Extract of a letter to the Editors of the
New York Observer, dated
WASHINGTON, Jan. 1, 1831
I have now lying on my desk two very interesting documents, loaned me by the Cherokees and which they keep in a long cylindrical box of tin, some account of which may not be unacceptable to your readers. One is entitled 'Minutes of Conferences holden at the War office, between the Secretary for the Department of War, on behalf of the United States, and a Deputation from the Cherokee nation of Indians on behalf of the said nation on the 30th of June, and 3d of July 1801. Charles Hicks, Interpreter.'
The other is a solemn treaty or rather a voluntary charter, written on parchment, under the hand of the Secretary of War; the upper side of the parchment being interwoven with a golden chain of double links, the lustre of which, I am sorry to say, has outlived the faith of the government which it was intended to adumbrate, and the observance of the pledge which it adorns. The following is a literal transcription of the Document.
'To the beloved Chief of the Cherokee Nation, THE LITTLE TURKEY, on behalf of the said nation-The SECRETARY OF WAR OF THE UNITED STATES sends Greeting: Friend and Brother: The Deputation appointed by you to visit the seat of government, have arrived and been welcomed by your Father, the President of the United States, with cordiality; they have spoken and he has heard all the representations that they were instructed by you, on behalf of the Cherokee Nation, to make token. In his name I have answered them in sincerity and truth, and when they shall report to you what I have said, I trust you will feel all uneasiness removed from your minds, and that you and your nation will experience that satisfaction, which must result from a conviction of the certainty with which you may continue to rely on the protection and friendship of the United States. These can never be forfeited, but by the misconduct of the red people themselves. Your Father the President instructs me to assure you in behalf of your nation, that he WILL PAY THE MOST SACRED REGARD TO THE EXISTING TREATIES between your NATION and ours, and protect your WHOLE TERRITORY against ALL INTRUSIONS that may be attempted by white people, that all encouragement shall be given to you in your just pursuits, and laudable progress towards comfort and happiness by the introduction of useful arts; that all persons who shall offend against our treaties, or against the laws made for your protection, shall be brought to justice, or if this should be impracticable, that a faithful remuneration shall be made to you, and that he will never abandon his beloved Cherokees, nor their children, so long as they shall act justly and peaceably towards the white people and their red brethren. This is all he requires from you in return for his friendship and protection; he trusts you will not force him to recede from these determinations by an improper and unjust change of conduct, but that you will give him abundant reason to increase, if possible, his desire to see you happy and contented under the fostering care of the United States. I send you by your beloved Chief, THE GLASS, a chain; it is made of gold, which will never rust, and I pray the Great Spirit to assist us in keeping the chain of our friendship, of which the golden chain is meant as an emblem, bright for a long succession of ages.'
War Department, 7th July, 1801
Secretary of War.
[Seal of the United States.]
Spirit of Washington and Jefferson! Spirit of Justice and Humanity! Is there any meaning in promises; any force in words? Is there any truth in the seal of the United States, or in the signature of its highest officers? Here is the original charter before my eyes with its golden chain, the emblem of eternal friendship. The chain is still bright, but the friendship of the Government that gave the pledge has 'rusted' indeed. It is no more! It is buried with Washington, Jefferson, Dearborn, and all the illustrious dead, who lie as low as the children of the forest with whom they negotiated. The real ground to which the opponents of the Indians are driven, is this: 'The faith of treaties need not be kept with savages'- a doctrine will worthy the darkness of the middle ages.
The descendants of Badger's Mother, Little Turkey and The Glass, may now smoke the silver pipe of their ancestors (the pledge of the Father of his country) about the streets of the Capital in vain; in vain may they wait for justice at the gate of the palace with the solemn charter signed and sealed by the government, in their hands, in which that government engages to pay the most 'SACRED REGARD TO EXISTING TREATIES' made with the Cherokee NATION, and NEVER TO ABANDON their beloved Cherokees.'
A memorial will soon be presented to Congress by the Indians now here, and this should be enforced by petitions from all parts of the United States, that the Indians may be protected in their title until a fair adjudication of the case. For the stand which you have taken on their behalf they feel particularly grateful, as they do all their disinterested friends in the Union. Even the smallest mark of interest in their case excites their gratitude, and though their hope of justice be small, their conviction of the deep injustice of the threatened removal is as firm as the seat of life or the principles of everlasting truth. A few 'William Penns' under God would save them and the nation.- They anxiously look for the coming of this their steadfast and zealous friend to aid them. Meanwhile, as the lowly fasting and prayer of Esther and the captive Jews, joined to her bold and fearless petitions to the king saved her country from the fury of the oppressor Hamans, so let the church follow up her petitions to God with petitions to men for justice and mercy. If any hold back now, the words of Mordecai to Esther should ring in their ears, 'If thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise (to the Indians) from another place, but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed.' Let him that hath the power to arrest the iniquitous judgment look to this.