Cherokee Phoenix


Published December, 17, 1831

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It is not my intention to attempt anything like a general review of this very singular document, but to repel some of the charges contained in said sentence which appear to my mind not well warranted 'by a full and plain history of the case.' The Judge sets out by stating 'that he sincerely believes that this prosecution has been sought and endured for political effect.' Now this is indeed a strange conclusion from the facts and one which I very much doubt whether any unprejudiced mind will ever arrive at, which is made well acquainted therewith as the Judge was. It is known that the Rev. Mr. Worcester, to whom the Judge's address was mainly delivered, was a Post Master at New Echota, and had been discharged from arrest by the Judge upon that ground. It is also matter of public notoriety from the letters of Governor Gilmer, and the Post Master General, that he was removed from that office for no alleged misconduct or incapacity in the same, but for the purpose alone of rendering him amenable to the Georgia banishment law (How praiseworthy it may be considered for the Governor of a State, a Post Master General, and a President of the United States to combine themselves together and by removing an humble and worthy individual from office, make him an object of prosecution, and those acts criminal which were otherwise innocent, I leave the candid reader to determine.) Surely the Judge could not believe that Mr. Worcester sought his own removal from the office he held in the Cherokee Nation; and which he had before been protected under from prosecution, I cannot pretend to set limits to the Judge's faith or say what he believe or does not believe, but I believe it is fair to conclude that to any other mind acquainted with the facts, such an idea will appear not only unreasonable, but perfectly ridiculous. It was also well known to the Judge that others who were then before him had used every exertion to elude an arrest. How then could it be said that 'this prosecution was sought?' as well might the bloody Savary have said to the Duke de Enghren 'you have sought this prosecution.' It is sought however, says the judge 'for political effect.' Ah! there's the rub 'thus conscience does make cowards of us all.' When has it ever been feared before in this free government, that the trial and conviction of a criminal would produce 'political effect.' If this law of Georgia be constitutional and good, if those who will not comply with it be indeed culprits deserving punishment, surely the Judge need not fear political effect from its operation; and need not endeavor to counteract it 'by a long and labored discourse.' The 'political effect' feared by the Judge as may be gathered from other parts of the sentence, was that these high handed measures of Georgia might undergo the re-election of Andrew Jackson, who has thus far not only permitted but encouraged them. It was learned that people out of Georgia at least would view this proceeding, this incarceration of the ministers of the Gospel in the Penitentiary, as a palpable nullification of the treaties, a violation of the Constitution, a setting at nought all our contracts with the Indians, and a most shameful outrage of every principle of justice and humanity; (as it most undoubtedly is;) and might think the man who could stand by and permit this after being sworn to support the Constitution and laws of the land, as no longer a fit and proper person to preside over the destinies of this great nation; it was known to the Judge that Andrew Jackson already stands accused of paying very little regard to the restraints of laws whether municipal or moral whenever they stand opposed to his inclination or schemes hence the fear that this 'closing scene of Georgia tyranny' might open the eyes of the nation, and induce the people to remove the cause of all the disgrace and confusion which unfortunately has been brought upon this once happy ' respectably republic, by the elevation of the present incumbent to the Chief magistracy. This is an occurrence greatly to be dreaded by many in Georgia; and it is well known that Georgia is only waiting the re-election of Andrew Jackson to take full and forcible possession of the Cherokee country. A leader of the Troup party passed through Milledgeville on his way to the north during the present session of the legislature and conjured his friends not to pass the law now in progress to take possession, alleging as his reason that if that law passed and the President did not prevent its operation, it would prevent his re-election--but advised to wait until the Presidential election was over and all would be well.

But the manner in which the Judge attempts 'to counteract this political effect,' which he evidently fear might be produced, by his wholesale penitentiary business, is still more remarkable; after taking a considerable excursion, and talking considerably about Mr. Monroe, Mr. Calhoun, ' Mr. Barbour, and feeling no doubt the utter hopelessness of being able to prove that any of these patriots ever encouraged the course pursued by Georgia. He next seems to be compassionate at his own failure; and charges all as being fools and 'heartless demagogues' who dare to think the treaties and laws of Congress, can present any obstacle to the forward march of Jackson and Georgia, in trampling on the rights of the Indians; having found no law, treaty or common sense honesty to support a single position which he lays down; he next falls foul of the Scriptures; having heard, I presume, that anything could be proved by taking detached parts of them, he says, 'I would suppose giving my humble views of the law, and the testimony that the Governor had placed a proper construction upon both when in addressing these individuals he reminds them to be subject to the principalities and powers to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, Tit. iii 1st. For he had reason to know and his charity required him to act upon his knowledge, that people are sometimes foolish, deceived, serving divers lust and pleasures, Ibid.3. What a pity that this view could not have actuated the minds of all concerned, what a pity that the peaceful course of the prince of peace could not have been recollected in his mild reply to his disciples on the subject of that well known oppression of the Jews by Caesar Augustus quoting Matt. and Luke. And I answer what a pity it is that the primitive Christians who suffered under Nero and Caligula could not have had the benefit of this sermon to have convinced them of the propriety of submitting to the edicts of the Roman Emperors. Why Saint Paul, had you have known as much about Christianity as Judge Clayton, you never would have appealed to Caesar, but obeyed the 'magistrates' and ceased preaching! How wicked must it have been in Archbishop Cranmer to have suffered himself to be burnt at the stake rather than comply with the persecuting laws enacted against the protestants! Surely Gen. Washington and the patriots of the Revolution were very guilty when they refused to obey the laws and submit to the oppression of Great Britain.--A few copies of the Judge's Sentence would certainly cause the refractory Poles to lay down their arms and submit to the Russian autocrat. He next goes on to ask 'What becomes of holy writ wherein we are required to submit ourselves to the ordinance of man.' Can it be possible the Judge supposed this Scripture is to be taken in the sense in which he could have us interpret it?- is such is the meaning thereof, then Mesback and his associates were very wrong when they refused to bow down to the image which Nebuchadnezzar set up and passed a decree 'an ordinance of man' to worship it. The judge might have made a good suffragan Bishop in the days of Queen Mary, or a good 'holder forth' of the cant of Oliver Cromwell's time, a good fellow laborer with Praise God bare bones; but unless he improves in divinity, it will be sometime yet before he is fit to take orders in a free country. The doctrine of passive obedience, 'to every ordinance of man' does not suit a republican ear: he further goes on ' repeats- 'where the word of a king is, there is power, and who may say unto him what doest thou?' Surely the Judge must have been in a paroxiom of land mania, or been under the influence of worse than 'northern fanaticism.' Whether it was King Andrew's word or King George's to which this new Saint Augustine alluded in his application of the text we are not informed. The doctrine that 'the king can do no wrong' is hereafter to be adopted as the rule in future--vive le Roy! How wonderful is 'the march of mind' of Georgia; and King Andrew: why all out old notions about the Constitution and the treaties being the Supreme law of the land are all nonsense; for King Andrew, in the third year of his reign ruleth, and his word is the law, and whosoever disobeys him let him be anathema maranathe, and whosoever complains of working in the Penitentiary or being hanged to froward his views is guilty of all manner of unkindness and the meekness that directs to render unto Caesar ought to teach them better manners. This is the doctrine delivered to us by the, shall I say, Judge, Prelate, or metropolitan? for I know not what names we shall assume to suit this new governmental doctrine, half law, half Theology in imitation I suppose of the half horse half alligator king from the west.

But I must consider this article, already swelled to a length far beyond the original intention, and refer the reader to the sentence itself, and an attentive perusal; if it does not convince him that it contains doctrines new to this republic and a commentary on the Bible new to the world. I am greatly mistaken. this is indeed the age of signs and wonders.