From the Spirit of the Pilgrims,
on the speeches of the Bill for the Removal of the Indians
The investigation which this subject received in Congress was full and profound, even beyond our hopes. Every part of it was examined with the keenest legal accuracy, and the truth demonstrated with a power of argument utterly irresistible. The right of the Cherokees to the free, sovereign, inalienable possession of their lands, so long as they may please to occupy them, was settled by proofs which can never be evaded. No demonstration in Mathematics could be more convincing. No proposition in the whole circle of moral science was ever established by a chain of reasoning more perfect and beautiful in all its parts, more inevitable and overwhelming in its conclusion. Every division of the argument moves onward in unbroken strength; not a line falters; not a weak or exposed point in the whole array; firm, deliberate, impenetrable. The subject was examined not only in the light of abstract justice,benevolence, and moral obligation; it was tested, and that severely, repeatedly, in every shape, by a reference to the Constitution, to scores of treaties, to the history of the Indians, the history of our country, the usage of the colonies, the practice of all past administrations, the maxims of national law, the views of profound lawyers and statesman, the intrinsic character of the bill, the practice of Georgia herself,and the views of her own senators. Out of their own mouths the enemies to the rights of the Indians were convicted. Their sophistry was laid bare; their misrepresentations detected; the moral deformity of their reasoning made notorious; light, like noon-day, flashed in on all the concealment, artifice, and intrigue, which have marked their proceedings in this whole business. Not a point, at which they attempted to rally their forces, where they were not disgracefully defeated. Every historical evidence was made to speak the truth; every false witness turned out of court; every sophistical argument dissected, exposed, and refuted, in all possible shapes.
The opposers of this iniquitous measure plied their task nobly; alert on their posts, faithful in duty,prompt ' vigorous in their defence of the Indians. Though it was made the grand measure of the ruling party, and they knew,even before its decision,that argument might as well have been spoken to the raging sea, as to all hope of influencing the result, yet they would not be driven from the contest. Theirs was the noble side, the cause not only of the Indians, but of all this nation; and if clear argument and impressive eloquence could have exercised the demon of party, theirs would have been the victory. They spoke like men convinced of the importance of truth,and earnest for its triumph.
In point of argument, we are inclined to give the preference to the speech of Mr. Sprague; it is exceedingly close and powerful in its reasoning,nor is it wanting in passages of eloquence. No where else have we seen the sophistry of the supporters of the bill so glaringly exposed. Mr. Everett's is equally distinguished in his part of the subject; he shows the enormous absurdity of the bill from beginning to end. The speeches we trust will be in every man's hands throughout the country: we will here present a mere skeleton of some of the points which their perusal makes evident.
From the volume before us, and from the whole debate in Congress, it appears , first:
That this measure originated with the State of Georgia; that the course to be pursued by the present administration was known before the election of the President; that his proceedings were in direct accordance with the advice of the famous Committee of the Georgia Legislature in 1827; that, apart from this bill, the policy adopted by him in his official intercourse, through commissioners or otherwise,with the Indians is inhuman,sordid,and disgraceful to the nation. The present Secretary of War directs the agent of government 'to move upon the Cherokees in the line of their own prejudices;' not to meet them in general council, for 'the consequence would be, what it has been,a firm refusal to acquiesce;' but to appeal to the chiefs and influential men, not together, but apart at their own houses; and to offer them extensive reservations in fee simple, and other rewards!' The character of these unblushing propositions of bribery, and of other similar suggestions has ben severely exposed, and with full justice to their author, in the speeches of Messrs. Sprague, in the Senate, and Storrs, in the house of representatives.
Second; That the President, in virtually abrogating the treaties with the Indian nations,by taking on himself to inform the cherokees that he had no power to protect them from the operation of the laws of Georgia, has been guilty of violating the constitution,and acting in a manner most dangerous to the safety of the republic. If he can annul treaties or deny their obligations with one community, he can with another; and by an approach to despotism hitherto unheard of, our relations with all foreign powers are thus left wholly at the mercy of one man.
Third: that the arguments in favor of the bill were derived in great part from the consideration of the rights of discovery, rights of conquest, rights of civilized over uncivilized mind, rights of the king of Great Britain pretended to have been transferred to the States, and other topics of the like nature, which ought not to have ben mentioned, except to reprobate them, in any enlightened assembly. Some were attempted to be drawn from one or two treaties, incorrectly quoted and totally misunderstood; misrepresentations, proved to be so, and yet maintained, not only on the floor of Congress, but in print. a great part of the speeches of the abettors of the bill consisted of inaccurate statements, loose and unprincipled declamation, appeals to sectarian prejudices, and blind, unintelligible sophistry, to release the States from all obligations to keep their covenanted engagements. It wa reserved for them to broach the singular doctrine, 'that because the President has sworn to support the Constitution, he may abrogate any treaty, or repeal any law, which he himself may judge to be inconsistent with that Constitution.'
Fourth: that the views of national moral obligation entertained by the supporters of the bill were beyond measure careless and unprincipled; and that their feelings towards the Indians were of such a character as ought in justice to have excluded them from the discussion were called 'poor devils;' sympathy in their behalf was ridiculed; the utmost indifference manifested in regard to their fate; the most outrageous falsehoods asserted as condition.
'But alas! (said Mr. Wilde, of Georgia,) the Indians melt away before the white man, like snow before the sun! Well, sir! would you keep the snow, and lose the sun?
'It is the order of nature we exclaim against. Jacob will forever obtain the inheritance of Esau. We cannot alter the laws of providence, a we read them in the experience of ages.'
Fifth: That Georgia, by the extension of her oppressive laws over the Cherokees, not only declares that they were not before subject to her jurisdiction,but places herself in open, actual rebellion against the statutes of the United States, calling for immediate ' vigorous interference on the part of the gen;. government; That by withholding of that interference by the Executive is an act of connivance with such rebellion: That Congress, in the passage of the Indian bill, present to the whole world the astonishing anomaly of an enlightened republic, not only refusing to interfere for the preservation of her laws when grossly violated, but sanctioning that violation by her own solemn act of approval.
Sixth; that Georgia, by the whole course of her practice from the first of her existence, and by solemn treaties between herself and the Cherokees, has always contradicted her present doctrine, and maintained, as strongly as possible, the full sovereignty of that nation: that in 1824, one of her own Senators* established the sovereignty of the Cherokees by the most conclusive reasoning, in a deliberate and written opinion, which in the late congressional debate he could not refute, and of which he did not even attempt a refutation: That the compact of 1802, on which Georgia so strangely insists for the support of her tyrannical claims, does, in itself, utterly destroy those claims,even if no previous or successive treaties between the United States and the Indians could be found in existence. And that all the right which Georgia can claim by virtue of any compact with the United States if the right of accession to the property, when the Indian title shall have been legitimately and peaceably extinguished.
Seventh; That 'there is not an act of Georgia since Oglethorpe first planted his foot upon the site of Savannah; there is not a resolve, ordinance, or law of Congress; there is not a treaty of the United States with the Indian Tribes,--that does not tend to establish the facts, that the Indians are the sovereign proprietors of the lands and hunting grounds they claim. You might have put the question to every man in this nation,or child on the frontier, and he would have told you so, until the legislation of the States, aided by interest, instructed him otherwise.' The passage of this bill goes to 'stultify the senate of the United Sates for a period of thirty-seven years;' fill the national statute book with nonsense; and make the history of our country's legislation nothing but a series of monstrous absurdities.
Eighty; That the policy of the present administration is not only contrary to the constitution and to every principle of benevolence, but at war with every preceding administration, and with the course pursued by the patriots of the revolution,and recommended and practiced by the Father of his Country. For several years, the methods adopted in obtaining cessions of territory from the Indian Tribes have been practically coercive,and not in accordance with the spirit of humanity. But this has been owing to the conduct of the treaty commissioners, and the nature of their representations and arguments;nor has it ever originated in the measures of government, which have heretofore been strictly upright and constitutional. Until the present administration,it has been unheard of that a course of injustice and intrigue should be prescribed and marked out by the Executive for the commissioners and agents of government. But now,our negotiations with them are nothing better than a system of cheating, bribery,and corruption. It is recommended to cajole them out of their territory; to seduce them into unfavorable treaties, to persuade,threaten,and compel them to relinquish portion after portion of their country. The fatal parchment has been signed in tears; and if an individual is prominent in his opposition,he is 'broke on the spot,' and the action is daringly avowed. It is recommended to send an 'armed force' to the Cherokee country, to assist in persuading the natives to remove; and the enforcement of the State laws, under whose operation the President declares that the Indians cannot live, is made use of to produce such a persuasion.
Ninth: That of all propositions of government, all schemes of legislation, this Bill is the most perfectly Utopian, contradictory and absurd. Of all projects that ever entered into the head of any political fanatic, it is the wildest ' most visionary; the most utterly destitute of any foundation whatever in necessity, utility, or common sense. There is but one feature which can have operated to redeem it from universal contempt; and that is, the enormous scale of it absurdity. Vast acts of oppression astonish the mind, when insignificant ones would only excite its scorn. If a man kills an individual, he is a murderer; when he destroys ten thousand, he becomes a hero. There is something in the extravagance of this plan so gigantic, that the mind is overwhelmed by the conception; we are confounded with the vastness of the folly. It is like the wild combination that present themselves to the frenzied imagination of the maniac,rather than the drivellings of idiocy. It involves such a complication of incoherences as no common mind could have invented.
'Who ever heard of such a thing before' said Mr. Everett. 'Who ever read of such a project' Ten or fifteen thousand families to be rooted up,and carried hundreds, aye a thousand miles into a wilderness! There is not such a thing on the annals of mankind. It was the practice-the barbarous and truly savage practice-of the polished nations of antiquity to bring home a part of the population of conquered countries as slaves. It was a cruel exercise of the rights of the conqueror, as then understood, and in turn practiced by all nations. But in time of peace, towards unoffending communities, subject to our sovereignty indeed, but possessing rights guaranteed to them by more than one hundred treaties to remove them against their will, by thousands, to a distant and a different country, where they must lead anew life,and form other habits, and encounter the perils and hardships of a wilderness: sir, I never heard of such a thing, it is an experiment on human life and human happiness of perilous novelty.'
Tenth; That it proposes and requires an incalculably wasteful expenditure of the public money. Five hundred thousand dollars have already gone from the treasury-it is vain to ask where; twenty four millions more will be demanded, ere this bill can go into complete execution! A sum almost sufficient to disburse the national debt; sufficient, if expended i internal improvements or public charities to render this country the pride and wonder of the whole world. This calculation is neither visionary,nor improbable, nor false; it is based on indisputable evidence; it is arrived at by a minute statement of items, in aa close, accurate business-like 'counting of the cost.' It is made up,- from the original purchase money, more than seven millions of dollars; from the expense in the payment for improvements, more than nine millions; from the cost of collection and transportation, more than two millions; from the expense of subsistence for one year of 75,000 human beings,more than four millions,--'to say nothing of the support, which the Government unless it leaves them to starve, will indubitably be compelled to furnish them, at the end of the year, and for years to come;' for the extinguishment of titles beyond the Arkansas, a million and a half; for the support of territorial government and a Military Establishment, nearly a million. Twenty-four millions!! And this is the consequence of the speculators of an administration, whose grand title to the public esteem was to be-its practices of economical reform. Twenty-four millions from the treasury of a republic so prudent that the whole expense of the national establishment could be furnished from the trappings of a monarchy! Our republic may be termed 'the miser turned spendthrift,' when her representatives, who have been for years haggling and huckstering to reduce or annihilate the hard-earned pensions of her revolutionary patriots, shall scatter twenty-four millions from her treasury, in the prosecution of one of the wildest schemes of inhumanity ever suggested.
Eleventh: That it leaves the disbursement of this enormous expenditure, without the least specification,within the uncontrolled discretion of one department, at the mercy of one man. 'five hundred thousand pounds' said Edmund Burke, animadverting on the appropriations for unspecified civil expenses, 'five hundred thousand pounds is a serious sum. But it is nothing to the prolific principle upon which the sum was voted, a principle that may well be called, the fruitful mother of an hundred more. Neither is the damage to public credit any great consequence, when compared to that which results to public morals, and the safety of the constitution, from the exhaustless mine of corruption opened by the precedent, and to be wrought by the principle.' The principles of this great Statesman are peculiarly applicable here: for the expenditure of this money must of necessity occasion a scene of corruption in the herd of public officers, and of degradation in the public morals, beyond all example.
'Here we have a vast operation,' we again quote from Mr. Everett's able speech,'extending to tribes and nations,to tens of thousands of souls, purchasing and exchanging whole regions,building fifteen thousand habitations in a distant wilderness, and putting seventy-five thousand individuals in notion across the country, and not an officer or agent specified; not a salary named; not one item of expenditure limited; the whole put into the pocket of one Head of Department, to be scattered at his will!'
Twelfth: that the execution of this proposed measure would be attended, not only with a vast expenditure and loss to the United States, but in regard to the Indians, with an amount of misery utterly incalculable; and to be terminated only in their total extinction. The heart sickens at a bare attempt to conceive or delineate the scenes which must ensue.
' A community of civilized people of all ages, sexes, and conditions of bodily health are to dragged hundreds of miles, over mountains, rivers, and deserts, where there are no roads, no bridges, no habitations; and this is to be done for eight dollars a head, and done by contract. The question is to be, What is the least for which you will take so many hundred families, averaging so may infirm old men, so many little children, so many lame, feeble, and sick? What will you contract for?'- 'I will not,' said Mr. Everett, 'vote a dollar for this dreadful contract. Send these Indians off by contract, and their removal will present a scene of suffering unequalled by that of a flying army before a triumphant foe.'
The agitation, the terror, the tumult, the misery of such a march to the dead waste beyond the Arkansas cannot be described; it is a consequence of this measure, which most persons do not seem to have thought of.
But the sufferings of the march are nothing to the misery in store at its end. The curse of perpetual desolation rests upon the greater portion of country to which they are to be driven. there, hardly a flower grows, or a brook runs, or a tree strikes its root into the soil, or lifts its branch to the sun-light. A great part of the region is nothing but untamed and indomitable barrenness; the rain and the sun, and the soft dews of heaven, and the processes of human culture, would be alike wasted on a marble marl or a naked sand desert, which nature resolved should never be reclaimed from its sterility. The herd of bisons that sweep over the dreary scene for leagues, scarcely touching a blade of green grass or even a tuft of moss with the hoof, supply, by their ordure, the only fuel with which the wandering hunter can light up his fire. Man can live where the wild beast would perish with famine; but in part of this country, human ingenuity, cannot be sustained. The most powerful tribes, in its richest tracts, and the nearest our own border, 'during several seasons in each year,' are in a state of starvation.
'The living child is often buried with the dead mother, because no one can spare it so much food as would sustain it through its helpless infancy!' After so shocking a recital, no other feature can be added. Yet to this region, where the hardiest savages die through hunger, and in which there is not room, even for the babe that is born there, we propose to send seventy-five thousand new inhabitants, accustomed hitherto to the plenty, and many of them to the luxuries of civilized life!
Think of the change to the Cherokees, from the exuberant fertility of their pleasant native lands, from their ripe orchards and cultivated cotton fields and gardens and farms, to such a scene of incurable and inevitable dearth!
Nor, in the real world, could anything of vigor and beauty spring up; amidst such a region, and in the endurance of such privations, every good habit, every good feeling must soon die. 'It is in vain,' says the official report, 'to talk to people in this condition about learning and religion.' And this is the truth; a school of morality might almost as well be established in the prison of despair, as amidst these troops of starving barbarians. But the subject is too painful. It is to painful to think that a Christian nation should conceive such a project,- to break up and disorganize the government, the schools, the churches, of a whole civilized people; expatriate thousands of families from a delicious climate, a generous soil, a Christian neighborhood, from the mounds that cover the bones of their fathers, from every thing known, loves, ' valued, many miles beyond the extremist outposts of advancing civilization, to be set down on a spot utterly barren in itself, and surrounded by famishing savages who live in perpetual war! In such a situation, even with all their present institutions in vigor, they must soon be exterminated or relapse into barbarism. But with passions excited, and habitudes and institutions broken up and commingled in the confusion of removal, social and Christian discipline would disappear; nor could religion, or knowledge, or domestic manners ever regain their power. Multiply instructors and missionaries indefinitely, and set up the proposed territorial government, and draw a cordon of troops round every ferocious tribe, and still the obstacles would be utterly insurmountable. Yet all this vast and dreadful operation of removal is to be undertaken, that the Indians may have scope and leisure for uninterrupted improvement!
An imagination which could paint the desolation of the Carnatic and the horrors of the French Revolution, might undertake to grapple with a detail of the frightful consequences attendant on this measure. It is beyond our power to five a faithful picture of a single one of them. The exterminating hostilities of the Indian tribes beyond Arkansas have been partially described by one of the strongest partisans of this bill. He says that through the whole of that vast region, there is not a tribe that has not an hereditary enemy to flee from or pursue. Those uninhabitable wilds, that are scarce disturbed the year long by the footstep of other living thing, echo the war whoop and shake with the tramp of conflicting savages. As if it were not misery enough to endure, season after season, the horrors of famine, they make each others' destruction the principal business of life. But they have room enough to fight with their native caution, and to exercise all their ingenuity of stratagem in the onset and escape. They have unoccupied deserts to sweep over in each others pursuit. Now, however, we propose to narrow their battle grounds, to compress them together, and to place new tribes, to the amount of seventy-five thousand individuals, in their midst. It reminds us of the ampitheatrical exhibitions in Imperial Rome; where, for the sport of the people, naked slaves were cast in upon the arena, and the doors of the dens of wild beasts of all descriptions, thrown wide open upon them.
The progress of this bill teems with warning to the United States. It tells, with a power which no eloquence could have commanded, the awful necessity of an enlightened and well principled public mind, for the perpetuity of our institutions. In all countries, where despotism has not stamped the soul of the subject with imbecility, popular vigilance must be the only safeguard to the public freedom. Just in proportion as the people become unwary, indifferent, or uninformed civil liberty will be broken down, and disorders rush in and accumulate on every part of the Constitution. In our Republic, where predicaments may occur and questions arise every month, which, without a clear, informed, and regulated mind in the whole country, and a very delicate management on the part of those to whom they are entrusted for decision, may shake the union to its center, popular ignorance and apathy will be freedom's grave. The tendency of the Executive to an unwarrantable extent of its prerogative should keep us on the watch, and cautious in the extreme, how we commit the highest trusts in the Republic to unprincipled hands.
A deep religious spirit, and a morality found on this; a universal, and growing acquaintance with the principles and operation of the Constitution; a guardianship, like that of the lioness to her whelps, over every particle of the rights of the poorest and most defenseless communities within our limits; a suspicious eye to the conduct of every individual in public authority; a restive, intractable opposition to everything that looks like despotism, or that attempts to shroud the measures of government in mystery; a disposition 'to judge of the pressure of a grievance by the badness of the principle' and to crown all, a steadfast regard to the sacredness of the national faith;--these should be our features as a people. As Burke said of us, while ye dependent on Great Britain, we should 'augur misgovernment at a distance, and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.' These were our characteristics as colonies; these were the traits of our youthful independence.
Under the administration of Washington, the people were more watchful of governmental movements, and better acquainted with the Constitution, than they are now, when knowledge and vigilance are more deeply necessary. The Constitution had then been just formed; every paragraph was familiarly known; it was an experiment which they resolved should be fairly tested. The essays of Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, were widely circulated; the whole country was alert; no act in the slightest degree unconstitutional could have imposed upon the people. Now, we are sluggish, incautious, confident in the success of our republic, and easy as to the operations of government. Amidst the dissemination of all other knowledge, the study of the Constitution has diminished; in regard to most public measures, the mass of the community are absolutely ignorant what is their character in the light of republican principles, what their immediate influence, or what their future consequences. Sophistry blinds them, and becomes persuaded, in very important instances, that inhuman and unconstitutional measures are right.
No question like this, touching the rights of a large portion of the community, ought ever to enter Congress, till it has undergone a thorough consideration in the public mind. Then should occasion require, the people will be ready to interpose, and with a prompt, decided, energetic authority. They will not need to be urged into remonstrance against a meditated act of injustice; it will be their simultaneous movement, from Maine to the Texas. No government, in the slightest degree considerate, would dare, by any illegal step to encounter the energy of such an enlightened public opinion. But if the people sleep, a dangerous measure may be passed, and its consequences irretrievable, before they can be brought to a solemn consideration of the subject. To guard effectually against such a state of things, the only sure provision is a correct moral sentiment, combined with a universal knowledge of the Constitution.
The Indian question has been suffered to take us by surprise, and to find us, as a community unacquainted with its merits. The sophistry of the enemies to Indian rights seemed to blind for a time the whole public mind, and distort the moral sense of the country. The bill in Congress was suffered to be carried as a party measure. The efforts made by the friends of humanity to wake the country into seasonable action, fell clogged by the ignorance and perversion of feeling so generally prevalent. Memorials were neither sufficiently quick a nor numerous to exert a powerful interposition. Many believed and argued there was a fatality in this whole business; that it was a fiat in God's providence that the Indians mst die; and that all we could do to resist it would be in vain. Such a belief was scarcely accompanied with pity; the thing was talked of with as much indifference as if the Indian tribes were but a great herd of buffaloes. Few individuals in the country had any knowledge whatever of the actual condition of the Cherokees; all the Indians were looked upon as savages; and a man hazarded the charge of enthusiasm if he was warm in their defense or came up in any degree as he ought to the performance of duty. People were really ashamed to memorialize; they shrunk from cold looks and sneers, if urged to engage with ardor in the task of procuring petitioners. Christians were afraid of the cry of church and state; others declared that such an excitement at the north would only prejudice the cause, and all, being ignorant of the character and rights of the Indians and of the true merits of the case, and of course having no stable principles to guide them, entered on the measures in their favor with reluctance, and even then half repented of the little they had done. There was this evil also, that most of those who signed memorials did it without expecting success; they did it with a sort of melancholy, hopeless resignation, accompanied with many doubts in regard to the necessity of the measure, that 'cast ominous conjecture,' or in the more expressive conventional, 'threw cold water,' on the whole thing. 'I will sign, but I don't think it will be the least use to memorialize,' was the common strain of remark. Nothing good, or to any purpose, will ever be done in such a state of feeling. On the part of Christians, there was a sad want of firmness and moral courage. 'What will the political world say of us' Shall we not be derided?' Or if these were not the questions,conscience was so little enlightened, that it did not tell them the great duty of humanity incumbent on them to discharge. There was likewise a general disposition to act too exclusively as individuals; a dread of exciting odium and sarcasm by combining in this benevolent cause; and unwillingness to acknowledge the responsibility of making our neighbors act and feel right, as well as of doing right ourselves. We might be ready to sign in our own persons, but were unwilling to use self-denial, or make sacrifices, for the purpose of obtaining additional signatures. but did we do right, if we merely recorded our own solitary protest, and refused to carry the paper to others, or to persuade those within our influence? The great law of Christian love enforces its claims upon us collectively as well as individually; to a certain extent we are responsible for the belief and practice of all with whom we associate. If the friends of the Indians had exerted themselves as they ought, there would have been five thousand signatures where there were five hundred; and the memorials, as have often been the fact in Great Britain, would have literally covered tables of Congress; accomplishing, as their result,a triumphant vote in behalf of suffering humanity. But our habit of regarding the Indians as a degraded race, destined for extinction, our indifference as to their fate, and the obstinate disbelief of their advancement in civilization,in addition to the prevailing want of acquaintance with our country's Constitution, treaties and history, prepared us to receive the scheme of the President with no very sensitive marks of displeasure,and to witness the despotic course in the proposed expulsion of the Indians with an apathy most criminal and alarming. Because the oppression did not enter our doors, we ceased to regard it as unjust.
The duty of memorializing in this country is not understood. The people are unacquainted with their own best interests, too confident in the wisdom and patriotism of government, and so selfish as to be politically blind. The English are better acquainted with this duty, and more ready for its performance. The form of our government is so much more favorable to freedom than theirs, that we seem to think the Constitution will preserve our liberties, instead of remembering that nothing but our utmost vigilance can preserve the Constitution. In the year 1791, when exertions were vigorous for the abolition of the slave trade, 'there was not a day for three months, Sundays excepted, in which five or six petitions to parliament were not resolved upon in some places or other in the kingdom.' In that year, five hundred and nineteen were presented for the total abolition. If we are not mistaken,Mr. Clarkson himself, in the space of four weeks, obtained seventy thousand signatures. Who here could have gained such a result for the Sabbath, of the Indians' Those who know anything about English history, remember what multitudes of petitions and memorial poured in upon the House of Commons about the period of our Revolution; some among the most forcible, written by Mr. Burke and Sir George Saville, who were not thought to be out of their station in this employment. But here, active petitioners for objects of benevolence are styled meddling enthusiasts; and one would really think,from the tone which many have not been ashamed to use, that we are out of our place when attempting to influence the measures of our own Representatives, by the expression of our own wishes. It will be a new thing indeed when the people of this republic are interdicted from an interference in the proceedings of government by the expression of their views, whenever and in whatever manner they please. the manner in which na excitement for objects of public benevolence is said to be 'got up,' is also exclaimed against with great fury. On the floor of Congress last winter, severe strictures were urged in regard to the circulars in behalf of the Indians; as if benevolent men in this country have not a right to use all the constitutional measures in their power to promote their objects. The outcry is precisely similar to that raised in England, wherein on the eve of our Revolution, meetings became frequent and full for the redress of our grievances, and spirited circulars were issued throughout the colonies. We are indeed degraded, if we will be kept back from our privilege and duty of petitioning, by the clamors or sneers, either public or private, which in a good cause we ought to be forward to encounter.
An unwillingness to memorialize, when the business is not too inconsiderable to be noticed, ought never to be felt or manifested in the Republic. Yet every one knows the apathy which has existed, and the extreme difficulty with which anything like a general expression of the public feeling can be obtained. There is also a disposition to relax, after the first effort; an unwillingness to return to the trial; an idea that the movements are useless, which do not at once accomplish their purpose. We will not keep our sinews girded to renew the struggle year after year; as if the subject were not worthy of perseverance, a second attempt can hardly be procured; as if intimidated by ill success or ashamed of our first ardor, we give up the purpose, creep off in silence, and the cause dies away.
Yet in other respects, we are acknowledged to be enterprising. We have as much industry and steadfastness of purpose as the English. Surely the cause of public morality does not demand less zeal, than the accumulation of public or private wealth. I is not less important to maintain the sanctity of one day in the week, than it is to hoard up riches during theother six. It is not less necessary to keep the public faith and preserve a whole Indian community from annihilation,than it is to dig canals, to build light houses, or to vex the sea with our fisheries. Had the patriots of Great Britain, when they set their shoulders to the abolition of the Slave Trade, been so fickle-minded, so half persuaded, so backward in their efforts, that great work of benevolence had still remained unaccomplished.
This important topic forces another on the mind;--the criminal neglect of the Indians and their interests, as an object demanding the prayers of Christians. We might speak of this neglect as extending to all civil interests of the land. If a stranger from another sphere should light upon this globe and enter our churches, he would be apt to imagine that in this part of the universe God has the arrangement only of our religious prosperity, and leaves the political and civil affairs of the country to take care of themselves; or, what would amount to the same, gives us in this department the exclusive jurisdiction. In Episcopal churches, the Liturgy has provided supplications for the weal of the realm; a very happy foresight, considering the tendency of all Christian communities to practical political atheism.
Especially is it necessary to humble ourselves in prayer to God, when the nation is on the very brink of a crime, which all might justly fear would bring down some speedy and terrible infliction of the vengeance of Heaven. If men of piety do not feel for the Indians; if Christians desert them at the throne of grace, then may they indeed weep in despair. The truest patriots have ever maintained the deepest sense of dependance upon God. Would Christians now do this in regard to the fate of the Indians,their own feelings would be kept alive, their minds clear, and they would be ready to act with energy. We should no longer see them enter coldly and reluctantly into this subject; they would put to it a strong hand and in the very striking scriptural expression, come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
The prayers of 'the solitary saint' should always go up for the oppressed; and if ever any human beings needed them, the Indians od now.-- Defenseless, abandoned, submissive, with what solemnity and pathos do they speak to the people of the United States. Their patience is indeed wonderful. God grant them an unfailing supply of this virtue.
In whatever light we view this bill, it is portentous in its aspect, and pregnant with ruin. But there is one part of its consequences, that should make the Christian deprecate its curse as he would the pestilence; which should add intensity to his prayers that God might utterly avert it. It is the blight with which it would wither the hopes, now so teeming with promise, of the full evangelization of these interesting remnants of the Aborigines. In vain,if we break up their schools, and scatter their churches, and drive them out amidst the wilds and savages beyond the Arkansas, may we hope ever to rebuild the desolation of this rising Zion. Already,the influence of the distractions caused by this bill is felt in the decay of religious anxiety,and we might almost fear, in the departure of God's Spirit. What can be expected, in the very nature of things, from a tumultuous removal to the pathless wilds beyond the Mississippi, even could they exist there a few years, surrounded by murderous hordes, but a rapid retrograde march in civilization and a relapse, as to all piety,into worse than the savageness of past centuries. If we uproot them now, we uproot at the same time every plant of morality and piety which the dews of heaven have cherished, and render it impossible, to all human appearance,ever again to behold their fruits. It is perfectly vain to imagine, that if we start them off towards the Pacific, a single one of their improvements would ever arrive with them to abide at their destination. Hopeless, miserable, abandoned, what heart could they have to put themselves again to the work of building up the institutions which a Christian people had laid waste, and which, if again erected, would in all probability be ere long overwhelmed again, and swept down, by the rushing tide of a republican population. What heart, if we cast them out from their own native Eden, could they have to nourish in a strange soil the plants, so long to grow, so hard to cultivate, but of which, -'their early visitation and their last,'-they had already experienced and loved the value.
We appeal to the Christian public, and ask if they can suffer, that, through the rapacity of one State, and the connivance of our Executive, not only our national faith shall be made a byword of contempt, but the rights of a whole people annihilated, and all that is flourishing in their institutions hopelessly destroyed? If it be so, they had better be at the mercy of the Turks, and have the whirlwind of war sweep over them, as it did over Scio. They would have the consolation to reflect, that nothing better could have been expected from infidels and slaves. But to be thus treated by Christians and freemen-the possibility makes us thought-sick.- May it never be said of our country, that when the blessings of Christianity had dropped upon an Indian people, and the light of civilization was already illuminating ever cabin, we rose up to extinguish it, and drove them out to chase the buffalo and echo the war whoop, to 'curse God and die,'- in the wilderness.
There is no American but must tremble for his country, who looks back with a reflecting mind on the indications presented by public events in the past and passing year. That the demon of party should have gained such possession of the souls of our Senators and Representatives, as to permit them, in the eyes of all the world, to set their hand and seal to the violation of the Faith of the Republic, plighted in multiplied and most solemn treaties, and lend their aid to carry forward a measure which if executed to the full intention, must annihilate the rights f seventy-five thousand freemen, and plunge them into irretrievable misery, is indeed a most dark and dreadful fact. It speaks volumes of danger to our free institutions. The danger remains: but that measure,we trust in God, will yet be stayed. There is a court of judicature, a light amidst all the storms that may threaten to wreck our liberties, aloof almost, from the possibility of prejudice, and elevated above the commotions of party zeal. Before that tribunal, this great question is soon to be brought. Let the people of the United States prepare themselves firmly to support its decisions, and the rights of the Indians may yet be secured. But there may be delay; and if there should be, then must these unfortunate people remain, exposed to the galling oppression of the laws of Georgia, without the possibility of a redress of their grievances. It is well remarked by Mr. Wirt, that every officer of Georgia, who attempts to serve a civil process within the Indian territory, stands amenable for violating the laws of the United States. But the laws are a dead letter without an Executive; with an unprincipled one, they are instruments of oppression. We need not disguise from themselves-that so long as our present Executive maintains the opinions and the line of conduct he has adopted, there is no hope for the Indians but in the virtue of the people at large, to whom they have appealed. From the people, therefore, enlightened and determined that they will not suffer the stain of such cruelty, but that full justice shall yet be executed, a redeeming influence must enter, and be all-powerful, in the Congress of the coming winter. The Indians must be protected;l the laws must be executed: if there be not virtue enough in the peopled to make their National Legislature see that this is done, then we are lost indeed.
*The writer here refers to the Hon. Hugh L. White, who is a Senator from Tennessee who reported the famous Indian Bill in the Senate.- Ed. Cher. Phoe.