Cherokee Phoenix


Published December, 29, 1828

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We give below some of the proceedings of the Legislature of the state of Georgia in regard to Cherokee lands.

SATURDAY, Dec. 13.

The bill to add the territory lying within the limits of this State and occupied by the Cherokee Indians, to the counties of Carroll, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Hall, and Habersham, and to extend the laws of this State over the same, for other purposes was taken up.

The first five sections provide for the division of the territory, and the addition of it to the frontier counties of Georgia.

Sec. 6. Provides that the laws of this State be extended over the territory, and white persons, residing, within the same, shall be subject to the operation of the said laws, as other citizens of said counties.

Sec. 7. From the 1st of June 1830, Indians in said territory, shall be subject to the operations of the said laws, and regulations as the Legislature may hereafter proscribe.

Sec. 8. No Indian or descendant of an Indian, residing within the Creek or Cherokee Nation, shall be a competent witness, or a party to any suit, in any court created by the constitution or laws of this State, to which a white man may be a party.

A great deal of discussion took place, particularly on the section relating to the restriction to be imposed on the Indians, and on the bill generally, in which, Messrs. Jourdan, Holt, of Putnam, Wofford, Iverson, Walker, Bates, Cleveland and Ryan took part -- A number of amendments were offered. The proceedings terminated in adoption of the provisions above stated. The bill was then read the 3d time, passed, and ordered to be sent to the Senate for concurrence.

In the eighth section of the above bill, our readers will learn what is intended by securing civil rights to the Cherokees. This Christian State, the State of Georgia, is, we believe, determined to oppress us. And what are the Cherokees, over whom these grave Counsellors, representatives of an enlightened and republican people, are tyranizing? A hand full of men, weak and oppressed, with no means to defend their rights. Is it magnanimous to treat such a people, in the manner that our neighbors are trying to treat us? Our hearts sicken; and our courage fails, when we consider the power and number of our enemies, and when we look around and see but few friends, and very few who will speak in our defence. In this trying season we are glad to hear even a word spoken in our favor by Editors of newspapers. We feel indebted to the New York Daily Advertiser for its continued friendship towards us; but more especially, for the following timely remarks on that part of the Message of the President of the United States, which we insert after it.

There is one part of the message which, taken in connection with the report of the Secretary of War to which it refers, we strongly disapprove. We allude to the part relating to the Indians. The scheme of removing the deeply injured people from their recessions [sic] within the States, to a distant settlement in the wilderness, is founded on gross injustice, and therefore cannot conscientiously be sanctioned by a Christian nation. It is in vain to talk of obtaining their consent. Their consent, if gained at all, is acquired by duress; and duress, even by the common law, will discharge a man from the fulfilment of any contract, entered into in that situation. The truth is, it is almost impossible to make a government feel that justice is due to such a degraded and careless race of beings as the Indian tribe. And the stupidity of white men is such, that they had rather meet the full force of the imputation of injustice, than forego the opportunity to seize their lands and possessions. It is degrading to the character of a powerful nation to oppress and injure a weak one. It is doubly so to plunder, and banish from the homes, those who have no power of resistance. The injustice and cruelty practised towards the Indians in our country, is exceeded by nothing but by the more aggravated injustice and cruelty to the African slaves. In both cases they are national sins of a heinous character; and happy will it be for the inhabitants of this country, if they do not, first or last, call down national judgments. If the Indians are forced to remove into the wilderness, all the exertions that have been made by benevolent men towards their civilization, and instruction in the principles of the christian religion, will be lost: and the tribes, now half reformed, and rapidly improving, will be driven back to savage ignorance and barbarism.