From the _______
THE IMPRISONED MISSIONARIES.
Rev. S. A. Worcester and Dr. Elizur Butler, missionaries, are still in confinement in the Penitentiary at Milledgeville, Georgia. There is a cruelty and injustice exhibited in the case of there missionaries, that is a national shame and reproach. In no part of the civilized world in modern times, under the authority of any government, has a subject or a citizen been subjected to an ignominious imprisonment contrary to the opinion and judgment of the highest tribunal of that government, except the missionaries.
Mr. Worcester is employed in the Penitentiary mostly as a mechanic at the bench; and Dr. Butler at the lathe wheel-they are dressed in ordinary dress of the prison, made of coarse cotton; the initials of their names are painted in large red letters across their breast and waist. Thus attired they perform their daily task in company with felons. In three departments there are one hundred prisoners. Mr. Worcester has about 30 with him, and Dr Butler with him 27. Each convict has a blanket to lie upon or to cover himself on the floor.
These gentlemen were residing in the Cherokee Nation in the capacity of duly authorized missionaries under the authority of the President of the United States; and never were required by him to leave it. Mr W. at the time of his arrest, was engaged in preaching the Gospel to the Cherokee Indians; and in translating the scriptures into their language, with the permission and approval of the Cherokee Nation.
Crime alleged against these men and for which they were prosecuted, was residing within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, without a license or permit from the Governor of Georgia, and without taking an oath required by the Act of Assembly of Georgia.
It is no longer a question, whether these missionaries committed any offence, by their residence for pious purpose, in the Cherokee Nation.- The Supreme Court of the United States at their session in February last, have settled that question. After giving every consideration to the pretensions of Georgia, as well as the rights of the Cherokees under Treaties and Laws of Congress, that high court, with ability and independence which distinguishes it, delivered the opinion, that these men had committed no offence and violated no law. That opinion is supported at great length by a train of reasoning that is unanswerable and conclusive to every dispassionate mind.
In that opinion, it is stated, 'that the Cherokee Nation is a distinct community occupying its own territory, with boundaries accurately described in which the laws of Georgia have not force,' and which 'the citizens of Georgia have not right to enter, but with the assent of the Cherokees themselves, or in conformity with treaties and acts of Congress.' 'The act of the State of Georgia under which Mr. Worcester was prosecuted is void, and the judgment a nullity.' 'These acts of Georgia are repugnant to the Constitution, laws and treaties of the United States.' 'They are in a direct hostility with treaties, repeated in a succession of years, which mark out the boundary that separated the Cherokees country from Georgia; guarantied to them all the land within their boundary; solemnly pledge the faith of the United States to restrain their citizens from trespassing on it; and recognize the pre-existing power of the nation to govern itself.'
'They are in equal hostility with the acts of Congress-for regulating this intercourse and giving effect to the treaties.'
'The forcible seizure and abduction of Mr. Worcester who was residing in the Nation, with its permission; and by the authority of the President of the United States, is also a violation of the acts of Congress, which authorize the Chief Magistrate to exercise this authority.'
'Will these powerful considerations avail Mr. Worcester? We think they will. He was seized and forcibly carried away while under the guardianship of treaties guaranteeing the country in which he resided, and taking it under the protection of the United States. He was seized while performing under the sanction of the Chief Magistrate of the Union, those duties, which the humane policy adopted by Congress had recommended. He was apprehended, tried, and condemned under color of a Law, which ha been shown to be repugnant to the Constitution, laws and treaties of the United States.'
'It is the opinion of the Court that the judgment of the Superior Court for the County of Gwinnett in the State of Georgia, condemning Samuel A. Worcester to hard labor in the Penitentiary of the State of Georgia for four years, was pronounced by that Court under color of a law which is void, as being repugnant to the Constitution, treaties and laws of the United States, and ought to be reversed and annulled.
'It was ordered and adjudged by said Court that the judgment of said Court of Georgia be and hereby is reversed and annulled, and that all proceedings on the said indictment surcease, and that the said Samuel A. Worcester be and he hereby is henceforth dismissed therefrom and that he go thereof quite without delay. And that a special mandate do go from this Court to the said Superior Court of Georgia to carry this judgment into execution.'
Such was the reasoning and the decision of the High Court, and how has the decision of this Court been enforced and respected? The mandate of the Supreme Court of the United States, to the Court in Georgia, to which it was addressed; and that Court refused to obey it-the Georgia Court also refused a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the missionaries, and even denied a copy of its proceedings in this case, totally disregarding the mandate of the Supreme Court, and yet disregarding it.
With such injustice, oppression and cruelty practiced in our Republican government under color of law; where is the supremacy of the law and security of the citizen.
The Supreme Court of the United States, decided that the imprisonment of these Missionaries was contrary to and a violation of the Constitution, laws and treaties of the United States; and more than six months have passed since that decision, and yet these men are confined at hard labor with felons in a penitentiary
Whose official duty is it to maintain the Constitution of the United States and execute the laws? The President of the United States has taken an oath, that he 'will to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'
By the same Constitution it is provided that the President 'shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.' Notwithstanding the Supreme Court have in the solemn manner adjudged that the Constitution, laws and treaties were violated by the State of Georgia in the imprisonment of these missionaries, yet President Jackson has not done anything to maintain the Constitution or execute the laws. We have not seen or heard that he complained to Georgia of her proceedings, or uttered a single word of disapprobation of the course pursued by her authorities.
How different was the conduct of Mr. Adams, during his administration, when the State of Georgia attempted to violate the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States? The Georgia Legislature passed a law authorizing the survey of the lands of the Creek Indians; the surveyors under the authority of Georgia proceeded to survey-what complaint was made by the Indians to the President of the United States, of the violation of the laws and treaties. On the receipt of complaint and appeal of the Indians, President Adams on the 19th January, 1827, Mr. Barbour his Secretary or War, notified Gov. Troup of Georgia, 'That the pretensions of Georgia under which the surveys were attempted are in direct violation of the Treaty, and if persevered in must lead to a disturbance of the public tranquility.' He significantly made known 'That charged by the Constitution with the execution of the Laws, the President will feel himself compelled to employ if necessary all the means under his control to maintain the faith of the nation by carrying the treaty into effect.' Orders were at the same time issued to the Marshal and District Attorney of the United States for Georgia, to execute the laws against the intruders. Mr. Adams in a special message to Congress declared 'that if the legislative and executive authorities of the State of Georgia should persevere in acts of encroachment upon the territories secured by a solemn treaty to the Indians, and the laws of the Union remain unaltered, a superadded obligation even higher than that of human authority, will compel the Executive of the United States to enforce the laws and fulfil the duties of the nation,by all the force committed for that purpose to his charge.'
Gov. Troup of Georgia, after this, blustered excessively, and issued his orders to his Civil Magistrates to discharge all who might be arrested by the U. States authority, and he required some of his Major Generals to hold in readiness their several regiments. The course taken by President Adams, satisfied Georgia that the Chief Magistrate of the United States was determined to enforce the laws. The matter ended with only blustering and threats on the part of Georgia, and there were no further encroachments on Indian lands during Mr. Adams' administration.
These encroachments were however renewed with increased aggravation, during the Administration of President Jackson, without any opposition or remonstrance from him. The Georgians must have known his sentiments and inclinations on the subject or they would have not dared to set at defiance the Constitution, laws and authorities of the United States. The imprisonment of the missionaries, contrary to law, is an outrage on the rights and liberties of the citizen that is tolerated by President Jackson, in violation of his duty and his oath as Chief Magistrate. As Gen. Jackson is a man influenced by strong passions and attachments, it may well be suspected that he supports him in his measures and pretensions and encroachments because Georgia supports him in his measures and pretensions. The politicians of that State know how acceptable adulation is to our infatuated President; for at a late meeting in Oglethorpe, Georgia, where they had a President and ten vice Presidents, after resolving 'that the laws having for their object the encouragement of domestic manufactures, are deliberate, palpable and dangerous breaches of the Constitution, which to as free citizens of Georgia we ought not, cannot, will not longer submit.' and declaring their co-operation in nullification, they alone for all to our Chief Magistrate, by resolving, 'That to prevent misconstruction at home or abroad, we aver our confidence in the patriotism of Gen. A. Jackson, unshaken. He is entitled to, and will undoubtedly receive, the most unanimous suffrage of Georgia.'
Such a resolution is the last, with President Jackson, will cover a multitude of political or other offenses.
Will the people of these United States, agree that for such considerations our Constitution, laws and treaties to be violated and our innocent fellow citizens imprisoned without offence and contrary to the law and judgment of the highest Court under the Constitution?