Cherokee Phoenix

From the Christian Advocate and Journal

Published December, 24, 1831

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From the Christian Advocate and Journal


Rev. and Dear Brother:- Having noticed in the Advocate and Journal of the 30th ult. two letters from his excellency Governor Gilmer, of the state of Georgia, in one of which I am held up to public view as an asserter of falsehood, I think it is my duty to let the public 'hear from me again' in self defence. The honorable source from whence this infamous imputation has emanated will of course give it notoriety; and as I feel myself bound by promise to substantiate the truth of that very statement which his excellency declares to be 'wholly destitute of truth,' I think I am now called on to give my proof.

The only part of my statements which Governor Gilmer seems inclined to contradict is what I said in relation to the guard's acting 'more from orders than from law.' By this remark the governor evidently feels himself implicated, and positively denies the charge. Now if it can be made to appear that the Georgia guard, under the command of the officers, have frequently acted in direct violation of the laws of the state, and that the governor's agent must have been apprized of these violations it will certainly be most manifest that the said guard acted either by special orders, or by silent connivance, equivalent to permission. In either case blame of a glaring character must rest somewhere; and if the governor will clear his agent, and throw himself in the way of the charge, he is doubtless at liberty so to do.

By a letter from Governor Gilmer lately received and now in my possession, and by the obvious construction of the law requiring an oath of allegiance from white residents in the nation, it is quite evident that the said oath cannot be legally administered to any of said residents after the 1st of last March. That the oath has been taken by several white men in the nation since that period, and that Colonel Sanford, the agent, has granted the same men permission to remain in quietude, can be proved to a demonstration. If I were now in the nation, I could obtain numerous respectable certificates, which would prove that in many of the proceedings of that guard, which is under the direction of the governor's agent, law, justice, and humanity have been almost totally disregarded. But it being at present impracticable to obtain such certificates, I addressed a note to the Rev. Mr. Trott, who has doubtless had a good opportunity of knowing much about the state of things in the nation, and by him I have been favored with plain answers to a few questions which I proposed to him; and although Governor Gilmer, in his letter to Colonel Sanford, roundly asserts that 'the flagrantly criminal conduct of those two men [Rev. Messrs. Trott and Worcester] induced him to discredit them,' yet I presume it will require some stronger proof than the assertions of his excellency to induce the public generally to 'discredit' the united testimony of two ministers of Christ so unimpeachable in their lives. The answers to the following questions I received from Mr. Trott, signed with his own name:-

Q.1. Have you ever heard of any of the officers of the Georgia guard say that they had orders to chain the missionaries?

A. 'Yes. I have frequently heard them say they had.'

Q.2. Was Colonel Sanford at Camp Gilmer during your first imprisonment, and did any of the officers then say that they had orders to chain you?

A. 'Colonel Sanford was certainly at Camp Gilmer while I was first confined there; and those who fastened the chain upon me said they did it from orders and not because they were afraid I would get away.

Q.3. Do you know of any white men in the Cherokee Nation who have been permitted to take the oath of allegiance since the 1st of March last?

A. 'It is a notorious fact, and one that cannot be denied, that some who were arrested were afterwards suffered to take the oath, and several others have since the 1st of March seen permitted to take the oath and remain undisturbed.

Q.4. Do you know of any Cherokees who have been arrested by the guard without legal authority?

A. 'It is well known that there were several Cherokees arrested, some of whom were chained and even entreated in various ways, without the least shadow of legal authority, namely John West, who was arrested, chained, and compelled to walk thirty miles from home, and then liberated. Also Thos. Woodard, A. M'Coy, and Jos. Vann, with some others, against whom there was not the least evidence of their having violated any law. And also the case of Judge Adair, who was ordered under guard by Colonel Nelson merely because he suspected him to have advised young Mr. Hicks not to let the guard have corn at an ordinary price.'

Q.5. Did you ever hear any of the officers of the guard give orders to exercise unlawful violence upon any of the citizens of the nation?

A. 'I heard Colonel Nelson order a detachment of the guard to go in search of certain white men; ' if, said he, those women

insult you put h_ll upon them, that is, as I understood him, give them a severe whipping.'

'Yours 'c.


'October 25, 1831.'

The above unequivocal statements of Mr. Trott, which, if disputed, can be demonstrated by an abundance of corroborative testimony, have doubtless sustained me in my declaration, which the governor so unhesitatingly pronounces 'wholly destitute of truth.' And since the governor, in his letter to the Rev. Mr. Howard, regrets that any members of the guard should be so excited by the improper conduct of the missionaries as to chain them, and yet openly declares that neither he nor Colonel Sanford has any power to punish them, for their improprieties, it will not be amiss to show the public that the guard have had some encouragement from the governor himself to perpetrate acts of cruelty upon the missionaries. In a letter from the governor to Col. Sanford, dated about the 1st of July last, he says, 'let the missionaries feel the full weight of the law since such is their choice. And if the courts acquit them, have them arrested again.' From these instructions from his excellency I have no doubt but the officers and members of the guard felt themselves authorized to go almost any lengths in their inhuman treatment of the persecuted missionaries, although it is quite probable that they went even farther in their acts of violence than ever the governor intended. While I was a prisoner in their cruel hands they often quoted the above mentioned instructions as a license for their conduct. But I shall add no more. In my first statements my sole design was to let the public know some important facts which ought not to be concealed; and now my only aim has been to defend myself from an insidious attack upon my moral character, under which I am unwilling to lie.

Yours respectfully,


Williamson Co. Tenn., October 30, 1831


From the Republican Farmers Free Press.

The Imprisoned Missionaries.- We ask no apology for once more bringing this matter before our readers.- While misrepresentation and slander, cruel as the grave, are abroad against citizens of our country, we shall not look on with silence and indifference.

In a political view, we ask no feeling in behalf of the victims of Ga. persecution, on account of their being clergymen and missionaries. They are American citizens, and because they are deprived of the rights of citizenship without being guilt of any crime against the laws of the land, they are entitled to all the generous sympathy which has become so wide spread in their favor. Any other man would be entitled to the same, and we ask no more for them than we should for their slanderers in New York, were they subjected to the same condition. We put the question on the broad ground of the rights of man and the supremacy of the laws. We are told that the missionaries were political and for this they are punished. Where is the proof?- Without it, the charge must be false, and as false we set it down. If there was the least evidence that they had inculcated any political doctrine upon the Indians, or that they had ever advised them to resist the laws of Georgia, would it not have been brought up on their trial? Would they not there have been charged with infusing rebellion into the minds of the natives? But nothing of the kind was said against them-no attempt was made to prove that they did not strictly confine themselves to their religious vocation, instructing the natives in the doctrines and practice of religion. The only crime alleged was their refusal to take the oath of allegiance to the laws of Georgia. The charge that they were political, is not only false but cowardly. The makers of it dare not defend the judgment of the court upon its true grounds. They know that it would not be tolerated in that shape, and to save themselves from disgrace in attempting to defend it, they manufactured the additional part. Column after column have they written saying that the missionaries were instigators of rebellion, hypocrites, political emissaries, and all this and that-but we appeal to their readers to declare, after wading through it all. whether they have ever been informed of the precise charge upon which the conviction took place.- Are they then the men to talk about candor and expect any credence from the community? The men who would not only sell the great birthright of freedom of their own opinion, but would labor and toil to keep truth out of view, and scandalize those who prefer the chains, and fetters, and intended infamy of a prison, to yielding up of right and truth--the men who would do this 'for a mess of pottage'--they are the men to talk about sanctity and virtue They have columns to spare for shrouding the subject in mystification, but not a line for the simple facts, which are the three small paragraphs following:

The state of Georgia passed a law requiring all white men, residing within the Cherokee limits to take an oath of allegiance to that state or move from the territory.

The missionaries regarding the law as unconstitutional, did not comply with it.

They were taken without resistance by a military guard, brought in chains to Gwinnett County, and on the charge of not complying with this law, tried, convicted, and sentenced to four years hard labor in the penitentiary.

Now the law expressly disfranchised them of their citizenship under the Constitution of the Union. Setting aside the question of the right of Georgia to that territory, or granting that she has that right, still the law is no less unconstitutional. Any man of us has the most perfect right under the protection of the federative Union, to go into Ohio and settle down and live there as a quiet inhabitant, without taking any oath of allegiance to that state; and Ohio would have no right to require such an oath of us. No more had Georgia any right to require such an oath of Messrs. Worcester and Butler. Will anyone ask why they could not, however, for the sake of peace take the oath Because that, by so doing, they would, in the sight of God and man, acknowledge the right of a law which they knew was not right; and thus perjure their souls. Why not then, for the sake of peace, quite the territory? For the same reason, together with others. Is any reader an emigrant from a sister state? Did you come here for a great and important objects? Are you just beginning the attainment of them, and do they grow more and more momentous as you advance in them? Would you then feel it your duty to submit to such an outlawful interruption of them? Would any religious or political principle aquire (sic) you to flee the country as a refugee, under such circumstances? These men, as citizens, were under the protection of the general government, and if conscience was to dictate, the trying and only alternative was to repose in the confidence of that protection. Whether leaned upon a broken reed, remains to be seen.

We are sorry to see from any source any qualms about this question's becoming a political one. It is from its very nature political, involving the rights and principles of constitution and law. But that it should become a political party question is shameful, and those who make it so must be held answerable to community for it. If the ruling party are determined to go for Georgia upon party grounds, so be it; theirs be the responsibility. They will find their numbers thinned, and they will come with jaded limbs and wan faces out of the deep and troubled waters into which they are plunging.