From Poulson's Amer. Daily Advertiser
The attention of the readers of the American Daily Advertiser is particularly called to the proceedings of a meeting of the citizens of Chester County, respecting the southern Indians which are published today. It is animating and instructive in a high degree to learn that the plain, reflecting, intelligent and independent yeomen of Pennsylvania, have not only begun to direct their thoughts to this momentous subject, but as in the instance before us, have assembled and honestly declared their sentiments concerning it to their servants at Washington.
The work thus commenced will go on-The example of Chester will soon be followed by other counties. We wish them good speed.
Let it be kept in mind that this is no party question, but one of justice, mercy, faith and public honor towering far above the paltry calculations and counsels of mere political demagogues. The people have taken the matter in hand for themselves, and cannot be turned from their purpose; they will be heard and their voice must be respected. The day when official influence could control the public sentiment has gone by. The scepter, for such ends, has departed from the mighty. The people are putting on their strength, and we advise those who occupy either high or low places, who exist but in the popular breadth, and who therefore subsist, chiefly by the public bounty, to take heed to their doings. We are on the eve of a crisis in the administration of the affairs of this Republic. Other and wiser measures must soon be resorted to, in many important respects, or other men will be called to the helm of the Nation. The question has indeed been put to the inquest of the people, and the answer will be speedily proclaimed. In these remarks we do not wish to be understood, as referring to the Bank question-the tariff-the internal improvement policy, nor to be supposed to be speaking on behalf of any of the interests, or the men, connected with those affairs. We have seen enough of the world to know that influence, and place, that wealth, and the spirit which seeks its accumulation, can always find champions and trumpeters for the accomplishment of their ends. We come forth solely the advocates of the INDIAN, and against all measures which shall deprive him of his lands, and immemorial rights. We desire to see in the administration of our national government, agents who will regard the constitution, and plighted faith of the empire as above all price, and to such, and only such, shall our humble support be given.
THE VOICE OF PENNSYLVANIA.
Beginning to be heard in favor of the Indians.
At an adjourned meeting of the Citizens of Chester County, in Pennsylvania, held at the house of Isaac Carpenter, in Marshalton, on Saturday, the 11th of Dec. 1830, for the purpose of taking into consideration the afflicted condition of certain Indian Nations, and the propriety of applying to Congress on their behalf. Dr. BARTHOLOMEW FUSSEL, officiated as President. WM. KIRK, as Vice President, and Charles Downing and Dr. Charles W. Parrish, were appointed Secretaries.
The Meeting being organized, the proceedings of the meeting held at West Chester, on the 22d. ult. were read: Mr. Lewis then, on behalf of the Committee nominated in a resolution of that Meeting, reported the following preamble and resolutions, together with the accompanying memorial, which were unanimously adopted by the Meeting.
Whereas the honor and interest of this Union require, that in our relations with other Nations, we should sedulously endeavor to observe, with unbroken faith, all the engagements into which we may have entered:- And whereas, an arbitrary attempt has been recently made by certain members of the federal compact, to drive our Government into the infraction of existing treaties with some of the Indian tribes or nations, made under the authority of the President, and solemnly ratified and confirmed by the Senate. And whereas, every sentiment of justice, and every feeling of patriotism, forbid that we should remain passive spectators of oppression permitted, or wrongs inflicted by our own Government.
Therefore Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting the Indian natives originally possessed an absolute dominion over the country they inhabited, and that their possession vested in them a perfect title to the soil, against all claims from abroad.
Resolved, That within the limits by which the Cherokees and other Nations or tribes of Indians east of the Mississippi now hold, they have never alienated, surrendered, or forfeited their right, either of soil, of jurisdiction, or of government; but that every right which they claim to possess, has been repeatedly recognized by Georgia and the United States.
Resolved, That the undisturbed and peaceable enjoyment of their lands has been guaranteed to those Indians by the Government of the United States, that they are our allies, and have purchased for a valuable consideration our powerful protection.
Resolved, That the late laws of Georgia, extending jurisdiction over the Cherokees, are cruelly unjust and oppressive in their provisions, and a direct violation of the supreme law of the land.
Resolved, That under the existence of such very unequal and unpropitious circumstances, as respects a weak and unoffending party, we consider any offers of money or other valuable property or other overtures on the part of the United States, for the purpose of inducing them to sell or exchange their present possessions for our use as incompatible with any principles of fair dealing, and cannot be sustained by justice and honor of this Union.
Resolved, That those laws being as we believe they are, a direct infraction of our solemn guarantee of the inviolability and peaceable enjoyment of their lands and sovereignty by the Indians; imperiously demand the prompt interposition of the general government, for the protection of those afflicted and persecuted people.
Resolved, That any treaty made with the Indian tribes, while under terror of the unjust laws of the States which have assumed jurisdiction over them, does not possess the force of a compact, and ought not to be ratified by the Senate of the United States.
On motion of James McIlvain Esq.
Resolved, That independent of all moral or political consideration, we cannot conceive wherein the exigencies of the United States, or of any particular State, require that we should be led into the extraordinary expenditure of many millions of dollars for the purpose of removing so large a body of people to a distant country against their repeatedly expressed desire to remain where they are; we having already more lands than we can occupy for some ages yet to come.
Resolved, That it be earnestly recommended to our fellow citizens in the several counties of this State to assemble and express by resolution or memorial, a decided opinion concerning the wrongs which have been inflicted on, or now menace the Cherokees and other Indians.
Resolved, That printed copies of a brief memorial to Congress expressive of the views of this meeting, be forwarded for circulation in the several townships of this county, and that the following named persons be a committee in the respective township, to procure the signatures of the citizens, and transmit them to Joseph J. Lewis and Philip Price, of the borough of West Chester on or before the 30th inst. for the purpose of being sent from thence to the seat of the general government.
(The names of the committees are omitted.)
On motion, The following memorial was then directed to be signed by the officers of the meeting, and forwarded as early as practicable to our Senators and Representatives in Congress.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled:-
The Memorial of a General County Meeting of the Citizens of the County of Chester, in the State of Pennsylvania,
That your memorialists view with pain and apprehension, the condition of the aboriginal inhabitants within the southern section of our Union.
We have seen these people for many years past, holding their possession in unquestioned alodium owing no fealty, and acknowledging no superior, either mesne or paramount. The validity of their title has been admitted both by Georgia and the Government of the Union. They have claimed and enjoyed every prerogative of an Independent People.- They have 'levied war, concluded peace, and contracted alliances', according to their own free determinations. In our negotiations with them we have regarded them as sovereigns, and our treaties with them have ever been held such in a constitutional sense, requiring the confirming voice of the Senate for their ratification. They have been recognized in the character of friends-not as subjects-have become our allies-and for a valuable consideration, which has been rendered by them in good faith, have purchased the guarantee of the inviolability of their Territory, and the pledge of the protecting power of our Government.
Standing in this attitude, in relation both to the States individually and collectively, we cannot but consider every assumption, on the part of the States neighbouring to them, of jurisdiction over them, as a direct and palpable usurpation, not less violative of their rights, than incompatible with the spirit of our republican institutions, which 'derive their just powers from the consent of the governed'- And it appears to us that the civil authorities of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, in presuming to extend their jurisdictional limits over the territory possessed by the Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Choctaws, have transgressed the paramount law of the land, violated the national faith, and brought in to jeopardy the safety and even the very existence of the Tribes.
In our opinion, therefore, it becomes the duty of the Government to vindicate the National Character, give effect to the treaties we have enacted, and to make good our guarantee, by interposing for the protection and security of the Indians, the energy and authority of the Nation.
It appears clear to your memorialists that the act of Congress of the last Session, for the removal of the Indians, may at this crisis be made the instrument of great injustice towards them. While the laws of the States assuming jurisdiction over them remain unrepealed, they may be properly considered as a party in duress, or acting under the terror of threats and coercion, and therefore in competent to make a valid contract. As long as the laws of a State menace them with subjugation, and the United States withhold their protection, any offer made them for the purchase of their lands, comes attended with circumstances that excludes every idea of fair and honorable dealing. The effect upon them would be the same if the provisions of the statutes of those States, and those of the act of Congress were embodied into one, and the same law that offers the price were to contain the threat. When these people shall have been restored to a condition that shall inspire their bosoms with a feeling of security, when they shall have not reason to apprehend any encroachment on their rights; then they will stand in a situation to stipulate for the sale of their lands, and the agents of the General Government may treat with them on fair and equal terms.
The Nation would but compromise her dignity, and impair her well earned reputation for honor and justice, were she to take advantage of the adverse circumstances that surround these unfortunate and despairing people, to wring them from them a reluctant surrender of their cherished possessions.
Your memorialists therefore very respectfully solicit of your honorable bodies an immediate repeal of the said act; and of the Senate we earnestly request that they will refuse their assent to any treaties that have been made under it; and thus prevent the United States from becoming a party to a compact, enacted under circumstances that must deprive it of all binding efficacy in morals or in law, and cause its enforcement to reflect eternal disgrace on the National Character.
On motion of JOSEPH J. LEWIS, Esq.
Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting be tendered to the HON. JOSEPH HEMPHILL, the HON. JOEL B. SUTHERLAND, and the other members of the Pennsylvania delegation who opposed the Indian Bill; for their independent and enlightened efforts to sustain the national faith, and to save the Indians from injustice and ruin.
Resolved That the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the President, Vice President and Secretaries and that all the editors of newspapers, friendly to the rights of the Indians, are requested to give them an early insertion in their papers.
BARTHOLOMEW FUSSEL, President.
WILLIAM KIRK, Vice-President.
CHARLES W. PARRISH, Secretaries.