Cherokee Phoenix

The following ar extracts from the Speech of Mr. Lumpkins, of Georgia, on the Indian question, which

Published July, 24, 1830

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The following ar extracts from the Speech of Mr. Lumpkins, of Georgia, on the Indian question, which we submit to our readers without comment. This Speech was published with evident approbation, by the Rev. William T. Brantly, editor of the Columbian Star. Mr. Lumpkin is himself a professor of Religion.

Georgia, Sir, is one of the good old thirteen States; she entered the Union upon an equal footing with any of her sisters. She claims no superiority, but contends for equality. That sovereignty which she concedes to all the rest, and would at any time unite with them in defending from all encroachment, she will maintain for herself. Our social compact upon which we stand as a State, gives you the metes and bounds of our sovereignty; and within the limits therein defined and pointed out, our State authorities claim entire and complete jurisdiction over soil and population, regardless of complexion.

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I feel disposed to pity those who make the weak and false plea of inability, founded on the 'reasonable and peaceable.' whenever I hear it made. ____ the pettifogging quibbles deserve the contempt of a statesman. No man is fit to be a Congressman who does no know that the General Government might many years ago, upon both reasonable and peaceable terms, have removed every Indian from Georgia.

But, Sir, upon this a subject, this Government has been wa___ing in good faith to Georgia. It has, by its own acts and policy , forced the Indians to remain in Georgia, by the purchase of their lands in the adjoining States and by holding out to the Indians strong inducements to remain where they are by the expenditure of vast sums of money,in changing the habits of the savage for those of civilized life. All this was in itself right and proper; it has my hearty approbation: but it should not have been done at the expense of Georgia. The Government, long after it was bound to extinguish the title of the Indians to all the lands in Georgia, has actually forced the Cherokees from their lands in other States, settled them upon Georgia lands, and aided in furnishing the means to create the Cherokee aristocracy.

Sir, I blame not the Indians: I commiserate their case. I have considerable acquaintance with the Cherokees and amongst them I have seen much to admire. To me, they are in many respects an interesting people. If the wicked influence of designing men, veiled in the garb of philanthropy and Christian benevolence, should excite the Cherokees to a course that will end in their speedy destruction, I now call upon this Congress, and the whole American people, not to charge the Georgians with this sin; but let it be remembered, that it is the fruit of mistaken zeal, emanating from the land of steady habits; from the boasted progeny of the pilgrims and puritans.

Sir, my State stands charged before this House, before the nation, and before the whole world, with cruelty and oppression towards the Indians. I deny the charge, and demand proof of those who make it.

I have labored, as one of your committee, day and night, in examining every thing which has any connection with the history of this subject. Amongst other duties, we have examined all the various laws of the colonial and state governments in relation to the Indians. The selection made and submitted, has long since been in the hands of every gentleman of this House. Let the laws of other State be compared with those which are the subject of complaint,and it must then be admitted by every candid man, that the state's complained of stand pre-eminent in humanity, mildness, and generosity towards the Indians.* * * * * * * * *

Compare the pictures drawn by these pamphlet writers and memorialists of the concert schools in which they have painted Georgia on the one side and the Cherokee sovereignty on the other. From these publications not only the stranger in a foreign land but the honest laboring people of New England, who stay at home, and would mind their own business if let alone, by these canting fanatics, verily believe that the Georgians are the worst of all savages; that they can neither read nor write; that they are infidels deists,and atheists; and that they never hear a gospel sermon except from a New England missionary. Upon theother hand they are taught to believe that the Cherokee Indians are the most prosperous enlightened, and religious nation of people on earth--except indeed the nation of New England. These Boston writers are not a people who work for nothing and f__d themselves. No, Sir, I entertain no doubt but they are well paid for all 'their labors of love' in the cause of Cherokee sovereignty.

The Cherokees receive large annuities from this Government; they have a rich treasury, and their Northern allies understand giving a saving direction to their financial disbursements. These Northern intruders are numerous and influential amongst the Cherokees. One religious Board at the North, (of whom 'William Penn' is Chief Secretary) furnishes the Southern tribes of Indians with upwards of twenty stationary missionaries besides superintendents, mechanics, 'c. 'c. chiefly composed of our Northern friends. No doubt Sir, but President Ross himself, with all his official subordinates has long since found it expedient to yield the chief control of the purse and the press (which you know are said to be the strength of nations) to his more skilful and eagle eyed friends and allies. But for those annuities, we should not have been encumbered, throughout the session, with memorials from Maine to Stubenville in Ohio. These self-interested reporters of the state and condition of the Cherokee Indians, tell you they are already a civilized and Christianized people. I admit we do find in the Cherokee country many families enjoying all the common comforts of civil and domestic life, and pressing the necessary means to secure these enjoyments. Moreover, we find a number of schools and houses built for religious worship. Many of these comfortable families too, are composed of natives born in the Cherokee country. But the principal part of these enjoyments is confined to the blood of the white man, either in the whole or in part. But few, very few of the real Indians participate largely in these blessings. A large portion of the full blooded Cherokees still remain a poor degraded race of human beings. As to the proportion that are comfortable, or otherwise. I cannot speak from my own personal knowledge wit any degree of certainty; but, from what I have seen I can readily conclude that Indians are in a state of improvement, whilst their lords and rulers are white men, and the descendants of white men, enjoying exclusively the Government annuities, upon which they foster, feed, and clothe the most violent and dangerous enemies of our civil institutions.

While the smallest intrusion (as it is called) by the frontier citizens of Georgia, on the lands occupied by the Cherokees excites the fiery indignation of the fanatics, and tone end of the chain of concert and coalition to the other, do we not find an annual increase of intruders, from these philanthropic ranks, flocking in upon the poor Cherokees, like caterpillars and locusts of Egypt, leaving a barren waste behind them? Yes, Sir, these are the intruders who devour the substance which of right belongs to the poor perishing part of the Cherokees. They divide the spoil with the Cherokee rulers, and leave the common Indians to struggle with want and misery, without hope of bettering their condition by any change but that of joining their brethren west of the Mississippi. + + + + + +++ +++++++

The practice of buying Indian lands is nothing more than the substitute of humanity and benevolence, and has been resorted to in preference to the sword, as the best means for agricultural and civilized communities entering into the enjoyments of their natural and just right to the benefits of the earth evidently designed by Him who formed it for purposes more useful than Indian hunting grounds.

Sir, much has been said and written, with a view of maintaining the doctrine of Indian sovereignty, and I admit many of the acts of the General and State Governments may be selected, apart from their general policy, which would seem to afford support to this position. Yet when we take the whole policy and history of these Governments, as exhibiting an entire system, it must be admitted they have never hesitated to extend their sovereignty over the Indians in their respective spheres when it was deemed expedient to bring them under their laws and jurisdiction; unless indeed we find this hesitancy in the absence of physical power. Here I will remark, Mr. Chairman, that the only reason why any State in this Union has permitted the interference or sought the aid of the General Government, to take any part in the management and control of the Indian tribes residing within their respective boundaries, has been on account of their physical weakness; and they have, therefore, looked to this Government for that aid and success, to which afford which it was established by the several States of the Union. Yes, Sir, this Government was formed to protect, and not to destroy the State Governments. In all the states we find so soon as the Indians were reduced to a condition that no danger was to be apprehended from their power and hostility, the States have invariably taken their Indian affairs into their own hands, and no longer looked to the Federal arm for aid,

Upon every branch of this subject it is necessary constantly to keep in view the distinction between privileges and immunities. The States have privileged the General Government to assume the management of very important matters, connected with their Indian relations. Yes, Sir, the aid of this Government has often been sought in these matters nevertheless while the States thus sought and assented to this exercise of power on the art of the General Government, it was from motives of prudent policy and interest. No State of this Union ever saw the time they would have yielded to this exercise of power, when claimed as a right and attempted to be enforced contrary to the State. It is the same case in regard to the Indians residing in a State. They are privileged in very many respects, far beyond their rights or immunities. While the population of a State is small and its territories extensive, large tracts of country are permitted to remain for the use and privilege of the Indians to hunt and roam from place to place. They are according to their own customs with out any interference on the part of the State. But when this state of things becomes changed as it now has in Georgia, the State is of necessity compelled to assert and maintain her rights of sovereignty and jurisdiction.* * *

But, Sir, I will not dwell upon the wrongs of Georgia. It is the province of weakness to complain. We have sought from this Government our rights, in the fulfillment of her engagements with us. They have long been withheld; upon frivolous excuses. We had lost confidence in any appeals which we could make to this Government; that confidence has been restored to the Executive branch of the Government, by the course which has been marked our and pursued by our Chief Magistrate. He has spread his opinion before the nation, in relation to the claims and rights of Georgia, upon the India subject. Georgia is now waiting to hear the response of this branch of the General Government. A disposition manifested on your part to make reparation to Georgia,for the multiplied wrongs which she has endured, will be grateful to the feelings of every Georgian.

But, Sir, arraigned as we are at your bar, we have no supplication to make. We deny your right of jurisdiction. Upon the subject of your sovereignty we fear nothing from y our sentence. Our right of sovereignty will not be yielded. If you do no perform your duty, by withholding your opposition too long delayed justice, and fulfil the conditions of your contract of twenty-eight years standing, I would then advise you to let us alone, and leave us to manage our own affairs in our own way.


*Mr. L here alludes to the Essays of 'William Penn,' and an article in the American Monthly Magazine, when he erroneously imputes to the same author. Those who publish Mr. Lumpkin's Speech should inform their readers of this error.

Jour. of Humanity