The Cherokee Phoenix and Indians' Advocate
Vol. III NO. 17
Saturday, September 4, 1830
Pg. 2 Col. 3a-4b
The following was sent to us, for publication, by a gentleman residing in the Choctaw Nation. In a letter accompanying it he says- "The above was written some time in March last, with a view of having it read to the nation in Council, & by them forwarded to the President. The plan failed.- In May last it came to my hands, with the following note, and with an address also to the House of Representatives.
"Dear Friend.- You will perceive by these papers that I and you, that my people are in great trouble. I was knowing pretty much the sentiment of the nation. I called on the educated Choctaws to make out a talk to the President of the United States, and to the House of Representatives in Congress. Accordingly, I had an understanding with the officers of this district. But when I came on the Council ground, I found the Council indisposed, and thought it better to bow before the oppressor, and that opinion rose so high, that they finally made proposal to Government." This note is from Col. David Folsom.
To Andrew Jackson, President of the United States.
The Choctaws assembled in Council have listened with attention to the talk which you had authorized Mr. David W. Haley to deliver to them, and their heart is filled with sorrow at what you tell them.
You say we must submit to the laws of the State of Mississippi, or move to the west of the Mississippi River. This is a painful alternative; and when we look at the confusion, the distress, the ruin which we are fearful will result from the issue of either, our minds are bewildered, and we know not what to do.
Father, Is not the country in which we live, ours? Has it not hitherto been uniformly admitted that we were the rightful and only true owners of the soil which we have inherited from our forefathers? And have we done any act to forfeit our title?
Father, If this land be ours, why should we leave it, and if we are a free people, why should laws be forced upon us, which we do not understand, which we have never assisted to frame, and which will involve us in confusion,-ruin?
Father, Do not deem these questions disrespectful, they are the natural expression of feelings.- We respect you. We know your power. Many of us have seen you in the battle, have fought by your side, and have bled that you may triumph.--Bear this in remembrance, and do not deem our expostulation disrespectful. We are weak and ignorant, you are wise and powerful. Bear with us therefore, while with sorrowful feelings we speak a few words.
Father, How shall we understand the treaties which have been made with us? In the Treaty of October 1820, it was stipulated that the line then established should continue without alteration until the Choctaws should become civilized. That then they should be citizens of the United States, and brought under the law of the whites. Being apprehensive however, that our white brothers might declare us civilized before we are so in reality and bring us under laws which we would not understand, and which of course it would be impossible for us to observe, we had that article modified in the treaty of 1825 so as that we never should become subject to the laws of the United States, without previously having given our willing consent,
This treaty was ratified by our good Father James Monroe, and the Senate of the United States. We then had every reason to believe that we should continue unmolested in the enjoyment of our own laws and customs, until we should become sufficiently enlightened in understanding the laws of the whites, and that even then, we should act from choice, not upon compulsion. Actuated by the prospect then before us, we gave fresh encouragement in our schools,- we applied additional funds for the purpose of education, we sent many of our children abroad among the whites; and we encouraged ministers of religions to come among us. But the scene is suddenly changed. The day is overcast and a dreaded storm seems ready to burst upon us.
Father, How have we merited this? Have we broken faith, violated any treaty, or committed any act of hostility against the whites? Surely nothing such can be alleged against us. We appeal to you, to testify, that our friendship to the whites has been constant and uniform.
Father, The laws of the State of Mississippi have been extended over us, but contrary to our wishes, and without our consent, we protest against the attempt on the part of the State of Mississippi, to abolish our laws and customs for they were adapted to our present condition, and better calculated to further the ends of peace and justice among ourselves, than any multifarious code of laws prevailing among the whites. And we protest against the assumption of jurisdiction over us, on the part of the State of Mississippi, or of any other State, as contrary to the faith of treaties, and utterly subversive of our rights as a free people.
Father, May not our white brothers of Mississippi have overlooked the Treaty of January 1825, and that clause, which secures us against the imposition of any laws upon us except with our consent? Perhaps they did not sufficiently deliberate, and in time will retrace their steps, or are we to understand that a law of a State legislature is paramount to the obligations of a treaty.
Father, you know that we have long been a peaceful people and that our friendship toward the whites has become a second nature. You will give us credit for sincerity, therefore, when we say, that although deeply grieved, we permit no sentiment of hostility to enter our bosoms.- we still rely upon your protection. We still rely upon the justice and forbearance of our white brothers of the State of Mississippi. Father, you have seen many of us tried in battle, you know that we are not cowards, and that we fear not death. But we shall make no forcible resistance. If any men tell you otherwise believe them not. We know that we are weak, we know that you are strong. We shall submit to whatever fate awaits us, with calmness and resignation. If we have mistaken our ancient rights, if we have misunderstood treaties, if we have built our hopes on sand, when we thought they were founded on a rock, then we must yield. But we claim the privilege of this solemn protest, that it is no choice, but necessity to which we shall yield.
Father, The State of Mississippi in extending her laws over us, has placed us upon the footing of white men. For this we are grateful: it alleviates the bitterness of the draught, which is held to our lips and it by the same act she would have given us the education and intelligence of civilized white men, so far from complaining, we should have rejoiced, we should have viewed Mississippi as a benefactor, and no time would have been lost in erecting a suitable monument to perpetuate our gratitude. But in our present incipient stage of civilization, we view the act as the harbinger of ruin and desolation. The laws of Mississippi are complicated and voluminous. They are above our comprehension. Their number and weight would overwhelm us.
Father, Give us time to reflect and deliberate, for we are greatly troubled. It is hard that we should be compelled to leave our country and go to a country we know nothing of. A single individual may leave his home, he may travel into distant lands; but he still has a hope of return, to cheer him. But with us, if we leave our country, there is no hope of return. It is like death. Our feeble old men, bowed down with the weight of years & sorrow, would die in the wilderness. Our children would die with disease.
Father, Do not abandon us. Our earnest and last request is, that you would not forsake us & we pray the Great Father above to have you and us in his holy keeping.