Cherokee Phoenix

This issue of the Phoenix is published in four columns only

Published November, 6, 1830

Page 4 Column 1a

This issue of the Phoenix is published in four columns only.

From Niles' Register.


We publish certain letters between Messrs. Wirt and Gilmer, relative to the 'Cherokee case,' about to be brought before the supreme court of the United States, and to which even the 'sovereign state' of Georgia, though it may refuse to plead, will be expected to submit, as Virginia, Maryland, and other states have done. Without some high and common arbiter for the settlement of disputes of this character, the union is not worth one cent, and Dr. Cooper has our approbation to put it down at a ha'penny, English, without going into any calculation of its value. We judge not the case -- that belongs to others who will determine it faithfull -- and fearlessly. The thunders of Georgia will not be regarded by that lofty tribunal, more than the wailings of the poorest and most miserable of the Cherokees -- the power of the one will no more influence an unjust decision, that the wretchedness of the other cause a sympathy running into error; and the decision will be supported by the people. A desire on the part of many, and long entertained also by ourselves, to lessen the power or reduce the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United States, and a resistance of its authority, are very different things. If its organization be wrong, or its power illegally exerted, there is a remedy for either -- and the people will apply it for correction -- not destruction. And in any event -- there must needs be some tribunal of a last resort: something which the common sense of all men, for self-preservation, shall accept, not as infallible, but as being the nearest possible approach to perfection. Without it, what shall prevent Massachusetts from trespassing on Rhode Island, New York on New Jersey, Pennsylvania on Delaware, and so on, to the extremes of the union? If the legislature of New York for example shall pass a law claiming the entire jurisdictioin over the lower Hudson, may not the right of thatlaw be questioned- the titles examined into, tne the case settled by other means than an appeal to force? What a fearful matter is here presented to consideration--and yet uch is exactly the stand that Georgia has taken. She claims the right of sovereignty over the Cherokee lands-she may or may not possess it; but if we understand the law of Goergia or the indecorous taunt of Gov. Gilmor, it is highly criminal to doubt such claimes by the institution of a legal process! The Governor disavows any right to intervene with Mr. Wirt, 'as long as he keep beyond the jurisdiction of the state.' How generous! It is as much as to say that no one within the territory of Georgia shall dare to question the ingallibility of the legislature of that state-and that if Mr. Wirt ventures on Georgia land, he shall be arrested and punished because he is acting as council for a numerous people, having among them aboriginal rights of the soil, with a (?) to ascertain how far, or in what manner these rights have been reduced or parted with. That the 'sovereign' power was in the Indians, cannot be disputed-and may not the claim to dispossess them of that sovereignty be examined in a court of law? Is force to be the only arbiter? What then shall become of the small states? Take this case-suppose the great state of New York, with her two millions of people and abundant means shall calim a 'sovereignty' over the harbor of Savannah, as convenient for her navigaton and comerce, and pass a law making it highly penal i any one within her jurisdicton to doubt the legality of her claim-what would Georgia do? And New York, if left to herself, might just as certainly hold jurisdiction over the harbor of Savannah as Georgia can over the lands of the Cherokees.

The whole question is one of profound interest. Its very nature should forbid a passionate discussion of it. The law must be determined according to the provisions and principles of the constitution, and neither party can estblish these porvbisions andprinciples. A nullifying power is unadmissable unless exerted in a constitutional way. A majoritymay err-has erred; but who shall decide in that case? Shall the sword be unsheathed, or reason be allowed a do-dominion. 'Angles in the form of men have not taken up their abode with us to guide us-and until they do, the voive of the people must be accepted as the 'voice of God.' We have no other standard of political truth than the public judgment--which though it may be wrong, involves in it the necessity of submission. The union can exist only upon such terms. If there be a right in a state to nullify the acts of the United States each county of a state has the same right as to the acts of its own state. 'Chaos must come again;' and this fair republic 'the hope of all men who love liberty,' become what Poland was, the prey of contending chiefs-among whom the sharpest sabre wss the best interpreter of the law--and indeed, the only one. Georgia cannot claim anything that she will yield to Delaware, or either what must not be granted to any other state in the union--and, with twenty-four differing constructions of the Consitution and the law, it is utterly impossible that any other medium, than through the shedding of blood, can be devised by which to appease, or put down parties, and generals as in Columbia and Mexico, instead of judges will make and execute the law.

The people are not ripe for such a state of things, and until they are, the authority of the Supreme Court wil be supported.