Cherokee Phoenix


Published September, 24, 1831

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NEW ECHOTA, SEPT. 17, 1831

(this is the date on the paper)

We publish this week some letters of Governor Gilmer relating to the missionaries. He charges them, and other white men who are now suffering with them, with crimes, such as sedition, opposing the HUMANE policy of the Government, exciting the Indians 'c., with these he has nothing to do in executing the law of the State. That law does not allege such charges, but it is very natural for the executive of the state now to hold these worthy men in the worst light possible, in order to `misdirect' the public mind from the true state of the case, and to save the Government, of which he is the head, from that universal reprobation which it is destined to receive. We are not, therefore, surprised to hear him talk about what has been 'said,' 'believed' or 'reported' of these missionaries. But the public will bear in mind that they have not been arrested, tried and sentenced to four years hard labor in the Penitentiary for any of the charges the Governor alleges against them. To the people of the nation, who know them best, ' most of our readers, it is not necessary that we should even say those charges are utterly unfounded.

The Governor is pleased to say that the rights of liberty, personal security, and private property of the Indians are better protected under the laws of the state than heretofore. The Cherokees will laugh at this. They believe, and know by sad experience, the reverse to be the fact. There has been no personal security thus far, and liberty does not exist even in name, and as to property, it is sufficient that many, who may be said to have been under good circumstances heretofore, have been completely ruined since the administration of the Georgia laws commenced.

Governor Gilmer expresses the fullest conviction that the happiness and prosperity of the Cherokees depends upon their removal. It may be so after having made their existence here almost intolerable; but whatever the conviction of the Governor may be on this point, we presume the Cherokees will judge for themselves.- They yet have no disposition to remove.

In his letter to Col. Sanford the Governor says-'Everything therefore, which is done in relation to them [Cherokees] should have for its purpose, the accomplishment of that object [their removal.] This is a precious confession. We knew this to be the case long ago. Everything that has been done of late by Georgia and by the General Government--all the despotic acts that have been passed ' the innumerable oppressions that have been countenanced by them, have been directed to that particular object, and we dare say the instructions of His Excellency on that point will be obeyed to the very iota.


According to the following statement of the Athenian, it would appear that Judge Clayton did not decide that the law of Georgia, which denies to the Cherokees the right to dig gold on their own lands, was unconstitutional, but only that he had doubts on that point.

As a considerable interest has been excited by the case of CANATOO, a Cherokee Indian confined in Walton Jail under the charge of digging gold in his own nation, which by the last Legislature was made a Penitentiary offence, we lay before our readers the following information derived from a source which may be relied on.

The Indian was taken by the State Guard and carried to Gwinnett, the county having jurisdiction of the case, and upon examination he was committed to Walton Jail, there being no Jail in Gwinnett. During the session of the Superior Court of Walton County, he was brought up by Habeas Corpus, and his discharge was moved for upon three grounds. 1st. That the warrant and commitment was defective. 2d. That the act of the last Legislature itself, did not contemplate punishing the Indians for digging gold on their own lands, but was intended for intruders and other persons; and 3d. That if it did, it was unconstitutional on the ground that it violated numerous treaties made with them expressly guaranteeing the undisturbed possession and occupancy of all their lands not ceded to the whites. After much argument the Court said it was a very important question, and required the utmost deliberation: respect for the Legislature demanded it. As however, it did not believe the person could be discharged upon the two first grounds, it would in candor say, his best prospect was on the last, and as the Court would take time to consider so grave a question, it would release him from his confinement upon his own recognizance, to appear and answer to the charge at Gwinnett Superior Court, when and where its opinion would be delivered, if in the mean time its mind could be fully satisfied on the point. The Court stated that it would endeavor to have its opinion ready by Jackson Court which is just past; but such has been the nature of its other pressing engagements, as well as the great magnitude of the question, that it has not been done, and will not be done, until every source of information both legal and political, is consulted, which can possibly shed light upon a subject involving seriously, the liberty of an unfortunate people, as well as the character of the State.

Since the question of the Indians, digging gold has been agitated, many persons have expressed an opinion that if they are allowed to do it, they can employ any person they please to do the same thing. Such an opinion is very erroneous, for we have it from Judge Clayton himself, that even if he were to decide that, the Indians had the right, the law would be binding against every other person, and the doctrine that 'what a man does by another, he does by himself,' will not apply to criminal cases. It is only applicable to civil contracts and every man stands upon his own responsibility in committing acts that are made criminal by law.

We should regard any remarks upon this subject, at this time as premature, and have therefore confined ourselves to the opinions entertained by the Court. When the question shall have been definitely determined--a question in which the public cannot but feel a more than ordinary interest, we shall avail ourselves of the earliest opportunity of laying the result before our readers.---Athenean.


The following editorial article, taken from the Milledgeville recorder, shows how unsparingly the character of the missionaries is assailed. The object is obvious. If they can convince the public that these men are indeed such as they represent them to be, it would take away a little of that abhorrence which every friend of true liberty must feel in relation to those acts which have consigned ministers of the Gospel to the cells of a Penitentiary. Time will reveal truth, and there is one who will one day vindicate these injured men from such foul aspersions.

We invite attention to the Correspondence in to-day's paper between the Executive of the State and the Missionaries in the Cherokee country; and also to the instructions given to the State's Agent. Among other fruitless efforts of the opposition, they are endeavoring to raise a prejudice against the Governor on account of the treatment which some of these obstreperous Missionaries have experienced from the Public Guard. If in any instance they have been harshly treated, it was doubtless their own fault, and affords no cause to censure the Executive. Look to the letters of Messrs. Elizur Butler, and Samuel A. Worcester, who seem resolved to gain the crown of martyrdom by their devotion to the cause of the Cherokees! Men, who like these fanatics choose to place themselves in opposition to the laws of a State, while enjoying the protection of those laws--who deny the jurisdiction of Georgia and condemn her authority,--are not the true representatives of that meek and lowly Savior whose doctrines they profess to teach; and if, in return for their obstinacy and insolence, they have experienced some rigorous treatment, it was but what they deserved, and even appear to have courted. The Governor was bound to see that the laws were executed; this he has done, and with the utmost lenity and forbearance. It was not his fault, that men were found among the Cherokees under the character of Missionaries, whose ambition ' unruly passions remind us of those Spanish Jesuits, who under the semblance of religious zeal, sought only to acquire influence and power among the Indian tribes.

It will be borne in mind that these devout Missionaries held a public meeting at New Echota, the Cherokee seat of Government, last winter, when they resolved among other things, that they viewed the removal of the Cherokees to the west of the Mississippi, as 'an event to be most earnestly deprecated.'


We stated not long since that ten white men would be indicted before the Superior Court of Gwinnett, for residing within the limits of the Georgia charter without taking the oath of allegiance. These individuals, VIZ: Rev. S. A. Worcester, Rev. J. J. Trott, Doct. E. Butler, Messrs. J. F. Wheeler, T. Gann, J. A. Thompson, B. F. Thompson, S. Mayes, A. Copeland and E. Delozier, were accordingly, on Thursday 15th inst. brought before the Court, tried and convicted of the high misdemeanor alleged against them.--Whereupon they were sentenced by the Judge to four years hard labor in the Penitentiary. It is unnecessary to add a word of comment on this closing scene.


From the Georgia Journal.


The following correspondence will show the course pursued by the authorities of the State, towards the Missionaries in the Cherokee country.

Salem N.C. March 30, 1831

SIR- A letter just received from Rev. Godlieb Byhan, one of our Missionaries in the Cherokee Nation, and acting Post Master at Spring Place, informs us of the fact, that among others a Presbyterian Missionary, the Rev. S. Worcester, also Post Master at New Echota, has been arrested and taken by authority of the State of Georgia, as also of his, Mr. Byhan's apprehension of sharing the same fate in a short time.

Your Excellency, will, therefore permit the undersigned, 'The Board of Directors of the United Brethren Missions at Salem' respectfully to state, that all our Missionaries in different parts of the world in general, and our missionaries in the Cherokee Nation in particular are instructed never to meddle or interfere in the political affairs of any nation or government, but only to attend faithfully to the object of their mission.

Encouraged and protected by the General Government of the United States, our Missionaries were the first who commenced, near thirty years ago to assist the United States in civilizing the Cherokee Nation, by imparting religious instruction to them and by other means, which although not without success, were attended with great expenses in the establishment of two stations at Spring Place and Ooyuehgelagee.

As soon as we became acquainted about four weeks ago--with the laws passed by the last Legislature of Georgia; after mature consideration of the particular relation of our Missionaries towards the nation, among whom they resided, and the tendency of said laws, we concluded that at all events the real object of their longer residence among said nation could not be promoted under existing circumstances; we ordered their removal out of the limits of Georgia, to a temporary refuge in Tennessee, until time should enable to take further measures.

Concerning the Rev. Godlieb Byhan, who was bound as a United States officer, to remain and attend to his duty of the post office, we thought his being a citizen and officer of the United States would prove a sufficient passport for him, but advised him to state his situation to the Post Master General, await his successor and move there upon.

We earnestly and respectfully entreat therefore, your Excellence to grant said Rev. Godlieb Byhan, our protection during his stay, until he obtains a successor, and in case he should have been already arrested to release and dismiss him through your interference, whereby you would confer the greatest favor on us and our society.

Respectfully, your Excellency's ob't serv'ts.




The board of Directors of the United Brethrens Missions.


Milledgeville, 13th April, 1831

GENTLEMEN-- Your letter of the 30th ult. upon the subject of missionaries employed by the Board of Directors of the United Brethren Missionaries among the Cherokees residing in Georgia has been received.

I have the highest respect for the general character of the United Brethren, and entire confidence that their Board of Missions has in its efforts to improve and characterize the heathen and savage Aborigines of our country, been directed by the most pious and benevolent motives. I regret that your Missionaries should have found any difficulty in complying with the requirements of the Laws of the State. The principal object of those laws has been to remove from the Cherokees white men of bad character and those who from mistaken views of the rights and powers of the state have been engaged in exciting the Indians to sedition and opposition to the policy of the Government. The officer of the guard, which has been stationed among the Cherokees to protect the public property from trespass, and to arrest the violators of the law has been directed specially to bring to trial every white man who in any manner commits an injury upon our Cherokee population. And it is a source of high satisfaction to believe that under the present administration of the laws of the State, the rights of liberty, personal security, and private property, belonging to the Indians are far better protected than they have been heretofore.

According to your request, and in full confidence that your missionaries will conform to your directions the commanding officers of the Guard will be directed to wait with them until they can conveniently remove from the State, or take the oath required by law.

I cannot close this letter, without expressing the fullest conviction that the removal of the Cherokees to the west of the Mississippi, will result to their advantage, and the hope that such removal instead of embarrassing the efforts of Christians in communicating to them the light and saving influence of the Gospel, will prove the efficient means of obtaining for them the most satisfactory success.

Very respectfully, yours, 'c.


To the Board of Directors of the United Brethren Missions.



Milledgeville April 20, 1831

Sir- By a law of this State all white persons except Agents of the United States are prohibited from residing within its territory occupied by the Cherokees, unless authorized by license from the Governor or his Agent, upon taking the oath to support the Constitution and Laws of the State. This law resulted from the active influence which that class of persons had exercised in opposition to the humane policy of the General Government and the rights of Georgia. Fugitives from Justice, outcasts from gold mines had an interest very readily understood in preventing both the removal of the Cherokees beyond the Mississippi, and the operation of the laws upon them. The Missionaries of different religious societies, stationed among the Indians had found their stations too lucrative to yield them up willingly. Individuals had also been found among them acting the part of political incendiaries, misdirecting the Indians, mistaking facts and perverting public opinion so as to embarrass the present administration of the General Government. Among the persons who have been arrested for violating this law of the State, is a man by the name of John Thompson, reported to be a clergyman, and a missionary from some religious society in the New England States. He was upon his arrest carried before one of the Judges of the Superior Court, by writ of habeas corpus, and discharged upon the ground that he was a Missionary, and that Missionaries were agents of the United States, and consequently not subject to the penalty of the law prohibiting the residence of white persons among the Indians. It is not necessary, to say anything about the correctness of this decision. It is due both to the United States and Georgia, that its effects should be obviated. Mr. Thompson is reported to have been very active in exciting the Indians to their attempt to sustain an independent government, and no doubt will feel secure in continuing his mischievous exertions unless the laws of the State can have their proper operation upon his conduct. For this purpose I must request from you an official assurance that the Rev. John Thompson, now residing among the Cherokees in Georgia, is not an agent of the United States, and that no religious missionaries as such, are agents of the Government. It is very desirable that your answer should be received as soon as possible.

Very respectfully yours, 'c.


Hon. John H. Eaton.




14th May, 1831

Sir.- I enclose to you the copy of the answer of the Secretary of War, to a letter of mine upon the subject of Missionaries residing among the Cherokees, by which you will perceive that none of them are really the agents of the United States although the Moravian and Baptist Missionaries receive a portion of their support from that fund appropriated for the civilization of the Indians. As however the expressions of the Secretary of War leave it doubtful whether he does not consider the Moravian Missionaries at Spring Place, and Oochgalogy, under the superintendence of Gilbert Byhan, and the Baptist Missionaries at Valley Towns and Nodey under the superintendence of Evans Jones, Agents of the Government, you will, for the present, consider them such, taking care to report to this Department, any opposition which may be made to the laws of the State; or the policy of the United States, by any white person, connected with those establishments. The Missionaries of other Christian denominations who may be found within the territory appropriated to the occupancy of the Cherokees, without having taken the oath required by the laws of the State, you are directed not to recognize as agents of the United States.

Since writing the above, I have received from the Post Master General a letter of which the enclosed is a copy, by which you will perceive that Samuel Worcester is no longer protected by his office of Post Master, in his seditious conduct among the Indians.

I have enclosed to you, unsealed, letters to S. Worcester, Thompson, and other Missionaries, which, after reading, you will cause to be delivered to them. If after receiving this notice, to leave the State, they should continue their refractory conduct you will cause them to be arrested, and turned over to the civil authority for punishment. If they show no disposition to mislead the Indians, or oppose the policy of the Government treat them with kindness and liberality, and permit them to remove from the State in such manner, as may be most convenient and agreeable to them. Independent of the general disposition of the Government, to induce men to obey the laws in preference to the infliction of punishment, it is important that the Cherokees should not be further excited by the harsh treatment of any whim they may be disposed to consider members of their community. I am fully convinced that their future distinct existence, prosperity, and happiness, depends upon their speedy removal beyond the Mississippi. Everything, therefore, which is done in relation to them, should have for its purpose, the accomplishment of that object.

[The remainder of this letter upon other subjects relative to Col. Sanford's duties.]

Very respectfully, yours, 'c.


Col. John W. A. Sanford.


Copy of a letter from Governor Gilmer to Col. Sanford.



17th June 1831

Sir.- I enclose to you copies of letters from Samuel A. Worcester, and Elizur Butler, two of the white men, Missionaries among the Cherokees, in answer to my letters notifying them that they would be arrested if they continued to disobey the laws of this State, by residing among the Cherokees, without taking the oath to support its Constitution and Laws, and allowing them to avail themselves of that notification so as to avoid the punishment to which they had rendered themselves liable. You will perceive that these two men deny the authority of the State to pass laws to govern them, notwithstanding their residence within its limits, and express the determination to abide its penalties. Let them feel their full weight, since such is their voluntary choice. Spare no exertions to arrest them, and all others similarly situated and offending. If they are discharged by the Courts, or give bail, continue to arrest for each repeated act of residence, in violation of the law. If resistance is made, call upon the militia of the counties. Although, I am disposed to execute the laws with the utmost forbearance, upon our Indian people, I owe it to the sovereignty of the State, to punish with the utmost rigor, the injurious and insolent conduct of the whites who deny its power, and oppose its authority. Your duty is laborious, but I know your zeal in support of the just rights of the States, and hope that your efforts in sustaining them may be soon rewarded with the most complete success.

Very respectfully, Yours 'c.


John W. A. Sanford.