New Echota April 30, 1831
A correspondent residing in the Neighborhood of Tensewaytee writes to us, that on the 10th inst, there was quite a religious excitement among the people in that place, which is occupied by a Baptist Missionary Rev. D. O'Briant. He informs us that he was present at the baptism of a considerable Number. 'After the solemnity of baptism was performed, 'he says' a very mild invitation was given to the congregation to retire to the house of worship; but before the congregation had retired from the water, the following very disgraceful scene took place among the Geo. Guard. Three of their number pretended that they were so powerfully moved upon by the Spirit that they mounted their fine horses, returned to the place of baptism, telling the people to get out of their way or else they would ride over them, for they were determined to baptize their horses in the same place. They rode into the water mocking religion and repeating the sacred words of our blessed Saviour. Such is the example set by this Christian people of Georgia, if Christians they be.'
We hesitate for sometime whether it was proper to notice such conduct, for it may seem to some utterly incredible that civilized men should thus be engaged; but as our correspondent is a respectable man, and has vouched for the truth of the statement, we cannot do otherwise than comply with his request by making that statement public.
What we have to say on this subject for ourselves is simply this- The Georgia Guard are Officers of the State in a peculiar sense, being under the immediate direction of the Chief Magistrate, and the institution of Georgia, which the Government and other Officers of the State are sworn to support guaranties to every person the right to worshiping God in the manner most suitable to himself. But it appears these Officers instead of protecting, are taking the lead in molesting religious assemblies.
In our last, we said that Mr. John A. Bell of Coosawaytee was arrested by a detachment of the Georgia Guard. Since then we have learned that he was taken to their headquarters, alias 'Agency' also 'Camp Gilmer,' to be examined by His Excellency's Agency, Col. Sanford, and to be dealt with according to the laws of Georgia. It there appeared that the charge alleged against him was for executing the laws of the Cherokee Nation.- First; in levying upon ' selling the property of Ambrose Harnage- Second, in arresting ' keeping in custody a certain man charged with the crime of murder. On his arrival at 'Camp Gilmer' he was sent by the agent into Hall County to be committed on the first charge. He was not however committed. The Guard who had him in custody returned with him to the Camp, where he was imprisoned seven days, waiting for Sanford who had gone into Georgia. On his return, another attempt was made to have him committed on the second charge, but without success. He was therefore discharged and has since returned to his family. We give the facts without any comment.
'One of the Congregation' is informed, of this communication, giving an account of the surrounding of the Methodist meeting house during worship by armed men, was received at this office when the editor was absent, ' that by some means or other it has been mislaid. This is the reason that it has not been inserted.
'A Freeman' has been received-with some corrections and alterations we shall endeavor to publish it in our next.
We have again been visited by the Georgia Guard. On the 16th inst. a detachment commanded by Sergeant Henderson made its appearance in this place, on the same errand as before, to catch white men. They commenced their work apparently with great success, for just as they rode up to Mr. Parvin, they met one Benjamin Murray, a young man without a home, but who had been in the nation for a number of years. Him they arrested. Some of them then posted off to Ougillogy, where they understood a number of the non jurors as Sanford calls them, were. They charged upon several homes but no white men could they catch. On the following morning (Sabbath) they came in full charge to the Methodist meeting house near Adair's, at the very time when the Rev. Mr. McDoad was delivering his sermon to a respectable congregation of Cherokees. They surrounded the house, and each dismounting from his horse, took his position with a musket in his hand. Mr. M. continued his sermon while they thus guarded the assembly. At the close of the service they made inquiries for certain white men, loose men, as they called them, of whom they were in pursuit. Being told that there were none there of that description they marched on. They returned to this place on Sabbath evening and took their camp at Tarvin's, their headquarters when in this part of the country. They continued stationary until Wednesday morning when they started for 'Camp Gilmer'. Some went by Ougillogy and made another useless search. So they made to return with a white man in custody except 'poor Benjamin.'
Greenwood Leflore Head Chief of the Choctaw Nation has published an able defense of his conduct, addressed to the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, respecting the part he bore in negotiating the treaty for the removal of his nation beyond the Mississippi. A vindication of his conduct was rendered necessary, from the repeated attacks of that print, which characterized him with bribery and treason against his country.- Ala. Int.
We have not been favored with a copy of this defence of Mr. Leflore, and therefore are not able to present it to the readers of the Phoenix. If we have wronged the head Chief of the Choctaw Nation by charging him with bribery and treason (if indeed we have thus charged him) we are ready to do him justice, but we must first be convinced. We hope therefore he will send us a copy of his vindication.- Ed. Cher. Phoe.
The Cherokees and Georgia.- It will be seen by reference to another column that the attempt of the Cherokees to obtain an injunction from the Supreme Court to stay the actions of the laws of the State of Georgia over their territory has failed, ' the Court has decided it that has no jurisdiction in the case. The National Gov. have also declared that the Cherokees are within the chartered limits of Georgia ' Consequently subject to her laws ' will not interfere in the rights of that State in extending her laws and authority over them.
We find the above in the North Carolina Spectator published in Rutherfordton. The editor seems to have fallen into a mistake in common with many others, in regard to the decision of the Supreme Court. To say that the Court decided that it has no jurisdiction in the case, is to say what is in fact true, yet the expression may be used by some, and understood by indifferent readers to mean widely different from the sense intended to be conveyed by the Court. What was the case upon which the Judges of the Supreme Court were called upon to decide? It was thus: Is the Cherokee nation a foreign state in the sense of the Constitution, and has the Supreme Court original jurisdiction? This was the question, and they may with propriety say, as they have said, that the Cherokee nation is not a foreign state, and of course they cannot exercise original jurisdiction, yet at the same time they may entertain a case wherein is involved the question at issue between the State of Georgia and the Cherokees. It is in this light we understand the decision of the Supreme Court. Whether our understanding is correct or not, every reader will judge for himself, as the opinion is now before the public. This much is unquestionably true- The opinion is decidedly in favor of the rights of the Cherokees, their right to self Government, and their right to hold their lands until they voluntarily cede them.
We do not know of any advocate of the Indians who had denied that the Cherokees are within the chartered limits of Georgia, but it is not true that the General Government has declared that they are subject to the laws of Georgia, unless the executive constitutes that government. It is only that department of the Government which has thus declared. Congress has not. It has evaded the question thus far. The Supreme Court has not; but on the contrary it has given an opinion directly opposite to that of the executive.
The question then is by no means settled, ' until it is, either peaceably, or by force (as our neighbors threaten,) the Cherokees will not alter their determination to remain and to contend earnestly for their rights. They will continue to call upon the executive for the fulfilment of the treaties, and memorialize Congress to extend over them its broad shield of protection.
Extract of a letter to the Editor from a Gentleman in the Choctaw Nation, dated 12th April, 1831.
You will wish to hear something respecting the Choctaws. It is with them a time of trouble and deep perplexity. It is with many of them a time of distressing scarcity. In consequence of the political troubles of the past season and the severe drought, multitudes made little or no corn. One of the better class of the Choctaws has just come here, a distance of 30 miles to get a little corn. He has six small children, and has had no corn for them for six weeks.
But distressing as is their situation in regard to sustenance, this is not their greatest calamity. Their country and their homes are gone, and many of them have no expectation of enjoying any more days of peace and comfort in this world. The nearer they approach the period, when they must leave their country, the more appalling it appears to them. Some are determined at all events to stay. Others say they must go, they have no longer a home here, but they expect to see no more good. A woman came a few days since to get her little daughter into the school. She was anxious her daughter should enjoy the privilege of instruction, while there was an opportunity. ' I have six little children,' she said, '' soon we must go over the Mississippi, and, I know nothing what we shall do.' Here sobs and tears checked her utterance, and she could only add a few broken sentences, expressive of her unfeigned grief. It would soften a heart of adamant to see the situation of these people, and to witness all that passes among them. But their trials have not yet come. I would not wish to employ any other argument, with those who have honestly advocated, in the great Councils of our nation, the removal of the Indians, than to have them witness the scenes of suffering, which their measures will inevitable (sic) bring upon the poor and the helpless. And is it so, that while the whole world is rising, as by one simultaneous impulse to assert and vindicate the rights of suffering, injured man, the native inhabitants of this highly favored land the asylum of the oppressed of all nations, are alone to be abandoned, the unpitied victims at an arbitrary and cruel oppression?