Camp Gilmer Sept. 8, 1831
As the remarks in the Phoenix are calculated to make an impression upon the Publick (sic) mind that in my conversations with you I said much which an apprehension of personal harm prevents you making publick, (sic) this not being the fact and my holding no disguise, induces me to state the conversation as it occurred. After expressing my regret for your past course, I remarked that when we came into the country we brought with us none of those feelings which was so often and so improperly attributed to the citizens of our State in regard to your people, that we came under the influence of all the better feelings of our nature, it was our object simply and impartially to execute the laws such as they were, at the same time to cultivate peace, friendship, and good will with all, in this we had most generally succeeded except with the missionaries and those immediately under their influence, that we were Publick (sic) officers, that our acts were done in open day and before the face of the world, that we by no means sought to conceal them from public investigation. We courted the strictest scrutiny, nor would we wish to control the opinions of any man or set of men in regard to them, or a decorous expression of their opinions in relation to ourselves, but that we had most seriously to object to the course pursued by that print where your name appeared as its Editor, that its columns teemed with the most abusive slanderous and libelous articles, that our best acts were often from misstatement and improper coloring made to appear worse than a savage and never failing to attribute our every act to the worst passions of the human heart. But for all we could not in our nature feel willing to punish you without first giving you notice, that we were two (sic) informed of Worcester's being the real Editor of the Phoenix, and the author of those articles to make you responsible for the past that we would only hold you responsible for what might appear in future, that your character was, and we believed you to be, an indolent, ignorant, inoffensive kind of man, who possessed none of that bitterness of feeling manifest in the columns of that print, and if you did that you had neither inclination or intellect to make them public. That you had been long enough the dupe of a man who was willing to sacrifice everything to promote his own selfish and mercenary views. That I had intended this conversation for you for some time, but had deferred it under the knowledge that Worcester would be removed a short distance from you when you would be left more free to act for yourself, that if you persisted in the course heretofore pursued, under our laws, we could have no redress, that your name covered the individual who they might reach, and thus shielded him from that punishment which this crimes so justly merited, and left to us the only alternative of dealing with you in our individual capacity, which we would most assuredly do. You inquired what article I objected to. I answered that I had not seen five lines of truth in the whole editorial matter in relation to the Guard. Besides the imposition attempted to be passed upon the public, by inserting the most slanderous communications with individuals names appended to them who do not know the first letter of the alphabet, irresponsible in themselves and below our contempt, one in particular (who figured largely in his abuse in the Phoenix) declared to me that he never said the statement over his name or heard it read until it was read to him from the Phoenix, others if possible more ignorant, were made to appear before the public as presiding officers of large meetings, where was had the most indecorous Preambles and inflammatory resolutions, contrary to their knowledge, this making them whether willling or not, the dupes of that base man's policy. You remarked that the missionaries had made statements over their proper names. I answered, to this we have no objection, we are always glad to see anything where they are responsible. That their character for falsehood was so well established and their motive so well understood, that censure from them was praise to us. That towards yourself we had no personal harm, but should you continue to loan your name to this base purpose, that we were nothing more than men, that there was a point beyond which endurance might cease to be a virtue, that your claiming the constitutional right of the freedom of the press could not guarantee the right to invade the sanctuary of a man's reputation, leaving him no redress either constitutional or inherent, that I was satisfied you knew me two (sic) well to believe for a moment that I would go along since under such calumnies have sought redress of any other editor in my reach, after my repeating my admonition and your thanking me for my hitherto forbearance we parted. On a subsequent interview, after complaining of the one sided statement that had been made of the above conversation and repeating the omissions, I remarked, that if you were really the Editor of the Phoenix and this patriot devoted to the interests of your people, why you sought with such aridity to misrepresent imaginary ills, where there was real wrong done under your own eyes, without the first complaint from you, you inquired to what I alluded, I told you that I had been most creditably informed that charities to a large amount was yearly sent to be distributed to the poor and more indigent of the Cherokees, that in the discharge of my duties I had rode more than four thousand miles (4000) this had enabled me to inquire of a large number of the most respectable people what has been done with those charities. They had uniformly stated that they were sold for money or its equivalent by the missionaries, what became of the proceeds they knew not, as for their parts they had never known the missionaries to distribute to the amount of one cent.
I farther stated that if respectable Cherokee testimony was to be credited that these men had given councils which if
followed would have been treason to the State and destruction to your people, you said that you did not know that anything was ever sent by the charitable public, as donations to the Cherokees. I remarked that the greater mass of the Cherokees had my real sympathies, that I hoped they ever would, that their extreme ignorance and the many impositions practised upon them gave them claims to the better feelings of their fellow men, that I received no pay for my sympathies, that if others received less for theirs. I believed instead of feeding their ignorance, that canker of their miseries the better to enable them to make a common piracy of their rights for their own aggrandizement, they might perhaps be employed in instructing them in the arts of civilization, in religion, in virtue, and leading them in the road to happiness, adverting again to your course-some hasty words ensued-though not correctly stated in the Phoenix they may pass, we parted.
C. H. NELSON.
P.S. Though my remarks in relation to missionaries were general I did not intend to embrace the Baptist or Moravians against them I know nothing. C.H.N