, and it was now late, he would move an adjournment.
At the request of Mr. McKinley, Mr. F.: withdrew his motion, and Mr. McK. moved to add to the 4th section these words:
'And upon the payment of such valuation, the improvements so valued and paid for shall pass to the United States, and possession shall not afterwards be permitted to any of the same tribe.'
After some conversation between Messrs. Forsyth, Sprague and McKinley on the effect intended by the amendment; and, before the question on the amendment was taken.
The Senate Adjourned.
Wednesday, April 7
The Senate resumed, as in committee of the whole, the consideration of the bill to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the States or Territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi.
McKinley withdrew the amendment which he proposed to the 4th section, yesterday, intending as he said, to offer it at a different stage of the bill.
Frelinghuysen then rose in reply to Mr. White, and spoke about two hours.
Mr. F. commenced by proposing two additional sections to the bill, in the form of provoso; the one to secure the Indians in their rights of territory and sovereignty, which they now possess, against all encroachments whatever; the other to direct that all acquisition of territory from Indian tribes or nations, should be made by treaty as heretofore.
He regretted that the President did not pursue the policy adopted by his predecessors in relation to the Indians. When these subjects, at the commencement of the government were brought up, General Washington always submitted them to the Senate, and did not act of himself. The policy adopted by General Washington related to the very tribes about which the present Executive has undertaken to decide without consulting either branch of the National Legislature. He seemed to have, Mr. F. contended, a studied design and desire to act without the interposition of Congress, that he had torn away the aegis of protection from the Indians and that he would not wait for the counsel of his constitutional advisers, but treats them as vassals at the foot of the throne. He next animadverted with considerable severity, upon the directions given to Generals Carroll and Coffee, by the Secretary of War; the purport of which directions was, that they should seek private opportunities of bribing the Cherokee chiefs to sell their country.
Entering upon the consideration of the subject, Mr. F. contended that the Indian title was perfect originally, on the simple principles that Indians are men, and hold their lands by immemorial occupancy. Admitting that there is an imperfect obligation resting upon the proprietors of wild lands, which should induce them to sell a part of these lands to others, who would use them for tillage- this is an obligation to be enforced by reason, and not by arms; and with this obligation, whatever it may be, the Indians have complied most liberally. It appears by official documents that six years ago the government had before that time obtained of Indians 214,000,000 of acres; and the Senate has been this session informed officially, that but about 1,000,000 acres are now sold annually.
The British government did not claim the right of disposing the original inhabitants. The proclamation of 1768 expressly says, that encroachments are not to be made upon 'lands which had not been ceded by the Indians.'
Neither the English colonists, nor the confederated States, advanced any claims like those preferred by Georgia. Mr. F. here read, and commented on several resolutions of the old Congress, all of which went upon the assumption that the Indians were independent nations. 'The same policy has been pursued,' he observed, 'down almost to the present day.- More than fifty years have passed, during all which an unvarying, consistent course of public measures has been pursued on this subject. We have made scores of treaties, all resting upon the same basis. And yet Georgia proposes to blot out the memory of all these transactions. If the present policy of the government is to be followed and sanctioned, I wish she could blot them out; I wish all the memorials of our transactions with Indians could be buried in the same grave with the poor Indians themselves. There would be one advantage in such a disposition of them. The world could not find the evidences of our shame.'
Mr. F. asked the Senator from Tennessee to show any distinction between treaties with Indians, and treaties with other nations, the manner of forming them is the same, the language, the stipulations, the ratification the same. The conduct of Gen. Washington in the first six months of his administration viz; August 2, 1789, was then described by Mr. F. That Illustrious statesman addressed the Senate formally, ' in the most respectful manner, and asked their advice as to the relations between the United States and the Indians. The advice of that venerable body was given unanimously; and the subsequent treaties with the Creeks and Cherokees were formed in exact conformity with it.
Mr. F. then proceeded to examine the treaties of Hopewell, of 1785, Holston, 1701, and other similar documents down to the last treaty with the Cherokees which was executed in 1849. He s\then gave way to a motion for adjournment, and is expected to resume the consideration of the subject tomorrow.
The Senate then adjourned.