TALK OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
Through the Secretary of War and General Coffee, to the Chickasaw Delegation, at Franklin, Tenn. on the 22d August, 1830.
Friends and Brothers:- Your Great Father is rejoiced once again to meet and shake you by the hand, and to have it in his power to assure you of his continued friendship and goodwill. He can cherish none but the best feelings for his red children, many of whom, during our late war, fought with him in defence of our country.
By a communication from you elder brethren and neighbors, the Choctaws, during the last winter, your Great Father learned that in consequence of the laws of Mississippi being extended over them, they were in great alarm; and of their own free will, and without any application from him, they asked to leave their country and retire across the Mississippi River. The treaty sent by them to him was laid before the Senate of the United States, and they refused to approve it. Solicitous to avoid every act the tendency of which might be to deceive or impose upon his red children, he laid the treaty, which was presented to him, before the Senate, with the protest which had been forwarded against it by the opposite party of the Choctaw Nation, that all the circumstances might be fully known;--it was rejected. Of these things, their confidential Agent, Maj. Haly, was advised, and he was requested to make them known to the Choctaws. Understanding from him that they were desirous to see and converse with their Great Father on this important subject, he agreed, in accordance with that desire, to meet them at this place. With regret he now learns they have declined their engagement.
By an act of Congress is was placed in his power to extend justice to the Indians--to pay the expenses of their removal--to support them for twelve months, and to give them a grant for lands which should endure 'as longs as grass grows or water runs.' A determination was taken immediately to advise his red children of the means which were thus placed at his disposal to render them happy and preserve them as nations. It was for this, that he asked his Chickasaw and other friends to met him here. You have come, and your Great Father rejoices to tell you, through his commissioners the truth, and point you to a course which cannot fail to make you a happy and prosperous people. Hear and deliberate well on what he shall say, and under the exercise of your own reason and matured judgment determine what may appear to you best to be done for the benefit of yourselves and your children.
Brothers:- You have long dwelt upon the soil you occupy, and in early time before the white man kindled his fires too near to yours, and by settling around, narrowed down the limits of the chase, you were, though uninstructed, yet a happy people. Now your white brothers are around you. States have been erected within your ancient limits, which claim a right to govern and control your people as they do their own citizens, and to make them answerable to their civil and criminal codes. Your Great Father has not the authority to prevent this state of things; and he now asks if you are prepared and ready to submit yourselves to the laws of Mississippi, make a surrender of your ancient laws and customs, and peaceably and quietly live under those of the white man?
Brothers, listen:- The laws to which you must be subjected, are not oppressive, for they are those to which your white brothers conform, and are happy. Under them, you will not be permitted to seek private revenge, but in all cases where wrong may be done, you are through them to seek redress. No taxes upon your property or yourselves, except such as may be imposed upon a white brother, will be assessed against you.- The court will be open for the redress of wrongs; and bad men will be made answerable for whatever crimes or misdemeanors may be committed by any of your people, or our own.
Brothers listen:- To these laws, where you are, you must submit there is no preventive--no other alternative. Your great Father cannot nor can Congress, prevent it. The States only can. What then? Do you believe that we can live under those laws. That you can surrender all your ancient habits and the forms by which you have been so long controlled? If so, your Great Father has nothing to say or to advise. He has only to express a hope that you may find happiness in the determination you shall make, whatever it may be. His earnest desire, is, that you may be perpetuated and preserved as a nation; and this he believes can only be done and secured by your consent to remove to a country beyond the Mississippi, which for the happiness of our red friends was laid out by the Government a long time since, and to which it was expected ere this they would have gone. Where you are, it is not possible you can live contented and happy. Besides the laws of Mississippi which must operate upon you, and which your Great Father cannot prevent, white men continually intruding are with difficulty kept off your lands, and difficulties continue to increase around you.
Brothers:- The law of Congress usually called the 'Intercourse Act' has been resorted to, to afford relief, but in many instances has failed of success. Our white population has so extended around in every direction, that difficulties and troubles are to be expected. Cannot this state of things be prevented? Your firm determination can only do it.
Brothers, listen:- There is no unkindness in the offers made to you. No intention or wish is had to force you from your lands, but rather to intimate to you what is for your own interest. The attachment you feel for the soil which covers the bones of your ancestors is well known. Our forefathers had the same feeling, when a long time ago to obtain happiness they left their lands beyond the great waters, and sought a new and quiet home in a distant and unexplored regions. If they had not done so where would have been their children and prosperity they now enjoy? The old world would scarcely have afforded support for a people, who, by the change their fathers made, have become prosperous and happy. In future time so will it be with your children. Old men! Arouse to energy and lead your children to a land of promise and of peace before the Great Spirit shall call you to die. Young Chiefs! Forget the prejudices you feel for the soil of your birth and go to a land where you can preserve your people as a nation. Peace invited you there-annoyance will be left behind--within your limits no State or Territorial authority will be permitted. Intruders, traders, and above all ardent spirits so destructive to health ' morals will be kept from among you, only as the laws and ordinances of your nation may sanction their admission. And that the weak may not be assailed by their strong and more powerful neighbors, care shall be taken and stipulations made that the United States, by arms if necessary will preserve and maintain peace amongst the tribes, and guard them from the assaults of enemies of every kind whether white or red.
Brothers, listen:- These things are for your serious consideration, and it behooves you well to think of them-- The present is the time you are asked to do so. Reject the opportunity which is now offered to obtain comfortable homes and the time may soon pass away when such advantages as are now within your reach may not again be presented. If from the course you now pursue this shall be the case, then call not upon your Great Father hereafter to relieve you of your troubles, but make up your minds conclusively to remain upon the lands you occupy, and be subject to the laws of the State where you now reside to the same extent that her own citizens are. In a few years by becoming amalgamated with the whites, your national character will be lost, and then like other tribes who have gone before you, you must disappear and be forgotten.
Brothers:- If you are disposed to remove, say so, and state the terms you may consider just equitable. Your Great Father is ready and has instructed his commissioners to admit such as shall be considered liberal to the extent that he can calculated the Senate of the United States will sanction.--Terms of any other character it would be useless for you to insist upon, as without their consent and approval no arrangement to be made could prove effectual. Should you determine to remain where you are, candidly say so, and let us be done with the subject, no more to be talked of again. But if disposed to consult your true interests and to remove, then present the terms on which you are willing to do so, to my friends, the Secretary of War and Gen. John Coffee, who are authorized to confer with you, and who in the arrangements to be made, will act candidly, fairly, and liberally towards you. ANDREW JACKSON.