GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE CHEROKEE NATION.
OF THE PRINCIPAL CHIEFS OF THE CHEROKEE NATION, TO THE GENERAL COUNCIL.
To the Members of the Committee and Council in General Council convened.
FELLOW CITIZENS:- In addressing you on this momentous occasion, we cannot, in justice to our feelings, forbear a solemn pause, and with grateful feelings meditate on the many blessings which a kind Providence has conferred on us as a people. Although we have had trials ' tribulations to encounter, ' in some instances, the sad effects of intemperance have been experienced within the circle of our citizens, yet, there is every reason to flatter us in the hope, that under wise and wholesome laws, the preponderating influence of civilization, morality, and religion, will secure to us and our posterity and ample share of prosperity and happiness.
Occupying your seats by the free suffrage of the people, under the privileges guaranteed by the Constitution, the various subjects requiring your deliberation the present session, will necessarily be important. The organization of the new Government, the revision and amendments of the old laws, so as to make them in unison with the principles of the Constitution, will require your attention; ' it cannot escape your wisdom, that the laws should be short, plain ' suitable to the condition of the people, and to be well executed. The Judiciary system demands your serious deliberation, and the mode for conducting suits in courts should be free from all complicated formalities, and no other form should be required than, to let both parties know distinctly, what is alledged [sic], that a fair trial may be had. A law should be passed requiring managers ' clerks of all public elections to register the names of the persons voting as well as the names of the candidates to whom the votes are given, by observing such a course, illegal votes will be detected, and the elections conducted with more regularity, harmony, and satisfaction.
The public press deserves the patronage of the people, and should be cherished as an important vehicle in the diffusion of general information, and as no less powerful auxiliary in asserting and supporting our political rights. Under this impression, we cannot doubt, that you will continue to foster it by public support. The only legislative provision necessary for conducting the press, in our opinion, is to guard against the admission of scurrilous productions of a personal character, and also against cherishing sectarian principles on religious subjects. The press being the public property of the Nation, it would ill become its character if such infringements upon the feelings of the people should be tolerated. In other respects, the liberty of the press should be as free as the breeze that glides upon the surface.
From accompanying memorial, signed by several of our respectable citizens, together with the public Treasurer, you will discover that further indulgence is called for in behalf of the public debtors, and it is for your wisdom to determine, whether, it would be just and proper, that the law requiring the Treasurer to call in all the money loaned out, should be amended so as to give further indulgence to the borrowers, that the payments may be made by reasonable installments. Owing to the extreme scarcity of money, from the general pressure in business, such indulgence would, no doubt be, a great relief; and the probable distress and ruin, from the sacrifices of property consequent from public sales may be averted.
After receiving the Treasurer's report and ascertaining the true condition of the public funds, it will also be your province to determine the expediency of making suitable provisions for the erection of a National Academy, at New Echota. This subject, has for some time past been agitated, and is anticipated with the warmest zeal by the reflecting part of our citizens, and it should receive your particular attention. By the Treaty of 1819, four tracts of land, equal to fifteen miles square were reserved for the purpose of creating a revenue for a school fund, to be applied under the direction of the President of the United States, for the education of the youths of this Nation. The lands were to have been sold under the direction of the President in the same manner, as the public lands of the United States, and notwithstanding the repeated and urgent requests which have been made, for the sale of these lands, and the no less repeated promise on the part of the General Government to attend to it, for reasons unknown, they are not yet sold. We would recommend you to memorialize the President on this important subject, and respectfully to request that, the available funds may be applied to the support of the contemplated National Academy.
The several charity schools in this country under the imediate [sic] patronage of benevolent societies of the several states should not escape your notice. Altho'[sic] the superintendents of these schools, under the direction of respective societies have the right of conducting them, according to the dictates of their own discretion and judgments, yet, without presuming any disparagement to their regulation, we would suggest the expediency of selecting a visiting committee on the part of the nation, for the purpose of inspecting their public examination, ' at such other times as said Committee may deem proper, and that they should be required to make a general report on the state of improvement 'c. to be laid before the session of each General Council. Such a course pursued by the authorities of the Nation in relation to these institutions, would no doubt excite an interest among the pupils, and add to the vigilence [sic] of their preceptors, and at the same time produce general satisfaction.- An indifferent course perhaps might eventually produce relaxation and apathy in their operations, and we should endeavor to avoid the dishonor of any circumstance which might possibly take place, that would defeat the fondest expectations of those, upon whose benefaction they are founded.
The circumstance of our Government assuming a new character under a constitutional form, and on the principles of republicanism, has, in some degree, excited the sensation of the public characters of Georgia, and it is sincerely to be regreted [sic] that this excitement should have been manifested by such glaring expressions of hostility to our true interests. By the adoption of the Constitution, our relation to the United States, as recognized by existing Treaties, is not in the least degree affected, but on the contrary, this improvement in our government, is strictly in accordance with the recommendation, views and wishes of the Great Washington under whose auspicious administration, our Treaties of piece [sic] friendship and protection were made, and whose policy in regard to Indian civilization has been strictly pursued by the subsequent administration.
The pretended claim of Georgia to a portion of our lands, is alleged on the following principles., First, by discovery. Secondly, by conquest.- Thirdly, by compact.
We shall endeavor briefly to elucidate the character of this claim. l In the first place, the Europeans by the skill and enterprize of their Navigators, discovered this vast Continent, and found it inhabited exclusively by Indians of various Tribes, and by a pacific courtesy and designing stratagems, the aboriginal proprietors were induced to permit a people from a foreign clime, to plant colonies, and without the consent or knowledge of the native Lords, a potentate of England, whose eyes never saw, whose purse never purchased, and whose sword never conquered the soil we inhabit, presumed to issue a parchment, called a 'Charter,' to the Colony of Georgia, in which its boundary was set forth, including a great extent of country inhabited by the Cherokees and other Indian Nations.
Secondly. After a lapse of many years when the population of these Colonies had become strong, they revolted against their sovereign, and by success of Arm, established an Independent Government, under the name of 'the United States.' It is further alleged that the Cherokee Nation prosecuted a war at the same time against the Colonies.
3dly. Several years after the treaties of peace, friendship and protection, which took place between the U. S. and the Cherokee Nation, and by which the faith of the United States was solemnly pledged to guarantie [sic] to the Cherokee Nation forever, their title to their lands, a Compact was entered into between the United States and the State of Georgia, by which the United States promised to purchase for the use of Georgia certain lands belonging to the Cherokee Nation, so soon as it could be done on reasonable and peaceable terms.
Thus stands the naked claim of Georgia to a portion of our lands.- The claim advanced under the plea of discovery is preposterous. Our ancestors from time immemorial possessed this country, not by a 'Charter' from the hand of a mortal King, who had not right to grant it, by the Will of the King of Kings, who created all things ' liveth forever ' ever.
The claim advanced under the second head, on the ground of conquest, is no less futile that the first, even admitting that the Cherokees waged a war with the Colonies, at the time they fought for their Independence. The Cherokees took a part in the war, only as the allies of Great Britain, and not as her subjects, being an Independent Nation over whose lands she exercised no right of jurisdiction; therefore, nothing could be claimed from them, in regard to their lands by the conqueror over the rights of Great Britain. At the termination of the war, the United States negotiated with the Cherokees on the terms of peace as an Independant [sic] Nation, and since the close of that war, other wars took place, and at their terminations, other treaties were made, and in no one stipulation can there be found a single idea that our title to the soil has been forfeited, or claimed as the terms of peace; but, to the contrary, we discover that the United States solemnly pledged their faith that our title should be guarantied to our Nation forever.
The third pretension is extremely lame. The United States enters into a compact with Georgia that they will purchase certain lands, which belong to us, for Georgia, so soon at they can do it on peaceable and reasonable terms, This promise was made on the part of the United States without knowing whether this nation would even consent to dispose of these lands on any terms whatever; and the Cherokees not being a party in the compact, their , title cannot be effected in the slightest degree. It appears astonishingly unreasonable, that all those hard expressions of denunciation which have been unsparingly lavished against our sacred rights and interests, by interested politicians, have arose from no other circumstance than our honest refusal to sell to the United States lands, for the fulfilment [sic] of their Compact with Georgia. Although our views ' conditions may be misrepresented-although we may be stigmatized with the appellation of 'Na-bobs' and should be represented as ruling with an 'Iron rod' and 'grinding down into dust the wretched and abject mass' of our citizens; and although we may be called avaricious for refusing to sell our lands, we should not be diverted from the path of rectitude. In all our intercourse with our neighboring white brethren, we should endeavor to cultivate the utmost harmony and good understanding, by strictly observing the relations which we sustain to the United States.
Owing to the various misrepresentations respecting us, we have been frequently called upon to make a treaty of cession; and under the hope of succeeding with us, a treaty has been entered into by the United States with that portion of the Cherokees who have absolved themselves from all connection with us, by removing west of the Mississippi and establishing themselves there as a distinct community, stipulating that all those Cherokees residing east of the Mississippi who will consent to emigrate west of that river, shall receive a bounty consisting of a rifle gun, a blanket, a steel trap, a brass kettle, and five pounds of Tobacco. Such are the temptations offered to induce us to leave our friends, our relatives, our houses, our cultivated farms, our country, and every thing endeared to us by the progress of civilization-for what? To tread the barren wilds and dreary waste on the confines of the Rocky Mountains, with those necessary accoutrements and appendages of the hunter on our backs, in pursuit of the Buffaloe [sic] and other wild animals. With the view of carying [sic] this burlesque on our happiness into effect, the United States' agent for this Nation has been instructed by the Secretary of War, to visit us at our firesides, accompanied by James Rogers and Thomas Maw, two of the Cherokees residing west of the Mississippi, and who composed a part of the chiefs that negotiated the late Treaty. This extraordinary movement has been made, though without any effect; and we are happy to state, that our citizens generally have treated the Agent and his associates with civility, and have with great propriety restrained their indignant feelings from committing any violence on the persons of the two Arkansas chiefs, for the indignity offered by the design of their visit. We would recommend you as the immediate representatives of the people, to submit a respectful memorial to the Congress of the United States, expressive of the true sentiments of the people respecting their situation, and praying that measures may be adopted on the part of the United States for the adjustment of their Compact with the state of Georgia, otherwise than to anticipate any further cession of land from this nation.
New Echota, C. N. Oct. 13, 1828.
The National Committee met, on Monday 13th October, agreeably to the provision of the Constitution, at New Echota, when there not appearing a quorum of members, they adjourned to meet on Tuesday 10 o' clock October 14.
MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE.
Richard Taylor} Chickamauga
John F. Baldridge}
Edward Gunter} Chattooga
Dan'l Griffin Jr.}
Joseph Vann} Coosewatee
David Vann} High Tower
James Daniel} Hickory Log.
William Bolen} Tahquohee
Samuel Ward} Aquohee
Thomas Foreman} A-Mo-Hee
Tuesday, Oct. 14
The National Committee met agreeably to adjournment when, a quorum being formed, they proceeded to the election of a President and Clerk Pro. Tem. Lewis Ross was elected President, and David Vann Clerk.- After which, they proceeded to the examination of the certificates and returns of the members, when each produced his certificate, was qualified, and took his seat.
The house adjourned to meet Wednesday, 9 o'clock, October 15th.
Wednesday Oct. 15
The House met agreeably to adjournment, and proceeded to election of a President and Clerk for the session. Lewis Ross was elected President, and William S. Coody clerk. The House being organized, proceeded to business.
Rules for the regulation of the National Committee.
The following rules were submitted by Messrs. James Daniel, Joseph Vann and David Vann and adopted by the House.
1. Each member shall be seated, and whenever he wishes to address President he shall rise up in his place.
2. No member shall be allowed to speak more than twice upon any resolution, or bill, but with the consent of the President.
3. Whenever a member shall introduce a bill or resolution, it shall be in writing, unless for adjournment, or the previous question.
4. When two members rise to speak at the same time, the President shall decide who shall take the floor.
5. Whenever a member is called to order by the President, or a member, he shall sit down, or explain before he shall be permitted to continue the debate.
6. When a communication is received by the Committee, from the Principal Chiefs or Council, all debate shall be discontinued until the bearer leaves the Committee room.
7. Each member that absents himself fifteen minutes after the time appointed (by adjournment) for meeting, shall forfeit twenty five cents, and for every half hour thereafter twenty five cents more, unless a good excuse be made, which shall be adjudged by the Committee.
8. Should any member, after the meeting of the House agreeable to adjournment, absent himself more than five minutes he shall pay twelve and a half cents for every fifteen minutes thereafter.
Edward Gunter and Daniel Griffin were appointed a Committee to inform the National Council, that the National Committee was organized, and ready to proceed to business. James Daniel and Jos. Vann (of Coosewaytee) were appointed to form a joint committee, and to wait on the Principal Chiefs, and inform them that both Houses were organized and ready to receive any communication from them.
A communication was received from the Principal Chiefs, read and interpreted in joint committee of the whole.
The Committee adjourned to Thursday 9 o'clock October 16th.
Thursday Oct. 16th.
The communication from the Principal Chiefs was read, and explained in Cherokee. On motion of Jos. Vann of Coosewatee, the Committee made an appropriation for erecting railing in the Committee Chamber, which was agreed to by the Council. It was decided that elections for the Principal Chief should take place on Friday Oct. 17th.
Friday Oct. 17th.
Mr. Richard Taylor appeared, produced his certificate, was sworn and took his seat. R. Taylor was elected interpreter for the house.
The Committee and Council formed a joint Committee of the whole, and proceeded to elect the principal Chief, the assistant principal Chief and other officers according to the provisions of the Constitution. William Hicks and John Ross were nominated candidates for the office of the Principal Chief and George Lowrey assistant principal Chief. John Ross and George Lowrey were declared duly elected as Principal Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation for the term of four years. Messrs. William Hicks, Major Ridge and Maj. George M. Waters were elected executive Counselors. Messrs Walter S. Adair, Andrew Ross and John Huss, were duly elected Supreme Judges of the Cherokee Nation. Mr. Joseph Lynch was elected Marshal. There appearing no other candidate, John Martin was declared Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation.
The Committee passed a resolution, which was agreed to by the Council, authorizing the judges of the Supreme Court appointed according to the provision of the Constitution, to decide on all cases appealed from the District Courts.
Saturday Oct. 18th.
The Committee met according to adjournment. A petition from George Candy was read, praying the National Council for a grant of a set of blacksmith tools, in accordance with a provision made Oct. 26th 1820. Fifty seven Dollars and twenty five cents was appropriated for the benefit of the Petitioner.
A communication was received from the principal Chief, recommending a resolution in lieu of another adopted on Friday by the Committee and Council, organizing the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation. It was adopted without a dissenting vote, and sent to the lower House.
Margaret Reid appeared ' presented a petition, claiming the right of citizenship, and praying the privilege of remaining in the Nation, until she could procure proofs to authenticate her right to this Country. The petition was rejected, only two voting for it.
A resolution from the lower House imposing a tax of eight Dollars on persons introducing shows in New Echota during the session of the General Council, was laid before the Committee, and adopted.
The Committee adjourned to met on Monday 9 o'clock, Oct. 20th.
Monday Oct. 20th.
The Committee met according to adjournment.
Messrs. David Vann, James Daniel and Edward Gunter, were appointed a select committee, to take into consideration so much of the principal Chiefs Message as relates to the judiciary system, and to report to this house such laws and regulations as they may deem expedient to be made.
On motion it was resolved that the pay of the Judges of the Supreme Court be four Dollars per day and that their sessions be limited to three weeks in each year.
Mr. Elijah Hicks appeared, and proposed to sell his house for the use of the Supreme Court. His proposition was rejected without a dissenting vote.
The Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation made a report on the state of funds.
This body was organized on Wednesday October 15th. Going Snake was appointed Speaker, and Alexander M'Coy Clerk. For want of assistance, we have thought proper to dispense with publishing the Minutes of this House. It is composed of the following members.
Sleeping Rabbit} Chickamauga
John R. Dowel,} Hickory Log.
Robert Musk Rat,}
James Bigby.} Ah-mohee.
Deer in the Water,}