Cherokee Phoenix

From the National Journal

Published July, 16, 1831

Page 2 Column 2b

From the National Journal.


The article which follows, taken from the last Cherokee Phoenix, is deserving of more than ordinary attention. 'The progress of oppression' appears to be onward and rapid in its course; and if it has not already reached its acme, it behooves the country with one voice to demand that it shall have and end- that the rights of free-born men shall not, under any pretenses, be trampled in the dust; and this in a nation where, above all others, liberty and freedom have hitherto been its pride and coast. The State rights of Georgia we mean not to discuss, but merely point to the policy of the General Government, and ask if it be based on even-handed justice! We would ask if the Cherokees are forbid to consider themselves a sovereign people in their own right, and to be governed by their own laws, by what laws are they to be governed? Are the days of kingly despotism or oligarchy-even worse, from the greater number of tyrants--again to be revived, and martial law to take place of the laws of the land? We know that in England, as in the case of the radical reformers, when their voice was too loud to be otherwise stifled, that the Magna Charta, the guarantee of the Englishman's liberty was set aside by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and that then, the subject could be thrown into prison without legal warrant--on mere suspicion, or probably the caprice of tyranny, immured during the pleasure of his rulers--not necessitated to prefer charges against--to bring him to trial despite the laws of gaol delivery; and for all of which, how innocent so ever, he had no redress. But his, in England, dare not be attempted in the present enlightened days. For this summary mode of suppressing the freedom of speech, as well as annihilating the liberty of the press, we have now, it would appear, only to look within our own free country. On the authority of Mr. John Ridge, a man of education, of intelligence and respectability, who, with the Cherokee Delegation, resided in this City for some time during last winter, we learn, that with three others, arrested by the Georgia Guard, is a Mr. John West, a young gentleman and a Cherokee, who is charged with the high crime of using insolent language to the Guard. 'These four,' says Mr. Ridge, 'I say last night under guard, chained together in pairs, and fastened with locks.' Again, Mr. David Vann, a member of the Cherokee Senate, and Thomas Woodard are also arrested- not allowed to know the reason of their arrest till they arrive at Head-quarters, a distance of 70 or 80 miles from their respective residence.' Mr. Woodard, we are afterwards told, as well as a Mr. McCoy, was imprisoned for acting as Chairman of a public meeting. This is freedom of speech with a vengeance! 'As matters go,' adds the Phoenix, 'it will soon become dangerous for any one to open his mouth, and utter his opinions.' But the liberty of the press is also to be jeopardized. A Mr. Byhan to be 'reformed' from the Post Office at Spring-place, the result of which, the Editor expresses his fears, will be to discontinue the office and mail route from the head of Coosa to the former place, which would close the only channel through which they carry on their correspondence, and forward their papers. A more ready way to effect this object, would be to establish a censorship of the press, a la Charles X., suppress the Cherokee Phoenix, and thus prevent their wrongs from being made known to the world. On the cases of individual or personal persecution-and that of Mr. Worcester, situated as he is, with his wife that cannot be removed, but at the expense of her life, is well worthy of commiseration-we have not touched; the flagrant abuse of broader rights-the question whether the Gen. Government is leagued in their destruction-whether non-interference, or at least apathy on its part can be justified, as what we would hold up for public attention. And again we would ask, by what laws are the inhabitants within the Cherokee territory, whether natives or mere residents, to be governed? If not by the laws of the Cherokee Nation, shall it be by the fundamental laws of the Republic, and are gagging laws, habeas corpus suspension bills, and martial law acknowledged to exist among them, and such practices to be tolerated in this yet happy land of freedom?