Wednesday, November 11, 1829
THOS. L. M'KENNEY AND THE INDIANS.
Under this head, we made remarks in our twenty fifth number, touching the address of Col. M'Kenney before the Indian Board in New York. It appears that those remarks have given him an undue degree of umbrage, as our readers will see from the following communication:
To the Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix
SIR_ I notice, and not without regret, a spirit pervading your journal which, if not checked, cannot do else than prove extremely injurious to you. It is the spirit of personal, and ill natured remarks against those who do not happen to think with you, and your chiefs, upon the question of what is best, under all circumstances, for our red brothers to do? It is not unreasonable that two men equally your friends, should indulge opposite views of this question-the one might think with you, the other not, But do you esteem it just, to pronounce the latter your enemy, and write , or admit articles into your paper, implicating his motives? and by a resort to every species of ill-natured remark, try and make him obnoxious? Do you think this is the way to gain friends, or to lose them? To carry your plans or fail in them?
Now I have remarked this spirit in active operation in the columns of your paper, not against me only but others. Think of it as you may you never have had, not have you now, a warmer, or more devoted friend. I have been, for years making myself acquainted with your interests, noticing, with deep anxiety the clouds, and their directions, which have been so often big, and black, with destructive elements.- I see them lowering over you now-the muttering of their Thunder is heard over the whole continent. In despite of everything which has been adopted in all the past to relieve them, by drawing off their destroying fires, they grow larger, ' larger, and blacker and blacker- and at this very moment threaten to annihilate you as a people! If in this state of dread, I should think (and I judge from experience, and facts) your safety was in removal; shall I be considered your enemy on that account! Would you spurn from you a man who seeing you in trouble of any other sort for humanely and kindly endeavouring (sic) to relive you, altho' he might happen to differ with you as to the best means of doing so? You may be able to withstand, and live under the pouring down upon your people of those elements to which I have reference, and flourish amidst them as Salamanders are said to live amidst fire, but if you do, I shall see exemplified in you that, which has been only fable in regard to this animal. I tell you, you will have extended over you the laws of the states within which you are; and I tell you, you cannot live under them. Think of it as you please- spurn my counsels as you may- rely on your own superior wisdom as you seem resolved on doing-but mark my words-the day will arrive when you will see for yourselves, who are your real; and who are your pretended friends; who your wise, and who your unwise counsellors.
The principal bearing of my remarks in my address, as quoted by you was upon the Creeks, but I know it- and so do you know it, the great body of your people want to get away from the evils that threaten them, and go west- you know it, and I know it, ( and not from secret agents either) that your influence, and the influence of a very few deter the body of your people from making terms; and I say, whatever you may think of it,laying the foundation for the future welfare, and prosperity of your nation.
It is for your sakes, not mine, that I deplore to see the vindictive quality of your spirit. I advise you-think of it as you may to treat persons who are your friends, at least with civility, for you have need of all their counsels; and all their wisdom.
Let your nation be convened- and let such as might be named and arise up and proclaim to the whole that they are free to exercise their own discretion; and that such as choose to emigrate will be at liberty to do so, and will be held in the same favour (sic) by the chiefs, and certain others, as those who choose to remove. Pledge yourselves that not a hair of an emigrant's head shall be harmed. Let this be done, and then, perhaps, will it be decided whether the documents, now in my office, and upon which I based my remarks which are so offensive to you, be false or true. That the public may see that I had grounds for the remark I made; I have had copied, and sent to the press a few papers which show that I stated facts.
I am not to be driven from efforts to promote the welfare of the Cherokee Nation by any remarks you may produce; or encourage to be made through the Phoenix. I know you will; and your people. I think as highly of your people as you do; and wish them prosperity as earnestly. They are a noble race; ' I have laboured (sic) for them; and yet do so, diligently. I may err, but if I do not, and I do not think I mistake your situation, you may, when it is too late, feel that I am your friend.-
THO. L. M'KENNEY.
Washington Oct. 8, 1829.
It may be proper to observe that we have, at all times, as much as duty, and faithfulness to the cause of Indians would permit us, avoided personal collisions, and have never suffered ourselves to make any person 'obnoxious.' This being the case, we have no concessions to make, especially as the gentleman who prefers the charges too manifestly exhibits the spirit which he reprobates in others. We have no personal hostility towards him, nor do we wish to persecute him because he happens to think differently-we have blamed him for making gross misrepresentations in regard to the Cherokees-for making assertions which cannot be sustained by facts, and for repeating these misrepresentations in various ways when we have repeatedly denied them and called for proof. At no time have we charged him with falsehood, but have made allowances by supposing that he was misinformed, or misled by his 'secret' agents. Is it a crime for us to speak in our defense, and to correct misstatements of an injurious tendency? Does Col. M'Kenney suppose, because we are red, we must keep silence, and overlook the slanders that are heaped upon our people? Must we refrain from correcting misrepresentations, even though they are made by persons professing the sincerest friendship? We seek truth and justice, and must be allowed to speak in very plain terms of those who would pervert them. With the motives of Col. M'Kenney we have nothing to do-they may be good- he may be a 'real friend'- he may be a 'wise counsellor;' but after all we must beg leave to judge for ourselves and choose our own friends.
As to the question, 'what is best, under all circumstances, for the Cherokees to do,' we presume many friends of Indians, may, and do, think differently; and all may be conscientious. But is it proper for those who differ from us, to resort to unfair measures to show that they are correct? We care not what they think if they will give us our due and deal justly with us. Let us have the privilege of judging and acting for ourselves-of saying what is best under all circumstances for us to do. The Cherokees have fully and plainly expressed themselves on this subject-they have said, not that there are no difficulties here, but all things considered, it is best for them to remain where they are. What right has Col. M'K. to contradict them? 'What right has he to say that they are willing to remove, when they say they are not?'
The reader will judge, to how much civility the writer of the foregoing communication is entitled, after perusing the third paragraph. He has given us good advice but a very bad example. Do we indeed know that 'the great body of the Cherokees want to go west?' And does our influence deter those from making terms? The charge preferred here is a serious one-no less than a deliberate falsehood. Has Col. M'Kenney made the assertion with proper reflection? Is he able to prove it with suitable evidence? We positively and unhesitatingly deny what is here asserted by him, and say, we do know that the great body of the Cherokees do not wish to go west. Of this we are as certain as that we hold our pen. Col. M'Kenney ought also to know this fact-sufficient has been said and published to convince any reasonable man, not under the influence of prejudice; that the people of this nation are opposed to a removal. Will it be said that we have uniformly misrepresented the feelings of the Cherokees that the letters we have published, from different parts of the nation, speaking the language of the people generally were forged for the purpose of effect? If so, then anything may be asserted and believed. We should like to know also, how a very few individuals can govern a majority-how they can keep the people in dread so that a man must not declare himself an emigrant' such power is unknown in this nation- if there is any power, it is in the people and not in the Chiefs. Again- Will Col. M'Kenney show us the emigrant who has been harmed for opinion's sake? Where is the man who has been persecuted by the Chiefs? Let the reader peruse the resolutions on improvements, published in our last. What is the penalty there for enrolling? Death? No. Stripes? No. Nothing more than this- the emigrant is declared not a citizen of the nation as soon as he enrols (sic), which is perfectly right, for no man would still wish to be a citizen of the country he forever leaves. If threats have been made by the Chiefs against emigrants, why have they not been executed? And if they have not been executed, why should the people be afraid of men, whose words are worth nothing? That the Cherokee rulers are not a set of tyrants, the following fact conclusively proves, and is to the point. A prominent character among the Arkansas emigrants had a law suit with one of the officers of the nation in one of the circuit Courts. The Court decided in favor of the emigrant. The officer appealed to the Supreme Court, which has just closed.- After investigating the case, let it be remembered, in the view of those who 'deter their people from making terms,' the decision of the Circuit Court was confirmed, and judgement was given against the officer. What will Col. M'Kenney say to this? But it is useless to pursue the subject further-if the officers of the Government will credit the reports of the enemies of this people, they may credit everything. Nevertheless we content ourselves with the belief that the truth will hereafter be known.- It will be known whether indeed we have been imposing upon the public.- We hope the measure proposed by Col. M'Kenney, to ascertain the fact, will be followed- we have no fears on that score- whenever the Cherokee people shall speak every man for himself; the assertions, so confidently made in the foregoing communication, will be most triumphantly refuted.
We publish in our first and fourth pages, documents relating to the boundary line between the Cherokee and Creek nations. Whether they are to the purpose or not, the candid public will judge. Since these documents have been in type, we have seen official communication from the War Department, by which we learn, that the intruders on the disputed land are ordered to remove before the 15 of next month, after which a military force will be employed to expel them. We have in our possession a long communication on the subject, from the Secretary of War to Governor Forsyth, which we shall publish in our next.