NEW ECHOTA: MARCH 19, 1831
We issue this week but half a sheet. The reader will see the reason in the editorial article below.
The law of Georgia making it a high misdemeanor for a white man to reside in the Cherokee Nation without taking the oath of allegiance and obtaining a permit from his Excellency the Governor or his agent, is now in a course of execution. On last Sabbath; after the usual time of Divine service, the Georgia Guard arrived and arrested three of our citizens, viz: Rev. Samuel A. Worcester, missionary of the American Board for Foreign Missions, Mr. John F. Wheeler, one of the printers of the Cherokee Phoenix, and Mr. Thomas Gann. The two last mentioned are citizens with Cherokee families. Mr. Isaac Proctor, assistant missionary at Carmel, had the evening before been taken, and came with the Guard as a prisoner. They were conducted to the residence of Mr. Tarvin, where they were kept under guard during the night. In the morning they were marched off by way of Etahwah, where, we presume the same evening, the Rev. John Thompson, another Missionary of the American Board, was arrested.
Our object is now simply to give facts as they have occurred before our eyes, and not to indulge ourselves in remarks-the scene has just commenced and we must wait until it closes. Although our readers will recollect that the law under which these worthy men are taken is express, and the punishment severs, imprisonment in the penitentiary for not less than four years, yet I would be doing injustice to the good people of Georgia to say, that the law, enacted as this has been, at a time of great excitement, will assuredly be executed. The Court may honorably acquit them, and thus save the credit of the State. It does not become us, therefore, to anticipate the result, and comment upon these proceedings at this time. Nor are we disposed to censure the guard for doing what they undoubtedly feel to be their duty, as officers of the State; we can speak of them only as respects their conduct in doing that duty. We must observe, however, that we cannot see the propriety and the use of such a military movements to arrest, without a process, a few unarmed and peaceable individuals, and we had rather by a great deal they had come on some other day instead of the Sabbath. The men of whom they were in pursuit, were not going to run away and leave the country- They would have been as sure of finding them on any other day as on the Sabbath.
In justice to the commanding officer, Col. Nelson, we must say that he acted with a great deal of civility ' kindness towards his prisoners while in this place. He was so accommodating as to allow Mr. Worcester to return with a guard in the evening and take supper and attend worship with his family-he also gave him the same privilege in the morning. We wish we could say that all acted kindly, but we are obliged to notice quite a different behavior, a behavior, however, we have reason to believe, disapproved by the commander.
Sergeant Brooks, whose proclamation we not long since published, but who, instead of 'Commanding the Georgia Guard' turns out to be only a Sergeant, was despatched with two privates to arrest Mr. Wheeler, then boarding in the family of the Editor. When he came to the gate leading into the front yard, Mr. Candy, another boarder and one of the printers, was coming through the back yard into the house. Seeing that Mr. Candy was likely to get into the house before him, and supposing, perhaps, his intention was to alarm Mr. Wheeler, the Sergeant make up to him, commands him to halt, draws out a pistol and threatens to shoot him if he moved another step! Mr. Candy accordingly halted, and they entered and arrested Mr. Wheeler. As they were going out we heard Brooks say to Mr. Candy, 'Never do such a thing again-If I had ordered these men they would have sent a ball through you in a moment'- or words to that effect. Yes, 'master Brooks,' but where would have lain the dreadful responsibility of shooting an innocent man. We Indians know that a soldier is bound to obey the orders of his superiors; but would you have ordered them to shoot? There's the rub: Such overbearing and self-important spirit is contemptible, and ought to be detested and rebuked by every honest citizen of Georgia. What did he mean by the expression, 'Never do such a thing again?' Did he mean, as we suppose he did, that he must not intercept him? What evidence had he that such was the object of Mr. Candy? None at all. And if it was really a violation of some military rule for Mr. Candy to go into his room when he, the sergeant, was approaching, a mere request to stop would have been sufficient. Notwithstanding the Indians have been described as an ignorant set, yet, it appears no allowance i to be made for their failings, but they must be treated as though they had all the military laws and usages of guards at their tongue's end.
The cheerfulness of the prisoners while they were kept under guard in this place indicated their innocence, and showed plainly that they were suffering, not for any crime committed, but for principle's and righteousness' sake. They have counted the cost, and if they are to be sentenced to four years hard labor in the penitentiary, they will go there cheerfully and suffer the penalty of a cruel and anti-republican law with meekness, their consciences bearing them witness that they are not felons, though cast amongst a horde of thieves and robbers.
In connection with what we have already said, it may not be amiss, and certainly the present is a suitable time, to direct the reader's attention to the charge which has been frequently alleged against Mr. Worcester- that of interfering with the publication of the Cherokee Phoenix. Besides the charge of interference in political concerns made against him in common with his missionary brethren, he has been held up in the view of the public as the read Editor of this paper. This charge, like all other unfounded statements, has met with believers, and many who effect to believe it have been busily employed in circulating it to the prejudice of our publication, and to the injury of the usefulness of this worthy minister of the Gospel. The first public statement to this effect was made, soon after the commencement of the paper, by a certain religious Editor in Knoxville. This statement was followed by a disclaimer from Mr Worcester, and a demand for proof from the Editor. No proof was adduced. Soon after the impression became very general among the frontier inhabitants that the proprietors of the Cherokee Phoenix had committed a fraud on the public, for, instead of having an Indian editor, there was an intermeddling missionary behind the curtain, who busied himself in opposing the new projects of the Government and was striving to promote his own interest. About this time written charges were lodged in the War Department against Mr. Worcester, which charges were forwarded by Col. M'Kenney, who was then at the head of the Indian Bureau, to the Prudential Committee of the American Board for investigation. As there were no proofs accompanying the charges, the Committee of course considered the disclaimer of Mr. Worcester sufficient. In answer to a letter of the editor, requesting that the name of the informer might be communicated to him, Col. M'Kenney said, that they of the War Department were now satisfied that the charges were unfounded, and that of course it was not necessary to give up the name.
We give these particulars to show what efforts have been employed to make the public, and even the Government believe a thing originating altogether on suspicion. Nor are such efforts unemployed now, nor employed uselessly. It is the object of the enemies of the Indians, all despisers of religion ' scorners of Indian Improvement, to place the missionaries in an unfavorable light, and every incident having that tendency is eagerly grasped at for that purpose. We say all, for we have seen the slander, of which we are now speaking, eagerly circulated by them, down from the Poney Club to Duff Green's Telegraph, the organ of the administration.
And what, reader, do you think is the circumstance which has a tendency to create even a suspicion that Mr. Worcester has been (for he cannot now be) acting as editor of the Cherokee Phoenix? Why, he was our neighbor, ' we have been in the habit of frequent intercourse with him, in assisting him to learn the Cherokee language and to translate the Scriptures. More than this we know not. Now he is gone, rudely torn from his work by an unrighteous law, perhaps to a loathsome jail, and finally to the penitentiary, what will his slanderers say? On whom will the charge if interfering with the editorship of the Cherokee Phoenix fall? We hope those who have not been inclined to believe our simple declarations heretofore will now be convinced. There is now no white man here on whom we might call for assistance, if we were disposed so to do. The Cherokee Phoenix is more that ever a Cherokee paper, for the mechanical part of the labor is likewise performed entirely by Cherokees. Although the removal of Mr. Wheeler will derange our paper some, yet we hope before a great while we shall be able to issue it regularly.
We learn from our Washington papers that the Choctaw treaty has been ratified by the Senate. This is more than we expected.