Cherokee Phoenix


Published November, 26, 1831

Page 2 Column 4a


NEW ECHOTA NOV. 26, 1831

The message of the late Governor of Georgia, or that part of it which relates to the Cherokees, will be found on our first page. His Excellency commences by criticizing the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States on the case of the Cherokee Nation vs. the State of Georgia.--He thinks, of course, the opinion is erroneous, because it is directly in conflict with the doctrines asserted and maintained by him. But who is most likely to decide correctly, the Judges of the Supreme Court, who are perfectly disinterested, and whose impartiality on this question cannot be doubted; or the Governor of Georgia? It would be rather a novel matter, indeed, if parties in a case were their own judges. But it seems the authorities of Georgia form a tribunal within themselves-are determined to judge for themselves, and to set aside, as an imprudent interference in their affairs, the opinion of a high Court, created, by the Constitution of the country (to which, strange as it may seem, they profess attachment,) as the expounder of the laws and treaties of the Union.

His excellency next invites the attention of the legislature to the condition of the Cherokees. He says-'Upon no subject has there been more misrepresentation than in relation to the Government of the Cherokees, and the civilization of the people of that tribe.' This is true, so far, and if he had stopped here he would not have been guilty of the very 'misrepresentation' he seems to deprecate. But hear him further. 'Upon examination it will be found that the aboriginal people are as ignorant 'c. as formerly 'c.' He asserts very confidently that 'none of them in this state [Georgia] with this exception of ONE FAMILY, have acquired property, or been benefited by the improvements which have been made by others among them' A question naturally rises, who has made such a minute 'examination' as to find out one aboriginal family within the Georgia charter who may be said to have acquired property and to have made improvement?

It may be true the [Principal] Chiefs, and Judges, Marshal and Sheriffs are descendants of Europeans, but to say that 'many citizens of Georgia and the adjoining states,' if by that is meant white men, are concerned in the administration of the Cherokee Government, is to say what is perfectly untrue. And what if the descendants of Europeans, or mixed blood, as some call them, partake in the management of the government? are they not Indians? and does not the State of Georgia treat them as such? We cannot conceive what object is to be gained by attempting to divide the Cherokees into two classes- No one pretends to doubt that the 'descendants of Europeans' have made more improvement than the aboriginal part of the tribe, but the assertion that the latter are as ignorant as formerly 'c. is gratuitous and utterly unfounded.

The Ex-Governor seems to think that the 'aboriginal' Cherokees 'have been compelled to submit to a system of laws and police (sic) wholly unsuited to their condition.' If this assertion is true, how does he justify the attempt to compel them to submit to another system of laws and police (sic) a hundred times more unsuited to their condition? How comes it that which is wrong in the 'descendants of the Europeans' becomes right in the authorities of Georgia?

The Georgia Guard are highly lauded by his Excellency as having performed their duty in a manner which has reflected great credit on them. Their acts are before an impartial world.

The decision of Judge Clayton, it appears, was unexpected, and in the view of Governor Gilmer, has placed a difficulty in the way of robbing (to call things by their right names) the Cherokees of their gold. This is certainly to the credit of the Judge of the Western Circuit. Another bad effect of the decision, Governor Gilmer seems to think, is to throw an insuperable obstacle in the way of the efforts which are now making by the United States to induce the Cherokees to emigrate. This is another cause of lamentation-but how is it consistent with what he says in a succeeding paragraph? Speaking of the efforts of the President to induce the Cherokees to emigrate; he informs the legislature that, 'there is little doubt but that success will be the result of his measures' qualifying this expression, however, with the following clause--'if supported in the proper manner, by the authorities of this state.' How are these measures to be successful, if the decision of Judge Clayton has placed such insuperable difficulties in the way? The Ex-Governor must certainly be ignorant of the feelings of the Cherokees, for it would have made no difference with them, in regard to the question of emigration, if the Judge of the Western Circuit had sent Cunetoo (sic) to the Penitentiary.

What is said of the authorities of the State supporting the measures of the President is doubtless means the carrying into practice the humane policy so much spoken of lately, and the course recommended by his Excellency-that is, to feed the cupidity of the Cherokees, by promising extensive reservations.

The imprisoned missionaries and their friends are noticed in such a way as we supposed they would be by Gov. Gilmer. -In fact he only repeats what he has said heretofore. He is, however, greatly mistaken if he supposes that the 'sectrarian zeal' which was excited in behalf of these missionaries has passed away.- It cannot pass away while there is a spark of virtue and true liberty in the American community. The memory of the late transactions cannot die away- It will live in history, to the honor and praise of Worcester and Butler, and to the disgrace of those who have perverted their power to purposes of private malice and self-interest.

'And what wrong has Georgia done to its Indian people?' So asks his Excellency, yet in another part of his message he recommends the legislature to expel a certain class of Cherokees out of their country. The State takes one step after another-It has driven away white men, ' the Governor now recommends to drive away a portion of the Cherokees-it is probable a year hence the 'aboriginal' part of the tribe will come under a similar proscription. All this time Georgia cries out, 'what wrong has been done to the Indians? When it shall have taken away the last inch of earth from them, it will still say, 'They are in the peaceable possession of their occupant rights.' When it shall have filled the country with intruders, and removed such men as Worcester and Butler, it will still sing, 'Intruders have been removed from among them by severe penal laws.' Such is the spirit of despotism.

We are rather disappointed in the views expressed by Governor Gilmer on the law passed last session for the survey and distribution of the Cherokee lands.- We were prepared to see a recommendation from him to take immediate possession of those lands, because public opinion in Ga. was said to be prepared for such a step. But he seems to deprecate the idea of the state committing so gross an act of injustice.- It has been said that the new Governor has given a pledge to his constituents that he will place them in possession of the Cherokee Country. It may be so, or it may not. So far as we can ascertain the feelings of our citizens upon this point, they appear to be perfectly indifferent. If the Governor and people of Georgia are prepared to go so far- if they will take the lands without any regard to 'the character of the State,' 'the interest of the Union,' without any 'respect for public opinion and the rights of the Indians,' the sooner they do it the better.

Governor Gilmer thinks it is highly necessary that the efforts of the President to induce the Cherokees to emigrate, should be supported by the authorities of Georgia. The nature of that support is fully exemplified at this time. It consists in denouncing and treating with savage cruelty those who disapprove of and speak against emigration, and defending and protecting those who have enrolled, however unprincipled and impudent they may be. It was only the other day a citizen of Pine-log was arrested by the Georgia Guard, for having a personal difference with an emigrant, a most trifling fellow too, and for speaking his mind to one of the interpreters of the Government agents. We understand he is still in confinement at Hightower, formerly occupied as a Mission station. We understand also that his persecutors are attempting to work upon his fears, by telling him that he must either remove out of the Georgia charter, emigrate to Arkansas or be sent to the Penitentiary for the term of four years.

Another Cherokee, Moses Beanstick, the same who was once treated in the most barbarous manner in the jail of Carroll county, was also arrested not long since, and considerably injured by receiving a severe blow on the forehead with a musket, just because a certain white emigrant, whose name is not worthy to be repeated here, thought proper to report him as threatening his life. The object appears to be to awe every man into silence, and to 'induce' as many as possible to enroll 'peaceably' by treating them in the manner above related. We do not here make any reflection on the conduct of the enrolling agents.- We believe they are honorable men, and wish to do what is right and to satisfy their consciences. It is due to the honor of the Government that they see that no Cherokee is compelled to enrol under such circumstances. If any wish to emigrate, let them emigrate, to use the words of Secretary Cass, 'uninfluenced by others.'