Monday, March 8
GEORGIA AND THE CHEROKEES.
Forsyth. Made the following motion, in doing which he said that he considered the Documents therein referred to necessary to a full examination of the question concerning the laws of Georgia and the Indian tribes residing within that state.
That the remonstrance of the State of Georgia against treaties previously formed by the United States with the Indians in that State, and against the intercourse law of 1796; and the report of the House of Representatives of Georgia, of the 11th of February, 1786, be printed.
Frelinghuysen moved an amendment, the object of which was to include also the laws of Georgia, recently passed, extending jurisdiction over the Cherokee Indians.
President observed that he was informed by the Secretary that these laws were not on the files of the Senate.
Frelinghuysen said he supposed that the Secretary could obtain them.
Forsyth said he had no objection that the laws of Georgia should be printed, but he presumed that the laws of all the States having relation to the same subject ought also to be printed. He said he would accept the proposition of the Gentleman from New Jersey as a modification of his resolution, if the objects of it were exceeded, so that I could embrace the laws of all the states in which Indians have resided concerning their relations.
Frelinghuysen said that this amendment would use too much delay. To wait till the Secretary had procured and printed all these laws would be to wait till the session of Congress had closed. The only tendency, then, of this proposition would be to defeat the object he had in view. It appeared strange, that when a question is to be discussed in relation to the laws of Georgia, the materials which are deemed necessary in that discussion will not be given for us. It cannot, said Mr. F. be disguised, nor denied, that the principal question we have to describe, is in relation to the right of Georgia to legislate as she has done. If that question is settled, all will be at an end; but until that question is settled, how are we to decide on the right of Georgia to pass those laws? How can we decide on their policy or expediency, until there laws are before us? How are we to illustrate the issue between this Nation and State of Georgia and the Cherokees, without the laws of Georgia which materially bring to it? And how will that issue be illustrated by the laws of Delaware, Maine, N. Hampshire or any other State? If gentlemen wish to have the laws of the other States, he, Mr. F., had no objection; but he wanted to see the laws of Georgia to assist then in the argument which this important question will necessarily bring on: and he hoped that the Secretary would be able to furnish them. Some time ago, said Mr. F. I moved resolution that the Secretary of War furnish information to the Senate, stating the progress which certain Indian Tribes had made in the mechanic arts. Their advance to a state of civilization, and their condition as regards agriculture, 'c. The gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Forsyth) then moved an amendment to the resolution I offered, and I objected to it because if treated to defeat the object I had in view. I wanted information to aid me in a due investigation into the situation of the tribe of Indians particularly claiming our consideration, but the resolution as amended embraced all the Indians in the several States. The Senator from Georgia prevailed, and the Secretary of War was thus asked to give information as to all the Indians within the United States. I have now waited seven weeks for this information and as far as I know, we are no nearer it now than we were when the Resolution passed. So it will be with this resolution, if its objects are made- as- comprehensive as the gentleman's amendment proposes. Why branch out this resolution when the question which we have to consider refers simply to the right of Georgia to legislate as she has done? Why embarrass it with asking for the printing of all the laws of the States relating to the Indians, from the commencement of this Government? My object is to bring the legislation of Georgia towards the Cherokees, to the views of the Senate, to enable me to decide the issue between them. Will the laws of other States, Mr. F. asked give us any assistance in deciding this issue? The laws of New York, of Massachusetts or Rhode Island, or of any other State he said, had no connection whatsoever with, or any relation to the position the Senate is called upon to discuss. Mr. F. hoped the Senate would keep the call for the laws of the several States, if they desired to have them separate from his proposition which could be accomplished in a week, whereas that of the gentleman from Georgia would produce much delay.
Forsyth in reply, stated that the first objection of the gentleman to his amendment was that the postponement of the information which it would cause would be so long as to render it useless. He supposes, said Mr. F., that it will be necessary to make and extensive search, and to print volumes before the information can be laid before the Senate. Having examined this subject attentively, I can assure him that the information can be procured without the delay he anticipates, and that the printing of it will not occupy more than 90 pages, as a friend of his in the other House, after a minute examination, had estimated, it can be had in proper time also. But the gentleman says that such information is not necessary, and that the laws of Georgia only are required. What was the question to be considered? The gentleman has said it was as to the right of Georgia to legislate, in the exercise of jurisdiction over the Indian Tribes residing within her limits. Are the laws of Georgia alone important to a due consideration of this question? The gentleman talks of the policy of the humanity of these laws extending jurisdiction over the Indians? Were these questions to be submitted to the Senate when the right of the State to legislate in this matter was admitted? If the right is in Georgia to pass these laws, the manner of executing them is not to be discussed here. The Senate, the Congress of the United States, is not the place where the State of Georgia is to be arraigned for the exercise of her admitted rights. But, if the question is to be debated here as to the policy, the expediency, and the humanity of her laws, and those laws are therefore to be called for, why not include also the laws of other States? Is any difference to be made between Georgia and Alabama-Georgia and Mississippi- Georgia and Massachusetts--or any other State? The right exercised by Georgia, we claim she has a power to exercise; and when a question as to this right is made, we will appeal to our sister States, and demand to be judged by their acts. And when the manner in which the laws have been executed is questioned, we will appeal to the same examples, and will shew (sic) that we have acted towards the Indians with more humanity, more justly, more kindly, and more generously, than any of them. Mississippi has been more generous than any of the States, for she has extended to the Indians all the rights of citizenship. But, with this exception, Georgia has been more just, more humane, and generous, in her policy towards the Indians, than any State of the Union, whether in the East, in the North, in the South, or the West. If I am willing to gratify the gentleman from New Jersey, why does he refuse to consent also to the laws I propose? The gentleman says, the question to be discussed here is confined to the Cherokees, Georgia, and the United States. I think differently--I think it involves the case of all the Indians residing in all the States, however small or large their numbers may be. The gentleman alludes to a resolution he offered some time ago, and of the decision of the Senate on it, and on the amendment I offered to it. He complains that the information desired has not been presented to us, and has not arrived in time to suit his purpose.- Was the amendment I offered the cause of this delay? The gentleman asked for information respecting the condition of the Cherokee Indians, who are at least 600 miles distant from us. Suppose the information he sought for was not in the Department to which he applied, where could it be found but among the Cherokees?- And from whom could it be procured unless from the Agents of the Government who reside amongst them. Some time must therefore necessarily be occupied in transmitting it to us, and he hoped the information would be laid in proper time to enable us to use it to the best advantage. As to the laws of Georgia which are wanted, the only advantage they can be of, will be, to afford gentleman an opportunity to address themselves to the passions and prejudices of members of the Senate, and of the People out of it. They can be used with effect for such a purpose, and this I anticipated when the subject was first agitated. Therefore, I wish to be put in possession of materials to repel the insinuations, should any be made against the conduct of the State of Georgia. The gentleman can have the laws of Georgia for his own use without this resolution, but if he wishes to be supplied with them in the more formal manner, I am perfectly willing, provided they alone are not singled out for the theme of his investigation. All we ask is a fair development of the subject, and a full examination of its details; and then the decision of this branch of Legislature and of the other will not fail to be satisfactory to the People of the U. S., as well as of the State of Georgia.
Frelinghuysen said, that, so far as respects the anticipations of the gentleman that the laws of Georgia will be made a theme for enlisting the prejudices or exciting the passions of anyone, he hoped the gentleman would be disappointed and,( said he) as to the manner in which he supposed I intended to use them, I know he will be disappointed. If the interests of the Indian tribes are not to be protected by the aid of the prejudices and passions of the Senate, and of the people out of the Senate, I hope their interests will fail. If nothing addressed to the honest understanding of the Senate and of the People will produce a conviction of the rights of the Indians in this question, I hope their rights will fail to be sustained. I disclaim, said Mr. F. the aid of all such arguments, and I cannot but express my surprise at the anticipations of the honorable Senator. I hope that the rights of the Indians will be fully and fearlessly examined on this floor. I know they are but a poor and feeble People, and that the State of Georgia is a great State. But poor and feeble as they are, I will raise my voice in support of whatever may appear to be their just rights. It is for the reasons I have stated before, that I wish to have the laws of Georgia printed which have produced the excitement throughout the country, and the discrepancies between the Departments of Government, of which we have had evidence. It is said, if Georgia possesses the right to legislate on this subject we have no occasion to look at her laws. For aught that appears, it may be, as the gentleman maintains, that Georgians afforded the Indians within her territory more protection than any other State. The gentleman says she has been more than humane in her policy, and more conciliating in her conduct towards them than any of her sister States. If so, let us, said Mr. F. have the proof. Let us see her laws, and we will be better enabled to speak of her generosity.
Public rumor has informed us that Georgia has acted unkindly towards the Indians, and it is said that the law which has been passed concerning them, and which law has produced so great an excitement, will go into operation on the 1st of June, 1830. We are called upon to decide the right of Georgia to pass such a law. Rumor, I have long learnt to know, has a thousand tongues, not one of which may report the truth, and it may be, so far from these reports being true, that the laws of Georgia actually afford that protection and kindness to the Indians which the gentleman claims for them. Grant, said Mr. F. the simple abstract right of Ga. to legislate over all her citizens, and to extend her jurisdiction over the Cherokees, yet what can this avail, if, as rumor speaks, she does, in exercising it, come in direct collision with treaties made between the Cherokees and the United States; Why then embarrass the amendment I have proposed for obtaining information on this very point, by encumbering it with all the laws of all the other States relating to the Indians? The gentleman asks, why not include the laws of Alabama, 'c. in the amendment? It is because neither Alabama, nor any of the other States, has passed a law which will go into operation next June, and which has been the cause of so great an excitement as the law of Georgia which is in question. All I want, then, is the law of Georgia: and if gentlemen wish to have other laws, which will occupy 80 or 90- printed pages, and take some time to collect, let them make a distinct proposition for them. I do not wish that a resolution calling for information, directly connected with the scene in which this question originated should be embarrassed with extraneous inquiries. As to the resolution I heretofore offered, and the delay of information it called for, which the gentleman has attempted to explain the cause of, by stating that it had to be obtained at the distance of 600 miles from this, I would ask him, whether the amendment he then offered would expedite it. If the information was to be procured from a source 600 miles distant in one direction, would a proposition tend to accelerate it which required additional information from Maine, Rhode Island, 'c. a thousand miles of distance in another direction? Mr. F. trusted that his amendment would meet the views of the Senate, and that the laws of Georgia which are to undergo consideration here, and which have produced an excitement throughout the country, would be furnished for the information of the Senate.
The question was then taken on MR. FORSYTH'S amendment to the amendment of FRELINGHUYSEN, ' agreed to, 21-20.
The question on the amendment to the resolution as amended, was then put, and decided in the affirmative: and the resolution was passed.