Cherokee Phoenix


Published January, 21, 1829

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The following beautiful and eloquent extract is taken from Judge Story's Historical Address, lately pronounced in Salem, Mass. The picture of the 'poor Indian,' goes home to the heart.- Vermont paper.

'There is indeed, in the fate of these unfortunate beings, much to awaken our sympathy, and much to disturb the sobriety of our judgment; much which may be urged to excuse their own atrocities; much in their characters which betrays us into an involuntary admiration. What can be more melancholy than their history? By a law of their nature, they were destined to a slow but sure extinction. Everywhere at the approach of the white man they fade away. We hear the rustling of their footsteps like that of withered leaves of autumn, and they are gone forever. They pass mournfully by us, and they return no more. Two centuries ago, the smoke of their wigwams and the fires of their councils rose in every valley from Hudson's Bay to the farthest Florida, from the Ocean to the Mississippi and the Lakes. The shouts of victory and war-dance, rung through the mountains and the glades. The lithe arrow and the deadly tomahawk whistled through the forest; and the hunter's trace and the dark encampment startled the wild beasts in their lairs. The warriors stood forth in their glory. The young listened to the songs of other days. The mothers played with their infants, and gazed on the scene with warm hopes of the future. The aged sat down; but they wept not. They should soon be at rest in their regions, where the Great Spirit dwelt, in a house prepared for the brave beyond the skies. Braver men never lived; truer men never drew a bow. They had courage, and fortitude, and sagacity, and perseverance beyond most of the human race! They shrank from no dangers, and they feared no hardships.'

'If they had the vices of savage life, they had the virtues also. They were true to their homes. If they forgave no injury, neither did they forget kindness. If their vengeance was terrible, their fidelity and generosity was unconquerable also. Their love, like their hate, stopped not on this side of the grave. But where are the villages, and warriors, and youth?- The sachems and the tribes? The hunters and their families? They have perished. They are consumed. The wasting pestilence has not alone done the mighty work. No- nor famine, nor war. There has been a mightier power, a moral canker, which hath eaten into their heart-cores-a plague which the touch of the white man communicated-a poison which betrays them into a lingering ruin.- The winds of the Atlantic fan not a single region which they may now call their own. Already the last feeble remnants of the race are preparing for their journey beyond the Mississippi. I see them leave their miserable homes, the aged, the helpless, the women and the warriors, few and faint, yet fearless still.' The ashes are cold on their native hearths. The smoke no longer curls round their low cabins. They move with a slow unsteady step. The white man is upon their heels, for terror or despatch; but they heed him not. They turn to take a last look of their deserted villages. They cast a last glance upon the graves of their fathers. They shed no tears; they utter no cries; they heave no groans. There is something in their hearts which passeth speech. There is something in their looks not of vengeance or submission, but of hard necessity, which stifles both; which choaks [sic] all utterance; which hath no aim or method. It is courage absorbed in despair. They linger but for a moment. Their look is onward. They have passed the fatal stream. It shall never be repassed by them-no, never. Yet there lies not between us and them an impassable gulf. They know and feel that there is for them still one remove farther, not distant, nor unseen. It is the general burial ground of their race.'

'Reason as we may, it is impossible not to read in such a fate, much that we know not how to interpret; much of provocation to cruel deeds and deep resentments; much apology for wrong and perfidy; much of pity, mingled with indignation; much of doubt and misgiving, as to the past; much of painful recollection; much of dark foreboding.'