Cherokee Phoenix


Published August, 26, 1829

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From the Connecticut Mirror.


The talk of the President of the United States, to his red children, and the address of Mr. Secretary Eaton to the Cherokee delegation, indicate a new system of measures towards the aborigines of our country, and a policy the reverse of that which has heretofore been pursued by our government. Unfortunately for the savage, he has ever been the sufferer, from the march of civilization. As the white population increased in our country, that of the Indians has diminished; the tribes that once inhabited these lands, and roamed in savage independence through the forests, have gradually receded before the step of the white man, or disappeared under the influence of his temptations, until scarcely a vestige remains, of the thousands who were once lords of the soil, and exercised here the rights of sovereign and independent nations.- The disappearance of the Indians before the white population, although it may be considered as an acknowledgment of the superiority of a civilized to a savage life, was at an early period viewed as a misfortune incident to the latter, and efforts were made by our ancestors to arrest its progress, and mitigate its evils. Missionaries were sent among them, who should teach them the arts of civilized life, substitute the certainty of an agricultural, for the hazardous and contingent success of a predatory existence, and point them the path to heaven. Treaties were made with them, which acknowledged their right of soil; and the territory which is now converted into the abodes of civilization, and refinement, was purchased of them or obtained with their consent. After the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, the duty of negotiating with the Indians devolved on the government, and has ever since remained with it. The Indian tribes were considered as distinct and independent. Treaties were made with them, by which the boundaries of their territories were admitted and regulated, and by which their sovereignty within those limits was distinctly recognized and acknowledged. The government went farther; it adopted a system of measures for teaching them the arts of civilized life, for making them a stationary and agricultural people, and for establishing them as a civilized nation, within the limits secured by treaty. While many of the numerous tribes who once inhabited the country, have even under this system of policy disappeared, some have hitherto shared a different fate; and have encouraged their friends to hope that a remnant of the aborigines of America might yet be saved, and rescued from ignorance and barbarism. The Cherokee Indians, particularly, have made rapid advances in civilization. Under the beneficent policy which our government has adopted toward them, they have exchanged a wandering for a stationary life; have substituted agriculture for the chase, and have adopted those modes of subsistence which the example of the whites taught them to prefer to their own.- Many of them are the owners of horses, sheep, cattle and goats. Cotton is cultivated among them to a considerable extent, and exported by some of them in boats to New-Orleans.-


Cotton ' woolen cloths are manufactured by them; the mechanic arts have been already introduced to some extent, and the whole nation not only shows marks of improvement and prosperity, but proves conclusively what has heretofore been doubted, that the Indian character may be tamed, and the Indian himself civilized and enlightened. Up to the present time a uniform system of policy and good faith has been preserved by our government towards them; a policy which had in view a sacred regard to treaties and an earnest and benevolent wish to ameliorate the condition of the Indians, and to extend to them the comforts and blessings of civilization. This disposition is manifested by treaties which have been made with the different tribes; by the acts of Congress appropriating monies for their civilization; and by the speeches which have been made to them by different Presidents. Mr. Madison, in a talk to them in 1812, urged them to follow the example of the white people, and to adopt their mode of obtaining subsistence. In this talk he says,' I have a further advice to give my red children. You see how the country of the eighteen fires is filled with people. They increase like the corn they put into the ground. They all have good houses to shelter them from all weathers, good clothes suitable to all seasons; and as for food, of all sorts, you see they have enough and to spare. No man, woman or child, ever perishes with hunger. It is in your power to be like them. The ground that feeds one lodge by hunting, would feed a great band by the plough and hoe. The Great Spirit has given you, like your white brethren, good heads to contrive, and strong arms and active bodies; use them like your brethren of the eighteen fires, and like them your little sparks will grow into great fires. You will be well fed, dwell in good houses, and enjoy the happiness, for which you, like them, were created. These are the words of your father to his children. The Great Spirit, who is the father of us all, approves them. Let them pass through the ear into the heart. Carry them home to your people; and as long as you remember your visit to the father of the eighteen fires, remember these are his last and best words to you!'

But the 'straight and good talk' of the new President is couched in different language, and is apparently an intimation of a distinct and opposite policy from that which has hitherto prevailed. After demanding the surrender of certain Indians who had been concerned in the murder of a white person, the President goes on to point out the dangers to which the Indians are exposed by their proximity to the whites. 'Where you are,' says he, 'you and my white children are too near each other to live in harmony and peace. Your game is destroyed, and many of your people will not work and till the earth. Beyond the great river Mississippi, where a part or your nation has gone, your father has provided a country large enough for all of you, and he advises you to remove to it. In that country your father, the President, now promises to protect you, to feed you, and to shield you from all encroachments. Where you now live, your white brothers have always claimed the land.' And again, 'My children, listen. My white children in Alabama have extended their law over your country. If you remain in it you must be subject to their law.' The letter of Mr. Secretary Eaton goes still further. It not only defends the claims of Georgia to the Indian lands, but expressly refuses on the part of the government to interfere in behalf of the Cherokees. Considering themselves aggrieved by the attempt to extend the jurisdiction of Georgia over their lands, the Cherokees had appealed to the general government for assistance and protection. The refusal of the government to comply with this request, is founded on the facts, that during the Revolutionary War, the Cherokees were the allies of Great Britain, a power which claimed entire sovereignty within the limits of the old thirteen United States; that by the treaty of 1783, the right of sovereignty within those limits was ceded to the United States; and that the Cherokee lands are within those limits, and consequently were included in the cession. The occupation of the soil subsequently, by the Indians, in the opinion of the Secretary, furnishes proof of nothing more than the permission of this government that they might occupy the territory; it is not 'a circumstance whence now to deny to those states the exercise of original sovereignty.' In noticing the treaties which have at different times been made with them, Mr. Eaton considers them as securing to the Indians merely the right of occupying the soil, without conferring any right to the exercise of sovereignty. The hostility of Georgia is attributed to an attempt on the part of the Cherokees to organize a government of their own; and they are told by way of consolation, that this has been the cause why the state of Georgia has departed from the forbearance which she has so long practised (sic). The conclusion of this letter, like that of the 'talk,' is, that the Indians must retire beyond the Mississippi, or be subject to the laws of the state. They are no longer to be protected as they have been; they must abandon their homes, and their improvements, and settle in the land which has been provided for them, or they have nothing to hope for from the government of the United States.

We deny the construction which Mr. Eaton puts upon the treaties with the Cherokees. Instead of being confined to a bare permission to occupy the soil, they expressly recognize the right of the Indians to the exercise of sovereignty within the boundaries. The Treaty of Hopewell, made in 1782, not only marked out the boundaries allotted for the Indian hunting grounds, but also provided, 'that if a citizen of the United States attempted to settle on these lands, he might be punished by the Indians, according to their own laws.' In 1791, another treaty was concluded between the United States and the Cherokees, by which the boundary line was fixed, and all the lands not ceded, were solemnly guaranteed to the Cherokee nation. It was further provided, that all citizens settling on the Cherokee land, should forfeit the protection of the United States; and that any citizen of the United States committing any offence within the Cherokee territory, should be punished as if the same had been committed 'within the jurisdiction of the state, or district, to which he may belong, against a citizen thereof.' By another treaty, in 1798, after further cession of territory, the United States agreed to continue the guarantee of the remainder of their country FOREVER. Subsequent treaties, as recently as 1819, expressly confirmed the old treaties. And yet the Secretary declares that these treaties merely confirm the right of using the soil, and fix the limits of their hunting grounds; and that the United States have no power to interfere to prevent their expulsion by the state. Our new rulers have discovered that the Indians are too near the white population, and that the only remedy for the evil is to drive them from the soil which has been secured to them FOREVER, and compel them to a new territory under a new guarantee, which is also to last forever, and which will be broken as soon as the cupidity or convenience of the white men nay render it necessary. Under these different treaties the Indians have made rapid progress toward civilization, and have escaped the annihilation which threatened to exterminate their race. If they submit to this new outrage on their rights, they too must follow in the footsteps of their brethren; their confidence in the good faith and integrity of our government being destroyed, every incentive to exertion will be destroyed with it, and they too will descend to the tomb; the remnants of their race will lie scattered abroad, and history will only record of them that the Cherokees once existed. And yet we do not see how they can avoid submission. Persecuted and harrassed (sic) by Georgia; and denied the protection of the general government, they have no alternative; they must either yield to the storm and bend before the blast; or, if they dare oppose it, they must meet the destiny of the red man, and die. To us it seems that the guarantee given them by the general government, is about to be withdrawn, and that the faith of the United States, which has been pledged for their protection, is about to be placed with the thousand promises which have been made by the white men to the Indian, and made but to deceive and betray him to his ruin.



Wednesday, August 26, 1829

Volume 2 No. 21

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From the N. Y. Journal of Commerce.


'What has been the patience and forbearance of Georgia? Has she not waited twenty-seven years for these tribes to remove, and evacuate a territory of which they are only tenants at will?'

This is a part of a pert little paragraph which appears in a late number of the Georgia Athenian.

We had said something of the conduct of Georgia in wresting from the defenceless (sic) Indians their lands, and particularly of its last act of injustice in seizing upon 1,167,360 acres of Cherokee territory, under pretexts which we now venture to say will never bear the light:- a territory which, one year ago, no Georgian ever dreamed of, as belonging to the State;- a territory as truly and properly the Cherokees' as any other which they possess:- a territory snatched away from them, in direct opposition to the remonstances (sic) of the United States Agent, and under forms of justice more insulting to justice itself, than the most barefaced violence.- What! in the 19th century, in this land of light, undertake to decide upon the rights of a fellow being, and yet exclude him and all his friends, and all who possess the same complexion, from giving testimony in the case! No wonder that the verdict was given against the poor Indians.

The whole conduct of Georgia in relation to these people, since the accession of 'G. M. Troup' to the chair of government, has been violent and unmerciful in the extreme. The Arch-enemy himself could scarcely have hit upon a better plan for achieving the triumph, than the project of dividing the spoil individually among the people; thus appealing to the lowest and most sordid of the human passions, and sharpening still more the teeth of avarice, by providing for its distribution by lottery. With mountains of gold set before their imaginations, who can wonder that the vision of the people (with some few honorable exceptions) was dead to the rights and sufferings of the Indians;- that they resisted the government of the United States, and did their part towards involving the country in all the horrors of a civil war. Such conduct may suit the taste of some persons, and they may call it 'wisdom in counselling and firmness in executing;' but to us it appears more like the craft of a Machiavel, and the raving of a mad man.

It is in vain to plead precedent in justification of such proceedings, unless the Georgians are prepared to defend the precedents themselves.- The Athenian asks, 'what has become of the cast hordes of Indian tribes which formerly inhabited the state of New York- what has become of the great tribes of the Delawares, the Iroquois, the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Senecas, and the Tuscaroras?' Suppose we should answer, that they have been butchered, persecuted and oppressed by the white man, till the memory of their glory is written only in the monuments of past generations; that the conduct of the New Yorkers towards them inflicts everlasting disgrace upon themselves and the country: will the Athenian therefore justify the same or similar conduct in the Georgians? Do they seek out the worst examples of their neighbors in the worst of times, as models for imitation; and neglect whatever is noble or honorable or free in their institutions and conduct?

But we can assure the Athenian that, never, since we have been upon the stage, has any treatment been inflicted upon the Indians in New York, worthy of being compared, on the score of cruelty and injustice, with that of the Georgians towards the Cherokees. Never, during this period, has a tribe, however small or degraded, been deprived of its lands, except with their own approbation and consent. Here is the point. If the United States could by fair and honest means persuaded the Cherokees to remove beyond the Mississippi, we would be the last to object: but when by a treaty anterior to the compact with Georgia for the purchase of their lands 'as soon as it can be done peaceably and upon reasonable terms,' the same government 'solemnly guarantied to the Cherokee Nation all their lands not yet ceded,' we are yet to learn what is meant by the faith of treaties, if this engagement is to be wantonly violated.

The policy of Washington, Jefferson and Madison, towards the Indians, was humane and benevolent. Aware of the shocking injustice which marked the conduct of our forefathers in this respect, and desirous to make some compensation to the remnant that remained, they sought to induce them to induce them (sic) to cultivate the arts of civilized life. This is the express object of the annual appropriation made in their behalf. With some of the tribes, particularly the Cherokees; these efforts have not been in vain.- But what say the Georgians to so kind and beneficent a work? Instead of rejoicing in its success, they complain,- a Committee of their Legislature complained on the 5th of Dec. 1827,- that the United States have contrived '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 their homes, as almost to destroy the last ray of hope that they will ever consent to part with the Georgia lands.' Therefore it is necessary to break up their internal regulations for the promotion of virtue and the punishment of vice; to extend over them oppressive laws, without at the same time granting them the privileges of citizens; to debar them from the right of witnessing in a Court of Justice; to harrass (sic) them by running surveys through their country, and by seizing, under one pretence and another, different portions of their territory. The Georgians will know that no man is proof against the power of multiform oppression: and hence, the more their red neighbors can be incommoded and vexed, the more likely will they be to consent to a removal into the wilderness of the West.

[The above will furnish a text for the Athenian, or some other paper, to throw out a little more personal abuse; and when that is done, we shall perhaps afford them another opportunity still. But we give them notice, that as long as we are able to hold a pen, and as long as there remains a remnant of the Indian tribes to sigh and bleed under the oppression of the white man, that remnant shall find us ready at all times to vindicate their rights,and expose the violence of their persecutors.]



Wednesday, August 26, 1829

Volume 2 No. 21

Page 2 Col. 1b-2b

From the Hamilton Intelligencer.

The United States never have claimed the land as their own, on which the Indians reside. In all our treaties and intercourse with them, we have recognized their right to the country which they occupy. The Constitution of the United States recognized it, nay more, we have solemnly, time after time, confirmed this right. In the first treaty made with the Creeks, concluded at New York, in the year 1700, the 5th article stipulates, that, 'the United States solemnly guaranty to the Creek Nation all their lands within the United States, to the Southward and Westward of the boundary described by the preceding article.' In almost every subsequent treaty, the faith of the government has been pledged, to protect the Indians in the peaceable possession ' enjoyment of the lands which they occupy. In the late treaty made at Washington in May 1826, by the 13th article, 'the United States agree to guaranty to the Creeks the country not herein ceded, to which they have a just claim.' We would like to be informed by what right we 'we have always claimed the land where the Indians now live,' and how we obtained it?

However unjust and cruel may have been the measures hitherto pursued towards the Indians, the forms and semblance of justice and good faith have generally been preserved. It remained for those now in power, for the first time, to set up a claim of right, to all the lands belonging to the Indians. Why has not this doctrine been avowed, and acted on before?- Why have we paid millions for the purchase of their lands and pledged the faith of the nation, that we will guaranty to the Indians the peaceable possession of the lands which are yet theirs and not ours, if we now intend to disregard all these solemn obligations? If the Indians alone were witnesses of our perfidy, we might protect ourselves from merited reproach, in the same way that the highway-man secures himself against the testimony of the victim, whom he has robbed,- a few more years of rapacity and oppression, will sweep the Indian from the face of this broad continent; but we cannot thus shield ourselves from the reprobation of the world.

The assertion that 'the land beyond the Mississippi belongs to the President, and to none other,' is assuming pretty high ground. Those who have said so much about executive patronage and power, should look to it. No president has heretofore pretended to have the power to parcel out the public lands, and dispose of them without the sanction of Congress. The proposition was introduced in congress last winter to divide the country west of the Mississippi into districts for the Indians, to which they were to be driven, but it was indignantly voted down, though supported by a strong party feeling, and by a few individuals, who should have stood as a wall of defence (sic) to these helpless people. When this project could not be fairly carried through congress, it was attempted by indirection; this also failed. It will be a new precedent in our country, to enforce a measure of high handed tyranny and oppression, by order of the Executive, and the arm of military power, to which the sanction of congress had been invoked in vain.

The President says to the Creeks, 'My white children in Alabama have extended their law over your Country. If you remain in it, you must be subject to that law.' What right has the state of Alabama to extend its laws over the Creek Country? None. The Indians are not citizens of the State. They are independent of its laws. If Georgia could have driven the Creeks from that state by law, Governor Troup and his hot headed partisans would have adopted that mode of proceeding long since. It is the duty of the President to protect the Indians against these encroachments. He should say to their oppressors that the Indians shall be protected in the enjoyment of their own country, that the Treaties and faith of the nation shall be preserved inviolate. He should stay the hand which presses heavily on their heads, and arrest the foot that was trampling them to earth.

The only hope which remains to the Indian race is to live or die around the graves of their fathers, and upon their native hills and plains. Those who promise them a good country, and rest, and protection, beyond the Mississippi, know that their promises are false. The Indians may read the sure presage of their fate in the starvation and wretchedness of the tribes that are now west of the Mississippi. We believe a remnant of this race will yet find in our national councils firm and patriotic men, who will not desert their cause-the cause of humanity and justice.