CHEROKEE PHOENIX AND INDIANS' ADVOCATE
Saturday, July 10, 1830
Volume 3 No. 12
Page 4 Col. 1a
We presume that all those persons who celebrated Mr. Jefferson's birthday at Washington last winter, and all others who consider him as the greatest patriot and statesman that this country has ever produced, will not hesitate to subscribe to his sentiments in the following passage, extracted from his works recently published.- Those sentiments were uttered by him as Secretary of State, in the year 1793, when General Washington held a consultation with his cabinet on some subjects of policy, among which one related to the Indians.
"I considered our right of pre-emption of the Indian lands not as amounting to any dominion, or jurisdiction, or paramountship (sic) whatever, but merely in the nature of a reminder, after the extinguishment of a present right, which gave us no present right whatever, but of preventing other nations from taking possession, and so defeating our expectancy; that the INDIANS HAD THE FULL UNDIVIDED, AND INDEPENDENT SOVEREIGNTY AS LONG AS THEY CHOSE TO KEEP IT, AND THAT THIS MIGHT BE FOREVER; that as fast as we extended our rights by purcase (sic) from them, so fast we extended the limits of our society, & as soon as a new portion became encircled within our line, it became a fixed limit of our society."
"It is humane and paternal in all its provisions."- So says the Oneida Observer, in reference to the law which provides for the removal of the Indians; & many an inconsiderate reader, no doubt, will credit the assertion.- But let us, for argument's sake, allow the assertion to be true; what follows? A familiar illustration will enable us to see.
Suppose, in the first place, that the people of Oneida County were, like the Indians, located on lands guaranteed to them as their own absolute property by the United States; second, that the state of New York were determined to get the land on the strength of subsequent enganements (sic) on the part of the United States to purchase it for them, whenever the inhabitants of the county should be disposed to sell it; third, that the State had threatened the county with violence, in case of its refusal to sell out to the general government, and had actually resorted to foul means, for the purpose of inducing the head men of the county to comply with the unjust requisition; and fourthly, that in the midst of this oppression and distress, the injured inhabitants of the county had made their earnest and respectful appeal to the general government, for protection against their unrighteous oppressors.
Now, if the United States, instead of protecting the little community, whose existence and whose rights they had acknowledged by treaties innumerable, if instead of protecting them in the peaceable and quiet possession of their lands, they were forthwith to pass a law appropriating funds for the propose of purchasing the said lands, directly in opposition to the prayers, the petitions and the remonstrances of the rightful owners; who is there living, that would fail to see the injustice of the measure? Here and there a partisan might still say perhaps, that the "provisions of the law were humane and paternal." But what would it signify, while the very existence of the law itself was injurious and oppressive, in view of the special circumstances of the case? The people of Oneida would never submit to such a law as this, while they had the power of successful resistance. No doubt, the editor of the Observer himself would be among the first to oppose the law; for after all the humanity of its provisions, it would deprive him of fat office, and a lucrative employment. While feeding upon the paternal loaf, it is easy to imagine that every thing else is paternal; but a removal of the loaf would be likely to rectify the misapprehension.
The Baptist Register, also, seems to be satisfied with the decision of Congress, because "the law, as it now stands, by the final enactment, sanctions no compulsory measures," &c. But what if it does not sanction any such measures? Its very existence, brought to light, it has been, against the earnest entreaties of the Indians, and in compliance with the unprincipled demands of their oppressors, give no small countenance to the continuance of compulsory measures; and no one, we should think, who would look candidly at the whole train of proceedings, could fail to perceive that it does so. Have the negotiations of Georgia been hitherto fair, and open, and conciliatory, and humane? Have her commissioners never tried to bribe the Indians against their interest, or to render their title void? Have the Indians never been threatened, abused, or treated with violence by the Georgians, for refusing to sell their lands? And is it a small thing that the latter have passed a law, which will prevent the former from seeking redress for injuries in the courts of justice of the state, by prohibiting Indian testimony in any controversy which may arise between the Indians and the white citizens of Georgia? It is under such circumstances as these, that Congress have passed the law, which to say the least, indirectly encourages the efforts of Georgia, when it is perfectly well understood what will be the character of those efforts. And what, in the mean time does the law do for the Indians? Does it ensure them protection? Does it engage to respect the former treaties in the strictest sense? Nothing like it. No such provisos as these could be carried through the House. The law, with its fair face, will no doubt tend to the perpetuation of Indian wrongs; and tho' many will still say that it is for the good of the Indians to remove, we cannot but feel that in this respect, "the tender mercies of the wicked and cruel." Georgia has no compassion for the Indians; the general government have not listened to their prayer; and it is difficult to see how the Indians are to be benefited (sic) by being driven into their supposed privileges. At least, it might have been well for their oppressors to become just, before they affected to be generous. It may now, for aught we can tell, be necessary, for the Indians to remove; but who are they that have created the necessity? This is the question.- Utica Rec.
We learn with much gratification that the Cherokees, over whom the legislative acts of Georgia have, before this time, been extended, have determined to take measures to bring the question of the constitutionality of these acts before the Supreme Court of the United States, and for this purpose counsel of the most distinguished character and talents has been employed by them. This will take from the executive magistrate the power of determining questions of constitutional law, over which he has no legitimate jurisdiction, and which if he had, he would be incompetent to decide. Fortunately for the country, as well as for the Indians, the opinions of such great statesmen as General Jackson and Major Eaton, have not the authority of precedent in that tribunal. Of the result of their deliberations on this most interesting and important subject, we should have the fullest confidence; and if in favor of the Indians, and against the constitutionality of the acts of Georgia, the the (sic) President must see the provisions of the laws and treaties of the United States executed and enforced. It will not then be in the power of the states directly and indirectly interested, even with their servile adherents in those parts of the Union where better thigs (sic) might be expected, by an arbitrary vote of devoted, or unprincipled political partizans (sic), to plunder a dependent and defenceless (sic) tribe of men of their unquestionable property and rights. The State of Georgia can in the mean time, oppress and distress the Indians, and the banditti on their borders may rob them of their treasures; but if the Court uphold and establish their right and title to their property, and to their independence, the United States must support them, and afford them protection against injustice, oppression, and lawless violence.
We are glad to hear that measures are taking in this part of the country, to publish and disseminate the speeches delivered in Congress in opposition to the Indian Bill. The facts and the reasonings (sic) contained in them, cannot fail to produce a most important effect upon the public mind. As far as we have seen them, they are powerful and unaswerable (sic).
N. Y. Adv.