Wednesday, October 14, 1829
We have seen published a letter of the Secretary of War to the Secretary of the Indian Board in New York, in which Mr. Eaton says, that nothing of a compulsory course to remove the Indians, has ever been thought of by the President. It may be so, though we very well remember, that Col. McKenney, speaking the language of an agent of the Government, did once recommend, and the State of Georgia has threatened force. For our own part, we never thought that the United States in her Federal capacity would come out against the Indians in military array ' say, you must remove. She dare not do such a thing in the face of an enlightened world. But let the candid reader consider the policy, and the effects of this policy on the poor Indians, and then say that the United States are guiltless. It is her unjust measures that we complain of, and which, to our minds, partake of the nature of force. We presume our readers have not forgotten the late Creek controversy. Two Commissioners of the United States, Col. D. G. Campbell, and Maj. J. Merewether succeeded, after a previous failure, to make a fraudulent treaty with a small party of disaffected Creeks, which treaty was afterwards ratified. The Creek Nation hereupon made a protest, and was made fully apparent by them, and by the Government's agents that the treaty was obtained in a fraudulent manner, entered into by persons unauthorized on the part of the Creek Nation. The illegality of the treaty was put beyond a question by its subsequent abrogation. But mark the conduct of the Government. What was her language to the poor Creeks who had gone to the house of their father to ask that common justice may be done towards them by restoring the lands taken away from them, by underhanded measures?- 'We know that the treaty is illegal, it has been obtained by unfair means, as our own agents have told us; and that it ought to be annulled, but remember the Georgians have already surveyed the land and they will soon be settled upon it; and we cannot remove them. We know you have justice on your side, but the delicate situation of the Government renders her unable to annul the treaty, unless you cede and relinquish that part of your country claimed by the State of Georgia. To such language as this what could the Creeks, a poor, weak and defenceless (sic) people answer? They were forced to yield, and consequently their ancient territory has fallen into the hands of strangers.
From among many similar instances we will select one other. The State of Georgia, despairing of ever obtaining the Cherokee country, by fair and peaceable means, and being encouraged by a successful intrigue towards the Creeks, has laid claim to a portion of our territory. Soon after the claim originated, which was in the legislature of the State, a surveyor was appointed by the Governor, who, disregarding the protest of the United States' Agent, ran the line. How sincere the Government was in making the protest, is not for us to say. When it was known that the line was run by order of the State, and that the United States had not used efficient measures to prevent it, as in duty bound she ought to have done, our neighbors on the frontier began to flock in and take the country. Hereupon our citizens complained to the Agent, and demanded, agreeably to a treaty stipulation and the intercourse law, the immediate removal of the intruders. The Agent at first returned a favorable answer- but that was all. The Cherokees, finding that nothing was done, and that the tardiness of the Government encouraged the intruders, and after suffering repeated insults and oppression, urged the complaint over and over again. What has been the late answer, our readers are referred to the letter of the Secretary of War to Col. H. Montgomery, lately published in the Phoenix. The Agent is expressly ordered to use no harsh and rigid measures against the intruders- Why? Because the State of Georgia claims the land. In what light shall we view such conduct as this? Is it not apparent that the design of the Government is to create difficulties for us on every side? Are we not likely to be treated as the Creeks were in 1826? Since the order, above referred to, has been received by the Agent, we understand more intruders have been removing into the country than were before.- When the question is once decided and settled, shall we be forced to cede and relinquish the land because these intruders cannot be removed, and because of the delicate situation of the Government? Such is undoubtedly the policy. But, gentle reader, we beseech you to reflect a moment on the effects of such a policy. As the state of Georgia has done, with equal propriety may she, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama severally do, in regard to the remaining portion of our territory; and by opening a door for their citizens to intrude upon and insult us, (and withal the United States countenancing such proceedings) we shall soon be ousted out of land and home. But all will be well, because it will be done
peaceably, without the shedding of blood!
We now appeal to an enlightened, generous and Christian public to say, whether such prevaricating conduct is worthy of a great and magnanimous nation, and whether such proceedings as are now employed to remove the poor Indians can be called peaceable measures? Be it known, such measures are as destructive to the Indians, as they are disgraceful to the Government.
Since writing the above we have received a pamphlet containing the 'Proceedings of the Indian Board with Col. M'Kenney's address.' Among the documents published are the Indian Talk of President Jackson to the Creek Indians- Letter of the Secretary of War to the Cherokee Delegation- Col. M'Kenney's letter to Jeremiah Evarts, Esq. and the letter of Mr. Eaton to the Rev. Eli Baldwin, Secretary of the Indian Board. From the Constitution of the Board, we select the fourth and fifth articles.
ART. IV. This Board engages to afford to the emigrant Indians, all the necessary instruction in the arts of life, and in the duties of religion.
ART. V. This Board is pledged to co-operate with the Federal Government of the United States, in its operations on Indian affairs; and at no time to contravene its laws.
What the operation of the Government are on Indian affairs, may be partly learned from the foregoing remarks.
Among the twenty nine gentlemen who signed the Constitution, we notice the following clergymen of high standing, most of whom, if not all we believe are ministers of the Dutch reformed Church: Alexander McLeod, Philip Millidoler, Jacob Broadhead, Cornelius D. Westbrook, Cornelius C. Cuyler and Thomas De Witt. Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer is the President of the Board.
We have merely glanced over the address of Col. McKenney. We find him in his old beaten track. He attempts to establish the position: 'the perishing consequences to the Indians of a near connexion (sic) with a white population.' This position will remain futile, as long as the improving condition of the Cherokees and the Choctaws triumphantly prove its weakness. Besides, where would Col. McKenney have the Indians go to be out of the way of the whites? West of the Mississippi?- There they would come in contact not only with whites, seven fold more wicked than those by whom they are now surrounded, but with riving savages, with whom particularly they would be in perpetual collision.
We believe the members of the Indian Board are actuated by pure motives, in taking this step to preserve the Indians from extinction. In our opinion, however, they have mistaken their object- we can see no way wherein they can aid the government, without deeply interfering with its concerns- let it be remembered the Government is very sensitive in cases of such interference.