Cherokee Phoenix


Published March, 27, 1828

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Mr. Editor:- In the 5th Number of your paper, appears a second communication of 'A Cherokee,' which appears to be more the offspring of an excited mind, than the sober dictate of political philosophy; and bearing upon its face, such misrepresentations, and illegal constructions of the Constitution, and points of law, to which he has had reference, that it deserves some correction, lest the credulous suffer and imposition therefrom. I am confident of my inability to write, and I should not have assumed to myself this unpleasant task, had not such manifest personal references been made towards myself, as well as to other distinguished individuals. Had it not been for this unmerited attack never should I have attached to it any importance.

Commencing with the present Treasurer of the Nation, he has gratuitously lavished upon him his reproaches, and assuming to himself the functions of a judicature has condemned him for a wanton abandonment of

principles for a small pecuniary gain which his country bestows upon him for his faithful services. The Conventioneers, and members of the last General Council, have shared a fate similar to the Treasurer's. Here, if not sooner, it might be thought that prudence would have bid him stop; but in the warmth of his zeal, has set defiance to her bounds, and sought out the Marshal of Chattooga District as another proper person to be introduced before the public, as having trespassed upon popular principles by holding two offices, one under the U. States Government. During this continual harping upon 'popular principles,' a chord has at length been touched, that does not altogether harmonize with my feelings, however symphonious it may be to his.

Let us first see how far the Constitution has gone into 'operative force,' and then whether a 'legal' construction thereof, and other laws, will place the Treasurer in the predicament that 'A Cherokee' has placed him. The following are the two last clauses in the resolution which gave rise to the Constitution, (with the omission of a few lines which have no reference to the point in question,) passed 13th Nov. 1826.

'Be it also further resolved, that the principles which shall be established in the Constitution, to be adopted by the Convention, shall not in any degree go to destroy the rights and liberties of the free citizens of this Nation, nor to effect, or impair, the force of the fundamental principles and laws, by which the Nation is now governed, and that the General Council to be convened in 1827, shall be held under the new existing authorities. Provided nevertheless, nothing shall be so construed in this last clause, so as to invalidate, or prevent the Constitution to be adopted by the Convention, from going into effect after the aforesaid next General council.'

How plain and simple, is the language of this resolution. It expressly declares that the Constitution when adopted by the Convention, shall not impair the force of the laws that were then in existence; and that the General Council of 1827, should be held under those very same laws. Of course, it follows that as the Council was not held under the Constitution, that all appointments then made, were under, and agreeably to the laws, and long established usages of the Government of this Nation, that existed in 1827. This plainly demonstrates that the Constitution was not in operative force at the time of these appointments; and cannot be carried into effect by these officers, as their offices did not originate under the provisions of the Constitution. The new representatives of the people are first to be elected under the provisions of the new system (in next August) who are to assemble together, and hold a General Council in October, under the provisions of the Constitution, and appoint new officers under the newly advised system of Government. Then it will be in complete organization, and in full and operative force, and not before. It is now open for its 'principles' to be examined that it may become familiar to the people before it goes into 'operative' force, and for new members to the next General Council to be chosen under, and farther than this it is not in force.

Those who wish for more proof, I will refer to the proceedings of the last Council. All the appointments to offices made by the last Council, without even a single exception, were limited to the next General Council, which is a sufficient proof of itself that the operative force of the New Constitution is suspended until the meeting of the new members. Or why was the Treasurer's term limited to one year, when under the new system this term is four years? And why were these eight Marshals appointed when there is provision made for but one, whose jurisdiction will extend over the Nation, and whose term of office is four years, whilst the others have been limited to one year? This point is proved beyond a doubt. Now where is the man of candor whose mind is unbiased by prejudice, and who would dispassionately examine into the matter, would condemn John Martin for an abandonment of principle, whilst holding a judicial appointment (if his country chose to bestow it upon him) when it was perfectly in accordance with the laws, and long 'established usages' of the Nation. That it has ever been a 'usage' in this Country from time immemorial for one man to hold a plurality of offices cannot be denied. The case of the Marshal is a similar one to that of the Treasurer, with this difference, he holds a contract for transporting the United States mail, which the learned 'Cherokee' pleases to call an 'office.' Now I had thought that there was a difference between an 'office' and a 'contract.' But even admitting that it is an office there is no existing law in the Nation that would prohibit me from holding it with the office I now hold in the Nation. Even if the Constitution was in full and operative force, there would be no prohibition still; the Principal Chiefs, and Judges of the Supreme and Circuit Courts only are prohibited from holding an office under the United States Government during their continuance in office here.

'A Cherokee' has written himself into some very gross errors in, and relative to the Constitution, and has strangely perverted the true meaning of the law, which gave it rise; for he has had reference to the same law to which I have had, but the lameness of the application he has made from it, is strikingly perceptible. He has given us the history of the Constitution from its birth down to the present day; but his relations are not strictly in accordance with facts. He says, 'after the framing of the Constitution by the Convention it was submitted to the Council of 1827, which was partly composed of the conventioneers, and they again had to deliberate on its final adoption, which was accordingly done.- Again in substance as follows, 'after the second adoption in council, it fairly marked out the fact, that by the framers conferring nearly all the appointments on one individual, that they could not relish the system of Government that they themselves had advised, adopted and then acted contrary to. How inconsistent; and I do not hesitate to meet these bold assertions with a flat denial of their correctness which I shall prove to any candid man's satisfaction. The General Council in 1826, in a special resolution, gave to the Conventioneers the power, not only to frame, but also to adopt a Constitution for the Cherokee Nation. By a reference to the said resolution it will be found to contain these words; 'By it also further resolved, that the principles which shall be established in the Constitution to be adopted by the Convention.- Language so explicit affords but one construction, that the Constitution was then to have been adopted by the Convention, cannot be denied. But again nothing shall be so construed in this last clause so as to invalidate, nor prevent the Constitution to be adopted by the convention, going into effect after the aforesaid next General Council.'- Here again at appears plainly as having to be adopted by the Convention; which was done; and by recurrence to the preamble of the Conventioneers, prefaced to the Constitution, will be read, they the Conventioneers, 'do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Government of the Nation.' Thus it is that it was adopted by them, independent of the General Council; and no law can be pointed out requiring that it should be submitted for a second deliberation, and second adoption by the Council, which never was done. Yet it was submitted thro' the Council to the people, and was read for the information and satisfaction of the members. If there was more wisdom concentrated in that body, why did they not frame and adopt of themselves?- A considerable expenditure of public funds would have been voided thereby and considerable trouble to the people dispensed with in electing members to the Convention.

If 'A Cherokee' is of the opinion as it would appear, that framing and adopting a constitution are synonymous terms, I would advise him to consult his Dictionary for information. I too have been a witness to passing events.

It does not appear as a novel idea, to find that the Treasury department has been sent up to Coosawatee; when the General Council has never located it at any particular place. If the Treasurer chooses to remove himself, it is optional with him to remove the Treasury to any place within the limits of the Nation without having to call a 'Cabinet Council' for the express purpose. And I doubt not but the council in the selection of a Treasurer has more the safety of the public funds in view than that Friends should exalt high.' Probably the department may at some future day be located at Echota, when the office can be bestowed upon men who are neither 'politically wanting' nor 'Politically wandering.' 'A Cherokee' is apprehensive, that by removing it towards Georgia it will confirm them in the belief that we are an erratic race of people. Yet he longs to have the monied department at Echota, which is still nearer to Georgia than where it is.

He has introduced the second Principal Chief into his communication (no doubt for his own amusement) in the posture of an Ape upon a long which lay across a small stream on his way to the Treasury department, or according to his own words, 'necessity being stronger than fear, impelled his Excellency to coon the log.' Here is portrayed by words a picture of a highly distinguished individual. This narrator does to the author no credit.- The respectability of the person whom he has so unbecomingly introduced to the public, is not confined to the limited bounds of his country, but is deservedly acknowledged abroad where he has been known, and whose happiness is so interwoven with that of his country's that he deserves to be more courteously spoken of to the public; for such men are but 'solitary stars in the political sky of our country.' If it is the primary object of 'A Cherokee' by spreading his brilliant talents before the public, to gain eclat and distinction, he has undoubtedly taken up too delicate a subject; or rather, has done injustice to it; for all the ill- grounded reproaches and sarcasms which he has so indiscreetly cast forth upon the public men of his country, will eventually recoil upon his own head in a two fold bitterness. Or if has it would rather appear that he wishes to write himself into some 'public office,' I fear without a change, he will never realize his expectations.

I did not think, Mr. Editor, I should have been so lengthy. But I have one more remark to make, and I shall have done. Should I ever during the course of my life, so presume upon limited abilities and friends, as to declare myself a candidate for some high office, such an one sir, as a member of the Committee, I am satisfied that I shall not at that time, appear before the public in the attitude of an anonymous calumniator.