New Echota, Sept. 18, 1830
We publish in another part of our paper a correspondence between Mr. Wirt and Governor Gilmer. The reader will be struck with the wide difference of the two letters in their stile [sic] and spirit. The one is courteous and gentlemanly in every respect, while the other is evidently the production of a heated imagination. The Augusta Chronicle very properly finds fault with the spirit of the Governor's letter. Other Georgia papers, however, extol it highly as a very appropriate answer to that of Mr. Wirt. The candid and disinterested reader can judge.
Is it not evident that the Governor and other leading men of the State are endeavouring [sic] to prejudice the minds of the people against any reference of the question, in which the Cherokees are so much interested, to the Supreme Court of the U. States, by crying interference. Why is this? If the state is so confident that she is right, and that her laws are constitutional, and if her citizens, as they have frequently done, in Congress, and out of Congress, refer to the decisions of the Court to sustain her pretensions, why is now this cry made? Is she afraid of her own courts? All this passion and abuse certainly discover a bad cause. If she really is for justice, she ought to be willing to convince the Cherokees so, by peaceably permitting the question to be settled by an impartial and disinterested tribunal.- Should it go against the Cherokees it would be their own seeking, and they would have to submit to the laws of the state, or if they find them too intolerable to bear, they could then move away, and forever relieve the State of much trouble and vexation. We should think that such a course would be greatly desired by every man of justice in Georgia. But this way of abusing and misrepresenting the motives of worthy men, of which Governor Gilmer has given the most unhappy instance, will by no means show that right and justice are desired, but unrestrained oppression.
What the Governor says of the condition of the Cherokees is but an old story
told a thousand times over and is often refuted.
The Augusta Chronicle, speaking of the principal chief of this nation says:
"We presume he is entirely a white man, having not the slightest tincture
of Indian manners or appearance, and in fact bearing probably as strong a contrast
to the Indians, as is to be found in the features, complexion, expression, form,
or stature [high or low?] or the white man. We understand, too, that he was
formerly, a citizen [he is not now is he?] of the State of Georgia, and a RESIDENT
OF COLUMBIA COUNTY!!" This beats all. We presume Mr. Ross never saw Columbia
County, and sure we are, he has never been a citizen of Georgia. If he appears
as a white man, he is considered as an Indian, whose testimony is worth nothing
in the eye of Georgia law. What will be told next?
It is said that three additional companies of the United States Troops- one of artillery from Charleston, the other two of infantry, one from Augusta, and the other from Fort Mitchel-under the command of Major Wager, have been ordered to proceed into the nation, to repress the working of the mines.
We learn from the Nashville papers that a delegation of the Chickasaws have lately met the President and his commissioners at Franklin, Tennessee and entered into a treaty for their removal. What the terms of the treaty are we do not know. It is also said that Gov. Carrol and General Coffee were immediately to proceed in the Choctaw Nation, to hold a conference with the chiefs of that tribe. It is now rendered pretty certain that these two tribes will very soon remove across the Mississippi.
A letter has lately been received in the neighborhood from one of the late emigrants on the Arkansas. It is to be remembered by the public that the Indians who are to be removed there are to immediately civilized by the government and christianized by the Indian Board.
After describing very particularly the late war a expedition of the Cherokees against the Pawnees, in which the former lost five, and the latter sixty scalps, this writer observes:-
"There is a large party of Cherokees and Creeks about to start in a few says a war expedition against the Pawnees. Captain John Smith is going to head the party of Cherokees, and I and my friend _____ _____ are going, and a great many of the late emigrants. General M'Intosh to head the party of Creeks. When I return I shall be able to tell you all about our proceedings."
"There was an Osage wounded a few days ago near the outer edge of the Cherokee settlement, supposed to be by a party of Pawnees; and a few days afterwards there was a Creek Indian killed in the village, and the murderers were traced towards the Pawnee Nation by General M'Intosh with 150 Creeks and a party of soldiers. They have not yet returned.
Again he says- "It appears we have nice laws and law-makers in this nation,
the Cherokees demand one life from the Osage and the Osages refuse to give him
up. It is said that the commanding officer at Fort Gibson calculates calling
the two nations together in a few days to settle the dispute. The Cherokees
say that if the officer does not make the Osages give one life to them, they
intend to have one Osage scalp before they leave the ground."
For the Cherokee Phoenix
The Choctaws are sensible of the obligations they are under to their elder brethren, the Cherokees, for their noble stand in the present great crisis of the fragments of the red people. A deep interest must be felt by all red people who are apprized of the danger of extermination with which they are threatened; and the just and honorable part of the civilized world would deeply feel for us, could they know our situation, and the measures which are in operation to destroy us and as an individual. I feel it a duty to present some of these measures to the public.
The Choctaws discovered that the United States and the state of Mississippi had determined to possess the country, and they must either remove in a body, or else suffer all the harassing consequences of agents with plenty of money traveling among them and trying to divide them and cart off the ignorant and uninformed under leaders who would sacrifice the just claims of the nation that they might obtain individual wealth and occupy the station of Chiefs in their new country, under the protection of the United States government. We knew the price of some Old Chiefs was well known to the President and if they were bought they could carry a number of people with them and if they were established in our country west of the Mississippi they would re-establish their old habits and customs and thereby render future emigration of the body of the nation impossible as they could never consent to give up their improvements. The Choctaws believed that if they proposed to sell their country and move in a body, the government of the United States would rejoice in an opportunity of sending them to their new home in peace among themselves and enabling them to carry all the improvements in civilization, agriculture, and Christianity with them.
In making propositions to the government, they were governed by what has generally been understood to have been the propositions made to them by President Adams.- It is generally known that he offered them a million of dollars for their Country and to put all their present improvements on their new homes, even to a fruit tree or fowl, to pay them for their stock or replace it over there; and give them one hundred and eighty sections of land as reserve together with other important advantages. To some of these particulars we felt objections. It would be difficult for the government to please the people in the improvements. It was scarcely possible to have the improvements made so as to enable each family to make a crop the first year, which if they failed to do, they would have nothing upon which to subsist the second year. An additional motive was, that our people, by making their own improvements would be forming habits of labour [sic]. In addition to the replacing the improvements on their future homes, it was believed that each family who in any degree clothed themselves, or gained any other adantage [sic] from agriculture, should be indemnified for their loss of crops from the time they emigrated until they could be in a situation equally advantageous in their new country. Further, there would be many articles left and lost in removing for which a demand could not be made.
To meet all these and other just wishes and expectations, it was proposed
that the government should give each family six hundred and forty acres of land
in their present residence, and thereby enable them to meet the losses to which
they might be subjected: and as an indemnity for this change, in favour [sic]
of the Choctaws, they proposed to surrender all their present annuity, amounting
to twenty four thousand dollars; twelve thousand of which is an interest on
two hundred thousand dollars in the hands of the government. Then the million
of dollars was asked for as a capital which should remain in the hands of the
government at least twenty years; on interest of five percent. These were the
two principal items in the treaty in which twenty thousand persons proposed
to leave the land of their Fathers, a country containing ten or twelve million
of acres of land, and get out of the way of the state of Mississippi.
In this outline of the treaty sent by the Choctaws, I say nothing about an exchange of land, because the Choctaws have already purchased a sufficient country there by an exchange, and hold the government bound, by treaty, to furnish every emigrant a certain outfit and one year's provisions on reaching his western home.
With a full assurance that President Jackson would be more liberal to the Choctaws than President Adams most of the Choctaws hailed his elevation to the Presidential chair as the most fortunate occurrence which could have taken place in the affairs of the Choctaw Nation. Many of them were personally acquainted with him. They had suffered with him.- They had fought under him; and their brethren had bled and died in his sight.-They were assured that when he was informed, that the council of the Northwest District had determined that they would not emigrate, unless he said to them they must, or submit to Mississippi laws, he burst into tears and exclaimed, "how can I say to the people who have fought with me, that they must & shall remove?"
Under these views of our situation we proposed a treaty which we believed to be just and equitable, with an honest and honorable design of sacrificing our attachments to the land and graves of our fathers, that in peace among ourselves, and in peace with all the world we might seek a home in the western wilderness. But our mortification can scarcely be imagined, on discovering that the messenger bearing our proposition had scarcely left us, when the United States Interpreters were found actively engaged in raising a party to oppose and prevent the ratification of the treaty. Councils were appointed everything like civilization and Christianity was to be excluded from the new party. Loud boastings were heard of arms and deadly weapons at their Councils. Reports of the gathering of forces, from the Creeks and whites, to destroy the Christian Choctaws, were circulated.-- Rumors were hastening through the settlements of the Christian Choctaws, waking up families at midnight hour, and informing them that the slaughtering army was approaching, and that unless they immediately left their religion, and joined them, they would all be destroyed. The whole population of an extensive tract of country was thrown into confusion. Some fled to the opposite party-Many sought safety in swamps and some fled to the white settlements in Mississippi. Every falsehood which could be invented to produce confusion was resorted to.- Families were seized by armed parties and carried to their councils, and one side of their faces blacked and the other painted, and they were then ordered to get up and dance away their religion; and if they hesitated, guns were fired under them to hasten them.
During this season of confusion the body of the nation continued to look with inexpressible anxiety for the return of the messenger by whom they had sent their proposition to the City of Washington, hoping that the treaty would be ratified, by which means peace would be restored. But the enemies of peace became bold in proportion to the forebearance [sic] of the friends of peace.
The life of the principal chief was threatened. It was understood that strong measures would be resorted to, to draw off a part of the Northwest District, and if successful, that na attack would be made upon all the Christian settlements and if possible have them exterminated. About the time that this plan was believed to be in serious contemplation, both the Districts in which these evils had principally prevailed were called to the Factory on Tombigbee River, to receive their annuity, and Col. Leflore, the Chief of the third District, was invited by the agent to be present.- Col. Leflore immediately determined to march a sufficient armed force to that place, to secure peace on some terms. - He accordingly communicated his intention to the other two districts, that they might be apprised of his object. He met the other two districts, and secured peace and friendship by having Mushulatubbee broke as chief of the Eastern District, and arranging with his captains that neither of the two districts should interfere, that they should not elect a chief under two months. In the council that was held by all the captains of the three districts and two Chiefs, the Chief and Captains who had been associated with Mushulatubbee joined at Middleton Mackey and stated, that he had told them lies which had produced all the disturbance in the nation. That it was the lies of Mackey the United States interpreter, which had lead [sic] them all in a wrong way.- It is now easy to see the connexion [sic] between our confusion and the measures of the United States government-a small party headed by the United States' interpreter had appointed two Chiefs, in opposition to Col. Leflore, who had been elected by the national Council the sole Chief of the nation. This party with their two Chiefs used every possible means to gain the ascendancy, and, to secure their popularity, no doubt reported themselves as having the body of the nation with them. Though they were still in the minority they had two chiefs, which gave them a majority of Chiefs. In this situation or immediately after Mushulatubbee was forced to resign, a communication is received from President Jackson, requiring that the three Chiefs, each with six Captains, should meet him in Tennessee to hold a treaty with him. It was strongly intimated that they must not come unless they intended to treat. To comment on this circumstance is unnecessary-I give the facts and leave the people of the United States and the world to make their own comments. Although the Mississippi law is illy suited to the present state of the Choctaws, it is becoming doubtful whether even the ignorant part of the nation can be prevailed upon to remove to a country where the United States interpreters will have every facility of producing a general crusade of the wild savages of the desert to destroy them, whenever the American government may wish their land. The Government is not seen in these movements, but thinking men will know that men would not be retained in office unless they acted in accordance with the views of the government.
Mississippi has extended her laws over us, she allows us all the privileges
of citizens, and when she sees that we have made a strong and liberal effort
to get out of her way, the same spirit of liberality will lead her to give us
eight or ten years to prepare to become acceptable citizens, and with this indulgence
in pressing on in our improvements we shall never need a home in the West. If
Mississippi wishes the Choctaws removed, she also wishes that they should be
treated with justice and humanity.
N. B. Suppose the government should succeed in dividing us and removing the
ignorant and uninformed to the West, will not a moment's reflection teach any
reasonable man that extermination must be the consequence? It is said to be
a game Country.- It is well known, however, that the only important species
of game there is the Buffaloe [sic], and that they are followed by large bodies
of wild and warlike savages who would feel it to be a dangerous intrusion upon
their rights for other Indians to hunt them. If the Choctaws get many of them
they must fight for them, and if they go in sufficient numbers to defend themselves,
they will consume the game as fast as they can procure it: and when the game
is done, which must soon be the case, is it not certain that they will starve,
if the laboring part of the nation is left in Mississippi? The half Bloods and
laboring part can live in any country. It is their ignorant Brethren whose situation
demands the sympathies of all reflecting minds.