WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1829
We have seen the documents to which Col. M'Kenney referred in his letter to us. Let it be distinctly remembered, that the point to be proved is, the great body of the Cherokees are anxious to remove, and that the chiefs deter them from enrolling. In just to Col. M'Kenney we give below all the evidence he has produced -- the public will judge whether he has made his word good.
Extract of the letter from Colonel Hugh Montgomery to the Secretary of War, dated Cherokee Agency, 26th September, 1828:
'We (the agent and the sub-agent) then crossed the mountains, visited several of the villages in what is called the Valley Town. We found that the runners had been there also ahead of us, and the chiefs prepared with a reply, which was generally that they liked the country and were determined not to remove; here we learnt that one man who had talked of enrolling had been driven out of a company and not suffered to drink with them, and a report had been circulated that the first man who enrolled was to be killed.'
Extract of a letter from Colonel Hugh Montgomery to the Secretary of War, dated Cherokee Agency, 21st October, 1828:
'I had occasion to mention to you several times the personal hostility which those people had expressed against Rogers and Maw, on account of their mission to this country, but had hoped that it would end in empty threats; especially after the understood that these men were on the employ and entitled to the protection of the United States Government. But as the times had become alarming to those who are opposed to the emigration business, and as several had enrolled, and a considerable number especially in this neighborhood had agreed to enrol, and we were about to break into some of the most influential families, they seem to have come to the determination to put Rogers (who was the most active) down at all events -- and on Friday last, James Speer and Archy Foreman, two half breeds came to the Agency, where they staid (sic) until evening, and I suppose learnt that Rogers had gone over to Calhoun. Foreman crossed the river in the evening, Speers not until dark, when he came into the house where Rogers was sitting, and without speaking a single word to him, struck him on the head with a rock, supposed to weigh near four pounds, which it is thought he took over the river with him on purpose. There were present two or three white men who endeavored to prevent further violence, but were kept off by Archy Foreman who they state said that Speer was his brother-in-law and should do as he pleased. Rogers states that when he came to his understanding he saw Speers sitting in the piazza, and asked him the cause of the assault; Speers said he had not given him his satisfaction, but if he would only name Arkansas or emigrants, that he would. Rogers replied that was his business and he was obliged to do so, he again struck him on the head with a large rock. Rogers is badly cut and bruised on the head, but is about again. This without protection from the Government will put a check if not an end to the emigration here. The hostility is not confined to Rogers and Maw only, but to all concerned, and all those who have enrolled to talk of it; several I understand say they would enroll but are afraid of personal abuse. I have promised them protection, but fear I shall not be able to perform, as I have no force at my command.
'I have engaged two of those who have enrolled, viz: Major Walker and Fishtail, to act on those around this place, but the threats are such that I fear they will decline.'
'Just while writing, Wm. Pettit, a half breed, who enrolled yesterday, arrived, having been driven from his house before day by a drinking party: he states they came to this house just before day making hard threats; he caught up his gun, and made his escape, and has sent for his family.'
Extract of a letter from James Rogers to the Secretary of War, dated Calhoun, Dec. 26, 1828:
'The Cherokees opposed to the emigration of the Indians east of the Mississippi, held out their enmity towards those emigrating to the west of it' -- 'showing at once, not only the hostility to the white people living with them, but a contempt for the government of the United States. On yesterday, I rode about a mile from the Cherokee Agency, and was attacked by the Path Killer, an Indian, who struck me several times with rocks, and who avowed his intention to kill me, and anyone who would aid me in my business of enrolling the Cherokees for Arkansas.' 'If the government wishes to carry the exertions that are now making into effect, it will be necessary that they should send a small force here to protect the persons actually engaged on the part of the government, as times look very squally here I assure you.'
CHEROKEE AGENCY, 3d Jan. 1829.
SIR: On Christmas Day, Major Walker, an emigrant, unfortunately went to an Indian dance, about 4 miles from this. As soon as he arrived, Archy Foreman, (the same who was concerned in the assault on Captain Rogers with Speers,) and others, commenced an assault on him and beat him so that his life was despaired of, or at least doubted for several days. A physician was called and sent out to attend him, and I have declined reporting the case, until I found whether he would live or die. He has so far recovered, as to return to the Agency.
It is thus that those Indians are left to exercise their own pleasure on the subject of emigration.
Respectfully, your obedient:
(Signed) H. MONTGOMERY.
HON. SECRETARY OF WAR.
These are then the documents, by which we were to be convicted of falsehood, and the assertion of Col M'Kenney put beyond a doubt. If they are sufficient, their design has been effected long ago, and by our own act, for the reader will these same documents (except the extract of a letter from James Rogers) in the first number of the present volume of the Cherokee Phoenix. We wish our readers to turn to them.
Now, (and we say it with proper respect) we had reason to expect something more. We did not think that any evidence could be brought forward to prove the point now in dispute, but that letters which we had really published would be produced as decisive in the case, is what we did not conceive.
The above extracts, if they prove anything, prove that the popular feeling of the Nation is decidedly opposed to a removal. Though we have no reason to believe what is said is all true, yet for the sake of placing the matter plainly before our readers, we will admit them as ideas.
1. Col. Montgomery does not say that the Chiefs of the Valley Towns were not acting for the people, when they replied 'that they liked the country and were determined not to remove.' We do know positively that they did reply in behalf and with the approbation of the people. This we are prepared to prove if it is disputed. Perhaps the best comment on this part of Col. M'Kenney's evidence is the fact, that since the commencement of the emigration business, not one family has enrolled in the Valley Towns. Col. Montgomery says: 'Here we learnt that one man who had talked of enrolling had ben driven out of a company and not suffered to drink with them.' Is Col. M'Kenney prepared to tell the public that this was a company of Chiefs who drove the man out? No. It was a company of common people in a drinking frolic -- a company of men who are said to be under the sway of the Chiefs, and out of which only one man
talked of enrolling. Probably he was drunk, and was driven out by his drunken comrades.
2. In regard to the account of the affray between Rogers and Speers, we would observe, that only one party has been heard. We have only the bare statement of Rogers, who says that he was punished for inducing the Cherokees to emigrate. We have understood that the affair was personal and of a private nature. But supposing the account of Rogers be true, to what does it amount? Does it prove that the great body of the Cherokees are anxious to remove, and that they are deterred from enrolling by the Chiefs? If it does, anything may be proved. Speers is not a Chief, nor was Rogers an emigrant, but was engaged, in interfering, very improperly, in the concerns of the Cherokees. He would expect no better treatment when he indulged himself in drinking frolics. Speers being a common citizen, the affair between him and Rogers is only another proof that the common citizens of the Cherokee nation are opposed to a removal. William Pettit is said to have been driven from his house -- by whom? By the Chiefs? No. By the people who are anxious to remove. If the statement of Mr. P. is true (and for the sake of argument we will believe him, though a very different story would probably be told by the other party, if they were allowed a hearing) how is the assertion of Col. M'Kenney sustained by it? It does not appear very likely that those who want to go west would turn one of their number out of doors, and persecute him for believing as they do.
3. It appears that James Rogers wrote a letter to the Secretary of War, complaining of a certain man by the name of Pathkiller, whom he calls, an Indian, for attacking him with stones, etc. Col M'Kenney lays this letter before the public to prove that 'the great body of the Cherokees are anxious to remove, and that they are deterred from enrolling by the Chiefs?' Whether it has any bearing on the question the public can judge. Who this Pathkiller is we know not -- that he is not one of the rulers of this nation, we are pretty certain.
In our remarks on the speech of Col. M'Kenney before the Indian Board, we used the following words: We do not, however, wish to believe that his [Col M'Kenney] misrepresentations are wilful -- It may be he is led astray by his 'secret agents.' Col. M'Kenney replied, in the communication already published, thus: 'The principal bearing of my remarks in my address as quoted by you was upon the Creeks, but I know it, 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 agent either) that your influence, and the influence of a very few deter the body of your people from making terms.' To sustain this very hasty and untenable assertion, a letter of James Rogers is published. Now we are prepared to prove that this same James Rogers was a secret agent of the Government. In a letter to Col. Hugh Montgomery, dated May 27th 1828, Col M'Kenney says:
'I am directed by the Secretary of War, in addition to the above, to any that Capt. Rogers is confidentially employed to go to the Cherokees, and, explain to them the kind of soil, climate, and the prospects that await them in the west, and to use, in his discretion, the best methods to induce the Indians residing within the chartered limits of Georgia to emigrate. As much, if not all his success will depend upon the keeping of the object of his visit a secret, you will by no means make it known.'
There is another thing in the letter of James Rogers which is worth of remark. He says of the Cherokees, showing at once, not only the hostility to the white people living with them' etc. Here it is said by Rogers, whose words are received as authority by Col. M'Kenney, if not by the Government, that the Cherokees are hostile against the whites living with them. According to the nature of things then, these whites cannot have any influence over the Cherokees. On the other hand, it is frequently asserted, that the opposition against emigration among the Indians is owing to the influence and bad counsel of whites. The Secretary of War, in a letter to Col. Ward, agent for the Choctaws, dated July 31, 1829, says: 'The President is fully satisfied that the opposition produced among the Indians, against emigration is ascribable mainly to the interference and bad counsel of vicious white men who gain a place in the Nation.' This is applied to the Choctaws, but the same views have been avowed frequently in regard to the Cherokees. Rogers says, the Cherokees are hostile against the white who live among them, and who of course have no influence. Others say, the white settlers among the Indians produce the opposition against emigration. Col. M'Kenney says, the Chiefs deter the people from emigrating. How are these to be reconciled?
4. The fourth document is similar to the others we have been considering. It does not appear that Maj. Walker was assaulted by the Chiefs or by order of the Chiefs, or because he was an emigrant. If his being an emigrant was the reason of the assault, then it plainly goes to prove that the common citizens of the nation are opposed to emigration.
We would, in conclusion, ask of the candid reader, whether, in the foregoing extracts, it is asserted by Col. Montgomery or Rogers, that the great body of the Cherokees are anxious to remove, and that they are deterred from enrolling by a very few. This is the point of Col M. to prove. It is true statements are given to prove that there is an opposition -- but this is not the thing -- does the opposition proceed from the Chiefs and from the Minority? That it does not, the extracts themselves abundantly show. Even if it was plainly asserted in the documents, that the majority of the Cherokees are anxious to remove, we do not conceive the question would be decided. A mere opinion of the agent or Rogers on this subject would not be a decisive evidence.
We are sorry the assertion has ever been made. In noticing it we do it not from a spirit of vindictiveness, or for the purpose of being uncivil towards the Gentleman who has made it, but for the purpose of espousing the claims of justice and truth. We wish to treat him kindly and with respect, (begging pardon for all expressions which the strictest propriety will not justify) and in return we hope we will do us the justice to believe, that in differing from him, we are not actuated by interested but by conscientious motive. The civility which he asks of us, we hope he will be ready to give.