HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Wednesday, January 14, 1829
The following resolution, offered yesterday by Mr. Wilde, was taken up and agreed to:
Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to lay before this House copies of any compacts or agreements made between the Creek and Cherokee tribes of Indians, under the directions, or with the assent of the United States, establishing the boundary lines of their respective hunting grounds within the limits of the state of Georgia, prior to the year 1821; and also, copies of any correspondence between the War Department and the Agents for Indian Affairs touching the same, which has not been heretofore communicated.
CLAIMS OF GEORGIA CITIZENS.
The House resumed, in Committee of the whole, Mr. Condict in the Chair, the unfinished business of Friday last, being the report of the Committee on Indian Affairs on the claims of certain citizens of Georgia.
The question being on the motion of Mr. THOMPSON in effect to reverse that report, which is unfavorable.
Mr. Wilde, then resumed, and closed his observation in defence of the motion. His argument was principally directed to that portion of the claim which related to interest. In the course of it, he stated that he felt himself to be, as all would be who attempted to address a committee of the whole on such subjects- Pox clamutnte in deserto- with the only difference, that he had here the solitude with the silence of the desert.
Mr. M'LEAN replied to the observation which had fallen from the various gentlemen from the State of Georgia, and defended the report of the Committee. He stated that the stipulations entered into between the Government of the United States and the Creek Indians, was that claims should be satisfied to a certain amount. The President of the United States was empowered to decide on these claims; and by his decision he had precluded the claims which are now urged upon the House. The balance of money which remains belongs to the Indians according to the opinion of many members of the House, but that was not his opinion. Some of these claims are of fifty years standing, and are for horses and negroes run away into the Indian country. It was said by gentlemen that property destroyed should be paid for. All property destroyed between 1796 and 1802 it is stipulated, shall be paid for; and if any claim of that character could be presented, he would willingly vote for it. He read the opinion to the Attorney General, adverse to the claim for interest; and maintained that ample justice had been done to the parties.
Mr. SOUTHERLAND made some observations in favor of the claims, and of the motion to amend the report of the Committee. He took the ground which had been previously taken by the gentleman from Georgia, that the claims of the Citizens of Georgia had not been liquidated by the General Government, according to the treaty between the United States and the Indians, and that the balance which remains in the Treasury belongs to Georgia, for the settlement of the still unliquidated claims. He argued that as Georgia had been compelled by the general Government to release the Creek Indians from responsibility for these losses of property, and that therefore they had no where to turn except to the government of the United States for indemnity. He expressed his belief that, had he time, he could examine the opinion of the Attorney General and overthrow it.
Mr. OWEN succeeded, in defence of the proposition that further legislation is necessary on this subject.- Government had compelled Georgia to renounce her claims on the Indians for a specific sum. That in the distribution of this sum, the claims of some of the citizens of Georgia have been rejected, he considered unjust, because they were precluded from obtaining any compensation from the Indians by the act of the government. Whatever claims are outstanding, he considered it obligatory on the Government to legislate with a view to put these claims in a train for adjustment. It had been said that this could not be done without the consent of the Indians, and that one power could not act without the other. He was desirous to bring this question to a decision. He thought the proper course for the Committee would be to instruct the Committee to bring such a bill as would provide for these claims being put in train for adjustment and liquidation.
Mr. GILMER said the question was, whether there was any property not paid for, and, if there was whether the balance of the fund unexpended did not belong to those who had suffered the losses. He stated that owing to the condition of Georgia, and the situation of her citizens, at the time they suffered the injuries and losses complained of from the Creek Indians, that it was impossible to form an estimate of their losses. The farmer had more sufficient stock for subsistence and cultivation, and if he lose his only horse, by what rule of calculation could his loss be estimated, or by what rule of justice could he be recompensed? He described the state of Georgia frontier during the war, and stated that the citizens, at their own expense, erected a line of blockhouse, and manned them, and that they had never received any compensation for these expenditures and services. Yet the Government is stickling [sic] about a little matter of interest. He declared that no citizens of the United States had suffered more than those of the Georgia frontier, and none therefore could present a stronger claim on the equitable and liberal consideration of the General Government.
He complained of the gross injustice done to Georgia by the Treaty of New York in 1790, which was negotiated with the Indians when Georgia had no representative on the floor. It was that act which first raised the voice of a representative from Georgia against the General Government. The negotiation of the year 1821 was the first in which the Government had ever permitted Georgia to interfere by her commissioners.
As to the increase of slave property from the female stock, he contended that it was much undervalued.- Persons had accumulated fortunes solely from this increase. He stated that the land acquired of the Indians was four and a half millions of acres at ten cents an acre, making 450,000 dollars. Of this the Indians had received 200,000 dollars in money, and the remaining 250,000 dollars was intended to cover the claims of the citizens of Georgia on the Indians.- The balance therefore ought to be applied to the claims yet unliquidated.
Mr. WEEMS briefly assigned the reasons which induced him to vote for the motion to amend. He thought Congress had the power, and ought to legislate so as to provide for the distribution of the balance left in the Treasury from this source.
The question was then taken on the motion to amend, and decided in the negative. Ayes 66, Noes 74.