Cherokee Phoenix


Published November, 19, 1831

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NEW ECHOTA NOV. 19, 1831

Mr. Thompson's letter--The letter of Rev. M. Thompson to the editor of the Charleston Observer, which the reader will find in our first page, we publish, because we have already inserted in our columns the letters of Governor Gilmer to which it alludes.


The Message of the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation will convey to the public the sentiments and determination of our citizens at large--it represents their views correctly.--Among other business transacted by the Council at Chattooga was the appointment of three Delegates to Washington during the coming session of Congress. By this it will be seen the Cherokees have no intention of surrendering at discretion, but are determined to assert their rights to the last. Those rights they will urge earnestly upon the consideration of the National legislature--They will call upon those to whom the faith and honor of the Union are entrusted to preserve their own solemn treaties from violation and to defend the liberties of a weak and dependent people from aggression.


NEW ECHOTA. NOV. 15th, 1831


Sir:- As it has been the object of some, who wish to justify the authorities of Georgia, in persecuting the Missionaries and other white men living in her pretended limits, and who have endeavored to make the public believe that those individuals who were sent to the Penitentiary, and discharged by the Governor, had acknowledged that they were influenced by Mr. Worcester, and had taken the oath of allegiance, I deem it my duty, as one of the individuals alluded to, to say, that I never have made such an acknowledgement, nor Have I ever taken the oath of allegiance. I would say, also, that I have acted upon my own responsibility, believing as I do, that the state of Georgia has no right of jurisdiction over the Cherokee Nation, and so long as I feel myself as a free born citizen of the United States, and have an idea of my rights and liberties as such, I never will take an oath of allegiance to any state.

I am yours 'c.



Of the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation to the General Council.



A majority of you have decided upon the necessity and expediency of holding the General Council at this place for the following reason in part:-

1. Because it is clearly demonstrated that the cruel treatment which our citizens have experienced from persons acting under the usurped authority of Georgia has originated from the extraordinary course of policy which the present administration of the General Government has adopted and exercised towards us-

2. Because the proper authorities of this nation are menaced by Georgia with an ignominious punishment in the event of their meeting in General Council at New Echota.-

3. It was apprehended that an attempt on the part of the Georgia Troops to arrest the members of the General Council at the point of the bayonet, amidst so great a concourse of our citizens as would in all probability have attended at that place such a scene would have occurred as ought ever to be deprecated; and it being the ardent desire of this nation that the peace and friendship which has so happily existed with the United States, almost half a century, should be forever continued inviolate, you have, therefore, considered it more prudent to avoid a conflict with the Georgia Troops on this occasion; and let it be distinctly understood that for these and other reasons only have I been induced at this time to meet you in General Council at Chattooga instead of New Echota.

On the return of the Delegation which was appointed at you last session to represent the grievances and wishes of this nation before the Government of the United States, measures were taken to inform you citizens generally of their proceedings and of the true state of our public affairs, by visiting them in their respective Districts and distributing among them a circular address, a copy of which together with the documents containing the proceedings of our delegation, are herewith submitted for your information.

It will be recollected that the President of the United States, at an early day after his induction to office, made us a declaratory and positive assurance that 'so far as we had rights we should be protected in them, and that an interference to the extent of affording protection to the Cherokees and the occupancy of their soil, is what is demanded of the justice of the U. S. and will not be withheld;' and that 'the intruders would be removed.' After the promulgation of this assurance detachments of the Federal troops were ordered within our territorial limits. This movement was hailed with joy and approbation on our part under the sanguine hope that the protection which had so recently been promised us by President Jackson was now to be afforded. But to our astonishment disappointment the troops were soon found employed under the orders of their superiors, in preventing our citizens from working gold mines, belonging to this nation, and thereby treating them as trespassers upon their own soil. And on being requested by the Governor of Georgia with the assurance that 'whatever measures may be adopted by the State of Georgia in relation to the Cherokees, the strongest desire will be felt to make them accord with the policy which has been adopted by the present administration of the General Government.' The President ordered these troops to be withdrawn from our territory! Thus the military of the United States figured and decamped before our eyes without affording that protection which we had a right to expect, and which had so recently been pledged, leaving undisturbed the numerous intruders who have settled down upon our lands on the frontiers of Georgia and other adjacent states. Immediately after this, Georgia under her own authority, levied a military force, which is known by the appellation of the 'Georgia Guard,' and stationed it in this nation, at the encampment which had been established and vacated by the United States troops.

The numerous subsisting treaties between the United States and this nation were negotiated, entered into, and constitutionally ratified on the part of the States by the competent authorities thereof; and the compose a part of 'the supreme law of the land,' and 'the judges in every state shall be bound thereby anything in the constitution of laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding'- In reference to this clause of the Federal Constitution I may well borrow an expression of one of the most eminent Judges of Georgia, 'can language be plainer or can words be stronger'- Such was the language of an Honorable Judge in delivering an opinion from the bench in that state some years ago, in favor of some individuals who claimed title to land reserved to them by the treaty of 1819, between the United States and this Nation, ' against the title claimed under a grant from Georgia by certain citizens thereof.

The Judicial power extends to all cases in law ' equity arising under the Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made under their authority; and no state can enter into any treaty, all are of consideration, or pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts; - and Congress alone possess the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states and with the Indian tribes. Here then in the face of all these constitutional provisions, all the treaties made with the Cherokee Nation and the laws enacted by Congress in the spirit of these treaties for our protection, the present administration of the General Government has tolerated Ga. in the recklessness of her own glory and reputation, to march across the line of her constitutional boundary to pass laws repugnant to those treaties and laws of the United States for the express object of perplexing and distressing our citizens by intolerable oppression, that we may be forced to surrender our lands for her benefit. Georgia has surveyed our country into districts--she has placed numerous intruders upon our soil, and in time of profound peace has levied troops, and still continues to keep them in service. These troops without civil precepts have arrested our citizens at the point of the bayonet, marched them over the country with chains around their necks, and without trials have imprisoned them in a jail at their military station! Missionaries of the cross, who under the approbation of the authorities of the General Government were sent hither by the benevolence of religious associations, to instruct the Cherokees in the precepts of the Gospel and the arts of civilization, and who have met a welcome reception in this nation, and were successfully prosecuting the objects of their laudable and peaceful mission, have also been cruelly torn from their families and ministerial charge and similarly treated! Two of these worthy and inoffensive men, who had been delivered over to the civil authority of Georgia, under the charge merely of residing in this Nation, and refusing to comply with a law of that state, which goes to infringe upon the rights and liberties guarantied to every free citizen under the Constitution of the United States have been sentenced by Judge Clayton to the penitentiary of Georgia, there to endure hard labor for the term of four years.

Being fully convinced that President Washington and his successors well understood the constitutional powers of the General Government, and the rights of the individual states, as well as those belonging to the Indian nations, and that the treaties made under their respective administrations with the Cherokee Nation were intended to be faithfully ' honestly regarded on the part of the United States; and that the judicial power would extend to all cases of litigation that might arise under these treaties; it was determined on the expediency of employing legal Counsel to defend the rights of the Nation before the Courts of the United States. Finding however, that the Courts of Georgia were disposed to prevent as far as possible any case from going up to the Supreme Court of the United States, our counsel advised the propriety of trying the original jurisdiction of the court by applying, in the character of a foreign state for an injunction to restrain Georgia, her officers, citizens, 'c from enforcing her laws within our territorial limits. Copies of the Bill for an injunction, and notice of the intended motion were accordingly served upon the Governor and Attorney General of that State. On the 5th of March last the motion was made by John Sergeant, Esqr., who also delivered an able speech in favor of the application. William Wirt, Esqr, concluded with equal ability and force of argument on the same side. No counsel appeared on the part of Georgia, but some of her representatives in Congress and other friends attended the Court and anxiously awaited the decision. The Court denied the injunction on the ground that the Cherokee Nation was not a foreign state, in the sense of the Constitution. A majority, however, decided that the Cherokee are a distinct political society, separate from others, capable of managing its own affairs and governing itself, and that the acts of the United States Government plainly recognize the Cherokee Nation as a state and the courts are bound by those acts. The Honorable Judges Thompson and Story dissented from the majority.- In a part of their opinion and gave a very able and luminous opinion in favor of the jurisdiction of the Court and awarding the injunction. There can be no doubt that a majority of its judges of the Supreme Court hold the law of Georgia extending jurisdiction within our limits to be unconstitutional, and whenever a case between proper parties can be brought before them, they will so decide. The authorities of Georgia seem convinced of this fact. The Courts of that state have endeavored to manage the cases brought before them under their laws in such a manner as to avoid presenting a case for the adjudication of the Supreme Court of the United States on this important question. And when a writ of error was obtained from the Chief Justice in the case of the State of Georgia vs. George Tassell, the Legislative and Executive authorities interposed by ordering the execution of the unfortunate party.-

Judge Clayton has recently decided a case of great importance to this Nation, in the Superior Court of that State.- viz: the State vs. Kannetoo (sic). The defendant in this case was a native Citizen, arrested and delivered over to the civil authority by the 'Georgia Guard,' and committed to jail on a charge of digging gold in the Cherokee Nation, in violation of a law of Georgia. I have not as yet perused this opinion, but so far as I am informed by others, the prisoner was discharged on the ground that he was a Cherokee, and that the Cherokee possess the right to the soil recognized by treaty to be in their occupancy, and that the gold mines within those limits belong to them, and that there were but two ways by which these lands could be obtained, either by fair treaty, or by force.- Since this decision has been made, by one of the highest Courts of Georgia, Governor Gilmer has ordered the Commander of the 'Georgia Guard' not to be governed by it, but to prevent the Cherokees as well as all others from working those mines. Since then, a detachment of his Guard under the Command of Serg't Brooks found a Cherokee at one of the mines near the Chestatee, fired upon and shot him, for no other offence than attempting to escape by running.

You will discover from the accompanying documents that the President declined making any reply to the important subjects presented by our delegation for his consideration, and refused to pay over to them any portion of our annuity to defray the expenses of their mission, but directed the Agent to distribute it among the individuals of the Nation. Upon being informed of this order, thousands of our citizens sent written protests to the Agent against this mode of disposing of our public funds, and requesting him to pay the same over to the Treasurer as usual. This demand of the people was laid before the Agent by the Treasurer, but he would not comply with their wishes. Finding that this money would not be received by the people in the manner ordered to be paid, Agents of the General Government have been travelling through the Nation to induce them to accept of it under the persuasion that the President of the United States, from his great regard for his red children, has directed this money to be paid to them as a free gift from their Great Father. Under this influence some few women and others have been seduced with small sums of our public funds.

By innumerable acts of injustice and oppression, the rights, liberties, and lives of our Citizens have been threatened and jeopardized; and after placing our citizens almost in a state of duress, the President has been induced by the urgent solicitations of Governor Gilmore, to send into the Nation special agents for the purpose of urging our Citizens to enroll their names for emigration west of the Mississippi River. These Agents are now in the Nation, and a part of them have been seen conversing with a few individuals at their houses, but with no success--By fair and honorable means there can be no danger as it regards the sentiments and disposition of our people on this subject. It is said their fears and credulity are to be operated upon--how far this may be true, time will soon develop--at all events, by the admission of Governor Gilmer, the people are no longer afraid of their chiefs, nor under the influence of white men, and that they will now think and act for themselves by emigration. When this project fails, it is not known to what cause the failure will be imputed, as our opponents seem determined not to believe the truth, that the opposition of the Cherokees is owing purely to a correct sense of their rights, and to their love of country.-

Much has been said from time to time to make a false impression on the public mind in regard to our present controversy and difficulties with Georgia. There can be no subject easier understood than the true relationship between this Nation and the United States; nor the justness of any cause more obvious than ours when fairly investigated. The expediency of removing our Nation west of the Mississippi has also been urged upon the incompatibility of permitting an independent Government to grow up within the limits of the United States. A correct understanding of our Treaties with the United States will show the absurdity of this argument and remove all fears of the possibility of any evil ever arising to any one of the States from our present location. A weak defenseless community as we are, forming an alliance with, and placed under the protection of, and residing in the heart of so powerful a Nation as the United States, and having surrendered a portion of our sovereignty, as a security for our protection, and our intercourse being confined exclusively with our protector, must necessarily produce that identity of interest and bond of friendship so natural to the ties of such an alliance.-- Something has also been said on the score of the public defence. It is true our population at present is small, that it is increasing as rapidly as could be expected. And have not the Cherokees at all times been ready to meet the common foe of the United States Did they not sufficiently prove to the world their disposition on this subject during the last war? Did they not meet and fight the enemy as became warriors? Let the gallant commander, who now administers the affairs of the United States Government answer.--Situated, therefore, as we are under the fostering care and protection of a magnanimous Government, there is every reason to cherish the hope that under the auspices of a kind and generous administration, time would soon put to shame and lull to silence all the sophistry and unnatural clamor as boisterously paraded against our peaceful continuance upon the land of our fathers. By suitable encouragement and proper culture the arts and sciences would soon flourish in every section of our Nation, ' the happy period be hastened when an incorporation into the great family of the American Republic would be greeted by every patriot, ' posterity hail the event with grateful rejoicing. May such ever be the views and prospects to guide us in our efforts to secure for our posterity the inestimable advantages and enjoyments, rights, and liberties, guarantied by treaties in our present location. On the other hand, by a removal west of the Mississippi, under the policy of the present administration of the General Government, to a barren and inhospitable region, we can flatter ourselves with no other prospect than the degradation, dispersion and ultimate extinction of our race.

To meet the engagements of the Nation, I have been compelled from the retention of our annuity, to accept of partial loans made by our citizens, on the credit of the Nation. It will now _ _ _ine your duty to adopt the necessary arrangements raising a fund to meet the exigencies for the Government.

It is also recommended that a law be passed providing for the determination of question of controversy between our citizens by arbitration.

The public press is a source of vital importance to our National interest; and it is gratifying to state that the circulation of the Cherokee Phoenix has given increased confidence in the American public as to the improving condition, character and stability of the Cherokee people. Much credit is due to the Editor for the ability and integrity manifested by him in conducting the paper; particularly is much credit due in reference to the honorable course of conduct pursued in his narration of facts 'c., under the pressure of circumstances peculiarly offensive.

The importance of appointing a Delegation to represent the Nation before the Government of the United States during the approaching session of Congress is suggested for your consideration.

Owing to a severe drought during the last year the crops of our citizens were greatly injured, and an unusual scarcity of bread ensued, but through the indulgence of a kind Providence, I am gratified to say, that the crops of this year have yielded abundantly, and our citizens generally are happily enjoying the fruits of their labors.


Chattooga, Cher. Nation, Oct. 2d. 1831.