Cherokee Phoenix


Published January, 14, 1829

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It has now become fully apparent, that a project is seriously in contemplation for the removal of the Cherokees, and other Indians in the incorporated States, to the wilderness beyond the Mississippi. We have never seen this purpose so distinctly avowed in any State paper, as in the late Report of the Secretary of War, from which we quote the following paragraphs:

'The most prominent feature in the present policy of the Government, as connected with these people, is to be found in the efforts that are making to remove them beyond the limits of the States and organized Territories.'

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The annual appropriation of $10,000 to the purposes of educating Indian children, and teaching them the mechanic arts, has had the effect to draw to almost every Indian reservation, in addition to the agents and interpreters, a considerable number of missionaries and teachers, with their families, who, having acquired, principally by the aid of this fund, very comfortable establishments, are unwilling to be deprived of them by the removal of the Indians; and thus, we have found, that, while the agents specially employed by the Government for this purpose are engaged in persuading, by profuse distributions of money and present, the Indians to emigrate, another set of Government agents are operating, more secretly, to be sure, but not with less zeal and effect, to prevent such emigration.

'These remarks are not intended as a personal reflecting on the missionaries and teachers, much less on the pious and respectable patrons of these benevolent institutions, who, no doubt, are disposed to lend a ready support to every humane measure which the Government may think proper to adopt in favor of these depressed people; but are rather intended to show the natural and unavoidable tendency of the system itself to counteract the leading policy of the Government.'

The insinuation thrown out by General Porter as to the motives which influence the missionaries in opposing the removal of the Indians, is unworthy of the station which he holds, and but poorly accords with the suggestion that no 'personal reflections' are intended. Does he not know, that if 'comfortable establishments' had been their object,-if wealth, ease, or honor, had been uppermost in their minds,- they could have enjoyed them all in a ten-fold greater degree in the circles they have left, than they do at present? Does he not know that some of them, on entering upon their work, gave all their property to the general cause of missions, to be expended upon themselves or others, just as the Board might judge expedient? Does he not know that other missionaries not a whit better than they, have penetrated, without repining of regret, the very forest in which it is intended these Indians shall be driven and then expected to spend their days without any other reward but the pleasure of doing Good? The truth is they have seen and see daily, the rapid advances of the Indians in the arts of civilization, as well as in morals and religion, and are well assured that nothing but a continuance of the present means of instruction is necessary to make them as respectable, intelligent and happy, as a nation of whites. Among the Cherokees, where the most efficient efforts have been made, the improvements are truly surprising. In eighteen years, ending 1823, their population increased (including those who emigrated to the Arkansas) more than 7000; or 60 per cent: which varies very little from the common rate of increase among the white inhabitants of the Southern States. In the same year there were in the Nation, 79,812 domestic animals, 762 looms, 2,486 spinning wheels, 172 wagons, 2,943 ploughs, 10 saw-mills 31 grist-mills, 62 blacksmith's shops, 8 cottongins [sic], 18 schools, 9 turnpikes, 18 ferries, and 20 public roads; being a vast increase above the returns of 1809, in almost every particular. A well organized system of government has been established-a Legislature-a Judiciary-a public treasury-a printing press- and an excellent newspaper. In all their legislative Acts, and in all their public documents; a spirit of moderation, prudence, and wisdom, prevails, which might well be imitated by some of the neighboring States. The late Message of John Ross and George Lowrey,* who have been elected Principal Chiefs for the term of four years, 'is certainly quite a sound sensible, business like paper, (says the National Journal,) treating of topics nearly allied to the best interests of the Nation, and creditable to its enlightened authors.' Their laws too, if we may judge from what we have seen, are superior to the wisdom of Lycurgas or Solon.- We may call them 'savages' and 'heathen,' if we please; but neither our Legislatures nor our laws, exhibit more of the influence of Christianity than their own. We have the best reason for saying, that of the National Committee, comprising sixteen members and the National Council, comprising twenty-four members, and of other persons holding responsible offices in the government eight are hopefully pious.- One of the Judges of the Supreme Court is a teacher or exhorter under the American Board; and a member of the National Council is also an Elder in the Mission Church at Brainerd.

It is such a people,-prosperous, contented and happy,- rapidly improving in agriculture, manufactures, education and religion,-that the humane and enlightened government of the United States propose to drive into the wilderness. We say drive, because we know that the Cherokees, as a body, will never submit to the proposed arrangement, except by compulsion. They have declared again and again by the most solemn Acts of which they are capable, that they 'will never sell another foot of their land;' and they are repeating this declaration, practically, every day. What is the result of all the efforts which have been made, of late, to persuade them to remove? the reader shall be answered by a letter which we have before us, dated.

CHEROKEE NATION, Oct. 4, 1828.

The prospects of the Cherokees was never more flattering than they are at present, if we except what is doing by the United States and Georgia to remove them beyond the Mississippi. In order to place them in a station more eligible for civilization.- A few have been enrolled for emigration, I understand; say three or four families, of perhaps eight or ten individuals. It is thought by some, that this effort of the Government will be productive of good rather than harm, as it will give the Cherokees an opportunity of showing, by their rejection of all terms which may be offered, that their resolution is fixed, never voluntarily to dispose of the land of their fathers.

The project of removing the Cherokees is at present the more remarkable because it has been the professed object of the government, in all its dealings with and for the Indians, to teach them knowledge and the arts of civilized life. 'That the Cherokee Nation may be led to a greater degree of civilization,' says a Treaty which we believe is still in force, 'and to become herdsmen and cultivators instead of hunters, the United States will from time to time furnish gratuitously the said Nation with useful implements of husbandry, 'c.' But now it happens that the remnant of lands, which remains to them, is wanted by the Georgians, and therefore it is quite immaterial what course of life they pursue, provided only they vacate their lands, or continue themselves to a mere patch, which shall not be sufficient for Governor Troup to lay his finger upon. On this point the language of the joint Committee of the Georgia Legislature on the state of the Republic, in their Report of December 5, 1827, is quite to the purpose. They complain that the United States have managed 'so to add to the comforts of the Cherokees, and so to instruct them in the business of husbandry, as to attach them so firmly to their country and to their homes as almost to destroy the last ray of hope that they will ever consent to part with the Georgia lands.' This is honest; and considering the quarter from which it comes, furnishes a valuable comment upon some of the statements in the subjoined extract from the report of the Secretary of War:

It may, perhaps, be fairly doubted whether the $10,000 appropriation (independently of its tendency to prevent emigration) produced, under the circumstances in which it is now expended, any useful results. These schools, it is true, impart to a certain number of Indian youths so much information, and so far change their habits, as to inspire them with all the passions and desires, and particularly the passion to accumulating individual wealth, peculiar to a state of civilization; and then these half educated men are turned loose among their respective tribe, without any honorable means of satisfying the desires and wants which have been thus artificially created. The lands of the tribe being common and unattainable, they have no motive to cultivate and improve them. There is no floating wealth to attract their ambition, and the only and usual means of gratifying their cupidity for money, is by employing the advantages acquired by their education to appropriate to themselves more than their just share of the large contributions annually made by the government; and in this way they, with some few honorable exceptions render, not only themselves, but the very arts they have acquired, obnoxious to the nation at large.

We beg to know if education is the mother of crime; and whether there are no objects to attract the attention of educated men, besides 'floating wealth?' We ask if Catharine Brown, who has left a memorial which will endure longer than the warriors honors- if John Arch who labored while life continued in teaching his brethren the way to heaven and now sings in glory- if David Brainerd, [David Brown] who is engaged in translating the scriptures into Cherokee.-

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••are only 'half educated?' and whether they have been 'turned loose among their tribe without any honorable means of satisfying their desires and wants?'- Their -'desires and wants' are, and have been, the best interests of their brethren and the world; and here they have found an object cast enough to absorb all their thoughts and all their efforts, even though they were a thousand times greater than they are. We ask if the surprising improvements in agriculture, manufactures and the arts, above alluded to are not 'useful!'- if the public press is not a 'useful' engine?- if the formation of Christian churches is not useful?' - and but for the remarks of the Secretary of War, we would ask if the establishment of schools is not 'useful?' Really, it is a shame, in this enlightened age and country, to see a State paper pleading for popular ignorance.

If it be true, as intimated by the Secretary, that any who have the power, have also the disposition, 'to appropriate to themselves more than their just share of the large contributions annually made by the Government,' one would suppose that the evil must be remedied, not by withdrawing all moral influence from among them, but by increasing and perpetuating it. It is plain, however, from the nature of the case, that this severe charge can have no application to the children in the schools. It can only be true of certain adults, men of influence; and if the cases are sought out and examined, we venture to say they will be found to result not from education, but the want of it, not from the influence of Christianity, but from principles and habits which it is the constant effort of the missionaries to eradicate.

The plan which it is proposed to pursue in reference to the Indians, is thus developed:

Let such of the emigrating Indians as choose it, continue, as heretofore, to devote themselves to the chase, in a country where their toils will be amply rewarded. Let those who are willing to cultivate the arts of civilization be formed into a colony, consisting of distinct tribes or communities, but placed contiguous to each other, and connected by general laws, which shall reach the whole. Let the lands be apportioned among families and individuals in severalty, to be held by the same tenures by which we hold ours, with perhaps some temporary and wholesome restraints on the power of alienation. Assist them in forming and administering a code of laws adapted to a state of civilization. Let the $10,000 appropriation be applied, within the new colony exclusively, to the same objects for which it is now expended; and add to it, from time to time, so much of our other annual contributions as can be thus applied without a violation of public (rated?).

In regard to such Indians as shall still remain within the States, and refuse to emigrate, let an arrangement be made with the proper authorities of the respective States in which they are situated, for partitioning out to them in severalty, as much of their respective reservations as shall be amply sufficient for agricultural purposes. Set apart a tract, proportioned in size to the number of Indians to remain in common as a refuge and provision for such as may be by improvidence waste their private property; and subject them all to the municipal laws of the States in which they reside. Let the remainder of the reservation be paid for by those who hold the paramount right at such prices as shall be deemed in reference to the uses which Indians are accustomed to make of lands, reasonable; and the proceeds to be applied for the benefit of those of the tribe who emigrate, after their establishment in the colony, or to be divided between those who emigrate and those who remain as justice may require.

But what if none of them choose to emigrate? Will it still be said. Partition out to them, in severalty, as laws of their reservations as shall be amply sufficient for agricultural purposes? What then becomes of the faith of Treaties? and particularly of that Treaty, formed at Holston in 1791, which declares, (art. 7th) that 'THE UNITED STATES SOLEMNLY GUARANTEE TO THE CHEROKEE NATION ALL THEIR LANDS NOT YET CEDED.' The agreement with Georgia in 1820, was not perhaps inconsistent with this Treaty: for it only obligated the United States to extinguish the Indian title to lands in Georgia, 'as soon as it could be done peaceable and on reasonable terms.' But now the question come in up in a tangible shape:- Will the government of the United States, in direct violation of the solemn compacts wrest from the Cherokees their remaining territory for the gratification for a bullying constituent? This question, so deeply involving the character of our Republic, will probably be decided before the close of the present Congress: and a million fingers will point at us, and a million tongues hiss at us, if it is decided in favor of oppression and injustice.

But apart from all apprehensions of danger in respect to their lands, the poor Indians have another calamity to fear. In the late Message of Governor Forsyth of Georgia, it is recommended to extend all the laws of the State over them- to subject them to the operation of those laws-and to secure to them immediately all civil rights! The same doctrine is echoed by the Secretary of War, and more than intimated in the President's Message. One of these rights is that 'No Indian, and no descendant of an Indian, not understanding the English language, shall be deemed a competent witness in any Court of Justice created by the Constitution and laws of the State.' And from the known disposition of Georgia, there can be no doubt but that other rights, equally valuable, will be forced upon them. On the whole we do not believe a fitter system can be devised for the extinction of the tribe. At present they are prosperous beyond example, and in the language of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, 'may be considered a civilized people.' There is not a family in the nation which can be said to subsist on the products of the wilderness.- Through the invention of a most ingenious alphabet by Mr. Guess, a native Cherokee, reading is common in every part of the tribe. Rejoicing in this new order of things, they have become 'attached to their country and their homes,' and ask only to be let alone, that they may be happy. It is under these circumstances, that the government of the United States with Georgia at its head, invites them to go '40 days journey into the wilderness.' They refuse. It then attempts to withdraw a part of the tribe, and proposes, in the language of Governor Forsyth, to 'grant' to those that remain, a portion of their own lands in specialty; and as it is foreseen that these lands will soon fall into the possession of the whites, it kindly reserves another tract 'to remain in common, as a refuge and provision for such as by improvidence waste their private property.'- The residue, which we will suppose to be a large part, it compels them to sell, and gives it over to Georgia. By this master stroke of policy, it deprives them, in a few years of all their territory except the common lands,- and here, like the Indians of New England, they will soon dwindle away and degenerate, till they become but a name and a shadow.

To conclude- if Georgia has claims upon the United States for lands which the United States have not the right to dispose of; and if at the same time, they would avoid the deep disgrace of wresting them by violence; what hinders that the value of the lands should be paid to Georgia from the Gen. Treas'y and the lands themselves remain to their rightful possessors, the Cherokees? Already the Cherokees have ceded to the United States within the limits of Georgia 15,444,000 acres; why should they not be permitted to retain their 6,156,000 without molestation? Were they all to remove beyond the Mississippi, or even beyond the Rocky Mountains, the tide of emigration would soon overtake them, and the question would have to be decided at last, whether the original proprietors of this whole Continent shall be allowed a resting place in any part of it.

*William Hicks, and John Ross were the two principal Chiefs who submitted the Message to the General Council- John Ross and George Lowrey were elected principal Chiefs for the ensuing four years.




Wednesday, January 14, 1829

Volume 1 No. 44

Page 2 Col. 4b


The sentiments of the Secretary of War, respecting the Indian tribes, will be read with surprise and grief by all the friends of this injured race. That the faith of the nation plighted in treaties, should be disregarded, because we are the stronger party, will be the grief of the mere patriot; that the weak should be oppressed will be the grief of the humane; that the efforts to civilize and christianize the savage should be checked, if not entirely prevented, will be the grief of the christian. Whether we look at the promises of our government, for the past, or at the feelings of the mass of our citizens, and of good men in other lands, for the present, or at the decision of future generations, we can see nothing to encourage the plans proposed in the following extracts from the report of the Secretary.

Con. Obs.