Cherokee Phoenix


Published August, 12, 1831

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Aug. 5, 1831

Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix,

Dear Sir,--Among the documents read before the men of court at Lawrenceville as testimony against Doctor Butler and myself were our letters to Governor Gilmer in reply to his letters to us. His Excellency's letter to me you published several weeks ago. That to Doct. Butler was, I believe, the same as that to Mr. Thompson, which was also published. I now send you copies of our replies which are at your disposal.

A letter from Governor Gilmer to Col. Sanford, written after the receipt of ours and accompanying copies of them, was also read in court. In that his Excellency, after remarking that we have chosen to suffer the penalty of the laws rather than to remove says, 'Let them feel their full weight since such is their choice.' And again, 'If they are released by the courts or give bail and return, arrest them again' ' I pretend not to quote the exact words, but am sure I do not misrepresent the meaning. However I hope the letter itself will in some way come before the public.

Yours with much esteem.



June 10, 1831

To His Excellency George R. Gilmer, Governor of the State of Georgia,

SIR:--Your communication of the 16th ult was put into my hand on the 31st by an express from Col. Sanford, accompanied by a notice from him that I should become liable to arrest, if, after ten days I should still be found residing within the unsettled limits of the state.

I am under obligation to your Excellency for this information which I believe I am justified in deriving by inference from your letter, that it is through your influence that I am about to be removed from the office of Post Master at this place; in as much as it gives me the satisfaction of knowing, that I am not removed on the ground of any real or supposed unfaithfulness in the performance of the duties of that office.

Your Excellency is pleased to intimate that I have been guilty of a criminal opposition to the humane polity of the General Government. I cannot suppose that our Excellency refers to those efforts for the advancement of the Indians in knowledge and in the arts of civilized life which the General Government has pursued ever since the days of Washington because I am sure that no person can so entirely have misrepresented the course which I have pursued during my residence with the Cherokee people. If by the humane policy of the General Government are intended those measures which have been recently pursued for the removal of this and other tribes and if the opposition intended is no more than that I have had the misfortune to differ with the Executive of the United States in regard to the tendency of those measures and that I have freely expressed my opinion, I cheerfully acknowledge the fact; and can only add that this expression of opinion has been unattended with the consciousness of guilt. If any other opposition is intended as that I have endeavored to bias the judgment or influence the conduct of the Indians themselves. I am constrained to deny the charge, and to beg that your Excellency will not give credit to it until it shall be sustained by evidence.

Your Excellency is pleased further to intimate that I have excited the Indians to oppose the jurisdiction of the State. In relation to this subject, also permit me to say your Excellency has been misinformed. Neither in this particular am I conscious of having influenced, or attempted to influence the Indians among whom I reside. At the same time I am far from wishing to conceal the fact that, in my apprehension, the circumstances in which Providence has placed me have rendered it my duty to inquire whose is the rightful jurisdiction over the territory in which I reside, and that this inquiry has led me to a conclusion adverse to the claims of the State of Georgia. This opinion also has been expressed to white men with the greatest freedom, and to Indians when circumstances have elicited my sentiment.

I need not however, enlarge upon these topics. I thought it proper to notice them in a few words, because I had understood your Excellency to intimate that in these respects I had been guilty of a criminal course of conduct. If for these things I were arraigned before the court of justice, I believe that I might safely challenge my accusers to adduce proof of anything beyond that freedom in the expression of opinion, against which, under the Constitution of our Country, there is no law. But as it is, the most convincing evidence of perfect innocence on these points, would not screen me from the penalty of the law, which construes a mere residence here, without having taken a prescribed oath into a high misdemeanor. On this point, therefore, I hope to be indulged a few words in explanation of my motives.

After the expression of my sentiments which I have already made, your Excellency cannot fail to perceive, that I could not conscientiously take the oath which the law requires. That oath implies an acknowledgement of myself as a citizen of the state of Georgia, which might be innocent for one who believes himself to be such, but must be perjury in one who is of the opposite opinion. I may add that such a course, even if it were innocent to itself would, in the present state of feeling among the Indians, greatly impair or entirely destroy my usefulness as a minister of the Gospel among them. It were better in my judgement, entirely to abandon my work, that so to arm the prejudices of the whole people against me.

Shall I than abandon the work in which I am engaged? Your Excellency is already acquainted in general with the nature of my object and my employment which consists in preaching the Gospel and making known the word of God among the Cherokee people. As to the means which I am using for this end aside from the regular preaching of the word, I have had the honor to commence the work of publishing portions of the scriptures and other religious books in the language of this people. I have the pleasure of sending to your Excellency a copy of the Gospel of Matthew, of a Hymn 'Book, and of a small tract consisting chiefly of extracts from scripture, which, with the aid of an interpreter I have been enabled to prepare and publish, and also of another tract, which with my assistant, I have translated for the use of the United Brothers Mission. The tracts of scripture extracts has been published since my trial and acquittal by the Superior Court. This work it would be impossible for me to present at any other place than this, not only on account of the location of the Cherokee press, but because Mr. Boudinott, whose editorial labors require his residence at this place, is the only translator whom I could procure, and who is competent to the task. My own view of duty is that I ought to remain, and quietly pursue my labors for the spiritual welfare of the Cherokee people, until I am forcibly removed. If I am correct in the apprehension that the State of Georgia has no rightful jurisdiction over the territory where I reside, than it follows that I am under no moral obligation to remove in compliance with her enactment; and if I suffer in consequence of continuing to preach the Gospel and diffuse the written word of God among this people, I trust I shall be sustained by a conscience void of offence, and by the anticipation of a righteous decision at that tribunal from which there is no appeal.

Your Excellency will accept the assurance of my sincere respect.



HAWEIS, June 7, 1831


SIR:--A few days since I received a communication purporting to be from your Excellency. Suffer me to say that I was not a little surprised at some ideas that communication contained.

It is due to the cause in which I am engaged, definitely and concisely to state the object of my residence in the Cherokee Nation of Indians.

My sole object in commencing my residence among this people, more than ten years since, was to assist the Government of the United States in promoting the civilization and Christianization of the Cherokees. I have during my life studiously avoided all connection or interference with political affairs, and more particularly since my residence among this people. Since living among them I have invariably pursued that course of conduct which I conceived would tend most to their spiritual good--Though I may have been accused of being 'a mortal enemy to Georgia and her measures,' I solemnly affirm I am not; although I could not in conscience subscribe to all her enactment. For instance I could not take the oath required of white men who live in her chartered limits, because I should then acknowledge the jurisdiction of Georgia over this country which would be adverse to my opinion, and would essentially effect any usefulness as a missionary laborer among the Cherokees. My principles of action are founded on the word of God and if, in adhering 'to the law and to the testimony,' and endeavoring to follow the examples of Holy Writ my conduct is construed into an unjustifiable interference with political affairs, I cannot help it. I cannot change my religious views, or my general religious conduct, with the various political changes of the times. It is what your Excellency or any other person cannot expect. Rather than change my religious views to meet the exigencies of political transaction, permit me to say, I should sacrifice my life. I wish you to distinctly to understand that I came into the Nation for no political or selfish purposes and that I remain here only for the spiritual good of this people, and that no sufficient persons have ever been presented to my mind for me to leave an infant church collected here to be broken to pieces and scattered. If I must suffer for the above course of conduct, I hope the Lord will enable me to endure suffering with Christian meekness and fortitude.

Wishing you and your state the greatest and best blessing heaven can bestow.

I am 'c.