GEORGIA AND THE CHEROKEES
Among the laws which the Legislature of Georgia have recently enacted in reference to the Cherokees, we find the following:
'If any Cherokee shall prevent, or offer, or
by any means endeavor, to prevent any person belonging to said nation from selling or ceding to the U. States, for the use of Georgia, the whole or any part of said territory, he shall be continued in the Penitentiary for not less than four years.'
Should, therefore, an honest Cherokee caution his neighbor against receiving the bribes of the crafty white man, designed to cheat them out of their lands, he would for this simple expression of integrity be liable to imprisonment in the penitentiary, for not less than four years. Or should he question the right of a chief to barter away, for a string of beads, all the lands belonging to the Cherokee Nation, he must atone for it by a confinement at hard labor for four years.
A more tyrannical, unjust, ' inhuman exercise of power cannot be found in any despotism on the globe; and if this nation sanctions it, she will not only violate everything sacred in her plighted faith, but will bring upon herself a load of infamy that will lie upon her so long as cruelty is odious, and treachery a crime.
New Echota: May 8, 1830
The discussion on the great Indian question is progressing in the Senate. Mr. McKinley concluded his reply to Mr. Frelinghuysen 13th ult. when Mr. Forsyth also commenced in reply to Mr. Frelinghuysen. He did not conclude until the 15th. On the 16th and 17th Mr. Sprague addressed the Senate, at length against the bill, and in reply to Mr Forsyth. On the 18th Mr. Adams of Mississippi had the floor.
We stated in our last, that among the documents contained in the report of the Secretary of War on the improvement and condition of the Indians, which did justice them, were the letters of Messrs. C. Kingsbury and S. A. Worcester. We omitted to mention that Mr. John L. Allen, sub-agent for the Chickasaws, has also done ample justice. Extracts of his letter shall be inserted in our next.
From an article copied from the New York Advocate and Journal which the reader will find in our paper, we have the unpleasant intelligence of the determination of the Choctaws to emigrate. We cannot commend them for taking such a step, just at this time-but we presume they suppose they are compelled by circumstances.- What has now become of the Choctaw Chiefs, who have been deterring their people from enrolling?
It is known to our readers that as soon as the agent, Col. Montgomery, was informed of the murder of Chuwoyee, and the difficulties with the intruders, he dispatched the sub-agent to the frontier, for the purpose of ascertaining facts, and preventing further bloodshed. This was right. But the sub-agent had hardly left the agency when Col Montgomery, it seems, forwarded a report of the transactions to the Secretary of War- from what he 'had learned verbally.' In this he did the Cherokees a piece of great injustice. Did he not know that more rumor is not to be relied upon, at such times and under such circumstances, much less to be made a foundation for a grave official report? Why did he not wait until his authorized agent returned? The want of impartiality in the Colonel is manifest from the following letter- let the reader compare it with the report of the sub-agent on the subject, which we have already published, and he will be satisfied
H. Montgomery to the Secretary of War.
Cherokee Agency, 18th Feb. 1830
Sir: The sub-agent has not yet returned from the Georgia frontier, but I have learned verbally, that one Indian was certainly killed and another wounded. A gentleman passed this a few days since, who on his way from Georgia, came directly past the smoking remains of several of the improvements that had been destroyed. He states that he saw the sheriff of Carroll County with a guard of about twenty men, endeavoring to apprehend the Indians who had been concerned; that Mr. Ross and Major Ridge did not intend to be taken; that they were guarded with about thirty men each, and were about to stockade round their houses; that the intruders had settled in the houses lately abandoned by emigrants, and they assign as a reason for settling in them, that they had bought the stock and crops of the emigrants, and came out to take care of them. I have for sometime believed, that these improvements would be a subject of contention between the whites and the Indians; the whites claiming them inasmuch as the Government has paid for them and quieted the individual Indians claim to them; and many of them are valuable, and are a strong inducement to squatters to settle down in them.
For the course pursued by Mr. Ross, he cannot plead that he did not know the will of the Government on the subject, for I furnished him with a copy of your order for suspending proceedings against the people settled on that territory, until a decision was had on the title; and it was published in the Cherokee Phoenix several weeks since.
Col Hunter, one of the assessors, on his return from Creek-path, called at the office a few evenings since, and handed me the enclosed certificate, given by a gentleman who had just passed the scene of the action. From this certificate, it would seem that the conduct and very dress of the Indians, was of the most terrific kind, especially to the women and children, and that their treatment of some females, who were at the time in peculiar circumstances, was barbarous in the extreme. But all this does not justify the white in the murder of a poor Indian, who knew not better than to do what he was told to do by his superiors.
I have the honor to be, 'c.
Hon. John H. Eaton
Secretary of War, Washington City.
The following is the certificate. It is made up with falsehoods. Abraham Birch well may congratulate himself that 'after being duly sworn' was left out, for he would most certainly have perjured himself. Answers to the following questions from those who will tell the truth would place this certifier and those who have certified to his veracity in a sticking point. Did major (sic) Ridge command the company? Was the company composed of sixty Indians? Were they all armed? Was Major Ridge dressed in the manner he is here described? Was David Vann with the company. Did this Indian company yell, shout 'c.? Did they behave barbarously? We commend the agent for sending such a piece of information to the war (sic) Department.
Certificate of Abraham Birdwell
Alabama, Jackson County, February 9, 1830
I Abrahan (sic) Birdwell, of said State and county do hereby certify, having been into the State of Georgia, and on my return home through the Cherokee nation, and on and within the territory claimed by Georgia as Creek land; and on Thursday, the 4th present instant, had my attention attracted by the burning of houses, and by a company of Cherokees, under the command of Major Ridge, a Cherokee Chief; an inquiry of Ridge, thro' Mr. David Vann, another leading character of the nation, I was informed that Major Ridge was authorized by John Ross, principal Chief of the Cherokee nation, to the burning and otherwise destroying the houses, 'c. occupied by the intruders, saying that they were a parcel of scoundrels and rogues, and that the Government would not injure them for thus treating them. These acts were committed on Cedar Creek and Beaver Dam settlement. The property thus wantonly destroyed, was, as I was informed, valued by the assessors, and paid for by the Government of the United States. After leaving Vann's on the 5th, I saw about four miles on the route home, a woman on a cart, who I was informed had had a child only four days before. Coming on three miles further, I saw another, who had a midwife with her, and in a critical condition. The Cherokees were all armed with guns, pistols, and Ridge himself was clothed in all the garb of Indian warfare,viz; His headdress was a buffalo's forehead ' horns, 'c., there were sixty Indians; the Indians exalted highly, particularly David Vann; the Indians around the fire, with expressions of Indian joy, yelling, shouting; 'c. 'c. I met some men on express to the settlements for aid.
We certify that Mr. Abraham Birdwell is a man every way entitled to confidence and belief, as a gentlemen of veracity.
J. H. PEARSON.