REMOVAL OF THE INDIANS BEYOND THE MISSISSIPPI
From the Christian Advocate and Journal
We very much regret to find this measure recommended to Congress by the Secrtary of War, General Porter. This recommendation is the more to be regretted because of its being accompanied by an insinuation that the missionaries employed among the Indian tribes, from the consideration that they 'have acquired comfortable establishments, are unwilling to be deprived of them' by the removal of the Indian tribes beyond the Mississippi.- How greatly do some men mistake in their estimate of missionary labors and enjoyments! We speak, of course, respecting our own missionary stations. If comfortable establishments were the only inducements presented to these self-denying men to remain in their present stations, we venture to predict that they would soon abandon them 'to the moles and bats.' Though some of them may be improved by the exertions of those men of God so as to be in some sense comfortable, that is, to prevent actual suffering for want of the necessaries of life, we well know that others of them are yet but little removed from barbarism, and the missionaries themselves, in the prosecution of their benevolent designs are reduced to all the privations and hardships peculiar to half civilized society, and are obliged, from their scanty allowance, to unite the most rigorous economy with the most patient industry. This they do, not from a view to temporal accommodation, nor from a hope of pecuniary reward, but from a much higher motive, even the present and eternal salvation of souls. So far, therefore, as these are concerned, the mere circumstance of being deprived of 'Comfortable establishments' presents but a small barrier in the way of their removal with the Indians, even were they to go beyond the Rocky Mountains. Nay, such is the strong attachment of these devoted missionaries to the eternal interests of those Indians, that should the event come to past, now so much deprecated by some and wished for by others, that they must be removed beyond the Mississippi, rather than abandon them to their own deplorable fate, they would remove with them, identify their interests with the interests of the Indians, share in their privations and sufferings, with a view to exalt them ultimately to all the blessings of Christianity and civilization.
The objections, therefore, to removal of these original proprietors of the soil originate from an entirely different source. If they wish to sell off their property, and remove into the remote forests, no one would have any right to object. But to compel, whether by direct coercion, or by the intrigues which too often disgrace state policy, or by that cupidity which so frequently characterize mercantile speculating operations, is a measure against which we would protest, with all the energies which a just regard to original right can inspire- with all the force which may be derived from a sense of their indubitable rights as the first and original lords of the soil- with all the arguments which can be passed on the faith of the most solemn treaties actually existing between them and their own government-and finally, by that voice which thunders from the eternal theme TO DO OTHERS AS YE WOULD THEM SHOULD DO UNTO YOU. All the rights, this plighted faith, this moral and religious obligation, pressing equally upon the conscience of every individual of the human family with all the tremendous force which the Supreme legislator of heaven and earth can bring to bear upon an active intelligent agent-all these things cry aloud to the legislature of our country not thus to interfere in this matter. Let them not touch the inheritance of these sons of the forest, lest they tough the accursed thing, and the leprosy cleave to them and their posterity to many generations.
There is another point of view, in which we agree with the honorable secretary or war, and that is, the inutility [sic] of installing in the minds of youth and some elementary instruction, and them leaving them to mingle with their savage and pagan brethren unprotected by the laws of Christianity and civilization. The experiment we have recently made among these noble minded people demonstrate the truth of the conclusion, that the best and perhaps we might say the only way to do them permanent good, is to Christianize them first- bring them under the reforming effects and powerful restraints of the gospel of Christ, and them gently introduce them to the knowledge, practice and habits of civilized life. So far this method has been effectual. No sooner do they bow a willing obedience to the command of Jesus Christ, and their hearts and lives are brought under the salutary restraints and precepts of his gospel, then their docility and submitting to be taught the arts of agriculture of domestic economy, and all the social duties, becomes manifest to all.- They are easily formed into regular communities governed by wholesome laws, and exhibit in practice all the principles which govern and regulate civilized life.
When this is effected, what harm or danger can be apprehended from their proximity to the white population, or even to their com-mingling with them? Is the mere circumstance of the different color of their skin to make them to be abhorred forever by the white man? Is this characteristic peculiarity alone sufficient to entail upon them then malediction of our government, that it must adopt measures to push them to the utmost verge of our western territories? Let the wisdom exhibited in the council of the Cherokees, the Christianity, civility , and industry, displayed by the Wyandots and others teach our senators at least moderation towards them, if they may not, as we think they might, inspire them with respect and veneration for these ancient lords of this western world.