CHEROKEE PHOENIX, AND INDIANS' ADVOCATE
Saturday May 8, 1830
Vol 3 No. 3
Page 4 Col. 1-3
From the New York Observer
MR FRELINGHUYSEN ON THE INDIAN QUESTION.
Dear Sir- At length the Indian Question has been brought forward in the Senate on the motion of Mr. White of Tennessee, to appropriate moneys to be placed under the direction of the President for the purpose of facilitating the removal of the Indians, should they be induced to consent to such a measure. Smooth and apparently harmless in its aspect, it conceals as much injustice and oppression as under one little resolution could stain the records of a free & generous people. I will not say the people; it is the Senate of the American people, who I fear will fail in responding to the voice of their constituents. On Tuesday, the 6th, Mr. White, who sits near the Georgia Senators, Forsyth and Troup, brought forward his motion, on the success or failure of which, expectation hangs with so much intensity throughout the United States. By perverting the construction of national law, &c. he made out the semblance of justice on the part of Georgia, in her projected invasion of Indian rights, but the whole structure was the next day demolished by Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN, who rose in reply on Wednesday, spoke two hours on Thursday, and concluded with speaking upwards of an hour on Friday. These six hours may be considered as sacred to the cause of truth, justice, humanity and religion. They were not suffered to pass without fervent prayers to the God of nations, that he would bless this effort for the good of the Indians, the prosperity of our country, and the glory of his own great name. There were the Senators, who were to hear and decide, surrounding the orator; there also were many philanthropists and Christians, the deep current of whose feelings ran along with the powerful flow of the speaker. Above, among the listeners in the gallery, was an aged Cherokee, sitting almost directly above Mr. F., and drinking eagerly in all he said, with feelings probably like those of a man on trial for his life. From time to time members of the House would be seen coming in little companies, especially the Georgians and those who expect to speak on the question, when it shall arise. Not least in sensibility were the ladies present, who are ever found on the side of sympathy and humanity. The desk of the speaker was loaded with books of reference, as if authority on his side of the question was inexhaustible. Mr. F. rose with deep sincerity and even solemnity depicted in his countenance,
"As conscious of his awful charge,
And anxious mainly too,"
that the grave and reverend Senate should feel as he felt. He seemed to feel as if he had a high duty to discharge a heavy burden to lay down, the consideration of which not only banished every thought of courting popular admiration, but even the somewhat necessary precaution of a little parliamentary policy, a little of the conciliatory in his exordium, when great and powerful men are opposed to him. Rectitude and magnanimity appear to have such full possession of his soul; unsuspiciousness and straightforwardness seem such prominent attributes of his mind, as to forbid the indulgence of anything below them, even though a soft word might turn away wrath. He commenced with some severe remarks upon the indiscretion and precipitancy of the President, in speaking as he does in his message so decidedly on the future condition of the Indians; and thus committing himself to one course of action, without consulting the Senate, or taking the benefit of the deliberations of the House on a subject, so profoundly interesting to the happiness and very existence of a sovereign nation, and involving consequences of the greatest import to this country. The ardor of his benevolent feelings would occasionally break forth and overflow from the main channel of his argument, while he pleaded in strains of true eloquence and earnestness the cause of the weak and the oppressed, and warned his peers, even by the sanctions and solemnities (sic) of the last day, to follow truth and justice, instead of self-interest and prejudice in their great decision
Among the printed documents from which he read extracts-documents embracing laws, treaties, adjudications, &c., were two very pungent curiosities; the one a proclamation of the then Governor of Georgia, (who sat opposite to him,) recognizing the very rights which Georgia now denies; the other a treaty, found in a book of which there is but one copy known in the District, more than thirty years old, called the treaty of Dewitt's Corner, in which of the specified time and place, Georgia and the Indians met by their plenipotentiaries. The powers of the respective representatives were defined; they were placed on a basis as equal and reciprocal as that of any two high contracting parties, and it was called an "Indian Congress." This treaty was ratified with these identical Cherokees. The mass of argument and evidence presented on this occasion, can be neither surmounted nor surrounded. It can only be broken through. Nor will this be done so much under the influence of rational conviction, as that of self-interest, state pride, and party spirit. Yes, party spirit, whose active and malignant influence can be as easily excited in the dignified Senate, and the high-minded House of Representatives, as in a common town meeting. Mr. F. did not so much speak as if he firmly and fervently expected to succeed, as that he might discharge his duty to God, his conscience, and his country, and wash from his own skirts the stains which he saw gathering on the American Senate.
If you ask, "How will the Indian question be decided?' the reply always is, "Perhaps in their favor, if they do not make it a party question." To make it a party question will be no difficult matter. The President has decided. What is he to do. The Secretary of War agrees with him.- What hope is there? A majority of Congress go with them, on every great and conflicting question. But the voice of remonstrance will be raised. When the question shall come up in the House, which will not probably be until the result is known in the Senate, the note of that remonstrance will be loud and deep. Storrs, Spencer, Burgess, Everett, Elsworth, Huntington, and others, are expected to speak on one side, as well as M'Duffee, Thompson, Wilde, &c., on the other. Exhort the churches to pray that God would overrule the whole. Never was prayer more needed than at this crisis, when the policy of the government is forming in respect to a new and most important class of subjects of legislation.
Every good man must rejoice in the acquisition of Mr.
Frelinghuysen in the national councils. He has taken a high standing for a new member, and a high stand, too; but with the possession, it is believed, of sufficient powers to maintain his position successfully and permanently. To speak of his personal appearance, the interest of a bland and expressive countenance is much brightened by a certain appearance of imperfect health, a slight paleness, which indicates the operation of vigorous intellect, and ardent feelings, too strong for the slender earthly tabernacle. Thought lies deep in his eye; reason exerts her powers with vigor and clearness; imagination displays her most brilliant charms, unsullied by any meretricious exceptions; dignity, sincerity, and earnestness, all combine to render him attractive and powerful as a debater, far before the large majority of his compeers, and scarcely behind one of them. A few years' practice will no doubt so improve his in many respects as to bring him by the side of the first and best here. In a comprehensive sweep of intellect and nervousness of ratiocination I suppose he must at present be considered as surpassed by Webster, as much as W. is by him in the charms of an elevated, chaste, and beautiful imagination.- Mr. Clayton, the matter of whose speech on the land resolution has been called second only to Webster, must not be compared with Mr. F. as an orator. With whatever high interest politicians and statesmen may have regarded the celebrated debate and debaters in the Senate last winter, on constitutional questions, I look upon Mr. Frelinghuysen as having been placed in a situation, on this new question, surpassed by none in interest and importance. When the rights of man, the cause of oppressed, and national duties and obligations before God are involved in the question, how momentous the situation of these who are called upon to vindicate these rights, and enforce those duties and obligations! The eyes of the American church and of the friends of humanity are turned on him and his coadjutors; and as they expect them to do their duty, so when the conflict shall be over, may they all truly say, as he remarked to me a few moments after he had concluded his exhaustive speech: "I have been earnest, because I was oppressed with a sense of duty."