FOR THE CHEROKEE PHOENIX
To the people of the Cherokee Nation.
In about three months hence, you will be called upon by the constitution of your country, to exercise a privilege of great importance to yourselves, and to your country. Yes, a privilege which all free people should justly appreciate, ' on the exercise of which depends our future prosperity, under an enlightened form of government; such as one as we have lately adopted for our guide.
The welfare of our country should be the order of the day with all who have the interest of their native land at heart. Our nation, as a political body, has reached an important crisis, and bids fair for rapid progress in the path of civilization, the arts and sciences; while at the same time we can say with no ordinary degree of exultation, that agriculture is gradually gaining an ascendancy amongst us equalled by no other Indian Tribe. But, after all, in comparing our past difficulties, the danger which our nation has escaped, with our present condition, we have many sources of true regret, which may yet prove detrimental, to our future prosperity. And it is but just to ourselves and to our country, to endeavor to maintain the eminence we have attained to. The course to be pursued should now attract the serious consideration of the people. And may I take the liberty to suggest the course to be pursued for your consideration? As we have put our hands to the plough, and as the art of Legislation is little understood by a majority of this nation, great care should be taken, how we manage our political engine; lest we should be compelled to renounce forever, all hopes of ever enjoying the fruits of the promised land.
1st. On the first Monday in next August, will be our general election day, and on that day, you will have to put into action the prerogative vested in you, by the constitution, the exercise of which should be carefully and judiciously handled.
2d. In this duty, in which you will have to select persons to represent your wishes in the general Council of the nation, be careful that you choose men of unshaken firmness, good friends to their country, and judicious in all that may devolve on them to perform,
3d. The Committee should be composed of men of education, and good knowledge in the affairs of our nation; while the Council should be composed of full blooded Cherokees, known for love of their country, the land of their forefathers, and also celebrated for their good natural sense, justice, and firmness. If then, we be combined by one common interest, having one object, the preservation of ourselves as a free and sovereign people, observing strictly our relations with the United States, with whom alone we are connected by solemn treaties, (with but one exception) and as long as we remain just, and firm as a nation, we need not dread the threatning [sic] aspects of the time. By this judicious course in the regulation of our internal affairs, we may avert the fulfilment [sic] of the opinion of some, who have ventured to predict, that we will fall from our present condition, or in other words, that we cannot maintain our political situation, because, say they, we are overreaching ourselves in adopting an enlightened form of government. It is true we have made bold strides to attain to our present elevation,-an elevation no other Indian tribe ever enjoyed- an elevation, to maintain which, and preserve with dignity and honour [sic] to our Country, our utmost energy should be employed. Notwithstanding that we are surrounded with many difficulties of various kinds, it is a matter of great encouragement, amidst the evils which threaten our tranquility, we hear now and then a voice, advocating the claims of justice, humanity, and innocence.
The writer does not wish to be understood as arrogating to himself the right of dictating, but he claims only the privilege of suggesting to his fellow citizens, that they may be on the watch tower on the lookout. At the same time the writer is in hopes that by this feeble effort to call the attention of the people at large, some other person more able, may be induced to point our a more efficient course to be pursued. As a citizen, I must beg your indulgence for these lines, actuated as it is only by the zeal I feel for my country's welfare.
Wednesday May 6, 1828
Volume 1 No. 11
Page 2 Col. 3b-4b
FOR THE CHEROKEE PHOENIX
MR. EDITOR:- It is with some reluctance I appear a second time in the field of political controversy, from the consideration, that much has already been said to but little profit, either by myself, or 'A Cherokee.' I shall endeavor, in this communication to divest myself of 'categorical fire,' and 'annihilating sarcasms,' of which my opponent accuses me of being so 'plenary;' and to bring forth something, besides long laboured [sic] sentences and sharp acrimonies.
'A Cherokee' tells us, his re-appearance is by way of reinforcement of the position which he had taken; that is to say, the Council and their Treasurer had abandoned principles. In what does abandonment consist? In forsaking that which has real existence, and legal obligation over us. Now as the principles in the Constitution exist only in theory, there can be no abandonment, consequently his position is erroneous.
As the members of the Council of 1827 were acting under the then existing laws and usages, which were legally binding on them, they were perfectly justifiable in electing their former Treasuer [sic]. If the election of Jno. Martin Treasurer by an abandonment of principle, at which the Cherokee so much stickles, I should like to know, to what extent the late President of the Committee exerted his influence to prevent the election.- Did he with true patriotic spirit exclaim against the proceeding, and advise that another candidate should be substituted? Or was he asleep on the watch tower?
The members of the General Council who were in the Convention were in the ratio of (not more than) five to fifteen. Now is it not unreasonable to suppose, so small a minority could control, in an election, such an overwhelming majority. But this minority voted for John Martin. 'A Cherokee' says. Admitted. And if they had voted for his opponent the very same result is obvious, as he was president of the Committee. It will avail nothing to say, he resigned his office, for it is an indubitable fact, without any formal election thereafter he re-assumed the Presidency and continued there until the adjournment of the Council.
As there is no legal compulsion to concentrate the offices of the Government at New Echota, the whole drift of his arguments seems to converge to this point. I live at Echota. I am without an office, therefore elect me Treasurer. If this is not an abandonment of principle, occasioned by emolument of office, is it not, to say the least, self elevation, and prostration of decorum? Truth cannot be offended by a definition; and those who tolerate to themselves the right of exposing to public censure, by careless declamation, the transactions of other men, should never be over-scrupulous of a like exposure. 'A Cherokee' has made the following quotation to prove the right of the Council to destroy the Constitution. 'The principles to be adopted by the Convention in the Constitution, shall not go to destroy the rights and liberties of the Cherokee people,' But he has cunningly omitted the provision in the same resolution, viz: ' Nothing shall be so construed in this last clause, as to invalidate, not prevent the Constitution from going into effect, after the aforesaid next General Council.' By this provision the sovereignty of the Council, was vested in the Convention, for the purpose of establishing a Constitution, under restriction, that they should not adopt principles which would go to destroy the rights and liberties of the people. That the Convention originated in the Council, is a fact. But it was effected by the people. If they had not voted for members, there would have been no Convention: and by an election of members to a Convention, for the avowed purpose of establishing a Constitution, the people also transferred their sovereignty to that body, and a tacit implied compact bound the people to be governed by the principles adopted, which were to be valid to all intents and purposes; unless altered by their own regulations.
If the Council of 1827 could have assumed the right of rejecting the Constitution, those same members who composed that Council, will have the same right to come forward next October, turn the new members out of doors, and proceed to legislation.
I was informed a few days ago by a gentleman who ranks high in this country, for his acquirements, and who was in the Convention, and in the Committee, whose name however I feel too much delicacy to use here without permission, 'that the Constitution was read, and explained in Cherokee to the members of the General Council, and no right of rejecting was exercised, for they could assume none.' During the sitting of the Convention, I heard several intelligent members declare the sovereignty vested in that body, for the express purpose of establishing a constitution, to be higher than it would be in the Council following. Therefore my position is not a 'fangled chimera,' first bro't [sic] into existence, by me nor will it be found that I am its only supporter; and I presume, upon due reflection, my adversary will find something more in my reasoning, than mere 'sophistry.'-
Quotations were made in the first communication of 'A Cherokee to prove the Constitution was in operative force. But now he disclaims any farther maintenance of that point.
Why is this contrariety in faith so soon exhibited? This spirit of retrograde? Does it not argue an instability of mind, or lordly disposition to establish certain principles which he himself did not fairly comprehend. I shall not pretend to notice, minutely all his turgid remarks, for I confess I am at a loss to find constructions for some of his phrases.
I am aware Mr. Editor, that ' A Cherokee's' favorite topic of discussion is becoming wearisome, and doubtless disgusting to some of your readers. I have therefore determined that the controversy on my part shall end with this communication.-But if he thinks the subject has not been handled with sufficient gravity, he has all the room given him in the world to handle it better.
We earnestly request that this controversy may cease.- Ed.