FOR THE CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Mr. EDITOR:- In the debate in Congress the 20th March on the resolution of Mr. Woods of Ohio, I see the remarks of Mr. Mitchell of Tennessee; and in opposing the resolution, he has been pleased to notice and bring into the debate the 'abject and destitute condition' of the Cherokee Indians, as a fit weapon to bear down all opposition that might be in his way. But in this he has failed. If however his pitiful description of my country can be of any service in his hands to illustrate his argument, he is more than welcome to it. But he has certainly exaggerated the miseries that we are compelled to suffer at the instance of our 'chief and Nabobs.' Mr. M. is 'unfortunately our neighbour [sic], and is guilty of a two fold crime, because he professes to have a correct knowledge of our condition, when indeed, from reading his speech, I must believe that he labours [sic] under a 'total ignorance of the true state of facts,' in regard to the Cherokee Indians. Whereas, if he had known correctly our condition, he certainly could not have so palpably misrepresented our situation. But perhaps he is 'acting from excitement, and from a misconception of facts,'- Where are the facts that have been so strangely perverted and misconstrued? Has not Mr. M. himself, 'Nabob' like, endeavoured [sic] to shut every avenue of common sense, that he might create and diffuse 'wrong impressions' on the public mind in relation to this nation? And has he not assumed false positions, the 'only tendency' of which 'must be to excite unnecessary debate, to terminate at last in odium and disgust' and that upon his own head? He cannot expect anything else, and it is a source of real regret to 'hear and read such extravagant statements,' made in the House of Representatives, and that by one who professes to have a correct knowledge of the whole subject. But upon reading his speech 'carefully,' we see upon the very face of it nothing but evidence of a 'total ignorance of the true state of facts.'
Mr. M. says, in respect to particular tribes, some gentlemen may be under the impression that they are rising to the 'highest point of moral and intellectual improvement.' 'I am aware (says he) that some gentlemen here very honestly entertain such an opinion with respect to the Cherokees.' As to the 'moral and intellectual improvement,' and there are few nations who can claim these high sounding epithets; and we do not wish to make any such impression on any nation or individual. But we certainly have a claim on Mr. M's candour [sic], and to have said the least of us as a nation would have been that the Cherokee Indians were rapidly progressing in the arts and sciences, and ere long they would occupy an important station among the nations of the earth.* 'I know (says he) the chiefs personally and am acquainted with the condition of the Tribe.' This statement, as to the former part, may be true; but as to his acquaintance with our condition as a nation, I must be permitted still to believe that he labours [sic] under a 'total ignorance of the true state of facts.' 'while the chiefs (says he) are Nabobs, living luxuriously, and exercising despotic power, the mass of the nation are in the most abject and destitute condition.' Now I would ask Mr. Mitchell if his information is not founded on ' a misconception of facts.'- Where did he ever see a 'chief or a Nabob living luxuriously' in the Cherokee Nation and exercising and acknowleding [sic] no law but that of his own will; and dealing away the lives of the 'mass' just as Mr. M. does his words under a 'misconception of facts?' The truth is that we only have a principal and assistant chief, nor do we feel or acknowledge any 'Nabob' or 'despotic power' in our government. 'And in saying this I intend no reflection' ;on the veracity of Mr. Mitchell. Our 'Chiefs' or 'Nabobs' no more dare attempt to exercise 'despotic power' over the 'destitute mass,' than one of the lowest grade of Russian 'boors' dare insult his Emperor. Our chiefs exercise no authority but what is created by law, and if Mr. M. wishes to store his mind with 'correct information' about our nation, I would advise him to take a ride to the interior of it, and seek an interview with our 'Chiefs' or 'Nabobs,' I think that he would 'find' them 'as frank and as communicative as he could desire,' by doing so he would no longer perhaps labour [sic] under that 'ignorance,' which he so much attributes to other gentlemen. Mr. M. is certainly attempting to sport with the good sense of the house of which he has the honor to be a member,- and whenever he addresses the house, they cannot but expect some specimen of his ingenuity in wiping away the foul stain of 'misconception' from the house. 'Yes more wretched and abject (says he) than the lowest hordes of Russian boors.' In this delineation of horrid wretchedness, which he wishes to convey as applicable to the Cherokees, I can but say that I would not exchange my 'abject and destitute condition,' for his 'high point of moral and intellectual improvement.'- He may be an excellent model, but I for one do not envy his talents or his situation, and no doubt if the recommendations of Mr. M. were carried into effect, we would sooner or later experience the slavish state of the Russian 'boors' in all its horrors, and 'abject' wretchedness, and ere long be driven in 'hordes' to the wilds of the Mississippi. And so long as Mr. M. 'continues' to labor under such 'ignorance,' 'the practical effect of which goes only to make false impression through the country,' it is to be feared that the condition of the Indians will never be bettered.
I always thought that it was better to advance the truth at all times, no matter how desperate the cause is upon which we plead; and if Mr. Mitchell had taken truth for his guide, he would have saved himself from much odium and disgust.' He does not wish to oppress us, no, not he, good 'neighbour [sic],' like, but would rather come forward and 'adopt some plan which would improve' our 'condition instead of riveting our chains, and suffering a few chiefs and head men to trample down the rest into the dust.' Mr. Mitchell need not trouble himself about this, because if the Indians saw cause to tie up every day one of the 'mass' and 'give him a hundred lashes, it is only a matter in which the Indians alone are concerned,' and Mr. M. 'for one' has 'no business to interfere.'
A bad excuse is better than none, and I suppose that his condescending friendship to unrivet our 'chains and improve our conditions,' is only to obtain our lands; but he never can make us believe that we are so 'abject and destitute' as to be unworthy to remain and occupy our present homes. Yes, as long as the Cherokees remain just and peaceable in their intercourse with their 'unfortunate' 'neighbors' and retain a true sense of the value of their situation, so long will they continue to occupy the lands of their forefathers; but as soon as they become over burdened with 'moral and intellectual improvement,' so as to be 'under total ignorance of the true state of facts' it is then to be feared that their dissolution is nigh, and that they will experience the 'practical effects' of Mr. Mitchell's recommendation. I fear that Mr. M. has experienced the debilitating effects of disease, for I think the powers of his intellect have grown weaker, and that his conceptive powers are about to take their flight. I hope the 'conduct' of Mr. M. 'proceeds from right motives and good feelings.'-
But I say that he is 'ignorant of the true state of facts,' and in saying this I intend no reflection. I do not charge this ignorance as a reproach, it is mere absence of correct information, 'and this' I am sure 'implies no reflection on the powers of Mr. M's mind, or the feeling of his heart.' And as Mr. M. is a gentleman of fine 'taste' and feels a delicacy 'to attempt to draw a dark picture, even of a savage,' I would conclude that he did not intend his remarks as applicable to the Cherokees, and upon the whole, in all probability, he is not serious in his manner of communicating his ideas. I conclude by wishing him a speedy reformation; for this is not the first time, he has been charged with inconsistency about our situation, and I am induced to believe that the remarks of _______________are from Alpha to Omega entirely destitute of any foundation in ______________. I hope he will excuse me for quoting so much of his language, but I am so much under the impression that he was 'acting from excitement,' and that too under the influence of 'ignorance' that I could not forbear to take his own weapon to lash him in return. He certainly deserves severe handling, but being of the opinion that it is more becoming to spare my 'unfortunate neighbor' than to triumph over his ruin, thinking, too, that his conscience is sufficiently mortified, and that it will hereafter act as a silent monitor to guide him in the path of rectitude, I am
ONE OF 'THE MASS.'
*Provided however, the strong arm of the United States protect us in our rights, and not disorganize us by recommending projects of emigration, when it is contrary to our wish. We do not expect ever to be a great nation, in the common sense of the word, for our population is too trifling to entitle us to that appellation. We may, nevertheless, by our improvement in the various departments of life, gain the respect and esteem of other nations. Or, should we blended with the United States, (which perhaps may be the case,) we shall enjoy the privileges of her citizens, and receive in common, the regard due to her from abroad. Ed.
Wednesday, June 4, 1828
Volume 1 no. 15
Page 2 Col. 4b-Page 3 Col. 1a
FOR THE CHEROKEE PHOENIX
I am informed by your eleventh number that Marshal has appeared again, in support of his former position in that the council and their treasurer did not abandon their principles.- The reluctance with which he appears to be so prudently possest [sic] in the onset of his canto, in coming before the public, a second time, I am sorry has had so small an influence on the manner in which he has shivered his lance against the late President of the committee. If Marshal's known prudence had been endangered, by my accidental introduction of his name to the public, he would then had a happy right to have maintained any questions without his visible perplexity. If Marshal had been actuated by an honorable zeal in the efforts made, for the restoration of his principles to their radical situation, I would have remained silent, to the adequacy of my last piece to have given me all the support due my position. The mildness with which he has endeavored to canvass the questions, compared with his former storm, should be highly creditable for entering upon the duties of his political hyperbole in a propitious temper, to trace and establish the charter line to the great touch stone which he has so acutely detected to be removing, but the materials which he has employed in the performance of that work, is better adapted to the productions of mistakes and fruitless arguments, than to produce conviction of the correctness of his cause. As he has introduced some certainly unfounded charges against the late President in not availing an opportunity to preserve the principles alledged [sic] to be violated I have a right to appear again. Permit me then to respond particularly to some of his prominent flounces, and other opinions, to which I cannot subscribe. I do contend that principles can be abandoned when they exist in theory. When they become in this situation they commence the government of the individual posseser [sic] in his civil proceedure [sic]. For what purposes are principles imbibed? I presume for the express object of substituting such for his future guide, in the usage of which, all others to the contrary, should be subsequently obsolete. And then to decline to carry into effect the substituted principles, and resume those ones into practice antecedently decided unfit, I fearlessly pronounce such a course a departure from principle. An instance may be found in the United States when persons high in the road to preferment have been censured for abandoning principles; if I am correctly informed, transpired where they existed in theory alone.- For when principles are in lawful existence ' a collision arise against them, or an appointment of an officer is made against the standard that is to govern, it is then a violation or an unconstitutional appointment. These principles which I consider revolutionized had their origin in a convention after every member was duly qualified before the mighty Omniscient. After discovering inveterate practices existing of one person holding a plurality of offices to be unadvisable, and the custom should be discontinued, and continue an extravagant surrender of many offices in one person, is a circumstance calculated to prove, a disposition, reluctant to conform to the proclaimed principles. When there was existing every inducement to bring into exemplary use, their solemly [sic] adopted principles. It undoubtedly was easier for the council and their treasurer to have brought into practice their principles which then existed in proper form, than recede to the extreme in the use of the old customs existing almost in an indescribable confused mass, for I know there was nothing that would arrest them from such a course of consistence. The aspirations of marshal to know to what extent the President of the committee, exerted his patriotic influence as preventative, to the abuse of my favorite principles, can be informed to his satisfaction if it be in the bounds of possibility to place him in that desirable condition. As to the quantum of patriotism that he might have been possest[sic] at the time will be a little difficult to define. But it will suffice if it can be shewn [sic] that he had at least as much as would have been a contravention to the judge's election. When this distinguished individual was announced a candidate for the treasurer, the President call the attention of the Committee to the case, and observed to them that the judge had come out a candidate for the treasury Department, and holding other offices as he did appeared to him a course exceptionable, besides the constitution was about to take its force from that council appeared to him to be setting aside principles. The committee did not examine the question, because no doubt they saw through their imagination that New Echota was the unsafest [sic] place for the treasury. What more could the president have done with propriety in support of principle than he did, I wish also to be informed. He was not asleep on the watch tower during the contest, but was seated on an old pine bench in the chamber of the National Committee. Likewise I am disposed to dissent from the probability that the President's office was in analogy to the judge's This offer happened in the latter part of the session. The President had to serve but a few days longer, and then his office was legally out of existence. His offer was in anticipation of taking the department when the council adjourned, which was close at hand, and which will be confirmed from the circumstance that the treasurer had of necessity to serve until the rise of Council. Admitting he had been elected treasurer, he should have exercised the duties of but one office, the former treasurer could not surrender the treasury until his settlement with the Commissioners had closed, which lasted to the eve of the session, this act appears to be plainly accepting an office after another one had legally ceased. Common capacity will fall short of understanding this case to be a resemblance of the Judg's [sic] exercising the duties of four different offices, and the keenest discrimination in the investigation of this subject, would arrive at its weakness to step on the side of marshal's scale of justice to make a judicious decision.
Another Ponderous charge again, against the late President, appears to arise from his local situation at N Echota as the principle by which he has aspired to seek for the treasury Department, but if magnanimity was the only tribunal requisite to pronounce his offer, a public condemnation in order to benefit his position, I hope the same cannot view less culpable the language of marshal at the same time and place. I am at Echota out of office, elect me clerk of the supreme court. In regard to the past right of the Council of 1827 to destroy the Constitution, is a matter possessing at this time but little instruction. But tell me not that the council had no right to destroy that instrument. The National Council of 1827 composed the great body politick of the Cherokee nation; this was in full and lawful existence. That Council was the first cause of the convention, and considering the natural position of politicks, and the safest course they had to take, those in a constitution must be approved by the great sovereign before it could take effect. There must of necessity be a tribunal some where [sic] existing either in form or implied to correct errors, for it is fallacious to say that it is impossible for a convention of men not to err in the formation of a new government when man is liable to error in the exercise of his best judgement. Suppose there had appeared an article in this complicated instrument, derogating from the known rights of the Cherokees, would marshal prefer it to go into practical force at a time when a competent authority existed to have it rectified. If there had an unsuitable article appeared in the constitution at the time it came before the Council, this secret implied and tacit bargain of the people with the convention to establish a paramount constitution, that marshall [sic] is so well knowing, would have been divulged in that powerless Council, but in a mighty objection sufficient to arrest any wrong. In the event there had been a wrong principle accidentally inserted, the past convention could not alter it for it must be an evident fact when they adjourned their authority was virtually out of existence. It could have been only altered by the Council or under its authority, the great concentrated power must see the constitution and consent to be governed by it, before it could operate, consequently a constitution must be right in every respect before it can take effect, and happily this came out in that situation, accounts for the manner in which the council give their tacit principle, one of all the most effectual it is the basis of common law in all countries. I shall prove the right of the council to do anything they choose by an act of the U. S. breaking the Creek treaty, this was a stronger principle to be annulled than the one in question; the treaty was proclaimed the supreme law of the land and on its erroneous appearance, a superseding treaty was substituted in lieu of the former. If then a legislature is able to put the supreme laws of two nations out of force, it must be a qualified fact the Council could object to the constitution if found wrong, which the competitor views its existence only in theory. Hence, I am compelled to view the other side of the question an unsafe one; calculated to defeat itself nine times out of ten cases.
The concession to me of all the room in the world to handle the subject better, in certain cases, would have been a more laudable act of marshal, if I had been altogether destitute of that right than the manner in which he has assailed the late President for questions support in due time, arising from a right of legislation. These questions have had their origin from his official capacity. Marshal's are from the uncontrolled passions of the human mind.
It is with reluctance that I am compelled to close this part of the question, it being an intermineable [sic] on my side, its magnitude cannot well admit of further discussion. But on the other hand I shall maintain further, notwithstanding marshals position, and those of whom he has referred to be also of his opinions, that if the old govt. be yet in existence, as the head body politic of the Cherokee Nation they can yet, and up to the first monday [sic] in August next destroy the constitution, if any of its articles should appear erroneous.