Cherokee Phoenix


Published February, 12, 1831

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Can it be cruel in this Government, when, by events which it cannot control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home, to purchase his lands to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expenses of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode?

President's Message

Certainly not. The reasoning of this part of the message, at least, is unexceptionable, if only facts can be found to support it. But what are the facts? Is the Indian 'made discontented by events which' the U. S. government 'cannot control?'

The only 'events' of which the Indians complain are, that the states, within whose chartered limits they reside, have claimed a right to subject them to their jurisdiction, and have passed laws, annihilating the Indian government, and substituting their own authority in its stead. By the laws of the states, the authority of their civil magistrates is made to extend over the whole country of the Indians. Their judges and justices may issue writs, and their sheriffs may serve them, in that country; while the Indian magistrate is forbidden to act under the authority of his own nation, on pain of fines and imprisonment. They complain, too, that they are forbidden to use their own land , except so much of it as individuals have under immediate cultivation; and that the states claim the right of deciding, how much is in this condition.---Perhaps they would have no right to complain of these things, if Dr. Ely's theory were reduced to practice, and the states merely allowed to enact these laws, while every white man, who should enter the Indians country to enforce them, was forthwith removed as an intruder. But, this they are told, is not to be the case. The U. S. troops are to be withdrawn, and indeed are already withdrawn, on purpose that the states may execute these laws upon the Indians without obstruction. They are told that they must submit to these laws, and that the general government will not interfere to prevent it. These are the 'events' by which 'the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home,' and which the President says this government 'cannot control.' These two words, 'cannot control' contain the whole sophism of the message upon this subject. Upon them we join issue.

We assert that the general government can 'control' these 'events.' That is has at its command the physical force, necessary to keep off intruders from Indian lands, no one will doubt. The regular army of the United States, with such additions as Congress have power to make and the whole militia of the nation besides, must surely be sufficient to accomplish it. They have therefore, the necessary physical force.---They have also the constitutional right. It is sufficient proof of this that every administration since 1802 according to the Secretary of War, including the present, have exercised it. During this whole period, the Secretary tell us, laws, forbidding any to enter the Indian territory; [except under conditions specified by treaty] have been in force. These laws 'authorize and direct' the President to employ the military force of the country for their execution. Under these laws, the present administration has in various instances, employed the U. States troops to remove intruders. They cannot deny, therefore, that they have the constitutional right, without condemning themselves. Yet they tell the Indians, that they can do it no longer!

They are bound by law to 'control' these 'events'. Of this, the writings of 'William Penn,' published last year, furnish over whelming proof. Indeed, the above mentioned law of 1802 is incorporated into a subsequent treaty. The government has bound itself by treaty, to enforce that law in particular. No one, that we ever heard, pretends that all treaties with the Indians can be fulfilled, without enforcing that law. It is said however, that the Indian tribes are not nations, and therefore are not capable of making treaties which will be valid. But what if it be so? Those treaties were made by the nation and contained promises in which we have induced the Indians to put confidence. Shall this nation, like a dishonest debtor, refuse to perform the promises, on the pretence that there is a flaw in the bond, so that it cannot be enforced in a court of law? And besides who are they that deny the capability of Indians to make valid treaties? They are the very men; who are urging these same Indians to make more treaties? They are the men, who are offering to secure to the Indians by treaty, a perpetual residence and entire protection, beyond the Mississippi. Yet again, what would these same men say, if the Indians should deny the validity of past treaties, and demand, as they have a right to do, if these treaties are not valid, all the lands which were ceded by them? Would they listen to such a demand for a moment? The government must run itself into most glaring absurdities without number, if it denies that it is bound by treaty to 'control' these 'events.'- They are bound to 'control' these 'events' because they have received pay for doing it.--By the Treaty of Tellico, signed Oct. 2 1798, the Cherokees ceded to the United States a tract of land, now in East Tennessee; in consideration of which the United States agreed to pay $5,000 on signing, and $4,000. annually, 'and will continue the guaranty of the remainder of their country forever, as made and contained in former treaties.' Former treaties secure the Indians against the intrusion of white men. And by the treaty with the Cherokees executed at Washington, Feb. 27, 1819, the Cherokees ceded to the United States other lands, in consideration of which the United States agreed, among other things, that this very law of 1802, for the removal of intruders should be executed. The nation, therefore, is bound to 'control' these 'events' because they have agreed to do it, and have received their pay.

Such is the nature of sixteen solemn treaties with the Cherokees, which our government now refuses to fulfil. As a substitute, they offer the Indians a permanent residence at the west, to be secured to them

by treaty; though they maintain that treaties with the Indians are not valid. This new residence is to be in a country, all of which the United States is bound by a treaty with France to erect into States; and these states, the Administration say, will have a right to extend their laws over all the Indians within their limits - treaties to the contrary notwithstanding. And all this is held 'up' in the President's Message, as a very kind and philanthropic proceeding!- We hope our fellow citizens will lose no time in loading the table of Congress with remonstrances against such injustice and perfidy.

Vt. Chron.