Cherokee Phoenix

From the Crawford Messenger

Published October, 1, 1831

Page 2 Column 3b

From the Crawford Messenger.

The Courier labors in good earnest to shield Gen. Jackson from all responsibility or odium, connected with the brutal course of Georgia toward the Cherokee Indians and their missionaries. It conceded the fact that wanton cruelty has been exercised toward them, but protests against censuring Gen. Jackson for acts which he could not prevent. The Courier is badly informed when it assumes, that the 'binding force of treaties,' is subordinate to the 'Constitution and sovereignty of the state.' This is genuine nullification. By a reference to the 2d sect. 5th art. of the Constitution it will find 'that all treaties made under the authority of the United States,' are expressly recognized as the 'supreme law of the land.' Art. 2d. section 3, enjoins upon the President, that 'he shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed.' The question then presents itself, has Gen. Jackson, as President of the United States, acted in conformity to the constitutional injunctions, with regard to the Cherokees? Let us take a succinct view of the history of the case.

At the adoption of the federal Constitution, Georgia ceded to the general government an immense extent of her domain-coupled with the conditions-first, that the latter should protect her citizens against hostilities from surrounding Indian tribes-and secondly, that the general government should, at its own cost, as soon as practicable, extinguish the Indian title to the lands within the boundary, to which she had voluntarily limited herself, on becoming a member of the national confederacy. In virtue of the powers vested in the general government, treaties were made at different times, 'under the authority of the United States,' with the Cherokee Nation, and solemnly ratified, guaranteeing to them, among other things, protection in the quiet enjoyment of their territorial rights against the molestation, encroachment or intrusion of the whites. Faithful to its engagements with Georgia, seasonable occasions were sought, and large tracts of territory purchased from time to time, by the general government, from the Cherokees, and placed at her disposition. Thus matter went on peaceably and quietly from the days of Washington until near the close of the administration of John Q. Adams, when was heard, for the first time, the threatening voice of Georgia, through her delegation in Congress-that unless the Indians within her territory were removed by the general government, she would expel them herself. Sensible of high constitutional trust reposed in him, by virtue of his office, Mr. Adams promptly and decisively assured them, that however desirous he was of prevailing with the Cherokees to remove west of the Mississippi, by the exercise of all proper means, no interference on the part of Georgia, would be permitted, with a view to coerce them. The vulture was foiled in this attempt to seize on his prey.

The induction of the administration of Gen Jackson brought with it a new state of things, as regards the hapless Cherokee. The first act in the drama of cruelty and outrage, is to be found in the legislative enactments of Georgia, session of 1829-'30, extending the jurisdiction of the state over the Indian territory, within her limits. By its provisions the circumstance of advising an Indian against removing west of the Mississippi, is made a penitentiary offence. All white men residing within the territory, who refused to take the oath of allegiance to Georgia, are to be driven out. The Indian is excluded from giving testimony, in court, against a white man, 'c. Simultaneously with the passage of this act, by Georgia, an appropriation is made by Congress of $500,000, on the express recommendation of the President, to meet the expense of removing those Indians, who might choose to pass west of the Mississippi, in order to avoid the hand of oppression. These cooperative acts, point as with an index to one common object. They cannot be mistaken. The President with a subservient congress, unites with Georgia in placing the victim on the bed of torture. Georgia applies the implements of pain to the convulsive limbs of the sufferer. Her ruthless edicts are enforced with unabating vigor, and fiend-like vindictiveness. Plunder, devastation, and outrage, invade the once peaceful dwelling of the Indian. Goaded by tyrannical persecution, he flies for succor and protection to the chief magistrate of the nation.

To him he unfolds his wrongs, and spreads before him a history of his violated rights--points to the bones of his ancestors-to the altar where he was want to unite with the Christian, in offering the homage of the heart to one common God- reminds him of the protection which had been extended to him by the several 'Great Fathers who had filled the presidential chair-of the pledged faith of the United States, guaranteed by solemn treaty, and the sacred responsibilities which devolved upon the chief magistrate, of sustaining it inviolate, as the 'Supreme law of the land'- but he pleads in vain.-- 'I can do nothing for you--you must submit to the laws of Georgia, or remove west of the Mississippi,' is the response of the 'greatest and best of men.' This is not the language of fiction or fancy-but that of soberness and truth, founded on various circumstances and historical facts.

We hold then, that a solemn treaty existed between the United States and the Cherokee Nation of Indians-executed by and with the consent and approbation of Georgia, as a party of the confederacy-that the provisions of this treaty have never been abrogated-that it has all the force and virtue of a 'supreme law of the land'-and, as the President is bound by his official responsibilities to see that 'the laws are faithfully executed,' a refusal on his part to interpose the power with which he is closed for the protection of the Cherokee, constitutes him in the eye of reason, of justice and humanity, a party to the cruel outages committed upon them by Georgia. The chafed LION may ROAR, but he can not escape the indignant frowns of a justice loving and righteous community.