ON THE INDIAN QUESTION
Several of the leading London periodicals have commented, with deserved severity, on the principles recently advanced in the country in relation to the Indians. The London Christian Observer, a work which has long been held in the highest estimation by the religious public on both sides of the Atlantic, in a review of the Essays of William Penn, has the following remarks:-N. Y. Obs.
This ably written publication has just reached us from the other side of the Atlantic; where, we trust, it has already met with that attention which its importance demands. The minor details would not interest European readers; but the general question is not alien to any mind that is alive to the claims of justice or humanity.
We noticed the subject in our number for last May (p.326,) and have also alluded to it in our reference to President Jackson's message, and on other occasions. The Indians have been again and again recognized by treaty as independent nations, ' their lands and laws secured to them by the most solemn pledges; and for Georgia, or any other state in the Union, to force them involuntarily to submit to its sovereignty, under pain of banishment beyond the Mississippi is both inequitable and cruel. The religious part of the community in America have expressed themselves on the subject in a manner that does them honor; but we fear their arguments will not avail in the legislature, where there appears to be a strong disposition to side with Georgia against the poor Cherokees, as unhappily recommended by the President.- The result is the more lamentable as the Cherokees are rapidly advancing in civilization, and all the characteristics of a free, happy, intelligent, and religious nation. They know their own rights, and feel keenly the injustice of their oppressors.
We had written the above, when some recent American papers reached us, in which we find a debate in Congress on the presentation of a memorial from New York in favor of the unfortunate Indians. Nothing, except it be some of the speeches in our own West Indian assemblies, can be more harsh, tyrannical, and unchristian, than the remarks of one of the members for Georgia on the occasion.- He thought it most supercilious for persons to pretend to interfere in behalf of others; let them mind their own business; it is quite time enough for persons to complain when they are hurt themselves; the Indians are 'savage tribes.' 'the remnants of a conquered people,' 'infidel aliens;' and those states within whose limits they live have a right to extend their laws over them; 'it might be well enough for the State of New York or,' continued he sneeringly, 'the British Parliament, to legislate for that amiable and oppressed race of vagrants;' but, for himself he hated such 'political homilies,' such 'mawkish mixtures of sentiment and selfishness;' it was 'ridiculous and disgusting;' and the memorial (which another member said had been 'got up at a grog-shop,') was intended only to show the 'eloquence and philanthropy of the memorialists.' We can only say, that the orator is worthy of the cause. If common justice and humanity, or the irrefragable arguments of 'William Penn,' had not convinced us which was the right side of the question, this speech of Mr. Wilds, of Georgia, would have done so. As to his argument, the lands of the Cherokees are not 'within the limits of Georgia,' though surrounded by Georgia; they never formed a part of that state; the possessors are not represented in the legislature, they no more belong to Georgia, than the vineyard of Naboth to Ahab; and if taken, as we fear they will be, either by fraud or force, the curse of 'God cannot but alight upon the aggressors?