Correspondence of the N. Y. D. Advertiser.
Extract of a letter, dated
Washington, Dec. 31, 1833
I send to you a copy of a letter from General Jackson, to Wm. Graham, then acting Secretary of War, for two purposes:- 1st To prove to the world that Gen. Jackson has not been as obstinate as his enemies contend he has been; and this letter will show conclusively he has on one question, to wit, the rights of the Indians, changed his opinion. 2d. To show the profundity of Dr. Jackson's legal researches, and to sustain the Cambridge University in conferring on this distinguished jurist the degree of Doctor of Laws.
It may be necessary to advert to the occasion that caused the Doctor to write the letter. Mr. Crawford, while acting as Secretary of War, wrote to Gen. Jackson on the 27th of January, 1816, that if the Marshal of the district or territory should request his assistance to remove intruders, that he should 'cause to be removed, by military force, all persons who should be found upon the public lands within his command, and destroy their habitations and improvements.'
Mr. Crawford, in this order, says 'Intrusion upon the lands of the friendly Indian tribes is not only a violation of the laws,but a direct opposition to the policy of the Government, towards its savage neighbors.' Under this order from the War Department to Gen. Jackson to remove intruders; he issued an order to Captain Houstin, to take the cattle of the settlers, and deliver them over to the Marshal to be sold. Capt. Houstin seized upon fifty one head of cattle, and a horse beast, under this order, and delivered them over to the Marshal, who put them up at vendue, and sold them for $350-62-1-2. The Marshal doubted the propriety of the course pursued, and he wrote to the Secretary of War, stating that a considerable number of other cattle would be delivered to him under Gen. Jackson's order, and he wished to know whether he should receive them. The Secretary of War wrote to the Marshall on the 6th of June, 1817, and informed him that 'the order to General Jackson to remove intruders on Indian lands, did not extend to a confiscation of their movable property.'
A copy of the letter was sent to Gen. Jackson, which called forth the following very important letter:
HEADQUARTERS, Division of the South
Nashville, 22d July, 1817.
Sir:- On my return from Hiwassee to this place, I had the honor to receive your note of the 6th of June, enclosing a copy of a letter of the same date to the Marshal for the District of West Tennessee. From the various treaties and acts of Congress regulating intercourse with the Indians, I clearly understand, that the United States have stipulated to prevent intrusions by its citizens, or trespasses by driving their stock on their lands. Experience has proven, that it is useless to remove themselves or stock therefrom, without prosecution, for the infraction of the law. The experiment made last fall, showed the inutility of the bare destruction of improvements, and removal of stocks. The intruders returned within a few days after the soldiers had retired, drove back their stock, and recommenced their plan of robbery.- From the tenor of the treaties and acts of Congress, I have always believed that, where cattle were found trespassing on Indian lands, and this trespass by the owner driving his stock thereon, the cattle were liable, and ought to be seized, (damage feasan,) delivered to the civil authority, and made answerable for the damage. It is the only way to put an end to the villainies practiced within the Indian boundaries. Under these impressions, I ordered Captain Houstin to seize and deliver all intruders over to the civil authority, and their stocks into the hands of the Marshal, and if he refused to receive them, to note it before evidence, and let them go. The Marshal, in one instance, received, and being perishable property, sold them at public sale. This, on legal principles, I have no doubt, can be justified; but with his duty I have nothing to do. My orders are still to take all persons and stocks found trespassing on the Indian territory, and deliver them over to the civil authority for prosecution. If the military is not aided by the civil authority, in executing the laws and treaties, it will be useless to harass the former in pursuit of trespassers and their stocks. All the troops on the military peace establishment, (without horsemen) could not carry into effect the treaties with the Cherokees and prevent intrusions.- The late procedure has had more beneficial effects than all other measures that had been previously adopted, and I am convinced none else will have the desired effect. On this subject I shall expect your full instructions and until receive them, shall continue to pursue the mode previously adopted.
I am, Sir,very respectfully , 'c.
Comd'g Div. of the South.
Geo. Graham, Esq.
Department of War
Whoever is curious enough to examine the correspondence further, will find this and other letters in the Senate documents of the 2d session, 19th Congress.