This issue of the Phoenix is printed in four columns only.
Copy of a letter from the Secretary of War to the Editor of the
CHOCTAW AGENCY, Sept. 29, 1830
'Yesterday a Treaty was concluded with the Choctaws and signed.- They cede their entire country: They are solicitous to depart-many of them immediately: They are to remove with three years. I give you the information,not doubting it to be a matter of solicitude to the people of Mississippi.'
From the Port Gibson Correspondent.
SIR: The citizens of Mississippi no doubt feel considerable interest in the Treaties which have been recently concluded with the Chickasaws and Choctaws, and any information in relation to either of them, I take for granted, will prove acceptable to yourself, and to the readers of the Correspondent.
I was at the Choctaw Treaty from first to last; I had occasion to remain among the Choctaws nearly a fortnight after the conclusion of the Treaty: and in travelling leisurely from the Tombigbee to the line, I have made particular enquiries as to the feeling prevailing among the people.
I have not met among the Choctaws a single individual that seems to be satisfied with their Treaty. Even of those that signed it, all that I have conversed with appear to have done it with reluctance; some simply because their chief had set the example: others, because the Secretary of War had given such 'strong talks' that they believed no option was left them but a Treaty, or inevitable destruction.
One great source of dissatisfaction, however, arises from the fact, that the Treaty was signed by the Chiefs and others, after the majority of the people- and not only the majority, but I will go farther, and add four-fifths of the people- had voted against the Treaty, and left the ground. There were at one time about
five thousand people on the ground. At the signing of the Treaty there were scarcely five hundred. A detailed history of the proceedings of this Treaty would prove curious and interesting to the public: But my purpose at present is to give a brief sketch, only of prominent occurrences.
The Dancing Rabbit Creek, within about 5 miles of Mingo Mooshulatubbe's was the spot selected for holding the Treaty;-the time, the 15th September. On that day, the Hon. The Secretary of War, and Gen. Coffee, the commissioners of the United States, arrived on the ground. Business, however, did not commence until Saturday the 18th. There were, then, about four thousand Indians on the ground. Col. Greenwood Leflore and Col. David Folsom, with their followers, were encamped on one side of the Dancing Rabbit Creek, (a small but beautiful stream of water); Mingoes Mooshulatubbe and Nituckachee, with their followers on the other. Those parties were hostile to each other, and a reconciliation between their leaders was not effected till Monday the 20th.
The first step taken by the commissioners was to order all the Missionaries to retire from the Treaty ground. The Presbyterian Missionaries, having addressed a communication to the commissioners, stating the reasons which had induced them to attend, complied with the order. The Methodist Missionaries, having also stated the reasons which influenced them refused to retire. The original order had excited surprise; but having been given, it was anticipated that strong measures would be taken to enforce it. The commissioners, however, thought it prudent to desist.
On Saturday the 18th Sept. the Commissioners delivered a written talk to the Choctaws, and copies were furnished to the several Chiefs, to be fully interpreted and explained to the warriors. On the Monday following, a general council was again convened, and through the interference of the Secretary of War, the rival parties were reconciled. The Choctaws on this day appointed a National Committee, (20 from each of the three districts) to transact their business with the commissioners.
On Tuesday, a great ball play took place, and no business was done.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the National Committee were engaged in deliberation on the basis of a Treaty submitted to them by the Commissioners.
On Friday, the National Committee unanimously rejected the propositions of the Commissioners. They went further, it is understood, and declared their unwillingness to sell their country on any terms. This elicited from the Secretary of War what Indians would call a very 'strong talk'. Some idea may be formed of the 'strength' of the Secretary's arguments, when, among other things, he declared unequivocally, that the Agent and interpreters of the United States should be removed from among the Choctaws- that the President would hold no further intercourse with them, but would abandon them wholly to the laws of Mississippi.-- This threat produced a powerful impression.
At the time the decision of the National Committee was taken, there were about five thousand people on the ground; but, from that time they began to break off hourly. The National Committee and the Chiefs meeting in council, and revising their previous decision, appointed a sub-committee to draft propositions to be submitted to the Commissioners. Accordingly, on the next day, (the 25th September) propositions were submitted on behalf of the Choctaws.- The Commissioners, in the afternoon, called a general council, and submitted fresh propositions, and demanded an immediate decision on the part of the Council. Night coming on, however, no decision was had. Sunday (time being precious to the Commissioners) councils were convened in the several camps, and the prevailing feeling seemed to be to reject the propositions of the Commissioners, and break for home. In Col. Leflore's camp the vote was taken, and the decision was unanimous in favor of holding on to their Country. Leflore's utmost exertions, and his bold declaration that he would sign the Treaty at all hazards, could not prevent two-thirds of the people from leaving the ground. The remainder, being attached to their chief, would not forsake him. This chief (Leflore's) singular course of conduct, has been the subject of much remark. Before arriving on the Treaty ground, he is understood to have exhorted his followers in the strongest terms to hold on to their country. He is said to have told them that if he consented to a Treaty they might cut his head off. On the Treaty ground, and on the day the vote was taken, he is said to have addressed his people to this effect:- 'These are the propositions of the Commissioners. Decide for yourselves--I know not how to advise you. Don't say now or hereafter,' continued he, ' that I sold your country. The country is yours, not mine, and to you belongs the disposal of it.' The people decided they would not sell, and a large majority immediately left the ground. Leflore remained, and with a small minority the next day signed the Treaty.
Monday, the 27th Sept. The Treaty was signed by three Chiefs, a number of the Captains, and as many of the warriors as could be led to the 'scratch.'
Tuesday, the 28th. A supplemental Treaty was signed, making provision for various individuals. On this day, the murmurs of some of those who had remained became more distinct and audible, and some confusion took place, which had nearly eventuated in serious consequences. The commissioners left the ground the same evening.
Such is a succinct history of the proceedings of the Treaty, and you may rely upon its correctness so far as it goes.
If I am asked my opinion of the Treaty, I will say it is a cheap one for the government:- Not such, however, as it became the United States to grant to a people like the Choctaws. The Treaty, as a whole, lack liberality, and many of its provisions will be found to be deceptive. When it shall come to the public, it will be seen that this opinion was not lightly given.
Yours with respect.
Oct. 18th 1830
P.S. This day ten years since, Gen. Jackson himself concluded a Treaty with the Choctaws. He then promised he would never ask them again for land, and called up his nephew, young Donelson, as a witness. This circumstance was frequently referred to at the late Treaty. The Choctaws are, indeed, greatly disheartened.