Cherokee Phoenix


Published September, 30, 1829

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'The parties being desirous of establishing permanent peace and friendship between the United States and the said Cherokee nation, and the citizens and members thereof, and to remove the causes of war by ascertaining their limits, and making other necessary, just, and friendly arrangements: The President of the United States by William Blount, Governor of the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District, who is vested with full powers for these purposes, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States; and the Cherokee nation, by the undersigned Chiefs and Warriors representing the nation, have agreed to the following articles, namely:'

I have thought it best to cite the whole title and preamble, that the reader may see in what manner the parties to this instrument saw fit to describe themselves; or, ore properly, in what manner the Plenipotentiary of the United States, with the President and Senate, saw fit to describe these parties; for it will not be pretended that the Cherokees reduced the treaty to writing. This is the second treaty, which was made with Indians, by the Government of the United States, after the adoption of the Federal Constitution. The first was made with the Creek nation; and was executed at New York, August 7th, 1790, by Henry Knox, then secretary of War, as the Commissioner of the United States, and twenty-four Creek Chiefs, in behalf of their nation. In comparing these two treaties, it is found, that the title and preamble of the Cherokee treaty are an exact transcript from the other, except that, 'Cherokee' is inserted instead of 'Creek,' and the word 'Kings,' before 'chiefs and warriors,' is omitted, as are the words 'of Indians,' after the words 'Creek Nation,' in the title. All the principal articles of the two treaties are also mutatis mutandis, the same in substance, and expressed by the sam phraseology. As Governor Blount made the Cherokee treaty after the model of the Creek treaty, there can be little doubt that he was directed to do so, by the head of the War Department. It is morally certain, that the Creek treaty was drawn up not only with great care, but with the concentrated wisdom of a cabinet, which is universally admitted, I believe, to have been the ablest and the wisest, which our nation as yet enjoyed. General Washington was at its head, always a cautious man, and eminently so in laying the new foundations of our union, and entering into new relations. This treaty was made under his own eye, at the seat of Government, and witnessed by distinguished men, some of whom added their official stations to their names. The two first witnesses were 'Richard Morris, Chief Justice of the State of New York,' and 'Richard Varrick, Mayor of the City of New York.'

These treaties were, in due season, ratified by the Senate of the United States, at the time composed of men distinguished for their ability. Among them was Oliver Ellsworth, afterwards Chief Justice of the United States; William Patterson, afterwards a eminent judge, of the Supreme Court of the United States; Rufus King, afterwards for many years Minister of the United States at the British Court; and William Samuel Johnson, who did not leave behind him in America a man of equal learning in the Civil law and the Law of nations. These four individuals, and six other Senators, had been members of the Convention, which formed the Federal Constitution, though Mr. Ellsworth did not sign that instrument, having been called away before it was completed. He was a most efficient member however, in the various preparatory discussion; and did much in procuring the adoption of the constitution, by the State which he had represented.

The reader may fairly conclude, that the document in question is not a jumble of words, thrown together without meaning, having no object, and easily explained away, as a pompous nullity. On the contrary, it was composed with great care, executed with uncommon solemnity, and doubtless ratified with ample consideration. It has, therefore, a solid basis, and a substantial meaning. That meaning shall be considered in a future number.