Cherokee Phoenix


Published February, 19, 1831

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Extract of a letter to the Editors of the N. Y. Observer, dated

WASHINGTON, Jan 7, 1831.

Information received since my last, confirms the opinion then expressed, that were a vote now to be taken in the House of Representatives on the Indian Question, the act of appropriation passed at the last session would be disapproved by a majority larger than that which passed the bill. That majority, you will remember, was only five. And of those five some preferred the motion of Mr. Hemphill requiring that the lands to be given in exchange should be examined by Commissioners appointed for the purpose before any further measure was taken in the premises. The way to the previous question was only opened by casting vote of the Speaker. On that individual, therefore, rests a most pregnant responsibility. To his God, his conscience, and to the American people he is amenable. Of the will of God in reference to this subject, the Bible is the immutable expounder now, and if I misjudge not his wise, just and faithful Providence, will be the practical expounder hereafter.- As to his conscience, that is round where I will not intrude. With regard to the American people, there can be no doubt that an overwhelming majority is on the side of truth and justice. The justice of the conduct of the administration is strikingly set forth by a remark of Ridge. 'It would be a great kindness, indeed, in the President to set our houses on fire and then tell us to run, or we would be burnt to death!' The Delegation are much gratified by a letter received this week from a gentleman in Vassalboro, Maine, exhorting them to contend earnestly for their rights and assuring them of multitudinous petitions from that quarter. Probably a general flow of such petitions might excite an earlier attention to the subject though the friends of the Indians in Congress are not idle. The subject is discussed among other topics in the private meetings of members and may come up by previous arrangement, or may arise on some sudden emergency, which will be met by a proper and powerful influence. The original of the Letter sent by Gen. Dearborn, a copy of which I transmitted to you is in the hands of some of the members and is said to speak very eloquently to their feelings. To feel the 'golden chain' is certainly to submit to an argumentum ad hominem. There has been an overweening anxiety on the part of many members to obtain an attendance of the House on the pending Impeachment, a thing entirely unnecessary, as the Representatives who attend sit in silence and only hear like any casual auditor, except the Managers. In point of fact also, not even a quorum actually attended in compliance with the vote of the House, and those who voted for the attendance, for the most part, were the absentees. Now what was the meaning of all this? Why, just to waste away the session, (I have it from high authority) and prevent certain dreaded subjects from coming up, the decision of which would disappoint certain hopes. ON Tuesday, however, the House voted to go on with the nation's business while the small affair of Judge Peck is in progress before the Senate.

You are aware that the trial was suspended last week in consequence of the arrival of a messenger from Baltimore announcing to Mr. Wirt the dangerous illness of a child. That child was a young and lovely daughter, scarcely entered on the verge of womanhood, now snatched from fond ' affectionate parents. The bereaved father had only time to bury his lost one, when he must return to the busy cares of the cause in which he is engaged. As deep solemnity seems to shade the countenance of the distinguished advocate, as he reluctantly re-engages in a case which demands all the powers of his mind; while his heart is doubtless far away from the Senate Chamber. Such are the stern demands of public life, that too often, alas, they interfere even with the high monitions of heaven. Mr. Wirt possesses that attribute which so often accompanies genius-exquisite sensibility. When that is the sensibility of a parent, how touching are its exercises? It has been before tried by the death of a beloved son in a foreign land, whither he had gone in the vain search for health. To the excellence of our holy religion, preeminent at such seasons, he is not insensible. Once skeptical on this subject, he has exchanged all his doubts for unwavering belief, and has shown his respect for religion by making its ministers and its books his companions, at intervals of relaxation from the multifarious cares of his profession. In this he is an example for the young men of our country. The house of God is a place where he takes his seat with the humblest of his fellow creatures, to be instructed in the word of eternal life.

To return to my subject. Two of the Cherokees attended the monthly Concert at one of our churches this week, on which occasion was red the interesting document of monthly Missionary intelligence from the press of the Home Missionary Society. That part of it which embraces the description of the present state of the Choctaw Nation deeply interested their attention. To the internal evidence of its truth, they bore unequivocal testimony. Of the effects likely to be produced by the Treaty they must be considered adequate judges, and accordingly with the strongest feeling they deprecated similar effects among themselves. Taylor, the oldest of the Delegation offered a fervent prayer, with which those present seemed heartily and joyfully to join. The thought that probably many thousand Christians were praying for them that night kept up their spirits and inspired all with hope.

Should things be pushed to the extremity of an oppugnation of the decision of the Supreme Court, (supposing it to be in favor of the Cherokees) the Marshal of the United States must execute the decision under the authority of the General Government, by force if necessary. Should the President refuse what then must become of his oath to support the Constitution? Here the awful resort of IMPEACHMENT presents itself. The House it is believed will act with energy and decision in case Georgia persists.

There is another formidable difficulty. It is not pretended, I believe, that the treaty made with the Choctaws and either before or about to be before, the Senate, will be sanctioned by that body. Day after day is spent in secret session- the Senators emerge from their conclave with excited countenances, and walk hurriedly half the length of the great avenue in little squads talking with each other intensely as if some matter of great moment was warm in their hearts- and so doubtless is the fact. The difficulties, I say, are great. The voice of justice and of prayer has raised them. That voice must be heard. And even if the Indians should be suffered by those now in authority to be deprived of their lands, the nation may yet plead its justification at the bar of Heaven, and wash itself of the stain before the world, by appointing men who will use its power and its treasures to indemnify fourfold those who shall have suffered by their predecessors, if not to reinstate them in their ancient and lawful possessions.