Cherokee Phoenix

From the Christian Mirror

Published September, 23, 1829

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From the Christian Mirror.


The conduct of Georgia towards the Cherokees ought to call forth the language of keen indignation and strong remonstrance from every part of the United States. Silence in this case should be reckoned infamy, for it would be acquiescence in the most flagrant injustice and enormous oppression. It is not a solitary instance of private wrong; but it is, in sober fact, the robbery of a NATION, because they happen to be Red Men,- and the avowed purpose of driving a whole People from their lands and their homes, and from the blessings of civilization and Christianity, into a wilderness, because the State of Georgia wishes to possess their Territory. Can this be done by a Christian republic, without drawing down the curse of heaven upon the oppressor? Can American patriots see this done without hiding their faces in shame and ignominy? Can Christian men witness the execution of this unequalled crime and not lift up their voices in one tone of indignant reproof?

The following short history will enable the reader to discern the infamous injustice and oppression here referred to. In 1732, James Oglethorpe commenced the settlement of Georgia with the king's charter, authorizing him to occupy the uninhabited lands. The ground for the City of Savannah was obtained of the Indians by treaty; he came 'to settle among them for their benefit and instruction.' In 1773 the Cherokee Indians ceded a portion of their country to the Georgians; they ceded another portion by a Treaty of peace in 1783. By another treaty in 1785--the Treaty of Hopewell between the United States and the Cherokees,- the boundaries of the Indian Territory were defined; the Cherokees acknowledged themselves to be under the protection of the United States, and expressed their full confidence in the justice of the United States respecting their interests.- Under the Constitution of the United States the Treaty of Holstein was made with the Cherokees July 2d, 1791, of which the following is Article 7th, 'THE UNITED STATES SOLEMNLY GUARANTEE TO THE CHEROKEE NATION ALL THEIR LANDS NOT HEREBY CEDED.'

'ART. 14. That the Cherokee Nation may be led to a greater degree of civilization, and to become herdsmen and cultivators, instead of remaining in a state of hunters, the U. S. will from time to time furnish gratuitously the said nation with useful implements of husbandry, 'c.'

Thus it appears, that the United States are most solemnly pledged to maintain the Cherokees in possession of all their lands not ceded. No subsequent agreement therefore, between the U. S. and Georgia can affect the rights of the Cherokees or absolve the U. S. from their own Treaty of Holstein in 1791. Let us see what agreement was made in April 24, 1802. Georgia having ceded the sovereignty and their rights as to the lands in question to the United States for $1,250,000 the United States agreed, 'at their own expense, to extinguish for the use of Georgia, as early as the same can be peaceably obtained on reasonable terms, the Indian title to all the lands within the state of Georgia.'

Thus all the rights of Georgia were transferred to the United States. In accordance with the benevolent spirit of our government an Act was passed by the United States, March 1, 1793, authorizing the President to furnish the Indians 'with useful domestic animals and implements of husbandry.'

But soon this prospect of civilizing the Cherokees alarmed the Georgians, lest they should be fixed to their own soil, which no power on earth had any right to compel them to sell, although the United States had bound itself to Georgia conditionally to buy, i. e. as early, as it could be obtained on reasonable terms. The Cherokees refusing to sell on any terms, of course the United States are bound to do nothing; or if Georgia has any claim, it can be only a claim to compensation or damages from the United States. The Cherokees are guarantied in the possession of their lands by the faith of our Government.

In this state of things the Georgians determine, right or wrong, to seize the territory of the poor Indians, who are likely to emerge from their barbarism and to become civilized, christian men. The committee of Georgia complain, Dec. 5, 1827, that the United States have managed 'so to add to the comforts of the Cherokees and so 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 would ever consent to part with the Georgia lands.'

Recently the Georgians have run a new line through the Cherokee country, against the will of the Cherokees and against the remonstrance of the United States agent, by which they have cut off from the Cherokees, and claim as their own, one million and a hundred and sixty seven thousand acres of their territory, sacredly guaranteed to them by the United States! This is more than one quarter of their whole territory. This is taking from them, on the pretence of a line between them and the Creeks, a strip across the south part of their country of the acreage length of fifty seven miles and width 32 miles, making 1824 square miles, and leaving them only at the north 84 miles by 51 making 4,426 square miles, or 2,872,320 acres. Besides this, Georgia has declared by law, that 'no Indian shall be a party in any court, created by the laws or constitution of that state,' with the obvious intention of compelling them to quit their country.

It is time these high handed proceedings were arrested. Let us wait and see whether we have a Washington at the head of the Government of the United States, who will maintain the sanctity of treaties and the authority of the laws. Indeed President Jackson has declared in his inaugural speech-'It will be my sincere and constant desire to observe towards the Indian tribes within our limits a just and liberal policy; and to give that humane and considerate attention to their rights and their wants, which are consistent with the habits of our government and the feelings of our people.' We may expect then, that the Chief Magistrate of our country will never suffer the greedy appetite of the Georgians to triumph over the faith and habits of our government and over HUMANITY, LIBERALITY, AND JUSTICE; and that he will not lend the powers of government to the wicked and barbarous and infamous project of driving the Cherokees from 'their country and their homes' into the wilderness beyond the Mississippi.

From the brief history, given of the Cherokee affairs, the following conclusions are evident and undeniable,

1. The territory of the Cherokees having been ceded to the United States and the nominal sovereignty, claimed by Georgia, having been thus transferred, and the right of pre-emption being solely in the United States, the State of Georgia has no sovereignty over that territory, and the late seizure of a part of it is a violation of the agreement with the United States, and is a flagrant invasion of the right of the United States, and an insult to the general government. It is no less than insurrection and rebellion.

2. The State of Georgia, having received more than twenty five years ago, a million and a quarter of dollars, as a consideration for the cession, is to be holden strictly to the terms of the cession, which are, that the United States shall, at their own expense, 'as early as the same can be peaceably obtained on reasonable terms,' extinguish the Indian title. This is the bargain; but until the title can be thus, peaceably and on reasonable terms extinguished, Georgia has no rights and no claims whatever. The time for such extinguishment has not yet come; nor can it ever come peaceably, so long as the Cherokees retain an ardent attachment to the land of their fathers. Until they are willing to sell on reasonable terms, it will be treason or rebellion for Georgia to do as her Committee of 1827 intimate she may do, when they say, 'she will not attempt to enforce her rights by violence,until all other means of redress fail.' Georgia has no rights in regard to the territory; she has sold her rights to the United States; and the United States have not failed in the agreement, for the opportunity of extinguishing the Indian title has not yet been found.- Nor will the United States fail in the agreement in the slightest degree, if the opportunity should never occur.

It is to be hoped, there are yet among the citizens of Georgia, public men of character and influence, who will despise the paltry acquisition of a comparitively (sic) small territory at the expense of the honor and faith and dignity and good name of the State; men, whose ears have a quick sensibility to the voice of future history, and who will shrink from the recorded infamy of driving a helpless tribe of Indians into the wilderness in order to rob them of their fields, and of their fathers' sepulchres. It is to be hoped, there are yet among the citizens of Georgia, public men, who feel a real sympathy with their red brethren just emerging from barbarism into a state of civilization and regulated policy and happiness, and who wish to promote and not to impede their improvement, and will joyfully aid and encourage them in their advancement towards order and refinement. It is to be hoped, there are also among the citizens of Georgia, many christians, who remember the great law of their Master, requiring them to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them. and who are not unmindful of the declaration, that the despiser of the cry of the poor, shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.'

It may be indeed, after all the efforts of the humane ' benevolent, that this great scheme of robbery will be carried into effect; but it is certain, that the infamy will last longer than the profit,- that an ineffaceable and burning stigma will be branded on a State, which was founded in the charitable profession of wishing to bring white settlers among the Indians, 'for their benefit and instruction,'- and that sooner or later, a deep and just retribution will follow.