Cherokee Phoenix

From the Journal of Humanity

Published April, 30, 1831

Page 2 Column 4b

From the Journal of Humanity


Several Missionaries residing in that part of the Cherokee country which is claimed by Georgia, have been arrested by the authority of that State on a charge which exposed them to imprisonment in the Penitentiary for a term not less than four years. The facts are as follows:

At the last session of the Georgia Legislature a law was enacted, according to which white men residing within the limits of the Cherokee Nation must receive license from the Governor of Georgia to remain, and must take and oath to support the constitution and laws of that State, or be judged 'guilty of a high misdemeanor,' and on conviction 'be punished by confinement in the Penitentiary at hard labor, for a term not less than four years.' This enactment was supposed to be aimed at the missionaries; and copies of it were sent, we understand, to each of them. The law went into operation on the 1st of March. The missionaries, in accordance, it is believed both with their own feelings and with the advice of their friends remained at their posts. To take the required oath would be to express approbation of the course of Georgia, and of her attempt to break down the Cherokee government. It was therefore out of the question.

Accordingly on the 12th of March, the Georgia Guard* appeared in front of the mission house at Carmel, and arrested Mr. Procter, teacher of the mission school. They inquired for Mr. Buttrick, missionary, who resides at the same station, but he was absent. The next day, (Sunday) the party reached New Echota, where they arrested Rev. Samuel A. Worcester, missionary,--Mr. Wheeler, printer, and Mr. Gaun; the two last being citizens with Cherokee families. Mr. Worcester was permitted by the civility of Col. Nelson, the commanding officer, to return to his family, under guard, to attend worship that evening and that next morning. They left New Echota in the direction of Etawah where it is supposed that Rev. John Thompson, another missionary, was arrested.

Here our intelligence by the newspapers leaves us. We learn, however, by a gentleman from Boston, that letters have been received there, giving an account of the trial of the prisoners, and their release on the ground that they were 'authorized agents of the government of the United States'--which class of persons are excepted from the operation of the law under which the arrest took place, by a proviso.

This proviso has been generally understood to men what are called 'Indian Agents;' but the authorities of Georgia were doubtless glad to find a plausible reason for regarding the prisoners as protected by it. The confinement of such men to hard labor in the Penitentiary for no other crime than a refusal to acknowledge the justice of the laws of the State, would have been an outrage that no honorable and impartial mind could regard with calmness.

The reasons for regarding the prisoners as agents of the Government, so far as we know them, are that Mr. Worcester is Postmaster at New Echota, and that the schools under the care of the missionaries were formerly supported partly at the expense of the United States. We say

formerly for the annual appropriation has been withdrawn within a year or two. The missionaries and teachers may be considered as having been agents for the disbursement of that money. Perhaps also there may now be U. S. Property such as school houses, under their care.

*This is a military establishment, to continue, we believe, indefinitely. The Constitution of the United States says, that 'no State shall without the consent of Congress *** keep troops or ships of war in time of peace.' 'c Art 1 P 10.