17th May, 1831
Sir.- In your paper of the 14th inst. the following statement has come under my notice- 'The Cherokee Delegation waited on the President soon after the decision of the Supreme Court, and wished to know if he was angry with them. The President replied, no- he was sorry for them- that they had been deluded by their friends- the Delegation then asked the President if the Cherokees should be disposed to treat on what terms would the President meet them.- The President informed them that he was willing to treat on the same terms with the Choctaws, and no other.'
You have quoted this from the 'Savannah Georgian,' who obtained it from the Editor of the 'Rural Cabinet,' and he from 'a gentleman recently from Washington.' This scrap, unsupported as it is by a responsible name, deserves not my notice, and should go uncontradicted for Georgia news, what it was worth in that State: But as my fellow citizens, who are deservedly jealous of their rights, may attach some consequence to it, I beg permission to say to them, that the statement in regard to the conversation about a treaty and the basis of it is destitute of foundation. Aware of the duty we owed to the dignity of the Cherokee Nation and our own individual reputation, the language used by us in the conversation we had with the President at our parting interview was not of a character from which the President could deduce inferences of desponding humiliation in the minds of the Delegation-we felt none, and therefore could not exhibit any- sooner than ask the President if he was angry with me, I would cut my tongue out of my mouth--I could not, unless the independence of my mind had been metamorphosed to the minds of his palace slaves.
The President did talk earnestly, with an uplifted hand, of his friendship to the Cherokees and his disposition to do them good--and also mentioned that he had just read in the Richmond Enquirer, that the Choctaw and Chickasaw exploring parties had returned and were well satisfied with the new country-he had recommended the Chickasaws to look at it for themselves, because he knew it was a good country. I asked him to what extent the United States traders were allowed to traffic among the Choctaws and Chickasaws in that country, and whether their number was to be limited at the discretion of the United States, or the will of those tribes? He observed that their number would be reduced at their option. 'I am glad to see you,' said the President, 'particularly at this time. I know or I thought I knew that your claims before the Supreme Court could not be supported. The Court has sustained my views in regard to your nation.' This conversation was on the next morning after the decision of the Court, and as we had the only copy, kindly furnished us Mr. Peters, from the original, extant, we were somewhat surprised to hear him say, that he had been sustained by the Court, and as the opinion, as we understood it, acknowledged our rights, and were in opposition to his politics. However, he went on---'I blame you for suffering your lawyers to fleece you--they want your money, and will make you promises even after this, perhaps, that they can make you safe. I have been a lawyer myself long enough to know how lawyers will talk to obtain their clients' money.' The delegation here observed in reply, 'as a statesman and a warrior, we do not believe you would blame the Cherokees for the efforts they have made to maintain their rights for liberty before the proper tribunals, and if they have expended money in the support of their national rights, it was agreeable to their own inclination.' 'Oh, no' he answered, 'don't mistake me, I do not blame you, but I blame you for suffering the lawyers to fleece you- I am the friend of the Cherokees, they fought with me in the war ' freely shed their blood with the blood of my soldiers in defending the United States ' how could I be otherwise than their friend.' Something was now here said, on the part of the Delegation, of their abstract rights of justice, and that the Constitution of the United States and the States were made without the agreement of the Cherokees, with design to say something on the denial of the Court to grant an injunction, but the President here commenced to talk of the British treaty of 1783, and then continued to contrast the condition of the Catawbas to what they were, when he was a young man- then they were warlike and fought the Cherokees- 'At one time they took some of the Cherokee warriors prisoners, threw them in the fire ' when their intestines were barbecued, ate them-now they were poor and miserable, and reduced in numbers, and such will be the condition of the Cherokees, if they remain surrounded by the white people.' Mr. Wild, M.C. from Georgia was announced: and admitted, and the Delegation not desiring to be present in the drawing room of the President with a Georgian now rose to depart, and told him they had merely come in to pay the President their parting respects and they took him by the hand. Mr. Taylor was the last who shook hands with him. Mr. Wild then being in the room, Gen. Jackson held his hand some time and shook it, and told him to tell the Cherokees at his return what he said--that he was their friend--' You can live on your lands in Georgia if you choose, but I cannot interfere with the laws of that state to protect you.'
I am, dear cousin,