Cherokee Phoenix

Note: This issue is printed in only four columns

Published April, 16, 1831

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Note: This issue is printed in only four columns.




A correspondent of the N. Y. Journal of Commerce has the following remarks on the opinion of the Supreme Court.

In lucidness, argument, and touching eloquence, the judgment of the Court, written and read, as I suppose, by the great exemplar of the American bench, will in no wise depreciate the great author with his contemporaries, or subtract from his well earned reputation with posterity. While it conducted him and his associates to a denial of the prayer of the Cherokees, in the character of original constitutional suitors in the Supreme Court, it furnished the most impassioned, and at the same time uncompromising and admonitory intimations, that the Cherokees ought to receive the protection of another department of the government. The several opinions read yesterday must be interpreted entirely to the credit of the Supreme Court: and most decidedly against the precepts and practice of the Executive in relation to the obligations of the government to fulfill it engagements, in solemn treaties to protect the rights and possessions of the Indians with whom it has negotiated. I had supposed the Court would award an injunction peadente lite, reserving its final decree for consideration until the next term. I had supposed it had not time to examine the merits of the bill, and compose a judgment worthy of the great question submitted so recently. I was mistaken. It came to judgment with full preparation, giving to the pleas of the counsel for the Cherokees full credit, and, in the absence of all reply, controverting all the questions involved, with an ability and sympathy equalled only by the appeal of Mr. Wirt in behalf of the 'poor Indian.' If you turn to the Act of Congress, 1802, relating to the intercourse of whites with Indians, 'c. you will understand, more satisfactorily, what the Supreme Court consider the remedy in cases of trespass or intrusion upon the possessions of the latter; and if you examine the Message of the President transmitted to Congress recently, you will see the views of the

Executive on the same subject.

The Indian relations with the whites will be better understood in future by all parties; and even the Cherokees, by the intimations to be found in the opinions of the Judges of the Supreme Court, will learn how to repress the lawless encroachments which they have recently experienced. In the opinion of the Chief Justice and his associates, their right of occupancy is as sacred as if they were actually holders, in fee, of their lands. This dictum is not qualified. In future, the Indians, at least of the Cherokee Nation, must look to the penalties annexed by Congress to cases of trespass upon them, and in a proper manner ask of the Executive such remedy, by force, as they find provided for the redress of their wrongs.

This topic being far more interesting than any other of immediate discussion, I cannot better employ myself, or occupy your useful and liberal columns, with any other. If I rightly comprehended the judgment announced yesterday, the Indians, as foreign states, cannot be parties to any cause of original jurisdiction in the Supreme Court; but under the Constitution, which assigns to Congress the power to regulate trade or intercourse with the Indians, penalties enacted in pursuance thereof may be enforced in the Courts of the United States, and where the action of the Executive in such cases is required, to decline or neglect its application, or the refusal to exercise it, constitutes a misdemeanor which may be visited upon the delinquent by impeachment. In relation to the Cherokees, I consider the conduct of General Jackson as little above that partaking of delusion. As it concerns him personally, I may be allowed to say, it is the offspring of ignorance and infatuation, such as characterize the policy, did I say,--the consummate folly of the Secretary of War.


The Supreme Court of the United States have (sic) decided that they have not (sic) jurisdiction in the Cherokee suit which was argued by Messrs. Wirt and Sergeant. The Court were divided on the question- the Chief Justice, and Justices Johnson, M'Lean and Baldwin, against Justices Thompson and Story. We learn that the speeches of the counsel, as well as the opinions of the Judges, will be published. It is understood that all the Judges, except one, think that Georgia has acted wrongfully in extending her laws over the Cherokee territory, and molesting the Cherokees, as she has done. The decision of the Court embraces only the point of cognizance; and it is strong evidence of the scrupulosity of a tribunal that has been so harshly and unwarrantably taxed with a spirit of usurpation.

With regard to the unfortunate Cherokees, it is doubtful what effect this result of their application to the Supreme Court will have upon them. We apprehend, while we sincerely deprecate, some ultimate violence - a melancholy and fruitless struggle. The Indians experience a fate like that of Neobe's children-they seem destined to perish all, by inevitable causes visible or invisible. From one source or other, fatal shafts are constantly sped, by which they are immediately destroyed, or driven into some field of gradual extermination. They can no longer escape the withering contact or ruthless cupidity of what is called civilization; this time as it is also styled, follows them as the waters of the deluge rose upon the fugitives to the mountains.

When they appeal to the immutable principles of right and the obligations of treaty, they find no umpirage by which their claims may be regularly adjudged, nor impartial power by which their humble fortunes may be shielded. They have surrendered the greater part of their original possessions, their best opportunities of defence and vengeance, under the forms of artificial law and diplomacy. When they seek some security and protection, in reference to the relics of their territory and independence, they discover that all the solemn stipulations were but a mockery,--that law and diplomacy can be used to defeat all their hopes and endeavors. Authority to give redress is wanting her; inclination, there; technical difficulties beyond their comprehension, are presented to them as insuperable on every side: impotence will plead, or rave, or strike, in vain. For whatever degree of national delinquency, or unlawful gain, may exist in this matter, there will be assuredly, Divine vengeance in some shape, or at some period.. Accordingly to 'the final proportions of Divine justice,' every wrong has it penalty, whether committed by individuals or communities. Above 'there is no shuffling;' 'the action lies in its true nature;'- Georgia herself, too arrogant and resolute to appear and answer before the earthly court, will be compelled,

'Even to the teeth and forehead of her faults.

To give in evidence'

at a tribunal of omnipotence, seemingly slow, in national instances, yet sure in its cognizance, and ultimately complete in its retribution. It is awful to think how the darker skin may be permitted in after ages to revenge the red upon the white--how the last of land and gold may re-act, or work out in distant consequences, that manifold devastation which is decreed against every cruel excess and every signal breach of the moral order. We could cite many cases from history, wherein the passions or the crimes of nations have been remotely visited by general calamities, --deadening decline and pervading wretchedness,--in a way to be satisfactorily traced to show an admonitory correspondence, vindicate the laws and providence of God to man.

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