Cherokee Phoenix


Published November, 12, 1831

Page 1 Column 1a-5b


From the New York Advertiser.

It is now understood from newspaper accounts, that the Rev. Mr. Worcester, and several other persons of a similar character, have been sentenced by a court in the state of Georgia, to confinement in the state prison at hard labor for the term of four years. Mr. Worcester is a clergyman of excellent character for piety, and devotedness to the missionary service, in which he has for many years sedulously engaged. The crime of which he has been tried and convicted, and for which he is now suffering a most unjust and infamous punishment, is that of declining to take the oath of allegiance to that state, whilst resident in the Cherokee country. Mr. Worcester believes the exaction of such an oath not only to be oppression, but a direct violation of rights and privileges secured to him by the Constitution of the United States; and which he therefore as an upright and conscientious man, cannot submit to. Allowing, what in our judgement is far from the fact, that the state of Georgia have the right of jurisdiction over the Cherokees, and their country, we believe they alone have the honor of classing the refusal to an oath of allegiance among the felonies and of punishing it in the same manner that horse thieves, burglarians (sic), high-way robbers, 'c. are punished. But the clause in the United States Constitution, which secures to the citizens of each state, all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, is directly, and in the most open and barefaced manner, violated in the case of the missionaries, even upon the principles assumed, and the powers usurped, by the state of Georgia. Citizens of states are suffered to reside in Georgia without being forced to take the oath of allegiance. This plain and simple state of the case established the principle that we have asserted. But it must be borne in mind, that these missionaries have been guilty of no offence under the administration of General Jackson, except that of residing among the Cherokees, teaching them letters, the arts of civilization, and the principles and doctrines of the Christian religion.- In their endeavors to enlighten, improve, and civilize these unfortunate people, they have been countenanced, encouraged, and supported by former administrations, and the pecuniary bounty of the national government has been distributed with a liberal paternal hand for the promotion of their labors and objects. Can such a state of things be endured in this professedly enlightened, just, and Christian community? When a number of our countrymen were taken prisoners by the Algerines (sic), and reduced to a state of slavery in that barbarous country, the national government paid a very large sum of money from the public treasury for their redemption. The character of the nation for justice and humanity, as well as the feelings of the friends of these suffering mariners, demanded the most effectual interference in their behalf; and the government would not have dared, even if they had been so disposed, to have refused their exertions. But there was nothing more inhuman, unjust, or oppressive, and certainly nothing more disgraceful, in the case of the Algerine(sic) captives, than there is in the missionaries. But it is in vain to look for relief or interposition of this administration. The head of it not only disregards treaties, laws, and Constitution, but he even countenances the state of Georgia in their iniquitous system of plunder, injustice, oppression and barbarity. Under these circumstances, the people of the Union, who regard the reputation of the nation for justice, equity, and righteousness, are loudly called upon to manifest their feelings at this outrage upon them all, and that this in a manner that shall make an impression upon the mind of General Jackson at least, if it does not upon that of the people of Georgia. For this purpose, there ought to be a general expression of opinion upon the cruel and tyrannical treatment of the missionaries alluded to, and this in such a language as to convince those who connive at, as well as those who practice it, that the nation at large, will not patiently submit to the reproach of tolerating such bare-faced and intolerable iniquity.


From the Boston Christian Herald.

The following remarks on the late acts of Georgia, are just and highly appropriate. We know not to whom credit should be given for them:


These transactions present a new scene in the history of the United States. It yet remains to be seen in what light our citizens will view it. Heretofore, when they have seen men seized, tried, convicted, and imprisoned, they have seen them to and what feelings they will express be the intemperate and profane, the fraudulent, riotous, and the frequenters of the haunts of dissipation and crime; they have seen them taken for their deeds of dishonesty and outrage, and made to bear the penalty of the law, with the full approbation of the whole intelligent and virtuous part of the community. Now they witness a new scene. They behold men of highly cultivated minds, men of irreproachable character, citizens pursuing lawful occupations in a peaceable manner, charged with no crime but that of being found occupying their own houses and lands, where they had gone with the express approbation of the government of the United States; such men our citizens now see dragged from their schools, their pulpits and their ministration at the Lord's table, chained one to another, like felons of the first order and hurried before a criminal court and to prison. Our citizens have been accustomed to see offenders against the laws arrested by civil officers acting in obedience to the warrant of a civil magistrate; but now they see armed soldiers without any precept, scouring the country, arresting whom they please. Our citizens have been accustomed to see persons that were under arrest especially before their condemnation, treated with great humanity, subjected to no unnecessary confinement, and hardship, borne down with no insult or abuse; but now they see those who make no attempt to resist or escape, loaded with irons, forced to travel great distances on foot, vilified, reproached, and threatened by their captors. Such scenes as these are strange and unexpected in this country. They are so strange, that perhaps our citizens do not believe they exist. But they are actually that witnessed at the present time; ' the missionaries with the churches have sent forth to the unevangelized, are the sufferers. They bring fresh to mind the persecutions and imprisonment of the nonconformists in the days of Charles, and the cruel vexations experiences by the Waldenses (sic) under the Duke of Savoy.


From the New York Observer.

We have copied on our last page from a Georgia paper, the fullest account we have yet seen of the trial and sentence of the two missionaries, Worcester and Butler, for refusing to obey a tyrannical and unconstitutional law of that state. The Christian firmness of these devoted men has been apparent in every stage of the disgraceful persecution which they have been made to suffer, but it shines forth more clearly in this consummating act.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * To the missionaries alone, it would seem, belongs the glory of having endured hardship in this matter like good soldiers, and to them alone will belong the praise which posterity will be sure to render to martyrs in the cause of liberty.

The law under which these missionaries have been compelled to suffer, is the greatest outrage upon the rights of man, which has been perpetrated since the commencement of our independence. It condemns free born American citizens to choose between banishment and four years imprisonment at hard labor!-for what?-for refusing to take an oath to support the most flagrant and wicked usurpation!- and usurpation which nullifies the laws and treaties of the national government! and usurpation, which robs the most respectable nation of Indians on this continent, of liberty and rights, which they have been guarantied to them again and again by the most solemn pledges of our national faith!

By suffering imprisonment under this law, the missionaries will direct public attention to its tyrannical character; they will excite deep interest in a matter which has hitherto been treated with the most unaccountable apathy; they will open the eyes of the American people to the insult which has been offered them; they will compel the Supreme Court of the United States to pronounce its sentence in the case, and they will call forth a feeling, and an expression of feeling, which will demand the execution of that sentence, and thus save our nation from the deep disgrace with which it has been threatened.

We have given the sentence of Judge Clayton in full, that our readers may see for themselves the miserable sophistry with which the authorities of Georgia attempt to disguise the tyranny of their law. We presume that there are few of our readers who will not be able at once to detect its fallacies. We propose, however, to make a few comments upon it in our next paper.



A letter from one of the honored sufferers has been received at the Missionary Rooms, stating that Messrs. Worcester and Butler, Missionaries of the American Board, were on their way, with other convicts to the Georgia Penitentiary! The trial terminated on the 19th ult. we believe, in their conviction, and as the law did not allow the Court any discretion in awarding the punishment, they were sentenced to hard labor in the Penitentiary for four years. We understand, however, that the Court was magnanimous enough to insult them by a recommendation to the Executive pardon on condition of their removal from the lands claimed by Georgia. Pardon!- for what?--for preaching the Gospel?--for translating the Word of God?--for instructing the ignorant?--for comforting the afflicted?--for honestly claiming the rights of free speech and of citizenship?--for the conscientious discharge of imperative duty?--Pardon! Let the violators of law, the 'nullifiers' of constitutions and treaties, the forfeiters of their country's honor, the tramplers on right and justice and pledged faith, the avaricious robbers of the poor, the inhuman oppressors of the weak, the denouncers and imprisoners (sic) of honest patriotism and Christian purity, the dealers in gratuitous insult and outrage--let them ask pardon!


From the Christian Mirror.


Mr. Editor:- Having seen, in the papers of the day, a notice of the course that has been pursued by the emissaries of Georgia, towards our missionary brethren in that region, I have anxiously awaited an expression of public feeling. Mr. Editor, I have opened many a paper with the expectation that there would be, throughout our land, one simultaneous burst of indignation, at the insults heaped upon our unoffending brethren; but alas, how slow are we in extending to our suffering friends the voice of Christian sympathy and how tardy in our expressions of abhorrence at the oppression permitted under our boasted republican government! Do you ask what more can be done, that has already been attempted for the Cherokees and their teachers? I honestly answer, that I am a woman in the retired walks of life, and know little of political measures--therefore I cannot tell--but I do know if we were ourselves, suffering as the original proprietors of this soil are, that something would be devised; caucus after caucus would be convoked, while our halls of legislation would ring with the sound of 'tyranny and oppression.' Every tongue would tell its wrongs and every press teem with measures to free us from our sufferings. I appeal to past experience; was it not so during our revolutionary struggle?

What then means this apathy? Hath not God made of one blood all the nations of the earth? and does he not except that we should feel when treaty after treaty is broken-treaties as solemn and as strong as could possibly be formed to bind the fight of nations? Does he not expect us to feel when our red brethren are driven from their cultivated farms, their work shops, and their comfortable dwellings-called upon to turn away from them and from the graves of their fathers, and seek their home in a wide spreading wilderness, where no mark of cultivation is visible? And ah, above all does he not expect us to feel when under these accumulated trials no Christian minister is near to point them to that better world where no proud oppressor dwells, and pray with them for that meek and quiet spirit, which they so greatly need under the heavy calamities which are now crushing them to the earth.

With the laws of nations I freely confess myself unacquainted-why then do I speak of matters too high for me? Simply because the laws of my God (of which I plead no such ignorance)--simply because they command us to love our neighbor as ourself; and were my own fireside to be desolated--my children taken from their schools and their religious privileges, and immersed in ignorance and barbarism,--I should plead, and plead earnestly too, for a spirit to go abroad in our land seeking redress for their wrongs. A multitude of families are thus suffering at this moment, and will the Christian public longer slumber when the sufferings of our missionary brethren and the wrongs of the Cherokee Nation so loudly call upon them to awake to action?


From the Norwich Courier.

The Mohegan Indians.

Mr. Dunham--It was with __igned feelings of pleasure, that I listened to the recital of the following circumstance. Not long since, one or more of the Mohegan Indians went to a shop where ardent spirits are retailed, to purchase the usual dram. The shop keeper positively refused to furnish it, alleging as a reason that, while some were making efforts to instruct and reform them, he would not be accessary to any measure which were calculated to counteract those efforts. This occurrence will be treasured up with grateful remembrance by the friends of the Indians, and will ever remain as a bright spot in the character of that individual. A similar circumstance took place, last winter, in Montville. An Indian carried his bottle to a dealer in ardent spirits, who not only declined fill it, but endeavored to dissuade him from the practice of intemperance.

Among the facts related by Mr. Gleason, who has resided a number of years with the Choctaw Indians, and witnessed great improvement in their habits, was the following. A converted red man visited the store of a white trader, on business. The latter urged him to drink as he had formerly done, and would scarcely be denied. The Indian remained steadfast in his integrity, and when he had completed his business and was about to leave, thus addressed the white man. 'I have one favor to ask of you- when I come again do not invite me to drink; you know that I used to be addicted to this vice. If you urge me to return to it, perhaps I may be led away by the temptation.'

It is generally acknowledged, and with truth, that the habit of intemperance was introduced among the Indians by white men-but perhaps it is not so well known that the Mohegan tribe were the only steady allies of our ancestors, in their struggles for liberty. While defection frequently occurred in the other tribes, and open hostility in some, the noble race of the U-c--es were our uncaring friends, and they hesitated not to shed their own blood in our cause. I doubt not that nearly all, even of those who may have aided in putting the cup to their lips, would as patriots, rejoice in preserving this feeble remnant, as a monument of gratitude to their ancient warriors. Will they not then exert their influence to diminish in some degree that evil which has been more fatal to our red brothers than the tomahawk or the sword? Their native shrewdness and reflection would not be wholly insensible to this kindly restrain. Whenever a poor Indian crosses our path, degraded and fallen though he be, let us regard him as a shadow of departed greatness and imagine that we hear a voice from the graves of his illustrious Sachems, saying- 'Spare his remnant of my people, and the Great Spirit himself will bless you.'



We never behold a wretched and forlorn Indian wandering over this fair heritage, without strong feelings of sympathy for the abject condition of the race and their destitute and deplorable state of hopeless misery; original possessors of the soil we covet and owners of the territory we now claim, many of these wretched objects of ignorance and debasement are now left without a home, destitute of those sources of industry which might relieve their accumulating wants, and subject to the scorn and contempt of a reckless white populace.

The Indian in his native, unsubdued state, is composed of conflicting passions--of benevolent feelings and revengeful purposes; he is a proud being, with a haughty spirit, a noble bearing and a loftiness of character, which becomes comparatively subdued and inactive as the effect of civilization with its renovating power, is spread around him; he is no longer the incorrigible warrior, the contemptuous foe, the untamed spirit of the wilderness, he was to want be, but a broken and jaded exile from his native forests; the fire of his eye is subdued, the temper of his mind is softened, the buoyancy of his spirit quenched, and the tone and temper of this once disdainful and lofty savage, is wholly changed and humbled.

Civilization and education have done much and may do more to soften the wretchedness and make the existence of the Indian tribes less intolerable and degraded, but the insidious venality and grasping selfishness of vicious white men have done incalculable evils in contributing to their debasement and counteracting the efforts of the philanthropist; he is the great source of their deepest woes; their love of sanguinary strife and their continued wretchedness, by administering in their thirst for intoxicating liquids and cherishing other vices of a kindred character.

Last week a wretched and destitute Penobscot Indian was seen traversing our streets, burthened with an infant child upon his shoulders, scantily fed, miserably clothed and exposed to the taunts and ribaldry of those who saw nothing but his debasement and wretchedness; his earliest anxiety was rum and to obtain it apparently his only solicitude. An occasional remnant of these tribes of the forest are found wandering mendicants throughout the country, living monuments of degradation and viciousness of the Indian character, resulting principally from their intercourse with unprincipled and selfish white men.

Northampton Courier