Cherokee Phoenix


Published April, 21, 1830

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The author of the pamplet (sic) of Gov. Cass' article on the last number of the North American Review, treats that writer with great, but for aught we can see,

just severity. We will quote a single passage, after reading which, no honest man can ever quote Gov. Cass as authority.

There is a decision of the Supreme Court of New-York, which rests upon the ground that the small tribes of Indians remaining in that state are not now independent sovereignties.-- Of this Gov. Cass has taken pains to avail himself to the utmost. The pamphlet before us, after showing that if the Oneidas have 'lost their independence,' it by no means follows that the Cherokees have lost theirs, proceeds as follows.

We have not done with this matter, touching the Indians in the State of New York. It would seem that the supreme Court of that state was mistaken, as to the condition of the remnants of tribes remaining there.--Though we entertain a sincere respect for the Chief Justice, and consider him a very able and very upright Judge, yet it is due to truth and to the present issue, to say, that the decision, which he announced; was overruled by a higher tribunal; viz. the Court for the correction of Errors. But does Gov. Cass tell his readers of this? does he let them know, that the decision, to which he refers no less than six times, was overruled, and therefore is not law? Does he mention the fact, that Chancellor Kent, after a most elaborate examination of the matter, came to the conclusion that the Indians in New York are not under the laws of that State, but are distinct communities, and in a certain and very important sense, independent sovereignties? and that, in a numerous court of thirty members the decisions of the court below was overruled, and the reasoning of the Chancellor sustained, with but one dissenting vote? Does Gov. Cass announce these facts? No such thing. It would not answer to let the readers of the North American know them. What! spoil an argument by telling the truth!

But our readers will ask, is it possible that such bare faced deceptions can have been willfully practiced? It is impossible that it should have been otherwise; for Gov. Cass actually quotes part of a sentence and repeats his quotation, from the very argument of Chancellor Kent, to which he was referred by the report of the decision in the court below; both decisions being in the same volume. He takes care, however, not to give any indication of Chancellor Kent's opinion, on the very point at issue.

We do therefore impeach Lewis Cass, Governor of the Michigan Territory, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, having a double salary, with many emoluments of office, the continuance of which undoubtedly depends upon the powers that be;--we do impeach this celebrated Reviewer in the North American Review, of an act of flagrant and palpable dishonesty as a disputant, in concealing from his readers the true state of this case. Why did he not, like a man, tell his readers, that the decision on which he had been building, was overruled? Why did he not give at least one page, in connexion (sic), from Chancellor Kent's reasoning;--a page which would be worth more to mankind, than any fifty, that he himself ever wrote? There is a Latin maxim which we will translate thus;-and a legal maxim it is as well as an honest one;- to conceal the truth, is just as criminal as to tell a downright lie. The lawyer who should perform a trick of this kind, by quoting as law a decision, which he knew to have been set aside by a higher court, would deserve to be thrown over the bar.

We charge the reviewer with dishonesty as a disputant. We should not have done this, if it had been a question of politics merely, or of science, or of Indian philology.--But the discussion of the rights of the Indians is a graver subject. No course can possibly be so injurious to them as that of concealing the truth, overwhelming their character with obloquy, and disguising the real state of the case by sophistry, while pretending withal(sic) to a large share of philonthropy(sic) and a great deal of wisdom. There are few moral offences(sic) so atrocious, as first to deprive a weak and defenceless (sic) people of their public and private character, and then assign their destitution of Character as a reason why they should be deprived of their country, their freedom, and (as the event will prove to many of them,) of their lives.


Whatever is done for the Indians (says the N. Y. Observer) must be done quickly. The Committees on Indian Affairs in both Houses of Congress, have made reports favorable to the views of Georgia, and there is reason to fear that avarice and injustice will finally triumph; that in the language of Mr. Wilberfoce. 'Self-interest will probe an over-match for benevolence.' It is clear that some of those in authority, both in the general and state governments, who are most active on the Indian Question, are totally destitute of moral principle.- Indeed they themselves openly avow it. The authorities of Georgia proclaim the doctrine that 'might makes right;' and the Secretary of War has instructed his agents to offer bribes to the Indian chiefs to induce them to sell their lands.* After such avowals what may we not expect? Is there any iniquity to which such men will not resort to accomplish their purposes?- If it found necessary to bribe members of Congress, will not the attempt be made to bribe them? If falsehood is necessary to blind the public eye, will any scruple prevent the resort to falsehood?- The case of the Indians is perfectly plain case,and if the people of this country cannot see through the sophistry of those who are seeking to rob them of their lands and their liberty, our own lands and our own liberty may soon fall a prey to the arts of the sophist. The case of the Indians is every man's case. The barrier of good faith which protects them, protects us also; and if it is broken down, all on earth that we hold most dear will lie open to the invasion of tyrants.

What now remains to be done? The answer is plain. Let every honest man resolve that he will wash his own hands of this iniquity; that his testimony against injustice shall stand on record in the archives of our government. If there are towns where the people are so sluggish and indifferent that the people will not meet in public assembly to utter their united protest, let individuals write their own memorials. The people of Massachusetts are setting a noble example. Preparations are in progress for the expression of public opinion in ever town in that Commonwealth. Let it not be said, 'These memorials will be in vain,-they will not save the Indians. They may save the Indians, but if they do not save them, they may save us. Like the blood on the door posts they will be a token; and when the angel of destruction passes through the land to smite it with his plagues, the houses in which that token is found, may escape the judgment of heaven.'

Have the citizens of Vermont no protest to utter on this subject? With a few honorable exceptions, no voice has yet echoed in the Halls of Congress from the Green Mountains in favor of the Indians. Shall it be said that we are behind our sister states in the manifestation of sympathy of our red brethren and a deep sense of the wrongs with which they are threatened?


*In the instructions of the Secretary of War to Gens. Carroll and Coffee, contained in document No. 3, pp. 179-80, accompanying the Secretary's Report, is found the following language: 'The best resort [to induce the Indians to emigrate] is believed to be that which is embraced in an appeal to the chiefs and influential men-not together, but apart at their own houses- and be a proper exposition of their real condition, rouse them to think upon that; whilst offers to them of extensive reservations in fee simple, and other rewards, would it is hoped, result in obtaining their acquiescence. This had, their people, as a body, it is believed, would gladly go.'

What should be thought of a project which requires such measures to carry it into effect?--Vt. Watch.